Our digital era

The advent of the e-reader has brought the world of books to an interesting place. I’ve gone back and forth myself, though I was never firmly in one camp or another. I enjoy the convenience of the e-reader: I can carry a series, better yet an entire library, in my bag with minimal bulk and weight. I can download new titles anywhere, their size makes it painless to set up a wifi hotspot on my phone and use my cellular data plan. I get recommendations directly on my home screen.

That said, nothing beats the feel of a paper book. There’s something reassuring about its heft, the feel as you turn pages, the smell of a new book or that more usual scent that comes with time. They look nicer lined up on a bookshelf, they add personality to your home. When you get excited after finishing something new, you can pass it on to a friend without considering whether their device is compatible with yours, or how to transfer the file.

In younger days, I foolishly got rid of a substantial portion of my physical collection because I was enamored with my Kobo. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but now that I’m no longer commuting two hours or more a day, I’ve mostly gone back to paper copies. I find myself in the position of purchasing copies of novels I’ve given away, taking particular care to dig through precarious stacks in used bookstores. My bookshelf is starting to look a bit disheveled, and I don’t really have space in my current home to get a second one, but I’m not letting that stop me.

The e-reader still has certain advantages. I expect when I finally have money to travel, I’ll want to load my Kobo up with enough reading material to keep me busy. I’ll just have to make sure to bring the appropriate cable to charge it; I’ve upgraded my cell phone, so it’s no longer the same USB plug. Maybe a few paperbacks and a graphic novel or two aren’t too heavy for my luggage, after all.

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The professional author

I have been doing a lot of research into this business of getting my book out there. I have the online channels covered for ebook distribution, but another aspect is the physical book. Bookstores aren’t dead yet, and I think it’s short-sighted to write them off. I’ve looked up a few bookstores in Montréal and even contacted one for details on their consignment policy.

business card address labels

With this in mind, I ordered business cards so that when I leave my book for bookstores to consider, I have a professional way of letting them get in touch with me with their decision. Granted, the book is number one, and I will put my sweat and tears into it to make it the absolute best it can be. I also want to present myself as a pleasant professional who would be a pleasure to work with. The cover of my book isn’t the only thing being judged, and I don’t want to walk in looking disheveled and scatterbrained, making them wonder if I’ll be able to deliver orders on time or be unreliable in getting back to their messages or phone calls.

I’m selling myself as much as I’m selling my book, and first impressions are quite important.

Proof copies

My proofs finally came in!

cy proofs

I honestly wasn’t expecting them to have the cover I’d made in the cover designer. I expected something plain with the title and “PROOF” across the diagonal in faded lettering. This is much more exciting than that.

I had them delivered to work, so naturally some coworkers saw and I have been officially outed as a writer. I still feel as though I want to establish myself before letting people around me know, as though they’ll judge me for not having proven my worth as a writer. No one so far has done that to me, though. “Oh, you’re a writer? That’s great! What do you write? When can I read it?” It’s enough to give a man the warm and fuzzies.

I have gotten in contact with Creative Digital Studios with some questions about how they work. I’m hoping to get a nice cover out of them, but there is always the issue of payment. My first inquiry got a reply with an estimate of around $300, which really isn’t that much. I kind of like the idea of getting something done soon, printing it out in color and sticking it on the wall behind my computer screen to inspire me. Hanging it in my office could be neat too.

cy proof notes

Now that I have a convenient, paperback version of my first draft, I can carry it around with me and make notes on the train. I’ve scribbled my color-code on the inside of the cover, but I’ve memorized it by now. I’ll be indicating what chapter I’ve marked up to on the sidebar, more for me than for anyone else, but it’s there if you want to look at it.

The convenience of the proof does not in any way approach the awesome feeling of having a physical book in my possession with my name on it. All it took (apart from writing the thing) was a little bit of formatting, slapping together the preliminary cover, a credit card payment and time. It has the print date at the back; I received the proofs three weeks after printing. It printed the same day I ordered it.

I’m one step closer to having a finished, polished product.

Fears about projects

Almost everything I have written was intended to eventually become a book. Yet when I used to refer to my writing, I would always call it a story or a project because I didn’t think I was serious enough to say, “I’m writing a book.” As though somehow, my dream of being published prevented me from calling anything I was working on a book, because a book isn’t really a book if it’s unpublished, right?

Now I’ve come to understand how that’s crap, how belittling my own work can lead to me taking it less seriously. There’s plenty of people in the world who will want to knock me down, I shouldn’t give them a head start by doing some of it myself.

I am a writer, because I write. Yes, I am unpublished, but I’m working on changing that. I am literally a few chapters away from finishing my first ever rough draft of a book. A real book with something like 300 pages. Perhaps I’ll soon discover that 300 manuscript pages is really tiny for a book, but during the mad rush of NaNoWriMo I found myself not having time to put in some things I meant to, little things like descriptions here and there, glimpses into characters’ pasts, and so on. During revision, I’ll get to find where best to insert those lost words.

I’ve never done serious revision of a long work before, and I am equal parts excited and afraid. I also feel relief when I think about NaNoWriMo’s “Now What?” months starting in January. They were so instrumental in keeping me motivated during November, so I hope it will be more of the same starting in the New Year.

Either way, 2013 is going to be the year I finished my first book. Rough draft of a book. Bah, semantics.