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!