‘Gnaw’ is Published

'Gnaw' by Jennifer Brady

It’s the weirdest feeling. My first ever ebook is published. It is now FOR SALE. Pre-ordered copies have been delivered to peoples’ devices like Christmas morning, a surprise in the dgital ‘stocking’ (I hope!) for the adult-child within.

It’s the weirdest feeling. My first ever ebook is published. It is now FOR SALE. Pre-ordered copies have been delivered to peoples’ devices like Christmas morning, a surprise in the dgital ‘stocking’ (I hope!) for the adult-child within. Thank you those who pre-ordered because it completes my test phase 1. What a dull morning it would be without a purchaser. I am in-fact writing this post listening to Handel’s Messiah to celebrate before the house awakes. Handel takes the place of the champagne I will not have, the launch I will not party to, the speech I will not make because like most things with self-publishing (and digital), projects notoriously iterative and endless and lacking in glory except for the secretive little triumphs that mean nothing to the outside world. Oh well! The gains are so much more than donning party frock and the nature of the beast means that I am posting to the universe of binary, fitting, yes, fitting indeed.

screen grab of publication notification from Amazon

You could argue that every book should have a distribution ‘health plan’ and for certain books (digi-first, fan fiction, erotica, romance and singles) enrolling them in KDP Select first is a must to take advantage of promotions and countdown deals will give them critical visibility

I did it myself. Completely. Not just because I’m a writer and writers should be innovating here, but because I hate blindspots in a work process. This was a blindspot in my day-to-day job. Publishers are not individuals, they are ‘bodies’ and bodies don’t necessarily make tailored plans for every ‘limb’ (metaphor awful, apologies) or book that may not necessarily suit democratic distribution (ie iTunes, Nook etc). Amazon KDP Select which Gnaw is enrolled in, like many self-pubs, is very much an individual approach to a person (or publisher) who wants to preen and grow their book, learn data and analytics and then tailor the book’s distribution journey. Seems like a logical place to start for me. Like it or not we live in a culture where ‘the people decide’, say what you like but Amazon account for c. 90% of books sales for publishers (article ref to come) and to NOT know every twist and turn of this sales channel is remiss for any publishing person and this is where self-pubs lead the way. They are not supported by print income and need to get creative here, a mentality larger publishing houses could develop and innovate with too. You could argue that every book should have a distribution ‘health plan’ and for certain books (digi-first, fan fiction, erotica, romance and singles) enrolling them in KDP Select first is a must to take advantage of promotions and countdown deals will give them critical visibility and more importantly feedback for a tentative publisher trying to learn the world of digi distribution which is a very different and GLOBAL one to the print one. For Gnaw, a very Indie literary affair, there’s no real advantage for me to distribute elsewhere yet. I have 90 more days in KDP Select to figure out what next, but in the meantime, while my book is selling millions (!) I’m listening to the Amen Chorus about to start the day’s work and I’m happy with that.

Epigraph of Gnaw taken fromThe Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1, 1931–1934 ‘The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second … absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.’  Many thanks to Ron Hussey, the Anaïs Nin Estate and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company,


Many thanks to Ron Hussey, the Anaïs Nin Estate and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company for permission to use Nin’s quote as epigraph for ‘Gnaw’. 

Buy Gnaw here for US and here for .co.uk realm. See Jen’s Amazon Author Page .You can get the synopsis, or what is called ‘Product Description’ here. Spread the word.  Note the very lovely permission from Anaïs Nin estate to use the quote for the Gnaw epigraph. That made my day some weeks back. Epigraph of Gnaw taken from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1, 1931–1934

‘The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second … absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.’

Rowdy

Is this not the epitome of the imagined lock-in in a boozer where everyone knows your name?

Is this not the epitome of the imagined lock-in in a boozer where everyone knows your name? Or even better, where everyone doesn’t?

I love books and writing so much that I also work in the publishing industry. I like to be close to the industry all the time. So that’s my day job. I’m a producer of books, or lately, of ‘content’ for digital consumption. Though my official title of ‘Production Controller’ lends less credit to the art of literary project management than I’d like, it does give license to indulge an anxiety to control, and there is none more anxious than myself when a book is going out to the world for the first time. It’s that last proof that has me simultaneously stressed, excited but seldom smiling such is the horror of not catching the potential blemish, the typographical blunder, the miscalculated spec. The gathering of a team’s efforts – author, commissioning editor, managing editor, copy-editor, marketing, publicity etc – is not only a responsibility but can be informally sacerdotal at times, which has a pressure of its own. Or perhaps it’s a bit like being a literary mid-wife? You can even feel tearful sending a book out there on its own finally, no more dusting and polishing, let it grow, deliver another. Many books pass through my desk daily, too many to count. I suppose there are times I’m too busy scowling at them for potential blunders that I can miss the beauty in them entirely. By beauty I mean the book’s cover.

I do love cover art for its own sake as a stand-alone entity, a thing that can lift your day. Sometimes a cover that looks innocuous on the surface is a sly little gem deep down that catches you unaware and brings out a surprise reaction, a yearning even, which I suppose is the idea if the marketing people are doing their job. One cover comes to mind. Vincent Capranni’s ‘Rowdy Rhymes and Re-c-im-itations ’ designed by Garry Wiley in Create. Now, call me a lush – I swear I hardly ever see the inside of a pub – but is this not the epitome of the imagined lock-in in a boozer where everyone knows your name? Or even better, where everyone doesn’t know your name? Or perhaps you are a still a tourist, still open to the world of strangers, still receptive to the musings of a bawdy old man in a pub? But it’s not the image alone that makes this cover sing, it is the slight tweaking the designer has given to the man’s face that does it for me. See the pull-focus on the eyeball? This genius drink-fuelled beady eye zones in on you through a haze of pints and pipe-tabcaccy smoke, making you the audience to some innuendo that in real life you mightn’t even get. But who cares? Who cares if the next day you have the worst hangover you ever had in your life and a head full of rowdy rhymes you’re never going to repeat in dull company? The point is that for now you are in that boozer, you are having a blast, you are in another world or time and this old man made you smile at your desk because he’s still sharp and has years of life left in him yet.

Never said it to Garry the designer, never got a moment what with the volume of books always waiting to be scowled at and deemed fit for release, so I’ll say it now — Garry, it is some artist indeed that can stop this anxiety ridden production controller in her tracks at deadline hour to stare at an old man’s face for five minutes and say ‘Now that is beautiful.’

Production controlling in the olden days.  A Printer’s Shop, c. 1642, etching by Abraham Bosse

Production controlling in the olden days.  A Printer’s Shop, c. 1642, etching by Abraham Bosse