When is modest too modest?

After starting this blog in April, just today I added the page “My Books.” I mentioned them several times, but somehow it seemed pushy to advertise them. Ignoring advice from many sources that I should toot my “published!” horn as loudly as possible on as many social media platforms as possible, I demurred and delayed.

But didn’t you start this blog because you had published a book, you might ask. The answer is yes, but more than that, I envisioned it as possibly helpful to other writers/would-be indie publishers. I cow pathed into some personal experience blogs, copied a vignette from my memoir, asked some philosophical questions and just generally lost focus.

I may be back in focus now. Or not.

Kaleidoscope as a title?

For a while I thought Kaleidoscope: Bits and Pieces of a Life would be a good title for my memoir because it contains many articles, essays, and poems on many subjects written over a long time period. Many memoirs are focused on a theme such as loss of a loved one, serious illness, addiction, abusive and/or alcoholic parents, etc. I might have focused on negative aspects of my life but I chose to emphasize triumphs, dreams achieved, and along the way anecdotes featuring the many animals in my life. There was a bit of whining here and there, but I tried to keep it under control.

Now I’ll freely confess that I’m bad at titles. As I’m writing I keep jotting title ideas in a notebook, but seldom does one strike me as perfect for the piece I’m writing. Kaleidoscope topped my list for my memoir for months. I found spectacular royalty-free photos on the internet for a book cover.But how many people know how to spell kaleidoscope? Not me! Not until I had looked it up a dozen times.

So what did I call my memoir? In Pursuit of Dreams, a title so common that it’s faster to find the book by using my name rather than the title. Amazingly, titles can’t be copyrighted, so I could have called it Gone With the Wind if I wanted to! Brainstorming titles is one way that a writing group can be helpful. Sadly, I wasn’t in a group when I was finishing the book.

I recommend taking a writing class or joining a group to motivate you and to help you see your work through new eyes. I’m going to start looking for a group to join. Right after our fishing trip next week and a trip to Colorado to bury my parents’ ashes the next week and who knows what will come up next?


Brain fried!

This has been such a steep learning curve that my poor tiny brain is fried! I knew for several years that one could self-publish on Kindle free but I doubted that I could manage it, technologically challenged as I am. I succeeded only after many hours of frustration, kicking and screaming. I have considerably less hair than I had a few months ago.

I’m not a Luddite; my first computer was an Apple 2e in 1980. I’ve gone from the simple as pie Apple Writer to the horrible Word Perfect with all its F commands to many iterations of Word. In every case I’ve learned just enough to do what I need, mostly to simply write.

Formatting for publication is a huge jump, and my legs are short! Once I got Amigos on Kindle, my sister-in-law who drew the illustrations many years ago said she would love to see it in print. Okey Doke I thought. But that took weeks. Either there’s flaws in our Word 2013 or I’m seriously impaired. I prefer to blame our program.

Then there were weeks of editing my memoir and struggling to write enticing language for the book jacket, cover, etc. Now I’m told that a serious author needs a lot of “platforms” like a web presence, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. I’ve been on Facebook for years, but only to occasionally see what friends and family are up to. I joined Twitter during the election in 2008, but Mark soon gained followers on my account by making rude comments about some candidates. In fear of being put on the “no fly” list, I soon backed off. Now I’m in the throes of learning to use this platform (if that’s what it is). In every case if I finally succeed I’m so stressed and tired that I have no idea how I accomplished it.

Will all this brain activity strengthen my mental ability or will it hasten the onset of dementia?

Premature publication

Yes, it’s embarrassing. It’s something I hoped would never happen to me, but I got so excited by being close to publishing my novella, Amigos, that I rushed it into publication. My second mistake was signing up for Kindle Direct, which meant that I couldn’t unpublish it for ninety days, even though I had an improved more attractive version. Finally today I accomplished the switch. For those who have already read it, don’t fret. Only the cover has changed and preliminary pages like title and dedication have been added.

And then it happened again with my memoir. I had hoped to have at least a proof copy to take to the family reunion over July 4, so instead of going slow and careful, again I rushed to completion, leaving me dissatisfied and embarrassed.

Another Lesson Learned.

My memoir —used?

