I realized something new about myself today. Learned it through an experience that some would perceive as a negative one but I didn’t take it that way at all. As I have surely mentioned before, I am going through some wild Book Production Stage of Life, where all of my energies seem to be focused on producing one book after another. No sooner had my second book, In Secret Diffusion: The Upper Realm Answers Questions About Earth, finally emerged from its, way-too-long, nine month captivity in the hands of Outskirts Press, than I got out the ingredients of my third book, And Yet A Little While: A Scripted Novel About Pre-Birth Planning, and started slinging hash again.
You might say that I’m using ready-to-go dishes and that this final stage is simply the cooking and serving of them. This is true. All the work is original and completely my own, but most of my writing was done years ago and has simply been marinating in the refrigerator for about a decade…or two. Back then, I could never have predicted becoming an actual Chef, who could produce something enduring with my name attached to it; a piece of work that someone else could taste and savor. But, I had once taken great pleasure in writing my manuscripts and I loved each one every time I stirred it a bit. Naturally, I wondered what would eventually become of all that creative work.
Luckily, I have lived long enough to witness the advent of self-publishing. Not only witness, but to dive in and splash around boisterously in it! This is great fun! Everyone should live so long as to watch their dreams come true!
I have been in this book-cooking kitchen for about three years now. Three years = three books! Wheee! Naturally, I fully expected this third one to clear the proof acceptance process when I received my test copy from Lightning Source, just as the other two had. But it did not. I must revise both the cover and the interior to get it absolutely right.
That is the… some would say… “setback” which is teaching me so much about myself. Was I despondent about the fact that, when I checked out this newborn book, I saw too many flaws to sign off on? No, not in the least. And that’s in spite of the reality that my Type A publishing persona tends to squirm with any sort of delay. Actually, it’s pretty obvious that the Universe has me firmly in the grip of a Slow-Down-Linda-Brown Lesson. After all, this book has taken me less than three months to prepare and I was testing a brand-new publishing genre…that of the scripted novel.
In the past, aside from works by William Shakespeare, we haven’t seen too many scripts appear in regular book form. Scripts are a behind-the-scenes material and are, essentially, throw-aways, after the play or movie is presented. They are sort of a mullet-wrapper, temporary production, unappreciated art form; which might result in a fine movie or theater drama, heard by, but never read by, the general public. The untrained eye is not accustomed to reading location or sound cues and seeing all that white space on the page because of the dialogue columns.
But just lately, screenplay novels are showing up on the book aisles and the internet selling sites. No doubt, other unappreciated filmscript writers like myself, have become frustrated by all the artificial barriers created by both agents and age discrimination. We have decided to take matters into our own hands, now that this self-publishing tool has, so conveniently, presented itself.
Okay, so we can’t produce our own movies yet; but we certainly can circulate our stories to the masses and let their minds create the visuals for us. And that’s exactly what we are doing.
In a way, we’re writing graphic novels using words instead of cartoons. And the public will surely love it and easily adapt to the initial strangeness of the reading experience.
But this particular book’s bread dough “needed” a lot more “kneading!”
Those thoughts were on my mind when I opened the proof copy of my first published script. It looked too crowded. I needed to insert a few blank pages between the opening information and the story itself. My introduction needed to say a little more. I had left out an important thank you. The book needed a dedication. The photograph needed explanation. Plus, as I read through the book, little things jumped out, and happily, it was not too late to change them. More importantly, I realized that I needed another opening scene to set the theme and to insert knowledge gained since I had first conceived the story. I began to get ideas as to how I could write that.
The cover color came out too dark. Well, we can fix that, because I’ll have to redo the cover anyway. Adding a few more pages will change the spine width, so we must get a new template and begin again. The picture of myself, which I chose for the back cover, is pretty bad. No problem, I have others. Oh, and maybe there’s a better word for one of the sentences in those all-important, back cover descriptive paragraphs. No problem, I still have time to edit that, too. What luxury! Sure, it will set me back about a hundred bucks to revise the book at this stage, but that’s a cheap fix to a very tasty dish!
So, I’m in the “kitchen, testing this new recipe” and I’m happy as a clam! Last night, as I opened up the word processing file and got to work making my changes, I analyzed this feeling. At last, I could identify with the cooks I’ve seen on television, handling food, chopping vegetables, pouring and mixing ingredients with a pleasure that was evident in their faces and in the rhythm of their hands matching the special quality of their voices. I never got that. Food preparation has always been a necessary chore to me. Eating is sometimes a sideline and it has to be done far too frequently for my indifferent tastes. But, if the necessity to eat comes around way too often for me; the burden of cooking what I, and others, eat is simply a pain in the neck.
That’s frequently the way other people feel about writing books. I feel that way about all the other arts. But here I am, passionate about this field of making good books. And guess what? I have, at last, begun to receive positive feedback for my efforts. Some people love my books! They rave about them and send them to other people and say good things to me about their continuing enjoyment. Occasionally, someone will quote my words back to me. Now that’s the ultimate compliment!
Now I know how the Chef feels, and all of the frequently anonymous producers of great art, good food, beautiful music. The compliments are great, but the pleasure of creating was even better.
Sorry I’ve been silent about a week now…or more… but I’ve been concentrating on my other writing project. My second book, In Secret Diffusion, has now gone to my two copyeditors for fine-tooth combing and I’m busy now with the cover design. I’m no artist, but I’ve conceived an idea of exactly what I want and have sketched it out. Now, I’ve selected an artist, and today, will electronically zap off my drawing to them. That way, both the inside and outside of the book will be in other hands, and temporarily, out of mine.
Yesterday, I went through the manuscript doing a right/left justify. As you may have noticed when you’re reading any book, all chapter headings begin on the right hand page. So, it’s necessary to insert a blank page, if your next topic is naturally coming up on a left hand page. You have to bump it up, so that it will be on the right side of the book. That has added about ten more pages to my book size, and they are blank. There’s nothing to stop me from doing more writing and using that extra space, so that will be my next project while the rest of it is out of my hands.
All along, I’ve been jotting down index words on 3×5 cards, and now they must be alphabetized and typed up for the index at the back of the book. However, the publisher is going to do the pagination, so they will have to add the page numbers to each reference once the formatting is finished.
I also have to get started on the important writing for the back cover, which often is the deal-breaker on whether someone becomes interested enough to actually buy the book. You can’t just scribble that off. Plus, you know that little front page, often done in fairly small type, that has all the numbers and publishing data on it? Well, it’s a very important page to some people… librarians, for instance, and book sellers. I must begin to construct that, too; and get out my reference books to figure out what numbers and classifications this book falls into.
But, each of these tasks are short tasks. Once you sit down and apply yourself, and do them to perfection, they are over and done. Not like the middle of the book – the meat and potatoes – which you might massage a whole lot more. It all takes time and lots of it. But, it’s always worth it in the long run when you have a book that you are pleased with and want others to see.
Then comes the other nitty-gritty of marketing, which I didn’t really do for the first one. I up and went off to explore South America, instead. So, this will be a first for me in many respects. I got my learning curve accomplished on the first book, which I plan to re-publish and promote in 2011, when the Boomers hit Social Security. That’s what it was aimed for anyway.
My new book is aimed at a whole different audience: probably a very small portion of New Agers…even the Trekkies. Maybe I should have titled it “A Spiritual Star Trek.” Anyway, that will be a whole new ride, which could begin as early as mid-February.
I’ll let you know when you can order it…you Trekkie, you!