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Book Stuff Work Stuff

I am in some serious pain. I am feeling able to at least get up and get into work, but by the time I'm out, the pain and fatigue levels are through the roof. On the plus side, it is nice to be back.

I did a computer upgrade yesterday which I talk about at Linux Librarian. It would be so much easier if we had off hours to do this stuff, but alas, I managed even with "helpful" patrons trying to tell me what buttons to click and trying to access their email while the upgrades were installing. Sigh.

Sharing the love--My First Review

I just got a kickin' review of Aurora Borealis from the publishers/reviewers Chevalier Editions. They appear to be kind of a new subset of publisher, a selective bunch that takes care of editing and design, and prints via POD.

They also review books that they don't publish. You can read the full text here, ignoring, please, the small typo in the subject line (I think they wrote it at 3 am... That was the time my tear sheet email was posted). This is my favorite part though:

POD People--Publishing For the Masses

There are several very well known Print-On-Demand (POD) Publishers in the industry. Xlibris, iUniverse, and Lulu are just a few of them. They vary in the services they offer, but they all boast one thing: at the end of the process, you will have a manuscript printed and bound.

I opted for Lulu for several reasons, mostly centering around price versus value. Lulu is one of the only major services that offers their basic print on demand services for free. Even the premium services are significantly cheaper with Lulu.

What a basic POD service constitutes at Lulu is your book printed and bound in any number of styles (perfect bound, hardcover, spiral bound, and saddlestitched are all offered) and a storefront on Lulu's site. The most expensive service, ISBN Plus (or "Global") runs about $149 (the rumor is that the price is going to drop soon). With this, the author gets an ISBN number, and is uploaded into Ingram's database as well as Books in Print. This allows bookstores and libraries to order the book easily. Most books, once uploaded to Ingram, go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com, Books-a-million, and other online retailers within eight weeks. The catch is that none of the sites are required to carry your book. According to the folks at Lulu, the online retailers almost invariably carry POD books by default (though you may have to prompt them to upload your cover or "search inside" features). Web real estate is cheap, and every book is a potential sale.

Using Lulu is an interesting experience. It's quite finicky about some documents. If you upload a ready made PDF, make sure it was made with a supported version of Acrobat. OpenOffice's PDF distiller is allegedly up to the converting task Lulu requires. CutePDF, though it is recommended as a free conversion tool, seems to give many people trouble. Lulu has a conversion tool on their site that will convert Word documents and associated file formats to PDF for you. This, however, does not give you as much control over how the finished document turns out. The conversion tool they use internally sometimes does some odd things to documents, such as resizing. This is not usually a big deal with text-based books, but people uploading pages containing images have had issues.

I had some unique difficulties. My document was already in PDF form, because it had been picked up by an ebook publisher some years earlier. But no fonts were embedded. Plus, I had to remove some of the old publisher's information and substitute my own. Then, to make the page layout a little more logical, I had to insert a few blank pages here and there. Finally, my PDF was 8.5 by 11. I wanted it 6 by 9. So I had to get on the fast track to learning how to edit PDF documents in Acrobat. It's not easy, and it's not pretty, but it can be done.

Once all the fonts were embedded, things went along (almost) smoothly. I uploaded my document with no problems using Gentoo Linux and Firefox. However, I tried to upload my documents in Windows using Opera (with pop up blocker off) and with Internet Explorer, and I had some weird problems. It seemed accept my document, but in Opera's case it never updated on Lulu's server, and in IE's case it just dumped me to a blank screen, and I couldn't continue.

That's not to say you can't use it in Windows. It just takes an extra step. I had a little more luck using Firefox in Windows, though I still got the blank screen. My project had uploaded, and if I clicked on the "Publish" button I was able to resume my work in progress. Lulu also gives the option to use FTP for larger files.

Lulu then autodetected the size of my PDF, which was a relief. I had sized it correctly. It told me that I was making a 6x9 book with 225 pages that I could have either perfect bound or spiral bound. I opted for perfect.

The neat thing about Lulu is that they have a lot of prefab cover art. I am horrible with book covers. You can choose one of their prefab covers and put your own text on it, and call it good. Many people go this route. You can tell, because there are about a hundred thousand books on Lulu with the same cover. I decided, though the range of prefab cover art was really quite good, that I would upload my own cover.

All this required was taking their template for the size book I wanted, and making an image in a graphics program that fit that template. I just need to save it as .jpg, .png, or .gif file and browse to it and upload it.

This file upload is a bit easier than the actual document. They still do a conversion (this time from .jpg to .pdf) but there were no problems using Firefox, in either Windows or Linux.

