Gift novellas

Hey, Miss Snark.

Hope you're having a good weekend.
(yea, nothing much going on really)

Every year for Christmas, my friends and I each write a cute little novella and give them to each other as gifts. They're not the greatest things in the world, and none of us have any grand designs on selling these puppies. They're just for fun, for us to stay connected over the years.

The other day, my friend Nan (Talese?) suggested maybe we could self-publish them through Lulu.com, not to sell to the masses, but because a 6x9 hardcover on a shelf would look a whole helluva lot better than, say, 200 manuscript pages in a three-ring binder (like we did last year). Personally, I like the idea. It's cute. It's personal. And I know - as well as they - that it is NOT a publishing cred, and not something that should be listed on a resume, christmas newsletter, query, love letter to KY, etc. So...

Is there any way it could bite me in the ass, should I decide to go along with it?

Is this something I need to discuss with my agent, even given those circumstances?
Where's the line between my business and your business?

Yes, just to keep her in the loop; and
Dunno..what's your business? Taxi dancer in a waterfront dive bar?? I thought I had the exclusive on that!

This is fine as long as you don't slap an ISBN on it or sell it. And even if you do, you're probably ok. This is a bit like the thing Otto Penzler does at Christmas time. It's just for fun for friends and they become collectors items when you're Lee Child.


Anonymous said...

My father was on the 'gift book' list of the Phoenix Bookshop's Christmas book of Poetry, back in the early eighties. Nowadays, these poetry books run up to $300 in used bookstores, but they were just given away when they were made.

Self-publishing DOES almost work for some things (Poetry, cookbooks, etc.). I can't imagine a publisher would have a problem with something like this, though they might want some kind of explanation. Just keep production limited (small press type of distribution numbers, at most -- the 'gift books' my father had were all numbered as "(x) out of 75 copies" or something like that) and make sure it isn't something you'd worry about coming out in the papers ^_^.

Anonymous said...

My God, these people write and give each other novellas for Christmas? I'm doing well if I manage to send out Christmas cards to my friends before New Years...

Peter R said...

Lulu.com is a fantastic tool. I used it to print off some draft copies of my novel to hand to local reader reviewers. They found it much easier to handle than a loose-leaf folder – especially the kids. I also set it up as a free download so that reviewers in other parts of the world could download it easily. It worked a treat. I didn’t give it an ISBN though – in my mind that is for proper publishing. My kids went wild when they saw dad’s book in print – I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t the real thing though. A friend used it recently to print off a big glossy picture book of photos from a recent climbing expedition. He’s printing off six or seven copies to give to relatives. The quality is really good. I’m happy to use any tool at my disposal to achieve my goals, but I know Lulu.com won’t get me into the top sellers lists.

Kit Whitfield said...

Sounds like a sensible use of self-publishing technology to me ... and a very sweet idea. Happy Christmas!

kitty said...

I blogged a "short book of short stories" and wanted to give my mother a hard copy for Christmas (2005) so she could read them. Instead of using Lulu.com, I actually did the book on my computer and printed one. I used a 5"x8" pad of unlined note paper. I used 110lb weight paper for the covers, and I glued the spine with Tacky glue. I even printed a spine and slapped on a wide piece of clear tape.

I like it so much that I printed an additional 4 for others. I inscribed each one and facetiously suggested that they hold on to it as that book may become a collector's item someday.

I think my book turned out well, and I got some great feedback.

Anonymous said...

Depending on how many copies you need, an alternative would be to print the story in booklet format on a laser printer so that when it's cut in half you have a 5.5X8.5 inch book. Have the copies GBC bound. You can probably have a limited number of copies made from file to booklet at Staples or Kinkos, for example, at a fraction of the cost--again depending on what the minimum is that Lulu would charge. It wouldn't look as professional as Lulu, but it might be a good compromise.

Anonymous said...

Okay. I've heard the name enough from Miss Snark. I'm going to go buy a book by Lee Child to see what is so great about this author. Maybe I'll not only be entertained but learn something.

Judy Schneider said...

I agree with anonymous above. I'm so busy icing the cut-out cookies, wrapping the gifts, and trying to write a chapter or two, that to pump out a novella and get it done in time to publish and distribute?? Yikes!

BTW, isn't it March?

typemonkeytype said...

What's the thing that Otto Penzler does at Christmas time just for fun? God, woman, don't be such a tease!