Operation Concrete

So, as Operation:Concrete progresses, I seem to be making more and more lists, in ever more detail, on each and every category of thing I need to get done. It’s starting to get slightly ridiculous and things are moving slower than I’d like, but there you go, working with anyone else other than yourself always yeilds such results. I don’t want to get more stressed out than I need to over this whole thing, it’s supposed to be fun as well as ace, so I'm trying not to make my tattoos itch and remain in control.

One of the things I need to happen as I go ahead with this, is obviously the product of the novel. The first ‘Tier 1’ package will obviously contain a hardcopy version of the novel, and the ‘Tier 2’ individually purchasable stuff will need it as well, so I thought I’d try out Blurb, and give the service a review.

Two major points will basically sum up the process and service;

  1. The software you use to convert your book into a pre-formatted piece for them to print is absolutely terrible.
  2. The end product, after spending some time with their terrible software, is totally awesome.

I’ve added a set of images to my Flickr account, and there’s a couple below here.

Concrete Operational Blurb Book

If you’ve not heard of Blurb before, it’s a service that allows you to transport your novel idea, photo book, flick book, comic book, whatever you’ve got, from a text file on your computer, to a professionally printed actual product. There are also some small promotional tools available through the site, which means people can order the book as and when they like, on a ‘print-per-order’ basis, and you can even make some money out of it. The popularity of same day logbook loans as a lending option has risen dramatically in the UK. Check out this website for more info https://www.logbookloans.website

The site works well, it’s easy to navigate, log in etc. The software called ‘Booksmart’ that you HAVE to use to covert your text file into a pubishable book however, is awful. It’s simply not made for novels or anything of any particular length. It’s buggy as hell and crashes constantly.

I downloaded the software and ‘imported’ my 75k text file into it, the formatting was hammered all over the place and the programme stopped working all together after about 30 seconds. In the end I had to paste each chapter into a notepad doc, remove and then add the correct formatting, then paste it into the software. It took about 5 hours to do the whole novel, a bit of a waste of time, but like I said, the end product is actually awesome. You'll notice if you look at the other photos in my Flickr stream, that the back page 'blurb' is messed up and cut off. That's my fault partly, because I decided to use an image on the back page, so it would be the same fonts, colours etc, and it's partly to do with the rubbish software, that does not show the bleed lines correctly.

As you can see from the pictures, the novel looks totally professional, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and an off-the-shelf published novel. This is totally great, I love it, and the extra services offered by the site, like being able to mark up the price to earn money, are great as well.

Pricing wise, it’s totally fare, for one, standard size, perfect bind, black and white, 75k word, 200 page novel, it cost £8, and you get economies of scale depending on how many hundreds you want printed. Now, £8 is the regular price of most novels, so it’s not as cheap as getting a producer to mass produce, but for me, it’s a totally reasonable price.

I think the service is pretty cool, they just need to get their software sorted out, updated and running well, once they’ve done that, it'll be awesome.

Any other services like this? Lulu is one, I’ve not tried it out yet as it seems much more of a professional outfit. You upload your files and they seem to format it, and you get an ISBN number and digital distribution and your own personal store. I’ll give it a go soon I think.

For this posts ‘Cementum Collective’ I’d like to introduce you to Olly Moss. If you’ve been on the internet, and I’m assuming you have, you may well have seen some of his designs, drawings, sketches. Seriously, they’re amazing. His portfolio website rocks, his flickr account recently breached 1million views, and his ‘Games as books’ collection of late gave me a massive smile. Check his stuff out, and even buy his t-shirts at threadless and follow him @ollymoss.