Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sneak Preview: Paperback Packages

I've never been very good at keeping secrets; I'm the odd sort who loathes surprises. So I couldn't resist sharing these with all of you--they're one of the five bonuses that I'm planning to include in the backers-only paperback packages! Don't worry--these aren't all of the bookmarks that I've made. Once I get all of the orders in, finish coloring them, and add other last minute touches, I'm going to have them (and one of the other rewards) laminated.

These are handmade, and every single one has a unique trivia fact. I've also signed the back of each one. I tried to make this picture small enough that it'll still be almost a surprise to get yours if you're ordering a paperback package--although you'll of course be welcome to share your trivia fact if you want to do so!

There are still five other bonuses in the works; I may not reveal all of them before sending them out, but I hope you enjoy them!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Progress Report 7: A month of progress bars

It's been a month since I started making progress bars. Some weeks have been more productive than others, but I've generally been keeping up with my monthly goals, and I should be able to deliver rewards on time. It's been almost two months since the KickStarter funded, and this is what I've accomplished thus far:
  • Commissioned interior artwork
  • Legally set up Qol Press as an official press
  • Filled out paperwork so that I can legally do business as Qol Press
  • Set up contact information that I can give to readers without compromising my own safety
  • Organized a CreateSpace account with all of this legal information so that I can be taxed appropriately
  • Checked in with people about how taxes will work now
  • Bought ISBNs for the entire series
  • Assigned ISBNs for the paperback, epub, mobi, and pdf versions of the book while setting one aside for an audiobook
  • Created an icon for Qol Press
  • Formalized the interior layout of the book (including margins, spacing, font size, page numbering, chapter breaks, etc.)
  • Designed the cover layout
  • Formatted the finished artwork and made a number of design decisions
  • Planned the paperback packages for interested backers
  • Got more than halfway through production of the bonuses for said packages
All of this covers the June and July parts of the timeline I shared with all of you, and even surpasses some of the goals. I've also managed to write a post here at least one a week, and occasionally twice in a day, depending on what I had to report. 

I've contacted my editors; if they get back to me on schedule, I'll be working on editing throughout August, as planned. Once the draft is finalized, the last of the formatting decisions can take place. I can also ship off the pdf ebook to the backer who pledged for an advance copy so that they can write a review, which will go on the back cover of the book.

September will involve draft copies, producing various formats of ebooks, and so forth; if September goes smoothly, I may even be able to get a headstart on this, but I don't want to jinx anything.

Until I get back those edits, I'll be experimenting with some other genres in the hopes that it'll improve my overall skill as a writer.

To celebrate a month of progress bars, I've made a gif that cycles through all of the progress bars that I've shared thus far. As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me at contact@qolpress.com -- I'm always happy to hear from you.

(Gif warning--I've placed the gif beneath a cut to be on the safe side.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Small Update (not quite a progress report)

Six days is the longest that I've gone without posting here thus far. Sometimes I worry that I'm posting too often; I got a lot of responses that said they wanted updates about once a week. I write posts whenever I think of something that I think you all might find interesting, rather than writing on a set schedule. Thus far, this has worked pretty well for me, but let me know if I ever neglect anything in this blog.

Now, I'm waiting on three more editors at the moment. I don't want to edit Untold Memories before hearing back from all of them. In my past experience with editing, Editor A may hate a particular scene, line of dialogue, or character, while Editor B and Editor C may insist that that scene/dialogue/character is the best part of the entire book. Changing the book before gathering a consensus has not worked well for me in the past, so I'm holding off for the moment.

Of course, I also can't get terribly far with the third book until I know for sure whether the first or second books will change significantly. Furthermore, audiobook companies don't seem to offer services at prices I can afford, and I don't know anyone with the right voice for recording my audiobook among my friends. Finally, I can't finish prepping the paperback bonuses without knowing for sure how many people are going to want them. (Although many people have expressed interest and told me they plan to buy them, only two people have actually paid for their paperbacks, which makes me think that I may be a bit hasty if I plunge into preparing packages for everyone else.)

So, with action stymied in those areas, I've been focusing on broadening my writing skills by experimenting with other genres. Up until now, I've written almost nothing but fantasy; I decided to look into some anthologies that are open for submissions. I primarily found science fiction and horror anthologies, and I think that it'll make my writing more well-rounded if I practice with both of those, so that's what I've been trying. Of course, since I'm new to these genres and competing against veterans, I doubt that I'll be accepted. Even so, I think that the effort itself is worth the time I'm putting into it.

To be honest, it makes me want to put together an anthology of my own. I want Qol Press to be a long-lasting business, not something that I close down when I finish releasing Untold Memories (which should happen in late 2016 or 2017, depending on whether the branch story pans out). I also might want to release more than two books a year once I get into the rhythm of it. So I've been toying around with the idea of releasing anthologies between books, or after the books are all released.

In a nutshell, this is what I've been thinking about and working on for the last week. If you have any ideas, concerns, or questions, just let me know!

