We’re getting into a very busy time of year for everyone, so I’ll try to keep my updates short and sweet instead of rambling.
As you know if you read the Revival production update over at LetterPress Publications the other week, I spent much of my summer talking to printers after the one I had worked with for many years closed their doors. (They actually printed the very first Cemetery Dance Publications hardcover way back in 1992!)
The most urgent matter in my search were the BIG books on a tight schedule like Revival, but the old printer had also printed Patreon Stories: Volume One for me.
In September, it came time to find out which of the many printers I had talked to over the summer might be able to handle Patreon Stories: Volume Two.
I won’t get too far into the weeds, but the short version is this: a printer I actually drive past on my 90 minute commute to the Cemetery Dance offices will be printing this volume. As a kid, my family would drive by that printing plant on the way to vacations and the such, and I always thought it would be awesome if they printed one of my books, so this is kind of like coming full circle.
This morning, I added the names of all of my supporters as of October 31 to the special THANK YOU page that concludes the book, and I’ll be sending the printer all of the files next week.
I don’t have a schedule from them yet, but I’m hoping the Signed Trade Paperback and the Signed Limited Edition hardcover will ship by the end of the year. The super fancy Lettered Edition will take a few months longer to complete due to all of the hand-binding, etc. The plan is for it to make a nice matching set with the Volume One Lettered Edition, though.
As my Patreon supporters already know, they often get to see the rough draft of my various news and updates before anyone else… but this might be the longest update ever!
Plus, it’s really “inside baseball,” so I hope you’re interested in how books go from manuscript to published special edition. Otherwise, perhaps you can read this update at bedtime to help you fall asleep! 😉
Anyway, let’s get rolling…
I didn’t want to say this in the “public” section of this post, but this production update is for Revival by Stephen King from my very own LetterPress Publications!
BEFORE WE GET STARTED, SOME IMPORTANT ARTWORK NEWS FOR BOTH EDITIONS
In the final few weeks before the book design and specs were “locked,” I realized we hadn’t actually planned on including a frontispiece in either edition. I’m not sure why that was because a frontis seems especially important when you’re publishing a book without a dust jacket.
Luckily for me, François Vaillancourt is a rock star and was somehow able to squeeze TWO MORE amazing pieces of full-color artwork into his busy schedule, one for each edition!
As a sneak peek, here is the newly added frontis for the Limited Edition:
SOME RECENT HISTORY, SO WE CAN DISCUSS FUTURE PLANS
I want to share some pretty incredible news about the printing plans for Revival, but first I need to give some backstory to explain how we ended where we are!
For those who haven’t followed along with the printer problems Cemetery Dance Publications has dealt with these past two years, here’s the shortish version:
In June 2018, one of our regular printers closed up shop without any warning… but with our deposit and materials for Sleeping Beauties.
After that, we sent the book to a different printer, one we had worked with since 1992. Things seemed normal at first, but then everything started taking much longer than scheduled. We weren’t too worried because we had done business with them forever and sometimes delays happen, but then the delivery date for the bluelines and other approval materials slipped… several times.
Finally, they told us in May 2019 that they were filing for bankruptcy, but would finish the book as one of their very last projects.
They did finish Sleeping Beauties in June, right around the time their assets were purchased by another printer.
The good news was, we already did business with this other printer!
The bad news was, they didn’t actually want the first printer for their plant or presses, they just wanted the customer list.
Instead, the new printer sold the presses and turned the plant into a warehouse.
And, most unfortunately for us, none of their other plants had a press that could print a 7 X 10 trim size in two colors on the paper stock we use for Stephen King books.
That meant no press to print Night Shift for Cemetery Dance and no press to print Revival for me.
HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER
Given how important a book printer is to the process of, you know, printing a book, I spent the summer talking to dozens of other printers and learning how many did NOT want these complicated printing jobs… Any offset printer I could find, I would talk to, though. And then ask them if they knew of anyone I could try.
Then, in August, our sales rep at the new printer who bought our old printer contacted me to tell me all about this awesome new press they had purchased, which could do the same jobs as the press they had sold back in May… Yeah…
Well, that’s great news for Night Shift, at least!
