BLAUGUSTINE / BACK TO ARCHIVE

January 29, 2007 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

I know it isn't done, I know it's not seemly or correct or proper or dignified. But I'm going to do it anyway.

I'm going to ask you, anyone who has been coming over here regularly and was intrigued by Augustine's dialogues with God and especially,

anyone who has ordered and received their copies of The God Interviews,

I am going to ask you to please go to my page on Lulu

and write a review. Say anything you want, but say something.

And if you can say something on your blogs too, that would be stupendous.

Because that's how these things happen. The snowball effect.

It's not like I'm asking for attention and offering rubbish. You know those l'Oreal shampoo ads where the women shake their shiny hair and say "Because I'm worth it"? Well, you know I'm worth it. Not for shiny hair and not for me, but for the interviews, the book.

It's out there now, and I need you to say so.

Thank you.

Looking into my eyes

COMMENTS

January 26, 2007 http://www.mattmadden.com/

WHAT ARE THE WORDS THAT RULE YOUR THOUGHTS?

Blooker Prize button By the way:
I've entered The God Interviews in the Blooker Prize (comics category). The short list will be announced on March 12. Keep me in mind if and when you pray/meditate/tune in/drop out/think about the universe and everything in it which needs a bit of boosting.

I've been thinking about the words that rule our thoughts. Coincidentally, it was on this very day, January 26, 2004, that I first drew a page of cartoons titled The Kinds of Thoughts We Have. I see from my stats that quite a lot of people have browsed that page and I've toyed with the idea of doing a book expanding the theme but right now I just want to explore a bit further.

Like everybody else, I talk to myself inside my head. When I pay attention to this non-stop monologue, I notice that certain words or phrases often recur. If I were to turn this repetition into a graph, it would show a distinct pattern. Or if it could be heard, it would sound like one of those tunes you can't get out of your mind. Embarassingly, I must confess that the most repetitious words in my head are whines, complaints. I'm not going to list the actual words. Suffice to say that they have to do with being excluded, being an outsider, being un-recognised. I'm not fishing for reassurance, honestly I'm not. This is more like a scientific investigation. I'm interested in these repetitious mental patterns because they shape the way we perceive the world and maybe, to some extent, the experiences we have. What if it were possible to clearly see the dominant words/phrases that constantly recur in our inner monologues, as clearly as on a screen? And what if, in this exposure of a usually hidden process, we could simply cancel a pattern we don't like, or edit it, the way we can edit a poem we're writing or a painting we're painting?

A Roundandrounder thought

How about some reports on what words/sentences keep playing in your inner juke-box, wanted or unwanted?

COMMENTS

January 23, 2007

I can't say no to the gentle, inspirational, chutzpah-filled Velveteen Rabbi who has tagged me with the 5-things  meme, even though I'm reluctant to add more to the already bulging file of Me-Me stuff. So, Rachel, thanks for asking and here goes:

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I don't like milk, tall dark fir trees, the cold, suburbs, angora, and noise. Sitting in an air-conditioned suburban house wearing an angora sweater amidst tall dark fir trees and being obliged to drink milk while a punk band plays at top volume would be my idea of hell.

2. I love to dance and am a good dancer. To get from bad mood to good mood all I need is to put my old 45 rpm singles on the turntable and dance - rock/pop, samba, tango, flamenco, Indian, African - anything with a good beat. In New York I took some classes in Indian dance and African dance but gave up when it became too much like hard work.

3. I once worked as night-receptionist in a small hotel in London. Also as receptionist in a dentist's office. And salesgirl in a kinky leather shop.

4. I've never personally owned a car, a house or an i-pod. A small house in a warm climate would be nice.

5. I once had lunch with Norman Mailer at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. It was my crazy film-producer uncle's idea. He thought that Mailer would collaborate with me on a film script I was writing. I thought Mailer was simpatico, funny and cute but declined his invitation to come and help "paint his apartment". I was young and innocent but not that innocent. Now I could kick myself - think how much more interesting this would be if I'd accepted. Anyway, he took home my script, read it and sent it back with detailed and very perceptive handwritten notes. Like a complete idiot, years later when I was broke in London, I took my Mailer-annotated script to Sotheby's and it was sold at auction for a pretty good sum.

