If you’ve been paying attention to publishing news, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the new platform that Barnes and Noble trotted out today. Nook Press is their latest attempt to move ahead of Amazon.com’s Kindle Desktop Publishing. At first glance it looks like it’s got a lot of features that might appeal to individual writers.
Frankly, when I got the email this morning with the “great news” that I was going to have to move the Per Aspera Press books from PubIt to Nook Press I was not looking forward to it. What a hassle, I figured. And this perception only deepened when I started looking at the news articles and watched the tutorial videos of creating a publisher account.
Yes, all this new functionality is cool. Yes, isn’t it great that I can now use their platform to actually write my manuscript? Actually it’s not. Even though they give me the option to invite collaborators to comment and review, I would never write a draft using a tool like this. Just doesn’t have all the functionality I need.
So I was dreading transitioning my books to this new platform. And that fear wasn’t assuaged by the nookpress.com site being down (or more likely overwhelmed) for much of the day. But when I actually did walk through the steps — not of setting up a new account — but of transitioning my PubIt account over. The process was …
Smooth. Easy. Almost perfect.
Seriously, I entered my old account information, and my new account information. Clicked once. Verified my email. Done.
All my books transitioned. All metadata. All my payment and company information. Seamless. Impressive.
This sort of experience is so rare that I took the time to blog this. Good job, Barnes and Noble. Please don’t let Nook die. We need you around.
For the first time, I will be attending Emerald City Comicon, which features some huge media stars like Patrick Stewart and Felicia Day and Wil Weaton and… and…
I have one panel on Saturday, March 2nd at 2:20. Show up early.
ASK THE (BOOK) EDITORS
Room: HALL C (602-603) Start: 2:20PM
Join novelist Philip Athans as he joins Nina Hess (Editor-in-Chief, Wizards of the Coast) Fleetwood Robbins (Editor, Wizards of he Coast), Jak Koke (Managing Editor, Per Aspera Press), and James Sutter (Editor, Paizo) for a spirited Q&A for aspiring authors of fantasy and science fiction. They will cover such topics as query dos and don’ts, how to write better, how to submit your work, and how to build a career as a novelist.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Patrick Rothfuss’s two novels The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear are masterpieces of storytelling. The characters are complex and richly developed, the writing is lyrical and meticulously crafted, and the plot is engaging. This is one of the best stories that I have read. Rothfuss’s writing is clever, and thoughtful… and even when not a lot is happening, I am drawn along because I care about the characters.
So when I had the opportunity to check out the audiobook from our incredible Seattle Public Library, I took it even though I had already read the book. I wanted to read it again anyway.
I got hooked on audiobooks when I was commuting to a day job, and had to spend 30 minutes in the car each morning and again at night. An intriguing audiobook would make otherwise dull and frustrating time pass quickly. I cannot recommend them enough… especially if you can get them from the library. Audiobooks are relatively expensive because the publisher has to pay the voice actor(s), sound engineer, and producer. A long novel can be upwards of 40 hours long, which adds a substantial cost to production above what the author gets. And yet, I would say that the experience of a well-produced and expertly-narrated audiobook is worth the money.
The Brilliance Audio productions of the Rothfuss books are worth it. Days and days of entertainment and distraction while you get stuff done. It’s a pretty great deal actually.
The narrator of both The Name of Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear is Nick Podehl. His reading is marvelously expressive. He does voices for all the characters as one would expect, and in my opinion he has got them down cold. To me, his voice is Kvothe’s voice.
I don’t have a twice a day commute anymore, but even so I seem to have less and less time to sit down and read. When I’m not writing or editing at the computer, I’m up and about doing something around the house. I find that listening to a good story is a perfect way to pass the time when I’m battling entropy around the house — washing dishes, cleaning a room, or working on a project that’s primarily physical like car repair or construction. I’ve gotten to where I even listen in the shower from time to time. This isn’t good for my hot water bill as I tend to take longer showers when I’m involved in a good story.
But I also get a lot more dishes washed. Thanks Pat and Nick!
Do you like audiobooks? Have you read or listened to any that you particularly love? Let me know in the comments.
As I do every year, I will be attending Norwescon in SeaTac. This year, I’ll be at the convention on April 6th and 7th. If you’re in the Seattle area, come to the con, find me, and say hello.
Friday, April 6
11am — From Synopsis to Novel
A novel synopsis isn’t just a marketing tool. Find out how to use a synopsis to develop your story before you start writing. Mary Rosenblum (M), Jak Koke, Irene Radford
2pm — Jak Koke Reading
My story “Love’s Light Wings” shows how we live and love in a collapsed future with near immortality and forced off-planet teleportation. Note: the con program states that I will be reading from my forthcoming novel, Blood Sisters. However, that novel hasn’t been written yet. Continue reading “My Norwescon 35 Schedule”
There’s an old joke among publishers. Question: “How do you make a small fortune in publishing?” Answer: “Start with a large fortune.”
We didn’t have a large fortune when we launched Per Aspera back in 2003. We started with time and determination, but not much else. We funded our lives and our nascent press on credit cards and the belief that what we were doing was worthwhile. We wanted to publish books that were overlooked by traditional publishing for one reason or another, and prove that they could succeed both artistically and commercially.
We also maintained hope that one of our books would break out and float the whole operation.
By any objective analysis of our business back then, we failed. After releasing two books as print-on-demand trade paperbacks, we placed a huge bet by launching a line of cloth-bound editions, first with Singularity by Bill DeSmedt and later Steel Sky by Andrew C. Murphy. These were beautiful books with gorgeous interior design and great covers.
They sold well, but not well enough, and we had to close down. We laid off staff (some of whom were already working for free) and went into a state of torpor. That was in 2008.
Even though our books did not make enough to keep the business running, we did end up with some degree of creative and professional success. Singularity in particular was so well-received that I now believe all the effort and debt was worth publishing that one book. Several big-name hard SF writers gave it glowing blurbs. The novel garnered several awards, a number of ‘best-of’ mentions, and a whole slew of favorable reviews.
It’s still somewhat of a mystery why no larger publishers decided to buy Singularity. Thousands of mediocre books are published every year, and hundreds of good books are published that are not as good as Singularity and Steel Sky. They are published because enough of them sell. For the most part, publishing is a business and not an exercise in artistic integrity.
My intention when we shut down was always for the company to restart at some point when things were less busy and more financially stable. Karawynn and I were able to pay off the business debt a while ago, but the economy has been less than ideal and it’s emotionally hard to step back into a situation that has burned us in the past. No matter how much we loved doing it. Continue reading “Per Aspera Press Reboot”