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Month: July 2019

The Return of John Dillinger

Amazing coincidence in timing here, but word got out yesterday that there are currently plans to exhume John Dillinger’s grave in Indianapolis!

The details are still thin on the ground, but Indy station WTHR reported yesterday that Dillinger’s nephew, Michael Thompson, officially requested to the state Department of Health that his famous gangster uncle’s body be exhumed. The request was granted, with the exhumation (and reburial) to take place on September 16.

Initially, Thompson, the Indiana Department of Health and Crown Point Cemetery were all tight-lipped about why they were going to dig up the Jackrabbit. Reports today have indicated that the History Channel is somehow involved in this effort, and that they are working on a documentary about Dillinger.

The details are still hazy, but I think there’s a good chance that this is related to the plot of Jackrabbit. [SPOILER ALERT] One of the main ideas of the novel is that it wasn’t really John Dillinger that was killed outside the Biograph, but a low-level criminal named Jimmy Lawrence. This theory has been kicking around for years; Jackrabbit was an exploration of how it might have happened.

One interesting piece of Dillinger lore is that Dillinger’s dad had him re-buried underneath several huge slabs of concrete. This was allegedly so that souvenir hunters wouldn’t be tempted to rob the grave. Conspiracy theorists surmise that John Dillinger Sr. (and other family members) knew that it wasn’t their relative in that grave, and that the concrete was placed there to prevent the FBI from discovering their mistake.

This is a very interesting development, and I will be following the story closely. I think a lot of other people will as well – I’ve already seen stories about this on CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press and the New York Times.

In the meantime, you can still download Jackrabbit for free from Amazon until midnight, July 31, by clicking THIS LINK.

Absolutely Free

AS part of the Amazon KDP promotion hoo-ha I agreed to, I can give away free copies of the eBook of Jackrabbit. This will run the last three days in July:

Monday, July 29 – Wednesday, July 31

Just go to the Amazon eBook page and download the eBook por nada any time during these 3 days. Enjoy! (And a good review on Amazon would be appreciated as well…)

Live at Last

Well, the Amazon page for Jackrabbit is live! Right now, the paperback and eBook are listed separately. Amazon assures me, however, that once the Amazon Master Brain twigs to the fact that it’s the same book, both listings will be combined.

Now that I’ve navigated the increasingly complex path of: A) writing the sumbitch, and B) publishing it, I now move on to C) promoting it. This should be interesting, as self-promotion is not my strong suit. We’ll see how this goes…

Eighty-Five Years Ago Today…

On July 22, 1934, the FBI Claimed that they finally “got their man” and gunned down Public Enemy Number One. They claim that s they shot John “Jackrabbit” Dillinger outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Almost immediately, rumors started swirling that the corpse outside the Biograph didn’t belong to Dillinger, and that the Jackrabbit – just like Elvis, Jim Morrison and Bigfoot – was still alive somewhere.

Well, I had hoped to be able to have my new novel Jackrabbit ready for release today, but alas it was not to be. I underestimated the vagaries of the Amazon KDP process, as well as some glitches in the Reedsy Book Editor software.

The problem is that Reedsy doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge the problem. I don’t care WHAT the Chicago Manual of Style says, “i” should not follow “iii” in any pagination scheme. Amazon certainly doesn’t think so, which is why they are refusing to print the book until the page numbers are corrected. I guess I’ll fool around with it some more, but I’ve got an ugly feeling that I’m going to have to drop my Acknowledgements section to get it to behave. Bleah!

So no book just yet, and the best I can do for an eBook is an Amazon pre-order page, since I clearly didn’t read the fine print, and checked a box that I couldn’t subsequently un-check. I’ll get this figured out soon, I hope.

The Home Stretch

Just a handful of last-minute corrections…

I’m busting the boards trying to get the Jackrabbit manuscript in shape for release on Monday. The reason for the deadline is that it is the 85th anniversary of the shooting at the Biograph Theater. This, of course, is a date with a great deal of significance in the career of John Dillinger.

