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Sweet Weasel Words Posts

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!

Easy Reedsy

Throughout the process of preparing Jackrabbit to go to print, I have been availing myself of an online service called Reedsy. I initially used the service to find someone to edit the manuscript. I ended up engaging the services of an editor named Jennifer Huston of White Dog Editorial Services. She was great to work with, and incredibly thorough. She lives in the Chicago area, and was able to correct some of my geographical errors, as well as many others.

Of course, this kind of quality does cost some coin. Between the editing and the cost of the cover art, I had pretty much blown my production budget for this project. I was concerned about how I was going to typeset the book, as I knew I was going to have to do it myself. I had head any number of sources say that MS Word was a bad choice. Adobe InDesign seems to be an industry standard, but is fairly expensive. I did shell out twenty-five bucks for a discontinued publishing application called Serif Page Plus. It looks pretty good, but I didn’t really want to take the time to master a new software package.

Then I noticed than Reedsy offers a typesetting called Reedsy Book Editor. I was a bit skeptical at first, but what the heck – the price was right ($0). Besides, Reedsy had gotten their vig from my transaction with the editor, so I figured it was the least they could do.

Color me impressed, friends! After a few minor initial hiccups (i.e. user errors), I was able to upload my Word file and the Reedsy Book Editor cranked out a typeset version in about five minutes. Super-duper-cool! Now I have to read through the bastard one more time and make sure there are no proofreading errors. Fun ahoy!

Into the Belly of the Beast

I took the plunge and signed up for my Amazon KDP account in order to start the process of publishing Jackrabbit. Big sigh. I jumped on the Amazon bandwagon back in the early 90’s because I’m a book nerd, and they were a cool online book store. Now they’re a behemoth that prys into way too many aspects of our lives. Yet I swallow my reservations and sign on, since it’s pretty much the only way to go for self-published authors. I hadda give them my damn bank account information! If I had more than eight bucks in it right now, I’d be worried.

Social Media? We Doan Need No Steenkin’ Social Media!

Okay, I created a Twitter page and a Facebook page for this endeavor. somewhat to my chagrin. No fan of social media, I. Hell, I bailed entirely on the whole concept last year when this whole Cambridge Analytica mess came out. However, I know it’s a requirement, if for no other reason not to look like some sort of prehistoric troglodyte.

So you can check out @S_W_Words on Twitter or @SweetWeaselWords on Facebook (ain’t doin’ Instrgram or anything else if I can avoid it – and I can). You’re not going to see anything there that you won’t see hear. Or perhaps anything at all if I can’t figure out how to automaticaly link the content from this website to those two social media platforms.

Grumble, grouse, piss, moan…

I’d Rather Be Writing

Instead, however, I’m working on this bloodydamn website. Oh well. it’s gotta happen if I want this book to see the light of day, so to speak. Blew my budget on getting the MS edited by someone who knows what they’re doing, so I can’t afford to pay someone to put this site together. Oh well, that’s rock ‘n’ roll, baby.

Featured Post

Welcome to Sweet Weasel Words

Welcome to Sweet Weasel Words, home of author Crawford Smith.

I love writing, but am not particularly fond of creating and maintaining websites, so please be patient while I attempt to beat this sumbitch into some sort of order.

My big project right now is publishing a novel called Jackrabbit. This is a historical crime novel about the latter career of Depression-era gangster John Dillinger. This criminal’s life was indeed stranger than fiction – so much so that I had to focus on only the last five months of it to keep from overwhelming myself and the reader. Check out the Jackrabbit page for details.