The .mobi alternative

With the help of an enthusiastic reader (you know who you are!) we are now in a position to make .mobi format files of all our titles available for those of you with Kindle and related e-readers. These have been added to the online shop module today and are available for purchase now.

We will shortly also be announcing a means of buying our books using credit cards and other payment methods, for those who are not happy with PayPal’s service. Give us a few more days to sort it out, and with a bit of luck we will have more news for you after the weekend!

Updating PubWeb

I may have said this before but oh boy that’s a counter-intuitive interface if ever I saw one! Not helped by the fact that I was dealing with it at 6 a.m. after an uncomfortable night, but even so …

For some reason PubWeb did not recognise me as the publisher of ‘Dear Mister President’ (which was the first book we registered, since it was the first one finished) and won’t allow me to edit the record which currently shows it as ‘erotic fiction’, a description which is scarcely appropriate.

And nor is there a code for ‘futuristic romance’; romances can only be either contemporary or historical. That means that there isn’t an appropriate code for ‘Thrace’, which is neither contemporary nor historical. (I had to settle for ‘contemporary’ in this case … )

I do get frustrated by monolithic bureaucracies and their inflexible systems, I’m afraid.

Oh, you’d guessed?

The attention span/page count dilemma

As far as I’m concerned, sales over the past twenty-four hours have definitively (if you’ll pardon the expression) put to rest any worries we may have had about the popularity of longer books: THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE is currently the most sought-after of the four new titles and at 171,000 words it is actually 20,000 words longer than the other three put together. It’s very reassuring to know that those comments about readers and their attention span don’t refer to Manifold Press’s readership, and that as well as enjoying a good shorter book some of you are willing to batten down the hatches and settle in for a long satisfying read. As we have another blockbuster – Adam Fitzroy’s STAGE WHISPERS – lined up for next time, we’re taking this as a very good sign indeed!

Our second list goes live!

Our second set of four titles is now available for purchase, thanks to a very early start this morning which was inspired by (a) the clocks changing over in the UK and a certain editor being completely unable to adjust to the difference and (b) Staff Kitten also struggling with the time change and determined to be given breakfast at 4 a.m.! Still, our loss (of sleep) is your gain: four glorious new titles await you – go on out and enjoy yourselves with them!

Week 26

Hooray! Week 26 has arrived, and our new titles will be out on Monday! As far as I can tell (and my brain has turned to mush, so it may not be 100% reliable) all I still need to do is make the .epub files and update the online shop module; after that, all is ready for the launch of the November list at an early hour on Monday morning UK time.

Meanwhile, authors’ royalties for the second quarter are about to be sent out – and as a result we have been number-crunching like mad! One of the statistics we are able to bring you at this stage is our regular weekly report on response time: a relatively sedate five hours 42 minutes, alas, due to most of this week’s orders arriving in the middle of the night. The fact that they were dealt with at 6 a.m. UK time did not deter one customer from demanding to know, in forceful terms, where her book had got to – and having to be reminded about the explanation on our website. We are not Amazon, we are not Barnes and Noble, and we do not – contrary to rumours – sleep with our computers. It’s a shame that some people still don’t quite seem to comprehend this, and are so quick to tell us what other companies do. The short answer to this is that WE ARE NOT OTHER COMPANIES – we can’t afford some of the services they offer, although that doesn’t mean we never will. We are not a supermarket, we’re a stall in a craft market – where everything is handmade with loving care and the staff are here because they want to be; if you’re looking for mass-production and all the benefits it brings, there are other places you can find it. We’ll just continue to do what we do, to the best of our ability; we hope that’s okay with the majority of our readers.

To avoid confusion …

We have been asked to point out that Adam Fitzroy has never submitted ‘Dear Mister President’ to any other publisher or sent it out for review except through Manifold Press and has no intention of doing so – and that the same will apply to Adam’s future work including ‘Stage Whispers’.

A belated – but very welcome – review (and thoughts arising from it)

Guest reviewer Val Kovalin has done us proud again at Jessewave with a very strong review of Chris’s SEA CHANGE. However the comments to the review raise some interesting questions – once more, the subject of word/page-count is mentioned (and by implication attention span), and someone makes the distinction between ‘mainstream’ and ‘m/m’ fiction as if the latter was a separate genre. We find this fascinating, as we at Manifold Press don’t really understand the difference. As far as we’re concerned, what we deal with is romantic fiction in which the main protagonists happen to be men; yes, from time to time they’ll have sex and it’ll be described, but we’re not in the pornography business – we’re writing about people who have other things in their lives than mere bedroom antics!

In terms of ‘straight’ romantic fiction, Harlequin/Mills and Boon and ‘Northanger Abbey’ are different aspects of the same continuity. We’d like to try to reflect that range and variety here at Manifold; it’s one of the reasons why we don’t have a mandatory sex scene requirement. Our aim is simply to present you with gay romantic fiction of the highest possible quality. If we’re not considered ‘mainstream’, that’s only because male-male romances are still something of a minority taste – although we’d like to see that change. In every other respect, ‘mainstream’ values are the ones we’re shooting for – well-rounded plots and characters with accurate settings and convincing relevant detail. That does sometimes make our books a bit plot-heavy and involve relationships which develop slowly, but we like to think there’s a niche in the market for more than just – if you’ll pardon the expression – “Wham, bang, thank you man!”

In fact, to paraphrase Marlene Dietrich: We like a man who takes his time.

Week 25 – we’re getting there!

As of a few minutes ago, three of the .pdfs for the next four titles are done – which puts us firmly on track with our November 1 publications. If anyone cares, that’s a total of 1132 pages so far – with one book left to finish; our overall page count is going to be considerably higher this time than it was in May.

Response time average for week 25 was tidy enough at 2 hours 28 minutes. I’ll try to find an opportunity of crunching the response times to give an average for the first six months, although as there were a couple of aberrant occasions due to equipment and logistical problems I suspect they will not be particularly impressive.

So, as we go into the last week of preparation, this is a good opportunity to thank everybody who has contributed to preparing the November titles – our authors, of course, Julie, Penni and Chris; our behind the scenes heroes Reader, Cruncher and Hooper; our long-suffering proof-reader Thalia; and last but not least the Staff Kitten (aka Scrappy Doo) who has such a delightful way of helping out with the filing and has displayed a very strong (and entirely understandable) inclination to eat the ‘mouse’ …

Nearly there, folks; fingers and toes crossed, please.

Week 24

Still ticking over nicely, thank you; average response time this week settled down at 25 minutes which is not to be sneezed at. It will be interesting to see how this changes after the November titles are published.

Meanwhile, we are starting to make arrangements for next May’s publications already. One previous customer e-mailed and told me it was big mistake to have four titles out all at once and then nothing for another six months; we should have one a month, s/he thought. I suppose in an ideal world we might be able to do this, but given the resources we’re working with – virtually nothing, in fact! – it makes better sense for us to do it this way. At least we all know what to expect!

So, although the lead-time seems interminable to all of us, I hope that what we’re producing will in the end be considered worth the wait. I, for one, am very excited about the November titles … but then I freely admit to being biased!

Not long now …