End-of-Summer News: Goodreads, Self-Publishing Guide, and More

I’m not an early adopter. This week I finally “claimed” my books on Goodreads. Now that I’ve done it, I actually feel excited about the platform, unlike most social media platforms. It’s centered on books! Anyway, I set up my profile, turned on “Ask the Author,” and imported my blog. Here I am: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1439262.Emily_Buehler

the cover of Emily Croy Barker's bookI decided to start by reviewing a book I loved, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. I can’t remember how I ended up at Emily’s author reading back in 2013, or what her connection is to North Carolina (where the action starts), but I was so glad to have discovered the book. I was glad to support it on Goodreads, too, especially when I saw a few of the scathing, one-star reviews (which, IMHO, reflect more on the reviewer than the book). It was a good lesson for me, that there are always going to be readers who hate your book, and that I should keep working on developing the thick skin I’m going to need.

I don’t think I would slam another author’s book, no matter how much I hated it. I guess negative reviews are important, but for now at least, I’m going to review books I liked. I’m going to try to write a few each week, and to post them at Amazon as well. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile, knowing how important online reviews are to authors.

two versions of a block print of a chickadeeIn other news, my blog post about the class I took last July is now up on the Folk School blog: “Nothing Is As Expected in Printmaking Paradise.” The post deals with the unpredictable nature of print-making (and life!) and features a print I made of Scruffy.

The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) published my overview of how to self-publish a book with as little outside help as possible: DIY Self-Publishing: An Overview. You can buy it on Lulu.com as a print or e-book. There’s also a free version (here) that contains some of the information and is a good starting point. If you think you want to move ahead with self-publishing, the EFA version is better written and more detailed.

The Modernist Breadcrumbs podcast has begun. I still don’t have a date for my interview, but the bread-related podcasts are all listed here, with the newer ones on top:
http://heritageradionetwork.org/tag/bread/

Finally, I’ve been writing blog posts about writing, editing, and self-publishing. Since this blog is dedicated to personal news, I’m posting them on my editorial business website, here: http://www.emilyeditorial.com/blog/.

August News

It’s been a busy summer. I’m excited to have so many opportunities to edit and so many ideas for my writing, but sometimes I miss the days when summer meant slowing down.

Early in the summer, Alicia Stemper interviewed me for her Vitamin O blog, which highlights “the robust and wonderful people who make Orange County, North Carolina strong”! Her post is here: https://artsorange.org/vitamin-o-emily-buehler-bikes-bread-books/

Emily wearing eclipse glasses, sitting on a hay bale

Jessica and I watch the eclipse. Photo by Dane Summers.

I made my third trip to the Folk School for the eclipse, which was amazing. When totality came, we were sitting on the hay bales in the middle of the fields, with Venus overhead and the Davidson Hall barn swallows swooping about us. Read about it, here: https://blog.folkschool.org/2017/08/24/totality-brasstown-watching-eclipse-folk-school/

I’m teaching again in October (the class is full), with additional classes in January and June, 2018.

Then Conor O’Donovan interviewed me for the Modernist Breadcrumbs podcast, in anticipation of the arrival, this fall, of Modernist Bread. The series debuts on October 4 (not sure of my interview’s date yet), and you can hear the podcast here: http://heritageradionetwork.org/modernistbreadcrumbs/

I’m currently working on a series of sourdough-relayed bread articles for The Kitchn, also in anticipation of Modernist Bread. Amy Halloran and the Modernist Bread team will be doing posts as well. They’ll be posted in October.

Emily rides her bike while brandishing a baguette

Photo by Alicia Stemper

Writing about bread, and stumbling upon interesting new facts (like the different temperatures that bacteria and yeast thrive at, which can enable the baker to control the sourness of her sourdough), is making me want to delve back into bread research. Another game changer was finding out that through my William and Mary alumni association, I have online access to academic journals–I wouldn’t have to take the bus to UNC, where non-students are now limited to one hour of computer time. I might be able to revive Food Chem Blog! 

I’ve never had an interest in a second edition of Bread Science. I thought I had written everything I knew. I’m about to get more copies printed, and I had to open the Indesign file to make a few corrections (my email address and location). It was tempting to start copyediting the whole book–I didn’t even know about the Chicago Manual when I wrote it!–but each page that has changes adds additional cost to the printing. I shouldn’t start editing until I’m going to redo the whole book. And if I’m going to do that, I might think about adding new content. I wonder if there will be a second edition someday!

