Friday, 13 September 2013

Finishing an 18 year Writing Marathon

I just completed a comprehensive re-edit of my eBook GETTYSBURG REDUX in anticipation of re-publishing it simultaneously with the sequel - REBELS AND DESPERADOS. The editing was comprised nearly entirely with the correction of minor grammatical errors, words that had become joined and minor spelling errors.  I also took this opportunity to re-format the dialogue to make it easier to read. Perhaps it would be better to say I polished minor errors as opposed to re-editing.

When I look back at the journey that the publishing of this book represents I often wonder where I found the energy to get the book into a version that could be published. The novel was originally written during the 18 month period from 1994 to 1996.  Unable to secure an agent, editor or publisher the disks sat forgotten in a box in my basement for nearly 14 years.

Originally I thought the writing was the hard part, I was so wrong!

So here are the final steps to publication. In the spring of 2012 I realized that an agent, editor and publisher were no longer required.  Miracle of miracles you can self publish as an eBook. Once I found the box where the novel was stored I realized the book was written and filed by chapter on 48 separate 3 ½ inch floppy disks. The novel was written using Lotus 123 a spreadsheet program, which was the only program that was available to me at that time.  If I had known just how much trouble converting the files from Lotus to a usable Word program would be, I would have used a more suitable program back in 1994.

 Hind sight is easy!

The first hurdle that I encountered was that I didn't have a computer that could read the antiquated floppy disks, and I actually contemplated re-typing the entire book in word, a potentially daunting task considering the book contained approximately 245K words.  Then my son-in-law found me an old refurbished PC that had a drive that would accept 3 ½ inch floppy disks.  Ok, first hurdle resolved.

However, I now needed to find a way to convert from Lotus to Word.  There is a program called CNET which I ultimately used and I was able to convert the chapters into Excel files.  Then I had to convert from Excel to Word, however when the conversion was completed there had been problems with the formatting and instead of clean Words files, everything was corrupted.  The corruption took the form of the addition of lines inserted between the lines of text. Instead of approximately 450 Word pages I had nearly 5 thousand pages.  This meant I needed to sit and manually delete these lines; this took nearly three months of incredibly boring work. During this period the sheer size of the file was so large the file would continually freeze up the PC, OK another computer was required so I upgraded to another recycled Dell which resolved the problem.

Once I had a file that was workable I was able to actually edit the novel again to clean up all of the errors that had developed along the way and to polish the text etc.  Another two months of work ensued.  During this period I was able to secure the talents of the very creative Lan Medina and the cover was designed and drawn.

Finally with a product I was happy with, I set out to publish on Amazon, a reasonably easy task.  However, when I looked at the preview on Amazon I realized there was another serious formatting error.  Somehow through all of the conversions an error occurred which scrambled the text.  Another two months of work was required to correct.

Finally after six months of work and hundreds of hours of boredom I was able to publish on both Amazon and Smashwords.  The 18 year journey was completed and it was so gratifying to finally have it finished.  Previously I had always felt a huge sense of failure because the book was sitting unused in a box gathering dust.

The sequel - REBELS AND DESPERADOS should be available by the end of 2013.