Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Unfinished Business #6: Reassurance

 Dragon's Ark: The Music of Hunger at Sunset

In Hollywood and Big Publishing, it often happens like this. The announcement goes out that the release of Young and Hirsute: The Profound and Epic Life of Justin Bieber (or whatever that movie’s called) has been delayed. Sometimes the flack offers an excuse, usually scheduling conflicts with other releases; perhaps outside, real-life events make the release of Justin inappropriate or ill-timed—a sudden epidemic of juvenile alopecia, for example.

Even before the last echo fades into the deep shadows of news cave, mouths flatten and lips curl at either end as snickers pepper the mediascape like buckshot, all bearing the severe message, in that I-might’ve-known tone of voice:

“That means it sucks.” Back to the editing room, back to the soundstage, back to the keyboard to save the unsavable, the child already drowned and lost.

So, to muffle any carping from the peanut gallery, let me reassure everyone that the publication date of Dragon’s Ark is being pushed back from March 15 to April 26, 2011, not because it sucks (which it does not, because David Corbett told me so), but, really, for very banal--and unsurprising--technological reasons, which I’ll explain right now:

With all my emphasis on publishing and distributing Dragon’s Ark as a trade paperback POD, available in local bookstores, I’ve also been determined to see it properly distributed as an e-book. When I decided to start this venture long, long ago--last May--there was really only one e-reader—the
Kindle—standing astride the market and two main online publishing platforms: Scrib’d and Smashwords.

Back in that ancient time, it was simply a matter of an author uploading his book to Smashwords and Scrib’d and then strolling away, swiping his palms, his work done.

No more. As outlaw Pike Bishop might say, “Those days are closin’ fast.” An eternal year has passed and now dozens and dozens of e-readers clatter across the market table like spilled dominoes and, along with them, dozens and dozens of file formats. The digi-scape has churned into such complexity,
the independent publisher-author can no longer distribute his book from his own humble keyboard. Smashwords and Scrib’d are no longer the only dogs in the junkyard and could even—as I mentioned in an earlier essay—fall quickly from sight.

And so, as he has already done with editing and layout and cover design, the independent author-publisher—or at least the ones with ambition--must hire others for help in getting his book to the world, in this case employ the service known as an e-book distributor.

Of course, I’m hardly the first in cyberspace to note this. As evidence, I point out that my first selection for this service—E-book Architects from Austin, Texas, known as the first company to offer this service and still regarded as the main player—has a huge line of customers ahead of me, and all of
them are sure our books are great. As of now, there’s a delay of about 11-12 weeks. No way can I meet my original publishing dateline.

And that's all. Technical issues, pure and simple. You may sigh with relief and needn’t shake your head in pity, for I’ve not earned it. If anything, I hope the wait, the quivering anticipation,
makes readers even more eager, to open that lonely creaking door.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: My layout designer, Joel Friedlander of Marin Bookworks, has done the hard work--and it was hard, as you will read--of cobbling a directory of current e-book conversion companies. My first choice, discussed above, is so backed up with customers now, I may have to go elsewhere! Thanks Joel for this tremendous aid and good luck to everyone!

(Edited 2/10/11)

Copyright 2011 by Thomas Burchfield

Photo by Author

Thomas Burchfield's contemporary Dracula novel Dragon's Ark will be published this Spring by Ambler House Publishing. Other essays and postings can also be read at The Red Room website for writers. He can also be friended on Facebook, tweeted at on Twitter and e-mailed at tbdeluxe [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.


DorianTB said...

Hey, Thom, with the whirlwind changes in publishing nowadays, you should consider yourself fortunate that people haven't decided to throw in the towel and stop reading altogether! :-) All kidding aside, better to have your book merely delayed than canceled, God forbid! They say patience is a virtue; if that's so, we writers must be a virtuous lot indeed. We're rooting for DRAGON'S ARK to be in bookstores and on all newfangled formats ASAP!

Thomas Burchfield said...

Thanks for that, Dorian!

Anonymous said...

Used to be that you had to have the patience of Job. Now, it seems, your job is patience.

I am dazed by how rapidly the digital book market is evolving. I joined a Digital Books group on LinkedIn and am out of breath trying to keep up.

To me the real blessing is that Thomas is running interference for the rest of us. By the time I am ready to publish I will have a battle-hardened mentor. I plan to hang in there.