Beta reading, editing, endorsements, oh my

Missed the first post? Read the first part of the book journey dating back to 2021 here.

 

January

I thought January would be a lighter month given that the book was going into beta read mode, but that wasn’t so for the first two weeks. I continued to wait for example approvals and finished more lessons in the The Vegan Publisher‘s The Expert course, stopping just before the editing module.

My acknowledgments list started to pile up and I realized there were a bunch more companies I mentioned that I didn’t ask approvals for, which meant I wouldn’t be thanking them in the acknowledgments nor contacting to let them know they were in my book. So I fired off another handful of approval requests and figured if they said no I could just remove their excerpts after the beta reading period.

I spent 5 days reading the book aloud and making more small changes. While doing this, I had my trusty spelling/grammar checker, ProWritingAid, turned on but it wasn’t until I hit around Chapter 4 I realized the tool (although on) wasn’t going at the same pace I was reading. At one instance it would mark words/phrases (usually with a particular colour of underline) and if I scrolled down with my mouse it would disappear. So that was frustrating. After I’d made it through Chapter 5 (the longest chapter) I figured I’d open the manuscript up in Microsoft Word instead, which actually went SO much faster. So, note for next book and future editing clients!

Then it came time to leave the manuscript alone and load PDF + .DOCX versions online for beta readers to peruse. My PDF Editor (Foxit) stopped working! I had to upgrade my version and when that didn’t work, I called customer support and miraculously got a real person on the other end of the line without pressing any buttons. Unheard of! I got a new product key but I didn’t need it after all because uninstalling and reinstalling the program worked fine. So I highly recommend Foxit!

I shared the manuscript with beta readers, others who asked to see their excerpts before publication, and sent out queries to potential endorsers. I gave just over 3 weeks for my beta readers (around 35) to provide feedback. I hoped for at least 10 responses and that I could start editing mid-February after incorporating the feedback from beta readers.

A potential endorser got back to me within the hour about providing a blurb (another name for endorsement), so I was pretty stoked.

One company owner who submitted a case study called me and wanted to change some quotes, so already there were changes to make.

I sent an email off to my potential editor, cleaned up my GoodReads profile, and changed my author bio (on GoodReads, Amazon, and the back cover of the book) about 3 times.

I also changed my old company Facebook Page to one for my books (here) and am so relieved Facebook now makes it super easy to change names and URLs. Now everything I post about the book on Instagram, I can just push to Facebook later. Shout out to Mitali who said in a VIVAS workshop that you should always take a photo with your book. The day I did a new photo shoot in July 2021 I took a photo with my first book and used that for the Facebook header photo.

During beta reader period I compiled social media lists of all the companies that submitted case studies and that I used as examples, to get ready for when I’ll be tagging them later.

I also started to work on a media list, compiling local media and other related podcasts that I can pitch to later. There are a handful of marketing-related podcasts I hadn’t listened to, so I listened to a bunch of episodes to see if they were a good fit.

I also created an ISBN account with Library and Archives Canada so I could get my ISBNs, the numbers you need for each version of your book. (I didn’t do this for my first book because I used Amazon’s number. Do not do that!)

After registering my 3 ISBNs, I started an account on IngramSpark (a self-publishing service that distributes to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and a number of other potential online and physical locations). I know that Amazon prints on vegan ink, so I fired off an email to IngramSpark to make sure they also did. And I got this response:

 

So that was a deal breaker!

I went back to my book course to see what other publishing options there were. It didn’t cover much about publishing, but I asked Mitali and several other publishing coaches I know, who all said they use either Amazon KDP or IngramSpark.

Carole Audet said she would be free to edit my book and her fee was within my budget. Whoop! Another vegan on the book squad.

Thanks to this video by Melody Owen at Author Nation (also a vegan), I explored a few other print-on-demand services and found out Lulu used vegan inks!

I found the user interface on Lulu a lot better than IngramSpark. It had less options for book sizes, which might deter some authors but honestly it just made it more easy for me to choose a book size! Lulu has a pricing calculator and its revenue calculator even suggested a minimum selling price which was higher than what I was originally going to sell for!

