Making a Book in Grown Up Land

I have been telling stories as long as I can remember.  As a kid, when I wrote a story, I wasn’t content to simply write my words on a piece of paper.  I would staple pages together and write my story in these handmade books, complete with illustrations and hand drawn covers.

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Some gems from early in my career.

I wish it was so easy to make a book in grown-up land.

Almost from the time I began writing The Compass Code, I planned to self-publish it.  The primary reason I decided on this route is that I like owning what I create.  I own the words.  I own the art.  I like having the freedom to do what I choose with it.  So, as I considered my options, self-publishing felt like the best fit.

Of course, self-publishing means–surprise–my job doesn’t end with writing the words.  I have to turn those words into an actual book.  Properly formatted, with things like headers and page numbers and a table of contents.  And a cover.

This has terrified me.  I can write the words, but formatting a document on a computer?  I was lost at the word format.  I have some skills with a pencil, but graphic design?  As in, art on a computer?  Did I mention how computer challenged I am?

Last month, I had the good fortune to take a class on formatting manuscripts into ebooks and paperbacks, and designing a cover using the free software GIMP.  I still have a lot of work and learning to do, both with formatting the manuscript and with my cover design, but for the first time, I feel as though I just might be able to actually make a real, not-stapled-together, grown-up book.

There will still be some hand drawn art on the cover though.  Because tradition.

Many in the industry say over and over again that authors shouldn’t make their own covers.  It won’t look professional.  It will look self-published.  (Oh the shame.)  People won’t buy your book.  I can appreciate the advice.  But, I have contrarian tendencies.  And remember, I want to own it all, the words, the art…

I drew the images I envisioned for my cover years ago.  I tried different configurations, colors, fonts, etc.  It was a lot of fun, and I did succeed in making an image I like enough to use for headers on social media.  But I knew it wouldn’t translate into a professional looking cover without help.  I filed all the art away and packed up the pencils and got back to writing.

The class gave me a reason to pull all the drawings back out and art to my heart’s content for a couple of weeks.

Figuring out how to turn my pencil drawings into an amazing cover I love using GIMP was extremely frustrating in the beginning.  (Could be my afore mentioned computer illiteracy.)  As I played around with it (subjected myself to much mental anguish) for entirely too much time, I finally managed to make some sense of GIMP, and it turns out, it’s pretty fun.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

After days of dangerously elevated stress levels, hours of raging, and a little bit of swearing (okay, a lot), The Compass Code has a cover design concept. And I’m really, really excited about it.  I can’t wait to share it, along with all the words it will soon be wrapped around.

Now, if I can just get through the formatting part…

Stolen Words

I’m incredibly naive, I guess, but until today I had no idea it was a thing to pay someone to ghost write fiction.  I mean, I know a lot of autobiographies are ghost written, but fiction?  Nope, I did not know of this.  I’ve considered the reasons why authors (and wannabe authors) might do this, and I’m trying not to judge.  But, I can’t deny feeling cheated by this revelation, it kind of almost ruined my morning.  It got worse, however.

Along came some for real, legit cheating.  And that is the scandal that has become known as #copypastecris on Twitter.  Short version, a romance author, whose Twitter bio describes her as a USA Today bestseller, was busted blatantly plagiarizing the work of numerous other authors.  She promptly apologized on social media.*  And laid the blame on the ghost writer she hired.  Thus admitting she didn’t actually write her books.  And perhaps doesn’t even read them?

Or worse, she didn’t care that her ghost writer was stealing the words other writers worked so hard to weave into stories.  Or even worse, she stole the words herself and handed them off to her ghost writer with the instruction to piece them together into new books she could put her own name on.  Whatever.  There is so much dishonesty on so many levels either way.

For me, this calls into question just how often this might be happening.  As indie authors struggle to put out more and more content in order to make a career for themselves, I don’t find it difficult to believe it’s happening a lot more than this one case.  And that just looks so bad for independent publishing.  And that makes me angry.  So many talented, hard-working authors out there self-publishing their work, the words they actually wrote, you know, themselves, and along comes this.

This is really disheartening.  It must feel so violating for the authors whose words were stolen.  And the thing is, this author has stolen more than just words.  She’s stolen trust and credibility from all indie authors.  She stole from her readers too.  That USA Today bestseller she takes credit for?  Yeah, stolen words.

There is some good news in all this, and that is the ways the writer and reader communities have come together to support the victims of this author’s theft.  That, at least, gives me some hope.

*I can’t link to her apology as her Twitter account is now down.

 

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

Goals

It’s that time again when people start talking about goals, and resolutions for the new year.  I’m not really a New Year’s resolution sort of person but I always have aspirations.  I’ve never really felt the need to write about them, I figure my goals don’t matter to anyone but me.  But this year, I’ve decided to write about them in hopes it will be an added push to achieve them.  (And because one goal is to write every day, and this was an easy thing to write about, hahaha).

Goals.  I’ve got some.  A lot, actually.  And some of them even involve my writing career.  2018 might just be the year I accomplish some of the bigger, more important ones.  That is an exciting, but also intimidating, possibility.  It isn’t going to be easy.

It’s possible that one non-writing goal will result in a lot of disruption in my routine over the course of this year as the family embarks (hopefully) on some significant home improvement projects.  However, I’m determined to keep a strong focus on writing daily no matter how chaotic it gets around here.

I’ve said it for a few years (I know, I know, who’s gonna believe me now?), but this is the year I will finish The Compass Code.  It’s nearly time to start hunting for a beta reader or two, and an editor.  Along with finishing it and getting it (and myself) ready for its debut, I’ve got a lot to learn about self-publishing.  And, I need to work on that oh-so-important blurb for the book, a task I’m dreading.  Oh yeah, and that cover design, and…and….  The entire process of self-publishing often feels so overwhelming.  I sometimes suspect I procrastinate on finishing the novel to avoid all of it!  But no more.  Watch for a few teasers and “deleted scenes” that I’ll be posting here soon.

Another goal is to get my little orange van back on the road.  Yes, this is actually a writing related goal.  She plays a starring role in my other, mostly finished novel, and I need a photo for the book cover.  I’ve got a location in mind for the photo shoot, and it’s not the back yard. That means a road trip!  So, she needs some tires, and some other, engine-ey sort of things.  Don’t get me wrong, the van runs, or she did, many years ago when she went into semi-retirement.  Marmie’s never let me down though, so I have faith.  Along with her journey onto the road again, I plan to spend some time on Volkswagen Summer this year, and hopefully get it ready for publishing as well.  (If you want to follow my little orange van’s progress, find me on Instagram.  I tag pictures of the van with #Marmie, #littleorangevan, and #VWsummer).

I have long wanted to commit to a set number of blog posts published each month on Seeking Redress and on here.  I’m still hesitant to do so though, since Compass and VW Summer are my biggest writing priorities.  I don’t know if it will happen this year, but I’m going to try.

I’m excited to dive into 2018.  There is no way to know what the world has in store for us this year, and I watch events unfold with some unease.  But, in my own small part of the world, I intend to do what I can to make it a better place.  Happy New Year everyone, and here’s to accomplishing our goals!

 

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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