Thursday, 19 February 2009

Proof positive

Here's a thing. You've got a complete manuscript of a novel. You're hiking it around the bazaars. It's double-spaced on A4 pages, according to the rules for subbing to agents and publishers. You've looked at it onscreen for months, maybe years. You've printed it off and read it through and through. If you're anything like me, by this point you're losing all perspective on it as a book. It's become A Manuscript. You can't read it quickly because you can't hold it in your hands like a published novel. You can't get comfy with it, crease the spine, fit it to the shape of your palm the way you do with a printed book. It's a tome of a thing, takes forever to print off, doesn't look anything like anyone's favourite book. You're starting to wonder if it ever will. Well, wait.

What if I was to tell you that for ten pounds you could turn your Word document into a paperback book, printed in trade size on decent-ish paper, perfect-bound, private to you? That you need only spend about forty minutes uploading the document, tweaking the cover text (adding pictures if you want) and paying online. That within five days you would be holding the book - a BOOK not a manuscript - in your hands, shaped to your hands, readable on the train or the bath or in bed. And that the ten pounds includes postage.

This could just be the best ten pounds I ever spent. Already I feel differently about the story, the characters, the impact, the marketability of the book. And I've not even started reading it yet.

The ten pounds was spent at Lulu, for those who haven't guessed already. Probably cheaper than the cost of printing the manuscript out again on A4 paper. And a whole lot more satisfying. I intend to proof all my stuff this way from now on. Don't be put off by the "self-publishing" tag at the website. This isn't publishing, it's proofing. You can keep the book private, it isn't for sale on their site, just for you to be able to read it like a book instead of a ream of paper. Try it and see.

11 comments:

Nik's Blog said...

I used Lulu for my writing group's first collection and found it terrific - it is a Very Good idea and I do think it helps one see the 'book' from a more objective perspective. Enjoy the read!
N

Douglas Bruton said...

Whatever works for you to 'see' the book againa and to get it even more sparkly bright for sending out into the world again...

I am so impressed that you are finding ways to keep your confidence in the m/s.

Send it knocking on another door... and get on to writing the next one... and all those stories and flashes...

The bigger prize is coming... believe it.

D

Sarah Hilary said...

Thanks, Nik!

Sarah Hilary said...

Thanks, Douglas!

Anne Brooke said...

Great idea! Although of course I can't imagine why anyone these days should be put off by the "self-publishing tag" (commercial publishing is soooo last year ...) - it's one of my self-published books that's my bestseller by a long chalk actually!

:))

Axxx

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Good idea, Sarah, for a different perspective on your work.
I used Lulu for a collaboration chapbook with another poet. It's fab. But delivery charges are expensive and are per item, which all adds up. That's my only quibble.

Tania Hershman said...

What a brilliant idea, Sarah, I never would have thought of using Lulu for that! Amazing. May it inspire and help you.

Martin Edwards said...

Very interesting idea. Worth considering for any author, I think.

Sarah Hilary said...

Anne, you're the best advertisement for how self-publishing can really sing. Kudos!

WRW, yes I was surprised that delivery was nearly as much as print. I can see that it might stack up.

Thanks, Tania and Martin, yes I hope for fresh inspiration!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Just catching up here... what a brilliant idea for proofing.

I would be worried though, meself, that just as typescript makes words look better than they are maybe, on the page, a book would compound that... turn it into a real book in your head before it really is.

But then I am an old curmudgeon, as the worls already knows!

Sarah Hilary said...

Hi V. Well I wouldn't recommend doing it in a fancy cover or anything more than the VERY plain bound proof (mine is still double spaced and ragged right margin) or doing it before you feel it is ready to be seen in that state. But, then, yes! It helps.