Category Archives: Working with an E-Publisher

Working with an e-Publisher – Live at Last, live at last, my book is live at last

Working with an ePublisher – Live at Last

This blog strand focused on experiences and thoughts related to self-publishing and working with a specific publishing service provider. Those who have been following these posts know that until now, the ePublisher is never identified. Five days ago the book went live, which means that it is available for purchase either as an eBook or as a print on demand copy. The publisher can be identified now that the writing and production phase of my self-publishing project is completed. IUniverse provided the services and supports that enabled me to complete the project and bring Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity, and Contentment into being.

Of course, there are a number of companies that provide services to the self-publishing author. Each offers packages with various services included; the more services provided the greater the cost. The question for the would-be author is what level of service he requires to supplement the level of expertise he brings to the table. If the aspiring author is a novice in the writing and publishing field, then the more support one purchases the better. In my case, the package selected was the full meal deal.

I am not shilling for iUniverse in any way. Their services were selected based on the best information available from the iUniverse web site and from self-publishing forums. Some of the forum comments reflected less than satisfactory experiences, but squeaky wheels make the most noise, so I took them for what they said and nothing more. If you have been following this blog strand, the reader will know that my experience has been essentially positive from the beginning of my association with iUniverse in April 2012. I was determined to make the process work for me from the outset, take the advice given and act on it, and put in the sweat equity required to produce a publishable work. When the process began this a newly published author hadn’t a clue what was involved in terms of time and energy, but over time I discovered the magnitude of commitment required.

IUniverse provided contacts to support me from the very beginning of our relationship. In the beginning there were opportunities to discuss some of my ideas with individuals that were likely part of the marketing and sales staff. Their principle role seemed to revolve around informing me about additional services I might be interested in purchasing, but they were also willing to engage in extended conversations. When working with a company offering self-publishing services don’t be offended by these efforts at further monetizing the services on offer, after all that’s part of the business. No one ever twisted my arm to purchase any extra services. Listen carefully to what is on offer, one of those services might just be your cup of tea. The fact is, that in their efforts to interest you in other services you have a chance to discuss your ideas with a complete stranger, which is as useful as having conversations with people you know. Perhaps such conversations are even more useful than one might think, because whoever your target audience is, they are strangers too.

If a complete editing package is purchased, your work will be reviewed by editorial staff three times. My manuscript was reviewed by a developmental editor, a content editor, and a quality editor. The most useful editorial service was the DE (developmental edit). That’s when the author learns just how much work they still need to do. My own manuscript was full of faults, all of which were described in detail in an earlier post in this blog strand. If you are fortunate to have a good developmental editor go over your manuscript, make sure you read all their comments in detail. Those individual comments were essential in determining the scope and range of work required to get the writing process on track. In my case, the first draft required radical surgery, restructuring, and rewriting.

The other edits provided opportunity for further refinements, but by the second draft (66000 words of it), the final product had taken on its essential shape. In addition to editorial support, specialists in marketing, book production, and publicity were also on call to assist me in various stages of the process. If you do the research, and total the cost of all the services included in the most complete package iUniverse offers, an author attempting to locate and purchase a similar set of services on their own will spend at least as much money, if not more.

The other advantage to working with a company like iUniverse, or any of the other companies who offers services like these, is the sense of structure within one must work. Each specific phase of the process allows the author to target their energies, and focus on what needs to be done at any particular stage of the process. I still need to review the printer’s copy for defects in workmen ship, but the files submitted to me for approval suggest that the finished book will exceed my expectations. The same can be said for all the marketing materials, book launch materials, and an author web site that were included in the publishing package purchased.

My next blog post in this strand will reflect my reaction to the Printer’s proof copy and the actual materials included as marketing materials and book launch materials. So far, I can say with confidence, that every dollar spent has been worthwhile. This blog strand will continue as I work through the experience of marketing a book. When my author web site goes live, I’ll provide the link, but that will take about a week.

Until then, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness, Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment which is now available through the iUniverse book store and Amazon.

Nota bene: The book will also be available through other supply channels as they come on stream. Some information still needs to be uploaded to these book stores including a book cover image and brief excerpt. Apparently it takes several days for a listing to take on its complete form. Thanks for understanding.

