Thursday, December 09, 2004

The What and Who

Finally, my publisher and I worked through the synopsis/cover blurb and author's bio. It's kind of a struggle for me. It's strange. I mean, I have no problem writing up a brief synopsis complete with character blurbs for a movie I've just seen and reviewed. But I have such problems writing a synopsis of my own book. I guess it's true that when you're so close to your own work, you lose sight of the big picture. I keep thinking of the small details, the themes, the plot, etc. etc. It's hard to focus on the "big picture" and "premise," especially when the book is character-driven and organic.

Also, we nail down the picture for the publisher site and the book backcover. I must say, I look pretty sexy and mysterious in the pic. Bwhahahahahaha.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Moving along

So, now that I've signed a contract, what's next?

The first thing I had to do, upon my return from Asia, was to complete an author questionnaire for the publisher. Sounds easy, right? Actually, more decisions to make.

First, I had to decide on what name to use. Would it be my initials only? Drop the middle name? Use a pen name? How about J. E. R. King? Seriously, though, I decided that it was my book, and I wanted people to know that it was my book! There's nothing wrong with my name. I'll be in good company with famous Asian writers such as Amy Tan and Chang Rae-Lee. Only they probably won't play with me.

Then there are the synopsis and bio. I did have a synopsis and bio when I submitted my manuscript, but I didn't like them. What's wrong with me? I didn't seem to able to make up my mind. After all, a copy editor would work on it and make it better, right? So, why am I so hung up on a few word choices? Gotta get that done. The bio seemed easier, because there was really not much to talk about me. The simpler the better.

The next thing on the list is copyright. Yes, even though you're considered the copyright owner once you put the words on paper or on your PC, to be published you need to establish your copyright. Many publishers will register the copyright for the author. Some, like Behler, would reimburse the registration, but it's the author's responsibility to register his/her work.

No big deal. Done.

Next, author's picture. Now that was a roller coaster ride. Do I really look like that? Boy, I look fat. What's wrong with my hair? I blame it on all the "makeover" shows on TV and the pizzas I've been eating. I need a makeover! Where are the FAB 5 when you need them? There are pictures that would look good in my mom's scrapbook, but not for publication! Not on the backcover of MY BOOK!

Finally I was able to pick out two good pictures that didn't necessarily distort the facts. Vanity, thy name is... dumplings? Did anyone say dumplings?

The last task -- I actually enjoyed doing it, since I'd been tinkering with it for the past few months: the cover design. OK, most writers probably know nothing about book cover design and/or have no control over it. But being with a small publisher has its perks -- you have better control over that if you do have a clear idea of what you want. It happened that I did, and I was a graphics designer. I knew what I wanted and I had a single concept and 10 different variations of that -- blame it on indecision again. At least, it gives us options, and options are your friend. I must say I'm very pleased with these designs; everyone who has seen them likes them. It's evocative. It's dramatic. Just the way I want my cover to be.

The last thing to do is to make these files 300 dpi resolution. For publication purposes, it's preferrable that any image files be at least 150 dpi. Nowadays, most scanners can scan with up to 600 or even 1200 dpi resolution. Keeping the dust off the picture while you scan it poses a problem, though. Fortunately, the speckles are not that visible once you shrink them down for printing. Then again, there's always Photoshop.

So far so good. I'm ready for the next thing on the agenda.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


I recieved an acceptance from LBF Books, a new publisher based in Pittsburgh on October 8. It was a great day, even though the original email didn't go through because of LBF's server problem. I recieved the email a few days later; ironically, I was just about to ask them for the status of my submission, since I hadn't heard from them for a couple of months.

Shortly after I received LBF's offer, however, I got an email from Behler Publications, based in California, also accepting my manuscript. The icing of the cake was that Lynn Price, the Acquisition Director, included a write-up from a reviewer. To my delight the review was incredibly positive. It made me feel like all my effort in the past 30 months had been worth it.

But now I had a choice to make -- a good position to be in, actually. Meanwhile, I had two agents reading my complete manuscript as well. Always the indecisive one, I began to stress out. So suddenly my dilemma became: Should I take one of these contracts, or should I wait for the agents to get back to me?

I had to step back, relax, and learn how to take deep breaths. I knew when it came to decisions, I always took a long time, but ultimately, in hindsight, I'd always made the right ones. So I needed some time to think, look over the contracts, and figure out what was best for me and my first book.

Truth be told, I didn't and still don't expect this book to be a smash, New York Times best-seller with megabucks advance and movie deals. I do want to give it a chance, and for it to be something I could be proud of, something I could call it my own, and something upon which I could use to build my career. So I needed to make a good decision.

Then there were the contracts to consider. Both contracts were very standard. Both offered comparable terms such as royalties, rights, etc. It became a matter of which publisher I felt more comfortable with, and how they were going to help make my book a success.

It was good that I had a scheduled trip to Asia. I took my time. I heard nothing from the agents, so that eliminated some of my options -- you could wait forever for the fruit to fall, or you could go up and pluck it.

So I did.

I made a decision.

The story

In this blog, I'm going to chronicle my journey of getting my novel, The Pacific Between, from acceptance to publication (by a traditional house). I think it'd be interesting to those who are either in the same boat or an aspiring author.

Stay tuned.