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Self Publishing in Color

If there’s one thing readers of The Digest Enthusiast’s print edition want, it’s color. Me too. It’s something I’ve worked the numbers on many times over the past five years. With KDP (formerly CreateSpace aka Amazon) a printed color equivalent of the b&w TDE would run $25 or more. The “or more” would be another $6 to earn 35¢ a copy in expanded distribution (Barnes & Noble, etc). I played with page counts and page sizes, but the numbers never worked.

In November, Lulu.com sent me an invitation to their work-in-progress Beta site, which offered two color options, Standard and Premium. The Premium looked as high as KDP, but the Standard option looked promising. I worked up a color version of TDE10, submitted the files, and ordered a proof. It looked great. In comparison, Lulu’s cover didn’t have quite the depth of KDP’s, but the step up to a color interior was more than worth the trade-off.

cover comparison
Scans from the TDE10 printed books, Left: KDP, Right: Lulu.com

I was ready to switch to Lulu until I found out their Beta site wouldn’t go live until late in the first quarter of 2020. I may try them in June for TDE12, but TDE11 was due in January. I thought about continuing with KDP in b&w, but having seen what’s possible, I couldn’t go back.

Alec Cizak had explored working with IngramSpark (IS) a year earlier for Pulp Modern, but didn’t end up using them. They offer a full service to publishers, but unlike KDP, they aren’t selling to end users, they’re selling to booksellers. That means a built-in bookseller margin that’s substantially larger than the publisher’s. Still, their distribution channel is significantly larger than amazon’s, and amazon is included. They also offer both Standard and Premium color options.

Moving from a direct channel like amazon, to an indirect channel is risky. Sales numbers will lag, so I won’t have a good idea how a color TDE is being received until months after the fact. The price increase to $18.99 may kill its appeal. It’s a gamble, but also a chance to learn more about publishing and potentially reach a wider audience, which includes libraries—an area where the book could do very well if given the chance.

Getting started with KDP offers no overhead. The whole production process and the ISBN number is free. With IS you need to bring your own ISBNs, purchase the setup ($49), and incur a charge to revise your book file if a last-minute change is required ($25 ea.). It’s not cost prohibitive, but does give you pause if you’re not confident you can get it right the first time.

Unlike Lulu, IS requires 1/8” clear space in the gutter of pages that bleed, to ensure the best adhesion in bindery. I was a little concerned it would show, but it was undetectable on the printed proof.

Manhunt spread
Manhunt inside spread showing the 1/8” clear space in the gutter.

IS also provides a conversion service to convert your book’s PDF print file into an ePub file which it uses to distribute your book to a wide range of eBook vendors—Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc. Their fee is $60 a page, so a 160-page book costs $96.00. You can supply your own ePub file, but that’s the only format they’ll accept. I couldn’t figure out how to generate an ePub file that would maintain TDE’s page design, like the Kindle Create tool. I considered hiring IS to convert the PDF file, but they don’t have an option to upload a PDF that’s specifically for the ePub. They use the print book file. I couldn’t do that. I create a separate file for the eBook layout with even margins all around. (Printed book files have a generous margin on the gutter side of pages to allow for bindery. Plus with IS, you’ve got that 1/8” white space on all the pages that bleed. Not acceptable.) Finally, you need a separate ISBN number for the ePub version of your book.

eBook page comparison
Most eBook readers display pages individually, not in spreads. Left: The print file with a wider margin and 1/8” clear space in the gutter, Right: The adjusted digital file with page elements centered.

For TDE10 I moved to IS for the printed book, and stayed with KDP for the Kindle version, using the Kindle Create tool to produce the print-replica look I wanted. I’m missing out on all the other eBook platforms, but maybe Lulu will offer an alternative when their Beta site goes live.