Summer News

Summer is in full swing, with enough news to report to warrant a blog post.

students in class holding bread

The class with some of our bread

In June, I taught my annual Science of Bread class at the Campbell Folk School. As usual, the students were inspiring in their love of bread and the recipes they tackled. I wrote a guest blog post about the class and the accompanying life lessons, which you can read here: https://blog.folkschool.org/2017/06/20/life-lessons-week-bread-class/

I’ll be unexpectedly teaching again at the Folk School this October, covering Carla’s “Baking Traditional Breads” class October 15–21. This is not my usual science-focused class, and I’m excited to practice some new recipes and to rework my usual lessons for a non-science audience. You can read more and register for the class here: https://classes.folkschool.org/class_details.aspx?pk=19971

Alicia Stemper, the author of Orange County’s Vitamin O blog, interviewed me for a post. Vitamin O highlights “the robust and wonderful people who make Orange County, North Carolina strong”! Her post is coming in August. Update: here it is!

view of river with picnic table

The view from my rental; sometimes I wrote at the picnic table!

This month, I created a writing retreat for myself by staying for four night’s in a friend’s rental cottage on the Niantic River in Connecticut. (I grew up just across the river, and was up that way to visit friends.) I also took the train, which provided many more hours with my laptop. With so much quiet time to write, I finished the revision of the draft of my romance novel, which I initially wrote during NaNoWriMo last November. Several friends are now reading the draft to provide feedback, and I am beginning to look into the world of romance writers and publishers.

dining room with big table

The dining room table, where I did most of my writing

And finally, the arrival of Modernist Bread is approaching! I was awed to see my name listed among the names of the other contributors, such big names in the bread world, in the Kitchen Arts and Letters newsletter. Read it here: http://kitchenartsandletters.com/bookstore/products-page/professional/modernist-bread-early-purchase-offer/

Book Launch Party

poster for book launch partyI’ve scheduled a book launch party for May 28 at 2 PM at Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough. If you’ve never been, it’s a very cozy spot. So far I’ve been unable to imagine what I will say, or which passage of Somewhere and Nowhere I will read, but I’m hoping it will become clear as the date nears.

This weekend I’m heading to Asheville to teach my annual “Beginning Kneading” class at the Asheville Bread Festival. I think tickets have sold out for the classes, but you can still come to the free bread showcase. I’ll have a table set up, although I’ll be away from it for an hour while I teach.

Otherwise, I have been super busy with writing and editing work! I’ve been revising the romance novel I wrote during Nanowrimo, and will soon be handing it over to my team of beta readers. If I do publish it, I’m thinking of using my middle name as a pen name: Jane Buehler sounds more like a romance author to me. The Editorial Freelancers Association’s publications committee selected my proposal as one of the booklets they’ll publish this year, so I’ve been writing The DIY Guide to Self-Publishing: An Overview. I wrote a test passage for the College Board and have had several academic papers to edit.

And I head to the Folk School on June 3! There are three spots left in the class. If you’re interested, there is more information here.

Somewhere and Nowhere

an open box of booksMy new book is here! Somewhere and Nowhere recounts my adventures riding my bike from New Jersey to Oregon with my friend Mary. Along the way, there were a lot of “life lessons” about balance and living in the present moment.

I began writing a few years after the trip, in 2008. First I wrote what I remembered, but this didn’t amount to much. Then I got out the trip log (in which I recorded our route, miles, and other data), my spottily kept journal, the maps (which we’d stared at multiple times each day), and the 2200 photographs Mary and I had taken. I began piecing all this together, and memories began to return. I wrote down everything, resulting in a first draft of 353,439 words.

big stack of papers

The original draft

I knew I wanted to write a story for others, though, so I began cutting material. This was easy at first: what I ate for lunch, random photos I took, and other dead-end material. I also knew the book should have a theme, but there were so many possibilities. Some, like “wherever you go, people are nice,” seemed too trite. Eventually, however, I realized that many of my ideas (such as, daydreaming too much is harmful, and, I repeatedly get stuck in the past, and, worry results from my mind inventing problems) were variations of one theme: it is better to live in the present moment. This book theme was also the current theme of my life, as I tried to be happier and let go of past problems. So the bike trip story merged with the learning that continued afterward. Once this happened, I was able to cut material that did not support the theme.

