Tag Archives: self-publishing

Risk Theatre Major Milestone – Book at Proofing Stage

Friesen Press sent back the first proofs of The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy: Gambling, Drama, and the Unexpected on Friday, October 5, right on schedule. Four files came in the package: 1) hardcover PDF (e.g. dustjacket), 2) softcover PDF, 3) interior pages of the book called the “book block,” also PDF, and 4) another version of the interior pages of the book on a special Word file that’s linked to the PDF book block. Here’s the softcover PDF–I had asked for something spare, authoritative, and easy to read from a distance:



The revision process is straightforward. Changes to the text and light formatting (adding or deleting bold and italics) are done on the Word document. Any other changes such as adjusting tabs, paragraphs, charts, page / footnote numbers, size of fonts, and inserting / deleting headings must be done on the PDF documents. You open the PDF file on Adobe Acrobat Reader, select the comment tool, set the sticky note where the change is to occur, and type in the instructions for the designer.

For example, I wanted a subject reference on the top left hand corner of the back cover. To do this, I put a little comment note on both the soft- and hardcover on the top left hand corner of the back cover and left the following instructions: “Insert subject reference DRAMA/LITERATURE.” Altogether, it took me a week and a half to finish the revisions to the first proof. The exercise clocked in at thirty hours, give or take.

I began with the Word document. 147 changes in the text, which is, at this point, hard to believe. There were many minor corrections from converting my original Word document into Friesen’s special Word document. For example, some of the subheadings needed to be capitalized throughout. Same with the running headers. Also, paragraphs were broken up inadvertently. This accounted for maybe 30 of these 147 changes. Next were the corrections to maintain consistency. When quoting footnotes, they were referred to sometimes as 279n.14 (this would refer to page 279 note 14). At other times, there would be a space, as in 279 n.14 or 279 n. 14. The manuscript was written over a period of ten years, so my own conventions evolved. Also in this category is consistency in orthography, especially for the ancient Greek names. For example, is is “Eteocles,” “Eteokles,” or “Eteoklus?” Making everything consistent accounted for maybe 20 of the 147 changes. Next were the changes to improve the flow. When reading the manuscript, some of the lines seemed to stick. For example, in the discussion of Othello, the proof read: “Iago claims to feel slighted because Othello passed him up for promotion.” This seemed to stick, and, to improve the flow became this: “Iago claims to feel slighted because Othello has passed him over for promotion.” These improvement to flow accounted for 90 or so of the 147 changes. Reading the text aloud helps with improving flow: if you can say it, then you can read it. Then there were the embarrassing errors. There were two or three of these. Honestly, through all the revision rounds, it was surprising to seem them. Subject-verb agreement, for example. The proof read: “Eteocles draws a lot and interpret the tale of the tape.” Of course, it should read that he interprets the tale of the tape. One thing I learned from this exercise is that a lot of work goes into making an error free book. Errors can be so persistent…

After I revised the Word document, next up was the PDF document of the book. 140 changes were posted into the PDF document through the comment tool. Changes to the PDF document were of a more cosmetic nature than the changes to the Word document. I wanted, for example, the vertical bar in the text to indicate a blockquote removed. I thought footnotes at the beginning of each chapter should be enumerated from 1, instead of being numbered consecutively from the first to the last chapter. Things like this. In the conversion process from my original Word document to the book proof, lots of little unforeseen things pop up which don’t appear quite right. For example, verse quotes easily fit onto a line in a Word document. But if a verse is quoted in a book proof, sometimes it runs into the next line (the book page is narrower and if it’s a blockquote, it will be also indented in from the left margin). So, if a verse quote ran into the next line, I wanted a short tab to indicate that the verse was being continued from the previous line. All little things. But all the little things add up. The feeling correcting proofs is not unlike going camping during mosquito season.

I’ve sent the proof back to Friesen. Their designer will take three weeks to incorporate the revisions into the text and send back a revised set of proofs. Then I’ll review and if they’re good, I’ll sign them off and the indexer can start. If I notice anything else, there will be another revision round, which will have to be paid for as an extra: my self-publishing package “Launch” only includes the first revision round. I feel that I’ll have to pay for one additional revision round to get everything to the point where it needs to be.

