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From Blog to Book, Part 6: In Production & in Limbo

This is the last in a six-part series about how Taxi Gourmet, the blog, led to Driving Hungry, the book.

 

light-taxista-bryant-park

 

What happens at a traditional publishing house in those mysterious months between the day you deliver your manuscript (huzzah!) and the day your book comes out?

1. Your sense of completion begins to evaporate when you realize that someone is copy editing your manuscript (focusing on grammar and factual errors).

2. Your sense of completion vanishes altogether when your editor sends you the copy-edited version of your manuscript, which you have a month or so to re-read and review, and which you are completely sick of by now.

3. A Sisyphean sort of fatigue sets in when your editor sends you the manuscript with your edits to the copy editor’s edits, which you’re supposed to re-read one more time, within three weeks, preferably after more than one glass of wine. Remarkably, after all these drafts (you’ve lost count of how many), you keep finding blunders in your text.

4. Meanwhile, designing starts to happen. Your editor sends you pictures of a possible cover or covers, which you have the power to accept or reject or add your input to (I got very, very, very lucky with the cover of Driving Hungry – what you see below is the first design they sent me. The man who made it is a talented artist named Dustin Summers). A different designer tackles the type and the interior design of the book, and your editor sends you pages, actual pages, with page numbers and headings and titles. (I was amazed, looking at my manuscript this way, at the power of a font, even a page number font, to set the tone of the reading experience. Initially, there was a lot of overly playful cursive on the title page and in the page numbers of Driving Hungry, which I asked if we could change–we could, thank goodness.)

5. In between all this editing and designing, you, the author, are expected to start/continue building your platform, i.e. getting people excited about your book’s impending publication. You resuscitate your blog, or start one if you don’t have one. You post more frequently on Twitter, Facebook, Pintarest, Instagram, not about your book per se, not promoting yourself or your work too directly, building goodwill in cyberspace, trying to overcome your virtual-world disorientation and the feeling that you are, despite all attempts to the contrary, somehow prostituting yourself.

A first pass page with medium mark-ups. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my editor if he's reading this, who I'm guessing is sick and tired of all my changes by now.
A first pass page with medium mark-ups. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to my editor if he’s reading this, who I’m guessing is sick and tired of all my changes by now.

 

6. Your editor sends you first pass pages, also known as galleys or proofs, or typeset pages, which you have to reread one more time, within three or four weeks, and return with any new edits you might have. (Let me just say I was horrified, reading through the manuscript once more, at how many badly chosen words and how many awkward passages I was still finding in the text at this point. Looking at the pages this way, printed out and typeset, revealed things that were invisible to me when I was reading my manuscript on the screen in a Word document.)

7. You send the publisher a recent photo of you that shows no trace of your stress over the course of the writing and editing process because that’s what’s going on the dust jacket of your book.

 

The bound galleys that get sent to reviewers and potential blurb writers four or five months before publication. When the book comes out in July, it'll be in hardcover.
The bound galleys that get sent to reviewers and potential blurb writers four or five months before publication. When the book comes out in July, it’ll be in hardcover.

 

8. Your editor sends you bound galleys, which are your typeset first-pass pages in paperback form, which don’t include the last round of edits you’ve made, which is normal but scary, since these bound galleys are the ones the publicist is starting to send to reviewers and people who might want to write blurbs for your book. (I forgot to mention that somewhere in between editing and designing and platform building, you, the author, have written 10 or so personalized letters to authors you idolize, telling them how much you admire their work, and what it is you admire about it, asking them if they might consider reading your book and saying something nice about it, assuming of course that they like it.)

8. Your editor sends you second-pass pages, and you re-read the entire manuscript for what you hope is the last time, making sure that all the changes you made in first pass are there and correct, making any minor changes you might have missed, vowing that you will never, ever read your book again of your own free will.

9. You wonder, as you edit and wait, and edit and wait (T minus four months and three days until publication day), and try to post interesting stuff on the internet, and write new things in a vain attempt to take your mind off this one, if this book is any good anymore. You try not to pin all your hopes on this, your baby, but it’s hard not to. You remind yourself that publication is not salvation, but writing is.

 

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14 comments

  1. Rock on, Layne.

  2. Hilarious and honest glimpse in to what is your world right now, thank you for staying on and sharing this journey. Love your final comment. I am salivating at the sight of all those pages together…can’t wait to READ!!

  3. Makes me glad I just wrote a short e-book (which nobody knows about) and which has no chance of becoming a Hollywood movie which your book definitely does! It looks great and I can’t wait to read it.

  4. i am thrilled to see how all this has come together and your honesty about the highs and lows in the process.
    don’t let Hollywood water you down!
    Can’t wait to read your book and recommend it to my book club and FB peeps.

    • I am thrilled that it’s ringing true to you, Cynthia!
      I’ll do my best with Hollywood.
      Thank you so much (in advance) for reading my book and recommending it, too. If gratitude could be transmitted through cyberspace, you’d be feeling an enormous wave right now.

  5. Layne…

    Have spent the past two days devouring an advance copy of your wonderful book and engaged in a constant conversation with you, and have just now read the six chapters of your publishing saga (also wonderful).

    Congratulations… You have indeed hit it out of the park.

    I drove (and loved driving) a San Francisco taxi for 28 years in San Francisco, a career that (apparently) came to an end in 2013, as result of Uber, Lyft, and (mainly) the scoundrels at the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency. (In 2013 I sold my medallion, something that in San Francisco would today, I think, probably not be possible.) But enough about me… I just wanted to establish my street cred when I say that I think you caught the magic of the taxicab world…perfectly. And your story sang to me all the way through.I have so much more to say, but it would take a book. ;-) Major congratulations. And major best wishes on the success of Driving Hungry. When your tour (assuming) sends you to the Bay Area, you’ll see me in one of your audiences.

    Brad Newsham
    Oakland, CA

    • Brad,
      To wake up at 5am to slog through some more edits and instead to find your words in my inbox was quite a beautiful surprise. Coming from you, a man who’s spent so much time on the road, these words carry weight, and I am deeply grateful to you for writing them. I am so sorry to read that you were driven out of the taxi business. It’s heartbreaking, what happened to you, what’s happening to so many drivers. I thought of you often when I was driving the cab in New York – I really loved your idea of giving one person a free ride every shift, though I ended up doing it more out of penitence than generosity, after driving so many people out of their way. Anyway! Yes, yes, yes, it would be an honor to meet you in San Francisco when I come. I’ll be at the Bookshop West Portal on August 3 at 7:30. Until then, I’m wishing you well and thanking you again, so much, for writing. Layne

  6. Wow, I am so impressed and so excited to read the story behind the stories you shared, i.e. the ones you didn’t tell.

  7. Dear Layne,

    How could I miss these posts? These 6 honest, full of useful tips and witty posts which I enjoyed reading so much!! You really inspire me! My dream is one day to have a cookbook/memoir published and I am sure your tips/advice here will be very helpful!! Many congratulations on your new book and I am looking forward to your reading at the Shakespeare and Sons bookstore in Berlin!!

    Best, Lydia

    • Dear Lydia, I’m so glad these posts spoke to you and so glad you’ll be able to attend the reading at Shakespeare & Sons! I have been drooling over your blog. Every dish you write about is something I would love to try. I can see your cookbook/memoir happening – your food tells a beautiful story. I’m looking forward to meeting you, and to breaking bread together someday.
      Best, Layne