The Magic & Manners Project (Part 1)

Magic and Manners cover

About four years ago I got it into my head to wonder what PRIDE & PREJUDICE would be like if the Bennet sisters were plagued by an excess of magic rather than a dearth of cash. In a fit of inspiration, I wrote a first chapter, and then over the next year, a second and a third. By then, Patreon was a thing, and I decided to write MAGIC & MANNERS as a serialized crowdfunding project.

It took longer than I expected and brought me to the conclusion that serializing a novel wasn’t a good fit for Patreon, or at least, not the way I did it (but you can read about that here), but I got the book done and had great visions of turning it around swiftly and getting it out into the public realm.

That was ten months ago, and MAGIC & MANNERS launched last week. @.@

I now pause to drop in links, before getting to the bulk of the post. :)

MAGIC AND MANNERS for Kobo!
MAGIC AND MANNERS for Kindle!
MAGIC AND MANNERS print edition on Amazon!
MAGIC AND MANNERS audio book on Audible!

MAGIC AND MANNERS is the first project I’ve really gone full-out self-publisher on, with the full production team in place to do everything right. It’s been fascinating, frustrating, and fun, not just for the alliteration, but in actual fact. I’m planning to do a number of posts, probably over several months as I collect more data, about the whole process, and I hope they’ll be of use and interest to people going forward.

I hired Mary Theresa Hussey, my former Harlequin editor, now a freelancer, to edit the book. It was a light edit (as it should be, given that I was basically following the plot of one of the most successful novels in the English language), but more importantly, it was a necessary edit, because although I’d done a lot right, there were a handful of things I needed to clarify. (There are still things Matrice thinks I didn’t hit hard enough, but that’s one of the things that happens with editing: we don’t always PERFECTLY agree. :)) And, delightfully, more or less the first thing the revision letter said was, “Is there going to be a sequel?!?!!?” (There is, yes.)

I hired Richard Shealy as my copy editor, having had him recommended by Harry Connolly, and I made one of my many mistakes, in that I sent him the revised but not line-edited manuscript, so when I got the line edits back from Matrice I had to not only work through Richard’s CEs but also get the line edits into place. Note to self: everything in its time. :p

(I did something similar with the audio version, in fact, and had to send the poor reader a handful of notes to fix small but critical errors from the manuscript she was reading compared to the one that was being published. Agh.)

Richard delivered the cleanest copy edit I’d ever seen unto me, complete with stylesheets (which I’ve only gotten once or twice in my career) and questions rather than corrections when turns of phrase were new to him. I’ve never before had a copy edit that didn’t piss me off at least once. We actually had fun getting stroppy at each other in comments over nitpicky details, but none of it was stuff to burn the house down over. This was a wonderful, heartening experience in that regard. :)

I hired a book designer (who doesn’t have a site, but who also came recommended by Harry Connolly) who did in two days what it would have taken me weeks of struggle to accomplish with not nearly as nice-of results. She first commented on the cleanliness of the manuscript (well done Richard!), then said, “How many pages are you imagining this book is?” and sent me page proofs that landed EXACTLY at the page count I hoped for. It was, according to her, no difficulty at all, but from my perspective of never knowing how long a book will be until I get the print edition, it was really cool!

I did the proofs in PDF format and printed the manuscript for my parents to read and proof (and lo, they noticed things I had not, which is the endless astonishing thing about proofs: no matter how many people read them everybody finds different stuff); the first thing my parents said was, “Is there going to be a sequel!?!!?!?!” :)

I sent the proofs back, and in an astonishing-to-me turn of events, got the second pass page proofs with those corrections put in place. I never see that stage: there are the proofs/galleys and then that’s it, you have to trust they got it right (and mostly they do), but it was very exciting to find the, like, five errors left and getting to correct those too before the print file comes my way. It’s VERY exciting. Possibly writers get excited over weird things, but honestly, this is awesome to me, and perhaps one of the benefits of doing it myself.

Cover art took longer than I hoped, which is an anomoly, as I was working again with Tara O’Shea, whose work I love and with whom I’ve worked before. The delays were, frankly, a combination of her rough year and mine, but in the end I’m thrilled with the art, which is another ridiculously great thing about doing this myself: I get to be certain the cover represents the elements of the story that I want it to, NOT THAT I HAVE ANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT MY TRAD COVERS BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALL BEEN FREAKING AWESOME.*

There was a bright foolish moment when I thought I might be doing my own e-book conversions. Then I spent about half an hour trying it and immediately went to Twitter and wailed, whereupon I was quoted a rate that was clearly a vastly better use of my time and energy than doing it myself, and I hired someone (who also doesn’t have a site) to do that job too. It turned out to be more difficult than we might have hoped due to some flaws with the PDF-to-RTF conversion (note to self: figure out some way to always end up with an RTF of the final file, not just a PDF!), but in the end it turned out a very nice looking electronic edition as well as the lovely, lovely print book.

So. Five person production team. Six including me. Not without its bobbles and bumps, but a fair number of those bumps can be avoided in the future because Now I Know Better. And one of the things that came out of this was a pretty exhaustive Self Publishing Checklist, which I will now share with you:

SELF PUBLISHING CHECKLIST
□ write book
□ polish book
□ submit for edits
□ submit for cover art
□ submit for back cover blurb
□ submit for cover quotes
□ get ISBNs
□ revise book
□ do front & back matter
□ submit for PW/RT review
□ submit for cover design
□ submit for line edits
□ submit for copy edits
□ submit for book design
□ proof read
□ submit any proof corrections to book designer
□ submit for/make e-books
□ submit to Audible
□ submit to Ingram & Amazon

Your mileage may vary on that (even mine does) but it’s not a bad list to work from, if you’re going independent.

Next post will probably be on pricing & promotional (launch day, newsletter, etc) thoughts, and will be up in a week or four, depending on how much time I have to write such things during the upcoming Easter Break…

*srsly, they *are* awesome!