Finally available on Nook Books!

For those of you with Nooks, now there’s no excuse — you can finally purchase “Upload” straight from Barnes & Noble, via Nook Books.  This is an especially important distribution channel, because B&N is the default bookseller over at Goodreads.  The blurb for “Upload” hasn’t shown up yet, but fellow authors at Lulu assure me it’s just a matter of time.

So far, Barnes & Noble has been the slowest of the booksellers, by far.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve searched for “McClelland Upload” at least once each day, to see if it had finally made it through whatever process they have for reviewing and releasing eBooks from Lulu.  I was shocked this evening when the search results consisted of one book, and it wasn’t “Upload: Etherpunk“, which, by remarkable coincidence, was co-written by one Nigel McClelland.  I repeated the search, double-checking to make sure I was on the right website, and it worked again.  Then I hopped over to Goodreads, to make sure their ISBN-driven link works, and it does.  All’s well.

Now it’s time to consider running an ad on Goodreads, which would be my first real attempt to promote the book, outside of spreading word of its publication among friends.

Couldn’t ask for a more rave review!

“Have you ever found a book so different and intriguing and just plain good that you wished you were the first person you knew who read it? That’s this book! I finished it a week ago and I am still thinking about it. Riveting from start to finish and guaranteed to make you think. You won’t sleep til you finish it. Get this book!”  –David Gill

Earlier this morning, I saw this review on Amazon from an old college friend, and I’ve had a goofy grin ever since.  Couldn’t ask for a more rave review.

Refining the Print Edition

Fresh delivery from Lulu.com today: Draft copies of the new 9″ x 6″ trim size (Amazon doesn’t do the 8.5 x 5.5 Digest trim size), with a new font on the font and a blurb and link to uploadthenovel.com on the back. This new print edition will have its own ISBN. I’m working to get it finalized in time for my book release party at the new Century Guild art gallery in Logan Square!

“P.S. My Dad finished Mark’s book, and really liked it!”

When you publish a book, you put it out there for the world.  Or rather, the English-speaking world, in my case, but that’s still an awful lot of people, and I have no control over who will choose to read it.  As an abstract fact, I know this and am comfortable with it.  Excited about it, actually.  The image that initially comes to mind for me is of a total stranger in a bookstore picking up my book, glancing at it, and maybe even skimming the first few pages.  I stand at a distance, watching, hoping to catch some hint of their reaction.  Then my mind jumps to another imagined scene: I’m on my morning commute, on the Blue Line, and I suddenly notice that the book being read by a fellow train-commuter isn’t just any book — it’s my book.  There it is: the cover of “Upload”, and the curious feeling of wondering what scene they’re in the middle of.  (Now that so many commuters read e-books, the odds of my spotting someone reading my book went from extremely low to essentially zero, which is a little sad.  It has also been pointed out that the move away from physical books, with their publicly visible covers, also makes it harder to hit on bookish girls on the train.  “I see you’re reading Heidegger,” you say, holding your copy of “Being and Nothingness” such that it cannot be missed.  This exchange just can’t happen if you’re both reading from nondescript e-readers.  Now it’s, “I see you’re reading a Kindle”, and being fellow Kindle readers just isn’t much of a conversation-starter.)

The concept of sharing the personal investment of my writing with an unpredictable, unknown audience is something I can easily get my head around.  What I didn’t see coming was this, at the bottom of an email from an old friend:

“P.S. My Dad finished Mark’s book, and really liked it!  I just gave it to him Saturday night.”

I know this friend of mine has a Dad, and I vaguely recall meeting him once or twice in high school.  But now his Dad and I have a somewhat intimate personal connection: he’s read my book, including all the moments that are secretly glimpses into my own mind, my own life, my own fears.  Now, if I meet him, I’ll be thinking, this guy read my book.  I’ll be wondering what sort of preformed ideas he has about me, and in what ways I fit them — or don’t.  And, if the story made a lasting impression on him, we’ll actually have a fairly meaty topic for discussion.

It also means his Dad read the naughty bits.  Since I know he enjoyed the book, I’m unlikely to feel judged on this point, but there’s still a degree of awkwardness here, more for me than for the reader.  But what happens when I meet someone who didn’t particularly care for the book, and perhaps even found aspects of it offensive?  Am I ready to stand proudly behind my artistic expression to someone I know?  To my own Dad?  To my Mom?

Towering far above all of this is the joy that comes from knowing my friend had enough interest and faith in my novel to give a copy of it to his Dad.  I poured a whole lot of myself into this book — time, philosophical reflection, emotional release.  I’m not typically a very open/sharing person, and there’s something profoundly thrilling and uplifting about a friend of mine sharing my work with his own family, and having it be well received.  I feel like I’ve participated in my own community in a way that’s entirely new to me — like my art has the potential to put me in touch with my own friends in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.

Download “Upload” Direct to iTunes and iBooks

For all you iPad, iPhone, and iPod users, Upload is available via iBookstore.  Click here to view information about the eBook and purchase it through iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781300206705.  You should also be able to download it directly to your iOS device.  At the time of this post, here are the latest instructions from Apple:

iBooks includes the iBookstore. Tap the iBooks icon and your bookshelf appears. In the upper corner, tap the Store button and the bookshelf flips around to reveal the iBookstore. From the iBookstore, you can browse books by title, author, or genre. You can also view featured books as well as books available on the New York Times bestseller lists (United States only). Tap on a book to see more details and download a free sample. When you buy a book, it will automatically appear on your iBooks bookshelf.

