2018 Dragonfire Editions

Firestorm Forever, A Dragonfire Novel and paranormal romance by Deborah CookeI’ve been sick this week, which means that no writing is getting done. Being under the weather is a good time to catch up on other jobs, though, like formatting, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Updated versions of Kiss of Danger, Kiss of Darkness, Kiss of Destiny, The Dragon Legion Collection, Serpent’s Kiss, and Firestorm Forever are now available at all digital portals.

Serpent's Kiss, a paranormal romance and Dragonfire #10 by Deborah CookeThis included updating the series information. The series is now called The Dragonfire Novels, and numbers from 1 – 14, with every story having a whole number (no more decimals).

I also updated the print interiors for The Dragon Legion Collection, Serpent’s Kiss, and Firestorm Forever. Now there are dragons inside!

POD interior of Firestorm Forever by Deborah Cooke

 

A while ago, I found a fun display font with dragons that I wanted to use in my book interiors – now that I use drop caps, I knew that this font would be perfect. Here’s what it looks like on the page:

POD interior of Firestorm Forever by Deborah Cooke

 

Buying this font meant that I got dragon-y dingbats, too, instead of the stars used in the previous edition:

POD interior of the Dragon Legion Collection by Deborah Cooke

What do you think? I’ve very happy with these updates.

There’s more Dragonfire news, too, but I’m waiting on documentation before I can share. 🙂 Stay tuned!

New Paperback Editions

The Renegade's Heart, book #1 of the True Love Brides Series of Scottish medieval romances, by Claire DelacroixOne of the interesting things about indie publishing is that there are lots of experiments an author can try. Some work and some don’t, but having the option (and seeing the possibilities) is pretty exciting. So, this post is about an experiment that didn’t work, but two new options that just might. 🙂

When I originally started indie-publishing my titles, I made print editions available through Createspace, which is an Amazon company. That meant the print issues were listed for sale on the Amazon website. Theoretically, since I’d chosen the Extended Distribution option, they were available for other bookstores to order, but a lot of bookstores don’t like to order anything from Amazon.

The Highlander's Curse, book #2 of the True Love Brides series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixSo, a few years ago, I made my print editions available through Ingrams as well as Createspace. This meant some tweaking to the files – the covers need to be adjusted because the interior paper is a different thickness – but was a good thing. Print editions of my books were available to libraries and also at chains other than Amazon. The less-good thing was that the cost of all that extra distribution makes the book prices a bit higher. My books are still all available from Ingrams, because I think wide distribution is a good thing, but I’m always looking for ways to get you a better deal.

The Frost Maiden's Kiss, a medieval romance and third book in the True Love Brides series by Claire DelacroixAbout a year and a half ago, I spoke to a publishing company that had a lot of ideas for improving distribution for print titles. I met with them at a conference to continue our discussion, and ultimately decided to license my two newest Claire Delacroix series to them in print. They took over the print distribution of The True Love Brides series and of The Champions of St. Euphemia series. Two of the Champions titles were only ever published through this company.

Companies change, employees leave and some experiments just don’t work out that well – like this one. This company and I agreed to part ways in December 2016, and control of the print editions of those books has returned to me. They are still distributed through Ingrams, but a very cool thing happened last summer—both Amazon and B&N created portals to publish print books directly through them. The Amazon option is a lot like the older Amazon option (Createspace) but I like that everything is tracked in one place when I publish through KDP. The B&N option means that B&N stores can more easily order stock of books. Both portals allow for better pricing on the books, because the distribution is exclusive to each company and not wide.

Simply Irresistible, a contemporary romance by Deborah Cooke and first in the Flatiron Five series.The first book I pushed through these two new portals was Simply Irresistible, which is also available through Ingrams. The cover designer has to do some modifications for the cover spine, but it’s a pretty easy process. So far this month, I’ve published The True Love Brides series through both of these portals—it means that the retail price is lower for the print titles at both portals. The Ingrams distribution ensures that the titles are available beyond Amazon and B&N.

