Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Miracle of Publishing

Current Project: Tavy's Birthday Book
Status: Nearly done!

I'm astounded at my productivity as of late. I've been up at all hours of the day and night. I sneak a few minutes in at my computer whenever I can. Blogs are going unread, facebook is neglected, email is unchecked for hours at a time. The house is a wreck, and the toddler has discovered some unusual methods for keeping herself occupied (hide and seek for one, anyone?). The spouse is neglected but pacified nicely with Unreal Tournament. And me? I'm fulfilled in that rich, magical creative sense of the word.

However, it's not my new YA WIP that has me burning the candles. It's the fact that in a few short days, I will have my first hardcover release. Admittedly this will be a limited print run (if by limited you mean a single copy), and the potential audience is small (if by small you mean a certain toddler and possibly her adoring grandparents), but I will be PUBLISHED.

I have made no great secret of my dislike for self-publishing and those companies that prey on the insatiable desire to see your name in print with the promise of riches. However, a year ago I was at a playdate when I spied a gorgeous hardback book on the coffee table. I noticed that the girls on the cover had a striking resemblance to the girls stacking blocks. Intrigued, I opened it up to discover a lovely tribute to the girls' first three years.

The mother revealed that she had discovered software that easily let her convert her blog into a keepsake book. I loved this idea, especially since I have never had the patience for traditional scrapbooking. But, at the time, I was overwhelmed and underfunded. In the last year, however, the price of the books has dropped substantially. Also, the Blurb software now works easily with Flickr. I still wasn't ready for a project the size of converting my blog into a book, but I hit upon the idea of doing a little book for Tavy's birthday.

I've tried to analyze why I'm enjoying this project so much and if I can learn anything from this to apply to my longer projects. I think these are the key:
  • I have a limited focus: Rather than chronicle Tavy's life, I've focused in on the differences between her as a baby, her at one, and her at two.
  • I outlined and pre-planned: I drafted an outline and assembled all of the Flickr photos I wanted to use into a single folder before starting.
  • The project is limited in length: The finished book will be around 50 pages.
  • I see tangible progress: Each time I finish a layout, I know that I am much closer to the end.
  • I have a deadline: Tavy will only turn two once.
  • I have a guaranteed audience: Tavy loves looking at pictures of herself. Her grandmas will undoubtedly want a copy as well.
  • I'm working with a topic and materials I love.
  • Publication is a certainty: I will finish the project, hit submit, pay, and someone else will handle everything else.
  • I will be able to hold my work in my hands and show it off.
At first glance, this would seem to limit me to vanity projects like this. But, then I dug deeper and I thought about what I have learned about myself: when I have a deadline, an audience, and a promise of publication on a project I love, I will go to any lengths to finish it. Suddenly, my doubts about whether I could produce on contract evaporated. Further, I clearly know my strengths: I'm a plotter, I like clearly focused projects, and I need a main character that I love. Most importantly, I NEED a contract. My focus needs to be on getting to that point ASAP, and I need to believe that it WILL happen.

Right now, I'm finishing up Tavy's book, but I'm also living with my WIP's characters chattering away in my head and moving forward with the design for my new professional website. Ever since I said goodbye to the deadweight of the previous MS, I have a reached a new place of serenity about my writing. This little project has further bolstered my faith and belief in what I can accomplish.

Your turn! Have you ever done a project "just for fun?" Did it rejuvenate you? What did it show you about yourself? Does learning new skills/software related to writing excite you or frustrate you?


Kendra said...

What a great project. I'm going to check out the link. I never did the scrapbooking stuff either. Way too much work.

Paty Jager said...

I am not a scrapbooker- my oldest daughter is and I plan to hand her my boxes of photos one of these days. Your project sounds wonderful! It's fantastic that you've figured out what makes you motivated and what works for you project wise.

My fun projects are usually grandkid gifts, or friend gifts or small writing projects for family.

Not sure it showed me anything other than I do enjoy any type of creative endeavor.

Fun post!

Bethany Gabbert said...

Thanks Ladies! I may bring the finished book to the October meeting :P

Anonymous said...

Hey B, your book sounds amazing! I can't wait to see it. And what a special gift for the whirlwind that is Tavy.

I've done projects... UGH! I hate projects! LOL But only if they're craft projects. I'm sooo not a crafty person. And what I learned about myself is that I'm a perfectionist and I have zero tolerance and even less patience for crafts because I suck at them.

New software gets on my last raw nerve too. But I struggle through so I can learn a new skill and keep myself updated on how to use the new stuff. I'm learning to use Pages to write my novels in because the DH got rid of Word. Luckily, Pages opens all Word docs and is compatible with all things Word(y). :)

I think it's so adorable that Tavy is playing hide&seek by herself. Congrats on getting rid of the old WIP and for the discoveries you've made about yourself by doing this cool project for the Subject you love. :)

Alice Sharpe said...

Bethany -- Hurray for you for doing this for Tavy. I know she will treasure it forever. And the hide and seek thing is too cute for words. I;m going to check out the link, too, just for fun.

I used to be project/hobby girl though I have never been as thoughtful as you are about it and tried to figure out if I learned anything. I just enjoyed doing things my own way. Not so much nowadays when writing seems to suck up every stray creative impulse.

I would dearly love to see the product you are making in any stage you are comfortable sharing it!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

That is super cool, Bethany!

I used to scrapbook. Now I write. It's one of those trade off things. Poor Gremlins though...Alia's baby book is stuffed full and goes through her 2nd birthday. Bryce's covers the first 11 months. Reece? Well, I think he has a page or two done and that's it. (I know...baaaad mom.)

Costco has a program now where you can create scrapbooks online and then have them printed in hard back and mailed right ot your home. My SIL has done several of these and they're just gorgeous. You type in all your captions, stories, etc. I've started a couple, uploaded the pics and then never finished them. I definitely NEED to do that and I think you have now inspired me.

I did do one for my CP last year after SF when she was a GH finalist. It's gorgeous and she loved it when I sent it to her at Christmas. I really wish I'd done one for myself.

I cannot believe Tavy is going to be two!!!!! How did that happen???

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Bethany, I just want you to know that I wasted my whole day finishing that online scrapbook of our trip to Hawaii last year. I love the finished project and it will look super cool on my coffee table when it finally arrives but...I probably didn't need to do it TODAY!

LOL. I blame you.