Staging a Book

Letters to Me is nearing completion: it should be available as a paperback and e-book in about three weeks. But what’s gone into getting the book this far? And what remains? Here’s a quick summary of the process:

1. Idea stage, where the notion for a book shows up–usually unbidden or unplanned. The germ of LTM arrived early in the new year from who knows where, and stayed with me; I ran it by others and got a consistently positive response–enough to encourage pursuing further development.

2. From the start, LTM seemed like a collaborative book, something I’d done before, so I began the search for contributors in the spring. My starting point was to contact some of the really good writers I know. From there I went on to bloggers I’ve been following, as well as several recommended by a trusted source. A few I contacted weren’t interested, some had too much on their plates to tackle a new project, and a number were intrigued. The group of about 20 coalesced in late spring.

3. Describing the concept, sharpening details, waiting for responses–all this was going on during the ‘contact’ phase. We established deadlines, but then life intervened and those got pushed back. We’re now a couple of weeks behind the projected publication date, but as far as I can tell, this has not mattered one whit.

4. Writing, editing, rewriting occurred over the next three months; there’s a lot that goes into a finished piece, even when it’s less than 5 pages long. Did I mention that most of LTM’s contributors have been published, or have been writing for a long time–and that they’re good at what they do? Even still, rewriting is essential. Not only that, but the conversations that sprang up during the process was an important part of the collaboration, too.

5. We hired a professional editor, to comb through the text. Almost no book is error-free, but these days, independently published work (like LTM) can rush to market too fast, and miss this important step.

6. Cover design happened in the cracks, building from a stock photo, and using fonts recommended by pros.

7. By mid-October, most of the pieces had come to gether. Now I’m formatting the text and adding some interior design.

8. Contributors are contacting others they know about reading an advance copy of the book. This will be part of our effort to spread the work about the book. It also draws some generous people into the cohort of those who are enthusiastic about what we’re doing. Cheerleaders are vital, as are those who will give clear-eyed assessments of what we’ve done.

9. The book comes out. In LTM’s case, that will happen on or about November 10.

10. Comments continue. Our hope is that many will hear about it, so that they can find the book and enjoy–and, we hope, benefit from–its contents. We’ll be talking about it on our various networks, and looking for unobnoxious ways to introduce LTM to readers.

11. The next project begins (or climbs back down off the shelf). As wonderful as the one you’re working on is, it’s rarely the only, or the last, thing you write…

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