I'm really looking forward to getting back word from my editors! Oh, I'm still right on track with the initial plan (I'm actually ahead of it in some areas), but I'm always happiest when I'm working hard rather than just planning for when I can actually work hard again. I'm glad that I anticipated the wait times involved, at least. You should still get your books right on time, and in the best condition that I can possibly offer. I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I received a gift in the mail today! (Photo beneath the cut.) This particular present made me especially happy, since it's a fan-made plush of one of my main characters. This got me thinking--I've talked on other websites about my views regarding fandom, but I haven't been especially public about it just yet. It seemed like as good a time as any to discuss it, so that's what I wanted to talk about today. I know that not everyone is interested in this topic, however, so the rest of the post will follow the cut!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's in a name?

The first of my editors got their final notes and edits to me late last night. They included a lot of helpful suggestions and revisions, so I think that editing is looking really promising right now! Unfortunately, one of their best suggestions is one that is nearly impossible for me. My main character is named Renee (nickname Ray) and her sister is Raven. The setting of the first book is a village called Rayai. All three of these, as it turns out, begin with "Ra".

With my synesthesia, their names are entirely distinct colors that are simple to differentiate. It wasn't until they'd had those names for five years before anyone told me that they were easy to mix up. Since then, I've been told the same thing by several other people. To be honest, I think that they have an excellent point, and I actually want to change the name--so, what's the problem?

For me, names define characters. Not in any way that someone else could probably see--well, unless they could mysteriously borrow my synesthesia for a few hours. To change a character's name is the same, on a visceral level, as erasing that character's existence. The character won't--can't--be the same person if they have a different name.

Of course, this probably sounds ridiculous. What's in a name, anyway? Can't I just use find and replace to fix it? Those are the things that I keep telling myself, but it's so much harder than that. If you've known someone for ten years, suddenly relearning their name is very hard indeed. When asked by that person to do so, of course, I will (and have); when you're the one renaming them, it feels much more uncomfortable.

So, what do you think is in a name?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


When not editing today, I spent my time looking up audiobooks. The options, as far as I can tell, are: do-it-yourself recording, hire a freelance voice actor, or commission an audiobook production service.


Pros: It's cheap, fairly simple, and I don't have to wait on anyone else to get the work done.

Cons: I have a fairly obnoxious voice, in my opinion--it's fine for a conversation, but not good enough for storytelling. I also don't have a good setup for recording; my mic is weak, my laptop is a bit old, and my house has a fair amount of background noise. Furthermore, I have no experience with audio editing, so I can't guarantee that it would sound good. This is why I've passed over this particular option. Unless readers are actively interested in hearing me record my own book, I am highly skeptical about the chances of this happening.


Pros: There are a lot of ways to find freelancers, and I could probably find one with a good voice for the book.

Cons: Finding the right freelancer might take days or weeks of wading through applications--time I could spend editing. It'd also cost me a lot up front, and I can't guarantee audio editing quality ahead of time. (Or perhaps ever; truth be told, I have poor hearing and unable to follow audiobooks myself, so I'd be unlikely to pick up on problems with the recording.) If I could somehow find someone who'd be willing to work with the promise of a royalty--highly unlikely--it'd still be a lot of trouble hashing out contract details, and I wouldn't have a platform on which to sell it.


Pros: Simplicity is a definite plus; I wouldn't have to worry about editing, finding voice actors, getting the formats I need, or distributing the books after they're completed. It'd sound more professional than the other options, most likely, and I'd have less to worry about.

Cons: It'd cost money up front that I just don't have right now. Open Book Audio mentioned being able to avoid these costs, but they've dropped all communication with me.


If I could go with an audiobook producer that would be willing to take a larger cut of the profits instead of upfront fees, I would do so. I'd really love to be able to give my backers an audiobook. More honestly, I'd love for my mother--who has very poor eyesight--to be able to read my book. But, at the moment, that looks extremely unlikely. If I can earn enough money by selling my books, I may try again in the future, but I think it's time to put the idea aside until then.

That said, however, I am open to having my mind changed, and you can contact me at mbauman@qolpress.com if you have opinions you'd like to share!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Progress Report 6: Editing

I've been hard at work over the last several days on a manuscript swap with another writer I know. I took her manuscript, and she took mine. She plans to release that particular book around December, which is when Untold Memories I: Rayai is slated for release. I'll be sure to let you know the details once it's closer to the release date in case any of you are interested; she's a strong writer, and I'm very fortunate that she was willing to swap with me.

Unfortunately, my other editors have not yet gotten back to me, which is stalling the editing progress bar up there. I'm expecting some more responses in the next week or two, but I'll have to send out reminders if I don't hear back from them by then. Since I've sent it out to eight people for editing, even if a couple fall through on me, I should still be able to get the book into tip-top condition.

