Amazon, Hachette, The New York Times, and Me

I wish she'd stop writing all those stupid emails and play bally with me
I wish she’d stop writing all those stupid emails and play bally with me

I’ve been following the power struggle between Amazon and Hachette with great interest. It’s so complex, with so many issues, and involves so many positions, voices, opinions and high stakes that I can’t take sides nor do I want to. I don’t have a dog in that fight. But I did have a thought about it. I sent my two bits to the New York Times, and my letter to the editor appeared in the August 14th paper:

To the Editor:

I’m one of the bit players in the drama of the Amazon versus Hachette epic battle. I’m what is known as an “indie author.” When publishers turned down my recent novel, Amazon provided a platform for me to self-publish it, find readers and even make a little money. For that I am grateful.

Hachette and company are battling for their authors (and themselves). Their authors are on the whole beloved, successful and financially profitable (and deservedly so). But those same publishers are the gatekeepers for books like mine (rightly so or not).

Admittedly, self-published books run the gamut from if not the sublime then certainly the worthy to the ridiculous. But Amazon, for all its faults and problems, has democratized publishing in a way that has changed the game, and that is for the good.

PAULETTE ALDEN
Minneapolis, Aug. 9, 2014

I wonder if Jeff Bezos will read it.

I’d been looking forward to reading the full-page ad from a group called Authors United re: its anti-Amazon position, signed by 900 writers, which the Times said would appear in the paper this past Sunday [Plot Thickens as 900 Writers Battle Amazon].

It wasn’t there. I was flummoxed.

I emailed the Times to ask Whaddup: Maybe the ad signers hadn’t bought space in the Midwest edition? Maybe we received an early edition and the ad didn’t make it, like late sports scores?

The Times responded that the DISTRIBUTION CENTER had the sole discretion about whether to include the ad in the papers they delivered, and they hadn’t included it. WTF!

I was not happy. I emailed back that the ad was more than an ad, it was news, part of a story the Times itself was reporting on extensively. The Authors United letter was something a lot of people (like me) were quite eager to see. Someone at the distribution center had made what I considered an editorial decision not to include it.

I was wobbed! Continue reading “Amazon, Hachette, The New York Times, and Me”

Would You Like a Free Copy of Unforgettable: Short Stories?

unforgettablecover153I’d like to send you a copy of my new book of short stories–either the paperback or a Mobi or epub file which you can “sideload” to your Kindle or Ipad.  Free. No strings attached.

Well, there is one small string.

I’m looking for readers and reviews.  So the catch is if you like the stories, you give me a review on Amazon, and maybe Goodreads. Why reviews? Because reviews–good ones, that is–bring more readers, who write more reviews, which bring more readers . . .

I published Unforgettable: Short Stories in February. Unlike The Answer to Your Question, it’s hard to promote.  I reached lots of readers and reviewers for Answer by giving away thousands of free eBooks via ads and promotions on places like Bookbub and Kindle Nation Daily.  That worked well because Answer was pegged as a “suspense” book, and a lot of the subscribers to the free giveaway sites go for genre books–mysteries, thrillers, suspense, romance, fantasy. Unforgettable is the opposite of a genre book.

Nor is Unforgettable a single narrative, like a novel, which would make it a little easier to synopsize and describe. Nor does it have a specific subject, such as a memoir does.

Unforgettable is nine autobiographical short stories, all built around a single protagonist, Miriam Batson. There’s one story about a college student of Miriam’s who tries to commit suicide, which mixes erotic and maternal feelings with teacherly concern; there’s another about a job rejection that possibly resulted from sex discrimination, or perhaps adjunct discrimination, “the galley slave problem,” as Miriam’s husband puts it; there another about the death of a beloved maid from Miriam’s Southern girlhood; and another about her father’s sudden death from a heart attack.

The final five stories track Miriam’s efforts to keep her mother afloat as she is pulled under by Alzheimer’s. I’ve tried to take what were nine difficult years and shape the experiences into what art does: specifying the particular while capturing the universal.

I think Unforgettable is a good book, worthwhile reading for some readers–if only I can reach them. The way I found readers for Answer won’t work for Unforgettable. So I’ve decided to try giving it away myself via my blog and FB.

Don’t be shy about asking! Don’t feel embarrassed by thinking you really should buy the book! I don’t care! My goal is to get the book into more hands, including yours.

