I’m excited! So many thoughts and feelings related to bringing this book of letters out into the light of day, and I’ll be catching up on that in the next while. But for now, here is a photo of me, a proud mama of the first box of books!
Wow. It’s been a long time coming….. and now I’m so very happy to finally have the books in hand!
What’s this book about? Find out more at the website for the book: Letters: Shamcher Beorse and Carol Sill, 1974-1977
One of the last steps to take in putting your book together is the creation of the index, when all pages have been finalized. Just put together a little index, right? Not so fast…..
When your book is completed, or so you think, the index can appear to be an afterthought. But it is actually a valuable time-consuming work in itself which is an important component of your final book. There are amazingly skilled indexers who specialize in this task alone.
InDesign, for example, has a great indexing tool, but the intelligent portion of the work has to be done by hand, as each reference must be selected initially at least once in the text. It’s also a good practice to check and proof the additional referenced pages that InDesign automatically adds, as there is no need for duplicates of a single page reference.
I recommend that if you are self-publishing your book, prepare your index items yourself, as part of your manuscript. When doing so, you can not only save money on the task, but you can indicate some of the nicknames or shortened versions of the topics you’re including. A computer indexing layout program can’t know these subtle references and will only search for and select exact words. A flexible mind can create a tight and very useful index, better than any program can. A layout program can be used to define the index within the document itself, in preparation for publication, but is no substitute for your own intelligent mind.
I’ve been doing video for client blogs for some time now, and it’s been a wide range. Here are two clips from recent postings:
Alma Pasic, Mortgage Broker, on new mortgage opportunities for the self-employed.
Robert Meyer, Double Bassist, on conductors.
I’m working with a client to help organize a vast quantity of her previous materials, which include writings, presentations and workshops. There is no shortage of content to work with, and our challenge is to find the centre.
Together, we are defining the centre of the work which she has been doing over the years, which (despite its various aspects) is all grounded in her approach and expertise. Then there is another centre, which is perhaps a deeper and more meaningful one, which is the directive or result of this work to date, and how that work relates to her audience and her clients. What is the centre for them? How does her work define that as well? By finding both her centre within her materials, and the centre in her audience, we can define the two in the place where they match. Bingo! We have the centre of the whole work, and can proceed from there. All the materials then radiate from this centre.
This way of concept definition is a wonderful process in which discoveries made can help to redefine the work of decades. As a process for the client it is both empowering and satisfying, giving a clear direction for future efforts.
When a client comes to me with a project, I treat it with complete confidentiality. Even if we haven’t signed a non-disclosure agreement, you can rest assured that I won’t be talking about your great new idea to the next person I see, nor will I post anything about it on this blog without your permission.
So often we have good ideas that we feel are unique, only to find someone else is also incubating the same thought, or one so similar it is hard to believe there wasn’t some kind of “security breach”. I have had several cases of two potential clients showing me plans for projects that were remarkably similar, and both within the same week! This kind of synchronicity always amazes me, but still I keep the two projects separate in my mind, and do not disclose them to one another, let alone to the outside world.
In many cases, though, we can have synergy in similarity, as long as there isn’t direct competition for the same audience dollars. And outside the strict commercial realm, creative community can nurture ideas and grow them to fruition. Even if someone seems to be saying the same thing as you, remember that your take on it adds immeasurable personal value.
Our focus on personal publishing at Alpha Glyph is all about this very aspect of expression in these times, recognizing that personalized sorting and understanding does give greater meaning to any information. Sharing that personalized sorting is also what all the social networking buzz is all about. But once we settle down into understanding our role as human beings in this information age of rapid exchanges and 500 “friends”, we can see the value of the memoir, the meaning in the life story, the effect of creating lasting printed versions of our histories, our dreams and our work’s legacy.
What does all this have to do with confidentiality? We each have something unique to ourselves, something we do not want taken in an identity theft, nor in a copyright infringement. We each need the opportunity to produce our self-expression freely and without the fear that it will be taken and badly copied by someone who wants to illegally take credit for our ideas or our personal expression. Especially in the development stage, it is important to keep concepts confidential.
