Getting My Book Out to the World

I’m letting it go, letting my book go out in the world, and be born. It is almost time for it to fly.

About ten weeks ago, I decided it was done. I was finished. The book was, dare I say it, complete. It had started out as a blog post, and then more blog posts, an essay, an op ed piece in the local paper. I even set up a folder in my computer and called it “mentoring”.

One day, my wife said that I had so many of these writings, I should make a book out of them.

Me? A book?

Well, yes. I was on my way, I told myself. And, there were very few books I’d found on the subject, and none on what I was saying, and doing with the young men I had been working with, as a judge and as a volunteer at the local youth prison.

And, I do have some things to say; I’m opinionated.

Last spring, we took a trip and I printed off all of my “chapters” at a copy center, and put them in a binder. My task was to do some editing and rewriting, and organize the whole thing into something that people might want to pick up and read. I had the time. Now, I needed to get to work.

That process was slow going, and the Muse would call me to write a new chapter every three or four weeks. And, some chapters fell by the wayside. But, I had something. I had something to say, and what I had written was important. People needed to read it. I needed to get it out there.

Several friends and family members kept up the pressure.

“You need to get that book out, you know,” they would say, asking where I was at on the project.

This fall, I thought it was about ready, as ready as it might ever be. It was time to push it off the cliff and see if it would fly. Mentoring Boys to Men: Climbing Their Own Mountains needed to come to life.

I had been researching self publishing and the whole book industry for a while, and I ended up picking CreateSpace at Amazon for this adventure. They offered all the services I needed: content editing, copy editing, book cover design and copy, marketing copy, interior design, and formatting for e books and print on demand. I’d have my author page and book page on Amazon and readers could easily buy the book. I read all their articles and FAQs, and screwed up my courage to make the contact. A few days later, a nice guy called, and walked me through the process, explaining all the options. What I needed wasn’t cheap, but then, it was time to move ahead and be bold. I had to accept that I couldn’t do all of this by myself; I needed fresh eyes and professional expertise.

My hard work needed to come to fruition. It was time for harvest.

My book deserved the best.

I answered detailed questionnaires, and submitted my manuscript. Soon, an editor was at work on my precious baby, and I was making decisions on book cover designs and polishing up the content of my back cover. “Marketing copy” arrived and I toyed with that, asking some friends to read my draft manuscript and write some reader comments for the back cover.

Wow, my book being seen as a “product”, to be marketed and sold. How to attract readers? This is not the normal worry of the writer, the guy who is off in his corner of the living room, coffee cup in hand, writing in solitude, with only my cat for moral support and commentary for my “morning write”.

But, now I had my own ISBN, the international book identification number, for both an e book and a “trade” paperback. I had my own Library of Congress number, so that book stores and libraries could find it in their catalogs. There was my copyright page, and my own Amazon author number and account. And, when I access my account page, there is that report of books sold this month. Still zeroes, but that will change. There is a place there, to account for all the folks that will buy my book.

The first edit came back, and it was thorough. The changes suggested were good ones, and I felt I had an ally in the writing and book publishing experience. The book was taking shape and becoming better.

And then, the manuscript went off to a second editor, for “copy editing”. I waited nervously, wanting to see how another set of fresh eyes would see my baby.

That editor suggested more changes, more polishing of sentence structure, some clarifications. I found myself checking nuances of editing in the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. It was all good, and made my book even better, more professional. Both editors wrote me nice “editorial letters”, mentioning that they found the book interesting and informative.

The next step was sending the latest, twice edited, manuscript off to the interior design folks. This morning, that product arrived on my computer. My book was now in “book form”, looking like pages in a book, with the font I had selected. There it was, in double columns, with page numbers and chapter headings, my dedication, acknowledgements and author page, just like I had envisioned it.

This was becoming a book.

I hit the “accept” button and back it went to Amazon.
Now, the text and the book cover are going to be combined, and then turned into an actual book, an “author’s copy”, for me to review. My real book will come in the mail, a physical thing I can hold. It will be the last chance for changes, for finding those reclusive typos and other flaws that have escaped my eyes, the eyes of several friends, and two professional editors.

At that point, I say “yes”, and the formatters will wave their magic wands and it will be published. My prospective author and book pages on Amazon will take shape, and I will make decisions on pricing.

People I’ve talked to about my book seem interested and they want to buy it. So, copies will be sold and people will read it. I even talked to a stranger in a restaurant yesterday, who heard me talking about my book with a friend. He seemed interested and wished me well.

Within a month, I think, maybe six weeks, there will be a day when a big Amazon box will arrive on my doorstep, and I will have my book. There will be copies for family, and my friends who have read my manuscript and given me my back cover blurbs, and friends who have been my persistent cheerleaders, urging me to get this out there. And there will be copies for me to sell. I will cry. My wife and I will dance around the house and open some Champagne.

I’ll send out post cards, with the cover design and title of my book, announcing that my baby is out there. Go buy it and read it. Talk about it. Tell your friends. Tell the world. I’ll do my posts on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads, like a a good marketer.

Next month, local authors are selling their books at the local Saturday market, and I will sit with them, with my own stack of books to sell, my Sharpie pen to sign them, and my iPad all set up to take credit cards.

And, I will still write. I jumped in to the National Novel Writing Month furor in November, and banged out a first draft of a novel, about a guy in prison, and his life of craziness and penal bureaucracy. I need to dig into that, and rewrite and polish and organize. But, someday, it too will tell me it is ready for the world to see, and I’ll start this process again.