I ordered a printed copy of the book from IS before I released the file for distribution. They offer several print production and delivery options. The costs to speed up production of the book are reasonable, but I thought their quicker delivery options were overpriced. I selected their least expensive shipping option, about $5.50, It took ten days for the proof to arrive, not including the production time. A speedier delivery would have cost many times that. A little book like TDE11 can ship first class for about $5.50 and arrive in three days, so I don’t understand their shipping offerings.

IS also charges a $1.99 handling fee for every publisher’s order. So plan ahead, if you order one copy or ten, you’ll pay the $1.99 handling fee.

After I approved the printed proof, I enabled distribution. The book showed up on amazon a couple of days later. Three days out it is not available from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, or Quimby’s, but I’m hopeful it will be soon.

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11

Overall, I’m very happy with IngramSpark. They offer a quality color printing service and a distribution reach that includes amazon and beyond. I hope their services will enable TDE11 to reach more readers. We’ll find out in the months ahead.

Print $18.99 Kindle $4.99

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11 is now available in print and kindle editions—both in full color:

Jeff Vorzimmer

Interviews
Janice Law
(Madame Selina series AHMM)
Paul D. Marks (Bunker Hill series EQMM)
Jeff Vorzimmer (The Best of Manhunt)

Manhunt 1954 part three

Articles
Peter Enfantino
summarizes 1954’s final issues of Manhunt.

Beyond Infinity

Vince Nowell, Sr. grapples with Beyond Infinity.

Leo Margulies

Richard Krauss spotlights Leo Margulies: Giant of the Digests.

A Classic Error

Steve Carper dissects a Classic error.

Astounding formats

Ward Smith quantifies Astounding’s formats.

Reviews
Homicide Hotel from Gary Lovisi
Tough 2
Paperback Parade
No. 104

John Kuharik

Fiction
John Kuharik
“Buckthorn Justice” art by Rick McCollum
Vince Nowell, Sr. “The Good Soldier” art by Marc Myers
Joe Wehrle, Jr.
“Zymurgy for Aliens” art by Michael Neno

Plus nearly 150 digest magazine cover images, News Digest, cartoons by Bob Vojtko, and first issue factoids. Cover “Madame Selina” by Rick McCollum, 160 pages.

Print $18.99 Kindle $4.99

Wehrle Comic Strips

Excerpt from my tribute, “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

Cartoon Trader was monthly from October to December 1989. The fourth issue, dated March 1990, was the last I’ve seen. In addition to Joe’s covers, it included Classic Cartoonist Cards, paper dolls, and a page of comic strips with Joe’s Cat Burglar, Stovepipe, Night Radio, and Karen’s Litter Lane.

Night Radio

Night Radio offered a peek into another great interest of Joe’s—classic jazz. He collected 78s and played the saxophone, clarinet, and guitar. ‘I have fond memories of those few months we produced the Cartoon Trader, and still in my collection is a handful of very charming strips I prize which Karen drew for the zine about a feline couple living a zany suburban life. There will never be any more of those.’ In 2014, Joe published a 16-page mini comic collecting The Unknown Comic Art of Karen Wilson Wehrle. It includes her Litter Lane comic strips and eight color cartoons she drew fora proposed children’s book.”

Litter Lane

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Cover Preview

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11

I’m taking a short holiday hiatus from blogging to focus on friends and family, and wrap up the final stages of work on The Digest Enthusiast No. 11, which is due early in January 2020.

When No. 11 launches, there will be a price increase on back issues. Finances are still a bit dicey, so the increase is intended to help keep this thing out of the red. So if you’re thinking about filling in any gaps in your collection, now would be a good time to purchase any back issues. As always, TDE reader and contributor support is greatly appreciated.

Our new cover is the work of the talented Rick McCollum, an artist I’ve admired since the 1980s. It’s wonderful to feature his work here. It depicts Madame Selina from her AHMM series by Janice Law, who talks about the Madame’s adventures and cast members in her interview inside No. 11. (More about No. 11 contents to come.)