I customized my spine. It defaults to the title of your book on a white background using black type. I changed it to a black background using screamin' fuschia type. You can also change the point size on your fonts here.

Lulu also gives you the option of displaying the Lulu logo on the spine of the book and Lulu's url on the back of the book. It's really unobtrusive, and the logo looks kind of cute, so I told them to go ahead.

The last step is pricing the book. This is the hardest part, if you ask me. Many bookstores complain about print on demand because, well, the books are expensive for what they are, and they can't be returned if they don't sell. That's why you mostly see POD books in online shops. Lulu offers quite a reasonable base price for a book of 225 or so pages. My feeling was I wanted people to read my book, not finance my retirement on my own tropical island. So I set my royalty to what I felt was a competitive rate for trade paperbacks that size.

If you go the ISBN Plus/Global route, though, this is where things get complicated. Because there are more people taking a cut, you have to price your book higher if you want any type of royalty. So then you have two prices, the cheaper Lulu price (where I recommend everyone purchase my book) and the more expensive Ingram/Amazon/Barnes and Noble prices. Also, to complicate thing a little more, a different printer actually prints the books that go to stores other than Lulu.

So there are definite pros and cons to POD. The great thing is you get to keep all the rights to your publication (at least in Lulu's case) and you get final say in how everything looks. You can have your book published, in a professional format, and get it out so the world can see it. It's definitely less hassle than sending your manuscript out to a hundred publishers to get ninety-nine rejections and one maybe.

The cons are big ones though. There's a huge stigma in the publishing industry about POD books. Indeed, many are not edited (at all) and need lots of work. But there are gems out there too. POD books tend to be more expensive, and are non-returnable, so bookstores are hesitant to carry them. The author has to do all the marketing-- on his/her own. That means readings and signings are set up by the author. There are no publishers pulling for your success.

Where I was coming from with Aurora Borealis was a little different. I had already had it published. I already had professional editing (which, I've learned does not catch every error). I knew, roughly, that at least some people found it a good story. I also went in with realistic expectations. This is fun for me. I am not going to make a living off it. I get to see my book, completed, in print, and have the opportunity to make it available to the general public. The idea that I could possibly see someone check it out of my library, even though I'm not making one red cent off it, thrills me to pieces.

An Update

Thought I'd leave some little notes here, as I know some people don't chug over to LinuxLibrarian too often. Tux isn't scary. He's a fat, tryptophan laden penguin. Love him! Love him!

Healthwise I'm doing better. I still hurt, but the horrible fatigue (which is an awful name for it, but is the closest thing that describes it) is gone, thanks to a drug used for ADHD. I've tried to skip a day here and there, and once again the fatigue rolls in like a giant black fogbank. So I don't skip it anymore.

So that means I'm starting back to work part time next Thursday. I am so happy. I really missed them there. They gave me the option to start part time because they didn't want to wear me out to start with... A gradual period of adjustment. I hope to be full time again within six months.

And in a few short weeks, my book will go live on Amazon, BN.com and be available through Ingrams, friend to librarians everywhere. I've gotten some pretty good feedback on it from those on Lulu (where it's available now), for which I am grateful.

The book (see, now you got me going?) has kind of a long sordid history with me. I wrote it several years ago... Maybe even closer to ten. Then I put it away for awhile, then I started marketing it to publishers about two years later. The third publisher I tried it with bought it. The contract sucked but I signed it anyway. Most first book contracts do suck. It was an ebook format only then, I was locked in for first review rights for five years, and they took a lot of the rights.

I sold a few, but it was DRM'd, which really ticked me off. A lot of people that bought it couldn't actually read it on more than one computer, I'm told.

So I am a little passive aggressive I guess. Life got in the way, and I didn't write any more books (well, there was one, but I had no intention of sending it out before my five year servitude was up). Finally, the ebook publisher changed scope, and my title was dropped, and all rights reverted back to me.

I didn't want to go through the agony of another crappy contract. I didn't want to go through the agony of a million rejections to get that one crappy contract. I just wanted people to read it. That's all. I am also a little control freak I guess. I wanted to know that it was treated as something more than product.

So that's why I chose to go with Lulu for print on demand. Do I think I could get picked up by a traditional publisher again? Sure, eventually, a small press would probably bite if my timing was right and the budget was able...

But somehow, this feels more personal. This feels right.

See shoe in print!

So I have become connected with lulu, a print on demand publisher. I had a book Aurora Borealis, that was picked up by a publisher several years ago. When the publisher decided it didn't fit in the with direction the press was going anymore, the rights reverted back to me. I felt like an abducted child came home.

