April 10th 2012
Posted by: Simon Morden in: From the Author, Heart, Metrozone, News and Updates
Tags: Another War | appearances | Degrees of Freedom | Equations of Life | essay | Greenbelt | Heart | Metrozone | Samuil Petrovitch | The Lost Art | Theories of Flight | Thy Kingdom Come
As you can probably imagine, there’s been a bit of a surge in traffic recently, so I thought I’d write something in order to point out some of the tourist attractions on offer here.
Now that I have your attention… but seriously: free books. If you’re wondering about the Metrozone (as it’s known in the UK)/Samuil Petrovitch (furrin parts), there’s sample chapters of Equations of Life, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom off the links on this page. There’s also Thy Kingdom Come, which is a short story collection I wrote back in 2002, which eventually formed the back-story to the world of the London Metrozone. The whole text is available free as a .pdf file, on this page.
I’ve written a couple of other books you may be interested in: The Lost Art, my YA-but-secretly-for-grown-ups looks-like-a-fantasy-but-it’s-really-hard-SF from David Fickling Books, and my spectacularly tentacular Lovecraftian-styled World Fantasy Award nominated novella Another War. Both are available as dead-tree copies and ebooks from various suppliers.
Second of the free offerings is Heart, my first ever published novel. After being pretty much unavailable for 10 years, I decided to wheel it back out. The unaltered text as an ebook (various formats) is free, and hard copies are available from Lulu.com.
I have also done various talks and workshops at the Greenbelt Arts festival. If you want to know what I really think about Christian fiction, or How Not to Write a Novel, those things can be found in the Essay section. I’m back at Greenbelt this August, talking about the future of publishing.
Apart from that, feel free to wander around. I’m not a prolific blogger, but sometimes have something interesting to say: there’s an RSS feed and a Metrozone facebook page to help keep folk up-to-date. Thanks for dropping by.
March 18th 2012
I thought I needed to do this – any other questions you need answering, fire away.
March 15th 2012
Right then. Most of yesterday was taken up with nerdy hardcore coding issues, but I think we’re good to go.
As previously stated, Heart is being re-issued in both print and as an ebook. The print versions are being handled by Lulu, which should mean for a lot of you, you should be able to order copies in something approximating a local currency, on the same continent as you. You can get either a paperback (UK£8.00), and a dust-covered hardback (UK£15.00).
The ebook versions are free. I’ve got .pdf, .epub, and .mobi – if you want other formats, let me know. I’d rather you downloaded them from here, so I can get some handle on how many copies are going out the door, but am fully aware that they will also appear on torrent sites. There is also a ‘tips jar’ on that page and on the main page to show your appreciation, as they say.
The Heart page is the main access point. Scroll down for the options to buy a paper copy, or download an ebook.
Any initial problems, please leave a comment on this post.
Oh, and enjoy!
March 9th 2012
Will look a lot like this.
I did debate just leaving it like this – no title, no name. In the end I went for a minimal HEART at the top, and a Simon Morden at the bottom.
What the symbol actually is, and what it represents, becomes clear in the novel.
March 7th 2012
Ease of use isn’t one of them, but for the record, both were relatively straight forward to deal with from a prospective publisher’s end. You would assume that the companies involved would want to make it easy to upload files and design a cover – and you’d be right. To access the high-end Blurb functions, you need to be able to produce a specific pdf format known as x-3, which I couldn’t. Lulu were more forgiving about their upload formats and styles. I’m also wondering if I found Lulu easier because I’d already done the book on Blurb, but all in all, a bit fiddly on occasions though eminently usable if you have a good base knowledge of producing pdf files.
Quality now – exterior first. I went for trade paperback size for both, and that’s exactly the size I got. Visually, the copies are identical. The covers are printed on good quality white card stock, though the Blurb card stock is slightly thicker. The printing is nice and clear, the artwork (such as it is…) is faithfully reproduced. The Blurb copy is slightly better finished, overall, and just edges the Lulu copy – but both are good, which is a step-up from earlier pod offerings I’ve got, which were a bit on the ropy side.
What does it look like inside? Blurb print on a good quality almost-white paper. Lulu’s interior pages are, for the standard cost, a cream ‘paperback’ quality. What’s important is the legibility: does the print from one side obscure the words you’re trying to read? In both cases, no. Again, Blurb have produced the better book, but Lulu have produced a more-than-acceptable book.