In other news, Open Book Audio has not responded to any of my emails. I have therefore dropped audiobooks off of the list for now; I'll try looking around for other options when I have spare time, but I'm just not sure that I'll be able to afford it, no matter how much I want it.

Beyond this, I've also made a lot of progress in publishing preparations; all of the remaining aspects require a finalized interior or finished artwork, so I'm about as far as I can get for the moment.

All in all, I'm already done with everything I'd planned for June and July on my Grand Master Plan, so I'm trying to get a jump on anything that's possible right now.

While I wait for edits and other feedback, I will:

  • Finish prepping the paperback bonus packages that have been ordered thus far
  • Search for audiobook alternatives
  • Work on rewriting the sequels so that they'll be ready for release on time
As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns! I'm always happy to listen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

3D Printing Results

(Me holding my 3D Haubonalyr)

After much futzing around with Shapeways, I finally received the result! It feels a little powdery, and it's pretty delicate. It cost me $17 to print, which is very reasonable and much better than the competition. I had been hoping to make a mold out of it, but I don't think it'd survive the process intact, unfortunately. (That would have allowed me to produce a large number of cheaper models in a variety of materials.)

I'm going to look into glazes or other laminating agents that might keep it from feeling powdery, and I might try to paint it as I do. That will have to wait until I have more time, though. Would anyone be interested in buying one if I attended a fantasy convention or did a book signing? It actually looks rather nice in person.

Another couple of photos are beneath the cut!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Progress Report 5: Pre-orders

has become

First of all, I changed the infographic's color scheme after showing it to someone who is red-green color blind and learning that the light red and light green were, uh, very similar. I hope that this helps!

This week, I've been hard at work fine-tuning the formatting. I think that it's probably about ready to go. I haven't yet heard back from my editors, so I can't move forward on that just yet. I should hear back from several of them soon, though, so I'm looking forward to getting to work on that!

I've also been doing a lot of planning for the pre-orders and the corresponding bonuses that'll go in the packages. All of the bonuses have been planned and/or drafted for the pre-orders I've received thus far. If you backed the KickStarter and would like to pre-order a book ($8 plus shipping from Oregon to you), please contact me via the KickStarter messaging system. Even if you aren't ready to pay yet, it'd be good for me to know how many I'll need to prep for and order! I'm very excited about the bonuses that I'm including, and I hope that all of you enjoy them.

I know that this is a pretty brief update, but I wanted to let you know that I've been plugging away. As always, feel free to contact me if you ever have questions or concerns!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Interior Art: Bleed or no bleed?

Another design decision that I have to make for the books is whether or not to use bleed for the interior artwork. For those who haven't spent hours trying to iron out details like these, bleed is when the artwork goes all the way to the edge of the page. (And, technically, beyond it, in case the printer or the cutter is off by a small amount.)

Bleed would allow for larger pictures in the book, but it would also mean that I'd need to do a lot more finagling to make sure that it looked right. Some of the picture would also disappear into the margins of the book, as well, making it harder to see the entire picture in paperbacks without potentially cracking the spine of the book. (As ebooks wouldn't have this problem, I might even do two slightly different versions to account for that.)

Also, I have determine whether it'd be better to place a picture at the end of most chapters (so that it doesn't interrupt the text flow) or in the middle of the most relevant chapter. The former is something that I could do right now, without having completed the editing process; the latter would have to wait until it's closer to crunch time.

Both of these affect the character bios with bullet-pointed info that I'm drawing up: full bleed offers more room for text and where the bios go will affect what information I might include. I'll try to get feedback before making any decisions--let me know if you have strong opinions about any of this!


(possible Qol Press logo)

Every press needs a logo. I've been burning through tons and tons of possible designs. Sometimes I've been consulting with others, especially the cover artist for the first book, who helped me refine some of my ideas.

The difficulty with designing a logo is that I have to consider at least three main points:

  • It has to be recognizable and nice-looking at a range of sizes, since it'll show up on the spine of the book, the title page of the book, and my future website (which is in the works, actually). It might be anywhere from .5"x.5" to 2"x2" or more--and it has to look consistent at those sizes. This means that it has to be relatively simple. 
  • Something that looks nice when large may look blurry when shrunk down...
    ...or really pixelated.
    Also, by a similar token, it has to be monochrome. At first, I tried doing black and white, using negative space to make the design more interesting. But the negative space may not look right due to bleed, and--at least on the spine--printing part in white might look tacky.

  • It can't already be trademarked or similar to another press's logo. This means that a lot of the simple, straightforward logos that initially come to mind just won't work.
Oh, I know, I'll use a mountain--
Okay, a tree sounds simple enough--
(repeat ad inifinitum)
  • It has to represent my books or my press in a meaningful way, or, at the very least, be related to them. It can't be too abstract, though--that'd defy the "simple" rule above--and it has to be be unique. 
I tried thirty or forty different designs, and I'm still not satisfied. I like the design I posted at the top of the page, but I'm not sure whether it's up to snuff just yet. What do all of you think?