Red Queen Crown with A Removable Bellyband
Yesterday, I was so annoyed to realize how much work I still had to do that I went into some kind of a disgust-fueled overdrive and made a week’s worth of work happen in a day. It was like there were four of me. One of the things that I did was to make the sales BLAD (BLAD is publishing jingo for the sales flyer that goes out to distributors and shops who might carry the book, and stands, unimagininatively, for “Book Layout And Design Flyer”.) You can see it here, if you like: CGB BLAD. It explains why our book is different, shows the covers, sample photos and illos (well, one illo) and in general attempts to convince jaded store owners to buy it. And they don’t buy books anymore, because they are rightly tired of people looking through books in their shops (bending them and fingerprinting them in the process) and then going home and ordering them from Amazon for half-price. They can’t afford the shelf space.
This whole Amazon situation is a problem, but I don’t think it’s exactly the problem it’s assumed to be. Amazon isn’t a bad thing, it just has too much power and people have been foolish. The publishing houses have all sold their souls to Bezos en masse, and by selling out as they did, they ensured that no one would buy their books in shops. The publishers make a very small profit, the bookstores make nothing, the authors make nothing unless the book is a bestseller, Jeff Bezos buys all of the air around the planet and sells it back to us. They print in China. It’s fucking nuts. Sure, I could have made CGB for a publisher. And it would have been flattened out, and cut down, and neutered of odd spellings, personality, Upskirt Goat, UnderHorns, “mad skilz”, and likely that picture of Larry. It would have been sent overseas, bound in a way that makes it not useful for working from, and sold by the container. Meh. I’m not playing bad games anymore. Horse is supportive.
We have to look at a whole system when we buy in, not just short-term ease. I was watching TV yesterday, answering my email, and I saw one of the current ads that makes me insane. It’s a commercial for Glad Force-Flex plastic trash bags, and it shows a woman with a too-big house and too much trash trying to cram too much fast food waste into a plastic trash bag. The bag advertises its genius new design by showing us how she can stuff an entire recyclable cardboard pizza box into it instead of getting a whole new plastic trash bag for it to not be recycled in. When I see that ad, or the one for Roto-Rooter that shows the nasal-voiced, incurious housewife showing us how she fixes a running toilet (by closing the door and pretending it isn’t happening) I have the same impulse- I want to remove everyone responsible for it, from concept to execution, from the human gene pool. Any survivors should be forced to run follow-up ads explaining the basics of recycling and water conservation. The Earth is stuffed with bad systems. We have to say no. I don’t know why Lark and Interweave have to send books to China and sell them to Amazon for pennies of profit. It’s the longest death spiral I’ve ever seen.
It’s a lot of work to do all of the things that they do, though, and do it well. We did our very best on this one. Did you see our Basics section, uploaded yesterday to the Specials For Pre-Orders Page?
In Pennsylvania, our plates are being cut. The presses will run a set of proofs for us this afternoon, and UPS will fly them in an airplane and bring them in a truck to my door, and I will have them in my hands tomorrow. The proofs come in big “signatures”, pages laid out on larger sheets, in the order that makes sense for, folding, binding. Our pages will be individually cut down to 6 x 9″ and spiral bound, so they don’t need signatures, but they go through the same process as ones that will be sewn or glued into bindings.
Once all of the files are approved, it’s time for me to go back into the book, and begin the Geppetto process of bringing the pages to life for the commercial eBook version. Live links, galleries… it’s like making a painting, adding layers and depth, checking them twice. Building the live index, manually (a huge job) and a Resources section that literally takes you to the shop, the kit, the bangle sizer. This will be the real product to sell, the eBook and App updates. The paper books, as much trouble as they are to make, are really only souvenirs of the process. They won’t feed us, they can’t be updated, they are not alive. They are paper records of a moment in time, a thousand times less useful than their living cousins. But there is something about a book, isn’t there?
I miss Bill dreadfully. Luckily I’ll see him in… five days, if I don’t expire of longing for his kiss before then.