Friday, December 23, 2011

Soon I shall be an author!

At long, long last, I believe I shall shortly be "an author". I signed off on the between-the-covers content last week, and made what I hope is the last tweak to the covers today. Provided the changes to the cover come through ok, I will shortly be publishing my book.

Looking back, there's some interesting stuff in there: A year is a long time. Probably 40% of that year was spent with the ball in my court. Maybe more. It's certainly possible to self-publish in a lot less time than a year, and if I were to publish another book, I'd ballpark it in the 120-to-240 day range.  On a third go, probably 90-180 days.

As a first-time author, I was really surprised at several aspects of the process.
  1. My skills in writing, my vocabulary, and my collegiate-level knowledge of punctuation and technical organization pale in comparison to those of a professional literary editor. I scored 99th percentile in the WEST test in college, yet I am no more than dust.

    Oh ye who condemns the greengrocer's apostrophe and hates "scare" quotes, ye who stands agog at the misuse of literally and infer, ye for whom a split infinitive is the beginning of a splitting headache: prepare to be humbled by the flaws and inconsistencies in your own writing. It hurt much more than I expected to see my writing critiqued.
  2. As an engineer, I was completely surprised by just how much font choice and page layout impact the readability of a book. When you're reading a 2, 8, or even 40 page technical document printed in black ink on bright white 8.5x11 inch printer paper, courier mono spaced 10-point is just fine. When you're dealing with a paperback book using dark grey ink on beige 5x8 inch paper, the font suddenly matters a lot. So do margins, and leading whitespace.
    Don't even try to approve an electronic galley without actually printing it out in the format you're actually going to print with. On a white screen with black text and no left-right pagination, you're just not going to have a clue. This is a (trust me on this) financially expensive mistake. Don't make it.
  3. By the time you've researched and written a non-fiction book, you actually are a minor expert on the subject. We all accumulate organic knowledge from our day-to-day lives. Independently researched information is different. Few adults ever take the time to put an academic quarter's worth of open-minded open-ended learning behind anything they do. If you have, trust me- you're at least a minor expert.
  4. Like starting a small business, marketing is everything. If you want even moderate financial return on your book, plan to spend most of your time, effort, blood, and treasure marketing your book. If you used crayon and wrote your book in pig-latin, the editors will fix it. If you don't market your book well, you will sell no books.
That's all I've got right now.

Merry Christmas,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back in gear

Today I am writing a little bit out of frustration. SO much has gone well, and I've really enjoyed the process of writing and publishing a book. Not only that, I've learned a bunch about an industry I didn't know anything about.

My book is finally through editing passes, and I'm getting a hardcover and a softcover sent to me so I can check them one last time before we start the presses. Like the editing folks, the printing folks at iUniverse are great to work with. I even have ISBNs now!

Personally I've set a celebration goal of 500 copies sold through channels as my "I'm a real author" benchmark, but the ISBNs do make me feel pretty professional.

More on the frustration parts after I cool off a bit. No sense writing a post I'll only delete in the morning. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cover art: less fun than making sausage

The esthetic parts of book publishing, like cover art, were some that I had most hoped to slough off to my self-publishing company. I'm a software engineer, and art is not one of our strengths.

Unfortunately, the first cut iUniverse offered on cover art was so bad that even I, with my engineer's eye, could tell it was awful. On the off chance I was being too picky, I sent it around to a couple of my more artistically inclined associates. They were universal in their disdain for the covers. I was seriously discouraged, because this was an area that I had really intended to get my money's worth. I sent it back, with comments, and their response was pretty much "Well, this is the cover we promised to make for you. If you don't like it, make one of your own". After talking a bit more with my Publishing Services contact, it became more of a "Why don't you show us what you were thinking about and we'll take another swing at it". Fair enough.

Happily, thinkstock is a really neat outfit, and they have an enormous and fairly well indexed collection of stock photography and art that you can use to gen something up. I took an afternoon and with my rudimentary GIMP skills cut & pasted my way to a selection of three alternate covers. I'd post them here, but unfortunately I haven't paid ThinkStock for the source images yet, so it'd be infringement.