(P.S. to No.5: My script was a sort of parable about America and I illustrated it. It was un-filmable but a nice thing Mailer said was that I didn't need collaborators because my ideas were so individual. I remember this but can you believe that I didn't even keep a photocopy of the manuscript?)

Now I'm supposed to tag other people to write a Me-Me so I'll point the finger at Kim, at Whiskey River, at Daily Straying and at Teju Cole of Modal Minority. But of course they're free to refuse.

COMMENTS

January 22, 2007

A LATE-NIGHT BUSINESS CONFERENCE

Augustine seeks financial advice

COMMENTS

January 14, 2007

DOLLARS AND NON-SENSE 

I've just discovered that a potential customer for my book in the US has to pay $37 when postage and tax etc. is added on and, if they want to order several copies from Lulu, that's just too hefty a price to pay. I'm shocked, I agree it's too much, and I'm doing something I was reluctant to do before:

The God Interviews is now also available as a download from Lulu, at £2.03 ($3.67).

This way those who can't afford a printed/bound copy at the moment can at least still see the full content and maybe buy the real thing eventually. I might change my mind and remove this option later on but it'll stay for the rest of this month anyhow.

I have yet to hear Gd's opinion on this marketing lark - maybe we need to have a business conference.

Changing the subject to a far more serious kind of non-sense, you must hear Keith Olbermann's devastatingly incisive assessment of the war-escalation speech Bush made on January 11. It's on YouTube at this link.

COMMENTS

January 13, 2007

AM I BORING YOU? NO? GOOD, THEN I'LL CONTINUE 

Go see the preview of the Foreword, and of Chapter 6 on my God Interviews page where formerly all the strips were posted but are now gone gone gone since they can be found found found in the book book book.

I'm at risk of boring everybody if I keep on about this book's emergence into the real world but that's the risk you take if you choose the self-publishing path. You become a bore because you have to keep mentioning your product. Is anything more boring than someone trying to sell you something? I feel that I have to apologise therefore I'll never become a good salesperson. Okay, so I apologise for being about to give you more information than you probably want.

1. Complain, strongly, if you have trouble ordering The God Interviews from Lulu. Friends told me they kept having their perfectly valid credit card details rejected by Lulu with an error message until, exasperated, they gave up. The same thing happened to me and I complained and it was eventually sorted but still seems to be happening. Maybe this only applies to orders from outside the US? Whatever, it's unacceptable.

2. Pricing: I still want to apologise to those for whom £14.88 ($27 or  Euros 21.74) is too high a price. It may or may not help to know that my revenue on that is only £2.50 (Lulu takes the cost of printing, £11.75 per book, plus 20%).

3. Distribution via Amazon and other booksellers, online and otherwise: I'm looking into various options. Lulu only offers a distribution service if you publish from the US. I'm in the UK so that's that.

4. Publicity: Yes! I'm counting on you - nay, I'm abjectly begging you to mention the book on your sites, tell everyone about it, suggest people/places I could contact. You know it's good so why not flaunt it? I'm hugely grateful to those of you who have already begun to do this.

Enough sales pitch for today. Back to talking of other things soon.

COMMENTS

January 12, 2007

UPDATE ON BOOK ORDERING

The link to full details of The God Interviews on Lulu is here and to see preview pages click on the link beneath "View Back Cover" which says "Preview this book". I set up those pages myself so I know they're there!

Here's a Lulu button which should take you to the ordering place:

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Let me know if you have any problems on the Lulu site. And of course I'd be happy if, after you receive a copy, you'd leave a rating and review on my Lulu page.

COMMENTS

January 11, 2007

IT'S HERE. THE BOOK. IT HAS ARRIVED.

This morning. My first copy of The God Interviews. AlleLULUia.

God's lion holds the book

You can now go to my storefront on Lulu, where a link will let you see a preview of a few pages and where you can go ahead and order one or umpteen copies to be shipped to you. I've slashed the price absurdly but invitingly. And you can rate the book and write a review. And mention it on your blogs. And word-of-mouth-it everywhere in the known universe. You will, I know you will.