The Warrior's Prize, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix and book #4 in the True Love Brides SeriesWe’re trying to work out one glitch at Amazon with The Warrior’s Prize, but I expect that will be resolved shortly. The other three books in the series are available at Amazon in print and all four are listed at B&N—you’ll know which are the new editions because the retail price is $9.99 or $10.99US instead of $14.99 or more.

Next, I’ll be publishing print editions of the  Champions of St. Euphemia series through these two portals.

Since I now have the rights back, I’ll do a Collectors’ Edition of The True Love Brides series later this year, with all of the books in a single hardcover volume. (I don’t think I can do one for The Champions of St. Euphemia – with five books in the series, the page count will exceed the maximum. I’m thinking about that puzzle, though!)

The Mini-Books

Wyvern's Mate, book #1 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeI’ve had a couple of questions about the print editions of Wyvern’s Mate, so it’s clearly time for a post on them.

The Dragons of Incendium series has a different format than Dragonfire. It’s a different series, set in a different world, so can be based on a different premise—and have a different structure. The main stories in this series are novellas, and each novella is a romance. In between the release of each novella will be a short story. Because there are lots of characters in this world—twelve dragon-shifter princess sisters, to start with, never mind those eleven princes of Regalia—there are a lot of interpersonal relationships to explore. There’s also a fair bit of worldbuilding. So, my idea is that each novella or story will reveal a slice of the world, but that you’ll build an understanding of Incendium over the series, as well as see those interpersonal relationships develop and evolve. I’m hoping that this will be a very long-running series, with a novella published every quarter and a short story in between each novella.

This is the kind of storytelling adventure that is well-suited to digital publication, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to experiment like this. (I’m having a lot of fun writing the stories, too.) The trick is that many of you like print editions, so I had to consider how best to present these stories in print editions.

Many of you like the mass market format, but that is only available through traditional publishers, who have distribution relationships with bricks-and-mortar bookstores. The only option available to me right now is print-on-demand. The cost structure of POD is such that it works best in trade paperback format.  A full length book of 100,000 words, for example, can be formatted into a trade paperback of 300 pages or so. The POD book can be priced at $14.99US which is comparable to a trade paperback edition from a traditional publisher. Although there are smaller trim sizes available in POD, the costs are consistent—even when the size is closer to a mass market paperback (the exact size isn’t an option) the price is very nearly the same as for a trade paperback. I doubt that anyone would pay more than $10 for a mass market book, which is why I and many other indie authors favor the trade paperback size.

BUT Wyvern’s Mate is a novella, which opens an interesting possibility. There is a format available in POD called a mini-book, which has a 4″ by 6.5″ trim size. They are cute little books. One downside is that this size can only be distributed through Amazon and Createspace. On the upside, the pricing works out in a more appealing way, given the length of the story. For example, the mini-book of Wyvern’s Mate (which includes the short story Nero’s Dream) is 188 pages. The spine is a little less than 1/2″ deep. This book is priced at $6.99 US. I really like the look of this format—here’s a picture of the mini-book on top of a copy of Flashfire:

Wyvern's Mate by Deborah Cooke minibook print edition

There’s about 1/8″ difference in size in each dimension.

Here’s another shot, this time of the spines:

Wyvern's Mate by Deborah Cooke minibook edition

The mini-book is thinner. Wyvern’s Mate is a novella, so the work is shorter.

And here’s a shot of the interiors:

Wyvern's Mate by Deborah Cooke minibook interior

It looks as if I chose a font that is a little bit smaller than that used in the Dragonfire novels. The POD edition is printed on cream paper, which improves the readability, and the paper used in POD is also thicker. The show-through from the type on the next page is much less in the POD book than the mass market one.

Now, I know that this format won’t suit everyone, but it provides a way to have each individual story available in print.With mass market unavailable as a format, we must find alternatives.