Blurb, a Canadian service, seemed to be confused as to what vegan means and said “…our HP ink does not contain any animal products, but it is not suitable for a vegan diet. Our HP Ink includes biocides to prevent algae and other ‘stuff’ from growing in the ink cartridges during years of storage. HP ink should not be consumed.”

I mean, obviously. No one’s going to lick my book hoping the ink feeds them. So I asked for clarification on the biocides, and the response was: “My team has confirmed that the biocides in the ink would not contain any animal products. I hope this helps answer your question regarding our inks being vegan friendly.” Their distribution looks to be about the same as Lulu (both are connected to IngramSpark) so I looked into Blurb’s pricing and it was a bit more than Lulu’s even with a smaller-sized book, so I’m going to give Lulu a try.

I started getting more questions about publishing vegan books during this time, and since I confirmed that Amazon KDP prints on vegan inks last year, I asked them if that applied only to Amazon US and Canada, and they confirmed it was everywhere they operate. So that’s good!

During the beta-read period I found one other person who wanted to read, and a few more folks willing to endorse. I also remembered that I had access to a Pro IMDB account (a must-have if you want to reach celebrity reps) so I sent off emails to Alicia Silverstone and Natalie Portman’s PR folks to see if I could get them to read and endorse my book. Silverstone’s PR folks actually told me to send my request to her manager, so I went one degree further! Bif Naked follows me on Twitter and is from Vancouver, so I sent her a DM too. I got an email from Heather Mills‘s team saying she declined to endorse.

I got more approvals from the last set of companies I reached out to for examples mentioning them, but there were three that never got back to me despite multiple emails and social media DMs. I’m pretty confident two of the companies won’t ever get their hands on the book so I left them in. For the other, I asked if their CEO would endorse my book and the customer service person was so nice to keep passing on my emails to PR, but I still never got a response back so I decided to just take their example out of the book.

 

February

I got my first endorsement!

Alicia Silverstone’s manager declined to read and endorse, but it’s cool I got a response! Array Now (Ava DuVernay’s company) said they decline solicited mail and “we have not reviewed or inspected your submission” but funnily enough said “all potential projects must be presented by a reputable entertainment attorney, manager or accredited literary agent, to be considered” so I have a feeling someone on the other end still read my email. I don’t have a lit agent nor do I want one, but now you know what their standards are for any affiliation with them.

While 18 people in total read the book, five readers gave the most amount of feedback. They all said some really nice things about the book, which makes me think you’re going to like it too.

I left a week for changes between the end of beta reading and starting editing, which I used to get two more beta readers. I was still waiting for one more contributor who hadn’t approved excerpts. Another contributor wanted to add to a new section on Diversity and Inclusion that wasn’t in my original outline, so I sent the manuscript to my editor on February 16 which was just a few days later than I anticipated. Always anticipate late responses from contributors!

I also sent out a poll to VEG Networking Canada (the group I co-host) and all the vegan Facebook/LinkedIn groups for help with choosing a title, since a few folks (including me) weren’t a fan of my working title and I couldn’t come up with many more brilliant options. Just before the book went into editing, the result was (drumroll)…

Vegan Marketing Success: Stories from Today’s Vegan Businesses

Marketing VEGAN to the Masses was a great title suggestion, however the book doesn’t necessarily focus on marketing to the masses, so that wouldn’t work.

Someone gave me an idea (which I obv did not go with) for an alternate phrase to “bring home the bacon,” but I couldn’t come up with a more appealing plant-based food that starts with B and also represents money or wealth, so someone else can use that idea.

The vegan woman I was hoping would narrate my book for the Audible version said my book was too long for her, so I knew I had to search for another narrator at some point. A friend suggested I contact a voiceover school in town, which was a good suggestion so I put out an audition notice there. (I’m hoping to hire a vegan woman of colour since that’s the closest voice to mine!)

Last year I was thinking of creating an alternate book cover to sell as an NFT, which would include a Kindle and hard cover of the book, maybe a meal on me at a vegan restaurant in Vancouver with the book cover designer. Then I was reminded of how much carbon gets emitted with every crypto transaction so I decided against doing an NFT since it was something I was thinking of doing for fun. We’ve always got to think about the potentially negative impacts of the fun things we do. (Remember, EVERY EMAIL emits carbon!)