If Unforgettable sounds like something you might like to try (or if you know of someone else who might), email me at pbalden@aol.com or on my website contact form. Tell me if you’d like the Mobi, epub file or the paperback. For the paperback, give me your mailing address. (Sorry, I can only send in the US because of mailing costs.)  It costs me about $7.00 per paperback, so I figure I can give away up to about 50 copies. I’d rather spend my promotion money this way than by buying ads directed to the wrong audience.

What are you waiting for?  The price is right!

Free.

 

 Unforgettable: Short Story Quotes from Amazon Readers’ Reviews (They’re unforgettable to me):

“Each one of these stories is a gem, drawn from the author’s own experiences. They are written with such clarity, such marvelous dialogue, and such sensibility that you feel you’re right in there with her struggles: her concern over a deeply troubled student,
her anger at being passed over for a teaching position, and finally – and most especially – the awful frustrations of caring for an ailing mother whom she loves with all her heart even as she wrestles with the often overwhelming burden this kind of care involves. Despite the many sorrows in these stories, there is much joy, much humor, and the lucky decision to write it all down for our reading pleasure.”

“Finally, a collection of short stories beautifully rendered and filled with universal truths about the human experience. I am enthralled with this collection. It is the first short fiction collection I have read in a long, long time where I felt transported, consumed and moved by each story.”

“Having just gone through three excruciating years dealing with my mother-in-law’s decline into dementia, I found Paulette Alden’s UNFORGETTABLE to be a guidebook of how to comprehend grief and loss, how to understand transitions, how to make meaning and sense of our human condition. Deft and direct, this is a book that sneaks up on you. On the surface, everything seems so simple, so ordinary–dare I say it?–so human. You know the feeling: “this could be my story. How does she know my life so well?” But beneath the surface is great depth and dimension and ultimately the deep wisdom that comes with self acceptance.”

“This collection reflects the periods of certainty, vulnerability, compassion, and wonderment that have passed through the lives of so many baby boomer woman. The prose is never cloying or predictable. A collection that will stay on my shelf for rereading through the years.”

“I read this book almost in one sitting. This author has a way of immediately engaging the reader. These stories come from the heart, and I was totally absorbed by each one.”

“I once heard an editor say he most admired writers “with no hands showing.” He meant, of course, writers whose prose was so lucid, direct, and powerful that it didn’t call attention to the great skill of the writer but simply pulled you irresistibly into the story itself. That is how I felt about these stories.”

“Painful – beautiful – and an uplifting testament to family loyalty and the human spirit. If you have a parent facing the ravages of old age, do yourself a favor: read Unforgettable.”

How to Market Your Indie Book–Or Not

Browsing through the February 2014 issue of the IBPA’s (Independent Book Publishers Association) magazine, Independent, I came upon an article by Joanna Penn, called “Content Marketing.” I didn’t know what content marketing was. Could it mean you were peaceful and satisfied with your marketing efforts? Not possible.

Anyway, I do know who Joanna Penn is.  She’s a whiz at book marketing, as evidenced by her Amazon #1 best seller How to Market a Book.  Her website for writers, TheCreativePenn.com (nice, huh) was voted one of the Top 10 Blogs for writers for three years running. She’s definitely a great resource for writers and self-publishers, admirable in her energy and expertise.

The “Content Marketing” article had a sidebar, so I read that instead of reading the actual article (I’m too busy marketing my books to read a whole article . . .).

The sidebar described the schedule Penn uses for her own content production. I nearly laughed my ass off as I was reading it!  What hilarious satire!

Then I realized it was for real.  She wasn’t jokin’!

Here’s the schedule she suggests for your “content marketing.” She’s used it for NEARLY FIVE YEARS:

EVERY DAY

  • Post 6-10 useful links, or more, to other sites and one to your own on Twitter @yourtwitterhandle.
  • Respond to @ comments and replies.
  • Post one thing on your facebook page and also on Google Plus (She schedules a lot of this, using tools such as Bufferapp or Hootsuite).

EVERY 3 DAYS

  • Post an article, video, or audio podcast on your blog. She usually batches the creation and prepares at least a week’s worth in advance.

EVERY TWO WEEKS

  • Post an audio podcast with an interesting guest (her backlist now includes more than 160 interviews).

    This week's Interesting Guest, Murphy Q. Alden
    This week’s Interesting Guest, Murphy Q. Alden
  • Post a video or two. She usually does her podcast interviews on video Skype and posts them on YouTube before using them as audio and blog posts. She also posts some talking-head videos and on-location pieces.