WHAT THIS MEANT FOR REVIVAL
To publish Revival this year, I had to start it rolling at a printer by mid-August or we wouldn’t have time to make all of the slipcases, etc. Mid-August was actually a little later than I wanted and definitely cutting things really close on the schedule.
So, during the summer, while I was scrambling to find ANY printer who was willing to do this complicated of a job, another printer I’ve worked with asked if I could consider changing the trim size to a more traditional 6 X 9.
If I could do that, he could print the Limited Edition on the paper I wanted, and he had a bindery that could handle my specs for the binding: the spine hubs, etc. It would be exactly as I had planned, just at a more traditional trim size.
But, he could not print the Lettered Edition because I wanted to use a heavier 80# paper stock for that edition.
I was willing to compromise on the trim size since numerous surveys I’ve conducted for Cemetery Dance have shown that most collectors care more about the quality of the production than the trim size, but I couldn’t compromise on the paper quality for the Lettered Edition. That just wasn’t an option.
THEN I HAD AN IDEA!
I reached out to the guy who does the hand-binding and case-making for CD’s most expensive books, who was already lined up to do the hand-binding and make the special side-loading traycases for the Lettered Edition of Revival, and I asked if he knew any printers who could actually print on the heavier 80# paper I really wanted to use for the Lettered Edition.
It just so happened that there was a little boutique printer in his hometown, and they had sent speciality binding jobs his way from time to time.
Long story short (too late!), this printer confirmed they could handle the printing job for the Lettered Edition on the nicer paper, etc, and once the interior pages were done, my hand-binder would take it from there.
That means production of Revival will be handled by two different book printers and two different book binders (in three different states!), which makes this very cool and unique when compared to the 300+ projects I’ve managed at Cemetery Dance over the years, which usually have one printer and perhaps two binders involved.
UNPLANNED UPGRADES TO THE REVIVAL LETTERED EDITION
This also means the Limited Edition and the Lettered Edition will be two completely separate printings, which was a huge opportunity to upgrade the Lettered Edition a bit more.
Usually the interior (the “book block”) is the same for both editions of a special edition book. Then each edition gets a different signature sheet, different endpapers, maybe some different artwork, etc. Finally, the binding is upgraded for the Lettered Edition to make it much nicer than the Limited Edition.
But ultimately you start with the same book blocks printed on the same paper.
For Revival, the Limited and Lettered will be printed on two totally different paper stocks on two separate printing presses in two different plants. Even more important for our production plans, the Lettered Edition will be printed on a new FOUR-color printing press, which leads to one of the unexpected upgrades for this edition.
ARTWORK UPGRADE FOR THE REVIVAL LETTERED EDITION
Because the heavier paper we’re using for the Lettered Edition can handle the ink of four-color interior artwork so well, we’ve decided to print that interior artwork as part of the main book block with the rest of the pages.
Compare that to a regular Limited Edition where the artwork is printed separately on glossy stock and then “tipped in” between the 16 page signatures (groupings) of pages. That means a piece of artwork can fall between pages 16 and 17, between pages 32 and 33, between pages 48 and 49, etc.
Perhaps the CAR CRASH happens on page 28, but the artwork won’t be seen by the reader until between pages 32 and 33 because that’s where the next “signature break” falls.
But for the Revival Lettered Edition, the full-color artwork is part of the interior design of the book and thus can be printed whenever we want it.
BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!
This also means we can put two additional pieces of artwork into the Lettered Edition that we hadn’t planned on being able to use.
The first is François Vaillancourt’s original illustration of the car crash. He delivered a piece of artwork for the scene, but during production, he decided to try a different approach, and that second piece of artwork was the one we selected to actually use in the book.
We liked both pieces of art, but in our original plans we could only use one of them for that scene anyway because the artwork tip-ins have to fall every 16 pages… But with the change in plans for the Lettered Edition, we can now put both pieces of artwork right into the page design where they belong, just a few pages apart.
The second piece of artwork we were able to add to the Lettered Edition is the new frontispiece from the Limited Edition, something we couldn’t have done if the artwork needed to be tipped in place. So, this means the frontis artwork for the Limited Edition has now been placed as an interior piece of artwork in the Lettered Edition, right where it belongs in the story.
