Month: September 2014

Printed Books of Splidge

Early cover designs for book 1

Early cover designs for book 1

The digital revolution is everywhere. It is fast taking over the world. Maybe it has already. And generally it is a good thing. For children’s authors who intend to self publish their work, it is not so good and I shall explain why.

Children, as we know, go to school. There they experience, often for the first time, printed books. Some of these children fall in love with them and will become the next generation of readers and, no doubt, have their ereaders in their pockets ready to grab at a moments notice, perhaps while waiting for a bus or riding on a train. But at the moment, while they are children, they know and use printed books.

Children, of course, are attracted to bright and shiny things, and tablets, mobile phones and computers are marvellous playthings; games, videos and social media websites are enjoyed to the full, but I do not believe the majority of children in the ‘reading’ world use them to read books. Not yet.

Therefore if you are a children’s self-published author and you want your work to reach your audience you need to have it printed.

Fortunately there is such a thing as print-on-demand. The digital technology has made it possible to have printed a single copy of your manuscript in the form of a professional looking perfect bound book. Fabulous! Companies like Amazon and Lulu can do this for you and not only print them, but make the books available for anyone in the world to purchase.

The downside to this incredible never-seen-before instance book-print situation is the price. To me, as an author, the fact that I may order my printed copy for less than an English tenner and have it delivered to my door within a week is amazing, but to a potential parent looking on line, the cost, when compared to other children’s books, is pretty steep. Almost double the price!

It is parents that are going to be buying the book online. They have the credit cards. So to compete in an over crowded marketplace I need to make my printed book cheaper. But how?

There really is only one way. Have them printed myself and in quantity. It’s not cheap and is a big risk.

It isn’t as expensive as it once was, however, and the quantities do not have to be ridiculously high. The risk is that you do not sell them and end with stacks of boxes all over your house.

However, I think if you have the printed book you have a lot of options open to you. Here are some of them:

First, you can still put them on Amazon and let them fulfil the orders. It costs a bit, but it would still make the price cheaper than the print-on-demand books.

Second, you can sell them direct from your own website. This is great because you can personalise them and sign them for the buyer.

Third, you can sell them at talks, workshops, and literary festivals. For children’s books it extra cool, because you could give away some to school libraries, offer them as prizes and perhaps sell a few at school fĂȘtes or craft fares.

All the other rules apply; have it proofread, edited with a good cover. But printing yourself is worth thinking about.

I am going to try it with Splidge the Cragflinger and shall report on how it goes.

Hubbub, smells and grime

streetOne of the key points in my fictional novel, about a boy who takes a job as a Cragflinger and enters a competition to save the bankrupt kingdom, is its unhealthy environment. The story is set in an alternative England, somewhere between the 15th and 18th century, which I call it the Land of Gud. Most of the action takes place in the Palace and in the streets of the City and I wanted to play down the glamour often associated with castles, knights and Merry England. Gud City is a mess, just as any city up and down Britain was in that period.

Back then, the streets of England were strewn with the detritus of human existence. Systems to deal with the increasing number of inhabitants who had left the countryside and sought a better life in the over crowded streets of swelling towns and cities were desperately lacking. The stench and noisome smells from unwanted rubbish deposited in public places couldn’t be avoided and the resulting diseases and plagues from rancid meat, swarming flies and vast numbers of unchecked vermin became an every day occurrence.

We take it for granted today that roads will be swept, rubbish collected and animal excrement picked up. In the not so distance past, few realised the importance for cleanliness.

There was also little regard for peace and quiet in the urban centres. People often lived above or adjacent to their workshops or factories and carried out their occupation at all times of the day and night. Many a sleep was disturbed by the banging and crashing of metal workers going about their lawful business or the horrific squeal of butchers slaughtering their pigs for the morning’s trade.

Add to this the vast range of animals wondering the streets and you get some idea of what we would call these days a totally unexceptionable way of life. But then, it was the norm. Imagine the continual clatter of hoofs on cobbles and you start to ‘hear’ the din as our ancestors did. As well as horses pulling wagons, carts and carriages through the messy, rutted, mud-covered streets, rooting hogs, clucking chickens, stray dogs and goodness knows how many species of vermin scurried about the place adding to the clutter.

In my story, the King of the land is well aware of the terrible state and is desperate to clean up the city, but lacks the funds. I wanted the reader to experience some of this unhealthy environment and remind them just how fortunate we are today with our street lights, paved streets and dustbin men. I am not sure we have conquered everything. Towns and cities are still busy and cluttered with other things that impede and frustrate the dweller; street furniture, traffic lights, authoritative signs, sirens, thundering lorries to name but a few.

Splidge the Cragflinger is available to buy in paperback or in ebook from most on-line retailers.