One other cool thing that happened in February is a vegan public relations pro who sent me an endorsement (my 3rd one at this point) represented a nonprofit I talked about (but did not name) in the book. She asked me why it wasn’t mentioned, since she’d worked on the campaign that was talked about. Initially I contacted the media rep of the nonprofit to get their case study and when he said the team was too busy, I asked if I could talk about the inception of the nonprofit and he also declined that. But I got permission to put the company back in by their soon-to-be official PR rep!

BS bias in BISAC subject headings

So while Carole was editing my manuscript I decided to start getting my copyright page together and found out some books have up to 4 genres listed on the copyright page, to help with filing for libraries and such. So I looked up what the list of genres is (hoping to include both marketing + veganism) and I realized there is a huge bias with BISAC subject headings, which is determined by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). Marketing is definitely a sub-heading under Business & Economics, but the term Vegan is only listed under Cooking!

So wrong—absolutely, there is vegan cooking BUT I feel like this is a HUGE miss. Veganism is a lifestyle, not just a type of cuisine! There is no heading for lifestyle, but vegan could easily go into the other headings. They had a suggestion form (which required listing at least 3 examples of books that fall under the suggested sub-heading) so I went to work and submitted forms for five categories. Let’s see if anything happens for BISAC’s 2022 edition…if it does, you’re welcome, future vegan authors!

 

March

I took a break for most of this month as my book was being edited. I got my manuscript back just after the first day of spring, and am really happy with the job Carole did! She was meticulous with her edits and made me realize how much I (and contributors!) used the word “just” and “really.” I also didn’t realize how many unnecessary exclamation points there were…but you know I like to use them here in my blogs!

What’s awesome is that I quoted some dialogue from the video trailer for Bad Manners’ first cookbook (then called Thug Kitchen) and I put asterisks to block out some of the letters in curse words. Carole said if the word was fully said, then I should spell out the full word, so spell out we will! Haha!!

Here’s that trailer for your viewing pleasure.

I sent out reminders for endorsements and the swipe copy Carole generously drafted for me. I also got a great endorsement that I decided was going to go on the front cover.

While the manuscript was in editing, there were two companies I’d hoped would stay in but they either failed to approve their mentions or send me the necessary photo, so those were omitted. I also added in two small paragraphs to the social media section, and bought an award-winning photo from We Animals Media to put into the book.

Since Carole did not have time to fully check my back page matter (list of contributors, references, and resources) unless I offered to pay her more, I double-checked these sections again and it’s a good thing I did because I made a few more changes—also because some folks rebranded and/or their websites were different.

A female vegan narrator from On the Mic Training messaged me with her rate and some samples. At this point, I hadn’t yet put out a call to my network yet for a vegan, female narrator. As predicted by intuitive Lucca (again), a connection of a connection in the US fit the bill and emailed me with her rate. As I predict the print + ebook will be completed at the end of April, I’d like to get her to start narration in May.

There are a lot of names that need to be pronounced correctly, so I started on a doc and once done, will do audio file for them. Never in my life did I expect to ever teach someone how to pronounce “Ärzte gegen Tierversuche e.V” (Doctors Against Animal Experiments) or have to look up the pronunciation of Dutch names!

I asked what she thought about me narrating the Acknowledgments section and she said it was a good idea, so I have some more homework to do too! I hope locking myself in my husband’s office with my little mic and Zoom will suffice for this.

I contacted my potential cover designer for a quote.

I had some spare time at the end of the month (I have been watching A LOT of Queer Eye to pass time lately) so while waiting for the last few endorsements to come in, I started formatting my manuscript and did the first five hours of work on it over two days.

I noticed that I had initially mentioned Coconut Bliss‘s tagline; not only was the company acquired and rebranded to Cosmic Bliss, it’s no longer a vegan company (don’t even get me started). So it got CUT!

A couple endorsers needed more time to send in a blurb and during that time an endorser pointed out a few key things about my title, so I changed it up again and decided not to have a subtitle.

Stay tuned for part 3 of my book journey!

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