I feel like a bear just emerging from its den. I’ve been out of the loop for the past six weeks, because I’ve been totally focused on the book––Around Florence for Arcadia Press’s Images of America Series. I was up at 5 a.m. most days and worked till 10 or 11 p.m. It’s amazing how motivating a deadline can be. I skipped five weeks of blog posts. I didn’t work in the yard, take walks, or go anywhere unless it pertained to the book. And I even skipped my birthday. I will celebrate it this next Sunday when I go out to dinner with a friend. One neighbor thought I must have moved cause he hadn’t seen me. Nobody saw me. I was really hunkered down.
I finished the book this past Saturday, and it took awhile to get back in the groove. I was amazed to see that Thanksgiving was just around the corner; I was still in October mode.
Before my six-week marathon, I had the first two chapters all done and the info and most of the photos needed to put together six of the remaining eight chapters.
Before I could start putting them together, though, I had to complete the Layout Planner. This is a page-by-page dummy where each photo’s number is penciled in. There are to be at least 180 photos in exactly 127 pages with no photos on the 10 chapter intro pages. I had done the first two chapters without working out the rest of the book. So I spent one whole morning filling out the dummy before I got started again. I had to rework it again and again. Good thing I used pencil. Once it was done, I knew how many photos were needed for each chapter and which captions would be long and which would be short.
I developed a routine for each chapter. I’d read through the info, reacquainting myself with it, and put the photos in the order that would best tell the story. Then I’d type up a photo list that showed where––what disk, file, and number––each photo was located. Then I would write the introduction (up to 350 words) and then, finally, the captions. I got pretty good on this routine.
The most time-consuming part was the captions. If it was the only caption on the page, the word count was 140–180. Sometimes I had to really work to be able to get to 140; other times I had to cut because I’d gone over 180. The most difficult part was getting down what I wanted to say in 50–70 words, which was the amount allotted for most of the photos I used, since that was the count when there were two photos on a page.
I was whipping out a new chapter every few days. After every two or three chapters, I met with Patrick,who is helping me with the photos. He would format each photo to eight inches wide at 300 dpi, grayscale, no compression, and .tif file. Then he would number it and collect it into a chapter folder.
I was doing just great until I hit chapters 9 and 10, and I had no info and no photos. And only two weeks to deadline! Chapter 9 covered Florence during the 40 years after the bridge from mid-30s to about 1980. Then Chapter 10 covered the impact of retirees and the arts during the past 30 years. So I made a list of all the folks I needed to see and called them. Then I spent four days visiting them and either taking or gathering photos. I had a few long interviews that required a tape recorder. It took a week getting the info and photos together before I could start writing anything.
I also spent a day writing the introduction to the whole book, a dedication, and the acknowledgments and credits––otherwise known as the front pages.
The day before deadline, I still had a dozen captions to write, but I had to meet with Patrick to get the photos for chapters 9 and 10 formatted and collected. We got that part done, and I went home and finished writing the last caption at 1 a.m.
On deadline day––November 12––I met with Patrick and as I held the photo list for each chapter and a photocopy of each photo, he popped it up on the computer. We found that six photos were just not on the computer. So I made three trips to the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum for each photo as we came to it and then one to an individual whose photos I had just returned the week before. I was able to retrieve each photo and Patrick scanned them. One that I took and though I had sent, I hadn’t, but we found a replacement online on Wikimedia that was even better.
Then on the next to last photo, we wanted a better photo of Florence today from the bridge similar to the view on the cover. So on my last trip to the museum, Patrick took my camera and walked out on the bridge til he had the shot he wanted. The clouds were breaking up, the sun shone through, and the light was magical. He took several. They were all great. He selected one, got it ready, and we were done. It had taken nearly all day, but we got them done and sent on deadline.
I had emailed my editor at Arcadia that morning and told her the photos would be on time, but I wanted to read through the text before sending. She said fine. So that evening after dinner, I read through everything and checked the word count for everything. I was within the word parameters for each individual item, but the overall count was over their maximum of 18,000 by nearly 2,500 words. I was able to cut 450 words. Once again I got to bed late.
The day after deadline, I emailed my editor again and she said not to do any more cutting. Just send it. I did go over it again and this time without counting the words. I sent it on Thursday.
I woke up Friday, so relieved that everything had been sent. I spent the day delivering stuff. I delivered bridge books to Cape Perpetua and Mari’s Books in Yachats. Then I returned by hand all the photos I had borrowed for the book from individuals and the museum.
After dinner, I thought that I would just look at the hard copy of the text and match the captions up with the photos. This would be as close as I could get to see how the book will actually be. I was in no hurry, pressure was off. I was enjoying it until, I found two photos with the captions reversed and the same thing again near the end and a name misspelled and a 1988 that should have been an 1888 and the word again that should have been against. AARRGGHH!!
So the next day, last Saturday, I went through the entire book once again on the computer, slowly, carefully, stopping to take breaks, and when I was done, there were 14 changes I needed to make. I made the changes on the text, did an email to the editor with each change delineated and then attached the revised text. Finally, I was done!
The editor emailed me on Monday and thanked me for going over it again. She had sent the revised text and photos onto production.
Two days later, she said that I had five photos that would have to be replaced and one to send again at a larger format. That day, I went to the museum and found three replacement photos and got them scanned and put on my thumb drive. I also stopped by the port where they need to find the original or another similar one. They said they would get right on it.
The next day, I went to Eugene to get my car serviced and to meet a friend for lunch. So I also paid a visit to the Lane County Historical Museum. They had several choices of the last photo that I needed to replace. So I selected one and paid research and use in publication fees. Now that I’ve got all my photo replacements lined up, that’s a good feeling. I will have to change some of the captions, but that’s no big deal. Whew!
I wasn’t sure I could get this book done by deadline, but I did. And the publisher gave me the leeway to go over it again and again until I felt comfortable with it before turning it in and then accepted my revised version when I went over it yet again and again.
Bottom line: I’m just so glad it’s done and that I like the way it turned out!