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

What was your reaction when your book went live? Comment below if you wish…

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Working with an e-Publisher – Update

PerWorking with an e-Publisher – Update

In my last post I related two points of information; the first explained that the publishing process had reached the stage of approved block designs for the cover and book interior including a completed index, and the second related to a small tense issue in the cover text.

I sent a note to my PSA (Publishing Support Associate), the title of the individual who guides me through the final part of the publishing process. In the note I explained my concern. His response explained the context in which the tense was chosen, which made perfect sense. If you consider the tense relationships in the cover text as a unique piece of writing, then inconsistencies in tense seem like a glaring error. However, the cover text is written in reference to the completed book and to the actions of the author in writing it. Thus, the past tense in amongst words implying the present make sense, since the acts related to writing are in the past.

As I reflect back on the whole experience if writing a few key ideas stand out in my mind.

1. Completing a lengthy writing project is more work than one can imagine.

2. The sense of accomplishment on completion of the project is greater than expected.

3. The final product cannot be achieved without the support of many professionals unless one is thoroughly versed in every phase of the process.

4. The writing process presents the writer with moments of exhilaration, frustration, satisfaction, and dismay. The remarkable thing about all these feelings is that there is nothing unpleasant about them.

5. If one is not prepared to be disciplined, self-critical, persistent, and determined to complete your writing project writing is not the best way to spend your time.

The next step in the process is to review the printer’s proof. When it arrives by courier, I will see the finished product for the first time. My next post in this series will follow shortly after the proof copy is in my hands. The feeling of excitement that comes with this stage of the process is irrepressible. The plan is to luxuriate in the moment.

Until my next post, as always your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity, and Contentment.

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

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The Final Steps – Working with an E-publisher

The Final Steps – Working with an E-publisher

My last blog post in this series focused on the topic of indexing and cover layout. I had chosen to purchase the services of a professional indexer and cover layout specialist rather than attempt those tasks myself. I’ll address the cover polish first, and then the index.

I had already signed off on the block design for the cover by the time I had written my last post, and I still find it gives the book an attractive and professional feel. The only problem with the cover is found in one sentence of the text. Although I provided most of the text, the cover editor added and subtracted a bit to the text that appears on the flyleaf or the back cover, and that’s where the problem lies. One sentence has four key verbs contained within, the first is in the present tense, which fits with the tense of the whole. The second, third, and fourth verbs are in the past. Ugh! I missed that when I reviewed the text.

I have emailed the appropriate support person in the editorial department to see if the tense can be adjusted. Since I already signed off on the cover design, I’m not sure it can be altered, although it should be a simple matter to address. The tense issue is a very small one in the grand scheme of things for two reasons. First, only a very picky reader is likely to notice, and secondly, this is predominately going to be sold as a print on demand or an eBook. It’s not like I will get much shelf space in Barns and Noble or Indigo/Chapters.

This small issue is just that, a small issue. I just wanted to point out that it exists because the final text was prepared by a cover polish expert. Expert or not, he or she is just as likely to miss a small error like this. The error exists in the hard copy of one paragraph of the cover text because I abrogated my responsibility to a ‘professional’ with sheer abandon. Within lies the error. Hopefully, a change will be made to rectify the issue. We shall see how responsive the editor will be to my request. I’ll let you know.

The index was completed and forwarded to me by PDF file as usual. It looked pretty good and gave the reader a good idea of the range and scope of the content. I assessed the quality of the index in substance and layout by comparing it to the index in a few works of non-fiction, and it compared favourably. I happen to be reading Hawking’s A Brief History of Time at the moment. The index in Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity, and Contentment is not demonstrably different in appearance and usefulness as compared to others, even Hawking’s book. So when it comes to indexing, go pro and spend a few $$.

The next step will be to review and approve the Galley Proof of the printed version of the book. When it arrives, I will post my comments.

