Short Story: Awkward Press Release
After a quick glance at the room full of press representatives, I look at Ben. He gives me a sheepish smile and I scowl. He should be the one facing the press instead of me. Our PR representative gives us a nod and we enter the room, cameras flashing from all sides. Ben trips as he comes inside, further cementing the notion that he’s doing something wrong. At 20 years old, his long limbs are still growing, perfect for playing center in our basketball team, but ungraceful for every day activities.
I take my place behind the microphone and he sits next to me. He makes a motion to take out his mobile phone and I give him a warning glare. A deep breath escapes me and it echoes throughout the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for joining us today. After weeks of speculation, it’s time that we set up the rumors straight. As you all know, Ben Kingston was the guest of honor at the Basketball Association banquet. A privilege for him and quite a proud moment for me as his manager and his team.”
I clear my throat and the press watches my every move.
“During the dinner portion of the event, Ben abandoned his table several times, leaving his food untouched. At first, no one seemed to notice, until people from the organization saw him entering a cleaning closet and visiting the bathroom several times. Contrary to the belief that he was doing something illegal, he had managed to sneak in a take out bag of ribs and kept washing his greasy hands and mouth in order to return to the event. At the table, he complained of a stomach ache to the waiter who asked if there was something wrong with the food. The event coordinator saw he was pale, rubbing his chest, and called for medical assistance. A team of paramedics entered the room and took Ben away, who everyone feared was having a heart attack from drug abuse. He was diagnosed with reflux from overeating. Now we’ll take some questions.”
The members of the press are speechless and Ben chuckles while thumbing a white tablet into his mouth.
One reporter raises her hand. “Can we get the address of your ribs place?”
The room explodes with booming laughter and I want Ben to choke on his antacids.
Book Design: BuJo for Writers No. 4
Styling a book gives me tons of pleasure. It’s a form of design that I never explored before. When I published the first edition of TIDES, I was happy with the result, but as I learned more, I realized that it could be done better. I found great pages online with tutorials on how to layout a book and now I feel proud at how the second edition looks.
I use my BuJo to keep track of the decisions I make on which fonts, sizes and alignment I use on my chapters. I add them to the Styles menu in Word to automate the process, but have it all in one overview. The cover measurements come in handy to remember how wide the spine needs to be.
I also write down the publishing date, ISBN number, how many pages the book has, the BISAC category and I make a list the tags I will use often.
A cost overview is also a very handy thing. Not only you can see how much it costs you to buy copies for yourself, but which price you set and how much royalty your book earns according to the market.
Another thing is that I make notes of the lessons learned:
- I will need three files, two for the final (DOCX and PDF) and one for the naked final (DOC)
- OTF fonts don’t embed in Word, if your book has them, you need to make a PDF of it
- Clipart inside the book needs to be 300 DPI
- Make sure to select the whole text and make it black
- Transparencies get flattened or lost
- Make all colors CMYK
- Leave space at the back for the bar code
As I take on new projects, new notes will be added to my BuJo. What have you learned during your own publishing process?
This was the final entry of my Bullet Journaling for Writers, customize it to your own needs and success!
Editing: BuJo for Writers No. 3
So you finished writing a story and are ready to make a manuscript to submit to publishing houses, or maybe you want to go the self-publishing path. Where to start and what to do? It’s overwhelming without a doubt. I have cried and gotten angry. Have asked myself why am I doing this? The simple answer is that I love to write, the more complicated one includes stuff like I have a mid-life crisis (not true), don’t have enough friends (definitely not true) and that I enjoy challenges and like taking up complicated projects (absolutely true).
I made a checklist in my BuJo that I use when editing a book. How many draft versions you end up with is up to you, but I have found I end up with about seven.
- 1. the original: grammar and spelling mistakes in all their glory2. macro edits: the moment to fix plot holes and refine your characters (and probably where Shawn became Sean – see post No. 1)3. line edits: the painful draft, the one where you have to read each line individually to see if it flows well, look for redundancies and consistency, and make your verbs stronger
4. copy edit: this is the one where I recommend using a tool like ProWritingAid and having a grammar knowledgeable friend on call in case you doubt. My dear friend and fellow author Devin Harbison probably hates me by now, but loves me too much to tell it to my face. He has been a great help and has saved me tons of time (do you sit on a chair or in a chair?) by coming to my rescue on SnapChat.