Your daily digest history and news servings will recommence in January. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
-Richard Krauss

Needle Fall/Winter 2012

Needle Fall/Winter 2012

An excerpt from Michael Bracken’s interview in The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

TDE: One of your stories, “Yellow Ribbon” with series character Morris Boyette, ran in the Fall/Winter 2012 edition of Needle. Details that initially help flesh out the setting or characters, are later revealed to have greater significance, integral to the story. What’s the balance between serendipity and strategy as you plant these elements?

MB: For most stories it’s a combination of both. Because I often write the beginning with no clue where I’m going, I throw in a bunch of stuff just to set the scene, describe the protagonist, or establish the inciting incident. For example, in “Texas Sundown” (Down & Out: The Magazine No. 3), I wrote about a slice of cherry pie just because I wanted to describe a slice of cherry pie. Later, I realized that slice of pie foreshadowed the ending, so I mentioned it again in a way that added depth to the story that I had not imagined when I started writing.

Other times it’s much more deliberate. In the opening of “Dixie Quickies” (Black Cat Mystery Magazine No. 1), Tiny Campella stuffs a paperback novel in his back pocket. That and several other things mentioned in the first scene prove to be quite important late in the story, and most of them were intentional.

So, overall, I’d say serendipity and strategy play an equal role.

Needle Fall/Winter 2012
Contents Page
Steve Weddle: A Note from the Editor
Hugh Lessig “Victor Viral”
Brad Green “Seven Feet of Fire”
C.J. Edwards “A Hard Rep”
Erik Arneson “Mess With Me”
Rob W. Hart “Ginny Tonic”
Seamus Scanlon “No Witnesses”
Chris Rhatigan “Creator/Destroyer”
Ed Kurtz “Dog Will Hunt”
Kenneth Loosli “This Sorrow Is An Enemy”
John Kenyon “They All Look Alike”
Jeff Macfee “Trifecta”
Garnett Elliott “The Romero Covenant”
Glenn Gray “Venice Beach Birthday”
Michael Bracken “Yellow Ribbon”
Thomas Pluck “Gumbo Weather”
Timothy Friend “Dog Night”
Court Merrigan “The Scabrous Exploits…”
Kevin Adler “The Interview”
Kevin Brown “Two Birds, No Stone”
Stacey Cochran “Eddie & Sunny”
Matthew C. Funk “Everyone Know The Axeman”
Jim Winter “The Heckler”
Dan O’Shea “The Shroud of Turin”

Needle Magazine Fall/Winter 2012
Senior Editor: Steve Weddle
Editors: Naomi Johnson, Daniel O’Shea, Stephen Blackmoore, Matthew C. Funk
Creative Director Emeritus: John Honor Jacobs
Cover: Scott Morse
6” x 9” 248 pages
Print $10.75
Needle Magazine website

Pulp Adventures No. 27

“My Sister’s Husband” by Michael Bracken

One of the stories I read to prepare for the interview with Michael Bracken that appears in The Digest Enthusiast No. 8 was “My Sister’s Husband.”

Although I didn’t ask a question about this particular story, it’s worth seeking out a copy of Pulp Adventures No. 27 to read it.

Synopsis
Tina lost touch with her sister’s husband, Gerald, after Cheryl died many years ago. After a chance meeting in a restaurant, the two become reacquainted and begin dating. On the surface the relationship builds smoothly, but underneath each questions what’s happening to them and their true feelings.

Pulp Adventures No. 27 Fall 2017
Contents Page
Audrey Parente: Editorial
Adam McFarland “Angels and Animals”
William Hope Hodgson “Jack Grey, Second Mate”
Dana Edward Johnson “The Green Mask”
Howard Hammerman “Not What I Ordered”
William Dudley Pelley “A Case at Law”
Max Brand “Hole-in-the-Wall Barrett”
Audrey Parente interviews Gary Bullock, Journeyman Actor
May Belleville Brown “A Repeating Romeo”
Michael Bracken “My Sister’s Husband”
Richard Brister “Sneak Thief”
Raymond J. Brown “Thirty Days on the Island”
H. Bedford-Jones “Irregular Brethern”

Publisher: Rich Harvey
Editor: Audrey Parente
Cover: Norman Saunders
7” x 10” 134 pages
Print $12.95
Bold Venture Press website

Joe Wehrle, Jr. 1941–2017

It’s hard to believe that two years ago today Joe Wehrle, Jr. passed. Just days after completing his cover portrait of Rick Ollerman for The Digest Enthusiast No. 7.

