Revising Leah

February 2, 2009

Revised!

My finished novel arrived today. It looks good, so I’ve approved the book for sale through Lulu and elsewhere. Paperback copies may be purchased here.

I’m also making the ebook version of the novel available for free. The PDF download at Lulu will be free, of course, but I’ll also be offering downloads through my website.  Right now, I only have PDF and ePub versions of Leah available, but I’ll be adding PRC and PDB formatted versions, too, soon.

I hope everyone who stops by this page will check the book out. I’m very happy with it.

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January 31, 2009

Asymmetrical

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:40 pm
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This week, I’ve been waiting for the new proof copy of my novel to arrive. I know the book has shipped, and I hoped it would arrive by Saturday (today) . . . but no. Hopefully it will arrive Monday.

It’s too bad it didn’t arrive today because I began this process of publishing the book through Lulu on the first day of January, and it would have been beautifully symmetrical for me to have finished the process on the last day of January.

And the arrival of the new copy should be the end of the process. Last night, I had a dream that the new copy did arrive and the cover image was all messed up (but then, in one of those fun moments of lucid dreaming, I realized that since I was only dreaming, I could use the power of my imagination to fix the cover and make it perfect — which I did). But the real copy should look just fine, and the text of the novel has reached a point where I can call it “finished.”

So I continue to wait.

January 25, 2009

Publishing Through Lulu: The ISBN Barcode

A year ago, when I first published The Spring through Lulu, I remember that the most difficult and confusing part of the process was generating the ISBN barcode for the back cover of my book.

You would think that there would be a website online in which all you have to do is type in your ISBN number and a program would generate a free, high quality barcode image for you to download and use — all in one easy step. There are sites online that can do this, but they aren’t always free. (Perhaps the best option would be for Lulu itself to offer such a service.)

Instead, Lulu directs you to this site, which will generate a barcode for you for free in either .jpg format or .eps format. You don’t want to try to use the .jpg format because the quality of the image isn’t very high, and you need a high quality image for the barcode. The .eps file is what you want, but the trouble is none of my image editing tools on my computer could open up an .eps file.

So what you have to do is download a separate program which will allow you to view and convert the .eps file to another format. A free program, called GSview, is the recommended program (you also need to make sure you have GhostScript installed). It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. Once that program is installed, you can then open the .eps file and convert it to a .png or some other high quality format which you can then edit in another program. (At the very least, you’ll need to crop the image. The barcode image has a lot of white space around it.)

It sounds simple, and I suppose that it is, but I remember last year it took me days to figure out this process. When The Spring was finally published, I knew I’d be re-publishing Leah this year, so I made sure to save the GSview program on my hard drive. A couple weeks ago, when the time came to generate a barcode for the new novel’s cover, it was a very easy process.

January 22, 2009

Quick Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 3:58 pm
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As I said I would, late last night I logged into Lulu, uploaded the corrected manuscript and the new book cover design, and ordered a copy for myself.

That is to say: the book is done.

Now I wait a few days for the new copy to be manufactured and for the postman to deliver it to me. If everything looks good, then I’ll make the novel available to the public and begin (or perhaps I should say, “continue”) the always exciting “marketing stage” of the publishing process.

January 21, 2009

How Can You Finish a Piece of Writing That Can Never Be Finished?

An update: Last week, I received the proof copy of Leah and I read through it, proofreading and making last minute corrections. I thought that I’d be able to submit the corrected manuscript back to Lulu on Sunday, thus beginning the final phase of this publishing process. However, Sunday evening, I was reading passages of my book at random (a couple pages here, a couple pages there), and stumbled upon a sentence in chapter eight in which I had accidentally italicized half of a sentence that should not have been italicized at all.

The discovery freaked me out because it was an error so glaringly obvious that I should have spotted it last week when I was reading through the novel. I started to wonder, then, Well if I missed that, what other errors have I missed?!

So I decided to delay submitting the supposedly “corrected” manuscript for a couple of days. Since Sunday, I’ve continued to just browse through the book randomly. I have spotted a few more errors, but they’ve all been very minor typos.

But Sunday’s freak-out has rekindled has my obsession with perfection and the idea that whatever I write and publish must be perfect, even though I fully realize that no piece of writing can ever be perfect — something can always be done to improve a written work. I have the urge to hold on to my book and not submit it until I have made every single change that I can. But I could work on my manuscript for another hundred years and it will still not be perfect.

I’ll keep browsing through the text this afternoon and this evening, but unless I find another startling error like I found on Sunday, I think I’ll submit the corrected draft of my manuscript to Lulu before I go to bed tonight. Hopefully, I’ll be able to sleep.

January 16, 2009

Almost

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 12:36 pm
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Well, I finished reading through the proof copy of my novel today. I had thought that I would today be ready to submit the revised manuscript and book cover back to Lulu, but I’ve decided to sit on the book for the weekend and think about it some more. In the second half of the novel, I noticed a couple of potential continuity errors, so I want to make sure those are taken care of. Plus, I feel like I read through the novel so quickly (40-50 pages a day) that I just want to pause and catch my breath. Hopefully, on Monday, everything will be ready to go, and I’ll submit the revised documents then.

