We’re back! Yes, we took a couple weeks off from blog entries to enjoy the holidays and to celebrate the completion of the publication process of our first book. Sort of. While the book is out in paperback and eBook format, a few changes are still to come. Which means one of us is reading the book for the 58th time in pursuit of missing hyphens and open-but-not-shut quotation marks, the vermin of the print world.

Even though the book was professionally edited, and we both reviewed it numerous times, a few mistakes managed to slip into the 70,000+ words document as it was readied for publishing. Are there such things as publishing gremlins? Anyone who has written, rewritten and re-rewritten a document knows the feeling of discovering an error or typo even after endless proofing. At some point during the editing process, we cease to read what is on the page, and read what we think is there. Most of what we are finding is on the order of garden variety printing pests. However, in one mysterious case, an entire line seemed to have vanished into a book black hole. (Why can’t those eggnog latte-induced fat cells from holiday celebrating vanish into a mysterious black hole, too, enquiring minds and flabby thighs want to know…)

The phenomenon of “not seeing what is there” is one we are all familiar with. Such as the nutcracker you forgot to pack up after Christmas last year that hangs around until it’s a permanent part of the décor. The bag of old clothes in the front hall destined for Goodwill that just sits there for – days, weeks even – until you remember it’s not, technically, furniture and doesn’t belong there. The stuff in your junk drawer (and everybody has one) that never really gets cleaned out and assigned to the right place in your house and in your life. You’ve looked all this stuff so often that you don’t see that it isn’t in the right place. Just like review number 57 of a book. Though we suspect even the thorough review number 58 probably missed something, sigh.

So, what now? Fortunately, eBooks are easy to change: fix the word document, save as html, run it through a program to produce the .mobi and .epub files needed by Kindle and Nook, upload to appropriate site, change version number and you’re done. In fact, some authors have changitis, and are constantly revising their eBooks. You might buy a Kindle version every six months and get a different story each time! We are not planning on doing that; however, the ghost of English teachers past visited us over Christmas and convinced us to live a more grammatical life going forward. Ergo, re-read number 58 and a list – a final list, one hopes – of ISTNF (icky stuff that needs fixing). The print version is another matter. Changing it will require another investment of $, and as the book is still readable, we will leave it as is, for now.

So, it’s a disappointment that the product was not absolutely perfect (despite the fact one of the authors is, like Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way”), and we promise we’ll do better on book two. We’ll start by changing editors; because of time constraints, we were unable to use our preferred editor who is a friend of Mary Ann’s in Ketchum. Secondly, we were rushed at the end of the publication process, because we wanted to get the book out before Christmas. There is no such deadline for book two, other than we’d like to publish it ‘sometime’ in the summer. Now, in Ketchum, summer is two weeks long (OK, technically, two months – it’s the dates between the last snowfall from one season and the next snowfall for the other, which has been June 15 and August 15 in recent years). But here in Northern Virginia, a few days of summer can pop up as late as November, so our self-imposed publishing window is quite long. (No, warm November days is not due to “climate change”: it’s all the hot air emanating from Capital Hill. Or the methane from some of the output from Capital Hill. Whatever.)

Thank you to those of you who have or intend to purchase the book. We’ve been pleased by the response from friends who have read it. (Aw c’mon, you can do better than that. I’m thrilled at the response. Like one friend posting a Do Not Enter sign on his office while he read the book, another one reading into the wee hours until forced to get some sleep – it was a workday the next day.) While we developed a high level marketing plan last summer, we’ve not pushed a marketing campaign to sell the books beyond our circle of friends. And, over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing just how much time and effort we want to spend marketing and selling, versus working on the second book. (Don’t forget about the third book, now under construction in Hawai’i. The setting is, anyway.) First-time authors who have decided to produce a series of books encounter the conundrum of dividing their time between writing the second book and marketing the first. When one has contracted with an agent and publishing house, marketing is a higher priority, as both the agent and publisher are invested with the author and deserve the author’s best efforts to sell the book. We have no such pressures as ours is a labor of love, not commerce. (Oooh, that sounds pious. Maybe we can use that in one of our books.) (Not that we’d object to more commerce.)

On that note, we’d like to thank you sincerely for your support of our writing. We’re thrilled that so many of you are enjoying the book. If we can give you a few laughs and a pleasant escape from real-world stress – and there is so much of it these days – then we’re happy. May you also have a Happy New Year!

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