Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Eight Bloody Pages!

I recently started the process of publishing my second book, A MisreadBible Christmas, which will be released on the 4th October.

Last year, I began writing short stories for my website. By the end of the year, I had decided to compile the stories into my first book, The MisreadBible: Genesis, so while I was still writing short stories to go on the website, I was also editing the manuscript of what would become the book. As Christmas approached, I decided to write the nativity story and publish it on my website.

Early this year, I worked hard to complete the first book, and I knew that I would write a sequel focusing on the Book of Exodus, possibly extending all the way to Deuteronomy. However, I knew it would take some time to complete the sequel, so I decided that first I’d turn my nativity stories into a book.

Unfortunately, the nativity story as a whole wasn’t very long, so I decided that I’d try to include other things to make the book worth the money. I’d written some parody Christmas carols, so I put them at the end of the book. I’d also written a parody of A Visit from St. Nicholas, so I included that too.

In the first book, I had included a story that wasn’t based on the Bible, but which was thematically linked. I thought it would be nice to do the same thing in this book. I considered a few different stories that I could parody, and at first, I intended to write a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life, but I couldn’t come up with an effective way to use it. I ended up settling on A Christmas Carol, a story which I’ve liked since childhood, and I thought it would be interesting to cast King Herod as Scrooge.

As you may know, the Bible’s portrayal of King Herod is pretty two-dimensional (though, admittedly, it portrayal of most people and situations can be) and the slaughter of the innocents is most likely a myth, so if I was going to write about Herod, I wanted to know more about the real historical figure. I incorporated a lot of facts in the story, but I included the premise of the slaughter of the innocents as a plot element. I also took creative licence with some things to fit it all together. When it comes to A Christmas Carol, I know the story well enough to tell it in my own words, but I wanted to capture the feel of the original, so I used a copy of A Christmas Carol the same way I would the Bible, in some cases, re-writing sentence by sentence, keeping any phrases that I liked, and in other places, just freewriting and seeing where it took me.

As with all of my writing, some jokes come out of the source material, but some come from me thinking, ‘It might be funny if this happens,’ and experimenting with the idea. I spend a lot of time working on dialogue because it’s a great way to illustrate two sides of the same issue. Sometimes the characters are essentially putting across my point of view.

I used to work as a copyeditor at a newspaper, and I am very critical of my own work. It’s taken years of practice to take off my editor hat in order to write without stopping to correct myself. I now divide my authoring into the writing stage, the editing stage, the reading my stuff to a friend or family member to see their reaction stage, the compiling stage, and the polishing stage. The compiling stage is essentially copying the text into the final manuscript, applying styles, and setting up the layout. The polishing stage is having a final read and edit to make sure that I’m happy with it.

Now, you might be wondering why I named this blog post ‘Eight Bloody Pages!’ Well, after writing the book, I had to submit it for publication. I currently use Lulu and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). KDP is good because they are part of Amazon, which is one of the biggest online book providers nowadays. Lulu is good because they distribute to companies like Ingram, Google, and Apple.

So, anyway, I was busy uploading my manuscript for the paperback edition of my book to KDP, filling in all the necessary information in their wizard-like webforms, and at the end, there were two options: ‘Save draft’ and ‘Publish’. Even though I wasn’t ready to publish, as the release date is next month, I accidentally clicked ‘Publish’. Shit! KDP doesn’t have an option to halt the publication process once it starts, so I sent them an email. Apparently, they don’t have that option on their end either. Basically, I had to wait until the book was approved and essentially published, and click ‘Unpublish’ when the option became available.

The next day, I was checking my emails when I found one from KDP. My book had been rejected because it had writing on the spine, and they don’t allow writing on the spine of books shorter than a hundred pages. I had written 92. By the way, due to the way that modern books are produced, the number of pages in a manuscript has to be a multiple of four as one sheet of paper is folded in half to be bound creating four sides (which word processors call pages).

Anyway, due to my preference to start ‘chapters’ on odd-numbered pages, and the necessity for the total page number to be a multiple of four, I already had a few blank pages, so I didn’t want to just stick another eight at the end of the book. And, as I mentioned in the first part of this post, I had striven to pack the book with quality content, so I didn’t want to add anything that was just filler.

Well, it just so happened that when I told my friend Joshua Saxon that my book was close to publication, he said to me, ‘I guess that we’re going to need to make an audiobook of this one.’ Joshua had narrated my first book, but he works full-time, and he wasn’t sure if he could commit to narrating any other books, so I was surprised and delighted that he was willing to narrate this book for me. Anyway, when he told me he would narrate this book, I had started to produce a script for it.

