Travels with Myself

A Journal of Discovery and Transition
Doug Jordan, Author

TWM – 6. Between Hubris and Humility

Writing the Dynamics of Management, Mastering the Intangibles of Influencing Others, took ten years, or more – five to get started, two to actually produce a first draft, my memorable journey to Paris in 2011, and then a year of editing, and finally, a manual, in two formats: three ring binder, and a professionally printed version spiral bound. And then screwing up the courage to put it into circulation. I’m not sure how much this required courage as stamina. But I was done.

If you were doing the arithmetic above, you will have noticed it only comes to 8 years. 

I was not done. 

I had met my goal, what else was there? One of my professional colleagues challenged me to convert it into a ‘real book’. I was given six months to complete this project. It took me two more years.

I suppose it could have been done in six months if I had been writing full-time; instead I had to earn a living. I was diligent, but not sufficient. I would spend many mornings at my kitchen table crafting and revising and adding and subtracting and reworking the original manuscript. I tried using Dragon Dictate to produce a first draft of some the chapters and sections. That proved even more tedious than drafting on the keyboard. Then came the editing. I often edit on the screen as I write – a functional necessity due to my atrocious keyboard skills. For serious editing I usually print out a copy of the draft and then start in with a pen, then enter the changes in the computer and move on. Writing and editing is an iterative process. There is no escaping unless you are a genius, or lazy. So instead of finishing The Dynamics of Management by December 2012, it was December 2014 when I had finally completed the print edition. I was done.

Well there you go, another over-simplification. The draft was finished, and even proofread by myself, many times, and by others, but was it finished? The next big leap was to get it published. 

I decided not to find an agent who would then find a publisher for me. I wasn’t confident enough in my work for that degree of exposure. So I decided to self-publish – faster, and almost anonymous, ‘safe’. But also, likely few sales. Still, lao-tse wisdom applies, etc. …

But everyone needs a ‘publisher’ else your struggles as an author are regarded as a mere hobby or vanity project. So I formed my own publishing company! AFS Publishing. I’m not deluded. Next I had to find a printing/distribution company. I settled on for rather obscure patriotic reasons. Other service providers are probably just as ‘helpful’, which is to say, not very. (Okay, since you asked: the founder/owner off is Bob Young, a Hamilton Ontario boy who made a gazillion dollars when he sold Red Hat Software; he also owns The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and I am a devout CFL fan – Go RedBlacks!)

It was simply a matter now of uploading the manuscript to lulu’s platform, getting a cover designed and uploading that and voilà, published. Not so fast smart-ass. Turns out all those footnotes and fancy charts and variable fonts don’t easily fit a simple self-publishing platform. I spent months and months trying to master the fine detail of getting the format just right to satisfy both myself and lulu’s engine. I am very proud to say (a nod to my executive management competency), that I gave up. I hired a graphics designer who was expert in print layout for local Ottawa magazines and newspapers to finish the job for me. She almost gave up too! She works in the much more sophisticated (?) layout software called In-Design. She is not a MSWord guru, hates it actually. Still, she is very persistent and she managed to get all the hidden obstacles removed from the manuscript to satisfy lulu’s conversion engine. But this was a highly iterative process. Each time she would encounter an obstacle she would need me to do some minor edit of the text to make it work. There is no such thing as a minor edit. Entire paragraphs had to be reworked at times. And this creates opportunity for yet new typing errors. Patience is not one of my virtues; luckily for me Patti Moran’s middle name is Job.

The manuscript and cover were finally successfully uploaded, and distribution and pricing parameters set. We were done.

Not so fast Patti. It being 2015 a print version only of your book is not sufficient. It needs to be in e-Pub format also. Piece of cake. All that was needed was to strip the manuscript of its formatting and poof, e-Pub ready. Simple. Of course not. All those tables and charts and footnotes and careful section titles would be lost. And if you have ever read a simple e-Pub formatted book, visually it is very boring. (Is it any wonder e-books have plateaued in popularity??) So Patti was charged with stripping the manuscript of all the obstacles to getting it qualified for e-Pub, and yet saving all the pretty pictures. It was actually doable, with some compromises mind you, but we did it. It took another six months.

Well, it took Patti another six months. I mostly waited. 

By then I had the writer’s bit between my teeth, and ego properly positioned between hubris and humility. I was ready to try my hand at publishing another book. I retrieved the old Maxim newsletters from the hard drive vaults and decided to convert them into a ‘real book’. I polished off The Maxim Chronicles in six weeks, engaged an illustrator to do some lovely expansionary lithographs, and Patti Moran to do the final layout and covers. The Maxim Chronicles was simpler (but not simple) than The Dynamics of Management, and we had learned a thing or two about meeting lulu’s requirements. It only took Patti another two months to format the print edition and then ‘de-formatting’ it for the e-pub edition. 

My own work on The Chronicles being done, and that plaque hanging on the fence haunting me, [There are seven days in a week, and Someday isn’t one of them.], I couldn’t stand the waiting, so I resurrected those draft chapters of The Hallelujah Chorus. We went to press with The Maxim Chronicles in 2016 August, and though I had set December as a goal for completion of The Hallelujah Chorus, it took six months longer than I had planned.

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