Being able to get hard copies cheaply and easily through Amazon KDP has been a boon – but the drawback is that I’m really tired of reading this writing (wonderful as the prose is, of course). So, to mix things up, I’ve taken the advice of Trevor Blake, who suggested reading this last proof copy backwards. It makes for an interesting read – kinda like the literary equivalent of Memento . It also makes it easier to spot errors, since my attention is more fully engaged and not skimming over sections that I’ve read dozens of times before.

The scary thing is that I could probably keep reworking the text ad infinitum, but sometimes you’ve gotta put down your pencil and say “Good enough is good enough!”

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

As much as I bitch about Amazon (and Facebook, and Google, and Apple, u.s.w.), I have to admit that their Print On Demand service is pretty amazing. I got the hard-copy proof of Jackrabbit on Tuesday evening. By Thursday evening, I had read through the bastard yet again, and flagged maybe two dozen errors that needed to be addressed. I addressed them and made some graphic changes to the back cover. All of these were loaded back up to Amazon KDP by Friday morning, and a new new copy was on order.

Now, the waiting. It seems like it takes two or three days to work through the print queue, and then a few more for shipping, since I was too stingy to shell out for the 2-day deliver.

Not to worry, it’s giving me a little space to do something I hadn’t done in over a month: write. I’ve been working on a short story called “Reset,” about a fifty-year-old who goes to sleep and wakes up back in eight grade. Derivative? You bet. But I’m having a hell of a lot of fun writing it, so stumm. I cranked out a couple of hundred words yesterday, and when I went to save it, the last save date was all the way back in May. Time slips away, especially when you’re doing something complicated like self-publishing for the first time. Mustn’t forget the object of the exercise, y’know?

The Real Deal!

It’s alive!

I got my first hardcopy proof of Jackrabbit today! Hooray! This is a pretty big milestone for me. I’ve been wanting to get a book in print since, well, I was a little kid and thought Dr. Seuss was the shiznit. I seriously started working towards it in 2008, so this has been eleven years in the making. It’s really pretty awesome to be able to hold a book that I wrote in my hot little hands!

The only problem is that now I’ve got to read it – again! As much as I enjoy this story, and am fairly pleased with how I pulled it off (due in no small part to Jen Huston’s editing), I’m getting mighty tired of reading it at this point. I feel fairly confident that I got most of the grammarly/contenty issues squared away before I ordered the proof, I still want to go through it one . . . more . . . time to make double-extra-sure. Mostly, though, I’m just interested in making sure the formatting is acceptable.

Right now, I’m on track for an official release date of July 22, 2019 – the 85th anniversary of the shooting at the Biograph where “John Dillinger” was killed.

An ISBN of My Own

Or, actually, ten ISBNs plus a bar code, all for the low, low price of three hundred and twenty bucks.

As a wanna-be author, I had always wanted an ISBN of my own. As a soon-to-be self-published author, I found out just how much of a scam the ISBN system is.

First, ISBN stands for International Books Standard Number. It is meant to be a unique identifier for each published edition of a commercial work. An e-book, a paperback and a hardcover of the same book will each have a different ISBN.

In the U.S., ISBNs are doled out by a company called Bowker. Of course, there is a cost, and as I found out, the pricing follows a very curious economy of scale:

Got that? One ISBN costs $125. However, 1000 ISBNs costs $1500, for a unit price of $1.50. How can such a discount occur? Because they’re just fuckin’ numbers!

Bowker’s got a monopoly on this market and they squeeze ’til we turn purple. It’s a scam, man. Sure, for a big publishing company, shelling out for tens of thousands of ISBNs at a buck or so a pop is chump change. But for struggling self-publishing authors, it feels like we are being taken advantage of. (Yeah, I ended that sentence with a preposition. It’s idiomatic, plus I’m in a pissy mood.)

Of course, there are alternatives, but they kinda suck. First, you can just go without an ISBN, but that severely limits the author’s ability to sell the book. Also, if you’re going to publish through Amazon/KDP, they will kindly provide you with an ISBN free of charge. Of course, Amazon didn’t get to be the behemoth it is by giving stuff away, so you can bet that there are strings attached to their “free” ISBN. Basically, if you accept their generosity, you are pretty much restricted to selling your book through their channels.

So in the end, I ponied up the money for 10 ISBNs plus a barcode (another Bowker scam), even though I really only need two or three ISBNs for Jackrabbit. Guess I’d better keep writing!