Having a book was harder than having a baby. I remember the act of conception it was a lot of fun, carrying a child nine months, or worse 10 months, not so much, but it didn’t compare to the nightmare of proofreading a book. Thinking of writing a book was fun, talking about it was fun too, writing, not so much until it started to take on a life of its own. But then there were months and even years of rewriting, checking the facts for historical accuracy and rewriting again till I was sick of reading my own words.
I had the finished manuscript written in Word. My printed copy bulged out from two three-ring binders. I searched the internet and talked to my friends about what to do with it. “You need to hire an editor, a real editor “they kept saying. Ok, I guess that’s like a prenatal doctor, someone to determine if the book is healthy and ready to come out. But my bruised ego wanted someone who knew something about the story. I hired Marie McCosh, she’d been my best friend in high school, yet she’d also worked as an editor. I told her, “Just edit it, and just make any changes necessary to make sure it makes sense.” I felt like I’d vomit if I had to read it one more time. Marie read it and emailed questions back to me. We double checked the facts and rewrote it again and again, my head spun and my stomach felt like it would turn inside out with so much looking at the text. I sent it back again. Finally, we agreed. It made sense. It told Sheila’s life vividly so everyone could see the stories that went with her paintings.
I went back to the web to search for that elusive book hospital that would print my book. As I was thrashing around reading self-publishing articles, emailing Ingram-Spark, and looking at Create Space I realized there was another hoop to jump through before I found a printer. I’d either have to learn a formatting program or hire a book designer to format my book. Although the internet screamed it was “Easy”, I was sick of staring at my computer.
I sent out one inquiry and mentioned that I had pictures and footnotes. They replied, “We don’t do footnotes, but contact Andrea Reider”. I looked at her site, she had good reviews and I called her. We agreed on a price, and she started to work making the manuscript into a 6 x 9-inch book.t When I got the first draft back I had trouble looking at it, I had another friend proof read it. She found places where the pictures did not match the text. I sent it back copying and pasting specific instructions on how to correct the errors. I had another friend look at the next draft, she found different errors. Sometimes the errors were mine, sometimes the design was not like I wanted it. Andrea was very patient with me, she said she “Liked the story.”. Usually, she does 2-3 drafts of a book design. We went back and forth 14 times. I think I grew a new set of eyes so tired they were of reading it. But I still needed to find a publisher. who would print up and distribute the book.
I went back to the web again still looking for the right book hospital (publisher). I tried to call IngramSpark, but there wasn’t anyone who would talk to me. I came across an interview with Kevin Spall the CEO of Thomson-Shore. Here was a publishing company in Dexter, Michigan that was 100% employee owned and maybe had people who would care about Visions from Two Continents. I called and they actually talked to me, it sounded like they really would care, and their prices were reasonable.
I asked my book designer Andrea Reider to send the file to them, she said, “Oh I worked with them when I was in Michigan, they’re good.” I felt reassured.
While they were in the process of creating the first proof they called me saying some of the pictures were not high enough quality to print well. I asked Andrea about them she thought they were “OK”. I looked at my draft of the file and resent the picture files to Andrea and had her redo them with higher resolution. I appreciated the fact that Thomson-Shore cared enough to look at quality, not just quantity.
The book continues to be offered online but Thomson-Shore is no longer doing the distribution.
The book is here, but it is an innocent little baby. It needs to have its cover opened in order to be read. Sometimes feel like my mother Sheila Buchanan Buell, when she had her first art show and went and hid in the bathroom. But I promised myself I’d show Sheila’s paintings to the world so I’m having a book.
Now it’s 2019, the book is still out there and I’m having a life, the life I wish my mother could of had. My brother says I’m living for her and experiencing the presence of my ancestors plus the living breathing presence of nature in the world. I hope through this blog to bring everyone who reads it along on the journey with me. It is not seeing it is being, in the moment each day.