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Friday, March 18, 2011

Comic Cuts - 18 March 2011

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Although there's not much new to report following last week's announcement of the upcoming release of the  Hurricane & Champion Index and the essay collection Mean Streetmaps, I've spent almost every spare moment working on these books for the past week, doing all the fiddly little jobs that need to be done. There's a lot more to publishing than writing something and having it magically appear in the hands of readers. There are forms to fill in, proofs to be read, print runs to ponder over, promotional material to be written.

So the good news—and there's no bad news, so relax—is that everything's not only done and dusted on the Hurricane & Champion Index but printed copies are due in today or tomorrow and I'll be posting out pre-ordered copies from Monday next week.

Mean Streetmaps, being a longer book, took longer to proof (and, I might add, I could only do one at a time and picked the easier one to start with), but I should have finished copies to hand in a week or two.

This week I've also registered the ISBNs for both books, so they will be appearing on Amazon shortly, although they'll be hellishly expensive. Being short print-run books, I don't have the economies of scale of other publishers and Amazon demand such a high percentage of the sale price that I'd lose money on every sale if they were offered at cover price. So whilst both books will go up on Amazon's marketplace, the price will have to be bumped up dramatically. It's simple economics. Postage costs are also horrific these days, even in the UK. To the USA and outside the EU they're crippling, so I'm exploring other avenues that might make it easier and cheaper to buy the book. Even packaging costs have gone up, not only the base price but VAT has increased to 20%—something I forgot about when I was juggling all the figures to come up with prices. Hey ho, I'll remember next time. Why anyone would want all the hassle of self-publishing a book I don't know. They'd have to be nuts.

Sidestepping the issue of my mental condition for a moment, let's catch up with a couple of books where all the hassle has been left to someone else and see what's happening to the Thriller Libraries Index and the Don Lawrence Wells Fargo & Pony Express book.

The OOCL Hamburg was last reported to be in the middle of the Arabian Sea on Monday and heading west towards the Gulf of Aden; the ship is still expected to reach the UK on Sunday 27 March.

For entertainment (huh?) I've been spending a little time each evening cleaning up covers for the next update on the Look and Learn picture gallery website. I'd hoped to have 1,000 images up as part of a paperback cover gallery last year and failed quite spectacularly thanks to moving house. I did manage 700, which I guess—given the circumstances—was pretty good. Still, it wasn't what I'd aimed for, so I'm determined to hit target this year. That's around 3 books a day that need to be scanned and cleaned, which doesn't sound much but is actually a good chunk of time if the covers are poor as some can take up to an hour to clean. Those creases and rust stains don't clean themselves. (But anyone can—and some people do—send me scans, which often feature in the weekly 'random scans'.)

By the way, the gallery linked above is easily searchable: you can search by artist (Sam Peffer, John L. Baker, Carl Wilton, etc.), or genre (crime, western, science fiction, etc.). Just stick in the word paperback after the search term to limit the results. I'm busily writing all the file information for the next batch and will let you know when it goes up.

So... I'm keeping busy.

Here's today's random scan, which comes with a question attached. This 1956 Corgi Book is clearly signed by Marcus Stone, but a quick search of the internet reveals that there was another artist of that name, Marcus Clayton Stone (1840-1921), a very good biography of whom can be found here. So, the question is: Is Marcus Stone, cover artist, related to Marcus Stone, illustrator of Dickens?

(* Hurricane and Champion © IPC Media; Mean Streetmaps © Steve Holland; Map © Google Maps.)

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