Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Near miss.

I’m having an argument with myself.  I have another book-length story, which I wrote a few years ago.  It is the original source of the early, shorter Interpreter Stories, which are spaced throughout it as intermezzos.  When I finished the story, I was proud enough of it to hope it might someday be published.  I went the usual route of researching agents and publishers, and sending out query packages according to their various specifications.  All of which led to nothing, as it almost invariably does.

So I printed the whole thing one more time and put it in a shirt box.  It doesn’t really fit very well in a shirt box, sort of slides around in there, but there it remains.

Here’s the thing.  Today is my birthday, a reminder that I am getting older.  One of my presents was a three-pack of reading glasses from Costco, a truly helpful reminder.   As I get older, my would-be book becomes less relevant to my present, ever-changing life, and I find it harder to muster the conviction to try, try again to have it published.  There are vanity presses, which perhaps amounts to throwing good money after a considerable cost in time.  I don’t want to go that route.  If you’re going to self-publish, why not just put it online?  I’ve already done that once before, and I really didn’t want to “waste” a book again, but here’s another thing:

I was almost run over by a large dump truck pulling a pup-trailer the other day.  It was a place where the bike lane suddenly ends and the road narrows.  The truck was barrelling along; I’m not certain the driver even saw me.  It was a matter of inches.  Somehow I jumped the curb just in time, as the huge tires blew past.  I’ve been bike-commuting in this city since 1998.  That was the closest I’ve come to a mishap. Or being flattened.

Apart from all the other complications and unpleasantness of being run over by a dump truck (and pup-trailer), such an event would pretty much be the final nail in the coffin regarding publishing my story.

I would like it read, but I would prefer it were first professionally edited, to make it as good as it can be, but that’s more money there too (and I’m sure it isn’t easy finding an editor who fits one’s particular style.)   I expect some readers would enjoy the story as is, based on the kind comments I get on the interpreter series.  Unlike those stories, it is written in the first person (apart from the interpreter-story intermezzos), the narrator being the interpreter.  He actually has a name, and it’s not my name.  Other characters from the online series are in the book too.  I recycled them for the longer, more recent stories in the series.

I’ve started constructing a website to contain the interpreter book, which is titled, “The Jesus of the West.”  If I’m not careful, I’m going to post it.


biobabbler said...

Well. That's very interesting. What kind of editing are you looking for? Just fixes re: grammar, etc., or a more thorough wash, including sentence structure, or even a developmental (albeit after the fact) edit?

Very glad you dodged the giant truck. That's very scary.

Good for you re: making moves to get it "out there." Way to make lemonade out of (almost) crushed lemons.

sarah said...

By all means, get that thing out there where it can be enjoyed and live for all eternity in the ether of the interwebs! I'm awfully glad you weren't killed. A pup-trailer - such an indignity that would have been.

Tim said...

If you publish the book (either on paper or as an ebook), I will buy it.
As for editing, check w/ Wanderin' Weeta, as she's published a few of her own.

pattib said...

Give yourself (and the world) a happy birthday present, and post that website! What have you got to lose?

Neil said...

Happy Birthday!

Selfishly, I would love to see it go up on the web. Tea Kettle Island was the first (and only) book that I have read "cover-to-cover" on a screen. I loved it.

On the other hand, there is no question that, at least to judge from the Interpreter Stories, this thing merits "legitimate" publication.

Either way, I can't wait to read it. But also I can, and will wait as long as it takes!

Watch out for dump trucks.

Hugh said...

bb, I'm a reasonably good copy editor, although I screw up punctuation here and there (commas). I want it to be as clean as possible, and be checked for inept or unapt wordings, abrupt or draggy bits, etc. I can rarely read anything I have written without doubting, changing, fussing. It's nice to have someone with experience in editing fiction to help decide when it's over.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Sarah.

Thanks, Tim. I have to look up how to create an ebook (as opposed to creating a blook, which is what Tea Kettle Island is).

Patti, thanks. What I have to lose, I think, is having any chance at all of making a dime from it. (Children need new pairs o' shoes.)

Neil, thanks a lot, and thank you for the Twitter plug.

Patricia Lichen said...

