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On Self Publishing (cont.): Consortium Time

You almost certainly already know this about me, but I’m a captain of industry. I’m a prince of the new media. I’m a president, CEO, and executive director of a small business registered with the State of Oklahoma (national tax exempt status…pending).

I’m talking about the Consortium, a cooperative of artists dedicated to an industrious pursuit of pure craft. They’re also my family, my friends, and my publishing company.

We’ve got about twenty artists currently working as volunteers, spread across four or five disciplines, and at least twenty active projects, ranging from Consortium Books (building an indie book publisher from the ground up), to the software that makes Consortium Books possible (BookMaker), to music albums, videogames, art shows, and a big art contest/fundraiser scheduled for May.

We’re busy people, and it’s almost all collaborative work. So, to try to coordinate us all, we’ve established Consortium Time. Every Monday night, from 6-10 pm, Trish and I open up our house for any Consortium artist to come by and spend a few hours connecting, coordinating, and working.

Every week it’s a thrill to see who shows up, and to participate in (or just eavesdrop on) all the different projects under discussion. Last night that was Sean working on a lot of fixes to Becca’s and Courtney’s websites, and Jessie discussing edits of Courtney’s novels with her, and then (into the wee hours of the morning) me discussing potential rewrites of my fantasy series with Courtney (and filling her in on the whole extended history of my fantasy world).

Today, though, I want to talk about last week. Last Monday, six days after the official street date of Ghost Targets: Expectation. It was also the first time I’ve been late to my own Consortium Time.

That last bit happened because I was at Starbucks meeting with Joshua and a Public Relations expert friend of his who was volunteering some time to help a good cause. Afterward, Joshua came over for his first Consortium Time, and he and I were standing in the kitchen talking about the challenges of serial publication and the relative mythical significance of tights when there came a knock at the door.

That was Ed and Courtney. (Our Vice President has made as much room in her schedule as Trish and I have, making herself a regular fixture our weekly event. I’m quite proud of her for that.)

Ahem! Anyway! Ed and Courtney were there, and as soon as I opened the door Courtney offered me a package — a plain brown box with a big UPS shipping label on the top. It wasn’t a gift, just something that had been left on our front porch that she’d scooped up for me.

I cackled gleefully, ushered everyone into the house, then rushed for a pair of scissors to get the box open. Then I pulled out four proof copies of the paperback of Ghost Targets: Expectation (the first ones I’d seen), and passed them out.

“Skim,” I said. “You can talk later. For now, make yourselves useful.”

And, of course, they did. They oohed and aahed over the lovely glossy cover (and the brilliant artwork — thanks Julie!). They commented on the interior layout. They gave me feedback on the teaser to Ghost Targets: Restraint tucked into the back (and drew my attention to an errant tab space).

And then on page 50, Ed found a paragraph that ended like this:

Meg gave a flourish, and shook her head, still smiling. “I thought
you were some kind of super sleuth, picking that one cabinet–

Just like that. With the closing quote all by itself on the last line.

To my credit, that was the only one in the whole book (he checked). I’d actually checked, I’d specifically looked for that problem when I was doing my paper layout, but (as I mentioned) I ended up doing some major last-minute rewrites, and that little oversight slipped in as the result of one of those changes.

I stared at it. It was wrong. It looked wrong on the page. The errant tab space on the teaser page irritated me, too, but it would take a tech writer or line editor to even spot it. And we didn’t spot anything else (in that quick scan through the book, anyway).

I knew that rejecting the proof would mean an0ther two-week delay on getting the book up for sale — time to correct the document, time to submit the corrected document and get it approved, time to ship the new proofs to us, and then time for the sales page to go live at Amazon after we approved the corrections.

So I talked it over with everyone present, and eventually made the decision myself. I went to the CreateSpace site then and there, and approved it as-is. I’ll fix it for the second printing (which will probably happen in August, coinciding with the release of Ghost Targets: Restraint), but for now, I wanted to have my book available for all my fans.

That’s part of the process. There are always imperfections. There are always little oversights. Just yesterday I spotted and fixed a typo in Gods Tomorrow. It happens.

Your job — whether you’re a writer or a publisher — your job is to get it as right as possible. And the key to that is to understand the processes you’re going to have to interact with, and to streamline your own processes, and get them all lined up nice and neat with each other.

That’s what I’m going to be talking about this week and next: their process, and yours. Come back Thursday, and I’ll tell you all about Amazon’s print-on-demand provider, CreateSpace. (There may be a rant or two. Or three.) Then Friday I’ll tell you about their other provider, Kindle Direct Publishing, and e-Book publication.

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