Yesterday I sent them on to iUniverse. We shall see what happens next.

I'm really hoping they come through. This is an area which I really need the expertise of a practiced professional.

Aside from that, we're essentially ready to publish. Whee!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I fail to make Rising Star status

I am left wondering what it must take to get this award. I had promotional quotes from experts, links to bookstores, book fairs, and libraries established, a website up, and an open invitation to write an article on the subject in a major online publication serving my target audience.

Apparently you must offer a truely awesome gantt chart and established interview/speaking schedule to get this.

iUniverse has explained that in order to remain independent the Rising Star Board does not communicate specifics with iUniverse, so there is no way to know in what way my submission fell short.

For the record, below is a summary of the marketing info I sent to them. (Their headers, my lightly-excised info)

Non-self-employed high school or college grads with 2+ years of work experience after graduation

Other titles in this area are completely impractical. They're more entertainment than information. Some are huge encyclopedias of interesting / weird / high-paying jobs, but they devote only a few words to each one, give no real information, and in many cases the job is singular: Curator for the National Arboretum. That's no use to anyone.

An actual survey of practical jobs that a regular person could expect to do for themselves? That book doesn't seem to exist - yet.

I have
  1. created a personal website
  2. two alumni organizations (X and Y) which will publish notices of my publication
  3. a local library with a local author program which will allow me to do a Q&A of my book, and/or at least announce the publication of my book
  4. contacted two non-iUniverse marketing organizations that specialize in promoting books
  5. begun working with Z at iUniverse to produce marketing and publicity materials
I plan to hire a professional for a 3 phase approach
Phase I is 2-3 months: This is a sanity check to see if anyone wants to BUY it.
Phase II is 3-12 months: Minimum profitable run time, according to my sources.
Phase III is 13+ months: Until the book stops selling...

"Earning without being employed" provides the reader with a "Gee, I can do that" idea that these professions are within their reach. Military veterans come with a great work ethic and self-starter attitude, and would find this book of great value to capitalize on their skills and experiences they learned and achieved during their service." --EndorsementPersonOne

"If the only thing standing between you and successful self-employment is What or How, you can toss those obstacles away by reading this nifty book filled with how-to information. Quite simply, Jeff Evarts has rounded up a goldmine of entrepreneurial options and he shares them in this easy-to-read collection. Start digging." --EndorsementPersonTwo


None (technical papers, but not “book titles” per se)

Monday, April 11, 2011

"In the can"

OK, there is probably a book-industry term for it too, but I only know the movie industry one.

I am now officially in cover-copy-polish mode, so the body/content of the book is frozen. After so long in editing mode, this really feels like a big step forward. Still waiting to hear on the Rising Star front, and marketing looms on the dark horizon. We shall see.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Change in an Industry: an ongoing process

I've been debating whether to blog this next bit, because at first it sounds somewhat negative. I think, though, that it's actually bang-on-topic with the way the publishing industry is morphing around into a new thing, and some parts are lagging behind other parts. I am very happy with iUniverse in the main, and sometimes blogs give the impression that everything has suddenly changed when it has not. This is just a bump in the road, not a general characteristic.

By the way, if you haven't read Eric Raymond's essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" about how the democratization of writing tools affected the programming industry, you might find it informative. There are a lot of parallels to the publishing industry and the struggles it's going through.


iUniverse offers several evaluation steps during the publishing process, which they cast in the form of awards. Basically, they're reasonably objective industry-quality evaluations of the work from several independent perspectives. "Winning" one gets iUniverse to invest some of their company's resources into your book without charging you for it. In essence, it's a winnowing down of the books they're working on to help iUniverse direct some gratis effort toward making your book successful: they put some of their skin in the game.

One of the awards is called "Editor's Choice". This award is a reflection of the topicality of the work, and the quality of the writing. Since this choice is made after your editing pass, you can add "your willingness to take professional direction" to the end of "the quality of the writing". Fair enough. If you're a first-time writer with a good idea but terrible grammar, iUniverse's editing department can help pick up the slack, and the award is based on the quality of the goods the reader eventually sees. Everyone wins. Having lived through this step personally, I know this isn't just a case of them wanting to sell you services. The editorial advice is professional grade- they're not just soaking you for your money. "Winning" this award means that iUniverse will stand behind the quality of the writing when it's being offered to publishers, book reviewers, etc.

