#IndieAuthorDay: From manuscript to book

Every writer waits with great anticipation for their book to appear. Turning those pages of words into a real book is not a majorly difficult operation. Getting from manuscript to book, though, does include some elements (keep this as a checklist) that you must do correctly in order for people to want to read your book and for sales to be recorded.

If you are among the lucky ones who have had a book published, this post may be useful as a refresher course. Or you may really not know what those stages of production and preparation entailed. I will keep this as simple as possible, because the process is simple and all writers should know about them. (There will not be a quiz.) The best thing a writer can do for their book is to think like a publisher. Here’s an outline of part of that work.

Every Book Needs a Cover

Yes, we do judge books both by cover and title. All book buyers are enticed by the beauty of covers as well as the typographic display of the title. The words themselves then have some meaning but it is the use of images, colors and typography that make a cover.

I like to use this example of cover production because it struck me how cover art can drive sales . Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance became a cult classic when it came out in paperback. The publisher used typography and color for a book cover that did not automatically suggest an image. But the study of which color (orange) sold best helped them to increase sales for what we might call today a hybrid story, which is still in print and still sells.

Manuscripts Always Need Work

No matter who you are, your pages need several sets of preparation before they can be made into a book. There is the need for design, the font size and type, to fit within the trim size of your book. How the page looks to readers is very important. And how well it reads. The process of the eye moving across the page is a skill we learned as children. We develop methods for reading that are standard for most of us. So, we don’t expect to read errors in spelling or grammar or punctuation or placement of words. In other words, we want that part of the reading process to be simple. Editors and proofreaders are in charge of that process for writers. They have the right and duty to question everything we have put on the page.

Front Matter

Among the more boring parts of book production is the writing of front matter. All well produced books have it. We were taught, when I entered publishing 40 years ago, that Front Matter included the Title Page, preceded by a blank page, followed by a half-title page (both recto pages, meaning on the right) with a verso page called the copyright page where all that wording, ISBN, basic book cataloguing data and date of publication were included. Generally an Acknowledgements Page followed that and a Foreword might be included. Then a Table of Contents. These are the bare bones of Front Matter and must be included in the page count for a printer or for the converter of e-books. This may be the last part a publisher does when assembling the pages of your manuscript but it too is looked at by editors and proofreaders.

Barcodes and ISBNs

We need these two. We need the barcodes on print books and an ISBN. We only need the ISBN for e-books. What are they and what do they do? First, they are a money-maker for an outfit called Bowker that sells them to publishers. Every publisher buys them and they use them to track the sales of books and to record them in Bowker’s Books in Print. Before Amazon and their book site, this tome was what libraries and bookstores used to make sure a book was available. In those days, Bowker offered a very different set of services than they do now. The bottom line now as then though is that without an ISBN, you cannot get your book distributed.

Author Photos, Author Bios and Back Cover Copy

Print books require a back cover which also needs to be designed. On the back cover, generally, we find these main elements. The bar code (which has the ISBN and price encoded in it), author photo, author bio and description of the book. I’d say the back cover gives an author the opportunity to present herself to potential readers in ways that will help to sell the book. On a different basis than what the front cover does, the back cover’s use of a photo, an author bio and description of the book can be a time to create the story of your book. How you will sell it and sell it to everyone you meet. This is a skill all authors should learn.

The Spine

No one talks about the spine of your book. But it is a good thing to know about. The spine obviously shows how thick your book is when it is displayed on a bookshelf spine out. That is how most of us display our books at home. And how most booksellers display books in their stores and libraries on their shelves too. That makes the spine an important, if often overlooked, topic to consider when designing our books. Usually, it displays 3 things: author name, book title and publisher colophon. While the first 2 seem self-evident and what our eyes recall, that colophon, the branding logo for a publisher, is usually found at the bottom of the spine. Publisher information is included in the Front Matter and on the Back Cover of your book, but the logo/colophon on the spine identifies the author with a specific publishing company and whatever mission that publisher has.

Page Counts Matter

My final comments about the manuscript to book process is this: the number of pages in your book matters. First, it matters for cost calculations. Whether printed or converted, costs are based on the page count. E-books are not as costly to convert as bound books are to print. But all those up front costs as are incurred based on the work I outlined above, are a fixed part of every book’s production process. Obviously, the longer the book, the more illustrations, photos or drawings, graphs included also increase costs, as well as paper weight.

Bound books can be printed on demand which is a more expensive and more environmentally conscious way to produce printed books. Large print runs, done on offset presses, require a different set of calculations because the unit cost of a book printed that way is much smaller. E-books are not printed but converted. The same PDF files sent to printers for bound books are sent to conversion houses for translation into MOBI files for Amazon and a variety, now, of ePub files for all other distributors of e-books for both individual and library sales.

