In today’s Wall Street Journal, we learn all about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s love of Princeton football, and his idea for dedicated offensive and defensive units…
Good snippets of wisdom from non-fiction author Malcolm Gladwell in losing “the fear of standing corrected.” Like Stephen King said, it’s about writing for nobody but you. More here.
See here for an interview with author Harry Patz from Book Reader Magazine.
The Alchemy of Self-Publishing
Harry Patz, Jr.,
Author of The Naive Guys: A Memoir of Friendship, Love and Tech in the Early 1990s
In a five-part essay, Harry Patz, author of new historical fiction The Naive Guys, shares his experiences and eight key learnings from his initial journey into self-publishing. Harry will cover his background and the development of his debut novel, the advances in technology aiding self-publishing, the need to exercise the writing muscle and harness key relationships, and his experiences with layout and print-on-demand firms. He’ll conclude with his initial marketing and social media efforts after publication of The Nave Guys in late August, 2014. Part III, “Weak Ties and Providence,” covering the importance of expanding one’s network, project management and estimating timelines, appears today. Each additional part will appear weekly on Mondays through November 3, 2014. Parts I-II are also available on http://www.thenaiveguys.com/alchemy.
Part III: “Weak Ties and Providence”
By chance one morning in the snowy winter of 2014 I was on Facebook, and saw a post from someone I had worked with at the firm of twenty years. I think she was a friend of a friend at the time (in Facebook terms) but I was not directly connected to her. Smeeta was a wonderful gal who had reported into one of my peers but we did not meet in person all that much. She would be, in Malcolm Gladwell’s terms, a “weak tie,” someone you knew, but not particularly well or through another person. Smeeta had posted that Amazon was running a special on tech evangelist (and former Apple exec) Guy Kawasaki’s book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur on self-publishing. I quickly downloaded a copy to my iPad, and a few days later, also bought a softcover, which has become dog-eared and beaten-down with my markings and bended pages.
My point is not that you must buy APE (I recommend you do; it’s an invaluable resource for self-publishers), but rather the importance of exploring those weak-ties on your self-publishing journey. My second learning: In every aspect of the process, from writing to publishing to marketing and selling your book, I recommend you create some of your own luck by exploring those weak ties. You’ll put yourself in position to meet new and different people who just may help you in ways you cannot fathom. Smeeta has since become a good friend, providing tremendous support and encouragement in many aspects of the entire process. She’s working on her own manuscript now, too; I’ll help her in any way I can.
As the clock turned to April, I began work on the twenty-ninth and final chapter of my novel. Reviewing many of the suggestions in APE, as well as my own exploration, I made the first critical publishing decision: hiring an editor. I was not initially sure where I would find one, but many websites exist for freelancers overall and specifically within the book world. After researching a number of alternatives, and talking to two published authors (again through weak-tie connections from other friends), I decided to use the “Premier” package from a prestigious editing firm. It certainly would not be cheap – my manuscript at the time was over 160,000 words – but I knew both the editing and cover (more on that later) as a self-publisher had to be top-notch.
This comes to my third learning: No matter how much you plan, most steps take longer than you think. So you need to anticipate the unforeseen lags and delays, e.g. build “fudge” time into your project plan. And yes, Project Management is another discipline of the self-publisher, so a sharp focus here would be my fourth learning.
After feedback from some beta-readers, my own edits, re-edits, and edits again – picture a huge California redwood tree sliced and splintered-down into a number two pencil for your SAT exam – I sent in my manuscript to the firm in early-May. They employed a three-step process. Once an editor was chosen, that person reviewed the story for content and some copy-editing; after a phone call with the author, and then acceptance/changes by the author, they performed a second-phase of full copyediting; again the author accepted or rejected the changes. The third and final stage involved a new editor providing a final look with fresh eyes.
My goal in May was to publish the novel “in summer.” I initially thought I’d have a shot at July. And while I was extremely pleased with the quality and support of the editorial team, and would recommend them, the process took longer than I, and perhaps they, initially planned for. I received my final version from them during the last week in July. The process took three full months, which seemed long for me. Again, I was extremely pleased with the quality of the work, although I can probably debate eternally whether the cost was worth it. For me, given that high-quality editing was of the utmost importance, I will declare it was. But the long editing cycle grew longer each minute.
Part IV: “Social Media, Layout and Print-On-Demand” will appear here on http://www.thenaiveguys.com on Monday October 27, 2014. The essay, as it progresses, will appear on http://www.thenaiveguys.com/alchemy.
Cicero, who once modestly wondered how he would be remembered a thousand years after his death, would no doubt be delighted to know that “De Officiis” and his many other works are still being read 2,000 years on—and in a format beyond his wildest imaginings. “For those of good character,” he once declared, “there is nothing more admirable, and nothing more to be desired, than putting your leisure time to profitable use.” It must count among the wonders of our digital age that it is now so much easier to put Cicero’s maxim into practice.
The Naive Guys know the classics will ALWAYS matter, in whatever form
This is a deal even Slippery Stan, one of the ancillary characters in The Naive Guys would love. Here’s an excerpt:
Stan appealed to Kostas for final salvation. “Kostas, do you think I’m cheap?”
Kostas was asleep, or at least looked asleep while thinking deep thoughts, slumped back in the booth with his eyes closed. But on Stan’s prompt, his eyes opened slightly, and speaking softly but clearly, he remarked, “Stan, you’re the cheapest bastard I ever met in my life.”
Stunned and outnumbered, Stan finally surrendered, fearing Pete’s anger might escalate to violence. “All right, no problem, I’ll pay the whole bill. My money issues are a result of my Catholic upbringing.”
Now my anger came back. “What? I’m Catholic, too, and my dad wasn’t running IBM in Europe. In fact, he wasn’t even fucking around. So find another goddamned excuse!”