Tracking the Wolf's Footprint by Susan Price

          The other day the Mighty Zon delivered the proof copy of the first actual, physical, self-published paper book of mine that I've done. Here it is: The Wolf's Footprint.


          It's already been published, by Hodder, and is available on Kindle, but it was quite a thrill to open the parcel and see my own publication, under the PriceClan imprint.
          Somehow - much as I love my Kindle and even prefer reading on it - a paper book that you can stand a coffee cup on, wedge under a wobbly table or force into an overcrowded bookcase, seems more of an achievement than successfully publishing an e-book.
         Perhaps I felt this way simply because I've mostly forgotten how difficult I found e-publishing at first, and the struggles with Createspace are fresher in my mind. Indeed, I'm still struggling, and the proof copy showed up some problems.
          I loved the cover design, by Andrew Price. It was me who suggested changing the lettering to bright red and when, with a few clicks of keys, he made it so, I bounced up and down and said, "Yes! Go with that!"
          On the computer screen, it looks wonderful. The letters go Zing! against the background and stand out.
          But when you hold the paper book in your hand, the lettering says something more like, 'Meh.'
          The paper book isn't back-lit and luminous.On paper, the red is too close in tone to the background and merges into it. The lettering also seems more squashed than it does on screen. So that will have to be changed.
          The book's interior is fine - except for two places where the book's title appears at the top of the page, when it appears nowhere else. (I would prefer indented paragraphs too, but I used a ready-made CreateSpace template, and wasn't prepared to fight the programming to get my indents.)
          I chose grey-scale for the pictures, and both Andrew and I are pleased with them. Andrew says he actually prefers the grey-scale. I don't, although I think they look very good, and, of course make the book cheaper. Still, I'm thinking of going back through the process and seeing what the price of a full colour book would be. In fact, I might make two available, one in grey-scale and one in colour.

 Illustrations copyright Andrew Price

           I asked advice from Authors Electric's own, our very own, Chris Longmuir, because she's been publishing paper books for a while, and on her advice, I paid £126 for a block of ISBN numbers, so that I could get copies printed locally. The ISBNs are supplied by Neilsens, who asked when the book was to be published. This was back in February, and I blithely said, "April," thinking that would give me plenty of time.
          Of course, come April, I'm nowhere near publication. What I hadn't foreseen is that I would be embroiled in trying to qualify as a Royal Literary Fund consultant. I'd thought this would mean a bit of polishing up of my lecturering skills - but since the RLF don't do things by halves, it turned out to be more like a teacher-training course condensed into six days, plus the creating and giving of an observed, three-hour work-shop. It's bin doin' me 'ed in.
          My CreateSpace project was pushed aside, and April came with nary a paper book in sight. What did arrive, though, were several orders from booksellers, passed on from Neilsen. This took me aback. I hadn't really expected to get any.
          I asked Chris Longmuir for more advice. Could I rush the book onto Amazon, and supply the booksellers via Mighty Zon? - Chris advised against it. The booksellers have their own order procedure and aren't geared up to accepting books from Amazon. So there was a danger the order would go astray.
         And if I had Amazon deliver books to me, and then sent them on to the booksellers, I'd be paying hefty postage twice. She also warned me about the discount booksellers expect. As she'd told me before, a much better idea would be to get a local printer to publish some, and supply them to booksellers.
          But I haven't even managed to get the book proofed and on sale on Amazon yet - though I will, I will. I had to contact the book-sellers and say that I couldn't supply their orders.
          Meanwhile I'm being told by local printers that 'perfect bind' - that is, the squared spine that you see on most professional paperback books - is 'very specialist, and even if you can find a local printer who can do it, it will be very expensive for small runs.' Yet Amazon's CreateSpace did it, using print-on-demand.

Stitch Binding
 So I'm offered stitch-binding. Maybe I'm snobbish, but I really don't want my books to look like superior parish magazines. I want them to look like a book. Like the CreateSpace one does.
          So I'm beginning to think that maybe I should stick to selling through Amazon, at least for now. What do others think?

          Meanwhile, I've just caught up with some of the reviews from Amazon, for which I am very grateful.

          Annelyse says, 'I am a 10 year old girl and my absouloute fav animal is a wolf. Oh and also they are the coolest things in the world, like me.' - Which is not exactly a review of my book, but I enjoyed it. Her declaration that wolves are not carnivores made me think. Has she let the wolves know? - But I agree about them being cool and fav, also fab. But Annelyse, I am the coolest wolf fan in the world, no question.
          Kelliot says, 'What a great little story. It's a bit creepy but my class loved this book and were very curious about when the children might turn back into humans.'
          Class 4DH, of Rosendale Primary School, say, "This dark tale is set in medieval times. The two main characters are Elka and Daw, poor children who are starving to death. Left in the woods to die by their desperate parents, they are saved by wolves. In an exciting and cool way, the children turn into the animals that saved them. This book is unpredictable, gory, and fantastic. You won't be able to put it down!"
          I like to be called 'cool', me. Thank you, all!

