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Almost… there….

I really wanted this post to end with a link to the published book. I really, really did. Sadly, that’s not going to happen this week.

Don’t get me wrong, I started the publication process, which I’ll (probably) outline in full next week, but about halfway through I got stuck on two different thoughts:

Does my book really look as good as it can?

Why should people read this?

Maybe it’s cold feet, but thanks to these, and coupled with some rather awful days at work, I’ve felt more stressed this week than I have in a long time. And addressing my concerns was no easy task.

The first question began as only a nuisance, as I lamented the fact a drop cap (the large first letter at the beginning of chapters in most books) simply looked odd in my book due to the abundant use of short quips of dialogue. Though I was originally going to forego the practice, I tried to search for other books facing the same problem to see how they dealt with it and, after several hours of thumbing through my own library and Google/Amazon searches of front pages, I had a variety of solutions at hand, the central concept being rather simple: adjust the indentation.

As one person put it, “A half inch indentation is something your grade school teacher tells you to use. You’re a grown up now. Get rid of it.”

Laughing sadly at my “final” design, I ran through it and adjusted the indentation down from half an inch to the width of an M-dash (about 3/16 of an inch). This then allowed me to insert the drop caps, which looked much less ridiculous despite the lack of lengthy opening paragraphs.

(Curiously, most of the books I thumbed through, even those with extensive conversations mostly composed of short sentences, began with an opening long enough to fit the drop cap. I was only able to find two chapters in the books I examined that broke this rule.)

I also formatted the first three words of the first line of each chapter as small caps in order to better transition from the drop to the regular font.

It looked well and good, but then I noticed the chapter headings appeared miniscule next to the drop caps, so I increased their size as well once I established it didn’t look monstrous with this change.

That settled, I stepped up to plate for my next task: the description.

My editor-by-default (whose occasionally-updated blog is pretty insane) will attest that I had incredible difficulty with this end of the project, and a rather lengthy email chain flooded with various takes and attempts will back us both up.

I simply couldn’t figure the fucking thing out.

I tried going for a straight-up description. I tried a first-person tale. I tried a take based on the time passed within the story. Then I threw everything out the door and started all over again.

Finally, just as I thought I had it right, I got this reply:

"Meh."

That was it. I was despondent. Depressed. I felt like canning the whole thing and never updating this site again. So I went home and, instead of working on the story, played Modern Warfare 3 and Super Stardust Delta, read some comics, watched American Idol, and had a beer. After heading to bed and entering that fugue state that blissfully leads to sleep, I had an idea.

(Did you know that state’s called hypnagogia, and that many artists, writers, scientists and inventors—including Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Walter Scott, Salvador Dalí, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton—have credited it and related states with enhancing their creativity? I didn’t, either.)

This morning, I tried my hand at another description and got: “this blurb is finally getting us somewhere.”

Oh thank God. I tried and tried and rewrote and rewrote, dodging comments like “no lol too wordy,” “this is too generic to fit your book,” “Sounds boriiiinnnnng” and “sounds cheesy” before relenting and handing over the reins for assistance. But finally, after hours of back and forth and with some extreme help, a description that just might be good enough to get people to give the book a try finally emerged.

There was much celebration.

I’ve reached out for second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth opinions just to be sure.

So far, reactions have been mixed….

I think I need another drink.

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