5. print proof: it is curious how you don’t see mistakes until you have the printed proof in your hands. I feel as if I’m stabbing my book with a red pen marking all the stuff I didn’t see in my Word file, such as a curly quote mark when I use straight ones all over the book, widow sentences at the end of a page, a weird space between two words, etc.
6. final: your finished baby, ready to be shared with the world
7. final naked: the same as final, but stripped of fancy styling and with added navigation marks for easy reading as e-book version
I also make notes on the look and feel for the cover of the book, but will talk about that in the next post.
Details and Timeline: BuJo for Writers No.2
In my previous post, we talked about how a little system in a bullet journal has helped me to keep track on the characters in a book. Another detail I find important to keep track of is all the locations that are mentioned in the storyline, especially if I made up a name. These can be town names, stores, restaurants, businesses, etc.
Food is another aspect that is important to me and my culture, and that is mentioned often throughout my books. My characters share meals when meeting new people, to celebrate something or to soothe their soul in a moment of sadness. Who knows, maybe one day I will collect them all and make a cookbook, but in the meantime, I have recorded them in my BuJo.
In the particular case of TIDES, a surfing competition takes place, and sponsors and brands are part of it. I didn’t want to go all deep into copyrighted names of real brands so I made up my own.
Music gives me the right mood when writing, but songs are also mentioned sometimes in the story. If you want to check out the playlist, you can check Tides in Spotify.
Finally, the timeline… a reviewer once complained that the characters in my story fall in love too quickly. While making the timeline, I realized that four months passed between the first chapter and the last. Some characters knew each other from before so it is plausible that they start a relationship along the way. Now I have proof!
What details would you like to keep track of in your own journal?
In the next post about bullet journaling for writers, we will talk about book editing and what I include in my checklist.
Characters: BuJo for Writers No.1
Nothing embarrasses me more as a writer than when a reader says: Sean? Wasn’t he called Shawn before?
My books have tons of characters with descriptions, occupations, and traits. When it comes to secondary and tertiary characters, I have a lot more. No wonder Shawn became Sean a few chapters further.
Recently, I learned about bullet journals and was simply impressed by the idea of having my agenda, checklists, planners and trackers in one condensed and convenient system. Then I thought, if this works for organizing my life, it sure works to organize the details of my books.
So I made a page for the characters from TIDES. I have seen very detailed spreadsheets online to make a whole profile of a character, but that wasn’t what I needed. I wanted an overview of the people with the details that I tend to forget (was Sean blond or did he have black hair? Wait, he’s called Shawn!).
So I called my system the HEA-ORT in which I record the:
(H)air color / (E)ye color / (A)ge
For my secondary characters I kept it even more condensed, using only HEA-O. Then on the side, I made a list of every tertiary character without details.
It has helped my memory inmensely and will help you too. What do you think of this idea? What would you do differently?
In my next entry, we will talk about other book details worth recording.
Receiving the printed final copy of your book has to be one of the most exciting experiences as a writer. My hands shake a bit from the emotion and the happiness of having my completed project in front of me. I treat it almost like a frail newborn, so precious.
That is how I feel with the copy of TIDES right now. Both printed and e-book version will be available from November 26 on Amazon and in the days after in online bookstores everywhere.
I guess people wonder, why publish a summer book in the middle of autumn? And I say, why not? Reliving the warm sun on your skin, the waves crashing on shore and that first whiff of sunblock on a cold dark night sounds like music to my ears.
I hope you all enjoy it as much as I loved writing it, and I hope to hear what you think of it.
Self-publishing and Me
The past year has been a period of intense learning and self-assessment. I realized that I can write stories, but self-publishing is another business. I love it. Producing my own books is the most enjoyable project I’ve taken. I get to plan, decide and perform every step, but as a rookie, I made many mistakes.
I was willing to learn and improve. I took a writing course to strengthen my editing skills and got myself immersed in learning how to make book layouts. Not only for the ones that will go to print, but the nightmare that is e-book formatting.
Getting the cover the way I wanted was also a difficult process. As a graphic designer, I have a hard time deciding on what I like, but after comparing the works of writers I admire, I realized not one design is standard. The best way forward for me was to make a cover I like that is also functional and overall is colorful.
I’m now in the final stages of republishing TIDES, not necessarily bigger but a lot better. The message is still the same, but oh boy, it is written correctly and certainly looks prettier.
Keep an eye out for it in November and I look forward to hearing what you think.