There are certain things in a book that don’t translate well to an audiobook, for instance, I like to replace the long boring genealogies of the Bible with family tree diagrams, and you can’t really narrate one of those. So, again, in this book, I’d created a family tree diagram covering the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3. For the audiobook, I had started to turn this into a readable script. I decided that I liked the script version so much that I would include it in the book as well as the diagrams I’d drawn, so I completed the story, calling it ‘Plot Interrupting Genealogy’ (because the Bible authors have a habit of sticking their begat lists right in the middle of the narrative) and it gained me six pages.

Now, for the other two pages, I had come up with a few Christmas carol ideas that I either hadn’t started or hadn’t completed, so I decided to write those and add them to the book. I came up with three. Well, if you remember, the total page number has to be a multiple of four, and I had included a couple of blank pages for this reason, so an extra carol was easy to fit in.

Now that the book is finished, the table of contents reads as follows:

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • The Nativity
    • The Dumbfounding of a Religion
    • Holy Mother of Christ!
    • Prepare Ye the Way
    • Plot Interrupting Genealogy
    • What a Load of Non-census
    • Jesus Christ!
    • While Shepherds Got a Shock by Night
    • Wise Guys, Eh?
    • There Can Be Only One
  • Herod’s Christmas Carol
    • Stave 1: Humbug!
    • Stave 2: The Ghost of Herod’s Past
    • Stave 3: Horn of Plenty
    • Stave 4: What in the Fuck are You Pointing at?
    • The Final Stave: And this Time, It’s Stavier!
  • A Visit from St Anger
  • Carols
    • Away in a Saucepan
    • Frosty the Snowman
    • Hark! Harold the Angel Sings
    • I Saw Mommy Riding Santa Claus
    • Jesus Christ is Coming to Town
    • Jingle Bells (I’m going to Hell)
    • King Herod was a Mental Man
    • Cum, Got a Faceful
    • Randolph the Brown-nosed Reindeer
    • Soylent Night
  • A Christmas Tweet

If you’re interested in buying the book, visit

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

In Retrospect

The audiobook of The MisreadBible: Genesis has been submitted for retail approval, and it should be available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes within a couple of weeks. Joshua Saxon did a stellar job narrating it, and I’m extremely happy with the result. I’m very excited to be able to share this with you.

At this stage, I am able to look back and reflect on the experience. What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What will I do differently? It’s been a great learning experience.

I’d heard a lot of authors harp on about the importance of proofreading, but I went into the process thinking, ‘I worked as a copyeditor; surely I’ll be able to do it all myself,’ and I was eager to finally publish. I tried my damnedest to catch every error in my book. I used the built-in spelling and grammar check, I used Grammarly, I re-read each chapter until my eyes were bleary, and I used text-to-speech software so that I could listen to it…

After the proof copy had arrived, and I’d read it and approved it, I gave the book to my sister who opened it and found a mistake in the dedication: ‘You’re no longer with us, but your guidance gave my life a foundation without which this book would not possible.’ The word ‘be’ was missing. Oops. There may be copies of my book out there that include this error.

So, it cannot be stressed enough how vital it is to thoroughly proofread yourself and to find others to do it for you. You may think you’ve gone over your book with a fine-tooth comb, but it’s easy for mistakes to slip through the cracks.

Producing the audiobook was an experience in itself. I thought it was just a case of sending Joshua a copy of the book, and he’d do the rest. It’s not that simple.

For starters, in a book of fiction, there are many different characters, and they all need voices. Joshua and I had to agree on what type of voice and accent to give each of the main characters. Another issue is that there are character and place names that the narrator may not be familiar with. The Bible especially has all kinds of weird names in it. Joshua actually cursed me for writing ‘Whatever Became of Esau?’ (luckily, we’re both atheists, so it didn’t take).

After Joshua had recorded hours of material, it felt awful to tell him, ‘You know that name that you’ve used dozens of times? I’d actually like it to be pronounced this way,’ and have him re-record whole sections of the book. To his credit, Joshua took it all in his stride.

Now I’ve researched writing audiobook scripts, and for the next book, A MisreadBible Christmas, I’ve begun preparing a script with pronunciation and performance notes to make the whole process easier for Joshua. The more information he has before recording, the less likely it is that I’m going to ask him to re-record. He works really hard on all the books he narrates, and giving him extra work on top of that is pretty shitty. If I want the audiobook to be a certain way, it’s up to me to put in the work.

Another thing I learned about that I feel is worth mentioning is promotion. I didn’t give it enough thought before I published, and as a result, some of the promotional material I produced afterwards was written in a panicked hurry. For the next book, I’m preparing things ahead of time. I’m writing the synopsis I want to use in various online shops, preparing templates to use for various covering letters, writing a document containing all the information that book sites require, and compiling a list of people to contact.

Hopefully, the process of producing the next book will be smoother, and the next one will be smoother still.