I’ve been working hard at getting these books ready to send to Lightning Source by the end of the month (to get that deal I mentioned; I think having a good, definitive version of these books and enough inventory to last indefinitely is worth it – the trick being to get a good, definitive version ready for print in about a month), and I’ve finished writing Book Six, done two editing passes on the text already, have it in the hands of (or already back from) 4 Beta Readers (not all the people who usually assist me with reading have read the Untrue Tales… series, or had time to get it done this week), and will be beginning recording of the audio version this week, if all goes well. Next week at the latest. (Recording & editing the audio version requires 2-3 very close reads of every word & sentence in the book, and it’s been my intention for the last several books to finish those steps before putting the book in print.) So, for the last couple/few days I’ve been working on designing the covers for the paper (re-)release of the six books of the Untrue Tales… series as two trilogies. Here are the current iterations of the covers I’ve designed, side by side:
I’ve decided to go with a larger format for these books for a couple of reasons, going from the 8×5″ I’ve used for all my other paperback releases to 8.5×5.5″ – partially so I can get the page counts down, since the cost to me for having any book printed is directly related to the number of pages, partially to give the impression that these books are “bigger” and “contain more” than my other books, since people feel like size means value even for books, and also because this is a very ‘popular’ size lately for trade paperbacks. As I mentioned before, part of why I’m re-releasing the first trilogy is so that I can put out a matched set that will look good together on a shelf, and you can see at right what the spines of the books (with the current version of the design) will look like next to each other. I think they look pretty good. (If you have any feedback on any of the images in this post, please comment (or email me, or tweet me, or message me on facebook).)
Showing the spines like this may bring up a question about the books’ titles. As I’ve learned in the years since initially writing the first two books of this series (ah, 2004/2005, when I thought that, just as I could (as a self-publisher) write whatever content I wanted, I could title books in any way I wanted), the publishing industry has some very specific requirements, limits, and expectations about what book titles will be. There is a reluctant acceptance of long book titles, but they must be structured in a very particular way: “Short Title: Long Title” where ‘Long Title’ is actually a subtitle, for metadata purposes. It’s important to note that, as I’ve complained about before, the publishing industry expects all ‘Short Titles’ to be under 5 words (often not counting ‘the’ and ‘of’, but you get the idea). I really didn’t want to compromise on the titles of these books, not really, so what I’ve decided to do is make the ‘Short Title’ of each book something like “The First Untrue Trilogy” and put the actual, full titles of all the included books in as a subtitle. This has the advantage of making it clear, when looking at these books in an online catalog or on an eReader (I’m thinking of putting the series out in combined eBook editions, possibly these trilogies (for parity w/ the new print versions), as well.) which books you’re getting. Unlike the current iteration of my titles, where the first title of each book is first, and which comes first, “Escape From Exile,” “The Bloodless Battles,” or “An Introduction To Dodgeball”?
A big challenge I’ve been facing is how to describe the books, especially the books of The Second Untrue Trilogy in a way which doesn’t spoil … anything. It’s nigh-impossible. Without being vague beyond the point of frustration; there is almost nothing that can be said about what happens in Books 4-6 which doesn’t give away at least a little something about what happened in Books 1-3. I’ve tried. It’s possible I’ve failed, and that the descriptions which follow still give too much away. Aside from general feedback about the basic design of the covers, which I would love to get, this is the most important thing I need help with. Writing marketing copy is my weakness. Marketing is, to me, like kryptonite is, to Superman. I work on writing a couple of paragraphs, then feel sick for a couple hours. The last couple of days have been hell. I’m sure my inability to write good/effective marketing copy is why my books/eBooks don’t sell well, and for these print editions, this text will have a *very* long shelf life; I’m ordering 50 copies of each book, which is almost three times more copies than I sold of my best selling paperback book, ever. Anyone, whether you’ve read the books or not, please, please read the following back-cover descriptions I’ve written up and let me know what you think. Will they be effective? Do they make you want to read the books? Do they give too much away? I don’t know what to do… This part freaks me out more than anything else about running a publishing company or small business.
In other news, Untrue Tales… Book Five launched on Podiobooks.com today!