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At Last

I know you’ve been anxiously waiting for the paperback edition of The Spiral, (go ahead, admit it!) and I also know it’s been causing you to have fitful sleep. But I’m pleased to announce that the wait is over. The Spiral is now what I like to call, “Officially a real book.” It’s a dream come true for me. I always wanted to have a physical copy to hold in my hands, and now that I do, I can finally say that I’m finished with it, and that’s a great feeling. The eBook version is swell and all, but there’s just something about holding a hard copy in my hands and feeling the weight, and putting it on the shelf next to my favorite books. Seems so much more tangible and legitimate. Even if it doesn’t sell, I’m still glad I did it.
If you’re at all curious (maybe you have a book of your own that you’d like to publish), I used CreateSpace, which is Amazon’s book publishing division. There are so many paths one can take, but for me this seemed the best option. For the most part, the process was fairly straightforward. It started with choosing an interior design from several different choices. Then I had a phone consultation and discussed the overall layout, cover options, billing, etc. I paid them to do the cover, but I did the design myself. I wasn’t comfortable with someone not familiar with the book guessing what I might like for a cover. I’m rather particular that way. Plus it’s way more satisfying to do it yourself.
I used several royalty-free image websites, and in total I must have browsed at least 20,000 images over the course of a week. My eyes are still red and swollen. I found numerous images that I thought would work, but none really grabbed me. On the final night, I decided to try a different search string, and a particular image I hadn’t seen before immediately jumped out at me. It fit perfectly with the story, and I knew instantly that it was the one. I then designed the title and text layout of the cover and the back cover in PowerPoint and uploaded my concept example to the CreateSpace design team. They matched it exactly. Yay!
About a month ago I received my “proof” copy in the mail. I’ll admit to being a little afraid to open it, thinking, “What if this really sucks?” It didn’t, and in fact, it surpassed my expectations. It’s a solid book with a tight spine that doesn’t crack. Most of that evening I sat and stared at it, grinning, pinching myself. Then I found out just how anal I can be. Even though it was for the most part exactly how I wanted it, and I could have approved it for publication right then and there, I sat on it for two weeks. Finally I said “Dude, get it done, it’s ready!”
Now I just had to decide on the price. I was hoping to sell it for less than ten bucks, but CreateSpace determines the minimum list price. They won’t sell a book for less than it costs them to produce it, and for them to take their cut. I was disappointed, but some things you just can’t control.
Sales of the eBook started out strong, but quickly petered out, and that’s probably my fault, as I haven’t done much, if anything, to promote it. Amazon is a vast ocean, and my little book is a tiny piece of driftwood, nearly impossible to spot from the air. My goal now is to jump head first into the marketing aspect. I have a few more options now with a physical book available, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s always a tough sell, and that’s part of the fun. There is little, if any, money to be made at this stage, and that’s not the point. Getting people to read my book is. As a first time author, the best marketing strategy is to write another book, so that’s next on the agenda. Even though I’ve done it once before, is seems so daunting, and when I rifle through the pages of my new paperback, I wonder, “How did I write that all that?” I keep telling myself, “One page at a time, Steve. One page at a time.”

About Steve Dullum

Steve Dullum (who is me) lives in Madison, WI, where he frequently picks up the guitar and coaxes stirring melodies from the strings (often it's just noise), rides around on a black motorcycle (frequently gets lost), works in the IT field (official title is "The IT Guy"), collects bark samples from native deciduous trees (it's not as thrilling as it sounds...and may not even be true), and also writes fiction. For the most part he's living the dream (he claims it's more like a dream within a dream). His short story, The Garbage Collector, was awarded an honorary mention in the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest (which isn't quite as impressive as first place, but that's not important right now). Steve (who is still me) enjoys reading many different genres of fiction, as well as non-fiction (and some brochures), but it's suspense that keeps pulling him back to the written word, and it's the genre he most enjoys writing. After dabbling long enough, he one day decided to open a blank Word document and discover if he had what it takes to not only start, but complete a novel. After endless, countless hours of hard work (it was at least six, according to the wall clock), and after even more revisions (eleven hundred and six), and after several title changes (the original title was "Get Up Bubba and Shake 'Dat Thing"), The Spiral was (is) the final result. He hopes that if you take a chance on it (because really, there are so few books to choose from) you'll enjoy it and decide the time you spent reading it was time well spent. If you don't enjoy it, he is unfortunately unable to offer a refund at this time. If he had to pick his most significant influence as a writer, it would be Dean Koontz. He's called a master of suspense for good reason. The most important thing Steve (still me) learned from Koontz is the importance of creating characters that live and breathe, that exist not simply to drive the story, but exist because they are the story. Suspense, horror, humor, sadness...those qualities and emotions work on a gut level only if you care about the characters. If you don't, you're not likely going to care about the story, either. He hopes he's accomplished this in writing The Spiral, and has given you, the reader, a reason to jump in your seat, forget to breathe for a moment, and perhaps even shed a few tears along the way. If that happens, he'll be satisfied with his effort. Ideas for his next novel are germinating at this very moment (well, actually, he's sleeping right now). -Third-Person Narrator (who is me)

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