On going to press today: Ethnic Knitting Exploration

posted in: Books, Knitting, Publishing, Serendipity | 10

I wasn't sure the book in the FedEx package below was ever going to go to press.

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Between computer problems and a few other complications, its schedule kept getting hammered. Except for the glitches, and the subsequent financial challenges, it's been ready for the printer since late last summer. 

And now, finally, inside the envelope is the book that will have this cover when it's finished:

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Next to the package in the first image is this book's older sibling, Ethnic Knitting Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and The Andes, which was released in October 2007.

Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland was supposed to have been published in October 2008, but that date had to be set long before the computers started misbehaving (some of them still are). Both books are by Donna Druchunas, who's also written The Knitted Rug, Arctic Lace, and Kitty Knits . . . so far.

I can't wait to see Ethnic Knitting Exploration as a bound and finished book! It'll be about a month. That's the normal turnaround for books that are printed in North America. (It's being printed on Green Press Initiative-qualifying paper, of course.)

You wouldn't think several years' worth of work by a number of people would fit in such a small package (2 pounds 4 ounces, or about 1kg). The package is only as big as it is because I'm a traditionalist and still send a laser-printed copy of the pages to the printer. Now that the workflow is almost entirely PDF-based, the printout is not essential. Yet I never quite trust doing a final check of the PDF files on a screen. I want to know the book prints somewhere, even though the files have been built to work best on the specific printer's equipment. Some printers still appreciate receiving the printouts, too.

This printout doesn't look as good as usual. The printer's specs for the PDFs result in pages that look light when output to my laser. That's because the "real" printer uses different inks and paper, which means the fine lines "grow" a bit when reproduced through their system. Meanwhile, I'm anxious that some of the type won't show up right. My rational mind says it will. My irrational mind is panicking just a bit. You never know what a book will look like until you see the real thing. Especially since, in this case, the laser prints black-and-white only and the real book will print in two colors—K (also known as black) + 1 PMS (a custom-mixed spot color, in this case PMS 299).

In addition, in the long span of months since I sent the previous book to press (in August 2007), I've switched to recycled laser cartridges. For everyday work, they're terrific. However, they don't print as crisply as the brand-name variety, and at this point that matters. However, there's nothing to be done about the printout variability except to note that all the type and illustrations appear to be in the correct locations and to practice yogic breathing.

Meanwhile, I have (as is traditional for print runs) drained my bank account in yet another act of faith. I trust that this publishing stuff is worthwhile and that people will buy the books and the author and I will be able to continue to buy groceries and have places to live. In this case, the rational mind (which says "WHAT am I doing with my life?") needs to take a back seat to the irrational one (which says "keeping important knowledge from dying, and empowering contemporary knitters").

The day before yesterday, I had to use the power button to stop the computer from hanging while I was working on generating the book's printer-quality files and burning them to CD. I didn't do this just once. In fact, I lost track of how many times . . . probably five or six, maybe more. There comes a time when I choose not to keep the count going. Then, of course, I had to wait while it rebooted, and then check the job's progress and start over. . . . This is the "old" system (the one I bought last March, because I was having so many problems with the previous system). I hope and trust that the next book will come off the "new" system (the one I bought in November and am still learning how to use).

Inside the pack:

  • CD with files for cover and text
  • printout of all text pages
  • signed contract, with quantities circled and initialed, and special carton packing and labeling requirements highlighted
  • check for a significant chunk of money; unlike authors and publishers, printers get paid up front
  • instructions for how many books to ship to what locations when the job's done
  • copies of the distributor's requirements for carton labeling, pallet construction and packing, and shipment notification 

The next step is proofs, in about ten days. I could cut a week off the production cycle by forgoing proofs, but they're important to review. Problems do show up that can be fixed before thousands of copies are manufactured.

And then I've got four more books backed up behind this one, wanting my attention, wanting to get out into the world.

One at a time. That's what I can do. One at a time.

Upcoming blog tour for Ethnic Knitting Exploration

There will be a blog tour for Ethnic Knitting Exploration, likely in March. Want to be involved? Get in touch with me or Donna by February 8!

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Working to save our neighborhood coffee house (great tea and chai, too)

Our neighborhood coffee shop, Catalyst Coffee, is most likely going out of business. We've watched the business go through a series of events that would have been possible to weather in almost any other economy. The amount of money the staff needs to stay open isn't even all that much; it's just not available right now.

The owners and staff are facing the possibility/probability of closing with grace, and the regulars are hoping that a pile of small miracles will save Catalyst at the last minute (similar to the series of miracles that are sending Ethnic Knitting Exploration to press).

There's a celebration/fundraiser on Saturday. WIth luck, there'll be enough money by Monday to keep our home-away-from-home operating as usual. In any case, there'll be a party

I usually meet authors and illustrators at Catalyst, because with all the cartons of books my house isn't big enough for even a two-person meeting. My knitting group meets at Catalyst. My daughter and I frequently either walk the dogs or bike over there for a cup of tea or chai. We hope we continue to have our Catalyst. There are substitutes, but they are not nearby or adequate.

If you live locally and don't know about this and want to make a difference, there's a donation button on the Catalyst Coffee page. If you don't live locally but have a bit of spare change, this is the sort of place that you'd like to be able to visit when you're in our area and they'd appreciate your help in staying open so you can.

Having just sent a bunch of money to the printer, I'll be turning my pockets inside out and shaking out the couch cushions and looking under the seats in the car and finding out how much is in the piggy bank, and then taking a trip to Catalyst tomorrow to add my two bits (or more) to the collection.

It sort of feels like "put on our own oxygen mask before helping others." Then help others.

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10 Responses

  1. Dina

    I’m SO relieved for you but I know you’re not completely there yet. Not until you see the proofs, anyway. Congratulations on a long and complicated book-birthing.

    (That sounds weird but I’m told publishing a book is like having a baby, right?)

  2. Nancy

    Three cheers for today! I do so hope your proofs will be perfect! What a nice-sounding coffee shop. Wish I were closer. Hope you definitely get to celebrate tonight.

  3. Joanne

    Whew! Finally! What good news about the book. What a relief. I hope everything is easier from here on out. I also hope that Catalyst Coffee has its miracle. You deserve to have such a good neighborhood coffee joint…no matter what the economy.

  4. Cathy

    Oh boy, another book to add to my collection – congrats and breathe breathe breathe.

    And oh no re:Catalyst! I hate to hear this. I always think of Kristi and the knitters on Monday nights there. If only I lived close enough to be regular… CC gets a donation from me.

  5. gayle

    I think I can hear your sigh of relief all the way up here!
    You scared me with that skipping-proofs talk. The horror!

  6. Deborah Robson

    My daughter and I walked the dogs up to Catalyst yesterday and dropped some money into their piggy bank. I took the back-up bill from the hidden pocket in my wallet. She took her tips from one of her jobs.

    What we’ve heard so far about the fundraiser is: (1) They raised $3500. This is a HUGE help. (2) Two people have come forward as potential investors. and (3) They will probably close for a week to re-do their business plan and figure out what comes next.

    THEN we hope they re-open for the regulars as well as all the new folks who came in to say, “We just found you. You can’t stop now.”

    This reminds me of rent parties of the 1920s: even when none of us has much money, we can all keep going if we support each other. Especially best if we have parties while we’re doing it.

  7. Kris

    Oh frabjous joy! Oh glorious day! Happy! Happy! Happy! I’m going to order 3! Oh, yum! What fun for me and the folks I’m surprising with the books. Congratulations, bubble bath, great wine, a glorious foot massage, and at least virtual time on a beach with NO interruptions!

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