Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A thousand paper cuts

There are parts of writing a book that I really love. While I enjoy putting my ideas into words, what I really love is editing those words. Getting the first draft done, getting all those words on a blank page is hard work. But editing is pure joy. Really! Instead of the struggle to find just the right word or to get the sequence of directions just so, editing is bullying those words around to make them earn their keep. I've just finished editing the book, and it's so much better than it was!

Of course, sewing the projects is awfully nice as well. I've sewn more in this month of October than I have in all the last two years put together. It's made me take a good look at how my time has been ordered, and helped me to decide that I truly need to spend more time at home, and especially at home sewing. The projects in the book are quilt designs that I've wanted to make for some time.

But, there are parts of writing a book with a publisher that are totally not fun. Perhaps it's because I self-published first. When working on my own I could start a sequence with a partially made block and photograph it, step by step, as I finished that block. Sending the step outs off to the publisher for photography means that I have to make that same block over and over and over again, each time taking the process a little further forward in the sequence. Ugh!
And then we have to keep track of all those bits and parts, which means paperwork, and lots of it. Image logs are spreadsheets that describe the tools and the focus of each step out. Of course it makes sense to have an orderly system. I have to communicate my expectations to the publisher and their photographers. Each step out gets a designation, either <<100.tif>> for a photo or <<100.eps>> for an illustration, for example.

Each step out is photographed as we'd like it to appear in the book. My set up for making videos (yeah, like that happened this year) turned out to be just the thing for taking these "snapshots". Once again, having self published, I was frustrated by the duplication of effort. With just a little more care (the snapshots don't have to be top drawer, just good enough to show what I want), I could have done the photos myself. And I wouldn't have had to make a thousand million repeats of the same block. See what I mean?

So, in addition to the Image Log, the snap shots need to be labeled and printed. More paperwork!
Finally, all the step outs need to be packaged. I started out with eight boxes of gallon sized zip top bags. I have one full box and a few left, meaning that I have prepared over a hundred individual step out samples. Here are the stepouts, bagged and ready to go off to their new home. I have one large bag for each chapter, which holds the zip top bags with each step.

Today is my last day to work on the book. My deadline to have everything to the publisher is November 1. Tomorrow I am leaving for Quilt Market, where I am scheduled to do demos showcasing the Wash Away Applique Sheets, (Which means more step outs!), so it must go out today. But, when the box is shipped I will have met all of my deadlines. I will have written a book, a book I've been writing in my head for years, in just three months time. Two months and a week's time if you take out all the travel time for the teaching I have also done since the first of August.
When I return from Market next Tuesday I will be officially "AB" - after book. Yes, there will still be times when I need to interact with the publisher. There will be another editing, and page layout and book design. But that's more my giving my approval of their work than me working. And it truly is exciting to see the book come to life.
I'm looking forward to finishing my Christmas Yet to Come quilt. And, believe it or not, starting work on the next book! But this go around, since I haven't even proposed it yet, I'll have all the time in the world! (Please don't quote that back to me!)

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