Category Archives: Professionalism

Strategies for Success

The Complete Writer
Section VII: Publishers and Self-Publishers

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. You also can find links to the chapters that have appeared so far at our special page for The Complete Writer. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

[42]

Strategies for Success

Now that I know what I’ve learned from experience in the self-publishing game, if I were to start Plain & Simple Press or Camptown Races Press anew, here is what I would do today that I did not do when I started the enterprise.

Hire an experienced marketer with a proven track record—up front

A marketing person would be my first hire. That is where I would put most of my start-up money, and it’s also where I would invest the most effort in recruiting and personnel assessment. I would hire this person before doing anything else.

The woods are full of people who will tell you they can market books. Most of them haven’t the faintest. Some are so hungry, they will lie just to get the job, saying they understand how to engage this or that tool to attract readers and sell books. In addition, a lot of popular ideas about what strategies work are simply wrong, or are outdated.

Where do you find a paragon among book marketers? Ask everyone you can think of, in and out of book publishing.

Track down authors whose books resemble yours and that are selling well. Send each author an inquiry asking if they can recommend their marketer. Most will not respond, so you’ll need to send out quite a few queries. But sooner or later you’ll probably find someone who will refer you to their marketing agent.

Contact the local Public Relations Society of America chapter. This group’s members are working professionals in marketing and public relations. They have a jobs board and invite job postings from prospective employers.[30] Be prepared to budget some money to post an ad and to hire someone for a gig that lasts long enough to produce results.

If there’s a publishers’ association in your state, along the lines of the New Mexico Book Association,[31] attend a meeting and ask members for suggestions. Many of these groups are very active and include publishers and authors with successful track records.

Attend regional and national book fairs. Network actively and inquire among the people you meet to see if anyone can refer you to a good marketing agent.

Attend regional and national writers’ conferences. The larger, better established ones attract New York literary agents. These people do know effective marketers. They may (or may not) refer you. Nothing ventured: while you’re there, you can also ask authors who seem successful.

Budget a substantial amount of money to pay for marketing services and campaigns, which should begin before the book is published. In retrospect, it’s clear this is where the largest share of a publisher’s or author’s budget should go.

Hire a virtual assistant to handle the social media time suck.

Although the effectiveness of social media marketing is, in my opinion, questionable, it cannot be neglected. And it is very time-consuming.

This is another task to which I would dedicate a fair slab of the budget.

You or an assistant should write blog posts every day having to do with subjects related to your books or your readers’ interests. Each of these needs to be optimized for and posted at Pinterest, and then you need to post each one at Facebook groups, on your Facebook business page and on your personal Facebook timeline, at Goodreads, on Twitter, at Google+, and to the extent appropriate, at LinkedIn.

Exclusive of the blogging, which you should be doing anyway, the ditzy social media tasks can easily soak up two hours a day. That’s two hours when you’re not writing, two hours that you’re not out on the town networking, two hours that you’re glued to the computer unable to exercise or take care of your family or read or think or do anything else. And two hours is a conservative estimate.

Unless you truly love passing your time on social media, hire someone else to do this stuff.

Crowd-fund or take out a business loan to pay these contractors.

It’s always better to use someone else’s money than to throw your own down the drain. Platforms such as Kickstarter,[32] Publishizer,[33] and Unbound[34] help fund and market your publishing project. Obviously, you have to share the revenues. But these outfits can generate revenues: a share of something is a lot better than a share of nothing.

Some such organizations function like publishers, but they seem to be more flexible in terms of the kinds of books they’ll chance their money on.

Put books on Ingram right away.

Ingram provides distribution services needed to circulate books to retailers, educators, and libraries. It offers a wide variety of marketing and fulfillment services, as well as a partnership with CreateSpace, a PoD service whose reviews are mixed but which is internationally known.

I would not use Ingram’s CreateSpace for printing, because I want more control over that process than you can get by working through a gigantic faceless corporation that outsources its jobs overseas. However, I would get my books into their distribution system as quickly as possible.

Focus on person-to-person and business-to-business marketing

Early on, I discovered that the 30 Days/4 Months diet plan and cookbook sold easily and in gay abandon when I talked it up to groups in person. Campaigns to sell it on social media generate plenty of “likes” but not many sales.

