Onward Methuselah, Part Three

My foray into self-publishing was derailed this week. Not by my own procrastinations but by the death of a family member. It wasn’t an unexpected death but death always seems so sudden and absolute even when expected. So I allowed myself a swig of the morose with a chaser of the guilt for not doing more, listened to ragtime and wrote badly.

But yesterday I got back to business. I logged onto CreateSpace and finally began the process. The first thing you do is either enter your IBSN or you buy one from CS ($99) or you take a chance and accept their offer of a free one. Then you download one of their Microsoft Word templates.


The Microsoft Clippy – used to pop up to “help” you use Word. I used to hate this guy!

Now, you don’t have to use their templates. They have a whole list of rules and regulations regarding things like “bleed space,” embedding fonts, eliminating orphans and widows, etc., etc.,  you can apply to your existing MS to get it print ready.  In my humble opinion, only do this if you consider yourself a Word expert. They made my eyeballs sting and I was a tech writer and documentation manager for years.

So I downloaded a version of the template with boilerplate text so I could see what they wanted a doc to look like.  Holy Cow.  It looked exactly like the ready-for-print version of my MS that my publisher sent me before they went belly up. I even did a Select All/Copy on my MS and a Paste into the blank template – almost identical. The one difference was a Table of Contents.  One of my books does not have a TOC.  So I sent an email to CreateSpace’s customer support email explaining the situation and asking if a TOC was necessary.  This was the response I received:

Hello Jan,

Thanks for contacting us about including table of contents in your title. I will be happy to assist you with your inquiry.

Kindly note, CreateSpace will not include a table of contents in your designed interior unless you have included one in your manuscript. You are responsible for listing the chapter and section headings you would like to appear in your table of contents.

In this case, you’ll need to include the table of contents in the interior file and then submit it accordingly.

th-3The rather oddly put answer was followed seconds later by this:

Hello Jan,

I’m sorry for writing another e-mail. Please disregard my previous e-mail as it was sent in error.

In my previous e-mail, I’ve missed to address the PDF part and sincerely apologize if this is of any disappointment.

CreateSpace will not include a table of contents in your designed interior unless you have included one in your manuscript. In this case, you’ll need to include the table of contents in the interior file and then submit it accordingly.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Unfortunately I don’t think I do understand!  Do you?

I decided it’s easier and less time consuming to upload the files and wait for their experts to yell at me! In the words of Genghis Trump “It’s easier to apologize than to beg permission.”

Without googling, does anyone know who is actually credited with that phrase?

Okay Hollywood, Brad Pitt’s not getting any younger


After a month of feeling lost and stressed to the point of damaging my health, I’ve decided not to rush my books back into print but to steady my nerves and move forward one step at a time.

It’s mortifying to think back on those first heady months as a “published writer.”  Don’t laugh, but I actually bought a day planner to keep track of all the events I’d be invited to, the book signings, the interviews, the meetings with Hollywood producers all begging to transform FLIPKA into a block-buster mega hit starring Brad Pitt as Captain Wug.Pitt

Those of you who’ve read the book are thinking “Pitt’s too young.”  Well, if and when FLIPKA ever makes it to the big screen, he’ll be too damn old.

Suffice it to say, the day planner was a complete waste of money. Oh, I worked my fanny off begging and pleading for reviews, blogging, tweeting, pinning, throwing a release party, meeting with a book club (thanks MA) and signing books up in Reno (thanks Mom) –  but as the months went by, no calls from Hollywood.

After realizing there would probably never be a FlipkaWorld at Disneyland I moved on to my next hope for fame and fortune, The Graduation Present. Surely it would intrigue the movie people. It had adventure, romance and another made-for-Hollywood character, Oncle Boob.  But they better hurry.  Brad Pitt will soon be too old to play him too.

Brad Pitt lookalike, Oncle Boob

Brad Pitt lookalike, Oncle Boob

Unknowingly I had committed a mortal sin by writing that book. I’d changed genres. Cross-genre writers are literally the two-headed monsters of the literary world. Ask any expert on “branding.”