I’ve really enjoyed working with Robert Meyer on his Musical Reminiscences. A double bassist who worked with Britten, de Sabata, and many others, Meyer participated in much of the classical recording and performance that occurred in London after the war, until the 60s when he moved to Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. His newsy reminiscences are always interesting to me. How do I help him? I take the emails he sends me and help them become bloggable. Then I post them with links to relevant additional information. And I handle any spam issues.
We included his extensive discography which is introduced by a great article that really reveals the life of a working studio musician in London in those days. Through the blog Robert has been in contact with others, and has brought out even more stories than those he includes in his self-published book.
Check it out here.
A blog can really help when you are writing of a memoir, as it is episodic, and can be completed in stages, as it grows naturally. It seems easy, then the compiled blog postings can be edited together in book form. The people at Lulu have named this “the blook” – a book created from blog postings.
It’s all very well and good to encourage others to produce their own self-published books, and to coach them and help prepare their material, but it began to seem not quite fair to my clients unless I experienced the heights and depths of the process of self-publishing myself.
The experience has been truly valuable, both technically and emotionally. I chose to work with Lulu.com, and now have a little storefront on their site: Carol’s Special Interest Bookstore, that also includes some preview pages.
In future posts I’ll track the process of each of these more fully.
I’ve found that blogs are an excellent way to manage the content of digital archives, particularly while working on them. To wait until all material is digitized before presenting it is the old way of working. By digitizing and posting the material together, it is possible to get a sense of the body of work, and at the same time use the category functions to sort the material for the future. The posting has the added benefit of giving the material out to the community of interest.
Working with the archives of Shamcher (Bryn) Beorse has been richly rewarding but also very complex. His material stretches from energy and economics to yoga and sufism, with personal history in there somewhere as well. It has been difficult sorting the material according to category, as much of his writing, particularly in correspondence, was a mixture of his interests and approaches. Luckily, most of the materials in his archive are in print version, so that was relatively easy to manage, but there are still boxes and boxes of papers to be scanned and edited. He kept copies of all his typewritten correspondence, as well as various drafts of books and articles. Blogging this material as it is processed digitally means that there is a public record of his work, and aspects of the work can reach others now, rather than in years from now.
Of particular interest is OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion). For decades, he worked to have this energy generating system, which was first introduced in the 1920′s, adopted by US government and industry – despite the opposition from oil, coal and nuclear interests. Since posting of the archives, there has been interest in that work, and there is more opportunity for this material to see the light of day. Particularly in these times when clean environmentally benign energy sources are of prime importance, the OTEC thread of this archive is needed today.
An OTEC Plantship generates solar power from the sea
I really recommend using blogs to manage personal archives, such as this, and using the categories for your own sorting purposes, in addition to using them as tags in the usual sense.
Meet Carol Sill
Have you always wanted to write that book, but haven’t felt ready? Then you must connect with Carol Sill, founder of AlphaGlyph Publications Ltd.
A writer, educator and publisher, Sill helps writers and non-writers to get concept development, editorial, layout and printing help for their books. She has an extensive experience in production and distribution of media, including print, interactive and video, and applies this multimedia approach to the medium of print. As well, she also writes and manages many blogs for clients, including videoblogs.
Here Sill talks with us about her business, passions and purpose.
A Passion for Self-Expression
“Throughout my life I’ve always encouraged others to express themselves. From self-publishing early zines to encouraging women to use video to tell their stories, I developed a personal passion for all types of self-expression through media. I see the new media today and Web 2.0 (with Web 3.0 not far behind) as the perfect opportunity for anyone with a message to get it out there. And I’m very excited by the possibilities of the new Print on Demand technology to enable so many people to fulfill their dream of publishing a book.”
Her Big AHA! Moment
“When I was in the SFU Publishing Intensive Program I had a big AHA realization that all the technology and work that goes into book publishing could be seen as parallel to the film and video production process. The whole thing clicked in for me, updated my concepts of what publishing is and can be. I saw a way of bringing the sensibilities of all media back to print, to create lasting work in the most stable of storage media: the book.”
Bringing Out the Projects
“In starting Alpha Glyph, I was fortunate in that I had arrived in a place in my life and career where I could choose to work on projects that were important to me. I made the spiritually conscious decision to focus on bringing out the work and interests of my clients in much the same way as a midwife would bring her expertise to the birthing process. (This might give you some back-story to my tag-line: “21st Century books – from concept to delivery.”) Being in a position that allows me to enable clients’ work rather than select work for publication based on market influences has really freed me to follow this passion to bring out the compelling stories that need to be told, or the work of a lifetime finally gathered together for publication. ”
What Motivates Her
“I’m from the boomer generation, the people who wanted to change the world. I realized early on that the message via media is one way that minds are changed, and when we see the empowerment that comes from making your own statement, then the media is not just a communication vehicle, but a means of conversation and contact – with people, with ideas, with the potential for change. If even one person goes through the whole process, writes that book and gets it out there, then we have done our job.”
Secrets to Growing this Business
“Personal contact and going a good job are the ways this business flourishes: developing an excellent reputation. It is a one-to-one process which is unique to each client, and requires finesse, intelligence and a fundamental understanding of where the author wants to go with the book, in balance with what the book needs to reach its audience. There is no one secret to this process, but through our consistently solid and reliable presence the business grows.”
“It’s all about understanding, and each new client brings a new challenge. Flexibility, seeing from the client’s point of view is essential when applying my expertise to the work. Making self-published books that have the same production values as trade publications may mean challenging the preconceived ideas that an author may have. For example, it may not be such a good idea for the client who wants to reach a wider audience to put that cat photo on the cover. Each step along the way is a close negotiation.”
Words of Advice – On Making a Difference
“One of the best things you can do for yourself is to put together a legacy for those who come after you. The process of summing up your life can be incredibly liberating and can lead you to new directions you hadn’t imagined were possible. It can be in images, in words, or even in mementos.
“When your experience is consolidated into print, you can offer this to others in a way that can be lasting and influential.
“There is a great sense of satisfaction that will come to you from finally getting that book out into the world. Instead of keeping it suspended as a dream or a wish, you can make it a reality, and I’m here to help you do it.”
I’ve been working on this very interesting project with Tina McInerney, and it’s been quite a journey. You can see more on Tina and her work in her blog. We’ve just listed the book project (and accompanying presentations) with Give Meaning, which is a great innovative fundraising site for individual and independent worthwhile projects. If you wish to support the idea of the project, we first need 100 votes to make the project active. Just log in to Give Meaning and vote to add your name to the list of supporters.
Here it is: The Truth About Reading.
When I first met with Tina and we discussed reading and the whole process, I immediately connected to all my McLuhan study, and his anaysis of the effects of the alphabet on culture, civilization and the mind. Here was Tina telling me the same thing, from her own personal standpoint. In a flash, I “got it” and was very keen to partner with her and her organization, the Society for the Immediate Awareness of Alternative Learning.
This project is a fantastically meaningful and complex process. To help produce a book written by someone who couldn’t read, and whose experience in the regular school system was so very destructive of self-esteem is a poetic process, engaging my full being – more than simple book coaching and editorial. It is important that Tina express this for herself, and not that I “package” her expression based on my preconceived notions. It is a welcome challenge to the grip of the alphabetic mind, yet requires me to use that very mind to express experience that occurs beyond its limitations. So that’s fun! And the project is so very worthwhile, aiming to help kids and adults who have gone through what Tina’s been through. We have some dynamite sample pages that Tina has put together, with words and images from her school days.
And my McLuhan media study mind is reeling with how powerful the hegemony of the written word is: people who know Tina very well were very moved by what she had expressed. They actually said that they hadn’t really understood what she felt, until they read it! This applies to all writers and individuals who need to express themselves, the written word still communicates deeply aspects of inner life and interior experience that may never be known by others any other way.