They were quick: I ordered a copy (with express delivery option) on Jan.4 so it took only 4 days (weekends don't count) from the UK printer. Lulu uses different printers depending on where you are in the world and there's no way for me to know what the differences are, if any, in the print quality elsewhere. But Lulu's customers seem to be happy with their products in general. I have a couple of quibbles about the copy I received: the binding is tight in the spine so you can't open the pages quite flat (that's the case with most paperbacks anyway) and the paper, though a good weight and quality, is glossy. This makes the colours really sharp and bright but I would have preferred a matt surface. But I'm hyper-fussy and I must admit,

IT IS GOOD. TERRIFIC, IN FACT.

Now I'll start organising the London launch and all the rest that needs doing.

COMMENTS

January 9, 2007

BOOK-PRODUCTION NOTES

Herewith the promised information, based on my experience of preparing the printed book version of The God Interviews online comic strips. There are, by the way, clear and detailed guidelines on Lulu.com, as well as from other companies who offer POD (Print On Demand) services, on how to format a book for printing. Bear in mind that everything is much simpler and cheaper if you only want black and white. I want colour.

strange creatures dance at the birth of the book

1. Why self-publish at all when a contract from a publisher is really what I want? In this case, impatience and irritation. Sending out perfectly formed enquiry letters, enclosing sample chapters and SAEs to a long list of potential publishers and then waiting for them to reply is simply not fun. I've had positive responses, with a "but..." attached, and I've also had no responses. Been there, done that. For this book, I must admit I only approached about six mainstream publishers, only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Finding the right agent takes just as long and I'm in a hurry. So I made the decision to take the Print-On-Demand option initially and then, once the book is a finished, well-designed printed object, I'm confident that my right agent and/or publisher will come along. And he/she'll be big and strong etc.etc. And I can get on with creating God Interviews Volume II and III and IV, ad infinitum.

2. How did I turn the online comic strips into a print-ready book? With great difficulty. Because, when I drew the originals, I wasn't planning on a printed version and once I had uploaded each strip here, most of the time I foolishly deleted my high-res working files, saving only the reduced 72dpi ones. If the originals had been finished drawings on paper, I could easily have re-scanned them at high res but mine were merely sketches since I did all the finishing and colouring using my Wacom tablet and Photoshop drawing/painting tools. For print production, digital files must be high resolution (300dpi minimum) and sized according to the format of the final book. I wanted the images to be full-page, rather than small multi-frame style of standard comic books, so this required re-drawing most of the images at high-res, stretching and re-shaping to fit the larger format, as well as re-writing all the hand-drawn text balloons. I made many other changes and designed the layout using InDesign software, also typing the text for prelims, foreword, end-pages etc. within InDesign. The revision and layout process was very long, tedious and demanding but definitely worth it. It's no longer necessary to imagine the final book's appearance. Until my proof copy arrives, I can't tell you what that book in-the-flesh looks like, but soon we will know.

3. What are the printing options? Since I'll need quite a few copies on hand for the book launch and to send out for publicity, I did the arithmetic and realised that to have these printed by Lulu would be far too costly (remember this is colour!). So I shopped around and found a POD company in the UK who have offered me a better deal to print 100 copies (that's just for starters) and I can have them quickly. The book will still be on sale via Lulu and anyone can order direct from Lulu, from any country, which is very convenient. Meanwhile, I can also explore sales options in the UK, as long as I know I have an affordable and reliable local POD service.

4. What about promotion, publicity, distribution? That's the hardest part. Seeing your book as a physical object, holding it in your hands, is a wonderful feeling but it's only the start of an arduous process which cannot be avoided, unless you're happy just to hold that baby to your bosom and maybe hand it round to family and friends. But if you want wider attention and - shock/horror - actually expect and need to earn money from it, then you have to become an entrepreneur and consider your precious baby a product, amongst a multitude of other products in the marketplace. Having an agent and/or a mainstream publisher does not, contrary to popular opinion, liberate you from  the burden of selling yourself. It certainly helps, but they still expect you to do a lot of that work. If your book becomes a best seller, you can afford the I-Vant-To-Be-Alone-I-Don't-Do-Publicity routine (as Salinger did, for instance) but if your book never sells at all, then you're on your own anyway, whether you like it or not. So: what am I going to do as a pimp for my baby? Well, like I said, organise a book launch/signing. Write a press release. Get some leaflets printed. Send out notices to everyone in the media. Send a very few review copies. Talk to independent bookshops. Think up relevant promotional ideas. And so on. Whatever comes to mind.

