Sometimes I just have to shake my head and move on. Recently I've been trying to add to my small business's staff by hiring an accountant and an editor. (If you missed my blog about why every self-publisher needs a staff, you can find it here
) In both cases, I started by taking the recommendations of friends. I should have known better!
Case #1: The Accountant. She "welcomed my business", but never had time to meet with me. Meanwhile, I was sweating the fact that my book sales had added thousands of dollars to our income, without any deductions coming out of them. I knew I was going to owe self-employment taxes at least, and we might also be hit with a fine for not submitting quarterly estimated payments to cover the difference.
As January 17 got closer, I again asked for an appointment, which she made, and then cancelled twice. On the third appointed day, I arrived at her office with all my paperwork in hand, only to be told she was "out of town." Her receptionist offered to call her, and I had the dubious pleasure of listening to her sputter an apology. "Leave the paperwork there," she said. "I'll be back in the office tomorrow, I'll look it over, and call you." Right! She finally called on the Saturday afternoon before the deadline to say she didn't have time to go through the paperwork. Her recommendation: Send the IRS $2000 or more, and they'll be happy. Then, she said she would file to get me an extension on paying my taxes in April. Bottom line: "Call me back at the end of April, and we'll try to find a time to go over all this before the October deadline.
Instead, I found myself a new accountant -- one recommended by the Chamber of Commerce. He was polite and accommodating, offering a whole afternoon to get us straightened out. Thank you, Kind Accountant, for treating me as if my business is important.
Case #2: The Editor. She was excited to read the first three chapters of my book -- until she read them. Then back came the critique. "You seem to want your historical novel to be historically accurate, but all these details are going to bore your reader, as they do me. I prefer to work on a story line that has lots of action and excitement. I can do an edit on these pages and put in some more exciting events, but you'll have to start all over again to write the kind of book I produce."
I had told her that I am a historian and that the book is based on a real person. Sorry, but we can't put car chases, explosions, and terrorist threats into a Civil War novel. So I found a new editor, too -- one who found the real story interesting and promised to help me polish the book I wanted to write.
It's been an interesting couple of weeks! I'm trying to put a positive spin on the experiences. After all, I did end up with two wonderful additions to the "staff." But what on earth is wrong with people who offer their "services for hire" but don't want to serve the people who hire them?
Yesterday, I finally hired an editor for my upcoming novel. Then I worried about sending her the first chapters without doing a quick edit myself to catch the really dumb mistakes. After a couple of hours of editing this morning, I took a break, but I couldn't get away from grammar and punctuation. On Facebook I found people playing a new game: creating bar jokes involving grammar and punctuation. So here, for your enjoyment -- or befuzzlement -- are some of the best ones I discovered.
- A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.
- A question mark walks into a bar?
- Two "quotation marks" walk into a bar.
- The bar was walked into by a passive verb.
- Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.
- A spell checker want into a bar and preceeded to get waisted.
- A worn out simile went into a bar, had a shot and a Red Bull chaser, and then ran like a bat out of hell.
- A subordinating conjunction walked into a bar because it was thirsty.
- A colon walks into a bar for one reason: to drink.
- A split infinitive decides to boldly walk into a bar.
- Always a verb in a bar.
- An adverb walks into a bar thirstily.
- A run on sentence walks into a bar and sits and drinks and leaves and comes back again and has too much to drink and stumbles out of the bar and returns again unable to stop its on going drinking habit which it learned to do the first time it went into the bar to sit down and drink and leave if only for a moment.
- Being well fried, the Dangling Modifiers enjoyed the pork chops.
- An ellipsis walks into a bar…
- A palindrome walks up to a girl in a bar and says, "Madam, I'm Adam."
- An unnecessary Oxford comma walks into a bar, drinks, and leaves.
- A conjunction joined two phrases at a bar.
How many of them did you understand? That's why every writer needs an editor!
I'm in the midst of a busy day. Proofs have arrived, asking me to make decisions about my new book cover and its interior layouts. Here's the cover I've chosen. Layouts will take a bit more work. These are exciting days, and I'm trying not to push ahead too fast. The temptation is to get the book out as soon as possible to catch the holiday shopping frenzy that is sure to erupt as soon as everyone has finished eating turkey. But since I don't want to publish a "turkey" I'm trying to slow down and edit carefully.
In the meantime the IHR Virtual Conference on Historical Fiction is in full swing. Here's a brief summary of today's events.
There's been a lot going on today. Starting with Elizabeth Chadwick's research
into why readers of historical fiction enjoy the genre conversation
moved onto questions of why academic history is perceived to not be able
to recreate the human condition adequately. We then heard from Justin Champion, Tracey Loughran and Peter Straus.