I worked with an editor who helped me see places that the manuscript could be better. Then I put it aside for a few years as I worked on starting an editing business and writing fiction. When I came back to it, I was able to see the writing differently, and rewrote passages with everything I had learned. Several friends acted as beta readers and gave feedback. I went over the manuscript so many times: on the screen, on printed pages, and reading aloud.

Then it just felt done. It was spring of 2016.

Ken with a pallet of book boxes

Ken delivers the books to my parents’ garage

I self-published Bread Science in 2006 because I could not get anyone to publish it. This time, I self-published because I did not want to sell the rights to my story. I also wanted to do the self-publishing process again; I had spotty notes from the first time, but I kept thorough notes this time so I could share them. So many steps come after the writing is done: choosing and scanning photos, creating a cover, and designing the book interior. I also spent months working on permissions: I read books on the subject and made a huge spreadsheet of all the copyrighted material in the book (which, I found out, includes artwork that I photographed), all the potential privacy issues (some of which existed even if I changed people’s names), and any other possible problem. I changed some passages to avoid issues and wrote to ask permission in other cases.

Mom holds up a book out of the box

Mom with the first book out of the box!

When the book was finally done, I uploaded it to my printer, Thomson-Shore. They only had to contact me three times with errors! This was much easier than in 2006, when I was rushing to the university library to use InDesign with the files on a USB drive (invented just in time!), and when the printer’s server didn’t have enough space for my giant book! The books arrived on April 3; my parents are still acting as the distribution office.

Since the books shipped from the printer, I’ve been filled with doubt. I consider how unimportant my story is—there are so many bigger problems in the world than my personal dilemmas. I worry that I should have gone over the text one last time, that it could have been better, that I’ve forgotten to change someone’s name or that my narrator is way too whiny and self-involved. But I already decided that Somewhere and Nowhere is a success to me even if it sells no copies because I learned so much while writing it. As I did on the bike trip so long ago, I am trying not to worry about it!

Books are for sale at http://www.twobluebooks.com/somewhere-and-nowhere/.

New Book Is Almost Here

proofs of Somewhere and NowhereThis week I received my proofs from the printer!

Other than the cover being a bit brighter than anticipated, they look like I hoped they would. But instead of being excited, I just feel mildly sick. Was I crazy to write such a personal memoir to share with the public? Have I failed to protect the privacy of anyone, in spite of how careful I was with details? Is it bad that I have no marketing plan?

Then I remembered that this was pretty much how I felt in the months leading up to the bike trip: Was I crazy? Had I forgotten something major? Was it foolish not to have more of a plan? And the bike trip turned out to be the most positive, life-changing undertaking of my life. So probably this book will turn out to be okay, too.

I have since decided to plan a book launch party. The library often hosts them, so I wouldn’t have to find a willing bookstore (which might be hard because the book is self-published), and I probably have enough friends who’d come that the room wouldn’t be awkwardly empty.

So stay tuned! The book should soon be here.

A Short Guide to Self-Publishing

I’ve finished the Short Guide to Self-Publishing that I first drafted ten years ago!

a sample of a sell sheetThe guide covers self-publishing a book without using a company or middleman to manage the process. You might choose to outsource a task to an expert (a copy editor or a cover designer, for example), and you’ll pay a printer to print and bind your books, but no one will be taking a cut of your sales.

Self-publishing this way is a lot of work, so I want interested parties to have an idea of what they’re be getting into, should they pursue it. I hope that the guide will help people who decide to do move forward with self-publishing avoid the mistakes I made.

You can download the guide for free here:

PDF: http://emilybuehler.com/wp-content/uploads/Guide-to-Self-Publishing.pdf
EPUB: https://gum.co/self-pub-EPUB
MOBI: https://gum.co/self-pub-MOBI

You can see all my guides here: http://emilybuehler.com/miscellany/how-to-guides/

DIY WriMo

chart showing word counts plotted for each dayNaNoWriMo in February?