The next award is something called "Rising Star", which is a similar evaluation of your marketing plans. While I had been moderately confident that I would get the Editor's Choice award, I was doubtful about Rising Star. I've said in this blog (and many, many times to iUniverse) that I know nothing about how to market books. My marketing contact, when he called, wanted to know several things: first, did I know anything about marketing books? No. Second: had I taken any action (even blindly) in the marketing area? Yes. Third: Did I plan to hire a professional or go it on my own? I planned to hire a professional. We talked for a while and he and I scheduled a followup.

The day after I spoke to my marketing rep at iUniverse, I got a note from the Rising Star evaluation board. It included two "fill in the blanks" documents. They wanted me to fill them out get them sent back in "tout suite". If I dawdled, I would be ineligible for the award.

The first form was no problem, a 3-4 page bit with blanks like "short author biography", "describe your target audience", and "name three other books that are comparable to your book". I filled this one out and sent it in.

The second form gave me problems. The blanks that weren't duplicates of the first sheet were either impossible to fill in (ISBN, which I understood, but which hasn't been assigned yet) or completely opaque to someone unfamiliar with book marketing "Keynote" (what is that?), "Publicity" (done? planned? paid for?)

No problem: I'm a noob, they deal with noobs all the time. I sent them an email, explaining that I didn't know the terms, but would be happy to fill them in if they'd kindly send me some more information. Their response was unhelpful in the extreme:
The Rising Star Marketing Evaluation and Title Information sheet are questionnaires based on your knowledge of how you intend to market, promote, and sell your book. Each point is open to interpretation. Please feel free to decipher these questions in your own way. If there are any you feel you cannot answer, please feel free to leave them blank.

If you choose not to return your Title Information Sheet by the due date, you will not be considered for the Rising Star Program.
So: We're not going to help you, and your eligibility is on the line. I had been CCing my marketing contact throughout this exchange, but hadn't heard from him. I sent another email to a wider audience, including my prior base-touching contacts, explaining my position. I enumerated the marketing steps I'd already taken, and then moved on:
Given the amount of "Garbage In" your team must face, I understand that you must establish timelines to gauge author willingness, etc., in an effort to whittle the incoming torrent down to a few people your team can feel comfortable working with.

That said, I find your Title Information Sheet "Fumble through our foreign-language Rorchach test, on our timetable, or get lost!" attitude to be very, very inappropriate given my previous interactions with iUniverse. In short, this is Not Funny.

I have been completely honest about my capabilities and knowledge since day one. It would be a shame if the ignorance I've been professing all along were to stop my progress cold. Please explain your terms, [accept my submission without this form], or refund my money.
The board made no response.

My marketing contact called me the next day. He said the problem was his fault: that he had intended to walk me through filling out these forms, but that after talking with me for a while, had come to the conclusion that I knew enough to do it on my own. Even though he's been honest (to his own detriment and credit) in the past, the fact that he's in a commission sales position makes me take his acceptance of "fault" that with a grain of salt.

End of the story: We got the entire thing explained over the phone in about 3 minutes. "Keynote" was another term for "Elevator pitch", which was a term I did know, "Publicity" meant "Your current plan of action to publicize your book", etc. I submitted the form, properly filled out, ten minutes later.

In short: iUniverse almost lost a customer because of a vocabulary issue. Really.

The lesson: Companies are not monolithic entities, and change propagates through them unevenly. In some ways, the "Rising Star Evaluation Board" hasn't kept up with the rest of iUniverse. They apparently see themselves high on a pedestal, deigning to judge the work that comes before them by a rubrick both arcane and opaque, answerable only to themselves. I'm guessing that will not be a common characteristic in the evaluation boards of successful self-publishing companies going forward.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Editor's Choice: check. Now, for the hard part

iUniverse tells me this morning that my manuscript has received their Editor's Choice Award. From what I gather, that's a 90-to-94th percentile "grade". I guess I'd be more pleased about that if I knew what kind of stuff I'd been up against.

