The book is written. Many sleepless nights have gone into the masterpiece, many readers have given their feedback, and a release date has been set. Now the entirely agonizing part of the entire process, publication.
The fun (fun used almost sarcastically here) is doing hours of research to ensure I don’t miss a single integral process in the entire bout of publishing. Had I managed to have an agent most, if not all, of the process would be covered. I could sit back and wait for requests for verification on page proofs, story flow, accept editor’s feedback and only tweak the novel minutely upon the agents request. Currently I have submitted myself to a flow of multiple projects at one time in the light of one major project, my publication. There are many major points that I have to ensure to hit, all of which could make or break my books chances at success. I took the liberty at compiling a brief list of these chores which I will undoubtedly have to accomplish.
Get the Book Edited
One item that had gone through without major attention to detail with my past projects. Though I had a publisher to take care of these things, it was at best; sad. Realizing that not only is my grammar terrible, but punctuation fails almost to a fault. There would be no possible way for me to go through the entire contents of two-hundred fifty pages and catch all the most glaring mistakes let alone the little technicalities. With that I have researched many editors, some charging upwards of $1,000 for a 90,000 word novel! I was lucky to find one who would only charge a minimal fee! Now I just have to scrape the barrel to get even that for her.
A most vital and important step in the process of rolling out a book. This involves knowing this book is in it’s final stages and in near pristine condition before sending it off for Magazines, Newspapers, and Reviewers to determine my fate. If two or more magazines who published a review were not favorable, chances are the book would sink before it even had a chance. Believing in my work this is something I am more than willing to take on. But with that are more interesting things.
Any novice to publishing would easily look this over. They believe all they have to do is convert a word document into a pdf and voila! That assumption is terribly wrong and will undoubtedly turn a tale of amazing talent and artistry into a slushpile inhabitant. Simply opening a book to the first page or two will tell any publishing industry insider whether it had a professional do the work. No worries, most typesetting jobs will only set you back roughly $800 (or maybe $5 a page).
Advanced Reader Copies
These little buggers are a ton of fun! Almost all magazines and reviewers have different terms and submission requirements for these copies. Some say it must be a mock up with ARC written on the back cover with a fact page including word count, page count, ISBN, distribution centers, publisher information. While others ask it be an in-tact book autographed by the author (They usually assure you that the book won’t be sold as it’s against their policy), and that this is a courtesy to someone willing to take time out of their lives to review your work (Fair, I say). So for the ARC’s not only is it best to have the book in the best condition it can be in (I would hope a few edits have already been done, typesetting somewhat apparent, and cover design set), but it should be sent out to the reviewer 4-6 months prior to the month of publication.
So now the Pre-publication work is done (somewhat) as the publisher, now on to Publicist!
Find Shelf Space
This is the main hurdle, and many of the items listed following this all help to gain that much needed shelf space. The point being most books have a month AT BEST to sell. If not, they are returned. And don’t think a book store will stock your book without a book return policy in place. This is only the mom and pop stores! Trying to get into B&N and Borders is something similar to a battle between David and Goliath.
Research and set up Radio Interviews
Having a target market helps to get this part in play, but still nothing can quell the magnitude of listing the hundreds of talk radio shows out there for the contact. Best part, I’m pushing my own book! Nothing worse than saying “Hi! Have you heard of the amazing new book written by none other than me!!!!” Something is just off about it. I like to stick with emails, but I have a feeling if I had a good pitch letter drawn up I might be able to call some stations and cement time blocks rather than sending electronic mail into the abyss of the internet. Even when I do find a station, I have to find an angle relative to the listeners and style of show they have set up to ensure I not only sound informed, but also don’t kill the pitch of my book by sounding like a babbling idiot.
Another extremely important aspect of the process. Drawing up the words that will help to sell the book while informing of any upcoming events. As in, have my events planned out well in advance, and make sure I keep the facts straight for the press-release. Nothing worse than attempting to fix a spelling error in a press release once it’s already been sent to the printer! It’s also gotta pop, no sense in writing an awesome book if the Press-Release is gonna drool.
Research and Pitch Newspapers and Magazines
For post publication reviews or opportunities at an interview. The research alone is killer, add to it the drone work of writing a pitch letter to them why I would be so totally awesome for their interview is tricky. Anyone can toot their own horn, or you could pay someone to do it for you. Looks like this starving artist is gonna have to toot his own horn without making it seem that way.
