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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Shameful Plug from The Ripple…

Soaring swansReaders of The Ripple know its mission is to report the news, pure and simple. If there is news out in the Valley, The Ripple is sure to ferret it out; The Ripple will make a point to hunt the news down and report it. If a story breaks in The Ripple, it is the same as reading an article in The New York Sun: you know has to be true (“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”). Because The Ripple has set such high journalistic standards where the news is concerned, it has scoffed at other print media that resort to “The Classified Ads,”an obvious attempt to add revenue to keep its editorial pages alive. Until this post, that is.

In various posts I have alluded to my history growing up on an apple ranch along the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. In 1967 my riverbank was flooded by the Well’s Dam Hydroelectric Project and my boyhood playground turned lake under forty feet of water. When I retired from thirty-one years of teaching in 2000, a top priority of mine was to record the history of my years on the riverbank for my daughter and share with her my childhood experiences in a place now submerged beneath the waters of a lake, a place she would never know. I guess you could say I started the “research” for my writing project in 1953, when our family moved to the riverbank, and in 2003, fifty years later, my ten years spent there became 208 pages of narrative between the covers of a book.

For three months I worked with the Snohomish Publishing Company preparing the manuscript for publication. One day in late November Jeff Wise of Snohomish Publishing called to say the printing plates were made and if I wanted to come to the print shop, I could watch the presses roll and print my book. Very exciting it was to watch the words and sentences recounting ten years of my childhood roll through the machinery and emerge as pages of a book. A few days later I picked up seven boxes of books, 260 in that printing, and for Christmas 2003, each member of the family received a personalized copy of my riverbank memoir.

Last May only ten copies of the book remained, and I considered not only doing a second printing, but a revised edition to add a bit more artwork, narrative, and address a few minor editing issues whose presence in the first edition were bothersome to me. When I considered returning to the traditional publishing method, my son-in-law Avi suggested I explore the alternative print on demand service, have my second edition published as an e-book. A more cost-efficient way of publishing, print on demand books are just that: books printed and distributed according to demand. Thus the author doesn’t have the expense of having large lots of books printed at once. The cost for each book is commission-based; the publisher takes a certain percentage of each unit to cover his expenses and turn a slight profit. After much nervous deliberation (the process required computer skills I wasn’t sure I possessed), I decided I’d venture into cyberspace and see what happened.

There are several publish on demand internet businesses. I chose’s service because it offered the greatest potential for exposure and distribution; your book would be included in Amazon’s vast inventory of books, sitting there on the world wide shelf of books, so to speak, for the whole world to see.

I nearly aborted the new venture at the outset; for some odd reason I was reluctant to relinquish control of my manuscript to a company I had no experience with, send it off to people I had never met and most likely never would. (Their publishing center is in South Carolina). I reasoned, though, that I owned the copyright to my book regardless of wherever it wandered, wherever it roamed, so in late May I set up an online account with the company, and after some preliminary assistance from Avi, sent my manuscript off into the void.

Thus began my book’s second edition odyssey, an adventure that concluded at last (whew!) this past week. What began as a fascinating experience grew tedious during the final days of the process. And at the expense of being tedious myself—and for any who might want to take the journey themselves one day—I’ll give you a brief, guided tour of my experience.

Let me preface the following by stating that my having a book to begin with, or so I thought, should expedite publishing a second edition. I first sent two “physical copies” of my book so the front and back cover images could be formatted. The book has artwork and the graphics had to be sent as a separate file. Then the placement of the graphics had to be synchronized with chapter and section headings. At each step I was emailed an “interior proof”to either approve or request changes. To accept the proof, of course, meant I had to reread the entire manuscript each time a revised version was sent me. (Being the sole editor of one’s work reminds one of the saying: “He who chooses to defend himself in a court of law has a fool for an attorney.” The author is too close to his own words to see typos and grammatical errors.)

My initial goal in the editing process was to free the original manuscript from its previous little imperfections. This I did with ease. I added more text but mistakenly used the word “considerately” for “considerably” (too close to your word tree to see the sentence forest???) This I corrected and a new interior proof was sent for my approval. Strangely enough—and frustrating to no end—finally only spacing issues remained. Editors need to “justify” (set flush) left and right hand margins. In the process, greater space between words is necessary to justify a line and the line has to be adjusted manually to accomplish this and keep the spacing consistent. At this point I had two spacing issues I needed to address: consistency in spacing between words in justified lines; and dash lengths (hyphens, dashes, en dashes and em dashes are each a different length). I know all this fine tuning seems incredibly picayune, but, hey, it’s a part of your life, your work, your words,  isn’t it? “If it’s not right, what’s the point?” “Dash it all,” I told my project team. Changes were made and finally I was no longer “spaced out.”

It is a most satisfying moment when the “physical proof” arrives on your doorstep for your approval; you hold YOUR book in your hand, thumb through its pages: graphics look fine, are placed correctly; section headings match the narrative; the font is pleasing to the eye. But wait! What’s this! On pages 78 and 166 a single line per page has a spacing issue (three spaces instead of two between two words each). Do I approve this liberal spacing in two lines of a 202 page book? Would the editor of The Ripple concede to “close is good enough?” I clicked the “request changes” button, and yet another “physical proof” was headed my way for approval--accompanied by an email informing me any additional changes would cost fifty dollars. (Picayune doesn’t come cheap.)

After twenty-one emails, many phone conversations with “member support” and my “project team,” eight “interior proof”changes and two “physical proof”revisions, my e-publishing experience concluded last week when the two revised proofs arrived via UPS. Pages 78 and 166 were no longer spacey. I immediately went to the computer and clicked the “approve proof” button. Mission Accomplished!

Black Friday is behind us. Tomorrow is cyber-Monday, and I’m ashamed to say The Ripple, too, has succumbed to the flurry of crass commercialism. Readers who have found The Ripple entertaining  might find equally  engaging the story of young boy and his adventures growing up on an apple orchard along the banks of the Columbia River in the 1950’s. And so for this post The Ripple has added a “classified section” with only one listing: www.createspace/3614533. There will be no further classified pages in any subsequent posts of The Ripple. That’s a promise. You read it here. And if you read it in The Ripple, you know it’s true.

(Note: special thanks to Avi for his encouragement and assistance in helping me navigate the perilous shoals and reefs of cyber-publishing.)

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