Happy today, as I got the new set of digital proofs from Martins the Printers in Berwick upon Tweed and they look fine and dandy, so all systems go now, I should be able to pick up the copies within the next fortnight. Carrier was going to cost £100, so instead we will make two or three car journeys to pick up copies from the printers 14 miles away (we only have a smallish car). I have a place to store the books that isn’t an outhouse, as damp does awful things to paper and card. Have spent the morning reading about the publicity that I should have started to engender months ago, but I didn’t want to do anything until I had the actual copies – publication date is now officially June 21st. Shall leave WooCommerce for the meantime, while I concentrate on local outlets, and try setting up the book on Amazon. Any copies sold through either of my websites will be the old bucket and spade method of cheques through the post. I am setting up a separate page for this on both my websites. Signed copies and dedicated copies will be available at no extra cost, and the postage and packing charges will be modest.
After a long time, and many hesitations, (including a typo that had wormed its way somehow between one moment and another on to the back cover – a typo luckily put right in an instant by the printers) The Midnight Hare is entered officially on Nielsen, is ready to print, and has a publication date of June 21st. I am ordering a little greetings card A6 size consisting of the back and front cover, which will be sent out with publicity material. I only put the book on Nielsen a month before publication date, but this does not worry me too much, as although it is late, I suspect my early sales will be local, as the book has a Borders setting; and there are quite a few people who have stocked my books and before. One of the reasons for doing this book myself was to keep this connection with the people who buy; and to know what is going on with the book. I need to sell about 650 copies at wholesale price to get my actual printing expenses back, and am not in that much of a rush. The book is a story I like, and it will find its own level. There is plenty of work to do in the marketing department, but I have found in the past that people are very pleasant to deal with, and are usually happy to look at new work, so this is hard work but not too daunting.
The scans are finished, and to help the printers I am sending off this mock-up of the book, just to help set up the pages, and in case there is a muddle with the scans which I am sending over the internet. The notebook has the rubber band round it because the images I stuck on with Pritt have filled up the book so that it is gaping at the edges. The other good reason for doing a mock-up like this is it helps to see misprints, punctuation, continuity. You’d think with a scant 500/600 words there was not that much room for error, especially taking into account how many times I have looked at the text; but they still occur, from those slippery typos, to the sudden understanding of how ridiculous a sentence sounds, ie. “Leave my hare alone.” Maybe one of my rare visits to the hairdressers made me notice this. Anyway, now off with the motley and on with the donkey work.
It is really strange to feel that, after a long time, the scans are almost ready to be sent to the printer, all done over the Internet, how different from the way things used to be. The text is now set up. I have small alterations to make to the front cover scan, and then need to do some serious proof-reading. One thinks that after so many versions enough combing of the text has gone on, but just this afternoon I noticed that I had typed MOONWUZO PRESS (an earlier version) instead of MOONWUZO BOOKS on the copyright page; and this could have gone off to the printers so easily, and even into the book. Making changes after the proofs are returned, that is changes due to one’s own errors, is an expensive business.
Tomorrow I will continue to print out copies of each page and mount them in a handsome hardback ring-bound sketchbook that I bought ages ago, more or less for this purpose. This will be sent snail-mail to the printers (just to give them something to check against when they are setting-up the book), the day before I send the scans. Then that is it, as far as the making the book goes; in spite of quite a bit of research into process of selling, in a practical sense I have almost been totally remiss so far about publicity, as I found it necessary to concentrate on one thing at a time.
In a way I have been putting off thinking about the next part of the process; out of nervousness, perhaps. But once the printed books arrive, I shall certainly be motivated to start getting them out there into the world. Once I get going on this, I should be OK, I got over any qualms about selling my work a long time ago, it is actually quite interesting. Selling locally, which I will probably do before an official publication date, is fine; and I have quite a few contacts.
I do like the story, which helps. It has been such a luxury to have had the time to do it the way I wanted, the time to experiment, re-do pages if necessary. The Midnight Hare has probably taken me rather too long; but maybe it just took as long as it needed.
The colour proofs have come back from the printer, they were sent over the Internet and returned by snail mail, and look fine. Painting on coloured ground with gouache has surprisingly produced far less problems than painting on white with water-colour. The grain in the paper does not interfere too much, as I have got rid of it on Photoshop in the places where it was creating a stripy effect on the protagonists which I did not like, and in the sky, where it looked all wrong; but the breaking up of the colour in the rest of the background feels mostly OK. This image above is the last page of the book.
Now the colour proofs are done, I shall put the text on to the scans. I note that in the above text there should be a comma after “lane” – I was setting this up temporarily from memory rather than the actual text. I also had a line in a pivotal point in the story: “LEAVE MY HARE ALONE!” but suddenly realised that, read out loud, this sounded a bit ridiculous, especially from a boy for whom the comb is obviously not felt to be much of a necessity.
