November 17, 2013

I May Have Sort of Written a Book

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I've written a book.

“FINALLY!” Some of you might now say. “I've said for ages you should do this.”

The reason I haven’t told anyone until now is that I absolutely hate talking about stuff I’ll do without being absolutely certain I’ll do them. Perfectly. And the best way of being absolutely certain you’ll do something, perfectly, is to already have done it.

But I've come to see that there are a few pitfalls with this strategy:

  1. If you don’t tell anyone you’ll be writing a book, you’ll feel compelled to keep doing everything else you've already been doing on a daily basis just to keep up appearances, i.e. keeping up your blog (not to mention checking homework and cooking dinner,) and the time slot left over for actually writing your book will fall between midnight and two  in the morning, meaning you will have to take a loan on your future book royalties to pay for the Nespresso capsules you need to keep going.
  2. If you don’t tell anyone you’ll be writing a book, the only person who’ll be encouraging you to write your book will be you, and every writer knows that that is possibly the single worst person in the world to give you any positive reinforcement.
  3. If you don’t tell anyone you’ll be writing a book, you won’t have any deadline. Meaning every other thing landing on your desk that has a deadline, like calling the exterminator, folding laundry, buying groceries, and making a dentist appointment for your spouse and children will appear on your to-do list above writing your book, which gets us back to point 1).

Given all this, it seems as if the risks of NOT telling anyone might actually outweigh the risk of spilling the secret. Because what’s so bad about people knowing you’re writing a book?

I’ll tell you what’s bad. Now you actually have to write that (gulp) book!


The good news is that I have, in fact, written it. For the last three months, I have labored away and manufactured a coherent story out of my (and Zax’s) Kilimanjaro climb that I think is halfway readable, devoid of the most glaring typos, and actually adds tons of new material and information not previously found in my blog posts on the same topic. So that even my most loyal readers will get something out of it instead of feeling cheated.

“Great,“ you might say, “where can I get it?”

Well, ahem, you can’t. Not yet. Because “devoid of any typos” of course doesn't even begin to meet my standards (you might call them anal but I like to think of them as professional). If I’m going to write a book, I’ll do it well. Or at least try. So for the last few days, ever since I made the final save on ‘Kilimanjaro Diary’, I have been educating myself about the world of book publishing. Self-publishing, actually, because the idea of sending off my manuscript and then waiting for years for a response, which most likely will be a stack of rejection letters if I am so privileged to even get any at all, does not appeal to me in the least. I've been a blogger with the power to instantly publish for too long to want to go through that. But even self-publishing needs to be professional. More so, actually. I could just go ahead and upload all 68,000 words through Amazon’s Kindle Publishing and voila, you could be reading about sore feet and stunning vistas and toilet tents and perseverance (but really, mostly toilet tents) as early as tonight while sipping a nice glass of wine.

But I won’t. Instead, I've been reading Self-Printed: The Sane Person's Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard, which has been as instructive as it has been entertaining. She’s got me running off in twelve different directions on things that need doing before I can even think of uploading anything anywhere. I've learned that if I want to do this professionally, I’ll need an editor. A structural one and then one for copy editing. And proof readers. And a cover designer. And an author website. Preferably on WordPress, which of course my current website isn't on. Not that it is even an actual website. I’ll also need to build a mailing list via MailChimp to keep track of people wanting to be kept abreast of news about my as of yet nonexistent book. Which hopefully includes you.

And mainly, I’ll need to know what the hell to call my book. I need a TITLE. Because, frankly, Kilimanjaro Diary isn't going to get anyone excited. I’d love to use “How to Shit in the Woods” but sadly, that one’s already been taken. It really is, go check it out.