Susan Price is a Carnegie Medal winning author for children and young adults.
Her website is here -
All her e-books are to be found here.



madwippitt said…
Useful info - thanks! And interesting about your feelings re: Kindle Vs hard print ... I also have mixed feelings. I too love my Kindle - but there is something about a hard copy - not just the feel, the sound, the smell (the alternative uses as coaster/doorstop)- it's about possessing it too. When you have a hard copy in your paws, you really feel that you own it, and have nurturing, possessive feelings about it. Only the really awful ones go to the charity shop. Easy to dismiss a Kindle copy at the press of a button and think no more of it. A hard decision has to be made with a hard copy - and hard heartedness called into play too.
Chris Longmuir said…
Great post Susan. But how on earth did you manage to get a block of ISBNs from Nielsen for £26 I was over £100 for a block of 10 from them!
Kathleen Jones said…
Fellow feelings on your struggles with Create Space! Neil did an Indesign version of the ms so that we got indented paras, and all the bells and whistles we wanted in the right places, but it took us 7 goes to load up the pdf in a version that Amazon would accept! I've had to price it to make it viable to buy from Amazon and ship the books so that I can supply them to bookshops over here. If you've got the money to do it, CPI Antony Rowe do POD and distribution at very attractive prices and have a consultant who will talk you through the whole process. I did that for Norman Nicholson and it worked out at £3.50 per book. Illustrations were perfect!
Good luck with the wolf - I love the cover.
Susan Price said…
Madwippit - I think my nuturing instincts are close to zero, in whatever medium. I only keep books if I think I might want to read them again, or they contain information I think might be useful. Even so, I have hundreds, probably a couple of thousand.
Chris - you are, of course, right! I could blame a typo, but it's actually my dodgy memory + number blindness. It's a wonder I manage to count my change. The cost was, of course, £126. I will correct, when Blogger allows me to. So far, it's resisting all attempts.
Kathleen - thanks for the info, and for liking the cover! - I will certainly look up Antony Rowe.
Debbie Bennett said…
There's a CS template with indents, you know? I use that one. I've been doing some digging around re print runs for an anthology I'm editing and without buying hundreds at a time, the unit cost is high. Plus there's the added hassle of having to tweak the cover every time as different printers will use different paper of varying thickness. I'm sticking with ammy, I think. For all its faults, it's relatively hassle-free and a known devil!
Unknown said…
Like all things it gets easier with practice! Speaks she who has just done it 32 times against the April deadline. I got all the formatting I needed from word, but then don't have pics to contend with. Perfect binding is indeed a specialist job, requires a machine most local printers don't have. But there are plenty of good book printers out there for short run. Pod is a different matter. It all comes down to price. I am currently finding that the only way to get 5 x legal deposit copies for all 32 titles is via amazon us authors copies. It's some 500 quid cheaper than ordering from amazon uk even after shipping and half the best pod price I've been given. I'm ordering 150 books but only 5 of each. Ordering 150 of one title would be cheaper though. But times 32!!!
Do be aware that amazons finish isn't consistent, I have to send back about 20% for squint spines or text or color problems. You'd think they could print 5 the same but the machines seem to slip and there is no real person their end checking quality.
At the moment it's hard to know what to advise. Short run print is best if you can afford it. As for your nielsens, ordering, percentage issues, again, it's a steep learning curve and the answer is that to turn a profit of even a pond a copy on paperbacks is pretty impossible unless you order in bulk. Otherwise it's best to avoid bookshops. All of these point to the superiority for what we do of ebooks... But then we do all still love real books too, don't we!! Been doing the paper thing for 10 years now and still can't find a way to make it pay, my goal now is to get ebook sales to pay for my print indulgence!
I always suspected paperback publishing is a different game...

Luckily, my backlist is still readily available secondhand in paperback format, so I don't need to tackle this, but good for you getting a 'real' book together! It looks great from the photos, and the greyscale pics seem to work very well.
Susan Price said…
Thanks Katherine - and Cally and Debbie, thanks for this valuable advice! - I will be having a closer look at those CreateSpace templates - and Cally, you make me think that I probably only have the strength to sell paper books through Amazon, however variable the quality.
Lydia Bennet said…
thanks for sharing your process and adventure with us Susan! much food for thought. the book looks great in the pics. there is so much for us to learn nowadays it's amazing, in fact I wonder if there are degree courses now in publishing/formatting books.
Elizabeth Kay said…
I've done two with Create space this year. I learned a lot doing the first one. I took online advice and did the 6X9, which was a mistake. Second time round I used a smaller size, and tweaked the line spacing until it looked right. I'm very pleased with my paperback of Beware of Men with Moustaches, but to change Ice Feathers I'd have to have a different ISBN, so I'll just put it down to experience.
Nick Green said…
And I used to think writing the book was the hard part...

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