Last month, I had the pleasure of being the guest on a terrific radio show for authors: the Joy on Paper program hosted by PatZi Gil. PatZi was kind enough to invite me on the show to talk not only about my third novel Miles of Files, but also about my company, Sahno Publishing.
The conversation went well: we seemed to agree on everything, and PatZi even went so far as to emphasize the importance of the types of services I offer. It was the friendliest of interviews.
Afterwards, I began to reflect on it. I had to admit that the show brought up a few questions in my mind, and I wondered how I would answer some of these concerns. I’d talked about quality literature, my company slogan “Written to a Higher Standard,” and a bit about my challenges with editing and proofing 1,000 pages of my own material over the long, hot summer of 2015.
The questions that came up included the following:
• How do I recognize literary excellence?
• What happens during editing?
• What’s involved in formatting e-books, as opposed to paperbacks?
• What is an ISBN number, and why do I need it?
• How do I determine what is the best cover design for my book?
I’ve always trusted my own education and instincts to define literary excellence, but I had to admit, it was a little like Justice Stewart’s famous definition of obscenity: “I know it when I see it.” Maybe there was room for a more concrete answer in future discussions.
Much the same process occurred to me when I reflected on the editing process. I’d already worked for almost 15 years as a professional copywriter, editor and proofreader when I went through final edits of my own work…after paying for professional editing. I was editing the editor, making grueling choices to accept or reject changes line by line. How would I define such a process?
“Well, you correct the errors, and then you replace the good stuff with better stuff.”
“Uh, you make things clearer and easier for the reader, whilst striving to maintain the power of your prose.” Again, I had to admit, this was not easy to articulate.
The ISBN conversation was a little simpler. Wikipedia was quick to remind me that ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and defined it nicely as “a unique numeric commercial book identifier.” It also differentiated between ISBNs for e-book, paperback and hardcover editions, a conversation I have had more times than I care to remember.
Thinking about these concerns really brought me back to the experience of publishing my first three novels simultaneously – a Herculean task, and either brave/inventive/a brilliant marketing scheme or insane/crazy/weird, depending upon whom you ask – and I remembered why I started this company. I want to help others who are thinking about putting themselves through even 1/3 of the work I put myself through in 2015.
PatZi and I touched on this briefly during that hour-long radio program, but it was mostly pleasantries…in stark contrast to that long, hot summer when I was going it alone with these massive projects. I’m looking forward to helping authors who feel like they, too, know all about literary excellence, because they have reached for it, and found it on the pages in front of them.