EVERY FEW MONTHS

  • Do at least one live speaking event or Webinar.
  • Contribute a guest post or an interview to a different blog/podcast.

EVERY YEAR

  • Write and publish at least one book. At this point, Penn is trying to up her game and produce several books a year.

Is that stunned silence I don’t hear?

Come on, you can do it!  Get out there and post an audio podcast with an interesting guest.  Have you got your live speaking event scheduled? NO? What’s with you?  Slacker! Continue reading “How to Market Your Indie Book–Or Not”

My Adventures in Song Lyric Copyright Permission, Part II: in which I meet a Prince and a Lord(a)

TATYQ_Alden_Front121412_ver2In the first, hair-raising episode of “My Adventures in Song Lyric Copyright Permission,” I had “discovered” that I had lyrics from not one but nine songs in The Answer to Your Question for which I did not have copyright permission.

Make that ten, given that I had a whole song in the novel.

I immediately changed all the lyrics to just the song titles, which are not copyrighted, and sent the corrections to my formatter, 52novels.com, then uploaded the revised files on Amazon.

But that left the whole song, “Who’s that Knocking at My Door,” to which I had helped myself without permission.  I couldn’t imagine excising that song from my novel.  It’s a great song, and so perfect for the story.  To take it out would leave a big hole. The only way I could see to fill that hole would be for ME to write a song to replace it . . . An even more daunting thought than the Music Industry Police knocking at my door.

I had no memory of where or how I had come upon the song.  But I found a folder in the basement from 2006 that had the lyrics, printed from the www.bluegrasslyrics.com website.  The author was listed as “na.”  Apparently I hadn’t paid much attention to attribution back when I first incorporated the song, assuming without really thinking about it that any permission issues would be handled by the publisher–never dreaming that seven years later, that publisher would turn out to be me. Over time, as I worked on the novel, the song became part of the reality of the story.  I thought of “Who’s that Knocking . . .” as folk music passed down generation to generation, authorship unknown, a song an old mountain woman like Ganny would have learned from her granny, not something written by someone who might be alive–and litigious.

I had to find the songwriter, if there was one beyond “na.”  I Googled the title.

Who’s that Knocking at My Door is a 1967 drama film which marked the debut of Martin Scorsese as a director and Harvey Keitel as an actor. Did you ever see Keitel in Jane Campion’s amazing movie, The Piano? Sexy!

Anyway. The movie Who’s that Knocking . . . has nothing to do with the song I had hijacked. But it certainly messed up my search for the song.  I finally found that a bluegrass band called The Dreadful Snakes had made a recording of “Who’s That Knocking . . .”  The band was started by the great banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, who wanted an informal group to pick with when he was off the road. They recorded an album in 1984 called Snakes Alive, which is still one of bluegrass music’s most respected.

I loved the idea of a band called The Dreadful Snakes with an album called Snakes Alive, since my novel has a dreadful snake on the cover.  I had actually found their recording of “Who’s That Knocking At My Door” to play at my publication party. But at that time, back in February, I hadn’t thought one iota about the fact that I was using the song without permission in my novel. It still hadn’t crossed my mind to wonder who had written “Knocking.”

When I couldn’t turn up the author in my Google search,  I tried things like the Smithsonian Folkways and traditional music/ballad sites. I emailed bluegrasslyrics.com and Bela Fleck’s manager, asking for help in finding the author.  I got nowhere.  Finally, I decided to ask the music librarian at the Hennepin County Library for help, figuring he had more data bases and research experience than I did. He dug into the assignment enthusiastically, trying various searches.  Then he thought to pair the term “bluegrass” along with the song’s title.  Up until that moment I had assumed I had normal intelligence.  It had never occurred to me to think “bluegrass,” even though I had found the song originally on a bluegrass website. Continue reading “My Adventures in Song Lyric Copyright Permission, Part II: in which I meet a Prince and a Lord(a)”

Doobie Doobie Doo: My Adventures in Song Lyric Copyright Permission

Coming this January--SANS LYRICS--to an Amazon store near you . . .
Coming this January–SANS LYRICS–to an Amazon store near you . . .

I made a mistake.

I know, I know.  You’re shaking your head in amazement.  Paulette made a mistake?  She usually makes so many of them, how could she make just one?

Well, it was kind of a doozy, so I want credit for that.

Last January when I self-published my novel, The Answer to Your Question, I thought I’d done everything right.  I wanted to handle the publishing as professionally as a real publisher would.  I thought I had!  I was feeling pretty cocky.

