Friday, August 16, 2019

Novel Progress Countdown: Six Months to Publication

When I first announced the certain publication of my next book, Hezada! I Miss You, I imagined posting monthly updates about what was happening behind the scenes. Good idea, poor execution on my part. But I do have an update, even if it's already August and less than six months to publication.


Advanced Reader Copy: The advanced reader copy (ARC) has been created. The e-version is in the inboxes of writers who have agreed to blurb the novel. The print version is going out today. The readers will have approximately two months to read the novel and return their thoughts to Awst (the publisher).

You've likely run across an advanced reader copy of a book; it's the one that may not have the final cover on it, and probably says NOT FOR SALE, or something to this extent. I imagine that the copy is something like a cut of a film released to the rating agency but not to the public. But I know little of film. ARCs will be sent to reviewers and magazines as well. This is how publicity somehow miraculously happens before the public can reach the book. Buzz.

The Cover: The cover has been created, and it's stunning. LK James is the brilliance behind the cover. First, I received images she'd gathered on a Pinterest board that she thought might be up the alley of the book. I added some myself. Then she sent me three different sketches of how she imagined the cover. A little while later, she sent me a much more finished mock-up, and swore me to secrecy. I took her oath. But I can say that I absolutely love it. Love it. I love it so much that I've had internal debates about tattooing it on my shoulder. Is that silly? Is that pretentious? Does it matter what others think if I clearly love it? The cover will be revealed soon, soon, soon! The aim is the first of September. Start your anticipation.

The Book Trailers/Teasers: Phoebe Waldron has been working steadily on creating a book trailer for Hezada! as a way to get the word out about its existence and arrival. She started combing through vintage circus footage and transformed it into animation. She sent a few possibilities to me, which is how I know any of this. A few months later, she took the transformations onto another plane in how they looked, and by adding her voice in the background reading excerpts of the novel. She suggested that I could record excerpts, and she'd remove her voice and dub mine in, but I enjoyed the way that she read it, from her voice to how the words moved with the image. After all, she knew exactly how she wanted to sync what she said with the visuals she'd created. So, we're leaving her voice on the trailers. That pleases me greatly. The trailers will begin showing up on social media sometime in September.

Events: Even with the book half a year away, I've started scheduling events related to it, which means that my writer self will start appearing publicly again after a few years of hibernating after the release and book tour for The Whole World at Once. I have already two events this September and two in October. The first is the Montana Book Festival, September 12-15, which is my favorite book festival. Then, at the end of September, on the 28th, I'll help launch McSweeney's Indelible in the Hippocampus at Auntie's Bookstore. In October, I'll be on libraries on north and south Spokane. On October 5, I'm telling a story to children, ages 2+ as part of the South Hill Library Con, then at the end of October, on the 26th, I'll be leading two writing workshops as part of the Spokane Writer's Conference, one on writing with grief, and a shorter one on how to incorporate or use visual art as part of the writing process.

Pre-sales: Why a cover release? Why book trailers? Why events about a book no one in the audience has read? Because pre-sales. To sell a book, the book needs money behind it. Yes, the press may have some savings from past book profits, but often those "profits" are used to balance out the production of their last catalog of books, however big or small that catalog is. Ordering a book several months before it's published helps the book succeed; you're one of a team that every publisher and writer needs to help push the book uphill. The bigger the team pushing the book up the hill, the longer the book can glide down it without stopping or hitting a rock once it's published into the world.

Why pre-sales? Why such an emphasis on sales? Are you a capitalist? 
No. All of this, from the cover to the trailers to the events is, to my mind, how to move the book into the brains of the people I wrote it for. After years of working on the book, thinking about it, scribbling ideas down, writing it out, rewriting it five, ten, and so many times--after all the living, grieving, questioning I've done such that this novel is the result, now it's ready to be read. So, this is how to get it read. It's pretty beautiful that so many people take part in such an endeavor. By the end of the book's sales, maybe the publisher will break even. Maybe I will be able to cover the cost of gas and lodging at events with the sales from the book. Maybe not. Probably not. But all the people I will meet, the discussions I'll get to engage in, the new books and ideas I'll learn about, the readers who will discover my writing--all of it will be where the profit and value comes from.

Let's check in closer to February in regards to the publication process and where we are. How does December sound?

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