Today was a banner day for Coffee Smuggler- in part due to the arrival of a 7 foot high popup banner. That will help anchor my presence at book talks, signing and events. The most important thing that happened today was picking up 250 first edition Coffee Smuggler paperbacks from Walch Printing in Portland. The story starts yesterday as I was composing my away message from Bowdoin at the end of a hectic work day...
I called the company making the coffee smuggler coasters for my kickstarter backers and, to my frustration, learned that they had not started printing them and cannot deliver the coasters by the launch date as planned because my sales rep had gone on vacation early.
After the call I suddenly realized that my paperback print run was supposed to be done soon but I hadn't spoken with the printer. Maybe they were going on vacation too! A book launch without customized coasters is fine. A book launch without books...Not so much. I dialed Walch Printing's seven digits fearfully and only relaxed when my sales rep Aaron assured me that not only was he not yet on vacation, but that they were boxing my order as we spoke. I could pick it up tomorrow.
I drove to Walch printing this morning and saw a new proof copy sitting on top of my stack of boxes. I opened the proof to discover that it had all the errors that we were supposed to have corrected! This sent the lady attending me into a fit and she stormed back into the office to find Aaron. He came forth and to my relief, we opened a box and found that the 250 printed copies did have all the final corrections. The only one that slipped through was caught this morning by my Ebook creator Paul Salvette of BB ebooks, my chapter numbering goes from 34 to 36 (don't worry, the content is there, it's just a numbering error).
Part of me is glad that at least one mistake slipped through because this is what we book collectors call a "point" and use to distinguish between different printings of first editions to establish which really came first.
After I weighed down the rear of my car with books (Aaron assured me that this would help in the snow), I headed home. As I passed Falmouth, I realized that I should begin distributing my books to the bookstores I've spoken with, so I turned into The Book Review. Barbara gladly accepted 3 copies in consignment along with more invitation cards to the book launch. I then drove towards home and stopped at Royal River Books in Yarmouth where I made my first sale. That sale quickly transitioned into 3 sales when a customer in the store asked me about Coffee Smuggler and soon Dr. Ben Potter walked away as my first retail paperback customer! My friend John Sheeshly was the first to purchase a hardcover a few days back.
Today also marked the arrival of my business card/bookmarks and Coffee Smuggler stickers. These will be fun to give out and hopefully useful for people as well.
Finally, I created an author-direct purchase option on my website today. This allows readers to cut out all intermediaries and buy a book direct from me. This means that I can offer a lower price (on sale at $9.99 through Dec 1) and also make more per book (about $5) than through other wholesale/retail channels where I earn from $0-3 per book. I plan to offer the same author-direct option with ebooks and hardcovers when they arrive. This means I'll spend a bunch of time packaging and shipping books, but that's something I've done and enjoyed for many years now. I hope offering this author-direct option will allow me to develop more personal relationships with my readers, help them enroll in my Author Updates e-newsletter while still allowing bookstores and readers all across the country to order the books wholesale and individually through convenient intermediaries like Baker & Taylor and Ingram (the 2 big wholesalers) and sites like Amazon.com
This is an exciting time for me because I'm transitioning from what you could call strenuous editing to light editing and marketing. My designer Katie Murphy of Univoice History has been working very hard on formatting the manuscript. I print these formatted chapters out and give her brief comments about spacing and formatting.
I finished the new website on Squarespace, replacing the old Wordpress site.
Now coffeesmuggler.com points to this site as well. This will be the "home base" for most of my content in the future. I'll keep adding content and depth to this site, but it's a start.
I also finished a new Facebook page to solve a dilemma. I have always maintained the policy that I will not become Facebook friends with someone who I'm not actually friends with or at least had positive interactions with. Readers want to be able to follow authors online, so I've created a Facebook Page (instead of a personal profile) where I hope you'll follow me for the latest news and updates.
Finally, as you probably know, I have started two MailChimp email lists. Once I've distributed the Kickstarter rewards, I will stop communicating through Kickstarter and rely entirely on my blog, mailing list, and social media. Please sign up now to stay tuned!
