Checking In

penguin waving

Well, I just looked at the date of my last blog post and good golly Miss Molly, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Sorry about that. I’ve actually been busy working on writerly things. As opposed to just telling you I’m working on writerly things when really I’m eating myself into a sugar-coated coma.

Okay, maybe there have been some sugar-coated coma moments happening because – peanut butter ice cream.  And maybe some diabetic moments. And a few mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdown moments.  But mostly I’ve been working on writerly things.  So I thought I’d write a quick post to tell you-all what’s been going on, writerly-wise.

After I posted Handling It to the major ebook retailer sites, I took a couple of weeks and built out a world map for the whole Hardy Falls universe. I learned the hard way with my first book that I need to do this when the characters are alive in my mind– not just assume I’ll remember all of the backstories I’ve created for them when it came time to write the next book.

My problem with a world map is always figuring out how to do it.  Individual Word documents just don’t seem to work for me.  With so many characters and stories, I lose track of where the documents are and what I’ve called them.  If you can’t retrieve data, it’s not worth anything.

Plus, I’m a piler not a filer.  Once I file something away, I forget it exists.  This is as true on my computer as it is in my file cabinet (or file pile, as it were).

I found a program called Scapple, made by the people who make Scrivener, and it was a godsend.  It’s like a virtual whiteboard where you can drop notes and text wherever you want on an ever-expanding page. Then you can link the notes together in various ways.  That lets me find the different strings of thought, and then see how the stories and backstories relate to each other visually. And because I worked out dates and ages and all that kind of thing, I’ll be able to be consistent across books.

So, that’s good.

When I realized I was using the world map building as an excuse not to move forward, I made myself stop and turned to creating the print copy of Handling It.

Holy layouts, Batman! The print version took a LOT more time to create than the ebook version.  I think that’s because the ebook version is really just a glorified webpage and there’s not a lot of personalization.  There can’t be – everyone has a different device, and everyone’s device is set up differently.  Not only must the book look different on an iPhone than it does on a Kindle Fire, but every reader has the ability to change fonts and sizes and that sort of thing.  So the formatting for an ebook is stripped down to make sure it works everywhere.

But a print book requires a very particular format.  The layout is written in stone, as it were.  And it’s hard to know what the interior or the cover will actually look like when you hold them in your hand as a 5.5 x 8.5 book.

I bought a template so I could lay out the book and the cover in Word, and then use the Word documents to create the appropriate .pdf files.  Since my book already was in Word, I thought it would save time.  It didn’t.

Well, okay, I guess it kind of did because the margins and gutters and bleeds and fonts were all set up and ready to go, but it definitely wasn’t the “I’ll just pop my book in here and we’re good” experience I’d hoped for.  Especially when I decided I wanted to change some of the formatting.  If you’ve never entered the hell caused by changing style formatting in a Word template, count yourself lucky.

A lot of time.

But the print book is finally finished now, I think.  I’m waiting for a print proof copy, and if all goes well it should be available for sale next week.  I’ll post more info on that when I have it.  Once it’s ready, you’ll be able to order a print copy of my book just like you can order a print copy of any other book.

In between wrestling with world maps and Word templates, I made sure Handling It was available as an ebook everywhere I possibly could.  Now it’s up on Smashwords in addition to all of the other sites, which means it’s available in the Overdrive and Baker and Taylor library systems and can be ordered by libraries everywhere.  It’s also available on Flipkart, which is the biggest ebook site in India, for what that’s worth.  Actually, through all of the various platforms and systems, it’s available in 160 countries.

Wow, what a learning curve.  It’s been extremely interesting, but it sure has taken time.  On the other hand, I know that when I’m ready to publish my next book, I’ll have a better idea about what I’m doing and it shouldn’t take as long.  That’s the goal, anyway.

So, now I should be able to blog regularly again, for those who care.  Don’t worry – Harry, Skipper, The Muse, Coffee, and the rest of the gang will be back and better than ever.  I’ll also be starting my monthly newsletter in the next couple of weeks – I was waiting until I plowed through some of this publishing stuff before I tried to figure out Mailchimp too.  I hope you’ll join me – it’s going to be fun!

Along with the newsletter, I’m trying to decide if I want to sell direct. I don’t know – it could be a good idea, or it could open me up to a world of hurting.  We’ll see….  I’m also thinking about production schedules, objectives, measurements of success, expanding into other genres, and, oh yeah, writing.

Why, I think I’ll go do that now.





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