The plus side of the whole abducted child scenario is that I got free editing out of the deal. So the child came home a bit better than when she left.

Horizon 8.0 Impressions

I feel guilty writing in here and directing you to my webpage, so I'll make it short...

My impressions on Horizon 8.0 over at LinuxLibrarian.

I'll feel less guilty if it's short.

Newly Redesigned LinuxLibrarian

I gave LinuxLibrarian a quick and easy facelift yesterday, by just designing the whole page in Wordpress. So update thy feeds... The main blog url is http://www.linuxlibrarian.org.

The old blog is still available here but will not be updated.

Best.Bosses. Ever.

So I went in to give my notice to the senior librarian and the director. They wouldn't let me. They are giving me a six month leave of absence (extendable to a year.) Just to see how things progress. Someone will be hired on a temporary basis to fill in my spot, but my job is still mine when (if) I'm ready.

Maybe some answers will come down in that time. Boy, I hope so.

Money will be tight, but you know... It's nice to feel loved.:)

Rumors of my demise...

...are unfortunately right on the money.

Unless something really miraculous happens by Monday, I am forced to give my notice for health reasons. Grrrrrr. Keep your fingers crossed for a miracle.

Seems I contracted a nasty virus, with a name that does not do it justice: chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome. Fatigue just doesn't begin to describe it. Everyone gets tired. Not every one is so lucky to feel like they have a hangover, the flu, and mono all rolled into one 24/7.

A year has come and gone...

Yes, I have been at my job a year this week. Well, if you exclude all that sick time, which for all intents and purposes for now, I am. I did what work I could from home. Of course, as a librarian, that ain't too too much.

new url (pronounced... earl)

So the Linux librarian url is live (thank you, Blake :))

Despite the freakishly ear waxy colors, it should be functional and running, and came together pretty easily. There was a little issue with Wordpress this morning, but that was my fault, not Wordpress's.

Check it out. Come early, come often.

Lucky Parental Units

Sigh. I just bought them this from TigerDirect. I have to tell someone, in hopes that they can give me a creative way to break it to my husband I just spent $200 we don't have on digital camera for my parents.

Isn't it cool though? Jeez, they'll love it. My mom likes pictures and my dad's an amateur photographer.

It's only about $50 (gulp) more than we were going to spend on each set of parentals anyway. And it is a really nice one.

book of poetry, albeit short, by moi

Yay! A chapbook of poetry by me available from CafePress... Okay, a lot of it was written several years ago. And shut up if the cover looks a little stupid if you order it. I suck with GIMP. I'm such a good saleswoman, huh?

It's 20 pages (19 poems) and actually has some of my favorites... but not my all time favorite, which seems to have died in the infamous Hard Drive Crash of '00.

Not publicizing too much yet

Not publicizing too much yet... because I, er, haven't quite finished with it, but I'd like to see what people think, try it out and see how it works...

I love you, man.... You guys so rock

Thank you, LISNewsters, for the gift. :) It made my day. I can't believe the outpouring from the library community for me through this difficult time. Librarians rock.

I wish I could reach out through cyberspace and hug you all, but you all have your damn firewalls up. (sad attempt at geek humor)

Smooches to you all (don't worry, it's not catching.)

Because more people will see it here

I am posting it here instead of my blog (well, I'll post it there too, I'm just not there right now).

How's Your News is having election night coverage on Trio (I know it's available standard on DirecTV satellite.) It's a half hour showing, so don't worry, you can tune into the boring crap after it's done.

I heard something great on the radio

A listener called in and said, "Great, I get the fate of my country in my hands voting this election year? Who do I vote for, Turd A or Turd B?"

I couldn't agree more. That's the end of my political commentary.

I've been sharing it in my blog

But I just want to reiterate my love for Linux here. One month and counting, almost totally hands off (except for adding sites to the filter) on the K12LTSP experiment, and it's working beautifully.

I wish I could say the same for Windows.

Linux is a gorgeous thing. A bitch to set up sometimes, but once it's running, it's poetry in motion.

Time for bed.

Einstein that I am

I fudged up some links (I think just temporarily) in my blog here. If you get an rss feed from my blog, could you please let me know it's working correctly now? I would check on the Linux side of things, but I'm not there right now (I have no newsfeeds in Windows. Wahh!)

One day I am going to think before I code.

It's up and running

Not quite as lovely as I'd like yet, but the blog is up and running, thanks to Wordpress, Blake, and the ubercomputer.

The url is LibrariansHappen.org, unless you want to go directly to the blog, which is here.

I will gradually be transferring roots from here to there.

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