Thursday, 5 March 2009

Projects & Products: An Introduction to Self-publishing blogs & sites

In June last year my partner, her son and I visited the Prado. We visited the great art museum for three reasons:
  • We love the place.
  • My partner was keen for her 16 year old son to get a good dose of kulcha.
  • I needed, again, to look at a few of Goya's works (research for my novel After Goya ).
Mission successful -- and a bonus. While wandering the galleries, Cris, my partner's son, bought me a 1€ pocket-guide to Goya's cuadros negros (black paintings). It's a good little guide. I was taken by the all-round quality of production; interesting, well laid out text and drawings, and, of course, details from Goya's works, and only 1€. Before we left the museum I bought another copy for a friend in the UK -- and dead cheap and easy to post.

On the train back to Barcelona I began to ruminate on the possibilities of publishing my novel, After Goya, as a series of pocket-sized books in a very similar format to the Prado guide.

The novel is in three parts. I could, I thought, publish Part One - perhaps even persuade the Prado to stock it - and test the market.

The more I thought about it the more the idea seemed right - there was a kind of poetry to the idea. But did it make sense?

  • Relatively small outlay for an initial print run of 1000 (or 2000 if running with simultaneous Spanish edition).
  • Small size = reduced stock storage problems - the whole run could be delivered in just four medium-sized boxes.
  • Cheap and easy to pack and post - could perhaps absorb cost of shipping for direct sales to UK, USA and Canada.
  • Low-cost risk to buyer -- if they don't like it, well, they haven't lost much. And if they do like it, then I have them on the hook for Part Two.
  • Small, lightweight, durable and easily portable format could make it an attractive stock item for non-book outlets e.g. , newspaper kiosks, tourist offices and vending-machines.
  • Translating 30,000 words for a Spanish language edition didn't seem as daunting as translating 95,000.
  • Pocket-size = I could use it as a sampler for agents and editors I meet at parties.
  • Light weight and small size = practical freebie for UK air passengers to Málaga on the day the novel begins, or rail passengers (a cover-mount for on-board magazine?) on the exact same RENFE (Spanish National Railways) train the main protagonists take .
  • If Part One successful, and Part Two and Part Three followed, the revenue stream (both gross and net) could be potentially greater than a single product.
  • And, if it didn't sell, and I couldn't give it away, well, no big loss - and I'd have a pretty good clue from readers (not agents) whether my writing was any good or not.
Because the novel is essentially an art caper it could sell through gallery and museum shops - and not just in the UK (the name-checked Bowes for example) but in Spain: the Prado, the Goya Birthplace Museum in Fuendetodos, Goya related museums in Zaragoza, and name-checked museums and galleries in Barcelona, Córdoba and Málaga.

I liked the whole idea of a part series -- sort of harking back to the penny dreadful (the 3€ dreadful?) notion. Part One does end on a cliffhanger, and readers cannot resist turning to the next page -- surely my readers would buy Part Two?

Offloading a thousand of these, through giveaways and sales, would be a cinch I thought. Or would it? And then I thought, "Hang on, I'm a writer, not a publisher."

So, I ... be continued ...

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