Our ISBNs have just arrived by e-mail; we are now (or will be, by the time we launch) on the publishing map! This means our first .pdf can be finalised and locked and even sent out for review – hooray! Our hard-working proof-reader has promised our second script for later today, and her reward for this endeavour will be to receive the third almost immediately. I am also hoping to have a placeholder website up some time tomorrow, and the site itself uploaded a week later; nobody should expect anything too sophisticated, but it should be reasonably smart and functional. We’re gradually ticking off the jobs to be done, and our technical guru is coming in tomorrow to tidy up a few last bits and pieces and answer a few more questions. After that, it should be downhill all the way!
We have now, at long last, got our domain name and e-mails set up. Anyone with fiction that they would like to submit can now send it to us at email@example.com – but please make sure that you have read our PROSPECTUS FOR AUTHORS first. If you have not, you can obtain a copy by e-mailing us at the same address – but please allow a few days for us to respond.
Well, we’ve lurched forward a fraction more. The first .pdf file is finally assembled, all but the ISBN which I have not applied for yet; however the intractable business of page numbering has finally succumbed to a fierce session of brain-bending. The second script is currently with the proof-reader, the third is ready to send, and all the paperwork for the Press bank account has come through and is now in my hot little hands. In addition, we have been interviewed for one blog (details nearer the time) and the owner of another wants to review each of our first four titles … which should be a tremendous help when it comes to generating sales. That’s the side of things my co-conspirator specialises in; she has a real genius for making contacts and I am very happy to leave it to her – I have my hands full enough with the editing and all the technical stuff!
Our in-house reader, meanwhile, has gone off clutching the 100,000 word script that came in the other day; I’ll look forward to her response. We have both decided, however, that the 14,000 word one is going to need a little more work by the author. Still, it’s reassuring that we are getting so many good quality scripts submitted already, when we are not officially open for business yet. People’s enthusiasm and faith in us never ceases to be astonishing, and is always humbling. Now all we have to do is live up to it.
As of yesterday, we now have a bank account for the Press. I’ll have to link it up to PayPal and then I can get the online shop software sorted out, but we now have a mechanism for actually selling these e-books of ours!
The first title has come back from our illustrious proof-reader/editor and the second is even now in her hands. This is all a little later than we had hoped as she spent a large part of the winter debilitated by illness, but having seen the bang-up job she did on the first script I am more convinced than ever that she is a vital part of our operation. The schedule for the rest of the proof-reading is going to be tight, but she assures me she can meet it so I’m absolutely not going to worry about that!
Meanwhile, progress on the website has been stellar. The new software turned out to be much more like the old software than I expected; although it calls things by different names and is organised differently it works in very much the same way and within 24 hours I was feeling fairly comfortable with it. In case anyone doesn’t already know, I had a computer disaster over Christmas and have had to transfer from Windows-based to Linux-based software for absolutely everything – word processing, graphics, web design, the lot. This involved an extremely steep and at times terrifying learning curve which, thank goodness, seems to be flattening out now!
To my astonishment over the past couple of days two new scripts have come in, both as the result of casual discussions I have had with their authors. One is over 100,000 words, the other is more of a ‘taster’ at 14,000 words. There hasn’t been time yet to read them both, let alone form any kind of opinion, but it’s obvious what I’m going to be doing over the next few days!
Also, I have been preparing the first .pdf file. It isn’t finished yet by a long way but I’m starting to see how it will shape up and I must admit I’m rather pleased with it. I spent much of yesterday just hyphenating – and came to the conclusion that there’s a good reason why that sounds so much like ‘hyperventilating’! It turned out to be an unexpectedly stressful process, but a very necessary one where such short line-lengths are involved – we don’t want to end up selling masses and masses of ‘white space’, after all. The look of the finished product is very important to me.
Over the weekend, I managed to fit in a quick ‘research trip’ to the website of one of our rival e-publishers, I won’t say which one. I wanted to see how they had handled certain decisions with regard to site layout and organisation, to get an idea what would work for us. While I was there, I had a more general ‘stickybeak’ around their wares – just to see what the level of the competition was. It’s a nice website, there’s no arguing with that, although some of their decisions would not have been mine. However they don’t appear to have anyone involved in maintaining it who has any idea how to punctuate direct speech, and when I clicked on a random title to get a sample of the text I was somewhat mystified to see a description of a ‘gregarious turret’ on a house. Made me wonder whether there was any editing going on over there at all.
Every time I think I’m getting too obsessive about editing, too nit-picky about trivialities, I’ll go back and have a look at that site to cheer myself up. We’ll make mistakes, I know we will, and we may have some disasters along the way, but at least now that we’re forewarned we should be able to ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes as our rivals – and let’s, in any case, hope that we never get too big to pay attention to the important little details!
I’ve just been viewing the almost-final draft of our first promotional video trailer, which we’ll have up and running the moment we’ve got the website written – some time next week, if the Fates are kind to us. We’re really only waiting until we’ve got signed contracts on everything now.
I have to say, I’m incredibly impressed – as well as itching to have a go at making one for myself!!!
In addition, we’ve finally come to a conclusion about our banking arrangements – which were half-agreed before Christmas when I had a major computer problem and everything had to be put onto a back burner for a while.
The tasks to be completed before we can launch the Press are steadily being ticked off the list. Website and proof-reading are the only big items that remain, and they’re both in hand – it’s just a matter of time.