Since I figured I had this self-publishing thing knocked, I decided I’d publish a collection of my short stories, entitled Unforgettable.  I was merrily steaming along toward this goal, until I read a guest post this summer on Jane Friedman’s wonderful website (“Writing, Reading and Publishing in the Digital Age”) about copyright infringement, by Brad Frazer.

Brad Frazer is an author himself, as well as a lawyer who has written on matters of Internet and intellectual property law. From what I can tell, he’s a swell guy. Not only is his post clear and informative, he responded thoughtfully to a million comments from readers like me seeking (free) answers to their copyright questions.

If I had any thoughts at all about using copyrighted material, they had to do with some vague, wishful thinking about “fair use.” Frazer explained that there are two prongs to the fair use question. To be considered fair use, the use must be for purposes such as “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.”

Frazer explains it this way:

That’s the first prong. If your use falls into one of these categories (criticism, comment, etc.), then you move to the second prong of the test. A court will consider the following four factors to determine if your use is a fair use:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (emphasis added)

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If your use falls into one of the enumerated categories AND you are able to prevail factually on at least two of the four second-prong factors, you might succeed in proving that your use is fair and thus not copyright infringement.

Frazer gives the following example: Continue reading “Doobie Doobie Doo: My Adventures in Song Lyric Copyright Permission”

Bookbub and Me: Feel the Power, Feel the Love

the answer to your questionI’ve been MIA from my blog and I’m glad to be back.  I’ve had my hands full teaching a Stanford on-line course in the book-length memoir.  The class was wonderful, I adored the students, their projects are fascinating, and where else would I get to engage with such interesting, accomplished people. But when the class ended last Friday, I was happy to get my so-called life back.

The other thing that has kept me too busy these past weeks is promoting my self-published novel, The Answer to Your Question.  If I don’t do it, who will?  Not only is it time-consuming to try to get the word out, but I’ve had to spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to get the word out.  I’m having to educate myself about a whole new area of self-publishing, promotion and marketing.  So why am I doing it?  Because I want my novel to have the best shot at finding an audience.

Turns out there’s a lot of help out there, from those who have gone before into the dark jungle of promoting their books.  They’re very willing to “pay it forward.”

Though I was familiar with “pay it forward,” I hadn’t thought of it in terms of self-publishing promotion until I read a blog post by Martin Crosbie.  It’s on a great, helpful website for Indie Authors (six months ago I didn’t even know what an “Indie Author”  was and now I am one . . .) http://www.indiesunlimited.com/.  If you’re an Indie Author and you know it, clap your hands–and check out this site.

Martin Crosbie is one of self-publishing’s success stories; his first novel, My Temporary Life, achieved best-seller stardom on Amazon. He describes in his post how a year ago January he was flailing around, as he put it, trying everything he could to find readers for his book.

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2013/01/01/paying-it-forward-into-the-new-year/#more-31085

He contacted Robert Bidinotto, whose novel Hunter sold tens of thousands of books, and was an Amazon #1 Kindle seller in both the thriller and romance categories in 2011.  Bidinotto was generous in his counsel to Crosbie, advising, among other things, that he change his cover image. Crosbie doesn’t believe My Temporary Life would have reached the status it did if Bidinotto and others hadn’t told him things he needed to do and if he hadn’t done them—like changing the cover.  He encourages others to pay it forward by helping other indie authors learn how to better promote their books.

Joel Goldman, who is a very successful author of crime novels, has definitely paid it forward to me (Thank you, Joel!).  He spent an hour on the phone telling me things to do based on his own experience promoting his books.  Of course the first things he told me to do were change my cover . . . and title!  I agree with him that I need to, but oof-da!  I will have to build up a whole new head of steam to take those changes on.

Joel recommended two Kindle ebooks by David Gaughran: Continue reading “Bookbub and Me: Feel the Power, Feel the Love”

The Reluctant Self-Publisher Reluctant No More

Reluctant No More
Reluctant No More

Last Wednesday night at Subtext Bookstore in St. Paul, on a cold winter night (13 degrees), I had the publication reading for THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION, the novel I recently published.  I had done a series of blog posts called “The Reluctant Self-Publisher,” noting my reservations about self-publishing.  But now I’m reluctant no more. I’m so glad the novel is published, even if I had to do it myself.  I’m even happy about that.  The reading confirmed for me that it was the right thing to do.