I will also compile anthologies for the Dragons of Incendium: each group of three novellas, with the intervening short stories, will be bundled together in print and digital editions. The print edition will be POD in trade paperback format, the same size as Serpent’s Kiss. Because of the length of the anthology, the pricing will likely be $19.99US or less for this anthology in print. I’d like it to be closer to $14.99, but we’ll have to wait and see how it works out once the page count is finalized. This trade paperback edition will be available from all online portals. You can expect the anthologies to be available several months after the last book in the series is published, probably concurrent with the first book in the next trilogy of novellas.

The mini-book print edition of Wyvern’s Mate is available now from Amazon and Createspace. The digital edition is available for pre-order at all major online portals and will ship June 14—buy links are on the Dragons of Incendium site, right here.

A Tale of Two PODs

I told you recently about my quest to get print editions of my new indie-published titles listed on the Chapters/Indigo website. Part of the solution was to make those titles available through another print-on-demand portal. I was using Createspace, but now have made the True Love Brides available through LightningSource as well. This is a new edition, with a different ISBN#, but otherwise the books are the same.

The finished books don’t look that different from each other. The Createspace editions are on the left and the LightningSource ones on the right. (The Highlander’s Curse DOES look different but it’s not a fair comparison. My last copy from Createspace has the glossy cover but it’s now matte, and the LightningSource cover is matte. The photograph looks really different because the finish reflects the light differently.)

There are slight variations – The Warrior’s Prize is a little darker on the right book, and The Renegade’s Heart is a little more yellow, but this is within the tolerance of different print runs. They look pretty much the same.The Ture Love Brides series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix in print editionsThey do feel a bit different, though, and that’s because of the paper. The paper used by LightningSource is thinner, and I like the thicker Createspace paper better. I also like the Createspace cover stock better. Here are the LightningSource editions on the right and the Createspace ones on the left – see how that little bit of difference adds up over 300 pages per book! The Ture Love Brides series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix in print editionsThere is one other difference that had to happen for the books to be stocked at Chapters/Indigo – they had to have the retail prices printed on the back cover. Here you can see the LightningSource cover on the left and the Createspace one on the right. The Ture Love Brides series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix in print editions

When you use the cream coloured paper for the interior pages at Createspace, it makes the spine wider because the paper is thicker. I hear through the grapevine that the cream paper through LightningSource is the same thickness as the white paper from Createspace. I’m giving that a try with the three Dragonfire books currently in production at LightningSource and will show you how that comes out. They’ll also have glossy covers, just like those Dragonfire books do from Createspace.

The first three True Love Brides books are already listed for sale at Chapters/Indigo and there have been some orders filled already. I’m curious to see whether any other booksellers make these editions available. Time will tell!

The Crusader’s Bride will be my first title to be published simultaneously at both Createspace and LightningSource. Those books are both in production now.

Firestorm Forever in Print

Firestorm Forever, A Dragonfire Novel and paranormal romance by Deborah CookeWith each new book published, there’s more for me to learn – and always another experiment to try. The publication of Firestorm Forever is no different. This time, I thought I’d try approving the print edition for release early. I did that on Tuesday, which made the print edition available for purchase immediately on Createspace. It also sent the information about the book perking through the network to Amazon companies. It’s now available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de. At the UK and DE stores, though, the two editions haven’t married up yet.

Strangely enough, the listing on Amazon.ca won’t come from Amazon, but from another distributor (who will create a listing for the book, then make it available on Amazon.ca. I’m not joking.) I’ll send the book into extended distribution on Monday. which will dispatch its information to another network, so it becomes available at B&N, Amazon.ca, the Book Depository and other portals. We’ll see how long that takes.

Remember that if you intend to buy both print and digital editions, and if you intend to shop at Amazon.com, buying the print edition first will allow you to buy the digital edition for just 99 cents, through their Matchbook program. I wish this were possible at all portals, but only Amazon.com offers it.