How to Add a Description to a Book on Google Play

First, for anyone who is trying to solve this problem, here is the solution (at least for now):

Add or edit summary of Partner Program book

The basic issue is that Google typically gets its book summaries from third-party meta-data providers.  If you’re self-publishing, those third parties probably don’t know your book exists.  If you go through the help materials, you won’t find a solution to your problem.  Only once you attempt to contact Google directly for help do they walk you through a questionnaire that eventually leads you to the precious web form that I’ve linked to above.

If you would like to appreciate the value of a good — or even moderately competent — user experience designer, attempt to publish a book on Google Play.  It’s like a parody of bad UI.  Please, Google, you gotta do something.

For those who want to know the background here, read on.  For everyone else, I hope you found this post helpful.  The rest is just my tale of woe.

Background

In going through the painfully obtuse process of making Upload available on Google Play, I encountered a problem that had me baffled: how to add a summary/description/blurb to display alongside the book.  This concept of a brief introduction to your book is ubiquitous on bookseller websites.  Even on Google Play, most books have a short paragraph explaining the book, to entice the buyer into reading customer reviews, skimming the preview, possibly even buying the book.

Knowing this, I expected at some point during the not-at-all-straightforward process of getting a book onto Google Play to be presented with an opportunity to enter a summary for Upload.  I was not.  Nor did I come across any little note, friendly or otherwise, mentioning that Google prefers to fetch this information from someone other than the publisher.  When my book finally popped out the other end of the black-box process — an event which I feel warrants an email to the publisher, since it takes days and may result in pricing other than what the publisher intended — I discovered that it in fact did not have a summary, where other books on Google Play did.

Where had I gone wrong?  What step or piece of crucial information had I missed?  Other people are making it work — why can’t I?

So I sunk another 30 minutes or so into trying to find a solution.  Only to discover that you have to endeavor to register a complaint before they tell you how it works?  Maybe I missed something along the way, but I’ve gone back and forth over those pages and come up with nothing.  I guess the engineer-driven business model at Google has its downsides.  And that’s coming from someone who’s been coding for money for the past twenty years.

All part of the joy of self-publishing.  Of course, I imagine I’m lucky to be arriving at this game now, and not four years ago.

Now available on Kobo!

Click to see Upload on Kobo

I recently discovered Kobo via Goodreads.  I had just published Upload on Lulu and created a book page for Upload on Goodreads, and I wanted to see which booksellers are recommended/featured there.  The most obvious choice was Barnes & Noble, where Upload is still pending publication.  Looking through the other booksellers, I noticed two things: first, Lulu wasn’t in the list (uh-Kobo at the top of the list of online stores at Goodreadsoh); and second, there was this place called Kobo which was at the top of their list.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Kobo.  They’re very indie-friendly.  It’s easy to publish, they don’t play hardball in their legal agreements, they match Amazon in terms of how simple it is to release your book in many countries, and they are currently featuring 80% royalties!  What took me at least an hour on Google Books/Play took me about five minutes on Kobo.  I had to wait a few days for the eBook to actually be published, but that’s faster than most other sites I’ve been working with.  (So far, based on my experience, Lulu and Amazon are the winners in terms of making content available quickly.)

So, now when a Goodreads member gets excited about my book, they can buy it from Kobo!

I also appreciate Kobo’s great philosophy, especially their desire to provide a platform-neutral eBook market.  From their website:

Read Freely is global, with over 8 million customers in over 170 countries. Read Freely is device neutral and choice-driven, allowing readers to read any Kobo eBook on any open device (or any open eBook on any Kobo-enabled device). Read Freely is flexible and content rich, with over 2.5 million eBooks in the Kobo eBookstore. Read Freely is as big as your imagination.

I’m proud to make my DRM-free book available via Kobo, and I hope you enjoy it!  (And if you do, be sure to rate it.  Good ratings and reviews are one of the best ways for an indie author to gain readership.)

It’s Alive!

I finally released my science fiction novel into the world! The creative seeds of the story go all the way back to 1999, the year of The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Matrix. Thirteen years and countless revisions later, Upload is available for purchase on Lulu and Amazon.  Getting it out that has been a lot more exciting than I anticipated.  The response from friends and family has been a great source of joy and pride for me, and has breathed new life into the book.  I suspect it’s due largely to them that my book has reached number 5 on Lulu’s top sellers list, “Top 10 This Week in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy”.

Day 5, Number 5
Number 5 on Lulu’s “Top 10 This Week in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy”

Thanks so much to all who have already purchased my book — I hope you enjoy it!  Now I’m working on getting the book out through more channels, and on the long hard road of promoting a self-published novel.

For those of you who have read Upload and thought it was a good book, please spread the word and help a budding indie author!  Ratings and reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Lulu (for both eBook and paperback editions) make a huge impact on prospective buyers.

I was also very excited to open the package that arrived from Lulu this afternoon and find…

My first ten copies of the paperback edition

I’m hoping to use these to stir up some interest from local bookstores.