Monday, 17 December 2018

I'm Not a Fan of Admin...

And now, as Big Frank informed us years ago, the end is near. The end of the year? Definitely  The end of civilisation as we know it? Very possibly, based on the political shenanigans of the past twelve months. The end of the creation of Leeza McAuliffe Has Something To Say? Oh yes. Very much the end of that. 

Writing and publishing a book is a long-winded process. It was last December I finished the first draft. Then, after a professional edit, and a bunch of family members reading, re-reading, critiquing, and correcting, it became the final version around September. Since then (apart from the continual re-reading, re-writing, and general tinkering that never stops) there's been a load of other stuff to do. Admin. Bloody admin. I left my last admin-heavy job in order to spend my days wafting around in a creative haze. I didn't appreciate how many online forms there would be in my new life.

My admin notebook.
No characters, plots,
or themes here.
 It's PURELY technical. 
So, with no expectation of being 100% correct about anything, here's my list of admin-based tasks that take place after writing a book. DISCLAIMER: This is not gospel. It's likely to be out of date within five minutes and will probably contain errors. Plus, I'm coming from a UK perspective. Always consult your own experts/search engines in the event of needing actual facts. But as a rough guide, and an outlet for my frustration and annoyance at the more technical aspects of book making, here we go.

If you want to publish a book, you need an International Standard Book Number. I bought ten numbers before my first book came out. (It was way more economical than buying one.) In the UK, it's Nielsen who'll sort you out. In the US, it's Bowker. All versions of your book need their own number, so the ebook and paperback are different. 

I am not a typesetter, or a bookmaker, or a graphic designer. I know nothing of those skills. Indeed, it was a bit of an eyeopener when I realised that books weren't simply Word Docs bound together with a jazzy cover. Luckily for me, I stumbled across Joel Friedlander's book templates just in time for my first book to be done. It would have been a nightmare otherwise. The template enabled me to copy and paste the entire draft. It had preset fonts and spacings so I didn't need to worry about words getting trapped in the crease, or page numbers not following convention. (Did you even know odd numbers are ALWAYS on the right? I've been asleep this whole time.) It took about a week to transfer, and having done it once before, was infinitely easier second time round. 

See? It's a thing of beauty.
No worries here.
This was the easiest part because I didn't do anything. I have a cover man! He was fab, he knew exactly what he was doing, and it was the one area I didn't worry about for a second.

Publishing and Distribution Accounts
Some indie-publishers work solely with Amazon. I prefer to use Ingram Spark for my paperbacks, and Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) for my ebooks. This meant there were two accounts to set up before my book was available. (Everything gets sold through online channels such as Amazon, but Ingram Spark is responsible for printing and sending the paperback to the Amazon user who has purchased it.) Both KDP's and IS's set-up processes were similar. They wanted a short description of the story, the author's name, the date of publishing, and a bunch of other stuff.
Inside my admin notebook,
working out the economics
of different book sizes.

A Bunch of Other Stuff
Information like trim size, number of pages, keywords, who owns the rights, what territories you want to sell in, and how much you want to charge in each of those locations, were all pieces of information I needed to provide. I found myself doing random research about book prices in Canada, or trying to work out why Australia had such expensive books compared to the rest of the world. It was somewhere between interesting and stressful, depending on how busy I was at the time.

In order to choose the book size,
it came down to measuring
books with a tape measure.
Books that are similar in style
and 'look' were all a similar size too.
I ended up choosing 5 x 8 inches.
More Other Stuff - BIC codes
At one point in the setting-up process, I was asked for three BIC codes. (Pardon? What are BIC codes, you ask? Not a clue, pal. Sorry.) Once again, the Internet filled in the blanks. After a decent search, I learnt that BIC is Book Industry Communication and there are about a zillion categories that a book can come under. I found a list, worked out where my story of Leeza fitted, and added the top three category codes to the account. But that whole process took the best part of a day and I'm still not sure I got it right. Still. *nods and smiles in blissful ignorance.*

Registering with Nielsen
Once the book was set up and pre-ordering became available, I had to go back to Nielsen - remember the ISBN people? - and register the book. This involved another form to complete, but by that point I'd come across all the terminology before. I'm not sure why registering was necessary, but it was. It was also something I had neglected to do with my first book. When I searched for Carry the Beautiful on Nielsen's database, it was there but without my imprint being listed as the publisher. Booo! Luckily there was a simple enough process to 'claim the book' which meant another form, and another wait for a few days, but eventually it came through. I officially now have two books listed in an official capacity. Officially.

Still To Do
There's this thing called Legal Deposit. When your book is finally published, you need to send a copy to the British Library. I know! I find this hysterical. I can ONLY assume that they want to see a copy to believe it exists, scan the info, and then incinerate it. I mean, there cannot be a physical copy of every single thing ever written, can there? I've no idea. Last time, when I sent Carry the Beautiful to the British Library, I got a request for five more copies. A bunch of other libraries wanted them. (More info here.) If you're ever passing Aberystwyth, Edinburgh, Dublin, Oxford, or Cambridge, pop in and read my words!

And now it's time to go back to Sinatra. The end is nigh and the final curtain is well and truly being faced. This means I've done all the things above (apart from the Legal Deposit stuff which will be in March) and I'm ready to move on. After Christmas there'll be loads of urging the world to buy my book. Then March will be here and I'll bang on about it even more. Only then, can I shut up and start being creative again. (I've missed it so much.) For now, thanks for listening to my admin rant. It's made me feel a little better, at least.

Have a lovely week, folks.

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