Monday, February 25, 2008

The Books are Coming

The first two hardbound copies of my novel that Lulu shipped last Friday are in transit and on-time for UPS delivery Wednesday 2/27/2008. Last night I couldn't sleep thinking about all the possible problems with the whole project. I imagine the formatting of the published book to be messed up to the point of being unreadable, or that I'll see killer flaws in the story that had stayed hidden until their emergence in book form.

But I calmed myself with the reminder that I ordered these copies for the very purpose of seeing what needs fixing. Only when I'm satisfied will I apply for an ISBN, make it available in paperback, etc.

I can't wait for the books to arrive.

Family videos on YouTube

Not all my videos are political. Today's is one of several that feature my grandson Preston, who'll be three in a week. This one shows him playing hoops with a door-hanging basket and a soccer ball. For music I used Brother Bones and His Shadows' incomparable version of Sweet Georgia Brown.



I managed to edit and upload the video while he napped. Thank God for children's naps.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

BookSurge

Amazon's publish-on-demand company is BookSurge, which I emailed last weekend to see what they do and what they charge.

According to a reply I received they don't publish hardbound books. My effort at Lulu, therefore, has not been completely wasted. If I can get a hardbound copy of my novel into a reviewer's hands I think my chances for a positive review will be high. I think my chances for getting it reviewed, period, will be strongest if the reviewer has a hardbound to read.

But I still need a trade paperback available for the retail sales on Amazon and B&N. The hardbound edition is too costly to compete at the retail level, where I'm already at a disadvantage because of my obscurity. I would guess the paperback will be higher than traditionally published paperbacks but at least the price will be lower than the hardbound . . . I hope.

If I can't bring the price down by having it sold directly through online bookstores I'll see if I can set myself up as a reseller on their sites. That way, I can bring the price down considerably. Here's how I see it working: I buy a number of copies from a POD publisher. I get the book listed on Amazon, B&N at a price lower than what people would pay if they bought it directly from them. That part is attractive to potential buyers. That part that isn't is the statement that goes something like, "ususally ships in 2-3 days." Maybe I can get that changed, though. I would ship ASAP, that day or next day.

BookSurge had not replied to my last query in which I asked about the projected retail price for a 6x9" trade paperback version of my novel. I emailed them again a short while ago asking for a reply.

Maybe I'll have to do everything through Lulu.

My goal in using publish-on-demand is to show a potential traditional publisher that my book has commercial potential.

Meanwhile, I received an email from Lulu yesterday telling me the two copies I ordered have shipped. UPS has a projected delivery date of Wednesday, February 27. The copies I'm getting are comparable to proof sheets (I believe they're called) sent from a regular publisher.

If the copies look good I'll get an ISBN and go from there.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ron Paul's Popularity

Using a highly unscientific measure, I've concluded that interest in Ron Paul has dropped significantly since last Tuesday's primaries. The video I created over the weekend - "Rocky" Ron Paul -- is languishing on YouTube, whereas a video I made two days before Super Tuesday -- Good Reasons to Vote for Ron Paul -- had hundreds of hits before the election results started rolling in.

Of course, this is hardly surprising.

Waning interest is one consequence of looking at poor numbers. Paul hasn't been getting the votes, ergo he's all but eliminated.

But Ron is the front man for a freedom movement that should never quit. Even if he bows out of the campaign his supporters need to stay together -- like the original Sons of Liberty -- and look ahead.

I say these things about Ron Paul from a position of total rejection of the state. I have little admiration for the Constitution because the convention that created it was itself a step in the direction of big government. In his campaign Ron frequently explains his positions on issues by referring to the Constitution. His comments have a rational pro-life ring only because government has long abandoned even the pretense of adhering to the Constitution, which is to say government is on a much higher rung of statism than the law of the land allows.

Ron Paul's views on the income tax, federal reserve, war, and government spending are being heard around the world. He is bringing people together who agree with his views. That is the great value of his campaign. That his views are, in some cases, consistent with the Constitution is coincidental.

His popularity should never diminish because his views were not made up or watered-down for his run for the presidency; they are long-held personal convictions. He really wants to bring the troops home. He really wants to kill the IRS and end the income tax. He really wants to abolish the Fed. People should study and adopt these positions. They should fight for them in every way possible. We need freedom desperately. It's a matter of survival.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reviewer wanted

How nice it would be if I could get someone to read and endorse the story before I bind it up in a book. I could add the reviewer's comments to the dust jacket, just like a real book.

The question is, Who would give me the time of day?

I've already tried James Turk and G. Edward Griffin, but there are others.

It might be better to get the book published, offer to send someone a free review copy, then go from there. If someone reviews and likes it, I can change the dust jacket copy to include relevant quotes. When you publish books one or a few at a time, you can make changes on the fly. I might be able to get the reviewer to post his/her comments on Amazon.

What a life. And I gave up computer support for this?

blog on barbarous-relic.com

I think I should add a blog of current monetary news to barbarous-relic.com. It needs current news to get people to come back to it, and a blog could be a good idea.

I'm using iWeb as my site builder, and it has blog capability.

That will have to wait, however. Blogs are time-consuming, and I want my book out as a hardbound before I add the blog.

YouTube Videos

As part of my promotional efforts I've created some videos and posted them on YouTube. I've posted on YouTube before but my most recent ones are Keynote presentations promoting Ron Paul's run for the presidency. My latest one is called "Rocky" Ron Paul.



If you run the video you'll notice the score is not Bill Conti's version of Gonna Fly Now, the one from the original Rocky movie. I tried uploading it with Conti's, which I had purchased on iTunes, but somewhere in the process it was denied. The presentation uploaded without music.

I went to Amazon and picked a different version of Gonna Fly Now. It's decent, but lacks the power of Conti's. YouTube was happy with that. That's what you hear if you click on the embedded video above.

As an aside, I did succeed somewhat in uploading my presentation with Conti's version. I deleted the music background from the presentation and saved it as a high-quality movie. I uploaded the movie to iMovie HD, added the Conti background and saved it as a Quicktime file.

I uploaded the Quicktime version to YouTube and everything was intact. I call it test. Someone actually rated it - five stars. I'm surprised anyone bothered to view it. The music plays well but the video stutters terribly. It's unacceptable, and I'll delete it soon.

Uploading to Kindle

Making the book available on Amazon for Kindle readers was not easy.

Amazon recommends uploading the file in HTML format, which I did. They strongly encourage you to review the uploaded file, which I also did. And when I reviewed mine, I saw all the quotes had been replaced by other characters. Amazon says that if there are problems with the uploaded file, download it and clean it up, then upload it again in HTML format.

The clean-up task is to be performed at the HTML level. How many writers are familiar with HTML? I would guess there are many who aren't.

I rejected that approach out of hand and read their instructions again. They said sometimes Word files upload without a hitch. Since my manuscript does nothing fancy in Word, I decided to try uploading it as it was, a .doc file. It uploaded with the quotes fixed but with extra spacing between paragraphs.

Better, but still not acceptable.

I abutted the paragraphs in my Word file and tried uploading it again. It made no difference.

I tried uploading the abutted version as a text file. Same extra spacing.

I thought maybe the font was the problem, so I did a global change from Palatino to Times New Roman. The extra spacing persisted.

Since I write on a Mac, I thought I might have better results if I did the uploading from one of the ubiquitous Windows machines. Same big gaps between paragraphs.

I went back to my Mac. I tried uploading the Times New Roman version in HTML. Same weird characters replaced my quotes.

I used to code in HTML. Nothing fancy, just the basics. But I thought if I could get the uploaded Word file downloaded maybe I could fix the extra spacing with an HTML editor.

I tried TextEdit as my editor. TextEdit was overwhelmed.

I searched my hard drive for an old copy of Bare Bones Software's HTML editor. I must've deleted it.

I Googled for an HTML editor. After looking at various possibilities I came up with Panic Software's Coda. You can download it for a free 15-day trial. I did and opened the Kindle HTML version of my novel, with the quotes fixed but too much spacing.

Fortunately, the fix was easy. All I needed to do, after examining the file closely, was issue a global find and replace. Find the line break command (
) and replace it with nothing. In other words, I deleted the extra line breaks.

Coda has a window in its editor where you can preview your HTML code as it wouuld appear in a browser. After issuing the global find & replace, I went through the entire file and checked every paragraph. Everything was in order. Quotes looked good, as did the spacing. Amazing.

I saved it then wondered how I would get it uploaded to Amazon.

Amazon's instructions say to upload the edited Kindle HTML file as a zip file. On the Mac, that's the Archive command in the Finder. I zipped my edited file then uploaded again. My confidence level was low but the darn thing worked.

I wasn't quite through. In my joy at seeing a clean file I had overlooked the book image I had uploaded earlier. This is what it should look like:



This is what actually uploaded:



I felt cheated. I had dragged the correct image file from BRC to the Desktop, but somewhere in the copy process everything but the thunderstorm was lost.

The problem was made worse because I had already clicked "publish" to tell Amazon to publish it with the bad image. The publishing process takes 12 hours or more. So I had wait until it was finished, make the change, and publish it again.

Now I'm working on making a hardbound book available.

New Title

A lot has happened since my last entry.

I decided on The Flight of the Barbarous Relic. Title choice is not trivial. Yes, Stephen King and a few others can get away with any title. I can't.

It is not a great title, by any means, but it connects with the story both literally and symbolically. And as my brother said, it has a higher street value than JR$.

It's available now on Amazon, for Kindle owners. I look at that page on Amazon and feel like I've reached a milestone. Anyone can upload any collection of bytes they wish to Amazon and call it a book. But it's still a milestone for me because of the work I've put in on it, and because I think it's an interesting read. Of course, no one will read it until I do a lot more work, but at least it's out there.

The prolog and first three chapters are available as a PDF download here.