In the same week in September as one of my long-held dreams was postponed indefinitely, courtesy of Hurricane Irma, another is hurtling towards coming true in a way which is terrifically exciting, in a way which gets me out of bed at sunrise.
I don’t know that this particular long-held dream was ever to be an author. A writer, yes, for sure.
But having decided relatively recently that I wanted to publish A Proper Book, initially myself, giant strides have been made in the last couple of months and now they seem to be accelerating.
Let me bring you up to speed.
You will remember that in July I prepared for my book-writing month of August by studying Scrivener. Those 105 videos were largely wasted if I am honest. I don’t know how to drive Scrivener any better than if I had just thrown myself at it but who knows, perhaps the day will come when I find the energy/geekiness to become good at it. I have nevertheless persevered by creating my content in Scrivener because the absolute boon is the nanosecond it takes to compile my book in any format in which anyone would want to receive it, and I have already used that function enough times to make it more than worthwhile, especially since I have owned Scrivener for years anyway.
August, my holiday month, was also intended to be book-writing month. Even for an optimistic high achiever with few distractions, such as myself, this was my own form of bonkersness. Whilst I have completed 57,000 words, I still have another thousand or so to write and that’s two weeks into September.
Where all the strides have been made are in the plans for the marketing of the book. As I always say to my clients, writing the book’s the (relatively) easy bit, and so I have found it to be. The words just pour out of me, almost as if I were channelling it. Almost. I won’t belie the blood, sweat and tears which mostly manifest as an excruciating backache from having spent too long sitting in the chair, something I blame Joshua Fields Millburn for. JFM is one of The Minimalists, who taught me some good things about writing a year or three back, specifically how to sit in the writer’s chair for at least an extra hour every day. Writers write.
During September I have:
1. Entered into negotiations with one of my clients that she will take the 2017 photos of the author. My last professional photo shoot was in 2003 when I first became a coach and apart from the one “snap” you see of me, which I use everywhere, I do not have any decent photos, indeed I regard myself as rather unphotogenic. All that is required of my client is that she does “a Rankin”, and that reference is explained in today’s episode of the podcast.
2. After twenty years or perhaps more, I have considered makeup. This was prompted by my lovely visiting beautician last Saturday. I noticed her makeup and wondered if I should ask her to do mine for the photos. We’d already shed a tear together when we talked about our instant bond at our first meeting which was only a few short months ago. She was terribly over-excited to hear about my book and thrilled to be asked to be involved. My own personal jury on the topic of makeup is still out. I tried an experiment of my own last night and I thought I just looked tragic, but perhaps both the beautician and the photographer will be able to work some practical magic? Let’s see.
3. Yesterday I bought my first ever ISBN number for 89 £GBP. I could have bought a bargain job lot of ten ISBNs for £149 which was very tempting as I already know my book will become an annual anthology. How exciting is that?
4. This week I have got to grips with something called Grammarly which, even as I type this, is correcting me as I go. Grammarly and I have had a few argy-bargies this week, especially about a comma before the word please. Don’t let’s go there today. Let’s focus instead on the joys of Grammarly. In conjunction with Word, it has helped me to realise that I over-use the words Actually and Indeed, and I have reduced their appearances in my book from 26 and 12 to 5 and 2 respectively! If I thought I was good at grammar, I can think again. The evil team of Grammarly and Word, in a less confident human being, would have kyboshed this entire book project. End of. There would have been paroxysms of crippling self-doubt, in spades. Grammarly would also like me to review my use of all repetition, exaggeration and adjectives. Grammarly can be a bit of a spoilsport TBH. Grammarly is humbling.
5. With the exception of the last thousand or so words I still want to write, the chap who is going to do all the design of the book from my scrappy Word output has been emailing with thoughts of icons for the chapter headings, the little resource boxes at the end of each question (there are 52 of those) and the chunk at the end of each of the chapters where I get you, the reader, to think about some stuff and leave room for you to write notes in, if you like. Like all visuals, I confess to being rubbish at this sort of thing but, again, like all arty stuff I know what I like and am surprised to discover I have very strong views about this because my book is my baby. By way of research, he offered me a choice of superheroes, robots or monsters! Non merci. This is a book about love.
6. Yesterday I did two thrilling things. At lunchtime, I spoke to Lisa Warner, who has been a client, who stood in for me on the podcast during August, who is an inspiro-girl when it comes to living life as a digital nomad, and who has a gorgeous little biz called Fink Cards. Fink Cards are conversation starters, and it occurred to me that a companion set of these to go with the book would be a good idea. And Lisa agreed. And it turns out that I will probably make these available on Amazon, alongside the real POD (print on demand) book. Since my dream of being a digital nomad myself is off the table for a while, I will also be able to hold physical stock of the real books and cards and use them as prizes and bonuses and all sorts of fun. I shall be playing post offices and shipping out chubby bags full of pink wordy gorgeousness.
7. Then, at tea-time, I spoke to the lady in the US who offered me the opportunity to become an influencer on her quiz-generating software which involves giving me free lifetime access to something which will make a companion quiz for the book. What fun! It occurs to me that the book is 52 questions and answers where the questions come from you, Gentle Reader and client. But the cards and the quiz will be me turning the tables. I’m up for it if you are?
8. And I have left perhaps the most exciting (and terrifying) bit till last, just as my clients always do. Using something called Reedsy, I have asked for a quote for publicity for the book, mainly involving a blog tour. That in itself is not scary, but I did have to upload a copy of the book as it is so far and it is so not ready yet to be seen by professionals or even by complete strangers. Yikes! I have offered my book up for inspection by someone who knows. I have outed myself as an author and I may be found wanting.
9. A colleague printed me a copy of my 57,000 words yesterday and delivered 244 pages to me which landed on my desk with a reassuring thud. The final book will not be so long because I have made the schoolgirl error of writing it with a gap between each paragraph. Oh, Judith, how old school are you! We don’t do that anymore. But leaving that aside for the moment, can you imagine the thrill of seeing your first ever Proper Book on your desk in paper form, about an inch thick? Puts me in mind of that scene in Love Actually where all of Colin Firth’s pages end up in the pond. Unlike Colin, I have rather a lot of backups.
In closing, let me tell you a little bit more about that quote from Alexander Graham Bell. When one door closes another opens. We know that, right? What a difference 7 days makes. When I wrote recently I was cast down, and if I think of the losses there I still could be. But this week has been exciting for a whole other reason. I have made significant progress on a dream I have held in a very private place since I was a teenager. That’s much more significant when I think of it. But, I digress. The full quote for AGB goes like this:
“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
Interestingly, I see that Helen Keller wrote something very similar but she inserted the word happiness in there too and then she dedicated her autobiography to Mr Bell.
I have found my dream team of proofreaders and I hope that once Grammarly has finished with me, there will be little left for them to find. They comprise the pernickety, the punctilious, the eagle-eyed and the OCD. I love them all already.
More as this dream unfolds.