OH YEAH… THE REVIVAL LIMITED EDITION & LETTERED EDITION WILL ALSO HAVE DIFFERENT PAGE COUNTS
One more small thing to note: printing the artwork as part of the page design also means the Lettered Edition will end up being 592 pages while the Limited Edition is 560 pages because the artwork tip-ins don’t count as pages in the design. Just another sign of how different the editions are.
AND FINALLY, WE FOUND A NICE ITALIAN LEATHER FOR THE REVIVAL LETTERED EDITION
Finally, during all of this, my hand-binder found a great new source for imported Italian leather, so I was able to upgrade the leather binding on the spine of the Lettered Edition.
They have a beautiful gray leather that just works so well with the imported cloth I had picked for the boards that I changed the whole color scheme accordingly. This also makes the Lettered Edition look and feel even more different from the Limited Edition.
Here is a new mock-up of the Lettered Edition, which also shows the hand-marbled paper that we’re getting from India and using for the endpapers of the book and the inner lining of the case:
More news to come soon! Thank you again for all of your support!
As I mentioned earlier this year, thanks to your support on Patreon, I was finally able to make the time in my schedule to edit a big themed horror anthology I’ve wanted to work on for many years now. This project is still officially UNANNOUNCED and won’t be published until 2020, so please don’t share this information or the images below anywhere:
As I mentioned last time when I shared the working Table of Contents, Cemetery Dance Publications will be publishing a big hardcover edition of my new and unannounced anthology, Midnight Under the Big Top: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Magic, and I thought you might like to see a sneak peek at a few of the 41 (!) interior illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne. Please note that these are quick scans that aren’t color corrected or properly sized yet.
Thank you again for all of your support, which helps make projects like this possible!
Cemetery Dance Publications will be publishing a big hardcover signed Limited Edition of Walking With Ghosts next year that will include 60+ interior illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne!
This volume isn’t officially announced yet, so I thought you might like to see a few previews of those interiors. Please note these are raw scans with no clean-up work. (In fact, some of them are crooked!) I just wanted to get some quick versions that I could show you:
Thank you again for all of your support, which helps make projects like this possible.
Once again, I probably shouldn’t be sharing this because it’s a September 2020 publication, but I wanted to show you something because this is yet another project that is finally happening because I had the time to work on it thanks to your support!
I wanted to show you one of the finished pieces of artwork from TheGirlWhoBuildsMonsters because this is yet another project that is finally happening because I had the time to work on it thanks to your support!
But this is also completely unannounced, so please don’t mention this book or share the art anywhere! Thanks!
The Girl Who Builds Monsters is a traditional children’s book with a bit of a twist. I wrote the text and Vincent Chong is creating tons of artwork for the book. He started on sketches last year, finished the sketchbook of the complete story back in May, and now he’s working on the finished full-color pages. (Above you’ll see one of the first finished pages.)
The plan is for this book to be published in September 2020, most likely in the same types of editions as The Zombie Who Cried Human has been.
I’ll try to share more of the finished color artwork as it arrives, but since we won’t be officially announcing ANYTHING until 2020, mum’s the word for now. 🙂
Glenn Chadbourne has been working on 60+ interior illustrations for an unannounced project that I’ll tell you more about after the break!
Glenn Chadbourne has been working on 60+ interior illustrations for the stories in Walking With Ghosts for a special illustrated Limited Edition hardcover, which will be published in the first half of 2020.
His cover artwork and the cover design are posted below. It’s really different for me and I love that since this is going to be a kind of different and funky edition with all of the artwork.
As always, supporters on Level 6 and above will automatically receive their copy free of charge as one of their rewards. 🙂
As I mentioned earlier this year, thanks to your support here on Patreon I was finally able to make the time in my schedule to edit a themed horror anthology I’ve wanted to work on for many years now. This project is still officially UNANNOUNCED, so please don’t share this information or the image below anywhere:
Above is the cover artwork from Vincent Chong for the Limited Edition of MIDNIGHT UNDER THE BIG TOP, which will be published in early 2020 if all goes well. Everything in the art was inspired by stories in the book. (A scanned image at reduced resolution doesn’t really give you the full experience of this artwork, either — just wait until you see it on a 7 X 10 hardcover book!)
