Working with Westbow
As I’ve grown tired of waiting for Westbow to get the additional e-book formats distributed, I have started working directly with Borders.com and BookBrewer to get The Gospel Uncensored formatted for book readers other than the Kindle, including the Nook, Kobo, and iPad. These formats should soon be available through Borders.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as well as from the iBook store. I just need to work out some formatting issues. These formats will probably retail for around $9.99, the same as the Kindle price—although I’m going to see if reducing the price is an option.
Check back for more details.
It is truly amazing how much work goes in to publishing a book in today’s marketplace. I have to say, I’m glad I’m not doing this all on my own. Because the book is “POD” – Print on Demand – large distributors like Baker & Taylor use their own POD printer, Textstream, to sell through such retailers as Borders. And, there are more than one of these mega-retailers who need to be notified about the book. Apparently books don’t just magically appear on bookshelves… even the online variety.
Information about the book is slowly working its way through the book world, so you will find it listed, at various prices, at various locations. I am noticing that the cover image is someone slow to show up at some stores.
The book is already available for Kindle at amazon.com, retailing for $9.95. It will also be available for download for the Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo at the normal places, as well as at places like Scribd.com and BooksonBoard.com. They tell me it can take 6-8 weeks for the book to appear at various retailers. There is no specific iPad version out yet, however there is a free Kindle app that will work. WestBow is apparently looking into the iPad market.
Again, it is a very complex process, and this definitely falls in favor of working through someone like WestBow, who is set up to handle all of this. For me, it’s just a matter of being patient, something I’m not always good at.
I’m very happy to report that The Gospel Uncensored is now available for ordering (and if you are a Kindle user, it’s available for download today). I haven’t seen a copy yet myself, but don’t let that stop you from ordering!
Hardcover, softcover and Kindle versions are available through amazon.com. However, they don’t have any of the paper versions in stock, so it’s probably quicker to order these directly from westbowpress.com. I believe eventually it will also be available at bn.com (Barnes & Noble).
If you would like to order from Amazon, click the “I Recommend” button to the right, and I make an extra nickel or two (believe me, my cut isn’t that much…).
It would also be a wonderful thing if you were inclined to bring in the Westbow ordering info to your local bookstore and ask that they order it for you… you’d save shipping, and they may just order a couple of extra copies. And, please tell your pastors and friends about the book. Please?
I plan at some point to be able to offer other e-versions from this website, including Sony and iPad, and perhaps the Nook. I can’t promise when, though.
I am currently writing a study guide for The Gospel Uncensored to use either individually or for a group study, and will make that available here as a free download.
Westbow just sent me pdf’s of the cover and interior proofs for review. All I can say is, it’s gonna look really good.
They did a great job of the spine and back cover, using the colors from my cover design. I immediately noticed an error (mine) on the dust jacket flap, when it refers to an earlier version of the title. Oops! Fortunately, they allow me a number of changes.
They did a fantastic job on the interior, giving it the feel I was looking for. The text (excluding title page, etc.) is 208 pages, about what I thought. I wanted a book that people could pick up and think, “I could read this!”, and I think that’s what I got.
So, now I do one more proof-read. One step closer… I think we’re definitely looking at a September release.
First, the other day I signed up for a new site for writers and other creative types called Scribd; check out my page.
Also, Westbow tells me that the whole cover design (including back, spine and dust-jacket flaps) is complete, and now is being reviewed by their Quality Assurance folks. When they get the interior and cover both done – perhaps in the next week or so, they’ll send me pdf’s to review.
I won’t have a hard copy in time for my trip to San Diego in August, but I should be able to have some pre-release flyers printed up to distribute. I’ll try to hit a few bookstores when I’m there.
Soon, The Gospel will be Uncensored wherever great books are sold.
Yesterday I received an e-mail and a phone call from the Design Consultant who will be in charge of the book design, and I have her personal e-mail address, not just a generic customer service address. She will be my contact throughout this process, and has advised that as she actually is working, she may not be able to return calls/e-mails the same day. Nice.
I e-mailed Erin this morning with a question, and got a response within minutes, with enough information to let me know that I can trust her design team. Nicer.
I’m once again becoming impressed.
I called Westbow’s customer service dept. today to follow up on my missing manuscript and follow up, and I got the impression that I woke up the customer service rep. It turns out that the person I had been dealing with before, who had confirmed receipt of the manuscript, had left Westbow. I got the impression that it had not been her choice.
I was also told that I was supposed to have sent the manuscript to a different department, however I was never given any such instructions. Again, they are not getting passing grades in communication.
However, I resent the manuscript and have confirmed that they now have it, and the cover. The design team will now put the book together, which should take about 10-15 days. I’ll be getting a pdf proof of the entire jacket cover once that is complete. I have read that at least some authors are quite impressed with Westbow’s services and quality. I’m still keeping an open mind and am willing to be impressed.
So, the book still may be out this summer, which by definition ends on Sept 22 or 23. It will probably not be available for my trip to SD in August, but that’s okay – patience is a virtue.
The good news is that Westbow has reviewed and approved the cover design. The bad news is that it appears there are coordination issues within Westbow, as the person I heard from today said they were still waiting for my final manuscript. I e-mailed back indicating that I had sent in on 5-27, and had received confirmation that it was received. Due to the 3-hr time difference, I will not get a response until some time tomorrow.
Thoughts about Westbow
I had been very impressed with Westbow’s front-end. Their marketing department is very professional and enthusiastic. I had great follow-up in the initial stages, but always by people who also wanted to sell me on additional services. I regret to say that their support staff is not quite so responsive as their sales staff.
While they have put a lot of thought and money into the marketing portion of their site, their author support section is quite deficient. They have an online form to provide all of the pertinent information about the book, however once the information is there, you can’t make changes. Instead, you have to e-mail a pdf copy of the form. It works, but it would be more helpful to fix their site so you can update the info.
Furthermore, some of the information they provide is sketchy, and sometimes incorrect. For example, in one e-mail they indicated they subscribed to an online image bank for authors to choose photos for their covers. However, the link they provided didn’t work. They do have such a service, but I had to press them for that information. We ended up shooting our own cover photo anyway (and I’m really pleased with the result).
Part of the package I purchased involved an editorial review and sample edit. I passed along the editorial review to a friend who teaches English at a major university, and his response was, “The overall editing comments are pretty much inert, what I would write on a student paper I didn’t have time to look at closely.” I did find the sample edit helpful, although I decided to hire my own editor.
Westbow still has time to impress me, and I’m giving the chance to do that. I fully expected Thomas Nelson to put the same effort into customer service that they did into marketing. So far, the process seems like it’s still in the beta stage. What is needed most of all is more information; as a first-time author, I pretty much had to find my own way.
The bottom line is that the book is progressing. I really can’t wait to see the proof copy; I hope I’m impressed.
Well, what seemed like a cycle of endless editing and rewrites has finally ended, and the manuscript, for better or worse, is at the publisher! They tell me it looks great, and now are waiting for me to submit cover artwork, which I’ve asked my son (who else?) to work on.
I’m really looking forward to actually being able to hold it in my hands. And perhaps selling a few copies.
In the next day or two I will post a free excerpt. I’m looking forward to your responses!