Now, the part of the process which I am least qualified to do begins: designing and writing the marketing plan. Brian Hallbauer from iUniverse called me this morning to start that discussion, and we're going to talk again on Monday. Marketing is (duh) the most expensive part of the process, (Runs high 4 to high 5 digits for a campaign) and also has the highest variability for ROI: until the final tally is in, you don't know if it was worth it.

Monday we begin planning. Here goes nothing...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Self-publishing: gut-check

Submitted my post-line-edit manuscript. Yay!

The problem (if there is one) with self-publishing is this: it requires a daily gut-check from the moment you sign up until you get the moment you cash your 'break even' check. If you publish through the established system, you get a strong indication that you WILL sell as soon as the publisher accepts your work. With self publishing, you can fool yourself for much longer, and for me, that's been hard. We shall see.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Line Edits

First let me say: Wow, I don't want a line editor's job. It's important, and apparently in-demand, but it is not my kind of "fun".

Of the changes proposed, I accepted a couple hundred, made alternate changes to three, and rejected five. I figure that's a pretty good indicator that the service was not only valuable in detecting mistakes, but also in correctly fixing them.

The two most common things fixed by this edit were "putting a comma before an 'and' in a list" and "not spelling out numbers". Both of which could be automated, but there are SO MANY fiddly exceptions that you really do have to check each one.

There was a lot of other good stuff though. Places where my sentences were overly complex, and they tweaked them a bit, a couple of places where I'd used "alternate spelling 1" and they preferred a different spelling. Although technically not a line-editor's job, they even detected an unsupported statistical claim, and flagged it. Overall, I got a lot more than I'd expected, but I'd also paid more than I expected, so I figure I got what I paid for, and that's the important bit for me: I really do seem to get what I pay for.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Final Draft Submitted?

I'm not sure if that's the right term. I got my Rx edit back, and it contained more solid advice, which I took. I also took a final opportunity to make sure my facts were up-to-date (I reference the price of gold and some other "current values" for legality, licensing, and other stuff like that) and added a paragraph to an appendix. Hopefully there will be no more "content" changes from here on out, just grammar/spelling/punctuation tweaks.

One noteable snafu was discussion of title. I had maintained, from my first phone call all the way back with Bob, through Leah, and now to Kathi, that I wanted help with "cover design and title selection". Somehow the "and title selection" got lost by the wayside, and the editor had just ok'd my working title. Title choice is a Very Important Thing when it comes to sales of any book, and while I'm flattered that my working title passed without comment, I really do want to leverage the editor's expertise here. I sent a separate email in asking the editor (through Kathi) to explicitly consider alternate titles.

I'm also getting a bit nervous about the content getting frozen. I felt like I had "finished" the book more than a month ago, and nothing substantial has changed content-wise, but since it's nonfiction, and I'm a first-timer through this process, I'm starting to experience an irrational fear that I've gotten everything wrong and people will tear the book to shreds. Given the preparation and research I've done, I really don't think that's possible, but that doesn't seem to help. I think that has to do with the "irrational" part of "irrational fear". Pooh.

A word about self-publishing also: I find all these blogs by authors who are "traditionally publishing", and they all warn you about self-published authors having to keep big boxes of books in the basement. (woo! alliteration!) That seems to be completely wrong nowadays. iUniverse does print-to-demand fulfillment for a variety of major customers (, B&N) for both their online and bricks-and-mortar stores. That means that unless I want a box or two to sell (or sign, or give away, or...) I shouldn't actually have an inventory. Ever. We shall see.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reviewers and Self-Publishing Authors

I have always known that different people will have wildly different opinions of the same book. I have a friend who rereads Lord of the Rings every year, and I have another who thought it was intolerably dull.

It never occurred to me (until this morning) that other people might have differing opinions on my book. My subconscious tells me that MY book is clearly less a matter of someone's taste, and more a matter of being totally appropriate and incredibly useful to all people everywhere. Otherwise (duh!) I would not have taken the time to write it. Therefore, no one should have anything but a favorable experience with it. Or so my subconscious tells me. This weekend put my subconscious on a forced march back to Reality.