So these are just some of the fun things I get to do wearing all the hats. Hopefully if it’s done right, this will be the last time I have to worry about all of this, and can just focus on my new novels, which I have about four new ones started already. I have to get busy with them, not all of this! But here’s to learning.
Thanks for reading!
Caleb A. Mertz
This is an excerpt from my book THE UNEXPECTED that I read today and was moved by it. I hope you feel the same way.
A man dressed in a nicely fitted suite walked through the door seconds after Carl. This gentleman, looking rather frank and serious, walked up the main corridor as the speaker stopped, and the rest of the room turned to look at this man. He carried nothing (as nothing was permitted in this room) but he strolled casually, yet with an important stride toward the president. He was proud to be the one to be able to approach the president, so he did not show the fear knowing there were laser sights attacking his back; ready to fire if he were to make a false move.
“Mr. President,” he began cordially. Andrew waved this aside.
“What!?” he asked, worried of the news.
“There has been an attack on Fort Lauderdale, and the Golden Gate Bridge,” the man stated, looking at the president sternly. “Mr. Beggins has requested your presence.”
Andrew stood. The president of the United States for only three hours leaned into the microphone that protruded from the wooden desk in front of him.
“If you will excuse me I must attend to a matter.” He remained calm, keeping his composure and charisma more than any one. “There has been an attack on Fort Lauderdale and the Golden Gate Bridge.”
The attending advisers looked down in disbelief. It was their new version of the September eleven happenings of 2001. Some had been there for this; others had only been in high school at the time. They had never thought an event like this would ever take place in their life again. Andrew himself thought of this time being only fifteen years old and sitting in his middle school class. He had immediately begun praying. He remembered crying as he watched the footage; he remembered his mother’s stories of her friends that were there. He remembered hearing of his father’s death as he ran up the stories to try and save a few hundred people only seconds before the towers collapsed.
Andrew, in his surge of emotion, repressed this and walked sternly from his desk with Mr. Riggel closely by his side. Now as they walked, Andrew remembered sitting in front of the television and quickly writing each of the names they named on a pad of paper until his hand had tired. He still continued to write as the names came, wanting to make it a point to pray for the families that lost loved ones. He had remembered thinking the pain in his hand was nothing to what the families were experiencing.
It was just then, as his hand was too tired to write any more names, when he heard his father’s name. He remembered sitting there watching his mother in tears in their trailer at 511 Spruce street. She couldn’t even keep up with the names that came rapidly from the reporter’s mouth. She prayed. Oh, she prayed. She prayed until her lips were blue for those poor people. She sat praying with the tears flooding down her face at the sight of this happening. She prayed as usual, and she prayed in tongues, all while having a heart for those people. He just got done writing a name that sounded like one of his friends when they said, “Ray Rakford”.
He wrote the first letter before he finished hearing the name. He snapped his head around to look at his mother. She had a Disney glass in her hand filled with some orange juice, but she didn’t care about that. She never looked so strange there on the couch, struck as if by some evil force. It reminded him of the look of a fearful child, as they would be soon possessed by some awful demon. Sick in the face, sunken eyes though wide, rattled hair and, of course, a jaw that hung low. Hung to the extent that it could naturally go and then some. She didn’t care about the praying any more, she just stared at the television. There on the side of the screen only for a few seconds did it say, “Ray Rakford: Firefighter NYFD.” The image was replaced by a name that Andrew still wrote down. He had to pray. He couldn’t stop just because his father’s name appeared. Now. NOW! The pain rippled through his body and tore at his brain.
Andrew’s pace slowed somewhat as he walked with Mr. Riggel.
“Are you all right?” Mr. Riggel asked.
“Fine,” Andrew responded, still intelligent and serious as ever.
NOW! He KNEW! He wrote faster, as his mother stared at the television and a surge of emotion made its way from the pit of his stomach and lingered now in his throat. He could literally see her color changing. He could see her start to faint. Now was the time to pray, he had to be strong. How could he feel like this after not seeing his father for years? Now he could say goodbye and his dad would hear him. This thought pulsed harder against his brain and pushed on the backs of his eyes. His lungs constricted as he fought this urge, he struggled to hear the other names. Now he knew what those other people felt. NOW! He couldn’t let those feelings overtake him. He had to write the names faster. He had to get all of them.
