Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Copy Copy Copy

Printed, Shipped, Cleared & Stocked!

The Light Heart of Stone on pallets

After the galleys were checked, the Hong Kong printing presses rolled and The Light Heart of Stone came into existence as a paperback on the Everbest production line. The books were then loaded onto pallets and Publiship brought them to Melbourne Port. I acted as my own import agent and cleared the books through customs and quarantine.

I was slightly stressed about dealing with customs and whether I’d get the paperwork right. I had been through the process before when I imported some icons from Bulgaria, but this was my book…! In the end, I appeared at Customs House one morning in March with my completed forms.

I had imagined a Dickensian building. I’d filled it with corpulent import agents who jostled each other to win places in front of stern customs officers. And I’d had the customs officers wearing dirty frock suits and imagined them sitting on high stools behind high desks, peering down at the sweaty applicants. It was nothing like that.
Customs House

The building was new, with lots of glass and a courteous customs officer at the door.

‘Would you like some help?’

‘Yes.’ I waved my papers. ‘I have stock to clear.’

‘Are you acting for yourself?’

I nodded.

‘Wonderful. Come over to my desk and let’s sort things out.’

He took my papers and sent me off for the day while he processed the forms. I returned five minutes before closing and encountered the quarantine officer who was the evil psychic shadow of the customs officer who’d helped me that morning.

He looked at my papers and rolled his eyes. ‘Tell me you’re not acting for yourself.’

‘I am.’

He sighed. ‘God I hate these do it yourself applications.’

I laughed, thinking he must be joking. He wasn’t.

He groaned and sighed again. He slowly turned over each page. ‘And I suppose you’ve got the TSR22-ss3353 form wrong like they always do…’

This time I kept silent.

‘Oh. Okay.’ He frowned at the form. ‘Well, I guess I can clear the stock.’

And away I went after paying the GST to a charming woman who loved fantasy novels and would have bought mine if it wasn’t still on the docks, waiting for customs and quarantine clearance.

With my paperwork in order, I just had to wait until Publiship organised for the stock to move from the docks to a warehouse in Essendon. All went smoothly and then the car broke down. I borrowed a ute (thanks Rodney Browne) and picked up the pallets and brought the stock into the studio in Ballan for warehousing. Finally – woo-hoo! – a large part of the stock was delivered to Dennis Jones and Associates who are distributing The Light Heart of Stone and making sure it’s readily available to anyone going in any bookstore in Australia.

 
The Light Heart of Stone in cartons

All exciting. All relatively easy project management-type work – never mind the nerves. In the meantime, I found myself doing something that is much harder for a writer who is working on her own book: I wrote my sales, marketing and publicity material.

Copy, Copy & More Copy

Earlier on in the self-publishing journey, I was baulking at writing the About the Author copy. Icky stuff. Those qualms felt quaint when set against the task of writing copy for the distributor’s brochure, the media release and for an advertisement in the Title Showcase section of Bookseller + Publisher. This April/May edition has a genre focus so I cracked open the budget, peered inside, and decided that a couple of hundred dollars was doable for a small advertisement.

It’s easy to think that you can prepare one lot of marketing copy and shift it about with a few rejigs to suit various marketing and publicity purposes. Same novel; same story. Right? At least, that’s how I imagined it would be. Not so.

I found I needed to write fresh material in each instance. Yes, the back cover blurb was my best effort at sales copy, but it was written for readers deciding which book to buy. It wasn’t written to support sales reps talking to booksellers. The back cover blurb needs to make a promise about what the reader will receive when they pay their money. The distributor needs copy that gives the bookseller a quick overview – what the book is about and why the self-published author can be trusted.

The media release was slightly easier. I have written lots of media releases for exhibitions and visual arts events so I had some idea about what to do. I also have a sweet friend at a wonderful publishing house (no names but you know who you are) who slipped me a couple of media releases. It helped. It gave me some idea about layout and industry norms. Here’s my press release for The Light Heart of Stone:

MEDIA RELEASE

The Light Heart of Stone
by Tor Roxburgh

Epic fantasy for adult readers
Curious Crow Books... rrp $29.95
Publication date: May 2012
Available for extract
Distributed by Dennis Jones & Associates
                           

   Finding herself in the middle of an accidental career as a pseudonymous teen romance author, Tor Roxburgh began to wonder what a feminist with a passion for speculative fiction was doing writing fast fiction about teenagers falling in and out of love. The result is The Light Heart of Stone, Roxburgh's first fantasy novel.
   The Light Heart of Stone is set in the world of the Stone Body, a continent on which plants and animals need human companions in order to thrive. In an arrangement where the world's indigenous people own the land and the newcomers control the talent for growing plants and breeding animals, trouble appears. Crops begin to fail, animals cease to breed and the desperate search for solutions exposes a theft, an atrocity and a thousand-year-old lie.
   The Light Heart of Stone is a fascinating novel that will enthral readers, especially lovers of epic fantasy. Roxburgh's exceptional storytelling skills bring the customs, passions, and dramas of this rich speculative world to life in a manner reminiscent of Robin Hobb's Live Ship Traders and Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori.

About the Author
   Tor Roxburgh's fiction and non-fiction books have been published by William Heinemann Australia, Pan Macmillan, Pan UK, Australian Consolidated Press, Greenhouse Publications and The Federation Press. Writing as Linda Hollan, Gina Walsh and KD Miller, she is the author of 12 teenage romances.  Her non-fiction includes Taking Control, one of the first successful Australian titles about family violence, and The Book of Weeks, a tale of the complex story of the weeks of pregnancy. Most recently, she was senior writer and researcher on the National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness. 
   Tor lives in regional Victoria and runs a successful public art business and a gallery where she exhibits her paintings. She created Curious Crow Books to publish her speculative fiction.

For further information or to request a review copy or interview please contact:
Curious Crow Books
E    publisher@lightheartofstone.com
                                                                            
The advertisement copy for the genre focused edition of Bookseller + Publisher was the next challenge. It had to grab a bookseller’s attention within the 30-word limit. It seemed to me that this bit of copy had to vibrate and shouldn’t under- or oversell the novel. If there were no adjectives, the copy wouldn’t dance. If there were too many, it would look clownish on the dance floor.

Here’s my copy:

Epic fantasy at its wonderful best. A rich and tantalising world. Characters you wish you knew. Knowledge to be recovered. Talents to be explored. Disaster to be averted.