Usually I try to write a post about something interesting, useful, thoughtful or funny. But be forewarned. Today I write about frustration, darkness, fear and loathing. Today I write about getting my third book Dangerous Places ready for publication.
One might think, this being the third time I have gone through the process, that I would have developed a system, a method, an easy-peasy, one-two-three for moving from final draft to finished product. Alas, it is not so. But not for lack of trying. I contacted a designer well in advance of the date by which I would need a cover for book three. However, I failed to factor in that I actually needed three covers. I changed the format for the new book, which meant the first two covers needed redoing to keep the series looking consistent.
So I unwittingly added untold hours to the design process searching through thousands of stock photos for suitable cover pictures. My lack of an artist’s eye has never been more apparent than in the volume of unusable choices I submitted for consideration before finding a candidate for each book that the designer could work with.
I assured myself that was a minor setback. I forged ahead to the next step, making changes to what’s called “the back matter” of the books—the author bio, contact information, book club questions, etc. At the same time I made those changes, I also used input from kind and alert readers to find and fix typos, missing words or punctuation errors in the first two books. The quest for the elusive error-free book is never-ending. Everything went swimmingly—for a time. Then I made a serious error.
I did not consider the need for extreme focus when uploading new content for two separate books, with similar names, at roughly the same time. Long-time readers acquainted with my predilection for disasters will guess what happened. Yes, it’s true. I came milliseconds away from publishing the copy for Dangerous Habits, the first book in the series, to the file for Dangerous Mistakes, the second book in the series.
But karma apparently let me cash in the chips for some past good deed, because I was saved from disaster by a voice screaming from the depths of my unconscious “Nooooo! It’s the wrong file! Don’t press the publish button!!!” I pulled back from the precipice and avoided having purchasers of Dangerous Mistakes think that I had put very little effort into my second book, since it read exactly like the first.
One of the most challenging things for me in wrapping up a book is writing the “blurb,” the description used in advertising it. I find it very hard to condense a 100,000 word plot down to 100 words. This time I solicited the help of readers who had signed up for the Leah Nash Mysteries update list, and I ran a couple of descriptions by them. I was happily set to use the one they favored, when I discovered it was too long for the space allocated on the back cover.
So, after some serious editing, here is the description for the paperback of Dangerous Places.
A person can’t just vanish. Can she? Journalist Leah Nash investigates the decades-old disappearance of a teenage girl. The stunning answer she finds brings her face-to-face with a shattering secret from her own past—and someone determined to keep it there.
I can use the longer one elsewhere. I’m a little wary about posting it, however, because of a glitch that happened on the GoodReads site last year. My first book had been posted there for more than a year when I happened to check my author page. I noticed that the blurb for Dangerous Habits was no longer correct. To my surprise, the description referred to the lead character as a bisexual Wiccan living in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. As you may imagine, the plot outlined was significantly different from the one in my book. I’m not sure how long the description was up before I caught it, or how many readers of the bisexual Wiccan genre purchased my book and were sorely disappointed.
That mix-up was quickly fixed by the helpful librarians at GoodReads, but it remains as evidence in my mind of the perils of publication. However, I am plunging forward ahead despite the dangers. Publication of Dangerous Places is slated for late November.