I just went to Amazon, peeked into the hardback of In pursuit of Dreams and found what they say is the e-book edition. There I found the paperback version for sale at multiple prices ranging from $15.70 new to $20 something — used! I’ve heard other authors complain that they saw their book for sale used even though they never knew a copy had sold nor had they been paid. My real question is: Why would anyone pay more for a “used” copy than the “new” price?

Back to “Lesson Learned” –yesterday I went with Mark to get work done on the RV and he asked me to wait a minute before leaving to be sure it was good to go. I had a copy of my memoir in the car, so I started reading. I got so engrossed that I didn’t see him leave and sat there reading at least ten minutes after he had gone.

Now before you think I’m one course short of a certificate (as we used to say at the community college), I wrote parts many years ago. But the lesson learned is that though I had gone through the manuscript so many times that I was sick of it, I wasn’t actually reading it. Mostly I was looking for little punctuation errors I tend not to see on screen, and I see some still in the finished book.

To repeat The Lesson: Get an editor. Get a reader. Get more than one reader. I was too proud and too confident of my ability to see errors. I wanted it to be read only when it was complete and in print. Really dumb!

Big booboo; lesson learned

My daughter called to say how much she and her husband were enjoying my memoir, BUT she spotted an unfortunate error. Twice on one page I was writing about my first drug-addicted husband (long dead) and called him by my current husband’s name! My publisher, Archway, allowed 50 corrections free and a charge of $100 per 25 changes after that. I had assured them that I didn’t need to pay no $$ for editorial help.  i is a porfesional, i cun find me own erors!

Well, I did. Most of them, I hope. I have been advised and know from experience that it’s hard to spot your own errors. Looking for a possible market for the next novel I’m working on, one publisher demanded the name and address of my writing partner or editor.

I can imagine that I was writing late at night when Mark called, as usual, “Why don’t you knock it off and come watch TV with me.” And so I wrote his name instead of who I was writing about, and those aren’t the kind of errors I was looking for in the editing phase. Now the book is in print, so I will have to pay more for corrections.

Big Surprise

Curious to see if the improved version of Amigos is available on Kindle, I went to Amazon.com > books and typed my name. There was Amigos, both e-book and paperback, PLUS my memoir, In Pursuit of Dreams, in paperback and hardback, PLUS my author photo and short bio and blogs from this site.

I had not been informed that the memoir was in print nor did I know that the other things would be on “my” page. I am concerned that the price is so high, which is partly because there are some photos. When I complained, Archway said that of course I (and retail buyers) pay a wholesale price. The e-book should be available soon, which I have priced at $3.99.

Amigos in print

Paperback copies of Amigos arrived recently. I’m pleased, though I’m not sure such a small book was worth all the time and aggravation. But hey– it was a learning experience. And come to think of it, The Old Man and the Sea and Johnathan Livingston Seagull were both novellas. Not that I’m comparing, just saying.

My memoir, In Pursuit of Dreams is “in production” at Archway Press, an off shoot of Simon and Schuster. It has been a much longer project, years in the making, in fact.

More about that later.

Self-publishing trip

What an experience the last month has been! First it was catching and correcting errors in Amigos for Kindle. Lesson: get a trusted reader (or two) to read a ms before you publish.

Then my dear sister-in-law who drew the illustrations and was widowed in December said she’d love to have a print copy. Simple, I thought. So I went to Createspace to format a paperback version. Easy peasy, right? Not for me. The first pages with Title, Dedication, etc. should be unnumbered or with Roman numerals. The body of the manuscript should start with page 2.

I decided to alternate headings, my name, title, my name, etc. Somehow that tended to mess up the page numbers. Once every other page was # 3. 2,3,4,3,6,3,etc. Another time every other page was 73! Tearing my hair out at one point, DH Mark manually numbered every other page. Which promptly disappeared when I made another formatting flub.

Not to bore with minute detail, just know that I spent hour after hour, day after day for weeks before getting it right. At one point I thought it was good enough to order a copy. Wrong! All kinds of problems, to my eyes, though my mother-in-law, a university English professor and avid reader, assured me that most readers would never notice. Back to work again. Finally, I think, it’s acceptable and I’ve ordered copies to take to a family reunion on the Columbia River July 4.

So now Amigos should be available for sale on Amazon and elsewhere.