She cried, she wailed, he could hear her struggle for breath as she screamed! He STRAINED to hear the names. He HAD to hear the names. Fred Azar, he wrote. James Smith, he wrote. She cried. Henry Longafeller, he wrote, as his own tears now came. He couldn’t be selfish. There were more people in the world. He continued to get the names as she crawled to him and pulled him into a hug. He couldn’t get any more names. He could still feel the pencil in his hand, and felt the beating of his heart. It thumped hard and long. It seemed slow, yet full of strength and adrenaline.
“R” was all he wrote for his father. He never said a prayer for “R.” He looked at the letter and said, “I love you.” That’s all. Never anything more, this was one thing that he could not deal with. One pain that was too much for Andrew to feel. He remembered that “R” and always kept it with him.
This is my first post using the app on my blackberry. Probably not the best idea ever, but I’ll never know if I never try. As it turns out the starbucks I sit outside of is currently outletless as some business men talk quietly in the corner, cords stretched across the door. A hindu family sits near the front door scolding their children softly that are trying to eat the fake display artisan food. The overly handsome barista just had an awkward conversation with me in my attempts not to appear socially awkward. I’m sure I sounded like a stalker.
“How is your day going?” He kindly asks over the frothing noise the espresso machine makes to pump out my quad caramel machiatto .
“Great…” I begin, as would be the usual response, but leave it to me to take it further. I mean he is handsome right? “Golly,” I might well have started with a glint in my eye, southern accent drawling, eyes shifting to the back door then the employee schedule. “What time do you usually have to come in?” I slightly lean forward, hunching my back, closing one eye and scrunching my face; furthering my cause.
He looks up at me, when I realize how much I adore his eyes. Really? Maybe I titled this post wrong. Maybe it should be: Caleb’s likliness to that of a creeper, or fantastical fascination with the frappuccino guy, either way there’s a story here. So his eyes are the kind that have an aura of their own, almost golden circles envelop the hazel eyes, and the darkness of the pupil that peers into my homosexuality (aka gaydar!) His hair, short, tidy, and black knows about me too. The stubble on his face gives him just enough scruff to holler ‘I’m a man!’ Though scant enough to show the young features that shape the face and lil dimple chin.
He fills me in on his in-time rather un-altered by the completely off the wall question. Well it wasn’t really. I am not usually up this early, today I am because the apartment complex where I currently, well, usually reside is being fumigated for bedbugs! Ick!
Needless to say, I go on to further humiliate myself with admitting to my usual laziness, “I don’t know how you can do it. I’m not usually up anything before ten!” I should have added a bunch of likes for a valley girl tone, then blinked my eyes a few hundred times in a matter of a few seconds.
“Ah, you get into a routine of it,” he says. No duh! Ugh! I’m so stupid. Though he smiles, I think it was a smile that revealed a scar on his right cheek; hmm…mystery and intrigue. Ugh! Love him already! Oh, yeah. What am I doing now? Sitting out front, where I know he can see me laughing to myself picturing what I must have sounded like.
So on with the real reason for this post: killing pests and spawning new creative efforts. My apartment is being fumigated for the next three days. Oh yeah! Bed bugs! How delicious! The exterminator asks,”have you noticed any rashes, bumps, or even blood on the sheets?” Ew! Blood on the sheets? What kind of bugs are these? Ravenous creatures waiting for the warmth of my body to hit the mattress to crawl out by the thousands out of every crevice in attempts to devour my flesh in one evening? A type of evolved scarab beetle? I imagine waking up in a pool of blood, covered by pumpkin seed looking little pricks with heads like ticks, and pincers like a spider’s…ew!
So with the news that I actually don’t have them but five of the other units do, I can sleep at night without the aid of alcohol or nyquil. They’re still tenting the place to kill the little suckers, after two failed heat treatment attempts. For three days I will be staying at a place in old town with nothing to do except work and read, and what’s that? Write? Wahoo! Oh wait, it’s a cheap hotel…without wireless! What! What hotel doesn’t have wireless! Oh wait, they do, however, I’m too far from the “G” router they have in the office! What a jip, McDonalds here I come; especially since I can’t seem to find a good outlet at the starbucks where the handsome, halo-eyed, cappuccino foam-maker works. Then again, I could drive twenty minutes out of my way, again…wait, Jesus! Here goes that creeper thing again. (it’s all in good fun, by the way)
Anyway, I have finished John Irving’s depressing novel The Hotel New Hampshire and feel like working on refining my voice and sentence structure. I also just signed with examiner.com to be an affiliate and sourced writer for cbs.com. It’d involve real topics, real deadlines, and most of all real, tangible money!