Until the next post, as always, I remain your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity, and Contentment

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

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Working with an E-Publisher The Final Steps #1

Working with an E-Publisher – The Final Steps #1

This is the next in the series of blog posts related to working with an E-Publisher. The process has reached the production and printing stage after thirty-one months. The final stages revolve around entering the proof reading changes, reviewing the block design proofs for the cover and inside of the book, reviewing and accepting the proof reader’s changes, another review of the text and cover to make sure everything is correct, accepting the final cover and inside designs, indexing, reviewing and approving the index, and final review of the Galley Proof for problems. I am required to accept and sign off on each step.

The ‘quality edit’, which was performed on the last version of the manuscript was submitted after corrections were made, along with a corrected version of the text that would be printed on the back of the book. This is the version that was submitted for layout to fit the 6×9 format plan for the finished book. Once formatted, the block design proofs were reviewed by a proof reader. The book cover was also designed and my suggested text was polished. Once complete, the inside block design proof, proof reader’s corrections, and cover design were sent back in PDF format.

When the PDF files with the block designs for the inside matter and the cover were received, I also received a list of the proof reader’s findings and had to review and accept each suggested change. Each change was listed on a form which was indexed by the page number, the paragraph number, the sentence number, along with the suggested correction and a reason for the change. That file, along with the accepted changes were sent back to the publisher, the changes were made, and the PDF files were sent back for my review. Any changes that I felt still needed to be made were entered on a form in the same manner as the proof reader had provided.

I received the PDF files of the cover and inside matter once again. This time, I needed to verify that the final changes I wished to be made, had been made correctly. Once again, I needed to state explicitly that the changes had been made as requested. Following that acceptance e-mail, and before the process of set up and printing could move forward, I officially signed off on the block designs. The publisher can get on with the remainder of the process now that my approvals are official.

I’ll describe the remainder of my experiences as my project moves toward the final published work. However, before this post concludes, there are a few important reminders.

· The publisher provides support all along the way, but the author bears responsibility for the quality of the final product.

· The amount of support from the publisher depends on the publishing package you purchase. Make sure you know what services to expect based on the package purchased.

· Make sure you review your manuscript carefully at each step of the process. If you are less than diligent in your review, costly and embarrassing mistakes are inevitable.

· Use the best writing support available. These include a top quality word processor and a quality grammar checking service. I used Word 2013, Grammarly (available at www.grammarly.com ), and also a high quality text-to-voice software package. As stated in an earlier post, the text-to-voice software allows the author to step back from his work and be objectively critical, listen to the rhythm of the language, and listen for the clarity of meaning in the language written for others to read.

· Always save backup copies of your work.

Until the next post, your faithful blogger, L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness.

www.lensofemptiness.com Release date TBA

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finally . . the submission

The final stages of the approval process have been completed, including the marketing text for the cover.  All the edits have been approved and the marketing text has passed muster. The only stages of the process remaining include a properly structure final submission, approval of a cover design, the scrutiny of a proof reader, professional indexing and final approval of the finished book.  In order to submit the manuscript for layout in book form (eBook and print format), it must be packaged properly.

A manuscript is composed on pages that are 8.5 x 11 inches, but a book is published in various formats. The print version of my book will be 6 x 9 inches. To complicate matters further, the margins of a manuscript are not the margin dimensions of a finished book. The individual charged with formatting a book for publication requires some freedom to prepare the book layout. My submission will consist of  two folders; one folder contains a single clean copy of the manuscript and a second folder which contains a separate file for each graphic or photograph to be included in the text.  All photographs and graphics, should their be any, are cut from the manuscript and a place holder is inserted to indicate where each belongs.

My manuscript also includes some tables and text boxes. I was given the option of formatting them myself or having it done by the layout pro. I have opted to have them formatted for placement by the layout pro because I am certain to make a hash of it. After all the work and expense of getting to this point,  a highly professional looking finished product is the only possible outcome for the author.

The cover design is another matter which I have turned over to the pros. They will do their best to come up with a cover design that is attractive and appealing, and I simply have to approve it. Throughout this process I have taken my lead from the experts. I am a writer, not a layout expert. When you choose to self publish and pay for a package deal, the expertise of the publisher is what you paid for so you should exploit it to the max. Tomorrow, when I click the send button on an email that has my files attached in submission format, I do so with confidence and certainly a degree of excitement.

