School of the Ages


FAQ for the Indian edition of Ghost in the Crystal

Posted by Matt Posner on June 14, 2012 at 7:40 AM

Q. How did this happen?

A. I was looking for a way to break into the Indian market for eBooks, only to learn there really isn't one. No one I knew in India was using, and India seemed to have no native eBook format. So I began to look for a publisher using contacts there. Then, one day on kindleboards, I met bestselling science fiction and zombie author Mainak Dhar ( who volunteered to introduce me to his publishers. One of them was Renu Kaul at Vitasta Publishing.


According to Renu, she left the synopsis and sample chapters for her ten-year-old to read while she went on a trip, and when she came back, the child was a fan and wanted to read the whole book. So we went from there.


Q. Aren't you committed to the self-publishing model?

A. I'm not looking for a publisher in the U.S. or U.K. However, in India, the largest democracy in the world, it's still all about paper, and I want to be in that market. I believe in the future of that country for English-language publishing.


In Be the Monkey, a book that can't help influencing a writer in my situation, Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler state that they are making decisions based not upon ideology but upon business. That makes sense. What will bring in the most money? Having an Indian publisher brings in more benefit than standing by for eBooks to break into the Indian market.


Even in the U.S., I have to acknowledge that I would talk to a big publisher if there were enough money on the table, but I am not signing the kind of deal big publishers typically dole out.


Q. How is the Indian edition different?

A. I cleaned up a few editing problems, and the book is adjusted for Indian audience. I have not seen an actual printed copy of that edition yet, so I can only identify what was attempted during the run-up to the first printing.


The biggest change I made is the description of the entrance hall of School of the Ages, which stated that there were six pillars (metaphorical pillars) and then lists seven. The new description is in line with my actual vision of that chamber, with the seven principles written upon the floor.


The second biggest is the removal of the abbreviations "STA" and "AAK/AAC." Readers complained to me that their meaning wasn't clear. So now STA has been written out everywhere as "School of the Ages," and AAK/AAC is changed to "the cabala school." These changes were already made in Level Three's Dream, and the abbreviations should not be written in future books.


Most foreign expressions are meant to be in italics in this edition, a real pain with all the Yiddish, but that is what I attempted, anyway.


I hope I have disposed of any remaining usages of "cafeteria." The dining hall is not a cafeteria; it's self-serve.


Vitasta's editor has made content and language changes for Indian readers. The language changes are from American English to British English: for example, "math" has been changed to "maths." I chose not to fight about this, although if it were up to me, I would leave the original usage. I bought the first five Harry Potters in London because I wanted to read them with British language (jumper not sweater, trainers not sneakers, crumpets not English muffins etc). But of course those books are mostly still sitting in plastic now, because I almost never read anything but my fellow independent authors. By the way, I like English muffins, but crumpets are better.


In terms of content changes, first, all of the jokes have been removed. There were very few anyway; Ghost in the Crystal stays mostly with a dark tone. I don't know why this was done, but I suspect it is because they were judged to be unclear to Indian readers. Also in terms of content changes, the U.S. edition uses the terms "rakshas/rakshasa" and "rakshasi," but these do not appear in the Indian edition. These concepts are still relatively fresh for U.S. readers, but they are pretty burned out in the Subcontinent.


I also added a few words to the conversation between Simon and Rabbi Yehoshua. My reason for doing this won't be clear till Book V comes out. I will add these words to the U.S. edition eventually, but for now I'd rather write more books than change the old ones.


Q. Will the same publisher in India carry the other books in the series?

A. That is the expressed intention on both sides. My preference is to stay with this publisher and I am not looking for another one.


Q. Who made the book cover?

A. The cover was designed by a Vitasta graphic designer named Geetali Baruah.


Q. Where in India can the book be purchased?


A. All I know for now is the publisher's website,  I expect it will be or is in bookstores, but I don't have more specific information yet.

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