I was so pleased with the venue.  SubText is in Garrison Keillor’s former bookstore space in the historic Blair Arcade.  It’s now owned by Sue Zumberge, who managed Keillor’s Common Good Books in that spot, and Marcus Mayer, a children’s/young adult librarian who chooses books for young readers for the store.  Upstairs is Nina’s Coffee Café, and upstairs coffee drinkers run downstairs to buy books, and downstairs book buyers run upstairs for coffee and treats.  It’s a pleasure to browse through a real bookstore specializing in real books:  poetry, biography, literary fiction and books for young readers.  SubText has a comfy, booky feel.  When David Unowsky, the events manager, mentioned in his introduction that SubText was an independent bookstore, the audience applauded.  I think it made people happy to be among all those books.  I couldn’t have had a better place to give a publication reading.

It was absolutely heart-warming to see friends, family members, former students, clients, and folks I haven’t laid eyes on for years who came to the reading!   And what a wonderful surprise to see two out-of towners from my Madeline Island writing workshop last summer: one drove down from Duluth and one up from Northfield.   Thank you each and every one for coming.  Please know it meant so much to have you there!

I was also very conscious of three people who weren’t there.  As one of the old ballads puts it, they’ve crossed over to the far shore.  Dale Davis, my high school English teacher who was my dear friend and a fervent supporter of my writing for forty-seven years, died in 2012.  She came to Minneapolis from NYC for my first two publication readings.  I know she would have wanted to be here for this one; my cousin, David Bates (1946–2011), retired to the mountains of western North Carolina that I described in ANSWER; we shared a love of those mountains and he kept me in touch with them.  Emily Meier died of breast cancer this January. Emily, a remarkable writer who self published six of her own books, was my writing pal for over twenty years. She gave me an invaluable, in-depth critique of ANSWER early on.  Emails flew back and forth between us about writing, our manuscripts, the search for agents and publishers, and more recently, self-publishing (she was my great guide, having gone before).  I miss them all, and the love and support they gave me.

As people gathered for the reading, I intended to play old timey mountain music from my iPod, but I lost my mind and forgot all about it.  But after the reading we did have mountain music, the keening kind where everyone sounds off-key.  In the novel Ganny, Jean’s mountain grandmother, sings an old timey song that begins “Who’s that knocking on my door, have I heard that knock before . . .”  I wanted to find that song to download to my iPod to play at the reading.  Monroe Crossing, a bluegrass group, had recorded it, but their album with it wasn’t available on iTunes.  I emailed the group to ask if they knew of any other recording of it.  Art wrote back that he had learned the song from a group called – get this – “The Dreadful Snakes.”  It’s on their album “Lively Snakes” and I was able to download it.  Something snaky was going on . .

TATYQ_Alden_Front121412

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several snakes did put in an appearance at the reading.  There was an actual, real, rattler (taxidermied) that my brother-and-sister-in-law, Charlie and Ginger, sent over from Wausau for the occasion.

PauletteReading 066

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One no-count snake had never even seen pimento cheese sandwiches on cheap white bread. PauletteReading 076

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PauletteReading 069
A winner!

There was a door prize drawing for two ANSWER T-shirts and two paperback copies of the book.  Boy, was that exciting!

 

 

 

One of the nicest parts of this whole deal has been how supportive my family has been. Jeff, always, but my in-laws have all been so nice about the book, especially my mother-in-law Meredith.  She’s read the book twice, becoming an ANSWER expert.  She really gets it. She called yesterday to tell me about a quote at the end of a long review of two “ripped-from-the-headlines”  plays in the NYT that I would have missed.  The last paragraph quotes Susan Klebold on her son, Dylan, one of the Columbine killers: “I think I believed that if I loved someone as deeply as I loved him, I would know if he were in trouble.  My maternal instincts would keep him safe.  But I didn’t know, and my instincts weren’t enough.”  So poignant, and so Inga, the mother in my novel.

I think guests enjoyed the Southern refreshments,

Guest enjoying a sausage ball
Guest enjoying a sausage ball

though it might as well have been a Baptist meeting, for all the drinking that went on. We carted home tons of wine.

I wrote a novel that I believed would have some value for readers, not that it’s any War and Peace. But I’ve been determined to get it out there and help it find readers.  The publication reading was such a culmination for me, both of writing ANSWER and publishing it.  And the responses so far from those who have read it have been so gratifying and such a boost.  I just feel very fortunate to have friends, writers, readers and even strangers who have been wonderful to me about this book.  Thank you.