The next phase of the process is up to me. There are lots of books for people to chose from in this world and no book sells itself. Unless you already have a public profile of some note, the first time author is an unknown entity in a very crowded and competitive space.  I have written for a target audience and I need to reach out to them. My next post will discuss marketing planning and structuring an Author platform.

Until the next post I remain your faithful blogger . . .

L Alan Weiss (Larry) 

Soon to be published author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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Manuscript editing completed–now what?

My last blog post followed receipt of the Quality Edit review of my manuscript which presented few things to be addressed. Since then, I have listened to the entire text twice more (using my beloved text to voice application) and made the required corrections. There were still a few areas where the prose lacked flow and there were a few word choices had to be reconsidered. I am just about ready to send the whole thing back to the publisher for the next phase of the process.

At the same time the Quality Edit material was received, a copy of my marketing text copy was included, and that was really a good thing. I had written the original marketing text to accompany the initial manuscript submission more than one and a half years ago. As you might imagine, much had changed since then. Needless to say, a complete revision of the text was necessary.

Marketing text refers to the copy that appears on the back cover of a paperback or the first section of an eBook web advert. It needs to be short and sweet and consists of; an Author Bio of no more than 50 words, a brief one liner Keynote tag line,  a list of Keywords to attract the target audience to your title,  and no more than 200 words for a Back Cover overview. Compared to a work of about 66000 words, this is a trivial amount of copy, but those words were the most difficult to write, and in some ways the most important.

The Author Bio needs to be a quick portrait of the author portraying both qualifications and character. The Keynote tag line needs to be a real zinger that captures a potential reader’s imagination. The Keyword list needs to reflect the content of the book as a reflection of the interests of the target audience. The Back Cover overview is meant to be a “teaser” or “movie trailer” like device designed to capture a potential reader’s interest and encourage them to look further into a book’s content and encourage a purchasing decision.

The other considerations relevant to this phase of the publication process are decisions on whether to pay a professional proof reader and to have the book professionally indexed. This adds some costs, so you have to consider their value. The proof reader reviews the PDF proof copy of the book prior to, a tedious and critical task to be sure, and for a moderate dyslexic an impossible task. An index may or may not be required, but my project is a work of creative nonfiction and has some content the reader may wish to reference while reading, or for future reference. I’m certain to employ the proof reader. Professional indexing is something I need to consider further.

Although I am unable to release any content of a book in the pre-publication stage, I’m sure the title can be mentioned: Through a Lens of Emptiness: Into the Void and Back Again in Search of Understanding. I’m still deciding about including a subtitle or not. I might even alter the word Understanding to Self. Anyone reading this blog is welcome to comment of the subtitle dilemma.

I won’t mention the name of the publishing house that will publish my work until it is actually published, but I will continue to update those following this blog on my progress. I’m thinking about a blog post re: motivation verses motive for self-publishing.

Until then,

Larry (L Alan Weiss)

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The Editing Cycle Continues

At the time of my last post I was putting the finishing touches on my manuscript before sending it back for the final phase of editing. This is the phase where the editorial service  checks over text that was added or modified according to the suggestions made in phase two of the process. I completed my work on the manuscript and submitted it last week. There are a few observations I would like to share with whomever is following this saga.

1.  The editorial service did an excellent job making sure the format of the work complied with the Chicago Manual of style. In the process they also corrected some minor errors in punctuation had missed.

2. They also did a good job of pointing out one repetition in content and several missing endnote citations where I had just placed single words to indicate the content missing but never entered the info. They also indicated a few small gaps in the parallel form of the chapters and sections where I had omitted some sentences of introduction.

3. The editor added a system of numbers that made it easier for the reader, and the author to cross reference info between chapters.

4. The editor did not point out problems with the flow of language that remained. That was my job. I think it unreasonable for an editor to make those suggestions, which would be an intervention beyond their ken.

You may recall that I was setting out to listen to the entire manuscript  once more before submission using my trusty text to voice application. That process proves to be important. As I said previously, the text to voice method of review allows the writer to stand back and judge language usage and the rhythm and flow of sentences and paragraphs. I use this method because of being moderately dyslexic, but I recommend it to all who write. A manuscript of 66000 words takes several days to listen to.

