The Immortal Life of Piu Piu Second Edition
Finally, the Second Edition of my magical realism novel is now available on KDP (ebook) and, published by Gatekeeper Press, USA, also in printed format, at all major retailers, including Amazon.com and Amazon Europe; Baker & Taylor (a leading distributor of books to libraries, institutions and retailers); Barnes & Noble, the Internet’s largest bookstore; Ingram Spark, the world’s largest distributor of physical and digital content, delivering worldwide to retailers, bookstores, libraries and school. And more. YAY!
Why a Second Edition for ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’?
Good question! Was there some major change with the content? No! Actually, looking back across the tedious process, it was a major side effect – and lesson – for working my way through the publishing jungle as an independent author, made even more difficult as I am not living in the US. Many things that may seem obvious when living in the country, are not obvious at all if you don’t. There’s no access to get answers quickly when you need them, hardly any ‘expert’ available beyond the programs you bought (it is assumed there are no further questions …), and so even though we try to circumnavigate the traps and try to get it all right, the journey is – by definition – a steep and, sometimes, painful, costly, and vastly time-consuming learning curve!
I was very happy with the book I had created, and the feedback and reviews I got from readers – many of which I didn’t know – reflected the same. In view of what happened and triggered a second edition – and I give you some pointers below – I’d recommend to every real true ‘indie author by passion’ with a profound message to share, to create exactly the book they love. Make sure it’s the best you can do: well edited – absolutely! Great cover – that’s a must! I’m talking quality A to Z. But then . . . just get it out! It’s your baby! Readers who resonate with you will sense just that: your truth! Let it shine and be happy! And be grateful that – as an independent author – you have that exquisite chance! As a traditionally published author you don’t have that chance – it’s no longer your baby.
And know that that happiness may not last as there’s always room for improvement. We grow. We expand. We change . . . there’s never perfection. So just get over that in your mind, relax, and open yourself to new possibilities of improvement when the moment comes, that moment every author has to face inevitably: when the happy author’s hat has to go down and the publisher’s hat takes over. After all, you want that message so dear to your heart, to spread. You want to see your book in many readers’ hands. So now it’s no longer about you and your sense of pride and fulfillment, now it’s about your readers: What do they want? Listen closely – as despite the fact that you may have listened before, it was as the author, not the publisher.
Of course, in this particular case I’m talking about fiction. If you write non-fiction, you need to think of your target market first: What do they want? Where could you deliver the answer or the solution to a burning question? A pain? So one has to differentiate. Here, we’re talking about fiction. Visionary fiction. Magical Realism . . . to be exact.
So despite trying to really get it right, there was one big issue that came up rather quickly and painfully. My previous work has been published traditionally – whether I wrote, illustrated or designed the book. I never had to do with pricing and marketing issues so to speak. No wonder this happened to me – although later I discovered I wasn’t alone with this at all! So let me mention it here as it may help someone else avoid the mistake:
- Watch your page count
It sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it? In pre-digital times I designed books for authors, artists and architects, where ‘the white space’ was always an important element. Pages had to ‘breathe’. Ah yes, l’art pour l’art . . . Having a background in Fine Art, I admit, I love it! And that’s how the book was designed – all 358 pages! As any other artist-author would, I put my heart in creating a beautiful book and was very happy with the printed edition, front flaps, back flaps – that was my baby! But then I walked out into the new and glamorous, fast and easy digital publishing world . . .No, it was no problem as an ebook . . . perfect! Next: it was no problem in Create Space (Print on Demand). They are great! Delivered the book even under 24 hours to a client in Berlin! Incredible – right? And very encouraging! Piu Piu started to fly . . .
But once I was set up with Ingram, using the same price as on Create Space (quite logical, no? as the price was also for POD there . . . ) but, suddenly, it no longer covered the production and distribution costs of the book! I lost some $ when the book was bought! And with our exchange rate x16 plus that was nothing that made me laugh at all! And as Create Space adjusted the price due to price-matching – that priced me out of the market pronto! Once I realized what was happening – which wasn’t immediately – it was such a shocker that it completely stopped the flow. Literally! It would with everyone – garanteed! I mean GARANTEED!The solution: either split the book or redesign and reformat it with a different font. This was not a quick decision . . . weighing the pros and the cons. And what followed wasn’t done in a day neither. However, the idea for a Second Edition was born. And as I had to go that painful extra mile anyway – a ‘brave decision, but the right one’ a dear fellow author commented – I decided to go through everything once again, checking on what could possibly still be improved. And that’s when I got to the title!
- The title sells your book
Yes, the title “The Immortal Life of Piu Piu” was tested and seemed perfect for me and most of my readers, but I soon noticed with sheer amazement that, during presentations and webinars when the book was discussed by a host or expert in the book marketing field, that they had a problem pronouncing ‘Piu Piu’ (from pew-pew)! I cannot expect that everyone knows that the name ‘Piu Piu’ is a cherished figure in French literature, and that I explain the source of this name clearly in the book, but the fact is that too many people in the US have problems with it, never mind retain it. What you do want is a title people can remember. Especially if you target the biggest market there is, the US. Yes, I tested it again . . . now with many people and authors who do not know the book. Most even don’t know me! So. . . after coming up with a new title I could live with, and feeling quite happy about as ” . . . born with wings yet unable to fly . . .” is quoted in the story, the same cover illustration with the new title was designed and then offered to be compared to the ‘old’ title.
The result? Well guess what . . . it was 100% for ‘BORN WITH WINGS’! 100% is just too much to be ignored . . . and for publishers the numbers count. BOLD is what the market dictates. . . and that’s when an author has to have the guts to forget self and see with the readers’ eyes. It’s also when I suddenly remembered that when designing books for a large German publishing house, they actually always had a separate company to do the covers – ‘to sell the book’, they said. The author was NEVER happy! But as indie authors we have a message to share and want our book in many peoples’ hands. This only happens if the title stands out boldly and can easily be retained. But wait . . . I looked also at something else:
- Was the description strong enough?
Potential readers are attracted by the cover first, then read the title, then turn the book to look at the description: was it something that they’d want to read? You see it on Amazon with every book. As authors we are often too close to the material, we lack distance and a different perspective. And writing good copy that sells is actually a whole different art and profession. It’s a difficult one for most authors who are too close to the material. And it really takes work! But with some distance you’re less close to the material and if you take the time and patiently write at least 20 versions, and test them, you may well end up with a fantastic description from an angle you had never thought of before. And that’s when you know it’s good. And it’s FUN! And it works!
Looking back over this long and somewhat unnecessary journey, I believe that it was worth it as everything has improved and the reformatted book – now 236 pages – looks stunning! Amazing what a different page setup and font can do – and the impact this has on the price.
- “BORN WITH WINGS – The Immortal Life of Piu Piu!”
Again, I’m glad that a limited edition was printed exactly the way I wanted it. I love the illustration on the cover, the fine elegant font, and the title. No one can take it away. Do this for yourself if you can! The day you have to put on the publisher’s hat and listen to what people want and will buy, it’s easier to let go and make the changes. And accomplish them the best you can . . . even excel! . . . Something astonishing will happen: you suddenly see the merits from a different perspective! And, suddenly, you love your somewhat new version, too! It’s not an orphan . . . it’s your baby as well.
In my case and ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’, and while both editions are available on Amazon and KDP, my recommendation is to get BORN WITH WINGS! “The Immortal Life of Piu Piu” is still there, in the sub-title, it will always be – and there’s an amazing gift waiting for you . . .