Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reading and Review of J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia

Since I'm posting reviews of my own work, I wanted to give a link to Squiretalk, where Squire is posting a link to a reader's diary for the Encyclopedia.

I'm very gratified by how closely and carefully people are reading and only wish that Routledge's promised "team of professional copy-editors" had been so thorough (or that they'd incorporated any of my final round of corrections, or that they'd not told me not to bother marking "little things" like faulty spacing, etc., or that they'd even accurately incorporated my first round of corrections, the implementation of which, I've discovered, was haphazard at best. But I digress...). I also think that the reader's diary is a particularly interesting way to go about working through a reference work. I am reading very carefully and learning a great deal about how to improve my writing and editing (a never-ending process).

Again, I stand by my original estimation of the work when I finally saw a copy: it could have been a great resources, but the errors and problems prevent that. Nevertheless it is a very good resource, and should be interesting and valuable to readers. Squire's augmentation through the reader's diary makes it even more useful. And once I get permission from the compiler, I'm going to post a Table of Contents, etc. that should improve things still more.


InklingBooks said...

If this cursed publisher ever gives you a chance to acquire the rights, perhaps by buying up all remaining copies, you might take advantage of it. That would leave you free to publish an improved and enhanced version elsewhere.

I'll be glad to help you prep it for release (perhaps in two volumes) via print on demand (POD). The technology is quite respectable. University presses such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard use the same facility I use. And since the books feed directly into the wholesale chain of Ingram and Baker & Taylor, distribution is assured.

POD would reduce the upfront costs to almost nothing and let the book stay in print virtually forever. (Books aren't printed until ordered.) New printings with corrections would cost only about $50 and would go into the stream of sales within days. I've used that to release five printings of my LOTR chronology, Untangling Tolkien, in an effort to weed out all mistakes and typos. If I were using a conventional publisher, I'd still be trying to nag it into doing a second printing.

I talked to Karen Wynn Fonstad before she died. In all the years her The Atlas of Middle-earth has been out (1973-present) she only managed to get Houghton Mifflin to do one very limited revision. With POD and present-day page layout programs there's no excuse for that.

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

Agent Bones said...

I concur with Mr. Perry. POD publishing is not only the wave of the future, but one of the best (most eco-friendly) ways to publish today.

I've had books done through iUniverse.com and have had friends use Lulu.com and been very happy as well.

The advantages, especially for niche books with a guaranteed, but likely small in actual numbers, audience like your work, are many.

If you can, get the rights to your manuscript back, and check with Inkling Bookss, iUniverse.com or Lulu.com and about republishing it with errata fixed up. As more errors are found, issue new editions.

For a previously published author like yourself, the costs of a POD publishing of your work would be an exceptionally good deal that would give you a LOT of control over how long it stay on the market and avoids the bargain bins.

Good luck!

Jason Fisher said...

And I concur with both of you. Vinyar Tengwar, in fact, is doing all of their back issues — and the forward ones, too, as of now — with Lulu.com. In addition, I know that Mark Hooker used them for his Tolkienian Mathomium, in both hard and soft cover, with very good results.

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