However – and this is where ambition meets cost – I have to consider what are known as ‘price points’. Essentially, pod companies price their services so that they can advertise “Your book for only £x.xx!” And they’re right, of course. If you want to produce a slim chapbook or a collection of poetry in paperback with none of the bells and whistles, it will cost only £x.xx. But if you want to put together a decent length novel (Heart is 125,000 words), you break through several price points simply on the way to getting the page count. One of Blurb’s price hikes was at the 280 page mark. Coupled with the problem of not being able to produce pdf/x-3 files (which meant I couldn’t change the interior format from the default – there are header and footer regions I can’t put text in: footers contain the page number, headers are blank because you know who wrote the book and what it’s called, and you don’t need reminding at the top of Every Single Page, do you now?), I had to cut the font size down to 10 point in order to squeeze it in under 280 pages. Lulu are much more forgiving both on the page count and the interior design. I scrapped the header space, upped the font to 11 point and still got it all in for 282 pages. The difference between 10 and 11 point text is subtle, but there’s no doubting that to my ageing eyes at least, 11 point is easier to read, and the pages in the Lulu-produced copy are better-laid out because I had more control.
So – now comes the kicker. The price to you. Lulu are undeniably cheaper, by a good margin. But hang on – that’s just the production. I need to factor in delivery too. This is where I get cross about Blurb. To print one copy of Heart and send it to you, Blurb essentially double the price. If you want it priority shipping, it’s not quite three times the cost. No. Just no. That seems to be a wrong, if not simply unethical, business model. Having said they’d produce one (1) copy of the book for one price, to then load extra cost on actually getting the thing in your hand? It came as a very unwelcome surprise. Now, I do appreciate that Blurb and Lulu are catering for slightly different markets – Blurb probably do expect me to buy multiple books at once and sell them on myself, but that’s not what I intend to do. Lulu’s standard postage is relatively cheap – it came through the regular mail in a cardboard sleeve a la Amazon. Also, if I understand it correctly, a book on Lulu is available everywhere there’s a Lulu press. Uploading it to the UK site means that you can have it printed in the UK, European mainland and the US, pay for it with local currency and have it shipped within your jurisdiction (sorry Canada, but the border is long and porous, and I’m sure you’re used to buying stuff from the US).
I’ve investigated the hardback option too – I haven’t received that yet. There’s also the possibility of buying an ISBN and selling through Amazon – I’m not sure I want to do that, because it’d bump the price up further. As it is, I’m looking at £8 for the paperback, which is almost exactly what we’d pay normally. The hardback is going to be somewhere between £12 and £15.
I also have to consider what folk want to do about signed copies.
March 2nd 2012
Many moons ago – 10 whole years, in fact, which is a lot of moons – my first ever novel came out. I was exceptionally pleased to have it accepted by Razorblade Press, awed by the Chris Nurse artwork, and hoped that this was indeed it: my foot on the ladder, a springboard to greater things, a mixed-metaphor on my way to becoming an established author.
It didn’t turn out quite that way. The book was badly typeset – legible, but annoying all the same, and then there were publisher problems far above and beyond the usual. Without descending into libel, let’s just say I took my rights back. Which meant that not very many people got to read Heart, despite it getting some really good reviews in several of the right places. It simply wasn’t there to find.
It so happens that after 2011′s splurge of Morden-related bookage, 2012 will see precisely nothing from me in print. The Curve of the Earth is due out 2013, and Ignite most likely in 2014. Which seems a shame – for me, I lose some of the momentum the Metrozone has managed to create, and for you because, mad fools that you are, you seem to like what I write.
So this is what I propose to do.
At some point in the near-future (the next couple of months at the latest), I’ll be releasing the full, unaltered text of Heart as .pdf, .epub and .mobi files. These will be for everyone, free and gratis. The reasons for simply giving these away are twofold. Firstly, this book owes me nothing. It was professionally proof-read at the time, I made the artwork that goes with it myself, and having read it through again, and I know I write better now than I did then. Secondly, as a bit of an experiment: I want to see what happens. Because the book doesn’t owe me anything, I can afford to see whether or not it boosts my profile, my sales of other books, or both. I may put up a ‘tips jar’ button on the site.
At the same time, I’m going to make a print edition available through a pod publisher (I’m currently looking at two, to check on quality. I’ve received one so far, and I’m pleasantly surprised – actually impressed – at what I’ve got). I’ll try and price these sensibly, and may even do a paperback and a hardback option, so that if people really like the book, they can own a physical copy (the price point will probably be around UK£10 for the paperback: 280-odd pages, trade paperback size). I don’t want to hold onto stock myself, because I simply don’t have the storage space, or the will to stare at a big pile of books that may well end up going nowhere. Besides, I’m supposed to be WRITING THE DAMN NOVEL, because that’s what I get paid to do.
How does that sound? Is there anything else you’d like to see while I’m still at the planning stage? Do you think I’m mad for doing this? Is it a good mad, or a ‘brave’ mad? I look forward to hearing your responses.
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