In these papers, amongst much else, the issue of e-book readers came up
and in other conversations the rise of the internet was discussed as
revolutionising the communication and interaction between author and
seems that historical fiction is regarded as a popular form of writing
and reading about the past, leaving academic history failing somewhat in
its targets for impact! However, the inter-relationship of the two are
time and again shown to be strong - one could not survive without the
other. I suspect we'll return to that topic tomorrow as we look at the
differences and similarities between historical fiction and academic
Elsewhere, Jenny Benham's book review focused
on Swedish historical fiction is a gentle and much welcome reminder
that in this conference so far we have largely talked about British and
perhaps a little American historical fiction. What about elsewhere? It
would be great to see if anyone else has any views on non-English
You've heard people say,"The early bird gets the worm." Well, that's fine advice, if you have a taste for worms. But here at Katzenhaus Books, we've observed that while the early bird may get the worm, it's the second mouse who gets the cheese. That's doubly true when it comes to book publishing. The path to publication is studded with traps for the unwary. We're here to help aspiring writers avoid those traps and reach their goals. Here's the final guide to topics you'll find in my upcoming book, The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese. You will want any book you write to be as letter-perfect as possible. But if it comes off the press with typos or grammatical errors, the self-published author has no one else to blame. Do you need help with grammar, punctuation, vocabulary? Thinking about hiring a professional editor? Then read chapters 12 through 14:
12. Listen to Your Inner English Teacher
When Do You Use a Hyphen? And Why?
Punctuation Marks We Can Do Without
Spelling—Cna Ouy Rdea This?
13. Listen to What You Say
Don't Let Your Modifiers Dangle
One Letter Can Change Everything
A Few More Problematic Pairs
More Ways To Improve Your Diction
14. Hire an Editor
Choosing an Editor
It's the Little Things That Get You
Are You Ever Finished Editing?
Editing your Kindle Edition
Once you've written your book, what do you do with it? How do you make sure it is professional in appearance? How do you handle distribution? How do you sell it? Is it possible to make money by self-publishing? Finish up with chapters 15-17:
15. Reject the Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
Choosing Your Printing Company
Contracting for Other Services
The Challenge of Book Layouts
16. Market, Market, Market
Your Elevator Speech
A Virtual Launch Party
A Virtual Book Tour
Press Release: Advertisement or Publicity?
The Value of Book Contests
17. Embrace New Technology
Why You Must Publish an eBook
Kindling a Controversy
Give Away $70,000 and Make a Profit
Kindle Free Books: The New Public Library
The Elusive Amazon Algorithm
The Price of Success
I've been toddling along, waiting for summer to be over and telling myself that once fall arrived, I'd get really busy with my next books. Among the promises to myself is the one that says I'll have the book on self-publishing reading for Christmas shoppers. The leaves on our trees are still green, my impatiens bed is bursting with new blooms, and today's temperature will be 80 degrees. Of course, the weatherman just said that Denver is expecting a major
winter storm tonight, but there's still a hurricane brewing in the Gulf,
so it must still be summer here. The holiday season is a distant goal, but as soon as it turns cool, I'll know it's time to get to work.
Except . . . Halloween is just a week away, and then it'll be November -- Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations, holiday shoppers -- aaarrrgh! There, in a nutshell, you have part of my excuse for not blogging for almost a week. The realization that fall has moved on without me has sent me into a frenzy of multi-tasking.
The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese absolutely has to be finished before the end of November. This little book for self-publishers has assumed its final shape. In the past few days, I've finalized all of the publishing arrangements. Contracts are signed and paid for. The ISBN number is already assigned, and the Library of Congress cataloguing number is being processed. The design team responsible for the artistic stuff I can't handle is in place and impatient to get started. The cover designer has the illustration that will form the focal point of the cover, but is waiting for back cover copy and blurbs. The interior layout folks have cleared the illustrations but need the final edited manuscript. Kindle conversion is arranged. Everything depends, now, on my finishing the final edit.
So what have I been doing, you ask?. You mean, besides the usual stuff--cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, and bill paying? Besides attending a Lions Club district conference all day Saturday, running my own club meeting last night, getting ready to go to do a pre-school eye-screening this morning? Besides buying a new car and planning a research trip that will start on November 30th, whether I'm finished with "The Mouse" or not. Besides sleeping now and then?
I'm going to promise to do better with the blog, primarily because you readers help keep me on track. If I feel that I should report to you with progress updates, perhaps I'll stay better focused during the net several days. So off I go -- first to check the eyesight of those adorable 3- and 4-year-olds at today's day care center. Then back to the final nine chapters, looking for strange and awkward wording or curious omissions caused by imprecise first-round editing.
If you find a way to restore my fall season and postpone the encroaching holidays, please let me know.