That's about it. You'll be hearing more about The God Interviews' progress so watch this space.

COMMENTS

January 5, 2007

JANUARY SALE!

A quick PS to yesterday's post: ignore the book price I mentioned below. It's going to come down quite a lot. I hadn't worked out that if people are going to order mainly via my page on Lulu, then I don't actually need to pay to get many copies printed for me to sell personally. Which means that my costs won't be so high. Which means that I can lower the selling price considerably. Whew! What a relief. Start making a list of how many people you're going to buy copies for.

More news later.

January 4, 2007 (historic date)

THE GOD INTERVIEWS IS PUBLISHED!! IN GLORIOUS COLOUR/COLOR!!

But you won't see it until I've received and approved a first copy, which will arrive from Lulu's UK printers within 3-5 days, so they say. It won't appear on Lulu's website until I've given the go-ahead but after that you'll be able to preview some pages on my shopfront there and, yes! Get your orders in!

In the wee small hours of this morning I held my breath and uploaded the whole 80+ megabytes PDF to Lulu, which took about 80 nervous minutes and then did another upload for the front and back covers, then some fiddling with options for inserting title and author on the spine, then completely stopped breathing as I waited for the finished book to come up on screen, confirming the upload.

I must admit, even if I say so myself, it looked terrific. But will it look as good printed on paper? Call me a doubting thomasina perfectionista fusspot, but that's what I worry about night and day. Anyway, the cover text won't be blurred as it looks here - that's only because I've reduced this file to more blog-friendly dimensions.

Full cover, God Interviews

PERMALINK (to the cover)

You will have noted that I don't mention a black and white version. That's because there isn't one, at least not now and, perhaps, not later. When I saw the thin pale grey washed-out trial result of printing my tonal images in bl & wh, I realised the only way it would work was if I started from scratch and re-drew the whole book in line and solid black only. I can't face undertaking such a huge task at the moment and besides, I want to see the book in print right now and what's more, the colour is so much a part of it that I'm not sure I could let it go, even if it means losing some customers because of the higher price of colour printing.

Which brings us to the subject of money. I said I would post a production journal for the benefit of those interested in the process of self-publishing. I'll start with the hardest part: economics, the grim reality. (The figures below are for digital colour print-on-demand from Lulu.com. I got quotes from other companies, all of them considerably higher).

The printing cost to me for one copy of TGI in colour is £11.75 ($21.23) plus various other expenses, making it about £15 per book. I have set my initial selling price at £23.75 ($46.54) out of which my revenue from Lulu will be £10.29 ($20.17). When my book appears on Amazon and other booksellers, the price will be hugely discounted, which is how they work, and which is good for you but not so good for me, unless there are huge numbers of sales. At the selling price I've set (which may have to increase in future), I will not be covering my costs but I want to start low and see how it goes. If you're in U.S.A. and think in dollars, $46.54(plus postage from Lulu) may look like a lot of dough for a 112-page paperback book, even if it's in glorious technicolour, but wouldn't you spend that on a restaurant meal or a pair of shoes or a show, without thinking twice? Anyway, here's my plan:

I will organize a book launch/signing at some suitable venue in London (probably an independent bookshop) and hope that any of you in the vicinity will turn up. For this, I would order 100 copies of TGI from Lulu at a printing cost to me of £1004.47 ($1823), plus my buying these copies from Lulu, plus shipping. I would sell these copies at £23.75 and might be able to buy a bottle of wine on the proceeds. See how crazy the publishing game is? But wait, I'll tell you all about the process in the next post.

Meanwhile, let us all rejoice and drink a toast to the birth of this beautiful baby, a great start to 2007. I'm counting on you all to make it a roaring success by word-of-mouth, word-of-blog, word of honour/honor. Here's a good chance to demonstrate the power of bloggery, the influence of the internet. If a pop band can skyrocket to mega stardom only by becoming popular on the net, why shouldn't the same thing happen to a bunch of interviews with God?

COMMENTS