Today it stopped being terrifying and it’s back to being exciting again for a while, although I have a nasty feeling that it will change a couple of hundred times more before the Big Day. This is not exactly what I’d call a stress-free occupation – but then, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.
Fingers crossed, please; all we lack now are a few customers!!!
We have reached the final stage of cover design for our four initial titles. Three of them already have completed covers and one of them has a cover in draft form. However, not being one to let a good opportunity pass, I have just been exploring a different source of royalty-free images to see if I could find anything there that I liked better.
The keyword I searched on was ‘cowboys’. Maybe this was a bit too vague, because I have just finished wading through 5,500 images of babies on horseback, girls in cow-print, cowboys on skis, naked pregnant cowgirls, Dallas Cowboys, Uruguayan farmers and assorted men in hats. These, at least, I could understand; however my search also threw up Prussian soldiers, a member of the British Household Cavalry, a picture of some pinto beans and, bizarrely, pictures entitled ‘businessman in gas-mask’ and ‘gay umbrella’. How these last two fit the keyword I am struggling to imagine.
I also learned one useful lesson. If the picture description starts with the words ‘handsome’ or ‘pretty’, it usually means the subject is neither!
The jury’s still out on the picture choice; I think I’m probably going to to stick with my original selection!
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Two more Authors’ Prospectuses have been requested and sent out, and the contracts are in the post to our first set of authors. Our ailing proof-reader has recovered and returned to the fold, and we will be passing two more titles to her very shortly. It looks as if we’re finally getting somewhere – fingers crossed, please!
Welcome to the new friends who have joined us since our first post. This seems like a good opportunity to bring people up to date with what we’ve been doing in the past week or so, and what progress we’ve made.
Probably the most important and the biggest (and frankly the scariest) step taken this week is the preparation of the first contracts for our writers. These should be in the post in the next day or two, and the writers concerned will be e-mailed to let them know that they’re on their way. We won’t be announcing any titles until we have the signed contracts in our hot little paws, because we’re just superstitious like that.
We’re starting to spread the word to a few interested parties who have kindly agreed to help us publicise our endeavours. This is going to mean being interviewed for an online publication which is also a fraction scary but we’re brave as lions, to paraphrase Ron Weasley, and we’ll tough it out somehow. Details here when we have them.
Same applies to the new website. This is under development at the moment and will be the focus of our efforts after the weekend. It should appear some time in March, but we want to take our time and do a decent job with it.
There is no word yet from our illustrious proof-reader who has been rather ill for the past few weeks. However with the end of the month imminent it would probably be a good moment to make contact with her again and hopefully there should be better news to report next time.
We have had one request so far for the Authors’ Prospectus and since its arrival wasn’t greeted with derision we’re hoping it made some kind of sense to the recipient. There is one title already confirmed for November and another well on its way – although ironically the work in question doesn’t actually have a title yet! Meanwhile, an in-house reader is about to join our nominal ‘staff’ – thus increasing our labour force by a massive 50%.
There are still a few details to be ironed out; we do not have a bank account yet, and the last-minute conversion from Windows-based to Linux-based software has caused a few delays, but we are far enough forward in other respects for these not to be worrying us too much at the moment. We should soon have some promotional video to set before you, too, which is very exciting for those of us who wouldn’t have a clue how to set about producing such a thing.
Well, this is rather disjointed but it attempts to give you a snapshot of where we are with our plans. It’s about nine months now since we started talking about and preparing for this venture but I’m not sure that we’ve ever really got our heads round the idea that it will actually happen one day; in some respects, the mental journey from ‘we could’ to ‘we will’ has been the biggest step of all, and one that we may not fully make until we see the Press up and running for the first time.
We’re very glad to have you along for the ride; at the moment, we feel we need all the (im)moral support we can get!
Who we are
MANIFOLD PRESS is a new e-publishing venture based in the UK, run by two authors of longer-standing and more experience than we care to admit. We will mainly be publishing male-male fiction set in the present, the historical past, or an alternative version of either. We will also consider female-female fiction with these settings, but this is not our principal area of interest or expertise.
What we’re looking for
We are looking for plot and/or romance, either love stories between same-sex partners or stories in different genres – mystery, adventure, etc. – in which the main protagonists just happen to be gay. Your story need not (indeed should not) be wall-to-wall sex and there is no minimum sex scene requirement.
What we’re offering
We’re calling ourselves a ‘semi-pro’ press; we’re going to run things on a professional basis as far as we can although we’re starting very modestly. What this means for authors is that you will receive a proper contract (initially for two years with an option to renew) and royalties, which will be paid quarterly. We’ll discuss all this with you before the contract is signed, so that you understand exactly what you’re getting into.
Our first list
Our first four titles will be published on 1 May 2010; watch this LJ and our website for details. (We’ll post the address of the website as soon as we have it up and running.) Meanwhile, friend us here for up to date information on our project as we get it ready for launching.
How you can be involved
If you are an aspiring author of male-male or female-female fiction, please PM us with your current e-mail address and we will send you our PROSPECTUS FOR AUTHORS. We are presently searching for stories of 40,000 – 100,000+ words suitable for inclusion in our November list.
PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT UNSOLICITED FICTION; WE SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE TIME OR THE FACILITIES TO READ IT!