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Cynique

The Anatomy of a Book

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For me, writing a book can be compared to a mystical quest. It’s like the story already exists in my creative realm, ready to be “downloaded” into the hard drive of my brain.

 

Any book begins with inspiration, and the ongoing triangle that puts black women in competition with white ones for the affections of black men was mine. It’s a topic I’ve never read a book about so I became motivated to write “The Only One”, a novel based on this scenario. I wasn’t sure where this subject would lead me but, equipped with my personal observations and input from my children and their friends, I sat down at my computer, placed my fingers on its keyboard, accessed its word processor and got on the same wave length with my Muse.

 

The first step was to conjure up a cast of characters to star in this little melodrama, and this involved crafting the roles they would play in the plot. Once that was done, I visualized how they’d look and tried out names on them until they answered to what I called them. As soon as I started putting words in their mouths, these people  came to life, steering me to where they needed to go.

 

Settling on a “sista” as my protagonist was what determined the book’s setting. A big city environment pulsating with the uniqueness of the black experience was what made Chicago the perfect choice.

 

Then, I got into the flow and let the words have their say. Realizing the value of taking a break, from time to time I would do so, then return to the manuscript with a new set of eyes. This was how I eventually recognized the need for a sub-plot that would add an element of suspense and keep things interesting. Filling this void called for a villain and he emerged from the shadows of my imagination, groping his groin.

 

With this addition, more inspiration kicked in showing me the technique for creating a mystery by inserting misleading clues to stump the reader.

 

Finally as one chapter led into another, the story ran its course. All the scattered parts came together completing the puzzle that had been waiting to be assembled by the creative process that turns writers into authors, and an idea into a book. At this point, my characters met their fate and faded to black.

 

Months later, I held the latest version of “The Only One” in my hands. It was fresh off the press and it was if it vibrated with life!

 

Print book: http://www.lulu.com/shop/connie-divers-bradley/the-only-one-an-urban-tale-of-romance/paperback/product-21905171.html

 

eBook: http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/the-only-one-an-urban-tale-of-romance/15716552

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This was just very interesting I will excerpt this in the next newsletter.  By the way, is your book in Ingram's database?  

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No Cynique he means Ingram. It's probably not Troy. Lulu is great for getting the book into print, but if you don't own your ISBN you can't get into Ingram and find further distribution. A better choice would have been lightning Source since they sign you up for Ingram when you publish. Actually the better situation would have been visiting RR Bowker and signing up to buy her own ISBNs and then the getting a Form TX and submitting a hard copy to the library of congress and then submitting the book to Ingram because they would have accepted it and instead of only being carried on Lulu the book would be available to any person who uses Ingram to buy books. Boom! A quick lesson in publishing, but more than likely you guys already new that, lol.

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No, I don't know any of this.  All I know is that the package deal I signed up for with Lulu included their also distributing the book  to Amazon, and Barnes and Nobel, links to which I will soon have.  L:ibrary of Congress?  I'm not thinking that big. After all, it's just an fictional urban contemporary tale of of romance, not a a great literary work! I had ISBN numbers which I generated on line for free but I just went on and let Lulu use the free ones they offered.

Instagram? Ingram?  Whatever. I do plan to have my daughter put a picture of my book cover and its blurb on Instagram. LOL  

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No Chris this is actually VERY important, if not for Cynique's sake for other authors.  

 

You are right, Lulu's books are not available through Ingram, nor do they offer direct shipping to the customer.  

 

Ultimately I will be selling books directly myself, but I'm not about to package a book and hike to the post office every time someone orders a book (the way I used to).  Ingram will send any order I generate directly to the customer.  Lulu requires bulk orders.  This fact limits the number of places that will carry Lulu's titles.  I did not know this myself until today.

 

Amazon will carry Lulu Books (I understand), which helps a great deal, sInce Black folks buy books from Amazon more than any other place else.  It just that indie brick and mortar and online booksellers, who might be inclined to carry the books will find it very difficult to do so.  

 

But here is the really kicker: I'm more than happy to carry Cyniques book and even list it on the homepage, but Lulu doesn't even offer an affiliate program for Christ's sake!  This is really bad.  So not only can I not sell the book unless I order it in bulk, I can't even earn a penny through the referrals!

 

Once the book is available through Amazon, I'll begin to spread the word more actively. 

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It is important. Cynique anytime you use free ISBN numbers the book is pretty much controlled and relegated to that platform. Troy people can buy direct from lulu but they are definitely missing out without an affiliate program. While the book is a bucket list project, you should at least create a createspace version... actually you cant because of the deal with lulu. This cuts you out of making an amazon author's page. You can submit the book to Ingram but I don't know if it can be done with a generated ISBN. I guess it's good to be in print, but it's also nice to maximize opportunities.

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Thanks,Troy and Chris for all the info.  I appreciate it and I hope others learn from my mistakes. I'm just kicking myself for not going with Amazon-based Create-A-Space instead of Lulu which several people recommended to me.  But hindsight is 20-20 and unprofitable so do not indebt yourself, Troy!  I'm just grateful for your moral support, and the free exposure you give me on this site.

