Saturday, March 27, 2010

Keepin' It Real

After several days of proofing my proof of Here Comes Your Man, I finally submitted the FINAL corrected files to the printer on Thursday. (Now I just wait for one more proof...)

Whew...this process has given me newfound respect for copyeditors, proofreaders, and fact-checkers. Even though I've been over this manuscript a million times, I was still fixing weirdnesses to the very last minute: missing or extra words...punctuation problems...gender-switching siblings...over-hyphenation...excessive ellipsizing...even misspellings of words that I made up myself. (Seriously...spell check is useless with those.)

However, I am proud to say that my book is now officially flawless—it contains ZERO typos or errors of any kind!

One small note: those of you who do read Here Comes Your Man may encounter things that look like mistakes, but please don't be fooled—these are actually what I like to call "authenticities," simulated imperfections reintroduced to the text at great expense (much like the factory-made rips in the Gap's "Authentic" jeans).

Why do this? Well, the book had become so polished, I feared that people wouldn't believe I'd self-published it...and what would be the point of that? It would almost be like McDonald's making hamburgers that tasted like real beef, or someone creating "folk art" that was actually attractive. And nobody wants that.

A note on the process: Yes, I could've saved a few bucks by shipping this "imperfecting" work overseas, but my conscience wouldn't allow it. Plus, nobody does screw-ups the way we does them right here in the good old U.S. of A. (Except maybe Toyota, and I don't want my book to terrify people.)

Yet another note: If your eventual copy of Here Comes Your Man still isn't real enough for you, I can help! At no extra charge, I can paw through it while eating pizza, spill a soda of your choosing on the cover, or even dunk it in the bath. Also be sure to ask about our special treatments for pet lovers (slobbery, nibbled corners) and new parents (pages fused with oatmeal cereal).

One final note: If you find "errors" that actually interfere with your enjoyment of the text, please let me know—I don't want to be overly authentic. And I've never liked folk art.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I'd just finished my lunch yesterday when I heard a heavy KA-CHUNK! at the front door. The UPS guy was already fleeing the scene when I arrived, but he’d left behind the proof of Here Comes Your Man. So here it is, in all of its glossy, paperback glory...

And here's the back cover, complete with one of those oh-so-sexy barcode tattoos all the young books are getting these days...

And the best part—there are lots and lots of words inside! (Very few of them made-up!)

Late last night, Here Comes Your Man spent some time mingling (alphabetically, of course) with the other books in my library. It was gratifying to see them all get along so well. Even Breakfast of Champions behaved itself for once (it went through an ugly little phase where it kept trying to pee on all the other books).

So, am I done yet?

No, not quite. Now I need to read through the proof, just to make sure the printer didn't add any characters or change the ending on me. But barring a nervous breakdown or similar catastrophe, my April 1st deadline still seems to be within reach!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Burning the Midnight Oil at Both Ends

While things may seem quiet here right now, rest assured that the Hysterical Publishing team and I have got our shoulders to the wheel and our noses to the grindstone preparing Here Comes Your Man for worldwide release.

Here's what we've discovered along the way: publishing a book is extremely time-consuming. (Who knew?) Thankfully, it's also kinda fun. Some recent highlights:

From the beginning, the self-publishing task that scared me the most was the page layout. I've designed a number of flyers and newsletters over the years, but never anything close to this size—89,134 words spread over 352 pages.

I'm glad to say that I've now crossed the layout task off my list. On Tuesday, I uploaded the exterior and interior files for Here Comes Your Man to my printer and ordered a proof of the paperback. As you might imagine, I'm pretty excited to see this prototype when it arrives next week, but I'm also relieved to have someone else babysit the little monster for a few days.

Funny and talented Vancouver novelist Eileen Cook was kind enough to read Here Comes Your Man, and even better, she gave me a fantastic blurb:
"With wit, heart and intelligence, Derek Gentry's Here Comes Your Man  reminds readers that you never know what is around the next corner or on the next page. Those who enjoy Nick Hornby will devour this book."
I've told Eileen that I'm going to print her blurb on a t-shirt that I can wear when I need a boost, but honestly, visiting her blog usually has the same anti-depressive effect without adding to my laundry pile. I also just finished reading Eileen's latest teen triumph, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, which I highly recommend, whether you're actually a Young Adult or just recall what it was like being one.

In my favorite development thus far, my daughter Lilah agreed to take my author photo for the back cover of Here Comes Your Man. Though our travel budget was limited, we still managed to shoot in several exotic locales, including the dining room, the playroom, and the front and back yards (the latter being quite dangerous because of the giant spiders reputed to live there).

Spiders aside, Lilah and I make a pretty good photo team: since she's only 4' 3", all of her shots make me look tall and powerful, and she never fails to make me smile (yes, that's a smile you see there). She also works for free (as long as you're willing to feed her, clothe her, and put her through college).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Blurry Eye of the Beholder

It was my eighth-grade social studies teacher who, after watching me squint at the blackboard, first urged me to get my eyes checked.

I felt silly visiting the optometrist—I had enough friends with legitimate vision issues to know that my eyes weren't that bad—but eventually I went, and the results bore out Mr. Martinez's impression: nearsighted with a touch of astigmatism.

I wore glasses for the next eighteen years, mostly for distance at first, but eventually all the time. They just made so many things clearer—street signs, movies, sheet music—that wearing them became a habit. Unfortunately, I also had other habits, like dropping my glasses on driveways and sidewalks, and sitting on them, usually just after getting a new pair.

And then, eight-or-so years ago, having scratched and bent my latest pair beyond usefulness, I just stopped wearing them. I didn't feel like coughing up $300 for new ones, so I decided to try getting by without. And mostly, I did fine. If I couldn't see something, I just squinted harder or moved closer. Soon enough, I forgot that I'd ever seen the world any other way.

When I finally returned to the optometrist last spring, he asked what had brought me in. I told him that I'd recently become more uncomfortable driving at night. He nodded; this was the most common reason people visited him.

I first wore my new frames when taking Hugo for a walk one night. I certainly didn't need glasses for this activity—I just wanted to start getting comfortable with them, to work through that dizzy, new-prescription feeling.

Even in the dark, the difference was remarkable. The tree in front of our house, once just a shadowy mass, resolved into the outlines of droopy spring leaves, tinged yellow by the streetlight.

Then I looked up, and instead of a brilliant blob I saw the crisp crescent of the moon, the shaded portion still discernible against the even darker sky. It was the one thing that no amount of squinting would ever bring into focus, the one thing that I was powerless to get closer to, and it was beautiful.

The next night, I would confirm that driving was indeed easier. But I still wonder, why in seven years did I not miss the moon?