I had my book out with two reviewers. One in collegiate academia, and one in a large industry which employs a lot of college-age folks. I'll refer to them as Industry and Academic. Both had enthusiastically agreed over the phone to review the book. Academic even asked if I might come up and speak to the students once the book was published, which was extremely flattering.
  • Industry got his on Jan 10 and finished on Feb 1. (22 days)
  • Academic got the PDF on Jan 28 and finished on Jan 30. (2 days)
Academic's response was via email:
[...] my honest opinion:

Easy to read.
Good format.
Some good ideas.
Got a little tedious around idea number 7, but then again I'm 60 and clearly not in your target demographic.

In general, I think it's a good book, but would be surprised if college students -- particularly business students -- would give it a second thought [...]

By the time I got to [Section N], I started to wonder if you were serious or this was a big goof. Sorry man, I just don't know about this book and who I would recommend it to. Maybe the local SBDC.

Anyway, thanks for thinking of us and good luck.
 Summary of Academic's review:
  1. He literally feared my book was a joke. That's supposed to be hyperbole!
  2. He doesn't think college students would give it a second thought.
  3. He can't think of anyone specific to recommend it to.
  4. That kiss-off at the end is pretty epic.
Being in the traditional publishing pipeline would have been more comfortable: once you're in the pipeline, you can be fairly sure you're not just fooling yourself about the value of your work. Self-publishing authors have no such security blanket. I had Industry's response coming up in two days, and now I was dreading it. It came this morning.

We set up an appointment to talk on the phone
He was impressed. He stopped just short of saying everyone in his industry would profit from reading the book, and suggested some industry rags where I might be able to publish articles to market my book, as well as some more concrete marketing ideas. He followed up with an email:
[This Book] provides the reader with a "Gee, I can do that" idea that these professions are within their reach.
[People in this industry] would find this book of great value
And went on to remind me of some of the marketing ideas we'd talked about on the phone.
Now that is a different story. I think I may have experienced Bipolar Personality Disorder on a very small scale in the last two days.

So if you're out there, writing your own book, and the reviews are bad, keep in mind that some people are just incorrigible Luddites masquerading as evolved humans. The rest will enjoy your book thoroughly and heap praise on your name. Or so my resurgent subconscious tells me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


After some minor indigestion with the prescriptive editorial feedback, I made changes and resubmitted the manuscript for a second Prescriptive Edit. It's Sunday, so it should be on the editorial consultant's desk first thing tomorrow morning. As I understand it, there are two major edits left.

The next one (cover copy polish) is included, so that's nice. It's where I expect to need the most help: helping me design the cover and pick a title. As everyone knows, computer geeks like me are not good at visual design. I will gladly accept all the help I can get in this area.

The last edit is line-editing to bring the manuscript into Chicago Manual of Style splendor. I am more than happy to pay someone else to move commas around and respell grey to gray. I'd've paid someone else to do that if it hadn't been included in the service- what an awful job.

The ball is back in their court. We shall see how things progress.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Marketing, Headshots, and Edits, Oh my!

(Apologies to F. Baum)

Manuscript Changes
I have followed up on each of the major suggestions I got from the editor (with the exception of Line Editing stuff that I'll pay them to do at the end) and I'm theoretically ready to resubmit.

That said, in reading over some of the text (and making some of the changes) I realized that there might be some room to plus up a couple parts of the book, so I'm torn between expanding some of the work and just submitting it so I can move on to the next part. I figure this must be a common temptation for authors, and if I knew any, I'd ask what they do. Sans the advice, I'm going to wait a day or two and see how I feel.

Outskirts Publishing Contact
I had a really nice conversation with Elise from Outskirts about some marketing stuff they do. It looks like editing and marketing are the major differentiators between self-publishing companies. Keep that in mind if you're shopping around. Happily most if not all of these services can be purchased ala-carte from the larger (Tier-2) outfits like Outskirts and iUniverse, which is really good for novices like me who don't have a clue what they need.

