Posted on May 15, 2015
A Reedsy Success Story — Matt Bieber’s Life in the Loop
We launched Reedsy 6 months ago. Since, we’ve had an incredible amount of authors working on a daily basis with our fabulous editors, proofreaders, designers and illustrators. But we haven’t really followed up on their success. So when Matt Bieber dropped us a line to thank us and tell us about his book, we thought we’d give him a spot on our blog!
My name is Matt Bieber, and I’m the author of Life in the Loop: Essays on OCD.
The essays in this collection are an effort to come to grips with life as an obsessive-compulsive. Some of them deal with big, dramatic stuff – sex, religion, death – while others are about the million mundane-but-excruciating facets of OCD.
Writing about this stuff is helpful to me, but publishing is always a challenge. I’m fairly tech-illiterate, and my forays into the blogosphere have provided OCD with endless freak-out opportunities: “Did I save those changes on WordPress? Why does it keep formatting that way? Is this post even gonna be legible if readers re-size their browsers?” And so on, forever.
When I decided to collect my OCD writing into book form, then, I knew that designing a cover and an interior layout were way beyond me. “If I just stick to the writing and let a pro handle the rest, this’ll be doable.”
I shared my plans with a friend, and he pointed me toward Reedsy. (He’d been a fan of Reedsy’s own design for some time.) I agreed to check it out, but I was nervous; was this gonna be yet another frustrating, overwhelming platform, a web world with nonsensical navigation and no way out?
Merely arriving at the site, then, was a relief. It was straightforward! And kind of pretty! And you could find stuff!
Like, for example, a range of designers with serious chops, most of whom were within my (relatively low) budget. I looked at a bunch of folks, but Jason Anscomb of Rawshock Designs stood out. His portfolio took my hair off – he’d worked on books that I’d seen in the shops, and his designs were gorgeous. I found myself knocking wood; I was gonna get to work with this guy?
We quickly worked out a deal and dove in. Our first task was to design a cover; I thought that a Möbius strip might reflect OCD’s endless cyclicality, and Jason worked up a range of intriguing design options. His variations on a loop/face were eye-catching as hell, but a bit too comical for this book. The notion of hand-lettering was attractive, too, but ultimately a better match for fiction.
In the end, we settled on the simplicity of one of his early rough sketches. A bit of color refinement, and boom – we were ready to move on to the book layout itself!
After a long print publishing career, Jason knows how to work magic with fonts, headers, and spacing. In just a couple of weeks, he turned my Word manuscript into a beautifully laid-out volume.
The one glitch in the project, however, was that Jason didn’t know how to make an e-book. (He’d told me this from the outset, and we’d agreed that he’d explore it as we moved along). As he discovered, though, creating an e-book isn’t just a matter of converting file types: in his words, it’s a bit more “like designing web-pages; it’s a different animal altogether.” Thankfully, Jason was willing to call a buddy named Mick in Scotland, who handled the final conversions. (Thanks Mick!)
Here was the best part: Jason didn’t treat my book any differently than those of his higher-profile clients. At every stage of the process – from our first contacts in mid-December through completion and publication at the end of March – Jason was incredible: professional, responsive, and straight-up cool. He anticipated my questions, took stuff off my plate before I even realized it was bothering me, and stayed patient through a long series of tiny edits and adjustments.
The pace of the process varied: sometimes, we each retreated to our tasks for a week or two. Other times, we exchanged several emails per day. And at a certain point, it dawned on me: he cared – about the book, about the process, and about me. Instead of chasing down some elusive freelancer, I was working side-by-side with a generous partner.
So it was the journey, then – but it was also the destination. Because at the end of the process, we had this book in our hands (and on our Kindles) – this thing that, by some miracle of text and color, reflected the hazy vision that had been floating around my brain for so long.
So now the sucker’s up on Amazon and selling nicely, and the reviews are starting to come in. This feels great, of course – but it feels even better to know that my work with Jason will help this little volume reach folks who can really use it.
Matt Bieber is the author of Life in the Loop: Essays on OCD. He blogs at mattbieber.net and coaches young writers.
Learn more about book layout design and book cover design on Reedsy's design page.
Erik Cox says:
26/02/2017 – 10:46
Great cover and indeed a notable result of the cooperation between author and designer.
↪️ Reedsy replied:
27/02/2017 – 10:07
Glad you enjoyed it, Erik!