The Editing Process: Invisible
I thought folks might be curious about the process of turning a collection of blog posts into an almost-ready-for-publication e-book. (If I was mistaken about that, and you couldn’t care less, go check out some superhero cats instead.)
Once I decided to do it, the first step was to talk to the guest bloggers. Originally, I had only asked people to write something up for the blog. I wanted to know if they would be on board with an e-book collection (they were). I talked about the token payment I could offer, the title I had in mind (“Invisible”), and the idea for donating any additional profits to Con or Bust.
Everyone seemed excited about the idea, so the next step was to put together a contract. I looked at SFWA’s sample contracts and some of the contracts I’d signed over the years. The final version was loosely modeled on the fiction contract John Joseph Adams uses for Lightspeed. I didn’t want to get too bogged down in legalese, but I wanted to make it clear what people would be paid, what rights I was buying, and things like that.
I also contacted a few people about essays I hadn’t been able to run on the blog, asking if they’d want to be part of the anthology. While I’m keeping the posts on my site available for free, I like the idea of having some bonus content in the e-book. I emailed Alex Dally MacFarlane at this point as well, asking if she’d be interested in writing an introduction. More contracts and payments followed.
I had been playing with cover art ideas, because even though I’m obviously not a professional graphic designer, it’s something I enjoy doing. You can see my early draft in this blog post, where I announced the anthology. Part of the reason I wanted to talk about it was to generate a little early awareness and buzz, as well as to get feedback on the cover and the overall project.
Then it was time to start putting the actual e-book together. I use Sigil to create my e-books. The first step was to copy the essays off the blog and into the software. That was the easy part. The real fun was in going through each file for consistency in things like how em-dashes and ellipses were coded, and removing any junk code that might have gotten picked up in the copy/paste process. Two essays lost all of their quotations marks, and a third ended up with all of its italics stripped away.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, Mark Ferrari and I started chatting. He was kind enough to offer some advice on cover art, and volunteered to put something together if I was interested. (Spoiler: I was interested!) We swapped emails from time to time over the month of March, and he ended up taking my ideas and turning them into something sharper and more eye-grabbing.
Content-wise, I had already worked with some of the authors on edits to their stories before they went up on the blog. I did the same with some of the new content. Once I had everyone’s stuff, I put it all into the ebook file, adjusted the Table of Contents a bit, updated the cover art with the final list of contributors, and ran the file through an .epub validator. I fixed a few more things, and then it was time to send page proofs out to everyone, asking them to get back to me with any changes by April 6. (This is how we discovered that one person’s essay had lost its italics.)
I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet that originally included contributor names (and pen names, if applicable), their email addresses, and the title of their essays. Other columns I’ve added include the dates contracts were sent and received, when payments were sent, the preferred format (if any) for page proofs, and the date page proofs were sent.
I think we’re on track for an April 15 publication date. I want to send a copy of the book to a few reviewers in the next day or so, too. I also need to look into publicity for the launch. There’s a podcast I’ll be doing (more details on that later), and some websites I need to send the announcement to. I’ve also started writing up the content information for places like Amazon, B&N, etc. This is things like the description, keywords, price ($2.99), and so on.
I had forgotten how much work this is. If you’re a writer, please remember to thank your editor for everything they do! As an editor, I want to thank all of my writers on this project. They’ve been a pleasure to work with.
In conclusion, I’m very proud to share the final cover art and lineup for Invisible, coming April 15.