Now I am going to have to put my mind on to practical elements. Meanwhile another story is brewing in the background. There is an Owl. And a Heroine. I think.
There are a couple of elements left to sort out with this: I need to put the ISBN number on the back on the right-hand side; and I will possibly use a different font for my name (possibly Boldoni) as I don’t like the way the “L” doesn’t slope in the italic script.
Doing the cover has been worrying me for ages. The book is being perfect-bound, so I need to have a strip for the back spine. To make sure this was accurate, I used the same dusky red brown as the wider strip but paled it out on Photoshop, so there was not much disparity between the darker and the lighter red, but it gave me an accurate guideline for laying on the lettering on the spine. I was quite pleased with this solution.
I took the reviews from books that were published by Orchard Books quite a time ago, so I had to check the sources were still extant, which they were. I was amused that the spelling of one of the reviewers on the original books was spelt wrong – glad I looked it up!
I should have done the cover months ago, as the front should be used for publicity purposes. I will probably get some postcards made of the cover, with information on the back; or else get a kind of card made using both sides of the cover, and then have some information on the inside, which would be a more expensive, but I think more attractive option. Since much of the information would therefore be given by the two-sided card, I could write other information in by hand, which would accord with the self-publishing element, and would give me more leeway about the information I offered.
The printing costs are not going to ruin me; however, I won’t think about doing another book until I get my printing costs back – the other costs I will ignore until I have to tot them up for my tax return…
This is a central image of the book, where one scene runs directly into another. Putting the normal margin round it felt wrong, so I have decided to put the two pictures together, even though they are different scenes. This is the only place in the book that I have done this. The reasons are twofold: the aesthetic feels better like this, and the emotional element of the story feels more direct. It is a problem to set up a double-page spread in this manner because the margin between the pages may not print exactly right – but there is a 3mm bleed tolerance; and also, since the book is going to be perfect-bound, there won’t be a staple in the middle, which would exaggerate a mismatch. So hey, that’s the way it is going to be.
I have now done the cover, complete with lettering, and it is in my especial folder on my desktop to be put in disc, and taken up to Spittal for a pre-print meeting, where I will check the cover for size; and also check the colours in other scans. I have made two copies of the cover scans, as it is easy to misuse them. For instance, if you set uptext using Acrobat, if you take the file back into Photoshop for any reason, the lettering gets stripped off. I can’t use Photoshop lettering for the final scans as the main printer won’t recognise it.
The scans are all done now, except for one double page which I have decided to print without borders, even though the design does not cross over the page, as it is a crucial scene in the book which the borders alienate somehow. The above illustrations seem to go together OK, though having painted the two separately there is this slight disjunct. However, I am going with this as part of the atmosphere of the book. There are old-fashioned elements which I am aware of, and which I actually like.
In a week or so there will be a pre-print meeting, when I shall find out how the colours reproduce on their machines. When painting on a white ground it was necessary to reduce the magenta (using Photoshop) but I think the colours work differently on the brown. I have put the words on to these scans in Photoshop, so as to get the spacing right; but once I have seen the printers, I shall move the scans over to Acrobat for putting on the final lettering. This will all come off the scans if I take them back into Photoshop, so it is obviously necessary to get the colours reading right before I create the final scans and put them on disc.
The first process is nearly finished, now I shall have to apply myself to the publicity and the selling process; but one thing at a time….
One of the most difficult things to do has been to decide on the page structure of The Midnight Hare. This is one of the few double pages where the words are not integrated into the pictures. I have fiddled around with the width of the margins, and have settled on something in the region of 9mm/10mm, with a 3mm bleed. I would have liked to have the margins even smaller, but because of setting up the images with the bleed all round, I think I underestimated how narrow 8mm would be. I have not had any straight edges round the paintings, this is deliberate, I wanted a hand-made feel, so the pictures were spilling into the surrounding background, rather than the brown acting as a frame. I did a lot more work to these two pictures, which has made them more vivid, so I am quite pleased about this. I shall start putting on the text next week, for which I need to use Adobe Acrobat.
Most of the scans are now done, and I am testing out two pages set against each other. Usually I would work on a double page spread, but because of the paper I chose, which was in smallish blocks, and also due to having a worktable that is quite small and always totally covered with layers of stuff (all being used), I did the illustrations on separate pieces of paper. This is really not to be advised, but is producing some interesting juxtapositions. Anyway, the book is what it is, by now. The borders on the finished pictures will be narrower than in this example, as I don’t want too much brown in the book. These scans are a touch hectic in colour, but this may tone down when they are full size, and in CYMK format. I shall check this when I go up to the printers for a pre-print meeting. What I do feel cheerful about is that I have learned so much, so far, and have a lot more to learn, which is all to the good.