Acquaintances made in writers’ and publishers’ groups report similar experiences. Almost everyone who is making any money on their books will tell you that speaking in front of groups and arranging author-signings and bookstore presentations sells more books than any amount of virtual jawing on social media.

The next stage of my marketing campaign will be heavy on presentations and in-person networking. If I could have started out knowing then what I know now, I would have hit the ground with personal presentations, radio talk-show interviews, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

Set a Target Income and Ignore All Other Metrics

No amount of “awards” or “Amazon Best-Seller” ego-stroking status changes the real measure of a business’s success: the bottom line.

At the outset, decide how much you believe your book sales should earn: $NNN per year.

Keep accurate records of your income and expenses, in Quickbooks, Mint, Excel, or a similar tool. Nothing else matters in terms of your book’s success. Many “Amazon best-sellers” earn next to nothing for their authors, and many books that do not appear in Amazon’s specious best-seller categories earn well. Pay attention to this fact.

No other device works as well to make you scam-proof.

[1] https://www.loc.gov/publish/cip/

[2] Here’s a good place to start: https://www.the-bookdesigner.com/2010/03/cip-what-it-means-how-to-read-it-who-should-get-it/

[3] http://www.bowker.com/

[4]http://www.creativindiecovers.com/free-online-isbn-barcode-generator/

[5]https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?ie=UTF8&topicID=200650270

[6] http://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/

[7] https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323

[8] http://www.bowker.com/

[9] http://www.creativindiecovers.com/free-online-isbn-barcode-generator/

[10] https://www.smashwords.com/list

[11] https://www.fiverr.com/

[12] http://online.brescia.edu/graphic-design-news/7-prominent-graphic-design-associations/

[13] http://www.thecopyeditorsdesk.com/contact/

[14]http://writeablogpeoplewillread.com/about-this-course/?hop=phxgirl

[15] goodreadsucks.com

[16]http://www.salon.com/2014/10/21/battle_of_the_trolls_kathleen_hale_reveals_the_war_raging_between_authors_and_readers/

[17]http://www.victoriastrauss.com/2014/07/18/on-trolls-and-fake-bad-reviews/

[18] http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-automate-your-tweets-3-useful-twitter-apps/

[19] http://www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/how-to-automatically-send-tweet-when-you-publish-a-new-post-in-wordpress/

[20] http://www.pinterestforbloggers.net/

[21] http://www.networkedblogs.com/

[22] http://mailchimp.com/

[23] Victoria Strauss, “Awards Profiteers: How Writers Can Recognize and Avoid Them,” June 9, 1915. Writer Beware. http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2015/06/awards-profiteers-how-writers-can.html . In late 2016, the Writer Beware blogsite remains at http://accrispin.blogspot.com/. Don’t miss this valuable resource.

[24] “Confession: I’m a #1 Best-Selling Author…and a Nanny,” July 18, 2016. http://thefinancialdiet.com/confession-im-1-bestselling-author-nanny/

[25] Rachel Deahl, “New Guild Survey Reveals Majority of Authors Earn below Poverty Line,” September 11, 2015. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/68008-new-guild-survey-reveals-majority-of-authors-earn-below-poverty-line.html

[26] “ February 2016 Author Earnings Report: Amazon’s e-book, Print, and Audio Sales,” http://authorearnings.com/report/february-2016-author-earnings-report/

[27] Jay Yarow. “How Many Kindle Books Has Amazon Sold? About 22 Million This Year,” July 20, 2010, Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/sorry-amazon-kindle-e-books-outselling-hardcovers-isnt-that-impressive-2010-7

[28] Claude Forthomme, “Only 40 Self-Published Authors Are a Success, Says Amazon,” February 7, 2016, Claude Forthomme-Nougat’s Blog, https://claudenougat.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/only-40-self-published-authors-are-a-success-says-amazon/

[29] Jennifer McCartney, “Self-Publishing Preview, 2016,” Publisher’s Weekly, https://claudenougat.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/only-40-self-published-authors-are-a-success-says-amazon/

