Friday, May 05, 2006

You hang out your shingle and what happens happens

I am a big fan of the First Amendment—the one in the Bill of Rights, not the band, if there happens to be a band by that name (is there?)—and I am glad to defend your right to express your views even if I don’t share them. So it’s all right with me that self-publishing authors come to me with, um, challenging books. In fact, helping authors with those challenging books can be fun, at least sometimes. And I learn a lot.

Daniel LaLond Jr. spent four years of his life researching and writing The Lying Promise: Testing the Gospel According to Chuck Swindoll, Tony Evans,and Erwin W. Lutzer. (ISBN: 0-9768960-0-1) Dan was clear that this lengthy work of apologetics (I had to look that one up, too) is intended to persuade people who already share his fundamental premise that the Bible is the word of God and that he understands that people who do not share that premise will not be moved by his analysis and argument. He knew at the outset that I am in the latter group. Nonetheless, we worked well together. He is a serious author who wrote a serious book attacking what he sees as hypocrisy on the part of some prominent church leaders.

As a copyeditor I helped Dan tighten up his prose; as a typographer, I helped him present his work in an appropriately traditional and serious setting.

Before I was done with that book, Max Palacios approached me with a novel. Poor Max. Max was born in Chile, has lived all over the world during his fascinating life, and speaks five languages. Unfortunately, as he’ll be the first to admit, he does not speak any of them fluently. But Max has a vivid imagination; stories pour out of him. Max has a great memory for details of the cities where he has lived, and he visualizes really interesting characters.

Well, Max wrote his first novel some years ago, in Spanish. Then he paid a Spanish editor, who really did not do a very good job. Then Max paid a translator, who did an even worse job. Then Max found me. Dreaming Away (ISBN: 0-9753846-1-9) is a page turner of an action-adventure novel that explores the metaphysical connection between dreams and reality in a plot that could have been concocted by the late Jorge Luis Borges.

Meanwhile, Max has started sending me chapters of his next novel to edit. Watch this space, as the saying goes.

Before I was done with Dreaming Away I started work on a book that I was not really sure I would enjoy. Boy, was I wrong! The Beast Bowl (ISBN: 0-9777491-0-X), by Tom Chaikin, is a book I think every schoolteacher, coach, and librarian will love. You know those kids—guys, mostly—who are reluctant readers in middle school and high school? They’re into sports, most likely. But what they are not into is “young adult” fiction—books about relationships between angst-ridden teenagers. Well, The Beast Bowl is a book they will enjoy reading and will get something out of, too. And I have to tell you, adults will enjoy the book just as much as kids will. Chaikin has a great ear for dialog and knows how to spin a yarn. Check out the Web site, too. It’s full of great material, including chapter 1, which you are welcome to read. The book is at the printer now and will be available to ship June 30, 2006.

Of course, not every inquiry I get works out. A month ago or so, I was solicited—no, that’s not the right word—I was approached—no, that’s not quite right, either—let me start over. A woman asked me to quote on typesetting her book, which she had already had edited by someone else. The book was a how-to manual for women who want to start a Web business offering escort services. Yes, that kind of escort services, the two hundred to three hundred dollar an hour kind. The author said she had retired from the business and wanted to share her knowledge with younger entrepreneurs. Not being a prude, I quoted her my usual rates for design and typesetting. Alas, she said she could not afford my rates and would be getting the job done cheaper elsewhere. I am so proud of myself for not drawing the obvious analogy to potential customers of her services going elsewhere for lower prices. So proud. In any case, you have to admit that was a pretty funny reason for not getting the job.

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