Anatomy of a Book

It’s time to prepare yourselves for more Nacho than you can stand:  The Cult-Culture project! I’m going to start a sort of “anatomy of a book” series because I’m going to use Kickstarter to fund the book and that means I’ll be hounding all of you relentlessly.

In the end, this project is an experiment for my real life alter ego. Is it feasible to run with a series of Kickstarter-funded books and, if funding is reached, put them out as full-on frontlist releases through my current distributor? We’re talking the whole nine yards – review copies, worldwide availability, finicky authors calling me from their tour hotels and demanding access to the minibar… Fuck these self-published vanity books. Is it possible for a real publisher to put together a real book using crowd-sourcing? Or whatever it’s called.

Well, yes, it is. Of course. Because it’s really all about the money. Doesn’t matter where it comes from. The trick is making the book work with the byzantine list of deadlines and requirements that make a frontlist release happen. So my goal with the Cult-Culture book is to gauge how I can make various planets line-up while dealing with the fact that funding through Kickstarter is an all or nothing gamble.

However, the Cult-Culture book will be a little easier, and hit the distributor as a backlist title. Still worldwide, and on every virtual and physical shelf out there, but more grassroots. Just for the sake of my sanity, timing, and costs. Launching a frontlist title involves lots of heartache, expectation, effort, and nickel and diming from the distributor (and all the other people who have their hands in the pie).

I don’t mind the nickel and diming, but there is the increased scrutiny paid to a frontlist title. Without fail, for every book I’ve published, the distributor comes back with a long list of nattering little questions like a disappointed, over-protective parent. Why’s this on the cover? Do you have a better blurb for the back? We don’t like the spacing of these letters, or that box. We don’t like that color on the spine, or the shape of that page, or blah blah blah… I shouldn’t complain. They do it so that they can better sell the book and make me money. And god bless them for it. Except it’s hard to be motivated about selling a book when the resellers get a 50% discount, and then the distributor takes 27% of my profit.

An indie press can expect to shift just a few hundred copies per title, on average. Some do better, and there are success stories, but, really, it’s time for champagne if you move 500 copies. Except, when you lose 77% of the face value per copy, and factor in the cost to print the book, then you don’t have enough money for champagne!

Now… A backlist title won’t get their full support, but it’ll still get the full release. It’ll travel down the same pipe, and do so with less heartache. I can have the title of the book be “Fuck You” by Adolf Hitler and have a huge, gaping asshole on the cover and the distributor won’t notice. Or, if they do notice, it’ll be along the lines of, “Gee, Janie, we sure have some weird backlist titles!”

Timing is also a problem. If we go frontlist, then the earliest possible release date is going to be March 2012. Backlists can come out whenever, and I feel it fitting that I try and get this title out during Greatsociety’s tenth anniversary year.

But none of that matters right now. The first step is to try and get the book together. Give it a good, long edit. Nice and hard. Oh, yeah, that’s right, no typo has ever been this deep, Mr. Sasha! FILL ME UP!!

Coming soon: Estimating costs, assembling the team, lighting half edited manuscripts on fire and freaking out on Facebook, making a book trailer, and more!


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