[30]http://www.prsa.org/Jobcenter/employers/products_pricing/intern_entry_level_freelance/

[31] http://www.nmbookassociation.org/about-nmba/

[32] https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/publishing

[33] https://publishizer.com/

[34] https://unbound.com/

Scams for Every Writer

The Complete Writer
Section VII: Publishers and Self-Publishers

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. You also can find links to the chapters that have appeared so far at our special page for The Complete Writer. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

[41]

Scams for Every Writer

Plus ça change . . . As a young journalist and book author, I was often invited to speak at writers’ conferences. There I first observed that people who yearned more than anything on this earth to be Writers with a Capital W were subject to the most astonishing scams.

In those days, it was harder to get yourself published. Still, if you couldn’t persuade a publishing house to take you on, you could pay a vanity press to print up your golden words, which would make you feel entitled to go around calling yourself a Writer. The fee was hefty.

There were various fake literary agencies, too, that would charge you a “reading fee” to tell you how brilliant your undistinguished novel was. Here a scam, there a scam, everywhere another scam.

But now, when anyone can “publish” by posting whatever they please on Amazon, publishing itself is a kind of scam. And it breeds scamlets as cats breed kittens. The entire book industry is overrun with scams.

The ego gratification game

At lunch the other day, a dear and talented friend, self-publisher of an urban fantasy that’s been getting good reviews and selling reasonably well, reported that she’d found a place where you could sign up to get free reviews. And hallelujah, sister! You could enter your gilded book in a CONTEST! For a small fee . . . Reader’s Favorite, said she: one of her friends won first place in his book’s category. So worth it!

ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding

The old scam alarm went off inside the head. Where had I heard about writer’s contests with big prizes and prestige that cost just a few bucks to enter your book? Yeah . . . that one is old as the hills.

A little snooping around on Google, that treasure chest for cynics, brought up a rumination from Writer Beware,[23] one of my favorite no-bullshit sites. As you might expect from a hustle that’s been around for so many years, there’s now a vast array of “contests” that will put you in the running for “awards,” in exchange for fees. Once you’ve won a Reader’s Favorite “award,” you get to spend more money flying to Florida, and you’ll have even more opportunities to spend money on any number of bits and pieces of merchandise.

These profiteering “contests” are only one of many types of grift aimed at wannabe writers.

Really, e-book publishing itself is exactly that: a form of vanity press that looks like it’s free but is not.

Back in the Day, my feeling was that if you couldn’t persuade someone else to publish a book, it likely wasn’t worth publishing. Never would I have paid somebody to publish something I wrote: people paid me to write, not the other way around.

That, you see, is the definition of a professional writer.

The self-publishing grift

Today the landscape has changed—publishing has been “disrupted,” we’re told. But how much has it changed? That still remains to be seen.

Out of curiosity, I decided to try self-publishing on Amazon and waypoints. It’s free, after all. In a way.

But it’s not free, because publishing and marketing, when you get right down to it, are publishing and marketing.

If you have half a brain and no real-world publications experience, you will hire an editor to advise on your book’s quality and to copyedit, and you’ll hire a graphic artist to design your cover.

Editors cost money. Graphic artists cost money.

If you’re not very techie or if your book contains even slightly more complexity than a table of contents and a few chapter headings, you will need to hire an e-book formatter.

E-book formatting costs money.

If you wish to publish your book in print, you will need the graphic artist to redesign your cover to accommodate a back cover and spine.

Graphic artists cost money . . . again.

And you will need a graphic artist or a professionally designed template to lay out the interior content.

Graphic artists cost money . . . again.

Alternatively, book layout templates cost money.

Then you will need to print the thing.

Printers cost money.

Once you’ve “published” the book (“posting” is probably le mot juste), you need to sell it. That means you need to let the world know it exists, through advertising, social media marketing, consignment, and face-to-face pitches.

Advertising costs money.

Navigating the shoals of the intricate and by and large opaque social media platforms requires a professional.

Professional social media marketers cost money.

Persuading retailers—especially bookstores—to carry your book costs money.