I anxiously await feedback from the editorial staff. It should be complete in another week or so. I’ll keep you all up to date.

Until then,

L Alan Weiss (I thought it appropriable to use my pen name from now on. I hope no one finds this pretentious, but I need to get used to it myself.)

PS One of these days I’ll write about the costs involved. That’s an important aspect of this process.

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Working with an e-publisher continued

It has been an age since I posted, and I can tell you it has everything to do with working up a manuscript. The focus required to complete the tasks related to producing a manuscript for publication preclude spending time writing anything else; not tweets, not blog posts, not even emails.

The content edit (a line by line edit which edits grammar, form and structure) was returned to me a few weeks ago while on vacation in Europe, so it just had to wait until I returned to address it. The only bits remaining for revision were some insertions and corrections that only the author can write or make decisions about. The editorial group at the publisher are excellent at responding to my questions and providing clear guidance as needed in this phase of the editing process. The soon to be completed revisions will then to be shipped back  to the editorial staff for one last look-see, re: the changes that have been introduced recently.

I have continued to follow the guidance of the editor, subverting any ego that might interfere with the process. In fact, if the author still has an ego remaining after the editorial process, then they have a problem.  By now, one’s ego should have been replaced with enhanced self esteem as his work has become more and more refined through the process.

One must  remain circumspect and objective as he continues to work through the editing process. I, once again, highly recommend using a first rate text to voice translator so that you can listen to your own words. Your work becomes like a talking book and you can distance yourself sufficiently in order to remain objective.

I have enjoyed this little foray back into the world of blogging and have a series of ideas to present based on observations made during my recent Grand Tour of parts of Western Europe.

Until next post…. DSCN0568 Carnac 2014-08-06

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Conference Day – October 4, 2013

Today was conference day. When you work with an e-publishing house, a number of individuals contact you from time to time. I finally had a contact from the editorial office rather than anyone in a sales capacity. I enjoyed this conference more than any in the past months, because I received affirmation that I was on track re: following up on the suggestions and critique of the developmental edit. Since beginning the rewrite process, every attempt has been made to take the editors comments to heart and follow the guidance they offered.

Since I am a novice writer (author wannabe), my first draft suffered from a number of rooky errors, all of which emerged in the DE (developmental edit). My writing style was dry, dry, dry.  My first draft was full of redundancies, superfluities, and content sequence problems. The thread of my theme disappeared from time to time, only to reappear later out of context. Although sections of the text were well and intelligently written, the impact of my words was lost in convolutions, contortions and cognitive machinations. I even ranted from time to time offering opinions on material that did not contribute to the essence of the book in any way. From my title to my terminal section, the silk purse containing gems of ideas I had hoped to create was still a sows ear attached to a pigs breakfast of a manuscript. Instead of getting angry, I decided to get even with myself by working smarter, not harder. It turns out that smarter was also harder.

Since I was rewarded with encouragement from someone who is actually in the editorial office at the publisher, I think it appropriate to share how I handled the DE comments and what I did to get myself back on track. Here are a few basic preliminaries re: the mindset required to take full advantage of the DE.

1. Chuck your ego out the door, shut the door, and keep away from it with deliberation. A good healthy dose of old fashion Buddhist selflessness is in order here. An ego just gets in the way of the reality of the task ahead.

2. Keep this thought firmly in mind; the developmental editor is just doing their job and the DE is not a kick in the pants, it is an honest and thoughtful critique. Think of the DE as a push from behind to help you write better than ever and reach new heights of written expression.

Now that you have the correct mindset, you can begin the task of preparing to rewrite. Yes, I said preparing. Like setting up to do any task, be it writing or painting a wall, good preparation is half the job.

3. The next step is to read your DE carefully and critically, not as a critic, but as an empty vessel awaiting to be filled with precious elixir. That’s a bit of Taoist philosophy for you in case you missed it. Taoists believe, and I have come to believe,  that the usefulness of anything is marked by its emptiness, so that it can be filled appropriately when needed.

