Now there’s a scene from the past.
It’s been a brutal couple of months. Brutal.
I missed the routine that writing a weekly blog forces; I actually welcome deadlines. They help me focus. Even more, I missed the easy comaraderie that was beginning to build here after two years.
At the same time, my priorities had changed. I had to get my memoir back alive and, simply, I had bitten off more than I could chew. Or, to stay with the metaphor woven throughout my book, I’d jumped off that high dive and instead of figuring it out on the way down, I crashed …
… a few times.
It hurt. I hurt.
And it was a bit scary. I was scared.
But, I learned something in the process.
About me, too; not just about ebook publishing.
And that was good.
What did I learn? I learned that I still jump quickly. Too quickly, perhaps. But certainly before I’ve lined up all my ducks, as it were.
I’ve long known that I learn best by doing, trying it on, experimenting, exploring. I’ve often jumped before I see where I’ll land. The fall, to me, is part of the journey. It’s a matter of trust and it’s not for everybody.
Do you remember how I ended my memoir? I talked about how, in Kazakhstan, I had learned that while I might still jump off those metaphorical high dives, I would now stand on the board a bit longer and enjoy the view before I jumped.
Well, when Victoria Twead at Ant Press (my publisher at the time) announced she was leaving the publishing business–to focus more on her writing–and would turn my books back to me (everything would stay the same except that now I’d get 100% of the royalties) I forgot that lesson.
I thought only that here was the “perfect” opportunity to make those edits I’d been wanting to make. A little tweaking here, a typo fix there. I already had the edits marked in one of my hard copy proofs. How hard could it be to enter them in the manuscript and then upload them onto Create Space, Kindle, and the myriad other venues Victoria had my book on?
In a word, VERY
Remember this guy?
Sisyphus was the fella in Greek legend who kept pushing that rock up the hill, only to have it roll back down again. And again, and again.
I thought of him often over these past few months. Empathized with him, lots. I walked that proverbial mile in his shoes.
Here’s a quick summary of my jumps. Perhaps you’ll find something that will help you. I hope so; that might make me feel there was some benefit to my months of angst.
In the beginning . . .
Not only had I thought this the perfect time to make those edits in my manuscript, it seemed to me this was also the perfect time to jump into Scrivener, software geared specifically for writers. So, I downloaded my $40 copy, moved my manuscript over, separated all the chapters as suggested, and made my changes. That took a little longer than expected as I had to keep looking things up in the manual, but overall, it went well. I was glad I was now in the Scrivener camp. Until …
… I tried to upload it to Create Space.
Or was it Kindle?
I forget which.
It’s something like childbirth, you know. In the moment, the experience is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. But, once it’s over, once you hold that baby, you can’t remember what the fuss was about.
Frankly, I don’t recall the gruesome details. Suffice it to say, once that rock came rolling back down the hill for the umpteenth time, I knew I needed to concentrate better. I’d already skipped a few blog posts by the time I made it official (here). My blog had become an important part of my life over the previous two years and I didn’t like how it had suddenly become an afterthought. It deserved better. But I knew something had to go. And so, with some sadness, I pulled away, officially, (here). At the time I had no idea how long this would take.
EBOOK Lessons Learned: Use Word. I might still compose in Scrivener. But once I’m ready to format, I’ll do it from a CLEANED UP Word document. (See Mark Coker’s Nuclear Method, Step #5 in his Smashwords-style-guide. Download it now. It’s free).
[learn_more caption=”A little aside here: “] When I started out, I no longer had Word on my computer. Last November, the salesman for my new Mac had insisted that Pages would do anything Word could do and, wanting to save money, I believed him. Did you know Pages does not do facing page headers? No; I didn’t either. A Create Space (the POD service through Amazon) service rep told me this after I’d spent far too long working on my headers. I’m grateful; I wish I knew his name, I’d thank him.
There are other things Pages won’t do, but I forget what they are. What I do remember is that Smashwords (a distributor to myriad ebook readers) offers a number of free downloads that I used to great effect. And, for the overwhelmed and war weary, they offer a list of formaters you can hire for less than $50 to get your final file up and live. Had I known this on Day One . . . [/learn_more]
I also needed to reach out for help. And I did.
To the readers of Victoria Twead’s We Love Memoirs FB Authors’ Group who listened to my cries and sympathized, and especially to Sue Clamp who reached back and held my hand — all the way from the UK — I say Thank You. Sue got me through Scrivener.
To Adri Araya, one of the many customer service reps at KDP (that’s Kindle Direct Publishing; I’d never heard of it either) who spent hours fine tuning the formatting of my manuscript so it would meet KDP’s criteria, I say Thank you. Adri got me live on KDP.
To Melissa Nayyar, my Google Chat buddy, who helped me through the maze I found myself in trying to get onto Google Play, the latest eReader — it’s for Androids and PDF readers, and isn’t covered by Smashwords — I say Thank You.
To Suzanne Rhodes, director of our local hospice choir and a fellow tenor who also works with Macs (doing web designs, btw — in case you’re looking), I say Thank You. Suzanne worked some sort of magic with my screwed-up Word doc (I hadn’t yet discovered Smashwords or Mark Coker’s NUCLEAR METHOD for cleaning it up), creating two pdfs so my front matter pagination wasn’t lost, then combining them again into one pdf, all the while keeping an eye out for errant blank pages, undifferentiated section breaks, and weirdly sized glyphs. It all boggled the mind, mine at least; not hers. Suzanne got me live on Create Space.
To Anne McKinsey, my cover designer, who ran off new covers for my newly paginated books in short order, I say Thank You. I couldn’t have gotten the new books (print and large print) live on Create Space without new covers — their spines anyway. You see, I’d removed all the photos, so the pagination was down. Life was just easier with no photos bleeding off the page.
And an easier life is what it was all about. As my old coffee mug says,
“Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal.”
Which brings me, at last, to my husband Woody Starkweather, who really missed me and let me know, in his own inimical way, just how much. I’m still smiling. And I very much say Thank You. 🙂
I’m still talking to the folks at KDP and Amazon to get my three versions merged into one book entry; I still have an updated Kindle version to upload; and I still have a 99 cent promotion to explore. But, at least my print books are back (both regular and large print) and my ebooks are live on all (ALL) the other eReaders. I hadn’t heard of half of them.
Life has gone back to the normally crazy mix that it is. A mix that reminds me daily to take time to be still. We are not HUMAN DOINGS, after all. We’re HUMAN BEINGS.
How about you? Have you gotten caught up in some sort of chaos? How did you handle it?