Ah well. I’ll probably republish the first two books with minor changes.  However the third book I need your help with. I’ve never liked the title – Willful Avoidance. Sure, it deals with a grim subject – Innocent Spouse Relief – but that doesn’t mean it has to be saddled with a grim name. Can you think of a funny title for a book about divorce and taxes that ends with a talking dog?  Thanks!

Out of Print

Friday April 29 my publisher announced they were going out of business and soon, yes very soon, all of the books they published would be out of print. The announcement (as you can imagine) caused mass panic in the BookTrope community and some mighty ugly laundry was dragged from the hamper and aired publicly.


From a currently out of print book, Fireflies by Rabindranath Tagore.

Me, well I just got drunk. 

For those of you unfamiliar with hybrid publishing, well – in a nutshell – here’s how it works:

1. The writer

  • Submits part or all of a manuscript
  • 8 to 12 months later – if MS is accepted – the writer is initiated into the publisher’s workflow and marketing philosophy which includes:
    • Finding, interviewing and accepting an editor, cover designer, proofreader, and book manager for your team.
    • Signing contracts for both book rights and insurance that your team will receive a share of your royalties for their hard work.
    • Creating a social media presence by blogging, tweeting, pinning and on and on infinitum.

“You want a media presence? I’ll give you a media presence!”

“What? Are you kidding? I’m a great writer!”  (this is the point at which many writers unfamiliar with the cutthroat world of publishing climb on their high horses and ride off into the sunset)

  1. Meanwhile, the editors, cover designers, proofreaders and book managers
  • Sign on with projects they think might have a chance of bringing in some revenue. A tricky proposition as Laurel Busch points out in this essay, just because a book is well-written doesn’t mean it’s going to sell. 
  • Pray that the author creates a King Kong social media presence, the book hits NY Times best seller list and author signs a million dollar movie deal. 

It was a Utopian dream which ended up, as many Utopian dreams, hurting many people. But they were lovely people who gave freely of their talents and their knowledge. Because of them I know so much more about publishing than I did before. Because of them I’ve come to know so many supportive and fascinating bloggers who are themselves self-published. PS – you know who you are and eternal thanks for giving me hope! 

In closing, the Booktrope dream fed this dreamer for four years. That’s a feast for which I will be forever grateful. However, as I negotiate the swift waters of republishing, I probably will not have time to keep on blogging regularly nor will I have the time to keep up with my blogger buddies. I will miss you all.  I’ll be back as soon as I get it all sorted out.  Jan

The Typo That Got Away

Are you really, really ready to publish this book?

Are you really, really ready to publish this book?

I missed Shakespeare’s birthday celebration because I was in the middle of final, final edits.  Those of you who are writers are keenly aware of the abject horror of final, final edits. Basically the publisher says to you: “Here is your last chance to catch embarrassing typos, missing words, misplaced commas, etc.  After you sign off, your work will be paraded naked through Amazon and, if you missed anything, you will be the laughing stock of the literary world. But what do we care.  You’re not making us any money.”

And you know, don’t you know, don’t you know, that despite the many, many, many times you and your editor and the proofreader go over the manuscript, as night follows day, something will be missed.

It was . . . The Typo That Got Away!

It was . . . The Typo That Got Away!

Oh yes.  That nasty little bugger – the  Typo That Got Away – is hiding somewhere in the text, somewhere weary eyes haven’t a chance of finding him.

However, that first reviewer, oh yes, never fear.  Your first reviewer will find it.  And they’ll dangle it in front of your face as if to say –  “what kind of a writer are you anyway?”

Buy my book!  Review my book!

Buy my book! Review my book!

Sigh.  The second worst thing about final, final edits is – guess what – it’s Circus Barker time because you know if you don’t start out of the gate with 35 five star reviews well, you might as well have never written the book at all.  You’ve just frigging wasted all the years of your life you devoted to writing it.

I’m not a huge fan of Kafka but when it’s Circus Barker time I feel like I’m devolving into a giant praying mantis, sliming all my friends and colleagues.


Write me a review or else!


The Typo That Got Away

I know what.  This time I’ll do it a little differently.  I’ll offer a reward for the Typo that Got Away.  Dead or Alive. Or better yet, I’ll sell my soul to . . . Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice