Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Adventures with Lulu - Part 3 Filigree & Shadow


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Yesterday I received the book proofs back of my latest book Filigree & Shadow from Lulu. Although you are advised by the Lulu site to order just one proof copy of your book before you finalise and approve any revision, like Academy, my last book with Lulu, I actually deliberately ordered five proofs. The choice is open to every author how many they initially order of each revision, but from experience, I have found these proofs to be useful in actually fine tuning the final revisions before I approve the book. I've gone through my own proof as well as 'farming out' the other proof copies to colleagues and skilled readers I know I can rely on to spot format and generals errors. This approach lends plenty of pairs of eyes and speeds up the revision process, as well as spotting things I will inevitably miss no matter how often I go through my own proofs.

Again, the delivered proofs (5) were of exceptional quality from Lulu and shipped and packed well on arrival. As I ordered them through Lulu, I still suspect they are using Lightning Source in the USA for orders through the publishers, but Booksurge for orders received through Amazon. I still can't be sure of this, but that is my suspicion. I only ever ordered one copy through Amazon of Academy, and I have to say that I found the binding to be a little loose on that copy, as well as the colour on the cover being very slightly duller. If my suspicions are correct, then it would seem that the book quality from Booksurge (ordered and received in August of this year) is still questionable long after the whole POD/Amazon debacle.

Anyhow, that is a whole different story. For the cover of Filigree & Shadow I chose some stock art from a website I came across earlier this year, which I felt immediately suited the theme and feel of the book. On my previous books during the nineties, I designed my own book covers very much in the old style of book design, meaning I did not have the sophistication of a PC with Photoshop et all. I made do with bog standard stencils and mechanical drawing layout pasted onto a white board for the off-set print runs. I had mixed results, and when it came to Academy, through Lulu, I used their own cover templates. Regular readers of this website and the previous articles I have written on POD/Subsidy publishers know that I am not a fan of these cover templates. It is not so much the quality, but, rather, the simplicity and sameness a template cover gives a newly published book. It is difficult enough to market and promote any book, but the reality is whether the book is visible online (most often with POD/Subsidy published books) or visible on a store's physical shelf, it is the book cover which is what initially grabs a potential reader's attention. 'Never judge a book by its cover'; I'm afraid this saying only counts if you are talking about anything, other than a book itself! I chose the Leonardo da Vinci 'anatomic man' picture from Lulu's cover gallery for Academy simply because it perfectly suited the themes of the book. Unless you are very lucky, you are destined to end up with something far less than perfect if you are restricted to your POD/Subsidy publisher's own template covers. This was my first experienced of designing a cover using my own supplied artwork with Lulu. I think once you ensure you have artwork above the '300dpi' quality and roughly the correct size, the result should be extremely good.

The internal layout for Filigree & Shadow did provide me with some new challenges this time round concerning chapters, section breaks and headers and footers. I still have a few things to iron out, but having gone through the process with both hardback and paperback files with Academy, I'm getting far more proficient this time round.

Again, I can only reiterate to those using Lulu's services that the proof and revision stage is absolutely critical to get everything working and looking just right if you are to avoid the frustration of approving the book and still finding the book filled with errors. This crucial stage should not be rushed for the sake of quick publication. Get all your revisions done no matter how many it takes.

My latest amendments to formatting and the internal revisions are available to see on my Lulu store page on the link above. I think I'm up to revision number four with one or two more to come when my trusted colleagues come back to me with their marked up proofs.

Your comments are welcome on your own POD/Subsidy publishing experiences. I will post when I have the final revision of Filigree & Shadow approved and it is available for general release and purchase.
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2 comments:

  1. Have had three paperback novels printed by Lulu. Used my own cover art. Good preparation makes for good product. Will self publish as need to keep unit retail price down and will promote through my own web page, hoping to gain an audience & attract a professional publisher. Tricky because three novels are young adult westerns circa 1880's and linked as an interdependent series. Lulu has been good experience thus far.

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  2. April 2009 UPDATE

    Lulu have begun some significant changes on their services and appear to be pushing the upsell of their add-on packages much more.

    They have also launched a welcome revamp of their book cover design with 'Lulu Book Cover Studio'.

    I have been told that further updates are also due over the next two months.

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