We can’t get enough of innovative ways to support and collect community-created content, so we invited Matt Clark and Cheryl Napsha of Provincetown Public Library, to write a series of posts on different aspects of the library’s new e-publishing venture, Provincetown Public Press. This week, they’re following-up with a summary of their efforts so far– obstacles, successes, and a vision forward. If you’re just tuning in, don’t miss the other posts in our Provincetown Public Press series! Enjoy. ~Erinn
In our last several posts we were perky and positive– everything was rainbows and unicorns in our world as we traipsed through uncharted territory. We come before you older, wiser and, well, OLDER. And it’s possible that we lied about the wiser part. Here’s what we’ve learned…
We’ve continued to work tirelessly over the past several weeks to respect our authors’ visions and to create the highest quality material possible for the imprint. Matt has completed his work formatting the four literary works for publication on the multiple platforms selected. In addition he has served as graphic designer, advisor, therapist and general hand holder for the 11 authors represented (we are a full service company, after all). Cheryl, who is cranky on a good day, and due to her long-term virus/flu/ebola hasn’t had a good day in awhile, remains in the background where she cannot crush delicate egos and snuff out the creative spark we’ve worked so hard to nurture. She confines her interactions and snarkiness to meetings with Matt, who has thick skin and unending patience. Cheryl is still editing content, working on supplemental info like author bios, and assisting in the artsy side of things- cover design, layout and selection for the art book- and other solitary endeavors (poor Cheryl).
The collaboration with the Cape Cod Tech yielded impressive results almost immediately. The students produced a total of eight terrific design options for the cover of Richard Pepitone’s upcoming release Gone for the Day. Richard selected the cover shown, as he felt that the mix of rich design and old fashioned photographs best captured the feel of his work. The piece was done by John Amonte, a senior in Art Balzotti’s graphic design class. As a follow up, the Press has requested that the same group of kids work on the cover to Terry Catalano’s graffiti book Love on the Beat.
Gone for the Day and Ads for Simplicity are complete in both Amazon and iBook formats and ready for publication. The others, not so much.
The good news is that we have a talented group of freshman authors. The bad news is that they are creative free spirits who will not let us (with all our publishing experience) dictate their every move. They insist on having opinions and, because they are all over the age of 5, want more answer than “because we said so.”
Maudie and Sophie is behind schedule. While the students were spot on with Richard’s book, they had difficulty understanding Marilyn’s book, even after Cheryl provided a strong summary. The book’s two main characters are active retirees, a concept they couldn’t grasp. In addition there’s a subplot involving a son-in-law with gambling debts. The cover samples we received were a real insight into teenagers’ world views. Several featured giant, bloody playing cards and one included a walker on its own in the middle of the street (where was the person? and why was the walker in the street?). Matt and Cheryl decided to punt and came up with a ‘look’ featuring two flowers blooming together to symbolize the characters’ blooming friendship. Matt blames this on Cheryl’s medication. When he blithely showed our design prototypes to the author, she was adamant that it didn’t represent her book. She then explained very clearly what she wanted. (We hit some good luck here, as one of our senior volunteers is an artist and agreed to create some samples. We’re waiting for Marilyn’s reaction at this time with fingers crossed).
What Happened/What We Learned:
Our authors are incredibly committed, but sharing creative control on re-edits and design is a time consuming (and rewarding) process. Dune Hollow is on their fifth re-edit of the text of their book. Marilyn’s cover has been an ongoing process. Each side is working extremely hard to make sure that these books are presented in the strongest way possible, so being completely thorough outweighs deadlines, especially since factors like printing and physical distribution don’t come into play.
When setting up a Publish to Kindle account, it is very hard to explain to Amazon that you are a tax exempt Town Department utilizing a bank account set up to disperse author earnings. Being the first venture of this kind, there isn’t exactly a category that easily describes how the Provincetown Public Press operates. In setting our original release dates, this was not a hurdle that the Press predicted. When beginning to fill out our Publish to Kindle account information though, it became apparent we couldn’t subscribe as a sole proprietorship, or a non-profit, or an LLC…. so there was some work to be done. After getting our hands on the necessary tax ID number and Bank account information, the account was finally completed, and is now ready for uploads!
The Press is currently in the process of finishing the final edit of the Dune Hollow Writers Anthology, Shadow and Light. Poetry– especially recreating unique formatting choices on certain works across multiple devices– has been challenging at certain points. The look and layout of the book is complete, as is a cover, so certain edits and wording choices are still being hashed out.
Both iBook and Amazon versions of Marilyn’s interior are complete, and once a cover is accepted, the book will be ready to publish.
Terry’s art book of Parisian graffiti is shaping up to be visually stunning. He’s launching his book in mid-November in coordination with a showing at a local art gallery.
The Press, (barring any other major obstacles) is now planning a joint launch date for Gone for the Day, Shadow and Light, Maudie and Sophie, and Ads for Simplicity on November 1. We feel that the group will gain more exposure with both the media and local arts community using this strategy. A launch party will be held at the Library in November. If you’re heading to the Cape, check the Press’ website for the date and feel free to join us.
In all seriousness, not every library can, or should, start their own digital publishing company. We’re fortunate because we have some unusual skill sets and because we didn’t look before we leapt. The learning curve has been steep, but it’s also the most exciting adventure we could ask for, so we have no regrets, only gratitude for this amazing opportunity.
Thanks for your continued interest as we boldly go where no man has gone before. We know now WHY no one has gone here, but it’s certainly been fun!
- There is also more information on the Press’ website at www.ProvincetownPublicPress.
- Visit the Provincetown Public Library Website, Like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter (@ProvincetownLib).
- Read the full Publisher’s Weekly article featuring the Provincetown Public Press | “Check It Out with Michael Kelley: The Provincetown Public Press”