It happened yesterday morning at about 7:15am with a cat occupying my lap and a coffee cup at my side. I scratched out the last edits to the 86,000 words of Coffee Smuggler. I stand in awe before the powers of my editor who rehashed my writing with me for dozens of hours in the past two weeks. Learning to edit (well) has been like learning Tai Chi in that it requires patience and diligence to hone intricate movements that I've done many times before.
Editing the book for a tenth time was sometimes excruciating. The focus required for few hours of editing leaves me mentally exhausted; like after taking the SATs. Writing my first draft was like building the shed. Editing ten drafts over 5 years has been like taking a poorly built shed apart, modifying the design/materials slightly and putting it back together ten times over, each time a little better built. I'm now satisfied in saying that this book is the best I could make it under the constraints at hand.
The next step is to translate these paper edits to my digital manuscript. I hope this will go quickly. It has to! I will add about twenty illustrations to the text. I'm excited about these. I think old maps, etchings, and paintings of the real places, events, and characters from Coffee Smuggler will add to the story. Then I'll finish my bibliography, add my title page and the manuscript will stand completed.
Next I appeal to professionals to finish designing the cover/jacket and formatting the book files for paperback, hardcover, and ebook. Know anyone? The book website and my own website need some work. Any volunteers? Switching between writing and marketing helps me maintain a healthy balance and not get burned out. Thank you for helping me get to this point- it's exciting. Please help me continue promoting the Coffee Smuggler Kickstarter campaign and see how far over the goal we can go in the next seven days. I'm off to turn my pen scratches into Word bytes.
Thank you! Today, Coffee Smuggler is at 106% of our goal with $3280 raised! You 64 backers have made this happen, you are publishing Coffee Smuggler, so THANK YOU! Support coming from friends, friends of friends, owners of coffee companies, and total strangers has lit a fire under me and I'm pumped to push ahead to publication!
I particularly want to thank Nobletree Coffee, Coffee by Design, and Bernhardt Coffee. Months ago, Mary Allen Lindemann, co-owner of Coffee by Design offered to host my Maine launch party in November. This gave me motivation to push forward fast. John Moore and Matthew Swenson have not only invited me to do a launch at the Nobletree Roastery opening Brooklyn, but they have a blend called Le Dromedaire and they put up $525 towards the Kickstarter campaign! Bernard La Borie is launching Bernhardt Coffee on the West Coast and plans to sell Coffee Smuggler books on their website. Thanks to these modern Coffee Smugglers!
I wasn't sure this Kickstarter campaign would work and here we are, over goal with 11 days left! The budget for hiring professionals to design, format, and print the initial run has been met! Should we stop here and call it a day? Nope! Please keep spreading the word about Coffee Smuggler and the great rewards people can lock in by joining the Kickstarter campaign. Here's what I plan to do with more support:
- Upgrade my membership in the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance to a Promotional Membership ($70 more needed)
- Order cool bookmarks to give out ($100)
- Double the initial paperback run to 250 books ($650)
- Expand the hardcover run to 100 instead of 30 ($1100)
- Pay a Wordpress designer to make my website and the book website totally awesome and sparkling ($2000-$4000)
We have four Nigerian Dwarf goats named Willy, Whoopie Pie, Aurora, and Canela. I promised to build them a shed this spring and began construction in May. I also made a New Year's resolution to publish Coffee Smuggler in 2014. Both projects have progressed in spurts and the idea of comparing them dawned on me yesterday.
First I had to make a sturdy floor and give the shed good bones. Likewise, I made major structure improvements to Coffee Smuggler this year, axing several chapters that diverted attention from the plot and rewriting the first chapters.
I built the walls and began working on the shed roof. Then I got stuck and took a long break during July and August. I left the shed under tarps ostensibly because life was busy in other areas but really because I wasn't motivated at that time. I have done the same for Coffee Smuggler several times since I began it in 2009, unmotivated to work on it without deadlines or pressure. There have been stretches of 6 months or more when I didn't even open the Coffee Smuggler file.
Both projects now have real deadlines and I'm racing ahead, making major breakthroughs. It feels great, however as they both draw nearer to conclusion, they are competing for time as much as complementing each other. One is an intellectual endeavor, the other a manual one, and both require arduous patience and consistency. When hours are spent focused on them, without multitasking, I make real progress but now they vie for the same hours.