I will say again to Indie Authors: The best thing you can do for your book is to think like a publisher.

Remember this: #GoVegan #ReadBooks

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Sullivan St Press on the Road and at Work

Our Itinerant Book Show will be going live soon, which means we’re leaving town. For several weeks (from 7/11-9/25), we’ll be away. We’ll be in our Prius filled with all our gear and hitting many KOAs across the country (as far west as the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park). We will visit as many indie bookstores and public libraries as possible during this summer road trip. We want to learn what goes on there and share with them our books and plans for the future. 

Here’s A Sneak Peek

SSP, as I fondly call my company, has lots of big plans going forward.  

Currently, SSP publishes novels, the Scags Series, and vegan books, the Vegan City Guides. In the works now are two different but ambitious projects based on these two series. What will be worked through over the next months, both while we are on the road and when we return, is a renewed commitment to make SSP an e-book only company. 

What Does E-Book Only Mean?

We’ll stop all Print on Demand. Based on the talks I gave at the NYC Green Festival in June, I worked very hard to lay out the reasons for “Why Publishing’s Future is Green Publishing.” I’ll be sharing those ideas in a series of blog posts soon. The short message is that The publishing industry needs to cut down its carbon footprint and learn to love the e-book. 

Going Forward

The Scags Series will be completed in 2018. Scags at 45 is the final volume. But Scags herself is a new writer for SSP and her first book, also coming out in 2018, Born Loser, Born Lucky will be about the exploits of her character, Sophie, and her work to kill the cancer in our global heart’s soul. We’ll be launching Scags’ books as e-books only. And we’re working on a way to put the entire Scags Series into an app. So, lots to do but all of it will offer much more interconnection with other writers and their books. 

The Vegan City Guides series is also plodding forward. We are talking to and looking for more partners. We want to go 50-state wide. We want to show the entire nation’s vegan footprint well beyond a focus on food but to encompass every aspect of what it means to be vegan. Thus for the animals, for our environment, for our health and for the spiritual well being of those who seek to live compassionately. 

Our goals are ambitious but should even a part of this new work bear fruit, there will be much more of interest to offer readers and writers for years to come. 

#GoVegan #ReadBooks

Crowdfunding the Sullivan Street Press Way

The story of Sullivan Street Press is this: We began in order to change the publishing paradigm. Our new crowd funding program is part of that paradigm shift.

Writers Need to be Paid

Some things don’t need to be changed. Writers need to be paid and they need to be paid because they have worked hard and created a book that no one else could have written.

Writers Need Supportive Communities

Books cannot live if no one reads them. This is not an issue of if a tree falls in the forest, no, this is a contract that is made between the writer and the reader. She needs for the reader she imagined while writing to become involved in making sure the world is also interested in this new book.

Crowd Funding=Community Support

This is the magic formula for books published by Sullivan Street Press. The friends and family of the writer, the ones she is thinking of as she writes, are the core community we need to engage so we can raise the money to pay for the costs of producing all our books. I know that some writers are frightened to ask for this kind of help, but as a good friend of mine constantly says: “Ask not, get not.”

Paying by PayPal So The Books Are Paid For

Like all publishers, Sullivan Street Press’ contract stipulates that an author will not receive royalties until the costs of production are paid for. If 30-50 people send a minimum donation of $50 to the Sullivan Street Press PayPal account, the entire cost of producing most of our books will be covered.

Your Reward

Each person who gives $50 will receive a signed copy of the book from the author.

What You Will Pay For

Our production partner, Scribe, Inc., has helped us reduce the costs of production. We are asking for the money to cover the editorial and production work on each title, as well as some of the costs for distribution of the books. (The money will never go towards salaries, office space, supplies.)

The Buck Isn’t the End of It

As the book reaches its launch date, we need you to go to your local library. Librarians need to hear from you that the writer’s book should be on the shelves and the writer should be invited to give a reading. You are needed to write reviews on the various book sites and to send letters of recommendations for this book to book reviewers, to ask your book club to read the book and spend time with the author. You are needed to recommend the book to your friends and family.

This type of support is as necessary as money.

Community

I now end as I began. Singing the praises of a book’s inherent community: those people the author thought about when writing the book.  As the publisher, this is the sweet harmony of the book business. When I watch a writer read to the very audience she had in mind when she wrote her book; seeing all those eyes watching her with complete attention, I know that we can ask them, you, to go out and sing the praises of the new book because now you too have come full circle with the writer and made a new book possible.