Alright. Well this has been fun. I’m out of my macchiatto, and have to pee, and would love to strike up another embarrassing conversation with mr. Halo-eyes, without caffeinating myself to anxiety, so maybe a chai tea? Ugh! It’s so gay, but soo good!
Thanks for reading! Muah!
Caleb A. Mertz
With every day that passes called off from work; I simply do nothing. I’ll watch youtube and type away at my book from seven years ago, and groan over my unsuccessful writing. I realize that while I write to write and tell a story or five twisted into a way it only makes sense to me; I could really avoid some of this agony by following ten different things.
1. Stop Reading “10 best ways to…”
Being subscribed to multiple news letters there’s always a ten best, ten things, or ten miracle secrets, I always wind up reading. What’s terrible about this is there are many commentaries which make me feel inadequate. For example one I read recently on e-book marketing talks of the “Dead” model of books; “This is an example of a dead book. The author only receives five downloads a day, only one paid download every other day. This merely results in a negative profit. More likely causes could be the writing isn’t captivating…” I wish I had sales like that! While these spawn good ideas that I painstakingly try to copy it only ever leads to more agony.
2. Stop spending my entire day off, writing.
So my muse, Hemingway, said a true writer writes everyday. Well I certainly do, but on my days off I seem to do nothing but leave my chair to smoke a cigarette or grab another beer. While sometimes my imagination is flowing and captivating, I only re-write what I wrote the next day resulting in a horrendous cycle of not-getting-anything-accomplished.
3. Stop staring at Statistics
While statistics are a good way to help formulate a snap shot of my writing performance, staring doesn’t make a difference. Punching numbers into a calculator doesn’t increase my odds, or ever make me feel any better. I sometimes literally stare at the bar graph or line chart and wonder why it continues to dip back to ZERO!
4. Stop trying to find a good place to write, and just write!
Searching for a good place to write only seems to take up more of my time that I could be spending writing. While location is important to inspiration, searching for a location along the beach is nearly impossible. I could stop in at Hillcrest sit at a cafe and write, but then my eyes are drawn to the men around me which inevitably leads to my discovery of the bar. Then, well, it’s all over from there. Thanks Hemingway.
5. Stop thinking of things I can buy when I don’t have the resources to buy
In a day I will get bored with writing or just demand a break from it. Then I begin to play with gadgets on my computer, all leading to things I could buy to “help” me out a bit. I need business cards, a good website, a nook, and more books on the topic of writing. I don’t have money for those sorts of things. I promise myself I will invest the money I make from my writing into those items when I begin making money. Is that wrong? Well, not going to happen for a little at least.
6. Spread out my time
Don’t worry about just my book. I have other platforms I need to continue to use. I hate getting emails from Examiner.com stating I’ve lost my status of “premier article presenter” if that even exists. While I have a big project in front of me, rewriting my old works for the release of my latest book, I can’t forget about those little side projects.
7. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!
While appearing as a modern day Bo Radley might seem fun and twisted; there is nothing exciting about it. A hermit I can call myself. Approaching three months that I have been in San Diego and I barely know the names of anything around here, only the streets and highways I take to work. While worried about spending too much money, which I always seem to do, there are plenty of free things to do.
8. Pick up another lesson in Grammar
Folks, I believe I have said it since day one, but Grammar KILLS ME! I love to use comma’s and apostrophe’s where they aren’t really supposed to, go. (<-HAHA, get it!) Maybe if I took a small break from writing a thousand hours of my day away I could pick up a few valuable lessons in Grammar.
9. Stop stressing about my Query Letter
I literally have a thousand versions that all sound good to me. Randomly, while writing The Unexpected, I ‘ll get yet another idea for it. I then open up my choice of fifteen different word documents all containing hooks and bodies of query letters. Practice makes perfect, but right now. I don’t need to be worrying about the Query letter when I have all of these other things gathering.
10. Drink more beer
Actually that’s a bit of a lie, I should be drinking less. Though in moments of writers block or severe writer’s agony the icy cold refreshment usually represents a way to relax and just write. While I will spend the entire next day editing what I wrote while drinking beer at least I wrote. This is no way to go about writing though, as I should learn again from Mr. Hemingway and his friend Fitzgerald.