One interesting thing that I learned is that Library and Archives Canada no longer supports Cataloguing in Publication or CIP data for self-published titles. This is a major loss, as it identifies a self-published title as being self-published immediately. CIP data appears as a few lines on the copyright page and it helps libraries out by spelling out the author’s biographical information and the book’s call number. CIP data also goes out to booksellers and libraries to facilitate the book distribution process. The reason for the lack of support is lack of funding. You know, I think a lot of writers would pay Library and Archives Canada for CIP data to include on the copyright page. Why not make this something that can be paid for? If there’s been budget cutbacks, theyt could even charge a hefty number, say $150 or $250. Even for their massive bureaucratic juggernaut, that should cover the clerical work involved in producing a few lines of text and entering them into the national database. Then at least self-published writers would have the option of getting CIP data. Right now, there’s not even the option. And yes, I’ve emailed Library and Archives Canada to ask them to consider charging self-published authors for this service. Let’s see what they say.

Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong, and I’m doing Melpomene’s work.

Aldridge Street Print & Media

The Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) has programs and talks galore! Tonight, Darin Steinkey, Director & Principal of Aldridge Street Print & Media, gave a talk: ‘Steps to Publishing for the Independent Author’. Here’s the blurb from the library’s website:

Aldridge Street Presentation Blurb

Aldridge Street Presentation Blurb

Thirteen attendees. The lucky number. Evenly split between men and women (well, 7:6 ratio). A grey haired crowd, average age maybe in the sixties? It seems that writers need time to be able to write. A lot of people with experience publishing. One fellow was a journalist. Another lady had published a textbook for a course she taught. Quite a few people had published multiple books. Some had self-published; others had gone through publishing houses. There were even some who had done both. Lots of talent in Victoria, BC!

After working at Trafford Publishing, Steinkey saw a niche that needed to be filled: editing for independent authors. With his background in literature and teaching, he became an editor and started up Aldridge Street Print & Media in 2008 to fill the niche. Aldridge Street Print & Media actually offers more: they’re a one stop shop for the independent author, offering book design, layout, and printing services as well. What they don’t do, however, is marketing. The genres Steinkey specializes in are memoir and history. He helped a WWII code breaker, for example, publish her memoir. Cool!

Layout, cover design, writing (Steinkey suggested Stephen King’s On Writing and Strunk & White’s Elements of Style), and editing were covered in tonight’s one hour presentation. The focus was on editing. Self-published authors do a good job of getting their books out there, but they do a poor job of editing. Spelling mistakes or glitches in the layout take away from the writer’s credibility: that was the main message of tonight’s talk.

There are three different types of editors. The developmental editor makes sure the story works. The copy editor checks spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The proofreader checks layout and any mistakes introduced in the other layers of editing. Independent authors need all three. And preferably, they are different people: the more eyes, the better.

The takeaway for me tonight was the fee structure for an editor. An editor charges from $50-$75 an hour. They can edit seven to ten pages in an hour. Pages are 250 words. So, let’s take the preface to Paying Melpomene’s Price. It’s eight Microsoft Word pages. Eight Microsoft Word pages equals 4645 words. 4645 divided by 250 equals 18.58 pages (250 word pages). Since Paying Melpomene’s Price is an academic type work, it doesn’t read as fast as, say, most novels. So maybe an editor will go through seven pages per hour. At seven pages an hour, it would take 2.65 hours. Let’s say an editor charges midway between the $50 to $75 rate. At $62.50 dollars an hour times 2.65 hours, the cost comes to $165.63. But that’s just one editor. Three are required (developmental, copy, and proofreader). So the total cost to edit my eight Microsoft Word pages would come to $496.88. Let’s say each of my chapters is about the same length and that there’s nine more chapters. The cost of getting the whole thing edited would then clock in around $5000.

Good to know. Time to start saving. Thanks to Aldridge Street Print & Media for the talk and the gentleman in front of me for asking about editors’ fee structures.

Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong, and I need a second job while I’m Doing Melpomene’s Work.