My goat shed roof is now almost complete and I've edited 130 pages of my 197 page 10th draft manuscript (which will be around to 300 pages in book form). The shed roof requires careful measurement, cutting, and delicate ladder work as I balance aloft to screw things into place. The manuscript requires analytic review of every word in each sentence and thought about how the facts align and story flows.
The shed needs to be insulated and topped with slate shingles (I scored these slightly chipped slates for free off an 1864 colonial in Yarmouth receiving a new roof). The book needs the paper editing finished, changes added to the digital manuscript, illustrations added, cover pages and bibliography compiled, and text formatted. Then I must submit the finished product for publication in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats.
The deadlines are converging. Willy, Canela, Whoopie Pie and Aurora need their new home ready before it gets too cold and I need to launch the book in November. I need to finalize both projects in the next two weeks. Both projects have been much improved by help from others. I've been learning as I go on both, watching the character of each evolve into an entity apart from myself. Both have taught me a lot. Both projects are ultimately something I have to do alone, something I'm proud of, and hopefully something that will serve their purposes well. The book will entertain and educate; the shed will be a goat palace.
I feel lucky to have 51 backers pledging $2,815 so far. This provides me with wind in my editing sails, and motivates me to make this book the best it can be- and fast. As my editor declared, "You have got to do this. You cannot be lazy." Thank you for your support, it's helping me rush towards a finish line that I'm beginning to see more clearly.
Please support Coffee Smuggler here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/298988291/coffee-smuggler
At a recent wedding, I reconnected with some dear college friends. One of them, the illustrious Bartels, has married a French woman, Emilie. After chatting for a while it struck me, I need help translating De Clieu's original letter.
A librarian had kindly scanned De Clieu's original article in 1700s French and sent it to me. I performed a rough Google translate on it so get the basic meaning of De Clieu's words. His letter validated some of the "non-fiction" that has been written about De Clieu, and left much of what is said about De Clieu totally unsubstantiated (for instance, De Clieu makes no mention of pirates).
I am publishing this letter in the back of Coffee Smuggler for the history buffs in my audience, because it was very hard to come by.
As I chatted with Emilie, it struck me, I need help! Emilie generously agreed to help me with my translation and has delivered on her promise. She researched old French words and produced an excellent translation for Coffee Smuggler. Thanks Emilie for helping bring a forgotten piece of history back to life!
Today I spent 7 hours working one on one with my extraordinary editor who wishes to remain anonymous. We edited 20 pages of my 8th draft manuscript. It was intense. I learned a lot and Vince taught diligently.
For the first time I feel proud of my writing. We examined each word or each sentence with a magnifying glass. For the first time, I feel unafraid of criticism. For the first 20 pages at least.
Tomorrow we're going for 5 hours. The coming weeks will be intense as every word of every sentence of every paragraph of every page of every chapter is scrutinized. Each will be either accepted, improved, or destroyed. I owe my editor a great thank you for his service. I feel like Coffee Smuggler is transitioning from adolescence to maturity. Onwards!
Today I found an hour to sit down in Bradley's coffee shop in Madison Wisconsin to move forward on some important pre-publication item. I listened to a great podcast on the way here called Author Biz that reminded me about the important the importance of establishing a mailing list. So presto, with a delicious decafe espresso in hand I've banged out both a mailchimp email list and a new blog. Correction, this is actually an old blog I started in 2008 but am now returning to, revitalizing and re-purposing. Right now I'm in a tricky balance between pouring energy into final edits of my manuscript, beginning the self-publishing process of cover design, manuscript formatting etc and increasing the marketing efforts that will help Coffee Smuggler see the light of day. It's at once very fun to have all the controls in my hands and scary.
Whenever I spent time away from the manuscript I begin doubting myself. I wonder if anyone will like it. When I dive back into editing and remind myself what I've got, that confidence returns. Part of why I'm writing a blog is to connect with readers for the dialogue, encouragement and feedback that keep me energized to dig deeper into the work that will finish this project. So thank for being there, for your words and for helping me on this journey. See me waving...?