Sunday, July 14, 2013

Where Books Come From--the Shocking Truth!

Recto. Verso. 

Intro. Extro. 

Front Matter. Back matter. (Gray matter, dark matter?) 

Kerning. Cropping. Half-title. Frontispiece. Colophon. Perfect binding. And my personal favorite, full bleed—which sounds painful and potentially fatal.

In the past few months, I’ve learned more publishing lingo than I actually wanted to know, while editing and designing a book "from scratch," just like Grandma's biscuits. 

You see, all this time, I thought that books just magically appeared on bookstore shelves, the way food magically appeared on the table when I was a child. Another illusion brutally shattered!

Now I know the shocking truth about where books come from--and, like childbirth, it's not pretty, Sister. They come from hard work and lots of it. They come from working day, night, late night, twilight, work days, and holidays--taking time “off” only to work on other urgent projects.

Like all such ACP’s (all-consuming projects), it kept expanding to fill the available space. I signed on to edit and compile the book, with no way of knowing that the professional who was going to do the layout and cover would suddenly become unavailable, leaving me to stumble blindly through the book production process.

If you have ever found yourself engaged in an ACP, you know how it goes. You wake in the morning, ingest large quantities of caffeine, fire up one or more computers, and desperately try to remember under what circumstances you actually agreed to do this.

I’ve got to quit drinking, you think. Or if like me, you don’t drink, you think, today is as good a day as any to start.

Of course, the upside of this particular ACP, was the pleasure of watching a good book take shape before my eyes. 

The book is Writer's Coffee House, and the authors are members of a group called The Writing Academy and a few special guest contributors. In this book, writers share their stories and struggles, their mistakes and successes, their experience and encouragement. 

I love the story Kathy Bolduc tells about a strange dream at a writing retreat and how that weekend turned into a lot less writing and much more retreat. Olga Williams talks about hearing T. S. Eliot speak to a group of English teachers and how this experience shaped her life of teaching and writing. Trust me--it wasn't in any way you could guess! 

And I'm always inspired when I read Patricia Lorenz's account of how her "Baggy Yellow Shirt" story circled the globe and launched her career. The yellow shirt story is so popular that you've probably read it in an email forward (uncredited, of course) and never guessed at the incredible story-behind-the-story.

My great hope is that this book will simply bring encouragement to writers. Encouragement and a sense of community. A reminder that though most of the time we wrestle with words alone, there is a vast fellowship of friends we have never met, yet who understand our struggles and want to cheer us on. 

And that is the concept behind the Writer's Coffee House. If you happen to know a writer who could use a little encouragement today, perhaps you could pass the word along.

Find out more at

1 comment:

  1. Sounds wonderful, Patty. Thank you for sharing and sweating over this book :)