January 13, 2009

The Final Edits

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 5:23 pm
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As I read through the proof copy of the novel, making the final set of changes and edits, I find myself reading through the book rapidly — I’ve been reading at least fifty pages a day. That’s good, because it means I’m finding few mistakes. Each sentence and each idea is flowing smoothly into the next. When I feel tripped up, when I have to stop and re-read a sentence or a paragraph, that’s usually an occasion to fix something, but I haven’t experienced very many of those moments.

The biggest change that I’ve made to the text so far is to delete an entire paragraph from chapter two. The paragraph just seemed superfluous, and when I read the passage without the paragraph, it sounds better.

But most of the edits that I’ve made have been little changes. As I thought I might, I have found some lines of dialogue that aren’t punctuated just right. Many of the edits, though, have been the usual word choice errors that always plague me. For example, in chapter six, I wrote this sentence:

Instead, her eyes darted to each of the boys’ laughing faces, and then they took a quick glance out the window at her table on the patio.

The problem here is the pronoun “they”. It isn’t clear what its antecedent is. It is supposed to refer to “her eyes,” but given this sentence construction, it appears to refer to “the boys”. I fixed this problem simply by changing “they” to “she”.

I’ve also found a couple of continuity errors. In chapter ten, I write,

David handed the piece of paper to Heather and said, as he sat down . . .

but then a few lines later, I write,

“And they lived in Egypt,” David laughed as he sat down.

So here I have a character performing the incredible act of sitting down twice in the same desk. That’s gotta break some law of physics or another! In this case, I decided that the first time David sat down was sufficient, and deleted his second occasion of sitting.

I don’t expect that I’ll ever be able to change every single thing that I might want to fix, but I know that every correction I make brings the novel just a little bit closer to a state of perfection. Overall, though, I’ve been quite happy with the book.

January 11, 2009

Proof Copy: First Look

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:01 am
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In my last post, I discussed how worried I’ve been that the back side of my book cover wasn’t going to turn out well. I even started designing an alternative back cover just in case my fears were realized.

Well, my fears were indeed realized. Late yesterday, my proof copy arrived, and I found that not only does the back side of the cover look obviously pixelated (even more pixelated, in fact, than it did in the PDF file from which the cover was generated), but my attempt to soften the pixelation by slightly blurring the image has failed spectacularly: the image looks both pixelated and blurry.

Only three visitors to this blog voted on the two back cover options in my previous post (and those votes resulted in a three-way tie), but it looks like my decision has been made for me. There’s no way I can use Option One. Option Two is in.

January 8, 2009

Twiddling My Thumbs

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 1:33 pm
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Earlier this week, I got the message that the proof copy for Leah had shipped, so right now I’m just waiting for it to arrive. If I’m lucky, it will come by Saturday. I’m anxious to hold the book in my hands and see the revised story “in the flesh” instead of just on a computer screen.

As I wait, I’m trying to plan my strategy for what will be the final round of editing. Obviously, the first concern that I’ll have will be to check the cover and the formatting of the text. On the cover, I’ll be looking to see that the pictures and text are all lined up where they should be, and I’ll especially be looking to see how bad the pixellation is on the back cover. I expect some pixellation, but the question will be how obvious is it? If it’s really obvious, I’ll either have to blur the image a little more or I’ll have to design something different. Yesterday, I got inspired after thinking about my use of quotes on the front page of my new website, and I think I might be able to come up with a better design.

But the real editing work will be with the text of the novel. I’m going to try, as hard as I can, not to make too many unnecessary edits. I know that if I give myself freedom to do whatever I want I’ll be rewriting sentences and replacing some words with other words til the cows come home. But I really just want to limit myself to fixing errors.

One kind of error that I know I commit has to do with my dialogue. I tend to commit two common errors in my dialogue: I misplace or omit capital letters, or I insert periods where commas should go (or vice-versa). For example, I might accidentally write a line of dialogue like this:

“Yes, he was lost,” Joe said, “He didn’t know where to go.”

or like this:

“I liked the movie,” she said, “it was really good.”

So after I’ve read a chapter with dialogue in it, I’m going to revisit each line of dialogue and make sure I haven’t left any typos in my text. Little things like that probably won’t be noticed by someone reading my book for the first time, but they’ll bug the heck out of me if I see them in the final product.

Beyond those concerns, I’ll just have to stay on the alert for surprises. I won’t be too worried if I catch a lot of little errors in this final read-through. It’s a fact that reading a hard copy of text is a very different physiological and psychological experience than reading it on the screen, and since this is the first time that I’ll be reading a hard copy of the entire revised text, it’s possible that I’ve missed a few things in my previous revision cycles.

January 5, 2009

I’ve Got a Website

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 5:04 pm
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As I wait for the proof copy of Leah to arrive, I took the opportunity over the weekend to set up a website for myself. You can check it out here.

It’s only been up for barely 24 hours, so it’s still a work in progress, but I think it looks good so far. The website template that I chose is a minimalist design. I’m not sure if minimalism attracts me because I find it aesthetically pleasing or because I’m not talented enough to do more.

One function of the website will be to serve as a one-stop shop for ebook copies of my novels. I’ve set up a section just for that purpose, and so far I’ve got three different ebook versions of The Spring available for free.

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