23 January, 2006

Now, I must admit that I'm not wild about print-on-demand. There is just something about it that makes me uncomfortable, and I can't really explain why. I wish I could put my finger on it. I know I've railed once or twice in this here journal about problems with print-on-demand, but I've never been entirely happy with those rantings and ravings because they always felt just a little on the uninformed side. I mean that I had found out some info, but I hadn't really looked into it. My old roommate, Greg, had passed along some articles he had gathered on the topic, and I had glanced at them. The articles had sort-of played into my fears about print-on-demand, and I had proceeded to rant and rave on the topic. I had complained about the fact that the print-on-demand outfits mentioned in the articles had all been associated with major publishers. The articles had been trying to talk about how wonderful it was that major publishers were supporting this print-on-demand thing, and they were willing to support works that would not otherwise see the light of day. The potential downside to this, which is what I railed about, was that it created a case in which a work never went out-of-print, and if that work never went out-of-print, then the rights never reverted to the author. I find this possibility highly unfair. Of course, I never entirely discovered if it was true, which always bothered me, and made me reluctant to pursue print-on-demand.

The other thing that has always kind-of bothered me about print-on-demand was the whole vanity press side to it all. Oh, I know; I'm really one to talk, right? What is the difference between a self-publisher and a vanity press? Chutzpah. Hell, I don't know. But, I like the sound of chutzpah so I'm going with that. After all, in the world of modern art where the difference between modern art and crap is really just a matter of the mind, then what is a modern artist other than somebody with a lot of chutzpah, right? Or as I like to say, if somebody can stand there in front of a pile of snail snot and convince people that it is art, then it is most definitely art. End of story.

But, yeah, I don't know. Print-on-demand or vanity press? I really don't know, which I suppose is also a byproduct of when I was looking into self-publishing. The self-serving vanity press really was still far outweighing the seriously demented self-publishing turd like me. I mean I had actually heard of print-on-demand when I published The Magic Flute. I had. The thing of it is that the few sites I had found that provided this type of service were really still of the full-service variety. They did it all. Why, all you had to do was email them your word document and they would format it. They would bind it. They would even go through all of the bother of getting an ISBN number for it. Yeah, all-in-one service. Which really just screamed vanity press at me. I don't know why. It just did. Maybe, it was the way the websites offering these various and sundry publishing services were laid out. I don't know.

It all just made my skin itch, and that is all there was to it.

I mean I would get the sporadic question about print-on-demand. What did I think of it? Why hadn't I done it? No, really, what was my problem? Why hadn't I gone print-on-demand? And my response? Get the fuck away from me! I don't care about print-on-demand! It's the spawn of a devil child!

Okay, maybe I didn't say that. But, you get the idea.

So, how did I go from print-on-demand making my skin itch to seriously considering using this print-on-demand service provided by Cafe Press? Well, that is going to require an embarrassing if somewhat interesting digression. Okay, it's only interesting to me, but I I don't care about you lot so fuck off if you don't like it.

See, I like reading scripts. I like reading plays. I like movie and even the occasional television script. Don't seem to know why, really. I just do. There is something about it. Doesn't make sense but there you are. So, I've got Shakespeare, and I've got Six Degrees of Separation, which is just an awesome play to read, by the way. I've got Waiting for Godot, and I've got the Pulp Fiction screenplay. Bought it at the store and everything, too. I've got Miller's Crossing, and I've got Fargo. I've got Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. I've got the original Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy radio scripts, and I've even got the complete Monty Python television scripts. Wait, I may have lost some of those. I don't remember. I may have lost my copy of Fargo, but you get the idea.

I like scripts. So, when I heard that there was going to be something like fifteen volumes of Babylon-5 scripts, well, what can I say? I was intrigued. I wanted, and I knew I wasn't going to get. I mean, fifteen volumes? Yeah, right. Where would I put them? And, it was going to cost something on the order of three hundred dollars to get them all? Okay, that was right out, but I could still get the first one. Check it out. I mean, I like scripts. Of course, I was going to get the first one.

So, I just figured that this Cafe Press outfit that was going to be publishing the scripts was just some small press or other. I wasn't expecting them to be print-on-demand, which really peaked my curiosity. I mean if some big undertaking like fifteen volumes of Babylon-5 scripts was going to come out through this brain trust then maybe they weren't all bad.

So, I decided to definitely get the first script book and check it out. I mean if the guys were professional and the book looked good then maybe I would consider it. Maybe, I would actually think about working with this Cafe Press outfit. So, the first script book arrived. Late but that was okay. They seemed really cool about the whole thing. Nice people to trade email with. So, the book arrived, and it looked awesome. No, fly-by-night production here. Nice binding. Clean pages. Heavy stock paper. The book was a little on the flimsy side. I mean, if you just left it on the coffee table, the front cover had a tendency to curl, but I could live with that, I suppose. Not really any worse than any book I've purchased from a fucking bloodsucker of a major publishing company. So, yeah, this was cool.

So, the games began. I swear if I start one more paragraph with "so" then I am just going to scream. I dove back into The Etymology of Fire, and I've spent the better part of two months reading through it looking for typos and crap, which has had a rather surprising side effect. I mean I really just wanted to glance through the book and find obvious stuff. Typos and shit. But, I found myself actually editing the fucker. Making a change here. Altering a sentence there. Next thing I know, I'm whacking whole paragraphs. Okay, that only happened a couple of times, but really, Jesus, there were some really awful sentences in there.

But, that is all done now. I mean I've still got to enter the last two chapters of edits into the computer, but I'm done. I've already updated the PDF files on my website. No, really, look. If you had bothered to read parts of The Etymology of Fire before, you may be surprised to discover that it has been tightened-up. Not a lot. Not all over the place. In fact, if I've done a good job, you won't even notice the changes. Okay, there are two ways to interpret that last sentence, but I'm just not going to worry about it.

So, let's see, what is left? I've got to enter the edits for the last two chapters, and I need to prepare the pre-pages. You know. All of the title pages and the copyright page and all of that crap. I need to prepare the cover, which Samantha is going to help me out with. She has promised to provide me with a cover illustration, which will be really cool. Of course, it will just totally suck monkey balls if I cannot figure out how to make her illustration work. I mean I'll have to scan the damn thing and make sure it looks cool in Photoshop. I just hope I'm up to the challenge. I've got no doubts that Samantha can produce a kick-ass drawing. I'm just worried about my own Photoshop skills. So, yeah, if there isn't a title illustration. If the cover is really just sort-of bland with nothing but text and whatnot, then blame me because it will be totally the fault of the author who couldn't figure out his own computer enough to transfer a beautiful hand-drawn illustration into somethin I could stick on the cover of a book. Sigh.

So, you may have noticed I've been testing the Cafe Press, yes? You may have noticed something of a shirt and a mug with a quote from String Finger Theatre available over yonder at Cafe Press, yes? Anyway, that is just me experimenting, and hopefully somewhere in the not too distant future, The Etymology of Fire will actually be available for sale.

After that? Oh, The Faire Folk of Gideon, of course. And, I'll actually be able to prove that I've written and published three novels. Yeah, damn straight. This shit is cool.

Okay, it'll still be print-on-demand, I know, but that doesn't mean it won't be cool.

copyright © 2006 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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