Drawing by George Bellows
Practicing What I Preach
Something I’ve noticed about being a writer is that personal goals are never static.
When you get one publication, you want another one. When you beg, borrow or
steal to successfully persuade an entry-level publisher to accept your work, you
want a bigger publisher with greater name recognition for your next work.
My first chance at electronic publication came when I lived in Christchurch, New
Zealand roughly a year after New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake. My wife taught at
Canterbury University for a semester. I came along and had a great time. I came to
admire the resilience of the people even more than the beauty of the islands. I had
hoped and, to some extent expected, to find other writers at the university. I thought
there would be coffee shops with internet connection and that I would be able
meet New Zealand writers. My expectations were not met. Although I had a
remarkable time with the incomparable Lyn McConchie and attending the Ngaio
Marsh Awards, I wasn’t able to make other connections.
I did have hours of uninterrupted time, which allowed me to make mistake after
mistake in formatting for e-publishing. I have always been a jump-into-the deep-
end-to-learn-how-to-swim sort of person. I find theory especially helpful after I’ve
muddled through something on my own.
The only free internet connection I could find was at the local Mc Donald’s, a
short bus ride from where I lived. Libraries, which ordinarily had free internet
service, housed government agencies that aided survivors of the earthquake. While I
visited Christchurch the last group of people made homeless by the quake
moved out of temporary shelter into more permanent homes. Sewer systems
were in the process of repair and houses were still being evaluated in terms
of which could eventually be rebuilt and which had to be abandoned.
The government focused on re-establishing basic services, transportation and repair
of essential buildings like hospitals. I have to admit reconstructing internet cafes
and the faculty gathering place wouldn’t have been my highest priority either.
Under those circumstances I ordered kiwi burgers (fried egg and beet root on a
hamburger) as I eventually worked my words into Smashwords and Kindle. I was
working, “without a net.” The only help I could access easily was the assistance
offered by Smashwords and Kindle. At that time I was proud of what I had done.
But that was then. I have been telling writers early in their careers not to publish
books that are not yet ready for prime time. My formatting was definitely less than
prime time. I finally decided to take my own advice. So I contacted Maureen Cutajar
whose formatting skills are much better than mine (whose aren’t?) She
reformatted them. I can recommend her services highly at
http://www.gopublished.com/ She was helpful, responsive and her charges were
Now, finally, if you download my books, you can read them easily. I don’t have my
mistakes hanging around my neck like an albatross.