The pivotal people involved in making a new book come into existence—writer, publisher, production person—often feel like they spend years like Sisyphus, pushing a rock up a hill only to have it roll down again.
Fortunately, each time this particular type of rock tumbles it doesn't get quite as far toward the bottom of the hill as the last time. Five steps forward, four steps back. It's a slow means of locomotion, but the progress is in the right direction.
Yesterday I reached the end of the layout file for Ethnic Knitting Discovery for the umpty-hundredth time, but this time it felt like a BOOK.
It's still missing some illustrations; author Donna Druchunas still needs to look it over and see what the heck I've done with the material she sent me (and if I've messed anything up); there's still at least one more technical review (there've been so many already that I've lost count). I have to learn how to get spot colors to work between my computer and the printer's. I need to get print bids. . . .
Okay, I'm going to stop listing the number of things that still have to be done because what I want to do right now is enjoy the fact that it finally feels like this book may actually be DONE some day.
What comes next is writing copy for, and having the designer complete, the spine and back cover. The spine's easy. I'm good at spine copy. I can remember everything that's supposed to go there. The back cover's harder. It's like a bulletin board for the book and I'm way too myopic at this point to be able to see clearly what the big picture is without going through mental contortions (and don't have a natural inclination toward marketing anyway, which is what the back cover is about). I'll get the words written, but I also know I'll have to make myself do the job.
Also today a press release about Arctic Lace was distributed by a service. I don't like writing press releases (again, marketing-brain, which mine is not) and yet they're supposed to be a good way to get the word out about a book. So for the first time I said okay to having someone else do this for us. We've been working on it for about six weeks. I knew exactly when the transmission went out today because my mailbox suddenly began to be flooded with "spam reject" and "mail delivery failed" messages. The service apparently sent the thing with our address on it, which makes some sense, but my immediate reaction was that I would NEVER do this AGAIN. The flood stopped an hour or so after it started. I am very grateful. We'll see what comes of this experiment before I make any hard-and-fast decisions about the future, but yikes.
I did get one response from a real person. Who wanted more information. And this could be a very cool connection. It might make me feel okay about the whole endeavor.
High IQ Kids went to press yesterday at Free Spirit Publishing, so over the past few days we editors-of-the-volume have also been quickly responding to a barrage of last-minute clarifications and adjustments. While meeting the deadlines for our ongoing work.
To stay marginally sane and grounded, I've been taking fifteen-minute reading breaks. Books that work for this have to be interesting enough to distract me, have enough continuity that fifteen-minute segments are satisfying, but can't be so gripping that I can't put them back down and get back to work while still feeling like I've had a short vacation.
Here's what I've been reading:
What do you call a graphic narrative that's nonfiction, not a novel? Whatever the descriptor, it applies to Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which tell her story of growing up as an opinionated and outspoken young Iranian woman. My currently blogless friend Judy, one of the co-editors of the Free Spirit book, tells me they're graphic memoirs. Not easy; worthwhile.
Susan Conant's Gaits of Heaven is the latest in her series of mysteries set in the realms of dogs and dog training. It's hard for a mystery writer to comply with publishers' requirements for a new title every too-often while maintaining quality. I thought this series stumbled a bit a few volumes back, and as a result I fell behind on reading them. But Conant's got her stride back.
Phoebe Damrosch's Service Included won't be released until September or October (the author's website says September; the back of the advance copy says October). No, I didn't pick up this advance reader's copy at BookExpo America in New York in June. I have access to it because my daughter works in a bookstore and brought it home because she wanted to read it. She's still finishing a few other books and I was intrigued so I grabbed it.
Service Included is about working at a new, high-end restaurant in New York City—the kind I will likely never eat in (and that's okay; I tend to like simple, even rustic, vegetarian food), but I'm intrigued to know something about the world that it's part of. The title doesn't quite fit the book for me, but Damrosch is a smart, sharp, perceptive, and honest writer who's a pleasure to read even if I'm only peripherally interested in the topic. On the page, she's got style. She has it in the food world, too, but what I care about is the prose.
All of these books have succeeded in all the ways listed above. I've actually finished them. I'm sometimes amazed at the number of books I start but don't finish. A book's worth remarking on when I make it all the way through.
This is what else I'm reading. As soon as I get my brain around a piece of software, either the developers change it (I've recently undertaken a long-delayed upgrade of my book-production tools, although I'm still not completely up-to-date) or I decide I want to do something I don't know how to do (make a book with a two-color interior . . . four-color's easier).
It's nice to have The Good Good Pig waiting for me.