Galloping Goose Magic

Magic is Actually a Collie

Well, you never know who you.ll meet and the circumstances which make it happen. With that in mind, here.s a story for all the assiduous readers out there. On the way out of town the other day, the nuts on the front fender worked themselves loose and fell off. The bike was still rideable, but the bottom part of the fender was rubbing against the tire. One of the most pleasant things about riding is a quiet ride. Not in terms of everything all quiet (which you never have) but in terms of the bike not contributing more than it should: the hum of the tires on the road and the whirl of a clean and lean drivetrain. No squeaking parts. And definitely no distraction of mudflap rubbing on the tire! While debating whether to tune it out it or turn around, the Nest Cafe appeared around the bend. It.s a new(er) cafe I.d recently seen on the Galloping Goose and had wanted to check it out. Time for a cold drink. This is how I met Magic.

Always Carry a Book with You

The Nest Cafe can be accessed right off the Galloping Goose and there.s a large selection of outdoor benches and seats on two levels. There.s also bike parking galore and an air pump with tools for basic adjustments / repairs on a work area (even with bike stand!). Lots of friendly cyclists around exchanging stories. The friendly barista recommended a cold chai latte and I sat outside at one of the parasoled tables. I carry a book most places I go and on this day in the saddlebag was Self-Publishing in Canada by Suzanne Anderson. While reading away, a table of cyclists were debating heading up to Matticks Farm on the table to the right and to the left a table of two sat down with a large collie with a well groomed coat. This was Magic and she liked to say come up and greet people. And yes, not only is the Nest Cafe bike friendly: it is also dog friendly!–there.s ‘hitching posts’ at the outdoor tables to attach the leash! What a great idea!

On my way out, one of the ladies asked me if I was in the process of self-publishing. Books are good conversation starters. It turns out L and M were good friends and that L had gone through the process. Now it.s hard to remember the whole conversation, but it.s an inspiring story. Over ten years ago, L.s husband was diagnosed with MS. It wasn.t looking good. Diligent friend M would help out by reading him novels while the patient sipped from a snifter of scotch. Things like that always catch you off guard but especially so since L.s husband was 45 at the time. L decided to self-publish a title relating her experiences. I.m sure there.s lots of folks going through caring for someone with MS that have benefitted and will benefit from reading her experiences. I haven.t looked, but I.d guess that there.s lots of books on MS but far fewer books from the perspective of coping with living with someone who has MS.

I was glad L shared her story with me. She.s moved beyond her book now (it came out over ten years ago) but I think she.s still conferencing and speaking on the subject. They also asked me about what I was working on. That was good as it gave me a chance to practise talking about the book. It.s something that I don.t really get to do that often. When I gave them my shout line: ‘You can.t be a hero unless you got something to lose’, M commented that it reminded her of something she had heard from Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces. She had seem him lecture, I believe (I must really start taking supplements to improve my memory!). Wow! He.s a legend! I have some of his books on my shelf, perhaps I should read him next? Talking with both of them was a tremendous encouragement. That is helpful in that so often when writing I think, ‘Ugh! Why do I subject myself to this torture’. Something simple like being able to bounce some ideas off receptive folks is actually a great motivation boost.

So after chatting with for a little while as I turned to go, I said bye to L, M, and Magic. L said, ‘Would you believe it, she.s 14–a little slower but still curious and full of life!’. I didn.t put the numbers together at the time, but now thinking in retrospect, maybe she and her late husband bought Magic as a little puppy dog when he was first diagnosed with MS? Though I can.t remember the numbers, the time frame works out: it.s been over ten years since the book came out and while working on the book the question of whether her husband would see the publication was always in the air. And that would explain Magic.s name as well: after being diagnosed with MS at such an early age, they were looking for some ‘magic’ and gave their hope form by the addition of the collie dog to their family. If that.s the case, wow, that.s a beautiful story.

I.m glad L and M shared their stories with me. They had a lot of wisdom. It reminds me, there.s a bit of magic and a bit of loss in all things. It also reminds me of how wisdom comes too at a steep price. I.m glad they.re friends and that must have helped out. One thing I notice about friends in woman-woman friendships is very often they come in pairs with one who is more introverted and one who is more extroverted. But that.s another story. Remind me to tell you the story of the ‘runaways’ on the viaRail trek across Canada one day.