Joe in his studio.

The photo shows Joe at the drawing board in his home studio surrounded by drawings of Fawn, reference material, and comic strip originals. The comic strips on his board are for “Houseboat Summer,” an unfinished project that first sparked his imagination in 2014. He wore the Mickey Mouse watch on his wrist every day, even between battery changes.

Joe Wehrle, Jr. (pronounced “Wer-lee”) was a big part of The Digest Enthusiast right from the start. He wrote articles, contributed stories, and created illustrations—including five of our first seven covers. Just days after the last issue wrapped, Joe passed away, suddenly, the victim of a stroke.
He died at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh on Sunday, December 10, 2017. He was 76.

Joe was born February 16, 1941, to Ruth and Joe Wehrle, Sr. in Punxsutawney, where he grew up and lived his life. He taught school for a few years as a young adult but worked as a freelance artist for most of his career. He married Karen Wilson in 1967 and collaborated with her on many of his creative endeavors for nearly 44 years. She was the model for many of his illustrations, most notably Fawn the Dark Eyed, and assisted him with the Cartoon Trader adzine in 1989. An occasional cartoonist herself, Karen was an avid blogger and an active seller on eBay. She preceded Joe in death on September 6, 2010.

Joe’s fiction continues to appear in The Digest Enthusiast courtesy of Jillian Rouse. In January 2020, issue No. 11 will feature Joe’s “Zymurgy for Aliens” with an illustration by Michael Neno. Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Nearly One-and-Done

D as in Dead by Lawrence Treat

An excerpt from Steve Carper’s series “One-and-Dones” that appears in The Digest Enthusiast No. 7–9:

Paperback Prices by Graham Holroyd lists two books, D as in Dead, by mystery great Lawrence Treat, and The Lisping Man, by Frank Rawlings, as Atlas Books from the Hercules Publishing Corp. Kenneth R. Johnson’s “The Digest Index” and Hancer’s Price Guide to Paperback Books remove D as in Dead to a separate line of Martin Goodman books, also using the Hercules imprint. Why not put them together? Because D as in Dead is in fact separate. It does not blare “An Atlas Mystery” on the back cover. It is the largest of the three sizes that Atlas used.

Now Available from McFarland: Steve Carper’s Robots in American Popular Culture, a comprehensive reference volume that includes a companion website: robotsinamericanpopularculture.com.

Cauliflower Catnip Merch

Cauliflower Catnip embroidered patch

Excerpt from the tribute: “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

Shown here are the Cauliflower Catnip pinback button, embroidered patch, and plaster bust.

Joe stayed in touch with Harlan Ellison after Clarion, and in early 2017 sent him a copy of an H.P. Lovecraft portrait he’d drawn. Ellison responded, “What a hell of a portrait of Lovecraft! Still, I like the little pinback even more!”

Cauliflower Catnip pinback button

After casting a few of the CC busts, Joe found their production too time consuming, so only a handful were made. He tried hand-painting them but found the irregular surface of the plaster was too difficult to cover.

Cauliflower Catnip plaster bust

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Opening Lines

Gamma No. 1 1963

“The scene is the Hall of the Great Guilty Lovers in Hell— roofed with stars that glitter like the first glances of fatal love, paved with sulfurous cosmic darkness assuage with desire, and walled with distant nebulas and galaxies that intertwine lasciviously.”
“Crimes Against Passion” by Fritz Leiber Gamma Vol. 1 No. 1 1963