 

Because writing and self-publishing books was something I took up in my retirement years, I considered them more of a hobby than a profession. I've never envisioned writing a blockbuster best seller because I realized how slim the chances of this happening were in this crowded competitive field. 

 

Y'all can either find this funny or pathetic, but in the past the local libraries have always been very cooperative in accepting free copies of my self-published books which they would place on their book shelves. My home town library even set up a little display showcasing me as a local author.  This was back in the '90s when I just had short-run copies of my other 2 books printed up and sold them on my own at various venues and book parties. Black book stores were still viable back then and I would also leave a few copies with them. It's a whole new ball game now, of course, but I will again do the library thing because being on a library shelf puts me in good company and ensures a modicum of longevity.  

 

Writers write because that is their passion.  Having what they write be read, is icing on the cake.  If I have to settle for crumbs, that's life. :unsure:

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Libraries are much more supportive of self-published authors and eBooks than they have been in the past.  Indeed, I just learned two days ago that the Queen Public Library offers FREE self-publishing services -- including editorial  Your book is also made available via their eBook loan program.  It is a good way to get exposure.  I will write about this shortly. 

 

Yes Chris individuals can by direct from Lulu, but I'm sure they don't sell many books for the average author, and again booksellers have no incentive to carry the books.

 

Dog Ear Publishing, who offeres self-publishing services published a price comparision (they seem like a nice outfit and have advertised on AALBC.com in the past): http://dogearpublishing.net/the-competition.php Chris what you do youthink of this coparision?  

 

Cynique does the description of Lulu mesh with your experience.

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Dogear's critique of Lulu was fairly accurate, Troy,  except where rates were concerned.  Some of their quotes were higher than what I paid, including the final cost, possibly because I took the cheapest package deal which was not as high as the the one Dogear listed. There was some slight disparities in their royalty figures, too.

 

What I appreciated was that Lulu would negotiate prices.  If I voiced a complaint or question which they considered reasonable, they would give me a 20 percent discount on the fee. Also, I am in total control of the price of the book and can go into my account and change it at any time from the amount I alone originally set. Another thing is, if I so choose, I can disengage myself from Lulu and re-print and reissue this book providing I design another cover and use different ISBN numbers.  Lulu has the copyright of the book formatting and stock cover images but the book was already formatted when I submitted it and I have the original PDF files with different ISBN numbers and whose interior formatting is different from the one Lulu designed for their copyrighted version which was designed to jibe with different dimensions than the 5x8 book of my orginal file. Whatever. 

 

The representative Lulu assigned to me was very patient, sympathetic and eager to please.  I told her a little about myself, and I really think she took a personal interest in the project because of my being a senior citizen.  

 

Personally,  I think self-publishing is a risky venture.  It's great for the ego but for the pocketbook, - not so much. I can see why people sell books out of the trunk of their cars. This involves your going to the customer instead of the customer coming to you. If a person has a book in their hands and the price is right, they're far more likely to buy it than if they have to order it online.  Very few in the general population voluntarily buy a book. The whole self-publishing endeavor calls for a lot of hard work, and hustle. No self published author I know has ever quit their day job.  LOL

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I guess because I am a small publishing imprint I look at Dogear or other self publishing places with the side eye. Lulu is pretty good and lightning source is also. If writers look at create space, lightning and lulu as book printers then they would gain a better understanding of what is available.

I think everyone should attempt traditional publishing first and then go the self publishing route. I think the big issue is that there are so many people with information that it's hard to decipher. There aren't many people who quit their jobs writing, but it's hard to get people to pay for information. Which means that guys like Troy, or me, who can help people get published are overlooked because we request fees (maybe I'm wrong here.)

The good thing is you have the book in print. Lulu does have some great services available for a fee. In order to get your book everywhere you will have to use a variety of services anyway so the easiest things is to go with what is comfortable. Create space won't get you into iBooks, screwpulp won't get you into Kindle and Ingram or dogear will charge you to put you everywhere. Most important is that if you don't get reviewed or read by someone important you don't sell any books anyway. Writing really is about loving the craft.

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I didn't realize that you were a "publisher", Chris!  And speaking of reviews, my book is a short, fast read, and available for a mere $4.99 as an e-Book.  If you have the time - or inclination, I'd be interested in hearing your honest opinion of "The Only One"  a critique that you would allow me to post on my Lulu site.  Just a thought.

 

I went the self publishing route because I wanted total control and didn't want to have to deal with editors whose priority would be to commercialize the book.  I'm sure the book's length would've been considered  too short, and its writing style parsed to the point that it would lose its flow and flavor.

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I've only published three books by other writers, but that's been by choice. My money maker has always been sports related so I devote most of my time to that. While Troy constantly reminds me that I can use this platform to promote, I just can't do it, lol. I don't promote those services publishing, web design, manufacturing, anywhere on here because I don't have the time to actually follow through since doing so would require a financial investment.

I love reading and writing analyses of books and would definitely do so when time permits. The holidays and the upcoming tax season occupies my time with the online shop so I wouldn't get to it soon. I will try though. In regard to publishing all it takes is signing up with RR Bowker, purchasing ISBNs and formatting book covers and the text. It's not difficult, but the promotion is the problem. I haven't been willing to pay for promotion of my writers which makes me a crappy publisher, lol.

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