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.
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 Lulu.com 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.