Cover of How to Sing Butterflies DX

DX edition (Amazon link)

Cover of How to Sing Butterflies

Standard edition (Amazon link)

Finally, with only two days of delay, I made it, I finished my short story collection How to Sing Butterflies. It will now roll out across the ebook vendors over the next few days, Amazon being the first as usual, but others following. They just happen to have the quickest system for new publications.
As you can see from there being two covers to this entry, this collection comes in two editions, DX and standard (or, well, non-DX). This is the one thing I hope I am still going to learn, publishing this book: Does this approach work? Is it a good idea to give readers a choice between a barebones edition and a deluxe edition with additional content?
To break the differences down, the DX edition features additional commentary for each story in the back of the book. Each story has a story behind it and this is what that commentary provides: The inspiration behind each story (often a writing prompt), how that inspiration turned into the story I ended up with, interesting trivia on the creative process in its planning and, more importantly, writing. That edition I set at US$2.99. The other edition has nothing but the pieces of fiction and is priced a little lower at US$1.99.
To me, that is a large difference: The higher price point gets me about US$1.40 more per sale, three times what the lower one gets me. But I realize this is not what the reader sees, so I want to give them free choice. I also realize short story collections are not very popular and people do not want to spend too much on them.
So, if you are interested in the stories behind those stories, or just want to support this here author, go get the DX edition. If you want to read the stories, but prefer not to spend too much on somebody you maybe never heard about before, get the standard one. I think that’s a fair deal for al of us. I’m very curious how that’ll turn out.
All that being said, as with every book I learned a lot from writing this one. And yes, I am stealing this idea from Chuck Wendig’s blog. Go on, try and stop me!

1. Working Title, Shmorking Title

I set out to collect my shorts a long time ago. It started out a year ago under the guise of Glimpses. By February it had morphed into the far more descriptive mouthful of Glimpses into World Unknown.
Then, I lost my progress on almost all works to a computer crash that affected both my main hard drive and the more recent backups. There’s still hope to recover those, but it’s expensive.
Anyway, I started from scratch. What got lost was some unpublished work, but I could still recover all those entries into Flash Fiction Challenges and the like, along with everything already published in some form. I didn’t like the original title I was working with anymore, so I ended up taking the title to one of the stories included instead: How to Sing Butterflies made for a nice title and the story itself served well to represent my brand of short fiction.

2. Free Ressources can be amazing

After I settled on a title, there was the issue of a fitting cover. I did not exactly make that easy on me with such a strange title. Searching for illustrations that combined butterflies with music failed, so I started searching all the stock photo sites for butterfly pictures, hoping to find something to work with. Not to get an overused picture, I even started to order the results by least liked ones first. This is when I stumbled across the perfect cover to this title. A butterfly shape of simple yellow lines, the perfect image to combine sound with butterflies.
Beautiful.

3. But sometimes you still have to pay for stuff

Sample of the font Sound Sample

Sound Sample, err, Sample


The cover illustration was perfect, but there was only one font I found anywhere. That was Sound Sample by Anfa. Everything else was either too fancy or not fancy enough. I mean, you don’t want to pair a picture like that with something like Arial or Times New Roman. On the other hand, some butterfly font would have been way too fancy for a book of tales that often veered to the darker side of things.
Very few fonts related to sound or music in any meaningful way, but this one was almost perfect. It could be more easily legible when sized down, but other than that this went perfectly with the title illustration, the titular piece of flash fiction, and the overall content of the book.
However, unlike all the fonts I had used up until now, this one was free only for non-commercial use. Five dollars is a good price for a well-made font, though, so I gladly sent that over to the creator’s Paypal as asked to on the site.
Yeah, we are all struggling artists here, but I paid five dollars for far less useful things.

4. Translating is way harder than writing

Aside from 15 pieces of fiction previously published, this collection also includes three completely new ones and four translations. The translations turned out to be the culprit when it came to missing my deadline of Wednesday, August 3rd.
Turns out, translating already written text is much harder than writing something from scratch. The words are already there, but they are in a different language, written to suit that language’s vocabulary, sensitivities, even rhythm. You can’t just change the words into their counterparts, you have to rephrase everything without changing anything. That is hard, even when the words in the other language are your own. Maybe especially when they are your own words, chosen for reasons hard to apply in another language.
There’s a reason I write some of my work in German and some in English. And that reason is not planning with market size. Well, except for the Jurassic World book. That one I did write in English because of market size considerations.

5. A construction site does NOT make it easier

Somebody decided to build a few new houses across the road. Te last two weeks, they connected those to the water main. Meaning they opened the street with a huge buzzsaw-like contraption and then dug down with an excavator and some trucks, all driven by diesel engines. At least now they changed it to a truck with a built-in excavator.
Ain’t complainin’, just sayin’.

6. A story is never finished

Editing and especially translating my shorts taught me, you can always find something new to change in anything you did. A story can be part of a book consistently getting five-star reviews and still have jarring issues like details left out and characters changing their species (yes, species!).

7. Grammarly does help

Grammarly is by no means perfect. We often disagree about the necessity of an article for abstract nouns. But I do have problems with the use of commas in both my main languages and this is something the app excels at.

8. Backup, backup, backup!

About that incident in February: You know how barely anybody does a regular backup, even when it’s vital to what they do? Yeah, do backups. Once a week is probably a good rate.

9. I really need to finish this blog

Yeah, the English blog still has a few bugs to solve. Like something is really wrong with the book overview mixing up German and English titles. And the mobile theme needs to be replaced. I just rarely think about the latter because I rarely ever use a smartphone to go online.

10. The internet does forget

A zombie dinosaur short on io9 of all places had disappeared from their comment section when I tried to recover it. Huh.
I really liked that short. I hope I can recover it from my crashed hard drive to include in a later collection along with other tales lost in the crash.

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