Making a Book Is Hard

I’ve talked a lot about my Wine for a Year project. I’ve posted a good number of pictures about it. I had thought I might do a book, so I wrote an intro to the project. And then, when I discovered that I had missed my window for a month-long exhibition, and the best I could get was a one-day exhibit, I decided I definitely needed to make it a book. As it turns out, making a book is incredibly challenging, and requires a great deal more help than I’ve ever asked for.

What I’ve learned so far is that while a book project can come together in three months, you’d do better to give yourself six, or a year. You have to make a layout idea, then you have to find a publisher, arrange cover art, arrange translations (assuming a two-language book), come up with a title, workshop that title, especially in the second language, work with the publisher on the layout, pay for the publishing (if it’s a small publisher and you’re not hugely famous already), get an ISBN, and advertise. And this is from my haphazard approach to everything. If you’re obsessive, or a planner…well, if you’re a planner, you’re already 10 steps ahead of me.

I picked up a full-time job, which actually helps in some ways. First, now I can pay for the book. If I make enough sales, I make the money back, and with even more sales, I might clear a small profit (except that doesn’t really include paying my own wages). Second, I have to concentrate my time much better. I get up at 5 am (instead of my usual, luxurious, 5:30) and check emails, work on whatever the most recent task is, and do those three other things that need doing.

Today’s big task, for example, is the Hungarian version of the title. I need to nail that sucker down, so I can get my cover artist the final, so he can send me the cover art, so I can get an ISBN, which I need to do before the book layout is finished, because it has to go on the title page. And the title hinges on one word. Do I include the Hungarian word for “one,” which also serves as an indefinite article, or do I leave it out? The difference is “Egy borral töltött év,” versus, “Borral töltött év.” The literal translation is “A with wine filled year,” versus, “With wine filled year,” though Hungarians will read either one as “Wine-Filled Year.” In the one with the article, it could be viewed as “with a single wine” or the reader could assume that I’m going for the collective noun. In the no-article version, it’s clear that it’s the collective noun. And it feels like it flows better, at least, to my deeply inexpert ears.

I also owe my publisher an email about something or other. I have to go back and find the email he wrote me, slam it through 1 x 10100‘s translator app, try to figure out what the translation actually means (’cause it’s always extremely weird) and then reply to him and a friend who’s working as my interpreter. It’s convoluted, and a pain in the ass. And I should wrap this up, so I can go do that.

So, the lesson is that for the next book, I should start working on the book long before I have the photography finished, especially if I have a defined time limit, due to the impending next move to an exotic locale.

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