4. As you read the DE, keep a record of the number and types of comments made. Such a record will give a clear picture of weaknesses in writing style and inconsistencies in logic within the content.

5. Make a careful list of all the major flaws in your writing and make a sacred vow to yourself never to write another sentence, paragraph, section or chapter that contains any of them.

6. Never write too much prose without checking to make sure that what you wrote: (a) is consistent with your main purpose, (b) follows from what you wrote just before those words, (c) leads from where your have been to where you are going, (d) contributes to, and does not detract from your writing, (e) holds your reader and not turn them off, (f) makes your point without being offensive (of course you cannot please everyone), (g) is not a rant, (h) expresses an opinion without being opinionated, (I) uses plan words written in as grammatically correct prose as possible, (j) is an exercise in clarity not confusion  , (k) supresses negative aspects of ego, (l) and finally avoids all the issues identified in your DE.

I do not profess to have the magic formula for rewriting a first draft, only that this is what works for me. I hope it will be helpful to my readers and followers.

PS – An open note to my editorial contact re: today’s conference.

Thank you for being so generous with your time today. It was our first contact and it was important for me to let you know what I was doing re: my rewrite. I have been working in less of a vacuum since the DE, but I still had a sense of uncertainty about the direction I had taken with my writing. You listened patiently, reassured me that I had taken the developmental editors comments to heart and revised my work accordingly, and most importantly gave me a sense of being listened to. You also gave me some supportive responses directly and indirectly, for which I am very thankful. It was a great conference.

My intent is to share the process of working with an e-publishing house as well as sharing my reactions and feeling about the process in general. I will reveal which organization I am working with only after my book is officially released. Until then, I can only wish that others have an equally good experience working with an e- publisher.

Until my next post . . .

L

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The Developmental Editing Process – Stage One Begins Today

Over the next few weeks, a free-lance editor from a pool of talent that edits  manuscripts under contract to the publisher, will work through my manuscript. By the end of this week, my manuscript file will be somewhere on the hard drive of one of these contractors. In the old days, I might have said, “in their hot little hands”, but that was then and this is now. Even though this is just one more stage in the process of shaping a manuscript into a published work, there is a sense of finality in the air today.

After another conversation with the publishing consultant marshalling me through this stage of the process I committed to the developmental package proposed (more $$$$ on the table) by the publishing house. Remember that self publishing means self financing too, so shop carefully.  Be prepared to lose your bankroll, based on the chance that sales of the final product will never cover your expenditures. Neither time nor money can ever be replaced, once spent. Writing a book will take your time, and financing the process will consume some of your money.

The reader may be puzzled at the phrase “a sense of finality in the air” being used to describe an ongoing process. While this may seem like an erroneous comparative descriptor, in my mind, it makes complete sense. Let me explain.

* First, when ever you put money on the table without knowing if you will ever see any of it again, images of a croupier racking in the chips comes to mind, and a sense of finality enters your soul.

* Second, I invested some more time in applying changes to my manuscript suggested by way of a copy-edit, done by a friend at no cost to me. This enabled me to forward a revised manuscript to the editorial office with some important correction already made to the text. Every time a writer completes an edit of their work, there is a sense of finality that comes with completing anything.

* Third, I received an email from the editorial office that my manuscript had  been launched on the first stage of the editing process that would take a few weeks to complete, so for a while, what happened to my manuscript was in the hands of others and out of my control. There is a sense of finality that comes when we say goodbye to the product of many hours of work, even if it only for a short while.

My publishing consultant left me with some sage advice at the end of yesterdays conversation. He advised, that once I submitted my manuscript to the first stage of the process, I should put my work away for the time being. He advised, that responding to the results of the first stage of editing would be much easier if I distanced myself from the text for a while.  The goal of this creativity abstinence regimen is to free my mind from the content of my work. At the same time, I could free up my creativity, so I could be my most productive self during the next phase of the manuscript development process. I have done exactly as he has suggested.

While I await completion of the first stage of the process that started today, I intend to write about the struggle to get outside oneself in order to be objective about your own writing. It should be interesting to see if I can develop the ability to be intimately involved with my work and remain remotely objective at the same time. Until the next post………..

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