Beguiled Book Interior

Once upon a time, I worked as a typesetter, so I have a great affection for type. I love flourishes in book interiors, that extra touch that perfectly suits the content. So, recently, I began to think about my POD titles and how they could be prettier inside.

Here’s the first page of Beguiled, my first book with illuminated caps. This picture is from the proof – it’s a teensy bit blurred because I wasn’t as steady as would be ideal. The type is perfectly crisp.

First Page of Beguiled, by Claire Delacroix and Deborah CookeThese illuminated caps suit the content very well and they look terrific – in my humble opinion. 🙂 What do you think?

Serpent’s Kiss Print Edition

Serpent's Kiss, a paranormal romance and Dragonfire #10 by Deborah CookeMany of you have been asking about the print edition of Serpent’s Kiss – and whether there will be one. There is, but I couldn’t set it up for pre-order. It was available from Createspace yesterday, and last night, it appeared on the Amazon site. Here’s the link for the print edition on Amazon – within a day or two, the digital and the print will be linked. It takes up to 72 hours for that to happen.

The information about the print book’s availability is perking through databases as we speak. It will appear on B&N and the Book Depository, but there’s no telling how long that will take. We’ll just have to keep our eyes open.

And yes, this is a trade paperback. It’s the same size as The Dragon Legion Collection in print. I know many of you like to line books up on the shelf (because I do, too) so I chose the size closest to that of The Dragon Diaries US trade paperback edition. I have the mass market Dragonfire books followed by The Dragon Legion Collection, followed by The Dragon Diaries on my shelf, and they look great together.

There is no physical distribution of this book – that means you won’t walk into your local bookstore or drug store and find a copy. You will have to order one online. Technically, any bookstore can order a copy for you, but in my experience, they don’t bother. On the upside, this is print on demand, which means that they’ll make a copy just for you when you do order it. You won’t get some copy that’s been fingered and read, has its corners turned and its cover scuffed.

This is the only way that I could finish the series, and given that, moving from mass market to trade isn’t that bad of a compromise.

An Ode to Print Books

I recently bought a handmade blank book from a local artist, who uses Japanese papers to create one-of-a-kind journals. They are just beautiful and bring together many of the elements I love about print books.

And that got me to thinking. We’re a day early for Wild West Thursday, but let’s talk about print books and why (if) we love them. I adore print books. I always have. And now that they’re diminishing in numbers and availability, I have to hope that they’re not facing extinction. I love print books so much that I can’t imagine reading only in a digital format. I also love print books enough that I am aware of the limitations of print-on-demand technology.

Let’s talk about why.

First off, there’s the tactile experience of a physical book. I love the smell of print books. The glue from the binding has a particular scent, as does the paper. I love the sound a hardcover book makes when it’s cracked open the first time, and the feel of a cover under my fingertips. I love matte paper covers on trade paperbacks, foil stamping and raised type, gloss varnish images that you only see when you hold the book at the right angle. I love rag edges on the pages of hard cover books, marbled end papers (or illustrated end papers), leather covers with tooling and gold embossing. The paper can be smooth or have more tooth; it can be creamy or it can be stark white; it can be trimmed with precision or have rag edges. There’s something magical about a book that needs to have its galleys carefully cut open with a knife before it can be read, like it has secrets to reveal only to you. I love all those printing and production tricks that make print books into tactile treasure chests. Some people call this “book as object” or “book as treasure”. The physical book in itself is a prize.

Possibly because I learned to read print books, I associate all of those physical clues with the thrill of discovering a new story. We had the entire set of My Book House when I was a kid, a twelve volume hard cover collection of children’s stories that become progressively more advanced with each addition. (I still have them.) I remember opening those books to read—or be read to—and the thrill of moving on to the next volume in the series very well. Holding a print book in my hands gives me a sense of anticipation, an awareness that I’m about to embark on an adventure.

