Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The proof is in the pudding...or something like that.

In the interest of fairness, I must report that the proof finally arrived today, three weeks after I ordered it. In some ways it relieved my concern. It is almost as good as the original 20 I received, but the cover is much darker. I didn't make any changes in the cover PDF so that means every print run is going to be a different shade. Not terrible, unless you display them side by side. One of the photos inside the new version doesn't look very good. I scanned in the photo of Cary Grant that we ran in the newspaper 26 years ago so it's a photo of a photo. Never a good idea. But it looked okay in the original 20 copies. I guess the compression I used on the new PDF isn't as good as what my son used on the original copies so the flaws are much more noticeable. I'm not sure if it is enough for me to create another revision, especially since I'm not sure if I can fix it. This is what happens when you let us non-tech types dip our fingers in the publishing pool. For those of you who are interested, I'll be signing copies at 6 p.m. Dec 1 at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division Ave. -- assuming that the 50 copies that shipped Saturday arrive by then. You can read more about the book at lulu.com/spotlight/suemerrell

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another Lulu fan

Echoing Sue's experience to some degree, I found publishing on Lulu to be, if not exactly easy and straightforward, at least doable. Starting at the beginning and following the steps helps. Going back later for corrections and updates is a little more troublesome. I don't know how Sue gets her books so cheap!!! Lulu gets about $9.80 of each copy of my "Bedderhoff Dead." Which means I need to charge a bit more. Plus shipping. Of course I'm probably a bit bloated at 265+ pages. I hope Sue has a link she can post for promotion and sales. I'll throw mine out here: http://www.yoopernatural.com/


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bookin' it

I'm not the kind of person to watch the mail box. I let it accumulate for days and check it maybe once a week. But lately I've been watching when the mail truck arrives, grabbing my keys and heading for the box. Reminds me of back during the Vietnam War when I was delivering mail one summer and young wives would wait for my arrival and that air mail letter on the tissue thin paper with an APO return address.

I'm awaiting an even more elusive lover -- my book. I published my memoir, Laughing for a Living, on Lulu. At first it seemed so easy. My son helped me with the cover design and all the technical PDF, embedded type stuff. We did the deed on Halloween weekend like some satanic ritual. I kept waiting for the Web site to make some outrageous demand of money, but it never happened.

"Congratulations!" it said. "You're a published author." No charge. Now it was time to order books. The site suggested one for proofing but I was brave. I ordered 20 at $6.74 each. Shipping and handling -- that's where they make their money -- added another $1.25 a book. I figured if I was lucky, they would get here by Thanksgiving, just in time to distribute to family as a surprise Christmas gift.

A couple of days later, I was pulling out of the driveway and spotted a box on my porch. It couldn't be. It was! My book. And it looked gooooooood. Great, in fact. I was so excited I announced it on Facebook. A dozen friends expressed interest. 20 books was not going to be enough.

I called Bruce Tinker, the executive director of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. The cover is a funny photo of me standing in front of the theater on the day I retired from The Press. I offered Bruce a proposition. If they want to sell the book in the lobby before "Peter Pan," they can have all proceeds over my cost. He needed a few days to discuss it with staff. I dropped off a book for his perusal. He called me back. They loved it. Could I get them 50? And do a book signing?

It's Monday, a week after Halloween, I should have plenty of time to get 50 by the time the show opens on Nov. 19. Eleven days. But the opening weekend is hectic and I'm out of town for Thanksgiving the following week. We agree to do the book signing on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Plenty of time.

Enough time that I decide to make a few revisions. Nothing major. I wanted to credit the friend who took the cover photo, correct a misspelling or two. To do these changes I needed to upload a new pdf and delete the old. I didn't want to bother my son, so I downloaded Open Office to create a new PDF, followed the directions on Lulu, and voila. I'm a published author again.

This time I order just one book to proof it. What if I did something wrong in making the PDF, even though it looks okay online? I check the box to have it sent by US mail. It's just one little book. Three days, I think.

That was Nov. 8 and I'm still checking the mail daily. The proof has not arrived. Unlike FedEx or UPS, the US Mail doesn't offer tracking. I chat with the people at Lulu. Nothing they can do. It was shipped Nov. 10. Nov. 17 is two weeks before the book signing. I decide I need to order 50 books by that day, even though I haven't seen the proof. Surely, they will look just as good as the first 20. Surely.

So, I meet the mail truck. I order promotional bookmarks and a poster of the cover to use on my booksigning table, and I meet the mail truck. Still no proof. The Press calls to do a story about my book and all I can do is spill my guts about the missing proof. Will the other books arrive? Dare I give out the Christmas gifts as planned?

I used to think getting published was the hardest part of writing. That was before I knew about waiting for the mail.