Here is where you can help us: sullivanstpress.com/help-our-books/

The Best Way to Support SSP

It is now close to Christmas and everyone asks you for money and support. SSP is no different but the pitch is different and better. Why? Because we aren’t asking you to spend any money.

Ask your library to buy our books

You read that correctly. Don’t spend a dime, but ask your library to spend the money it has to buy e-books and paperbacks and make sure that they buy the books that Sullivan Street Press publishes.

A big sale is going on right now

All our books are now on sale to libraries. They can buy them for 35% off.When you go into your library with the list of titles published by SSP, you are actually going in and saving them money.

Not a way to undercut bookstores

I know you are thinking that. Your mind is saying right now: If I go to the library and ask them to buy a book written by Mickey Z. or Deborah Emin or Paul Graham, I am hurting my bookstore. But you are not.

What you are doing is helping this publishing company to get its books into more hands than just yours. If you like any of our books, your trip to the library is a gift to this publishing company and to the authors we publish. If all the people who like our books went to their library and asked for the books to be on the shelves or available for digital download, this company and many other small publishers would be financially viable and able to publish more books and put into readers hands many more stories about this world that need to be told.

You could never buy as many copies of our books as the libraries can

Simple math, my friends. Think about it this way too. I can ask each of you to buy a book. I could even ask you to also contribute to our GoFundMe account. But with one visit to the library, you could order all of our books, not spend one penny and make sure that all of our books can be read and enjoyed by your entire community. How many times do appeals for help come this wrapped up with ease and sharing?

Thank you to all of you who will take me up on this project.

Here are the books, with their ISBNs, which the librarian will need to order the books. And if you are asked if our books are available for library purchase, say yes, and say by Baker & Taylor, OverDrive, 3M, and EBSCO. Your librarian will think you are very smart.

Occupy These Photos, by Mickey Z.//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-9-6 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9963491-0-9

Occupy this Book, by Mickey Z.//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-4-1 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-1-0

Eating Vegan in Vegas, Second Edition, by Paul Graham//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-5-8///Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-2-7

Scags at 7, by Deborah Emin//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-6-5  Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-0-3

Scags at 18, by Deborah Emin//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-8-9 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-7-2

#Vegan Thanksgiving: More Thanks

We are a mere two days away from Thanksgiving and it appears that there is way too much for Sullivan Street Press to be thankful for to be expressed all in one blog post. I am definitely thankful that the press has had the opportunity to publish books on being vegan, Eating Vegan in Vegas, and that we are working on its third edition, due to launch in Las Vegas during the Vegas VegFest.

Authors Teaching Publisher

I am grateful to the authors who entrust their books to Sullivan Street Press and want to share with the world their ideas whether they are about what it is like to be a vegan in Las Vegas, meaning a big shout out to Paul Graham. Or an also big hug of gratitude to Mickey Z. for his two books, Occupy this Book and Occupy These Photos. Working on Mickey’s books has been a joy and the look of each book has made me very proud of the quality of the books Sullivan Street Press publishes. I have learned a great deal from both these authors. Paul, in a way, led me to being a vegan and that led me to search out vegans in NYC and see what they were up to which led directly to Mickey and his fascinating talks at cafes, at rallies and that led to the books.

Publisher Meets Incredible Chef

As a publisher, I walk into all kinds of situations to meet new people and learn from them what they are doing. In a similar fashion, I met Laura Theodore, to many known as the Jazzy Vegetarian.  Laura has graciously supplied recipes from her new book, Vegan-Ease to this #vegan blog. I am thankful for the ways in which Laura supports the work Sullivan Street Press does and so, I share with you a favorite recipe of hers:

Spinach-Tomato Vegan Omelet
Makes 2 servings / Ease Factor 3

I tried for years to create a tasty vegan omelet, so I was super excited when I came up with this oven-baked version. Because a tofu-based omelet is more delicate than the classic egg version, I have developed a jazzy method for helping it to stay together when serving. It takes a little bit of extra fuss, but is well worth the effort.
TOMATO LAYER
2 medium tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Several grinds of freshly ground pepper
SPINACH LAYER
5 to 6 cups very lightly packed baby spinach, washed and dried
TOFU “EGG” LAYER
1 block (14 to 16 ounces) firm regular tofu
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1⁄8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (for dusting top)
¼ cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat with vegan margarine a heavy, ovenproof 10-inch round sauté pan or skillet with tight fitting lid.
Arrange the tomatoes in the prepared skillet by overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle the thyme, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper evenly over the top of the tomatoes. Top the tomato layer with all of the baby spinach, pressing it down slightly.
Put all of the tofu “egg” layer ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Spread the tofu mixture evenly over the spinach, smoothing the top as you go.

Dust the top of the tofu layer with the additional 1⁄4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes. Put the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
Carefully cut the omelet into two servings, by slicing down the middle. Gently lift one-half of the omelet out of the pan, using two very large, flat spatulas. Place it tomato side down onto a rimmed dinner plate. Place a second rimmed dinner plate of the same size firmly over top of the omelet and quickly flip it over to invert the omelet so the tomatoes will now be facing upward. Sprinkle the tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the vegan cheese, if desired. Then, use the spatula to gently fold the omelet over. Proceed plating up the second half of the omelet in the same manner.
Spoon the sauce that remains in the bottom of the pan over each omelet. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve warm.

Amount per serving, based on 2 servings: 188 Calories; 11g Fat; 2g Saturated fat; 21g Protein; 107mg Sodium; 7g Total Carbohydrate; 2g Sugars; 4g Fiber

 

Recipe from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease, © 2015 Laura Theodore, reprinted by permission. You can follow Laura on Facebook and Twitter.

E-Books, Print Books and Giving

Ah, it is that time of year again, no, not quite Christmas, but almost my birthday and Chanukah. Now my thoughts turn to snow, the cold and how you can support this publishing company I run, Sullivan Street Press.

Hear my prayers

First I pray that most of you will take it into your hearts to love and to read e-books. Whether you buy them for yourself, buy gift cards for your friends and family, ask your libraries to buy our books, there are so many ways you can both show your support for our e-books while at the same time helping the authors I publish get their stories into a wider world of readers. (To learn more about e-books, here is a recent blog post about e-books.)

Know our mission

I was talking to a new author today and I realized that I don’t outline our mission clearly enough. It is a lofty one, full of the need for more stories being told that will help our readers understand the life around us better. The authors I publish have all helped me to gain things I might not have even known I needed. Paul Graham’s book, Eating Vegan in Vegas helped me to become a vegan. Mickey Z.’s first book with us, Occupy this Book helped me to understand how to be an advocate and activist while his second book, Occupy These Photos was an eye opening series of photos showing activists at work from OWS to the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations in NYC.

Coming Attractions

It is not seemly, some say, for a publisher to sell her own books through her company. My answer to that is simple: Who cares? The latest volume of the Scags Series, Scags at 30, will be out in May. (You can learn more about the earlier volumes here.)

Look to April for the Third Edition of Eating Vegan in Vegas. This latest edition will be a guide to vegan restaurants in Las Vegas but more than that it will be a resource for all visitors to Las Vegas who want to know what is going on in the Animal Rights community, how the environmental movement is shaping up in Las Vegas, where to go to find the artists and those working to help spread the word about a plant-based life in Las Vegas.

Starting a new poetry series, too

I had a vision in West Virginia of the sort of poetry books that SSP could publish. I know we now have the capacity, through our distributor, INScribe Digital, to make available both e-books and bound books that could have text as well as full-color photos in them. I had been thinking about Liza Charlesworth’s poetry and her photographs for a long time.

Out of these visions and memories, a new hybrid poetry book was born. Liza’s book, Why Happiness Makes Me Nervous, uses text as a trunk for her lyrical narrative of a girl growing into the world and uses photographs as visual poems that expose another set of emotional experiences similar to leaves on a tree that come out of the trunk, her poems. This will be a book to linger within for hours. Whether bought as an e-book or a bound book, it will be a beautiful addition to what we refer to as poetry but as a new hybrid form.Liza’s book will be out in April, in time for National Poetry Month.

Send good wishes, support and your money

SSP is in need of your support as we begin this new year with new books, new authors, new ways of producing books (which I will describe more fully in another blog post) and our continued commitment to see publishing as a creative act.

GoFundMe will gladly take your payments for next year’s work. Thanks in advance.

#Vegan Thanksgiving: Blog from Paul Graham

Paul Graham sent in this wonderful blog about where to eat a #Vegan Thanksgiving meal in the Bay Area and I share it with you.

Thanksgiving at Millennium Restaurant

After two decades as an award-winning vegan restaurant in San Francisco, Millennium Restaurant will celebrate its first holiday across the Bay in Oakland.  Millennium has been recognized as one of the top 25 vegan restaurants in the world.  They are having a very special Thanksgiving Celebration meal featuring roasted kabocha squash, mushroom torte, and desserts like maple-pecan sweet potato pie with bourbon cream and huckleberry compote.  The cost for this premier vegan Thanksgiving restaurant option in the San Francisco Bay Area will be $62 for adults, $30 for children under 12.  This will be a five-course meal and will be served 2:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Millennium Restaurant
5912 College Ave.
Oakland, CA.
(photo: Crusted Pumpkin with Lentils)