This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

New posts on Wednesdays. Email

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One Kitten After Another

My updated website shows that the second Quill Gordon mystery, Wash Her Guilt Away, will be available on May 1, so last weekend my ace technical team (composed of my wife, Linda, and me) set to work. We were full of excitement, brimming with confidence, and looking forward to meeting or beating the announced publication date.
And then we read the directions on Amazon.
The directions, as far as we could tell, were different from the ones last time, and they explained one of the problems we had publishing the first book in the series, The McHenry Inheritance. Namely, why the indents were bigger than I would have liked. Apparently, you are not supposed to submit the document with tab indents; What you are supposed to do is send them a Word document with formatted indents. A bit problematic when you have a novel-length book with a lot of short, dialogue paragraphs, all indented with a tab. A Google search turned up no easy solutions, so this meant going through the book and taking out each paragraph indent — some 2,000 to 3,000 of them — one at a time.

A Litter of Kittens

It all reminded me, somehow, of what Mehitabel, the comic female cat created by American humorist Don Marquis, used to say: “Life is just one damn kitten after another.”
This seems like an exceptionally large litter, rather than just one, but I take the point. Famous writers don’t have to do this sort of thing because their publishing houses pay someone to do it for them. But when you’re publishing your own books, this is an example, albeit an extreme one, of the sort of mind-numbing, detailed formatting you have to do in order to get the book up and available.
And actually, the kitten analogy is germane in another way. When you’re this close to publication, you just want to get it done, and you chafe at any delay. I started writing the book in December of 2012, and I’m ready to move on. At this point it feels as if I’m carrying a baby that’s a month past its due date, and I’m ready to let it go. It’s probably the closest that any male can come to understanding the experience of childbirth.

Just One More Thing

And then, just when we thought the paragraphing issue was all taken care of, we tried submitting the book to Amazon. They allow you to do a preview to see what it looks like, and when we checked it out, guess what — The paragraph indents were still too big. Not only that, but the sub-chapter headings within the chapter were gibberish. Apparently some vestige of a previous format remained.
So we went through the whole book, making the paragraph indents 40 percent of what they were, which could at least be done on an auto basis, though only one section at a time. And we went back and formatted the sub-chapter headings so that they were the numbers they were supposed to be. We submitted again, and the indents were better, but the sub-chapter headings weren’t centered as they should have been, so we had to go back and reformat all 60 or so of them one at a time.
At 8:30 last night we tried for the third time, and it all looked good, so we hit publish and sent it off to Amazon. Shortly before noon today, there was an email notification that the book had been successfully published and is now available for sale. Buy it here. Please.