Hey, Hugh! I've got a lot to say on this topic and so will email you at the yahoo acct rather than fill up half the page here.

Susannah (Wanderin' Weeta) said...

I thought there was a backstory to the interpreter series! I'd love to see it published, on the web, as an e-book, or with a publisher; I'd buy it, in any format.

E-publishing isn't all that expensive, but the formatting, etc, can be time-consuming. Unless you pay for that, and the cover art, too, but that does cost a fair amount.

You probably won't make enough to keep your kids in shoes with e-publishing, unless you're a great self-advertiser, which I don't see evidence of. Maybe the rest of us could do that, though, writing it up on our blogs, adding a permanent link; that sort of thing.

As to what Tim said, I have done quite a bit of editing, but not of fiction, and rarely of book-length material. I did my own, but spent as long editing as I did writing. Like you, I'm never quite satisfied with my work.

Blind truck drivers should be outlawed! Or you should have big, flashing lights on your back. Or both. Stay safe!

Sally said...

Having loved Tea Kettle, I look forward to another book in whatever form, but hate to see you lose out on published fortune and fame (perhaps difficult to attain online)...

Have you looked at adding a Flattr button if you publish online? Sarcozona uses it, and speaks very highly of it. I'm sure your legions of fans here would support such a venture. It might add up to a birthday present and encouragement, if not an actual fortune.

Best of luck with it-- and Happy Birthday!

Hugh said...

Susannah, Thanks for the information and encouraging comments. You're correct-I'm a terrible self-advertizer. Self-promotion is my weak suit.

Sally, Thank you for the good wishes and telling me about the Flattr button. I'll look into that, but as it is now, Tea Kettle Island is mostly receiving accidental hits (there actually are real Tea Kettle Islands in the world, which I didn't know when I wrote the story). I don't think anyone has really read it for a while. Another person more knowledgeable than me about publishing has suggested I take TKI down and try to publish it more formally, one way or another. I may do that.

Incidentally, I'm working on another book with the characters from TKI--ten years later, married, with children. I never learn.

Sally said...

Well, I would look forward to a TKI sequel... and your work is a legacy whether anyone sees it now or not. You never know!

If Flattr doesn't seem right to you, there's also the Paypal "Donate" button. Something to make you feel rewarded for writing, as we are for reading!

tfernando said...

I read TKI in it's entirety yesterday*3, and I had meant to only start reading it. I'd certainly buy the sequel (though TKI ends really well as it is), and the book with the interpreter stories if either were published.

Reading TKI in it's entirety in browser was bit too daunting for me, so I copy pasted the whole thing into open office and then converted it to epub with Calibre.* That took about 20 minutes, and except for not having a TOC, didn't require any additional formatting for my eReader. (It does need one more pass by a copy editor, but as it is on a grammar/spelling basis it's no worse than 99% of the ebooks*2 from HarperCollins or Penguin) My understanding is that formatting text for Kindle is about as complicated.

My overly rambling point being, and I imagine you've already considered this, that if you decided to ePub your other two books (say, via Smashwords and Amazon), you should also do the same with TKI even though you've already posted it free here. You could set the price to zero to draw readers, and I'd bet many of them would buy your other books on the strength of that one.

*- I'm not going to give either file to anyone, or seed it anywhere, so I hope you don't mind.

*2- I'm sure paper books contain minor spelling errors, but for some reason I notice them more readily on my eReader.

*3- I had the interpreter stories page bookmarked for months, and happen to finally have time to read them this week. I'm not sure how I arrived here originally.

Hugh said...

tfernando, Thank you for your very informative comment. I don't own an E-reader, thus am somewhat behind on the relevant hardware and software. I don't mind that you found a more convenient way to read TKI. (I'm cheered to hear that you read it all the way through unintentionally!) That's very encouraging. Thank you for the time it took to do that, and for your helpful suggestions.

Kim said...

Happy birthday and I'm glad you didn't get "flattened!" I haven't read Tea Kettle Island yet but I'm planning on it....and looking forward to it now that I've read these comments!

Hugh said...

Sally, thank you for your kind sentiments and ideas, and for generally being so supportive. I really appreciate it.

Kim, thank you, and I hope you enjoy it. (There's lots of biology - lizards and worms and fish etc.)