The ARCs and the Covenants
The interior book design has taken longer than I imagined possible, but at last we're about to print the advance review copies, or ARCs.
One of the delaying factors was that the acknowledgments -- which were a central part of what I promised all of you -- somehow went missing on the designers' end, and once we got them into place, I checked them against the KS list only to catch several errors of my own. It's surprising how difficult it is to proofread a list of names. A hundred and three of them piled together makes the eyes blur, even when so many of them are dear to me. I've got you all now, and even in proper alphabetical order, I'm 99.99% sure.
The one correction that took longer than any other was a punctuation issue so obscure that it took me hours of searching grammar handbooks on my bookshelves and online to clarify it: When you invert a sentence to start with the direct object of the verb, you don't follow it with a comma because the subject, verb, and object should never be separated by punctuation unless the punctuation is parenthetical. Just try searching on sentence inversions and see how long it takes you to find three sources that mention this kind. Explanations of German grammar for English speakers don't count. Other types of sentence inversions don't count. I'm not sure why it was so hard to confirm that I needed to remove the comma in:
The cavalrymen, Govril clustered together to face the line of footsoldiers.
It looked questionable both with the comma and without it, though it sounds perfectly clear aloud in either case. I can't be the only writer whose need for sentence variety has raised the question, and the music of the paragraphs would not allow for a change of syntax.
The book, however, rocks. The wooden soldier scene rocks. Now it rocks slightly more minus one comma.
In the interest of getting reviewers to read the ARCs, I found a publicist to help me with the world's tiniest PR job: sending the ARCs to reviewers who won't read self-published works that have been shipped by their authors. She offered more help than I asked for, at a lower price than I expected, so I hired her out of pocket to put together a standard publicist cover letter and one-sheet to send with the review copies. It may or may not help with Locus and Publishers Weekly, but I'm doing everything I can on my end.
On the printing front, it turns out that so many small presses are now using IngramSpark as their printer that brick and mortar bookstores no longer make a distinction between distributor-printed books and third-party-printed books, as long as the books are returnable. This is a fairly recent development, and it makes my life much easier. Ingram's printing quality is reviewed as slightly better than CreateSpace's, so you'll all be getting Ingram-printed copies, and that's what I plan to hand-sell at conventions. I'll be using CreateSpace to print copies for all orders going through Amazon, because Amazon makes it a pain in the neck to use any other printer. Ah, Amazon. On my end, I'm putting in all the same specs, and my impression is that only someone who knew there was a difference to find would ever notice one.
According to the PR person, the big review sources these days will work with a three-month lead time between getting an ARC and the book's projected release date. Assuming I can get ARCs out to the pickiest of the review sources within two weeks, we're now looking at a late October release date. And now, back to Bowker's database to change the release date linked to the ISBNs...again.
At Capclave, I'll be having something very like a release party -- almost indistinguishable, you might say. : ) That's October 7-9, so let's call it a sneak preview party. I'm working with the programming folks for the convention to arrange the time and place. You're all enthusiastically invited. As details about that come together, I'll include them in updates here.
I don't know that I can afford anything quite on the level of a party at the World Fantasy Convention, but that's October 27-30, so I can legitimately call it a release weekend, and I will definitely be there. (How I'm going to make that up to my kid whose birthday falls within those dates is still on my To-Figure-Out list.) Again, as details come together, I'll post them here.
Thank you all again for making this possible!