Books written by Ray Sullivan

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Cracked Under Pressure

First it was Smashwords.  Well, to be exact, it was gaining access to the Premium Catalogue.  You see, when I wrote DLF I didn't think there would be a problem with the title. 

Those of you who have read the book will know about DLFs - Digital Life Forms that have rained down on Earth for millennia, clinging to meteorites, hoping to encounter the right conditions to reproduce and thrive. 

In the book everyone who is involved in the industry that has arisen around these bacteria-like organisms refers to them as DLFs, much the same as anyone who works for the United Nations tend to refer to their employer as 'the UN'.  They also have a couple of mantras that they quote at any and every opportunity - 'Life Ain't Fair' and 'Shit Happens', which pretty much explains any situation you may find yourself in.  You may recall the book cover for the eBook showed a license plate, riddled with bullets announcing 'DLF', against a background of an electronic circuit board.  if you don't recall, look up to the top of this blog.  It all seemed fairly straightforward to me.

So I launched it on Amazon in the US and the UK, and concurrently on Smashwords.  No problems there, then.  But I decided I wanted more sales channels and Smashwords provides access to them - Apple, Kobo, Sony, WH Smith and others - and to access these they expect you to jump through some hoops.  To be fair, their requirements are generally reasonable as they want to ensure that the books they push onto these channels satisfy the basic but professional requirements expected by the buying public.  A book cover isn't an unreasonable requirement, however check out the Kindle store and see how many eBooks fail to have a cover.  Formatting is another area Smashwords is picky about and fair enough, the books they push can end up being read on a mobile phone, a Kindle, some other eReader, a PC etc so it's pretty important that the formatting allows all of that.

And apparently you can't have all capitalised titles.  Now to me that would suggest SKIN is not allowed, and I'd have no argument.  Nor would THE JOURNEYMEN - just typing it makes my stomach churn.  But DLF is just an acronym of a fictional alien species - well I'm saying fictional because the Governmental agencies that regulate them have a habit of offing anyone who exposes them, but you'd know that if you'd read the book.

I tried everything - D.L.F. was no use, D L F was laughed at.  So I capitulated and let them call it Digital Life Form, but to make myself feel better I stuck a snotty statement in the front of the Smashwords edition.

Then I embarked on the Createspace journey.  First of all the submission was rejected because I used DLF as the book title.  I didn't bother arguing this time, I guessed I wouldn't win.  Then I tried to re-use the original cover but they rejected it for a variety of reasons, one of which being that the book title and the cover image seemingly had different titles.  At least humans are being used in the process which is heart-warmingly old fashioned, in a frustrating way.  So I redesigned the cover and named the book Digital Life Form on the cover as well as on the listing.

That should have been it, really.  But when I launched The Last Simple on Amazon this week I noticed that when it was listed the fine marketers at Amazon hadn't missed a trick.  As soon as the book was listed they also placed a link to the Kindle eBook version which shows that I'm standing by my own principles and pricing the eBook version at a third of the print version as a minimum.  However, Digital Life Form listed above didn't have any linkage to the eBook version. 

Shit happens!

So I've cracked.  The cover is still the same and deep down it will always be DLF to me, but it is now listed on Amazon in both print and Kindle form as Digital Life Form.  And to be fair, within twenty four hours of changing the title on Amazon, the Kindle version was listed alongside it.

But come the film rights, when I'm in full control, I'll insist that the film is called DLF because not only is it sooooo cool, it just feels right.  OK, if the studios insist then I'll relent.  Grudgingly and only after an extra 1% of the takings are added to my fee.  Or perhaps I'll just relent, it's only a bloody title, isn't it?

Life ain't fair, that's for sure. 


I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan
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To find out more about my ancestors visit my sister’s website

Visit my books on Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony, WH Smith, Kobo and many other good ebookstores.

Digital Life Form is available on in paperback for $8 (or for £5 plus P&P in the UK for UK readers - contact me on for details)

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