Okay I am not happy with the this blog. This is supposed to be a blog about my experiences working on publishing my Dad’s stories and about his writing. My problem? There isn’t enough story here! I want to start telling tidbits of some of the stories that I am working on. There are a few. Which seems like I am skipping all over the place, but it’s really because I need to figure out how much editing each story needs. First thing I do is look at the manuscript. Does the title grab me? (Which I just learned yesterday is the wrong thing to do) Then I read the first 50 pages. Then I check to see if there were any issues with the story within those pages, if not, then I continue on. Stories like Search for the Unicorn are lucky because they only needed a touch of editing to get them ready for publishing. However, stories like Who Would Destroy the Gods and The Sword of Justice need major structural changes before they would be ready to be published. Sadly, I often don’t know this until after I’ve read the story. Still others like Avantir and The Guardian of the Sword need to be scanned, translated and formatted before they can even be edited. This makes for a lot of different tasks and stories that are in different stages, each being touched on at different times. What I have noticed though, is that some of these stories have synopses. These I will share with you on a monthly basis, along with my reaction to them and then please, let me know what you think!
As I am working on formatting manuscripts (basically getting them so they are in English rather than computer OCR gibberish), I’ve come across several scenes in the stories which are triggering memories.
I remember hearing my father tell me some of these stories as bedtime stories when I was young.
I also remember being absolutely terrified as my father told me about the evil werewolves in one of the stories.
With the new year I have decided to do a quick mission statement post to introduce (or reintroduce) people to this blog.
Who am I?
My name is Beth Wagner, I am a comic creator turned editor and publisher. My father, J.P. Wagner, was a writer. He was a published journalist and his first novel was officially published a few months after he died. But his last words to me were to protect his books. Which I took to mean, publish them.
What is this blog?
Basically, this blog is me rambling. But more specifically, it’s me rambling about writing, editing and things that I think my dad thought were cool. I try to write things in a way that I think he would want things to be written on this blog.
I will also write about my thoughts and feelings as I edit his manuscripts. For example, I would write about what I remember going on in our lives at the time he was writing a specific manuscript. Or, if I find something interesting that I think my dad would have liked.
What this blog is not.
This blog is not an indelible shrine to my dad. It is not a solemn, gloomy place and if it ever gets like that, then it’s time for a holiday.
What are my plans for this blog?
My plans for this blog is to entertain you with interesting stories and my unusual process in editing and publishing my dad’s books as well as to inform you when his books are being published.
Happy New Year!
Looking forward to another year of entertaining you;
Most editors follow a similar process. Reading through slush piles, reading the manuscript, marking up the manuscript and then waiting for the author to respond.
My process is much different.
I have the slush pile that are my dad’s manuscripts. Some of the manuscripts are submission-ready and just need some fine tune editing while some manuscripts are nothing more than a few notes scribbled down on a scrap piece of paper.
Before I can even begin to edit the manuscript, I have to convert it into a format that I can edit it with. My father used numerous different word processing methods from writing to typewriter to electric typewriter to computer. With the computer he used numerous different programs including WordPerfect and AppleWorks. I’ve had to hack into these files because they don’t directly load into modern software. They first get loaded into a text editor before they get copied and pasted into my final editing program (in this case, I’m using Scrivener).
Then I need to fix all of the formatting errors that crept in due to incompatible fonts and things that the text editor couldn’t read.
Then I mark up the manuscript and then I need to let it rest for a couple of weeks before I do the revisions. I try to think, not about what I would put into the story, but what would my dad write. What did my dad want to say. I’m not going to lie, I have had some one-sided screaming matches while editing the stories. It’s a process.
My final stage is to get crits and beta readers to go over the manuscript for a final review.
The process is a little more like being an archaeologist than an editor but it’s not your average editing process, that’s for sure.
As I am editing the final proof for the Amazon print copy of The Search for the Unicorns I’m having a moment to reflect on the author, my dad.
Unlike many publishers, I have an emotional attachment to the author and his work because he was my dad, but not only that. As I read over the manuscripts I remember at what stage in his life he was and where I was.
In 1987, I would have been in grade 6 going into grade 7. I also can’t help but think that the main character Carla, had bits of me in there, no matter how small. It is very much a coming of age story and discovering who you are as a person. This is something that I was beginning to explore at that age. So interesting point there.
Which makes me think about his target audience. Was I his target audience? It wouldn’t be that hard to imagine for me as I grew up hearing him tell me stories, sometimes made up sometimes they were from books. Sometimes the lines blurred. I didn’t realise for the longest time that parents simply didn’t just make up stories to tell their kids so that they would fall asleep.
Which brings me to why I’m self-publishing his books. I’m self-publishing all of his novels that I can, mostly for myself and also for his memory. Is it at all about sales? No, it’s about putting out stories that should be out there on shelves and in homes of people. But even if no one buys a single copy of any of these books, as long as I’ve marketed them and have made them as accessible as possible, I’ll have done what I perceive as my job.
Having said that, there are things that I can do that a traditional publisher wouldn’t and couldn’t do. Like a series of pictures based on scenes from the book and like hand leather-bound limited editions of the book. These are the next projects that I will be working on, along with the next manuscript of course.
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So a little update on what’s going on. I am currently uploading things and formatting everything.
Technically, the book is available for Kindle, HOWEVER, it has serious formatting issues and I have to fix them, so I will be doing this in the next few days. So if you happen to see anything, please do not buy anything yet. I am learning the ins and outs of uploading files to Amazon, (which is not at all like uploading comics, let me tell you).
For good the news, I just sent away for proofs for the paperback edition of the book, that’s going to take 2 to 3 weeks (barring any issues in customs) to get to me, then I will be reviewing it, likely crying and then making any last minute adjustments.
On a bright note? I am learning what order I have to do this process in and how long everything takes, which is why this book was my practise book. Not to worry, in a year or so I will go back and fix the silly little mistakes I made here as I will have learned more about editing and publishing .
Thanks for listening! I will keep everyone updated as I work on getting everything set to go.
So here I am. I wanted to give you all weekly updates. Instead, I’ve been giving you weakly updates.
But this is because I am quickly finding out how grueling the last part of self-publishing is.
Normally, when I publish comics, the front end is the most difficult, I’m working on artwork and writing. At the end of comic creating, all you are doing is simple paste up and layout and it’s only a few pages (comparatively)
With novels? There is a lot of tedious details, like making sure all of the punctuation is correct. Please note, in this novel, I think my punctuation is broken. I will remedy this in future updates. Yep, just like gaming software. But it’s so much more than that. There are just so many little things that need tweaking.
At any rate, I’m planning on having it submitted to Ingram Spark and Create Space this week (along with other e-retailers). Because I haven’t released a novel before, I don’t know how long it’s going to take for it to actually go live. Which is why I haven’t done a big fan fare. This novel is my test run to see what the process is. Once, I’ve figured out the process, then I will be making all kinds of noise for when the next novel comes out.
Yes, this is me basically rambling and I will likely ramble at you again tomorrow. 🙂