Since this article appeared in 2008 on Red Room, further complications ensued with my first...and so far...only hardback sale. The publisher closed down the division shortly after the book appeared and the Encyclopedia disappeared from bookstores. The royalties were far less than all previous softcover books, despite the higher cover price. So be careful what you wish for! And do update your back-ups every few years.
Hardcover Headaches and Triumphs
My first hardcover book weighs 3 lbs according to the publisher's website. All I know is that it is my first book that's actually slightly bigger than my computer (I work on a laptop!).
The Encyclopedia of Collectible Children's Books was one of those projects that seemed really simple when it started and got slightly more complicated and then insanely more complicated as we went along.
Things that I learned along the way of putting together a book that was the "best" of four previous books on the topic (as well as multiple changes and additions to reflect the changing market of collectible books):
- Just because you have a back-up doesn't mean you can open the disks. The oldest disks from Book 1 were from the last decade and that version of our word processing software was not compatible with our current version.
- There is a reason for storing that old laptop in the basement. Using it, we were able to translate those elderly 20th century disks into a 21st-century version that could be opened by our current laptops. The fact that the oldest laptop screen would only come on in the "slightly open" position made it more interesting.
- Even through you check and doublecheck your copy, the gremlins will eat a paragraph or two. Somewhere during the final edit, I discovered a favorite Edwardian illustrator had vanished from the manuscript. Luckily the editor and designer #3 (designers #1 and #2 apparently fled screaming into the night) figured out how to shoehorn that information back into the books.
- No matter how carefully you plan, everything happens at once. I really, really didn't expect to have my first novel to go through final edits with the publisher as we were preparing the first draft of the Encyclopedia. I would have preferred a few more months apart -- and having a boss at my day job quit during the same period and increasing my hours at said day job: well that just added to hysteria.
- Working with an understanding writing partner is (as the commercial says) priceless. Thank heavens, we live in the same area code. Endless e-mails, phone calls, and she would make dinner when I'd come over to her house to read over the bluelines. Wow!