My photos are finished
I got some digital photos taken by a studio photographer last week, and I got them today. In the absence of a professional photographer, careful lighting, and software-assisted imaging, I'm pretty much the opposite of photogenic. Proof of this abounds. ACTUAL conversation:
"This is one of my favorite pictures of Roscoe." [a dog I was petting] They look farther up and see me. "Eew, sorry Jeff".
The "Eew, sorry Jeff" phenomenon has been the suffix to an amazingly large number of comments regarding photos of my family. I'm used to it by now. I was pleased that the photographer had taken the time to take a lot of photos and select the better ones from among them. I picked this one as a headshot and popped it up on my website.

I was also careful to get a "copyright release" signed by the photographer, which assures the publishing company that they can use the photos on the book and in their marketing materials. Apparently many photographers retain the rights to their work, and only sell "copies" to their customers. That seems a little odd to me, but apparently that's how it's done a lot of the time. Publishers want a clear path around this potential pitfall, so they request a release in writing.

Sadly, even though I've been scrupulous about shredding reader/editing copies of my book, this endeavor is now getting complex enough to have a paperwork trail. I'll probably need to get a folder or a box in which to keep stuff like the copyright release. <Sigh>

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting over it

Well on re-reading the editorial feedback, it appears that it was not actually as cavalier in its mayhem done to my self-worth than I originally perceived.

Actually, a lot of it is quite good. It breaks down into four main chunks:
  1. Line-editing stuff (comma splices, the occasional ALLCAPS word I missed fixing in my rough draft)
  2. Repeated suggestions that I do a better job of establishing my credentials to write this book, particularly by adding an "About the Author" chapter. (I have no credentials, other than some experience, a genuine interest and a willingness to research the subject)
  3. Request for a Conclusion chapter. I am not actually sure how to write that. The book is a survey and description of a bunch of existing jobs, what would I write as a conclusion? "Self-Employed jobs exist. These are some of them."? That sounds silly.
  4. Suggestions that I reduce the "volume", the examples they gave include the first line of the book:
You do not need permission to earn a living!
and occasionally thoughout the book for emphasis
Budget! This will make a huge difference in your productivity
I see that exclamation points and text decoration (bold, italic, underline, etc) can be a crutch, to bring the author's emphasis to the reader more directly.
On the other hand, I'm a first-time author writing a topical book. If I take enough time to learn and implement a better voice, the book may be out of date. Not only that, I may not write again if I don't find something else interesting to write about. I'd rather use a crutch and finish the book, provided it will not turn the audience off.
So here's how I'm approaching it:

Item #1 is dead-on. 80% of the stuff was mistakes and half of the rest can be easily rephrased. Yes, some of it (Like the Budget! line above) is out-of-bounds on style, but by intent. Let's just assume that during the other changes I make I'll introduce more line errors, and we'll just catch them all at the end.

Items 2 and 3 sound like good ideas. Implementing them without examples would be hard. I'd be happy to do it if I had a clue where to start. Perhaps my conversation with my editor on Monday will help sort that out.

Item #4 may be a matter of taste, but as a completely novice author, I'd rather err on the side of the editor's opinion. Some of the bits sound "right" to me, and the feedback I've gotten from outside readers has been positive on the tone, but I'd be happy to chop 50% of it out, so long as it didn't mean completely abolishing the urgent tone altogether.

OK, wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Visited a "Writer's Club" meeting

The location was nice, a major bookstore. The attendance was high. Well over a hundred, and they were out of chairs, so some people were standing in the back.

But the content was a little narrow.

The event started with two member-authors reading their own work, which was followed by the three winners of last year's short story contest each reading a part of their work. After that there was to be a lecture from a successful, professional visiting author on the subject of reading your own work in public, to be followed by various member-authors reading a single page of their work and getting critiqued by the authority. Basically, this was "reading your work in public" night, and that wasn't what I was interested in. It was all fiction, as well.

When I looked at the membership profile (for new members to fill out) I noticed the same skew in the assumed demographic. The middle section read:
I'm writing in the following genre(s):
_short story

other: _______________________________________

Question: What's missing from these options?
Answer: 80% of the dewey decimal "top level" categories. The tickbox options all pretty much fall under the headings "opinion" and "fiction". No mathematics or physics, no geology or geography, no history or technology or business, nothing like that. Even the whole genre "nonfiction" combined didn't rate a mention.