We’re getting closer to the official announcement, so here is my ROUGH DRAFT of the sales copy, along with the working Table of Contents, all of which is subject to change:
Midnight Under the Big Top: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Magic
edited by Brian James Freeman
About the Book:
If you’re a fan of the recent hit musical movie The Greatest Showman, we can safely say Midnight Under the Big Top is really, really, really… not for you… unless, that is, you wondered what would happen if one of the tigers ate the bearded lady while leading the other animals in a violent revolution against the circus… in that case, this book is exactly for someone like you!
Featuring the world’s grandest tales of murder, madness, and magic set in and around the circus by renowned authors such as Stephen King, Joe Hill, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Neil Gaiman, Kelley Armstrong, Robert McCammon, Tananarive Due, Lisa Morton, Heather Graham, Richard Chizmar, Billy Chizmar, Amanda C. Davis, Nayad Monroe, Jeff Strand, Amanda Downum, and Dominick Cancilla!
Includes the World’s First-Ever Poetry Intermission featuring written works of art by Norman Prentiss, G.O. Clark, Marge Simon, Bruce Boston, Robert Payne Cabeen, David E. Cowen, Alessandro Manzetti, Christina Sng, Stephanie M. Wytovich, K.A. Opperman, and Ashley Dioses!
For the grand finale, read with your own unbelieving eyes as Josh Malerman, author of the New York Timesbestseller Bird Box,introduces you to Dandelion Andrews, a very unusual man who hasn’t seen daylight in three months because he’s digging a hole destined to become a most unusual carnival house of horrors!
These death-defying tales aren’t for the faint of heart, but they are perfect for the long lost child hiding deep inside of you who always instinctively understood you should never trust a circus clown!
Table of Contents:
“The Night of the Tiger” by Stephen King
“Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” by Joe Hill
“The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch” by Neil Gaiman
“The Girl in the Carnival Gown” by Kelley Armstrong
“The Great White Way” by Robert McCammon
“Herd Immunity” by Tananarive Due
“Pickled Punks and the Summer of Love” by Lisa Morton
“Courting the Queen of Sheba” by Amanda C. Davis
“The Circus Reborn” by Nayad Monroe
Title To Be Announced by Michael Koryta
“The Black Ferris” by Ray Bradbury
POETRY INTERMISSION FEATURING:
Robert Payne Cabeen
David E. Cowen
Stephanie M. Wytovich
“Buried Talents” by Richard Matheson
“The Carnival” by Richard Chizmar
“Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride” by Billy Chizmar
“Fair Treats” by Jeff Strand
“Smoke & Mirrors” by Amanda Downum
“Laughable” by Dominick Cancilla
Title To Be Announced by Heather Graham
THE GRAND FINALE: Dandy, a brand new short novel by Josh Malerman
This post was inspired by a recent problem I experienced with Amazon.com while at my day job. They didn’t believe we were the publisher of a book (that they had been selling since 2016!) and eventually a bestselling author’s personal assistant had to get involved to say, “Yes, they are!” Next step would have been to involve the author’s agent, and my head still hurts just from thinking about THAT.
Yet, the whole experience got me thinking about a problem Amazon has had with their Kindle eBook self-publishing and their CreateSpace trade paperback self-publishing over the years — and how that trouble caused the headaches we had this week of proving we were really a book’s publisher.
I don’t know how wide spread this issue was, but people were taking published books, scanning them, and uploading them to Amazon or CreateSpace as if THEY were the publisher of the book.
I distinctly remember a thriller author friend who discovered a trade paperback edition of his new hardcover — which wasn’t OUT YET — listed on Amazon as a brand new book, ready to ship in 24 hours from CreateSpace. Someone had scanned the review copy, uploaded it, and was making money off the author and the publisher’s work until the author noticed and got the publisher’s lawyers involved.
The other and maybe even more common problem has been people using famous author’s names, or slight variations on those names, on their own books and publishing them via Amazon. So you might see something like THE COURTROOM by “Jon Grisham” on Amazon, and you might assume like a ton of other people that it’s the same guy who has written dozens of bestsellers set in the legal world… and you would be wrong!
