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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Writing Was the Easy Part

Fortunately, I knew what I was getting into when I started this project. I’ve been working in publishing for 30 years in one aspect or another and I specialized in electronic layout, design, and production of documents. I designed and produced several magazines in the 80s, training manuals and curriculum in the 90s, and both paper and electronic books in the 00s. My designs and production won prepress, printing industry, and technical communication awards and I traveled the country converting traditional publishers to desktop technology. Yes, I have credentials when it comes to the publishing process.

But even I was surprised by the time and commitment it took to publish my own book. Sure, I’ve published other people’s books and even my own through a publishing company where there were other people to depend on for editorial and marketing services. But in becoming an independent publisher, I suddenly realized that writing was the easy part.

I can sit at my computer and generate a thousand good words at a sitting (out of 5,000). The story ideas flow so fast that I keep a file of opening lines and chapters for works I want to pick up later. I have a publishing schedule of completed works that goes for the next five years. Editing, designing, laying out, and producing those works takes months.

Take, for example, editing. Steven George & The Dragon went through several editorial passes after I had finished rewriting the book to my own satisfaction and before it was ready to lay out. In a traditional publishing house, the book would have been read by a professional editor who would compare it to other books of a similar nature currently on the shelves. She would be an expert in young adult literature and would recommend changes based on a tightly defined target market. When I wrote Steven George & The Dragon, I didn’t even realize it was a young adult novel. It was my first independent beta reader, Katy, who told me precisely where it would be shelved in a bookstore. Jason, the book doctor, reviewed the “finished” draft two years ago and made substantive suggestions, largely focusing on story arc and transitions. Michele, the copy editor, sought out typos, missing punctuation, bad or confusing sentence structure, and places where words were poorly chosen. And finally, when I thought I was ready to design the book and lay it out, I sent it out to half a dozen beta readers, including some in my target market. They gave me feedback on what was missing or confusing, additional missing punctuation, and words that were too hard or unfamiliar.

I had to manage that process myself with this book. A staff editor might have used the same processes that I did, but when I finished it would have the validation of an independent third party. I guess that means I could have said someone else was responsible and relieved myself of the onus of the final say. But it all rests on my head now.

I’ll be writing more about the production process in the future, including a May article in Line Zero magazine and a presentation at the PNWA members meeting on April 21.

But I still say, writing was the easy part!


DIY Publishing Snippet Appreciated

I found this to be a very interesting topic, chock full of specific details...

Thanks for posing.