My gut feel is that their definition of "writer" doesn't really include folks like me.

So first blush: Several hours of authors reading their own work was unappealing, so I left after the first hour. The membership form indicated a pretty much complete focus on fiction & opinion, so I haven't joined. I'll go to another one nonetheless. No use making decisions on a single data point.

Editorial Feedback Received

I have received my editorial feedback.

Apparently, before my submission, no one had thought to add a simple "You suck! Just go away." summary-judgment tickbox, and they had to write it all out longhand. Doubtless they'll fix that now.

When I first read it, I could have sworn there was a note to the check-in coordinator, that went something like this:

Please assess the delusions of the author to determine whether or not he is a potential spree-shooter. I can't believe anyone who can spell the word manuscript would admit producing such drivel, much less submit it to other hominids for scrutiny. I would have quit reading after the 5th page if he hadn't forked over all that money for the full review. It's basically a waste of his time to think about authoring anything more complicated than a coffee order on a napkin, and a waste of our time to evaluate this offal-art. See if you can constructively suggest that he change genres to finger painting and/or limericks.

But apparently that's was auto-deleted while I reread the original, more hurtful bits.

I feel like kicking their pets until I feel better.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waiting is death... I shall market!

I dropped off the last of the materials with my check-in coordinator at iUniverse, and then there's nothing to do but wait for a couple of weeks.

Waiting blows, particularly where money is involved, so I started chasing down some possible routes to get marketing quotes, materials, or exposure. This was a blue-sky idea fest, and I just called various organizations that I knew about.
  • California Governor's Office of Economic Development
    [Got a director and his contact info, called, he gave me his email, sent a query]
  • Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepeneurial Studies,
    UCLA Anderson School of Management
    [Called and they said they'd check and call me back by tomorrow]
  • Chico State (my Alma Mater)
       Alumni Association
         [Called. They have a newsletter in which I can promote my book when it's ready ]

       Business Department, Dean's Office
         [Called. Got Dean's office. They're between semesters right now, but she scheduled an email to the staff there for a day or two before classes restart. Should happen in about 3 weeks.]

       Communications Department, Dean's Office
         [Called, no answer. Leaving a message seemed pointless. I'll call back when classes restart.]

  • Google, where I worked a few years ago, has an "alumni" group, so I checked it out. Looking at the stuff there, it's more for finished work (announcements) than requests for comment.

  • Just occurred to me to check with my local Barnes & Noble (looks like they occasionally have local author book signings)
    [Called, this store doesn't do local-author sales, but I got the email for the community relations person, so I zapped out an email to find out if there's anything they do do]

  • The above experience reminded me to check for other brick & mortar bookstores, and shockingly, there are basically none in the immediate area. The Borders closed, there's a new-age place, and (oddly) a mysteries-only place, but that's it for the bricks-and-mortar crowd. Ouch. Growing up, I remember having half a dozen to choose from. What is the world coming to?!?

  • Next thought: local library. Maybe they have a "local author shelf" or book signings or something.
    [Called, got the number of the person to talk to, not there. Will call back]

  • The chamber of commerce might have something as well. They have a networking night coming up in a couple weeks. I'll check it out.

  • There's also a local writer's club meeting on the 11th, which I will attend. Not sure what to expect there... it may be "professionals only", or it may be a chat-club. Only one way to find out.
Hrm, what to do now? I knew marketing was going to be the hardest part of this...

Monday, January 3, 2011

iUniverse leaps into action

Wow, a same-day turnaround from iUniverse.

My check-in coordinator reviewed my submissions, and had a couple questions. She also had some news: my package includes a hardback version (ooh, sexy!) so I need to do dust jacket design at some point. I asked if I could put that off until I could talk to some marketing genius about it.

The next phase begins! More waiting!

Ow, ow, ow. Champing at the bit when you don't actually have a bit in your mouth is painful.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 started right: draft manuscript submitted

The funny part: their uploader didn't work.

But they have a backup submission email address, and I sent it there, as well as to my "check in coordinator", along with a couple rough cuts at a cover and some title possibilities.

Now the hard part: waiting. Argh! It burns!