I also love illustrations in books. These tend to be few and far between in digital books. My Book House had wonderful line drawings, and perhaps my affection for them came from that. The illustrations were well chosen to highlight the story in question and often took the imagination in new paths, or brought some previously-unnoticed element of the story to the fore. Sometimes poems were typeset to flow around the illustration or echo its composition, which looked like magic to me. I recently read a new book (in print) that had title pages for each section with line drawings, and they made the book so beautiful that I wanted to put it on the shelf and keep it forever. (I did.) I love drop caps and illuminated caps, the kind that you see in fairy tales. Those illuminated caps often have an entire story hidden within them, or they hint at one. When I began to study medieval stories, I was enchanted by the illustrations in the margins and caps of those old manuscripts, probably the forebears of illuminated caps. I also appreciate when someone takes the time to choose the perfect symbol or dingbat to use as a scene break or chapter break. That’s another illustration, another way to explore the core ideas of the book in images. These little touches take a specific title beyond the ordinary.

I’m not sure whether I was a typesetter because I loved the way type could convey mood (maybe it was those poems flowing around the illustrations!), or whether I learned more about type conveying mood because I set type for a while. Fonts in themselves are evocative, and the composition of the page in a print book gives the reader a powerful impression even before he or she begins to read. Most people don’t think about type, or white space, or the density of the lines, but all of those variables and more can combine together to enhance the experience of the book. Most mass market paperbacks aren’t designed, per se, but the copy is pushed through a template, maybe with some tweaks. It was in my trade paperback editions that I saw the art of book designers—trade is considered a “boutique” product in traditional publishing, so it gets more attention from the production side of the house. Doubtless hard cover does, too. (Although large print hard covers would be an exception to that.)

Digital books give the end user the flexibility of setting the font, color and size of the type, much like a website does (and EPUB is really a variant of HTML). That means that the art of the book designer is irrelevant. If you compare the layout of a digital book “page” on your e-reader with the page of a well-designed print book, you’ll see what I mean. The e-reader gets the job done. You can read the story. It’s functional, but it’s probably not beautiful.

And this all makes me wonder about the future or not just books but interior design of books. Will print books go away? Will digital books integrate some of these elements in the future? I can’t see the user control of font going away, but maybe we’ll get more illustrations or just better dingbats. Maybe there will be a default to the layout—”author’s choice” or something—that incorporates these elements but which the user can over-ride.

One thing I intend to do is think more seriously about my print-on-demand editions in future. It may be possible to add line drawings or other elements into those books to make them richer and move them beyond functionality.

What do you think? Do you love print books? Or do you prefer digital books? Tell me your preference and your reasons for it.

Dragon Legion Collection Released!

The Dragon Legion Collection by Deborah Cooke

The complete collection of the Dragon Legion novellas is now available in a trade paperback print edition and is Dragonfire #9.

They will sacrifice anything to regain the loves they’ve lost…

When the Dragon Legion take custody of the darkfire crystal, Drake and his fellow dragon shifters fear that the sorcery trapped in the stone is bent on destroying them. In Kiss of Danger, Alexander defends his wife and son from a vicious killer who has followed him through time. In Kiss of Darkness, Damien enters the realm of the dead to fix an old mistake, but loses his shifting abilities. In Kiss of Destiny, Thad believes he can secure the future of all the dragon shifters known as the Pyr, if only he can win the heart of the elusive woman who sparks his firestorm. Will the darkfire demand all they have to give, or is the unpredictable magic giving these dragon warriors a second chance?

This collection contains all three Dragon Legion novellas, as well as an excerpt from Serpent’s Kiss (the next Dragonfire novel), a cast of characters and Dragonfire glossary. It will be available in a trade paperback edition.

It’s available now directly from Createspace, Amazon, and B&N.

All of the novellas are available individually in digital formats. The digital edition of the entire collection will be published in September.

For those of you who have won copies of the this print edition, I’m waiting on my copies to arrive, then will sign and send out yours. 🙂

You can read about the whole series on my website, right here.