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Behold: The Blue Beacon is ready to print
The first edition is finalized. Here's a sneak peak, some of how I got to this point, and what's next.
I am pleased to report The Blue Beacon’s first edition is finalized.
A print version was always the end goal and, after locking down the layout and cover this week, the mockups look better than I imagined. The final copy feels so close I’m getting whiffs of fresh-cut pages.
So much work goes into properly making a book, and while technology allows authors nearly all the tools they need to make their art into reality, there’s a reason most of these steps were historically done by dedicated experts. Editing is different from cover design, which is different from layouts, which is different from printing, which is different from marketing—and I’ve worked in publishing long enough to feel competent at some of these tasks, but never all of them. Nevertheless, I wanted to make this book the right way.
So I called on a glorious amalgam of artificial intelligence, friends, and Fiverr, and tomorrow morning I will send The Blue Beacon to the printer.
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The Blue Beacon will be self-published. I’m taking this path for many reasons, ranging from pride and cowardice to hope and a dedication to artistic integrity. But the reality is self-publishing doesn’t mean I won’t find a publisher later.
My vision for The Cascadia Chronicles is to become a commercial hit, and if it becomes a hit, publishers will probably want to see if they can add momentum. And if they don’t, then I keep a larger portion of the profits. To be a hit, though, above all, The Blue Beacon has to be a beautiful, both inside and out, and I believe this book is a good work, and this series will be worthy of a loyal readership. As long as the foundation’s strong, I trust others will come along to build on this project.
The question I faced after deciding to self-publish was where to publish. Should I print-on-demand with large conglomerates like Ingram Spark? Or should I find an offset printer, with added difficulty and a higher cost?
Print-on-demand may be simpler, but after some research I learned the print quality is still lower tier. This felt like an answer to my question. Offset printing was the obvious choice.
The next question was: Which off-set printer do I use? And how will I pay for a print run?
For advice on printing, I reached out to my neighbor Laura Stanfill, who runs Forest Avenue Press, and she pointed me to Gorham Printing, a bindery in Centralia, Washington, which is respected by publishers throughout the Northwest. And, when you think about it, shouldn’t the first volume of The Cascadia Chronicles actually be printed in Cascadia?
After calculating out some costs with Gorham’s convenient online pricing tool, the next question was how to launch. Specifically, should I raise funds through Kickstarter or find another avenue, like IndieGoGo or pre-orders?
While I’m still mulling this over, Kickstarter seems the clearest path mostly because it’s a familiar hangout for fantasy readers, and because the right campaign could provide a jolt of publicity. There’s a learning curve to Kickstarter, but writers like Brandon Sanderson are using crowd-funding quite effectively. I think I can learn how to build a proper campaign.
My hope is to build a solid base for an intial print run, and then transition into further marketing steps. I know some of you are publishing folks and business mavens and successful Kickstarters, so what’s your take? Is there anything I should reconsider about this plan? Do you have tips or ideas for a successful Kickstart?
Many years of work and thought and preparation and resources have gone into this project, and the result is a book I’m proud to be part of. As I move toward marketing, I plan to do so wisely, but on some level I have to hope for luck and trust The Blue Beacon finds its right readers.
While I feel more confident with each step, I won’t deny this is a little nerve-wracking. With that in mind, please pray for The Blue Beacon, that it succeeds and finds a substantial audience; that the story both gratifies readers and makes them crave more; and that this book sells well and leads to more stories in this saga. If I may be so blatant, please pray this book becomes a strong source of provision for me and my family.
Thank you, again, for following along on this publishing journey. I’m so pleased to finally share my first novel with you. It won’t be long now.
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