This time last year I was having lunch with GP.s uncle in Vancouver. He had a bit of a sore throat, acid reflux or something. I remember, he was eating slowly. But he looked great. He was saying to check out his studio sometime and have some beers. Flash forward a few months, they found out it was throat cancer. From the diagnosis, he survived I think just a few weeks. It was fast. Until next time, I.m Edwin Wong and I.m filled with a sense of wonder that I.m able to be Doing Melpomene’s Work.

Bonus Photo: TS has inspired me to tweak up my bike for longer rides. After making some mods, went for a night ride around town yesterday and saw the cruise ships in town at Ogden Point! Bonus points to diligent readers who can spot my mighty all-titanium Marinoni Sportivo chariot!–

Celebrity Solstice at Ogden Point

Celebrity Solstice at Ogden Point

The Naked Author by Baverstock

A find at the might Greater Victoria Public Library. It took two renews, after which I had to return it (two is the max; the borrowing period is 3 weeks), and then one more renew to finish this one. What a saga! Close to 3 months, I think. There.s been lots of irons in the fire (blogging, writing, cover art search, and you name it) so I.m just happy to have finished. Alison Baverstock.s The Naked Author is one of those books you can slowly enjoy. Pick it up, read a few pages. Think about what she has to say. Put it down. And then pick it up again. There.s not much to be gained in reading it straight through blitzkrieg style like a tank going through the Ardennes forest. Some books are like that. They.re like pieces of music. You feel their tempi like a heartbeat.

So, as the full title says, this is The Naked Author: A Guide to Self-publishing. There.s a silhouette I guess of a naked author in red on the front with words going across his body. From a novel on Martin and Christmas and the sink, from what I can gather.


Here.s the back blurb (which I take notice of more and more because this book has informed me that either I will have to write one or ask for some help getting one written!)–

New digital technology, falling production costs and the emergence of a new type of publishing services company have led to self-publishing becoming a viable–and often desirable–option for writers, rather than a poor second to finding a commercial publishing deal.

Written by a publishing consultant and author, with plenty of advice from industry professionals, this book offers an objective analysis of both philosophy and process. It will help you to analyze your objectives and sharpen appreciation of the needs of your audience. There is guidance on how to commission services, grasp the range of design and format options available, plan efficient distribution, sales and marketing.

Crucially you will also find consideration of the responsibilities of the author embarking on self-publishing; both to their audience and themselves. This comprehensive guide will help yo scrutinize investment choices, make better decisions-and produce a product worthy of your name.

You learn something new each day: what I.ve been calling the back blurb is actually called the art of copywriting, otherwise known as a few words of introduction promoting your work and piquing further interest in the reader. It turns out copywriting (as opposed to copyright, another publishing term) is an art unto itself.

Baverstock.s The Naked Author has a British flavour (notice saucy British spelling!) because she.s course leader for MA Publishing at Kingston University. Some of the suggestions (ie Matador Press) are local in nature, but all in all, the book provides a solid description of what the aspiring author is getting into. One of the reasons why I selected this book was that I liked its presentation: choice of font, paper, size, feel, etc., all seemed just right. It.s actually quite distressing: many of the self-publishing books out there on how to self-publish look very self-published themselves! The presentation of The Naked Author was top notch.

If I had wanted a book to tell me how great and wonderful and easy things would be, this sure wasn.t the right book! I learned a lot. For one, I had though editing would be easy: check for spelling and grammar. But actually for a book there.s many stages of editing. There.s structural editing to make sure things are in the right place. There.s copy editing to make sure spaces, lines, paragraphs, and hyphens (i.e. make sure therapist doesn.t turn into the-rapist) are all correct. And then after this, then there.s the spelling and grammar.

I had thought before reading this book that 90% of the work would be writing the book and 10% of the work would be the other stuff such as promotion, editing, cover art, marketing, etc., Well, after reading this book, I think it.s more like 50:50. There.s a section marketing on the end, and it made me laugh to read how the writer can expect to have a lot less time writing since he will be occupied with blogging, marketing, and everything else. You ain.t kidding!

So, if you.re thinking of self-publishing, decide if you believe in what you.re doing. Because you will be working on a thing called faith! Yes, I know it moves mountains. But for it to do that, well, you have to believe in the first place! Well, until next time, I am Edwin Wong and I think after reading this great book I will be doing a whole lot more of Doing Melpomene.s Work than I had initially bargained for!