And for years Amazon did NOTHING about it.
There were “fake” versions of bestselling authors selling just awful books — and a lot of them! One of these people, I’ve heard, was able to quit his day job thanks to the sales of his extremely bad horror stories he published under a really well-known author’s name. Amazon even deleted customer reviews trying to warn other readers because the review was not about the book itself.
All of that said, Amazon finally started cracking down on the outright copyright infringement, which is why we have to jump through a ton of hoops whenever we publish an eBook of a book that someone else published years ago. But I’m glad those hoops exist to stop the outright fraud that was going on!
This is a long way to get what I’m thinking about today, but I figure it’s a problem most readers have no idea exists, so I thought it needed mentioned.
Here’s what today’s post is really about (or is it?):
As much as I dreamed from a very young age of being a bestselling author, and as much as it crushed me as I learned more about the publishing business and realized I didn’t fit the “mold” New York required for that to happen, I’ve accepted that I was wired to write the stories I write, and I’m okay with that.
When I was 22, I had an well-known agent tell me he could teach me the formula for writing bestselling thrillers, and I politely passed. That wasn’t the type of book I wanted to write and I couldn’t imagine “pounding out” a book a year based on a formula someone else gave me.
This agent has since represented dozens of bestseller thriller authors. They’ve sold millions of books. One of them owns his own small island in the Caribbean!
In terms of doing what’s best for my family, WOW did I make the wrong choice! I should be churning out Generic Thriller #18 this year and making big bucks.
But it felt like the right choice at the time… and as the person who still has to try to get these stories out of my head and onto the printed page, I’m okay with that decision from a creative standpoint. I don’t even know if I could have managed to stick to the formula and provide what he wanted!
That said, no matter how much money was on the table, I cannot imagine being the person who cobbles together some stories real quick, tosses them on Amazon under a famous author’s name or a slight variation thereof, and then rolls around in the money that arrives every month.
Does that person feel GOOD about the writing they did? I cannot imagine they do.
Do they feel GOOD that all of the money is from people they tricked. I hope they don’t.
And yet… Yes, yes, I can see someone being smug and satisfied with their “success.”
Which is frustrating from the point-of-view of someone who has been trying to get his work out there “the right way” since I was twelve years old.
I don’t have a tidy ending to this, but I wanted to share these thoughts in case you might find them interesting… And maybe some day I’ll think of a good ending for this post! 🙂
I’ve received some questions about the new editions of my mini-collections, so I thought I’d answer that as a “bonus post” for everyone:
For a variety of reasons it is really important I keep these earlier mini-collections available even though the stories are all in Walking With Ghosts.
Here are three of those reasons:
A) more books under my name, even smaller ones, means increased visibility in the marketplace, which is especially important since I am not prolific
B) more books means more promotional and advertising opportunities with certain stores like Amazon and Kobo
C) more books means increased odds a reader who is a good fit for my work will find ONE of the books and hopefully became a fan who seeks out the others.
In this case, by the end of the year I’ll have these four mini-collections in the marketplace as affordable trade paperbacks and eBooks:
MORE THAN MIDNIGHT
WEAK AND WOUNDED
LOST AND LONELY
There are several other, slightly more rambling reasons for taking this approach:
1) Each mini-collection’s trade paperback will have a lower price than the big trade paperback for WALKING WITH GHOSTS that will be published later this year or in early 2020. Someone who doesn’t know my work might be willing to spend a little bit to try one of the mini-collections while shying away from the price of the full-length collection.
2) On the eBook side of things, I can give away one of the mini-collections for free as a sampler with the hopes that readers will discover they dig my writing and will pick up the other books for “not free.”
3) With all these four new books in the marketplace as trade paperbacks and eBooks, I can run paid ads and promotions for four different titles instead of just one to try to catch the attention of different readers in different places.
4) When someone buys one of the mini-collections on Amazon, Amazon will often recommend the other mini-collections to them, so if the reader enjoys the first one, they might buy the others as well. Amazon may also prioritize letting these readers know about my NEW releases in the future. (What Amazon does and how they do it is a mystery to everyone not in charge of Amazon, though.)
That’s the gist of why I’m taking this approach, and I want to thank you again for all of your support that makes it possible!