This week has so far included talking to the best graphic designer I know about a layout and book cover for the Fern Cave book I’m working on. She came up with a cover concept that is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen that will incorporate a great selection of historic and recent photos. We also talked to the print shop I’m going to use about updating the printing quote to provide a larger layout for the book to better highlight the numerous photos throughout the book. Unfortunately, there is really no way I’ll be able to afford a hardback option or include color photos. Those things are expensive, especially on orders of under 1,000 copies! But I think everyone is absolutely going to love the cover.
As I’ve posted more information about the book online, some people have asked me why I’m self publishing. Although many first-time authors have a really hard time finding a publisher for a book, I could very easily publish this book through the National Speleological Society (NSS), and I initially considered that. But there are a couple of things that I definitely want to do with this book that the NSS doesn’t currently support. The first thing is offering ebook options. I am personally a huge fan of ebooks and I want to offer this book in Kindle and Nook formats. The second consideration is what I do with the money I earn from book sales. Now, it might turn out that I just break even on my printing, editing and layout costs and don’t have anything left over. But if I sell more pre-orders than I think I will, and potentially sell more later, I want to split a percentage of the profits evenly between the NSS Library and the Southeastern Cave Conservancy (SCCi). This is really important to me. Without the NSS Library, this project would have been absolutely impossible. The Library has every single old newsletter issue from the entire history of the Huntsville Grotto, plus all sorts of other publications I referred to. I found the vast majority of my primary source materials in the NSS Library. Also, the SCCi owns the Surprise Pit entrance to Fern, and that organization does a great job caring for all its caves, including Fern.
If I published through the NSS, I wouldn’t be able to donate any of the proceeds to the SCCi. But if I just print the book myself, I’ll have control over any profits. Both of those organizations mean a lot to me, and since the point of this book isn’t really to make money for myself, self publishing seemed like a good way to go. This is the first time I’ve ever done this, so hopefully it will all go smoothly. I have to admit I’m pretty terrified of sending my final manuscript and cover design (along with a check for many thousands of dollars) to the printer. But I’m sure it will all go smoothly.