Voices of Imagination was an idea with equal parts altruism and selfish pragmatism. On the one hand, I really do want to give authors of all kinds another venue by which to publish their work. On the other hand, I wanted to have more literary properties to sell with my name on them. The publishing of the first Voices of Imagination collection was a total learning experience. It was also a total clusterfuck. An early edition went out rife with errors in spelling, grammar, formatting, and any other kind of error possible. I had to figure out where to find authors and what to offer them for their stories. I had to the whole thing together myself, using unfamiliar software platforms and web interfaces. It was all very technical, and one I got the first book out, I felt like I had a handle on it.
Thus, putting together Voices of Imagination 2 was an opportunity for more nuanced learning. Its clusterfuck status is still debatable, but putting it together has already offered me some valuable lessons.
The book publishing process is mostly about waiting. First, its waiting for stories to come in. Then once I’ve accepted a story, it’s about waiting for the author to respond to the purchase agreement. I like to give the authors a great deal of creative control even in my edits, so that’s another phase of waiting; every time I make changes there’s another stint of waiting. Then more waiting for each stage of printing, including formatting checks at the printers (CreateSpace), ordering a proof copy, and going through the proof copy looking for mistakes like a school nurse looking for lice. Then it’s more waiting while the book goes live, fully integrates paper and electronic versions, and finally there’s another book ready. It’s only 3 months behind schedule. No big deal. Really.
This time around I reached out to other professionals. I hired a freelance proofreader. A few friends offered their assistance, as did some of the authors. Some of the help I took, and some I didn’t. Some help I paid for, and some was offered freely. But after the nonsense with the first book, I wasn’t taking the chances to send out such a shit publication this time around.
Of course, I checked, double checked, and triple checked everything this time. And I’m expecting a few errors still managed to sneak past the team and me.
Crowdfunding is Freakin’ Hard
To try to scrounge up some cash for promotions, I ran an IndieGogo campaign. It tanked. It tanked so totally that it actually COST me money fulfilling the perks from the two donors (a couple of old friends of mine). There’s way more to it than just putting up a worthwhile project. That wasn’t too surprising, but it was certainly nice to have it confirmed for me. Most of the people who responded to the crowdfunding campaign were professional PR people wanting to promote it. There was little interest outside of that a few other friends in the arts.
It was also abundantly clear that small campaigns aren’t viable for anyone outside of the United States. The various fees and service charges ate up pretty much all the donations. However, it did give me some ideas for more independent publishing campaigns.
Nothing is Ever Perfect
I’ve been writing long enough that I should know this already, but the second Voices of Imagination drove it home for me. There were far too many errors in the proof copy I’d waited a month to receive, so I did my best to correct them. The deadline went flying past, and even lapped me a couple of times, before I finally got the book out and finished. But even so, I didn’t quite make it in time for the holidays, and there are bound to be other errors that everyone missed.
But despite all that, all the little imperfections and hurdles to getting the damn thing published, Voices of Imagination 2 is out there. It’s in the world, entertaining and engaging and promoting some very talented authors. And that’s something to be proud of.