Gen C redux

You might remember the Generation C story (Idealog 3, from memory). It was one near and dear to my heart. I love making things myself and digital technology gives me the tools to accomplish fairly extraordinary things - for me anyway.

Vanishing Act by David Macgregor

I have been dabbling in self publishing. Mostly from the point of view of: I wonder what it would look like?

In November I started writing a novel. Nothing too high minded and it certainly won't win the Booker prize. Vanishing Act is the story of a you ex-pat kiwi woman who becomes the face of a 21st Century iteration of Jacques Cousteau. She's a marine biologist and former swinsuit model. On the way past New Zealand, following the humpback whale migration from the Pacific to the Antarctic, the expedition discovers a sub species of Maui Dolphin that has never been seen before. The media, government, Greens, Maori activists and the fishing lobby all go into a spin. It turns into a circus ad the bemused residents of the small imaginary town at the mouth of the Aotea Harbour look on with bemusement. All is not what it seems though. But I can't tell you much more than that.

I wrote the book in InDesign, so as I wrote it was laid out and typeset as I worked. On the web I saw that the length of a first time author's book should be about 300 pages - so that's what I worked towards. I bet Lloyd Jones won't admit anything as Philistine as that.

For the cover I happened across a picture on Flickr, the photo sharing site, that was perfectly realised for my subject - Vanishing dolphins. I contacted the photographer, a Dutch chap and asked his permission to use it. He sent me a hi resolution  version in return for a signed copy of the book when it was done.

Using the site I uploaded my files - the first hundred pages to begin with - for a hardback copy with dustjacket. It arrived on December 24. It was the first time I had seen anything on paper. Very convincing it was too. Very good quality printing and a lovely creamy paper stock.

I finished the yarn and sent up the files to the printer - paperback and hardback. I priced it modestly (set your on sale price, over the making price you keep the difference). Thinking it was done and congratulating myself on being devilishly clever I created a promotional e-mail ad sent it off to friends and colleagues. There were orders. It was exciting. Then I realised my mistake. I had save the content in PDF form as facing pages. I noticed that the page count was showing as  152 when my book had 300+. Arrrrgh! 

Lesson. Print on demand means that, when you push the order buttom - there is no going back.  It is in the system. I had to send an embarrassing recall email and pay to reprint each order - luckily it was only the first five. I joke now that it will be like a misprinted penny black stamp. Could be worth something one day. It takes about three weeks for your book to arrive from the US but it is worth getting a proof copy before making it available for sale.

The process is great fun. I'm preparing a childrens story I made for my son when he was four (he's nearly sixteen now) as a small format paperback. And I have another novel on the go - completely different topic - written from a woman's point of view - should be interesting. 

I'm writing a screenplay to go with the book. I think it would make a decent movie. Now, … what did I do with that video camera.

If anyone is interested in a presentation on what I learned - a few tips and tricks - drop me a line

You can check out the book here.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).