Friday, August 07, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XXIV

I frantically sat down to work on a grammar, usage, and punctuation book. Fortunately, I'd already compiled my syllabus for the upcoming conference, which was essentially a list of the most common questions I get asked and the most common errors I see in my editing work.

That was my launching point. I printed out my syllabus, added a few more topics, and began writing on one issue at a time, crossing each off as I went. I'd already blogged about a few of the issues, whether here on a Word Nerd Wednesday or on the Writing on the Wall blog, but most of them I had to write from scratch.

I began with punctuation, went on to grammar, and ended with usage issues (mostly commonly mistakes with usage pairs and the like, such as affect/effect, imply/infer, and so on).

I knew I'd be doing the book with print-on-demand (POD) technology, and I knew there were several different companies that provided such services, but I had no clue which one I'd go with. At that point, I was just frantically trying to get a manuscript ready.

My husband, however (who I've mentioned as Mr. Techno-Dude but who is also Mr. Consumer-Reports Dude), unbeknownst to me began researching POD companies, their pros and cons, and which might be the best fit for our particular situation.

One day, out of the blue, he came to me and announced that through his research, he figured that CreateSpace (a sub-company of Amazon) might be the best way to go. I had no idea he'd even been researching. I poked around at the CreateSpace site and saw plenty to know that it really was a good fit. I didn't bother looking elsewhere, because I knew that my husband already had. It was a good fit for what we were doing.

(Big caveat here: every POD company has its own pros and cons. Before doing your own self-publishing venture, know what you're doing, why and what you expect to get out of it. We knew my goals and what I was trying to accomplish very clearly. I won't recommend CreateSpace blanketly for all writers, but it was a great fit for ME and my project.)

I had no clue what to call the book, so I threw out the problem out to my blog readers and asked for ideas, promising a free copy to anyone whose idea I used. Lara was the first person to suggest I use "Word Nerd" in the title, since that's a nickname I'm known as thanks to my Word Nerd Wednesday posts (and, let's face it, elsewhere). I knew right away that was a good idea.

My oldest sister, who's very creative, got on a title kick and started e-mailing me literally dozens of title ideas. I used one of hers and paired it with Lara's Word Nerd idea, with the resulting attempt at a pun and comforting title:

There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd

I liked it!

Next up: A cover.

One thing I knew is that a lot of self-published books have, to put it mildly, rather pathetic covers, because they don't have a team of professionals designing them. I really didn't want mine to look bad, so I hired a friend who is a professional graphic designer (as well as a writer), Crystal Leichty.

The poor girl had little to go by other my really vague ideas, but she came up with several awesome mock-ups, and after I saw them, I had a better idea of what I wanted. By the end, we had a final version I just fell in love with. (It's right there in the sidebar, of course. Doesn't it totally rock?)

With CreateSpace, you have to upload the typeset file (which was done by, of course, my techno-hubs), and then we had to wait for the interior and cover files to be approved, which would take 24 - 48 hours.

After the files would be approved, I'd order a hard proof, they'd ship it to me, and when I saw it and then approved the proof, I could order copies, have them shipped, and they'd be available for sale at the conference.

If we didn't hit a single snag, it would work. If we ran into a slight delay and they arrived a day late, my husband offered to drive them down for the second day of the conference. It would work, I was sure of it.

But . . . the files weren't approved.

Both the interior and the cover files both had minor problems we'd overlooked.



Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

My word verification is, no word of a lie, "denied." I find that hilariously appropriate!

Melanie Jacobson said...

I used my copy yesterday! I have major comma anxiety and I checked on something to clarify. I love having a user friendly grammar guide around.

Kristina P. said...

I love your cover. I think it totally captures what the book is about.

Shelley said...

Oh no no! When I read this my stomach did an ugg flip for you. I'm ordering it right write now.

Josi said...

Three cheers for great husbands--a pox on slow approvals!

Josi said...

Just FYI--I just ordered it from Amazon. Super easy--should be here by Wednesday :-)

Anonymous said...

and yet, it has a happy ending! I love my copy!

Kim said...

Hello, Annette! I read your post over at Lara's, and I loved it. Stopping by your blog was a must afterward.

I have always wanted a guide to the proper use of grammar and punctuation. I am always correcting people's spelling and grammar - it drives my friends crazy. I just ordered your book from Amazon! I cannot wait until it arrives!

Oh, and on the ratings issue, my husband and I have that discussion frequently. My children are not allowed to play games like Medal of Honor or Grand Theft Auto, but after having played the original Zelda many moons ago we knew that it was ok for our kids to play the newer versions.

Love your blog!


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