Now, on to the next phase: marketing.  Aggggh.

This weekend, Feb. 23 and 24, I’m giving away free eBooks of ANSWER as part of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program.  I hope to get as many downloads as I can, so pass the word. And I’m giving away ten paperbacks on Goodreads.com.  You can enter for the drawing up until March 5.

Thanks to good neighbor and friend Jim Joyce for the publication reading photographs.

Registration for my online Stanford course on A Great Start on Writing the Book-length Memoir opens this Monday, Feb. 25, if you know anyone who is interested.

DONE

IMG_1543John McPhee has a piece called “Structure” in the Writing Life column of the January 14, 2013 issue of The New Yorker.

The last paragraph of the article keeps going round in my mind:

“People often ask how I know when I’m done—not just when I’ve come to the end, but in all the drafts and revisions and substitutions of one word for another how do I know there is no more to do?  When am I done? I just know. I’m lucky that way.  What I know is that I can’t do any better; someone else might do better, but that’s all I can do; so I call it done.”

Continue reading “DONE”

At Last! THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION — and I Morph into The Obnoxious Self-Promoter

TATYQ_Alden_Front121412No, I don’t mean I’m finally going to answer your question, whatever it is.  I mean my novel, The Answer to Your Question, is finally available as an eBook and a Print on Demand paperback on Amazon.

It’s been quite an experience to bring it to publication and put it out in the world.  It feels great to have it  finished.  But how will it find readers, and what will they think of it?

Unfortunately, the quest for readers is turning me into The Obnoxious Self-Promoter.  If you happen to run into me somewhere, no matter how slim the opening, if there is any way I can lay one of my Answer postcards on you, I will do so.  If you have ever contacted me via email, you are about to be subjected to what is called an “email blast” (even sounds obnoxious) in which I tell you yet again that Answer is available, and that I will be giving a reading on Feb. 20 at Subtext Book store in St. Paul.   If you are my friend on Facebook, you will likely unfriend me because you’ve already been browbeaten about sharing the Answer link, telling your friends about the novel, recommending it to your book club, and last but not least, having me try to cajole you into writing a review on Amazon and Goodreads, ‘cause I’m really going to need them . . .

Mea culpa!  I apologize.  I hope you can forgive me.

And I hope if you do read Answer, you’ll enjoy it.  That was my original intention way back when.  It won’t free the peasants, but maybe it will engage you for a few hours in a pretty good story . . .

An Update on THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION

 

Tshirt but No Book Yet

So many of you have been writing to ask me why The Answer to Your Question is not for sale on Amazon yet! 

Okay, a few of you have actually inquired (thank you). After all, I spouted all over the Internet that it would be available on January 1, 2013.  That was my publication date, and here I sit with nothing to show for it but a T-shirt.

For those of you following this saga, where we left off before the holidays was that I had everything in order: the novel had been copy edited, I had had the files formatted for eBook and print-on-demand, and I was ready to publish as soon as January 1 rolled around.  In the meantime, I offered the files of Answer free to anyone who wanted to read it on their Kindle or Ipad.  I hoped that if people liked it, they’d review it on Amazon when it went on sale.  I had a good number of takers, which made me happy.

One of the people who asked for the file was my Internet friend James Ashley Shea.  Jim wrote me a year ago that he loved my memoir Crossing the Moon, which made me love Jim.  He’s living in Thailand, and as he said in that first note, he’s read thousands of books, and hates most best sellers. Sounded like my kinda guy.  I was so taken with Jim being taken with Crossing that I wrote him right back and we struck up an Internet friendship.  I gladly sent him the Answer file. 

Right before Christmas I filled out the Kindle online eBook form for Answer, uploaded the cover and the mobi file, and clicked “save draft,” so that all I’d have to do on December 30th was press “publish” and voila, Answer would be available for sale on January 1.  I was all set.

No sooner had I closed my saved Amazon file than I opened my emails to find one from Jim.  He was reading Answer.  He wrote me, “Paulette, the nice thing about self-publishing is that you are in charge . . .  There are any number of things that must be changed.  Take a deep breath and learn the 90-90 rule: the first 90% of the job takes 90% of the time. The last 10% of the job takes the other 90% of the time.” 

He then gave me the page numbers of twelve mistakes in the manuscript that needed to be fixed.  And he was only on page 146.

To say I was floored would be an understatement. 

Some of the things he caught were judgment calls, but not all of them.  Such as:

Continue reading “An Update on THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION”