Live, Learn, & Learn to Live with Disappointment

In my last two blog posts I talked about an upcoming radio interview I was doing, and how excited I was to soon be holding my self-published books in my hands. So much to look forward to! Life on the up-and-up and and all that.

Well here’s how those things turned out:

I showed up to the radio station, where I met up with my writer friend, M, who is the one organizing the open-mic/poetry event later this month where he asked me to be the featured performer. We were there to discuss the event with the radio host, and probably throw in some promotional material for our own writings, as well as the writing organizations we belong to and lead.

Or so we thought.

When we finally got into the studio (which was quite a hassle, as there were issues with elevators, parking passes, etc.) the host, R, was completely unprepared. Although he never came right out and said it, I’m 95% sure he forgot we were coming. We ended up spending about 45 non-recorded minutes talking about all sorts of very interesting things – our current city, our hometowns, a new podcast R is creating – which was all fine until R realized he was running late for a meeting and finally says, “I guess we should get down to business now. What should we discuss?” M and I looked at each other and then he says, “Well, there’s this event on the 28th that I want to promote.” And R says, “Kate do you have any short stories you’d like to read to promote that?” And I say, “Well, no, because the event on the 28th is a Christmas-themed event, so I only brought Christmas poems.”

The three of us go, not round and round because that implies our conversation had a path more or less, even if it looped back on itself. No, what we had was more like a bowl of spaghetti, each of us tugging on a noodle that was too tangled up with the other noodles to even begin to tell where it ended or who was pulling on which noodle. M and I thought our purpose for being there was quite clear, but R seemed to have two or three (I’m still not sure) other ideas.

But eventually someone asked me about why or how I started writing Christmas poetry, so I explained that I was inspired one year by my stepmother’s frantic preparations before hosting a party and couldn’t help but turn my awe into an ode to her. R asked if I would share that poem. It was not at all the poem I intended to read for the show, and in fact I had rehearsed four other poems to absolute perfection. But, thinking we still had plenty of time, I read aloud/stumbled through this old poem that I had written many years ago, and as soon as I was done, R hit the “Stop Recording” button, said thanks, and politely shooed us out of his office so he could attend his meeting. M and I walked out to the parking lot in a daze wondering where the miscommunication happened.

But R just sent me an email asking if I could come back next week for a second interview, so I guess it wasn’t a complete loss.

Moving along – all my books came yesterday! Five different books, including four children’s books and one adult humor book. I was SO excited when the UPS guy parked at my driveway and hopped out of his truck with that big old cardboard box in his hands. But when the box had been ripped apart and the books removed with the same love and excitement of Howard Carter emptying Tut’s tomb, that excitement waned a bit.

There were errors. Nothing so bad that I could open a service ticket and demand the publisher give me a refund, but just little annoying things that I *know* won’t happen again now that we know better. That’s why the title of this blog entry starts with “Live, Learn.”

In one of my children’s books, some text got too close to the bleed and was chopped off (that 1/16″ variance that’s mentioned in the caveat you have to agree to – it’s a LIBERAL 1/16″ variance.) In another, a crucial illustration got swallowed up by the gutter. In another, one illustration was too bold for the cheap paper and destroyed the illustration on the other side. And in another, many of my caucasian-skinned characters look like they have jaundice. Even though I illustrated in a CMYK profile (which is the color profile used by printers) and all my kids looked like they had functioning livers in the the proofs we were sent, somehow a few of them turned out with some seriously golden undertones.

I made many, many mistakes when illustrating and trying to format these first few books, and J made one or two. Unfortunately, Ingram Spark charges to made edits, but it’s an amount we can afford, thank goodness. And although we had hoped to begin selling the five copies of each book we’ve purchased, we’ve decided to give these slightly-flawed copies away to friends and family in exchange for reviews. We’ve already fixed all the flaws that we could and have ordered improved copies.

I’ve been working really hard this past week to illustrate another book and I just finished it up this morning. Then it’s on to another children’s book which I am illustrating myself, while John works to illustrate yet another one of my children’s books for me that I didn’t particularly want to take on. After all that, I’ve got about another dozen or so books that either need to be written, or illustrated, or both. 2023 is going to be such a big, busy, exciting year for me! I can’t wait!

(Ok, I totally feel that by typing that last part, I have now set myself up to be murdered at exactly 12:01 on January 1st.)

Also – if you are curious about my books, you can find my children’s picture books under my pen name Billie Bang, and my adult book(s) under my real name Kate Landers. Both are published under Vulgar Scullery Maid Publishing, LLC, which John and I established a few weeks ago and have been working super hard at. We’ve got big plans for VSM, so I’ll definitely be writing more about that in the future, too!