I had a story idea this weekend, and I knew that if I waited until November, it might be gone. But without NaNoWriMo, I wondered, how would I stay on track?

I love the camaraderie of NaNoWriMo, but I realized that what keeps me going is the bar chart. So I made myself a chart to use. If you want to write 50,000 in 30 days (any 30 days you choose!) and a chart would help, download it here. (On my computer, when I click on the link, the file automatically downloads.)

Numbers (for Mac): http://emilybuehler.com/files/DIYWriMo-template.numbers

Excel: http://emilybuehler.com/wp-content/uploads/DIYWriMo-template.xlsx

First Time at AWP

Last week I attended the AWP (American Writers and Writing Programs) conference in Washington, DC. It was my first time at AWP, which was an overwhelming affair: six sessions each day with up to 35 choices, a monstrous book fair, evening meetups, and events throughout the city.

view inside the convention center

Inside the DC convention center

The first day, I attended all six sessions, each of which included a panel of four or five experts. The morning sessions were filled with practical information about how to land an agent, what it is like to have a book deal, what residencies are looking for in a writer, and how to give and receive feedback effectively. The afternoon sessions were less helpful: the panelists read essays they’d written on the subject, told personal stories, or read excerpts from their own books as examples. This was less interesting to me, or maybe I was just exhausted from the day’s nonstop activity.

While I gathered lots of information, I didn’t speak to a single person all day. The conference format, with only 15 minutes between sessions, made it hard. After each session, people would line up to speak to the panelists, who often included published authors, agents, editors at presses, and bookstore owners. While I would have welcomed an interaction, I didn’t have anything to pitch or a clear goal, so I didn’t join these lines. Late in the day, when I stepped into the book fair, I began to suspect that this was where the networking happened.

view from the convention center

The view at the quiet table where I had lunch on Day 2

I met a writer on the metro who’d spent the first two days navigating the book fair, pitching her book to presses she had selected ahead of time. This surprised me; I’d thought the presses were only there to sell books. I resolved to spend more time in the book fair. At first, it was hard: my natural aversion to talking to people, particularly people trying to sell me something, kicked in. Thankfully, I’d been tasked with bringing home pencils, so I forced myself to talk to anyone who had pencils at the table. I gradually came to understand the types of vendors in the book fair:

  • Small presses selling books and, apparently, looking for authors
  • Literary magazines selling subscriptions and looking for submissions
  • MFA programs, which include low-residency options
  • Residency programs, which include competitive programs that are sometimes free to attend, and programs that anyone can attend for a fee
  • Other: Groups for writers, groups of editors looking for writers, a service to help writers submit to literary magazines, and more
Emma Straub and Ann Patchett onstage during their event

Emma Straub and Ann Patchett with the moderator

I also spent one session listening to “a conversation with Emma Straub and Ann Patchett,” which was delightful. Both women are successful writers, and they talked about their lives, how they became writers, and which 2017 books they are looking forward to.

I had noticed that the conference seemed very academic: some sessions had super-specific titles or focused on teaching writing, and the assumption seemed to be that we writers were all writing literary works. (I had hoped to meet a romance novel publisher but didn’t see a single mention of romance!) I also noticed a dearth of information about self-publishing. This struck me because I’d heard panelists (including successfully published authors) talk about the disappointments of book deals, the number of good books that don’t get published and the luck involved in successfully publishing, and the inability to live off of one’s writing royalties, even as a successful author. On the third day, I encountered outright hostility toward self-publishers in one panel, where a bookstore owner who won’t work with self-publishers made the assumption that people self-publish only because they’ve failed to publish traditionally. I was happy to find some booths in the book fair, such as the Authors Guild, that supported self-publishing.

Attending the conference helped me see its possibilities. I hope to go next year, perhaps with a book to pitch to presses, or perhaps as a panelist discussing the trials and joys of self-publishing (one can dream!).

Book Is at the Printer!

Last week, I uploaded Somewhere and Nowhere to my printer’s website. If all goes well (and I’m really hoping I had everything formatted correctly), it should be here in a few weeks.

My dad is already at work designing ads for his Facebook feed. I found this one particularly amusing:

dad's ad for book with rocket launching

I’ll post again when the book is available. My next task is to reformat the book as an ebook!