Friday, March 19, 2010

Exciting, and Nerve-Wracking, and Exciting

Things have been happening so quickly that I haven't been able to keep everyone up-to-date.

I had long felt that the Jewish Book Fairs around the country would be a great place to talk about the book, and while the San Diego Jewish Book Fair doesn't come around until November, I must have thought that I didn't have enough to do so I contacted the woman in charge of the San Diego. I had planned to meet her for a leisurely lunch one nice afternoon so I could ask my questions, but she responded to the email I sent with the information that *all* the Jewish Book Fairs in the country are coordinated through the Jewish Book Council in NY. Great; fewer letters I'd have to write.

So I went to the Jewish Book Council website and learned that, in order to be 'considered' to participate in any of the Jewish Book Fairs around the country, I need to first apply to, and then be invited to participate in, the JBC's Meet the Author event, which takes place in May. Okay; I had planned on printing the book in June or July, so now it would have to be May, early May, as I needed to have 100 copies to distribute to the May 23-25 participants and to send out to reviewers. This was Sunday, 5 days ago. Oh, and the deadline to apply is March 26 -- next week. Now I was really panicked.

 I still had a lot of work to do on the book, so I redoubled my efforts, spending a few 12-hour days a week at the Starbucks that is my current 'office,' in addition to the regular full days I spend there.

Just last night, as I was about to submit my application to the JBC, I began to wonder on what basis the committee would make it's decision when it asked for no more than the title of the book and a credit card number. I reread the 10 page information packet that was sent to me along with the application, and found what I should have noticed earlier: The application needs to be submitted with a synopsis and bio. It only makes sense. And author photo. And book cover. A little more complicated.

As I sat down to edit the synopsis this morning, it occurred to me to ask if the JBC had a certain length in mind. I have, in various stages, synopses of a few different lengths to use for different purposes, though I wasn't 100% satisfied with any of them. And indeed they had very specific lengths in mind: No more than 175 words for the synopsis and 45 words for the bio.

Most people would feel that having a very limited number of words makes the job easier. Not so. My main synopsis draft was about 750 words long, which meant more than editing; it meant synthesizing, looking at the whole story from a higher level. What was really important for people to know, and how could I share it in terms that made it sound exciting, intriguing, a "must invite?" That took some time, but I did it.

Just to make sure I didn't overlook anything (else), I went back to the Author Tour Information Booklet that I had downloaded with the application and only read cursorily (short attention span). And there was more that I had overlooked. It wasn't just that I needed 100 printed copies of the book by May 23; the JBC needed to receive the books by May 1! Which they suggested meant mailing them around April 15 (probably not the best day to go to the post office, though).

Yikes! I still had about 100 pages to edit, need to write the Epilogue (which I had asked my mother to do as I expected her to know something about her own family's history, but that's not going to happen), and more importantly, I have the entire opening chapter to write, in which I need to include enough background information so that all the events that follow in the book will have a context and make sense. I had long been anxious about this chapter, but about 2 weeks ago I suddenly figured out how to do it, so I will -- soon.

But there's more. In order to have 100 copies of the book by send by April 15, I need to get the manuscript to the printer 10 business days prior, which is April 1. But I need to give the book designer time to lay out the interior (he's a saint, but more about him later; he says he can do it 2-3 day, and that I should calm down). But on Wednesday two people I trust told me that, even before that, I need to have a professional editor go over the manuscript. Frankly, I had been planning to skip that step, but . . . Well, I have to do it, but I'm asking for only a high-level read. I have enough confidence that the book will work the way I've  structured it. I'm cutting out some good material when it makes the chapter drag. And I've been tightening each sentence to 'read' faster. I also bought and consult "Woe is I" to make sure I know my grammar, punctuation and all those other rules I never learned (and have been pleasantly surprised to discover that I actually know my punctuation -- mostly).

As of 5:42 p.m., I have finished the editing (another reading round follows, with checks on punctuation, pacing, and that every scene I include has a 'payoff'). Meanwhile, I've advertised for an editor with experience with a literary agency or a publisher to do a fast, high-level read. And believe it or not, I've gotten some responses. Now I have to finish my work, select the editor and pray, pray, pray that the manuscript passes muster and I can proceed with the next steps.

So, check back March 23 -- tell your friends -- because I'm going to post the cover designs for YOUR INPUT a full week earlier than I had planned and preannounced. I need to adjust the countdown timer.

Take a deep breath for me, as I don't have time to do so, myself.


  1. Consider the deep breath taken for you! The pieces will and are falling into place.

  2. I don't know how you're doing it but obviously you are getting this done, a tremendous amount of work for which I commend your motivation, persistence, and gung-hoism (if such a word existed). Glad to be following you on your journey to publication.
    Best luck. Pennie