To sum things up. I need to let my craft be my craft while honing in on some of the not-so-fun aspects such as grammar. I will get there but maybe in the mean time I could take some of my own advice as listed above.
What was meant to be an fun and interactive event for my readers has gone terribly awry. Each day as I traveled along the continent I wanted to enable time constraints to indulge readers with the experiences, thoughts, and transitions made along the way. I wanted it to read as if a book was unfolding in real time. Without any possibilities of foreshadowing, or hinting, because the future was still yet to be determined. This would certainly prove to be a book (okay, well blog… in book format) with no boundaries or end because there was no end.
This proved impossible with days where we were driving for 22 hours straight. Days where we had to sleep in the car at a truck stop along the way. Days where simply having the car out of sight with every single one of my belongings inside was enough to cause the type of stress that leads to a restless night of sleep. Even now, I sit in a hotel room (still waiting to hear back from all of my applications for apartments), my personal belongings tucked away into storage, and the inability to find the appropriate cords to connect my camera or phone to the computer in order to upload the pictures I want to accompany my stories.
I have found a job, so don’t worry too much about that, but the living situation could definitely improve. Keep an eye posted as I will be posting several stories relating to different sections of my travels leading right up to my current day. I’m not sure if the story will end there, but I’ll make sure it contains a happy ending, no matter the true outcome.
Never before in my life have I contemplated the possibility of being homeless. The funds are quickly dwindling, and so is my patience. Having a roof over head now is great, but where in the world am I with these rental applications?
Could it be that the physical location of the author, writer, artist has a strong impact on their work? Is it the state of mind, frame of mind, or mental stability that produce works worth talking about? I’m not sure but I am more than willing to find that out for myself.
There are a million songs out there that have to do with break ups. A few thousand that refer to one being in love and the other not so, and a few more where the other is cheating. Regardless a situation as such is never good for one’s soul, heart, or drive/motivation. Could it be that this state of mind could create some of the most heartfelt poem, song, or soliloquy? Or would a refined and renewed sense of life create a piece that encourages thousands of others through the same situation? This was only a simple example of how the argument of location versus mind comes into play. Is it possible that a new location, surroundings, view on life could stimulate a writer to create works of literature that could be read for years and generations? Much like our greats from the past (#Ernest Hemmingway)?
Hemmingway was a man of great emotional troubles. He was also a man that traveled often. Found himself in situations he wasn’t sure how to handle and later found a perfectly reasonable answer in his writing. One of his favorite things to do was talk about his travels. These travels inspired locations, landscapes, physical descriptions that allow the reader to piece together their own landscape roughly similar to what he had experienced. Were these places so special that he decided to write about them? Of course they were! Little towns, small cities, ports, all very important and of significance to Mr. Hemmingway. But then you have to ask yourself, especially if you are familiar with his works; What was his state of mind?
While Hemmingway was often apparently in feud with himself over a gal, he also was fond of absinthe. He loved himself a drink or two at any given point in the day. Each time he did this he made it seem as if it were a grandeur ceremony. Both examples show how the possibility stands that location and state of mind inspire writing. So while my writing feels stale and pungent, a good change of location may be all that I need to switch things up. Liven things a bit, add that extra spark. Even if it were to only be a mental thing, ultimately reverting back to a “state of mind.” Could a location as different from what we know as normal change the way we feel?
Every time that I used to visit Florida a flood of experiences waved over me. Though I was inspired to write, I was too enthralled with everything going on around me that I could not focus. I would type out a word or two and go and chase a lizard. A new world invited a threshold of new experiences, new views, no matter how miniscule. This is one of the reasons why I am packing up and moving to San Diego, California. I have a perfectly fine life here where I live in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. However, standing strong to my muse (Hemmingway) I am willing to try a change of scenery. A different view on life, new friends, new situations, and new surroundings. I have never been one to be okay with my life without trying to get to the Bigger Better Deal (BBD). I will obviously keep my blog, but I am anxious to see how much truth lies behind a location that inspires you to write. I mean, I am already writing. Only thinking of my future destination! Please check back to see where I stand with this philosophy, as mine change regularly based on my life situations.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you found some inspiration of your own.
Caleb A. Mertz