Amazon as scam

One could argue that, for most authors, the whole publishing industry is a bit of a scam, at least for those who don’t understand their real occupation will not be “author” but “ad copy hack and self-employed marketer.” That’s most egregiously true for people who style themselves “indie authors” and self-publish on Amazon.

Case in point: a report from Laura Jane Williams over at The Financial Diet.[24] She shares some straight talk about the economic facts of life enjoyed by a number-one best-selling author—that would be one published through a real publisher that pays a real advance (yea verily, a Big Four publisher). Without going into detail, let’s just note that she’s trying to support herself as a part-time nanny.

Very few writers ever make earn a living at their craft. Publisher’s Weekly, the sine qua non of trade journals for the publishing industry, reports that most authors’ earnings fall below the poverty line,[25] and what is more, author income has been dropping since 2008.

Authorearnings.com reports optimistically that 1,340 writers earn over $100,000 a year,[26] and half of those are indies. This revelation is extracted from a mind-numbing aggregation of data gleaned from Amazon. AE claims, probably correctly, that the share of the market for books sold on Amazon is increasingly going to independent (i.e., self-) publishers. This is no doubt true: publishing on Amazon is the hot new thing to do. But that you are in a market does not mean you’re making any money in the market.

1,340 authors

Let’s think about that. It’s not very many, when you consider that Amazon has 14 million books online. If half of those six-figure writers are indies, then only 670 writers in the whole world are making a credibly good living at their trade.

Amazon sold 22 million copies of Kindle books alone in 2010.[27] Imagine. How many authors are required to produce 22 million sales?

Amazon itself deems only forty self-published authors “successful.”[28]

Between Amazon’s price-fixing practices and the enormous saturation of the book market, independent publishers and all authors face daunting challenges.[29] Getting a self-published book on the shelves of a real, physical store is not easy. The other day I learned that the pre-eminent independent bookstore in my state charges indie authors $300 for shelf space—and I can assure you, your chance of selling $300 worth of books there is almost nil. By and large, sources through which real-world bookstores order their stock do not carry self-published books. You can get access through IndieReader and Ingram Spark . . . assuming you can afford to pay for it. Additionally, attracting media coverage from recognized mainstream newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters is extremely difficult: indie authors just don’t get no respect.

I’m often told that instead of clinging to my pessimistic view of life—the view from which one is never disappointed—I should try to be an optimist.

The optimist, then, would say about those forty “successful” authors, Why shouldn’t I be one of those?

But I can’t get past the realist’s challenge: Why should I?

 

The Complete Writer: Get to Know a Style Manual *FREE READ*

Chapter 11
Get to Know a Style Manual

The Complete Writer:
The Ultimate Guide to Writing, Publishing, and Leading the Writer’s Life

Even if you hire a professional editor—which you should, if you’re self-publishing and want your writing to look professional—you still should familiarize yourself with the style manual relevant to your type of writing.

The standards are The Chicago Manual of Style, the American Psychological Association Style Manual, the Associated Press Style-book, and Modern Language Association style, outlined in the MLA Handbook. There are also specialized style manuals for the sciences and the professions, among them the American Medical Association Manual of Style; The Blue-book: A Uniform System of Citation and the Association of Legal Writing Directors Citation Manual; and the Council of Science Editors’ Scientific Style and Format. There are others.

Each of these serves a different purpose and a different market. Chicago, for example, is the standard for the book publishing industry. Almost all publishers of fiction and nonfiction follow Chicago style. APA (American Psychological Association) is used by writers in business, education, psychology, and the social sciences and is the standard for scholarly journals in those disciplines. MLA style is used almost exclusively by journals in English and foreign languages; most college students learn to use it because research writing is taught in freshman composition courses, which are based in English departments and taught by English faculty. AP (Associated Press) style is used by newspapers, magazines, and public relations professionals. And obviously, AMA, Blue-book, and CSE style are used by doctors, lawyers, and scientists. AP is not APA is not MLA is not AMA . . .

They’re all different from each other!

For that reason, the MLA style you learned in college will not suffice for the book you hope to self-publish. Nor will it do for a manuscript to be submitted to a traditional publisher, since typesetting and formatting are now foisted on the author: your book will be typeset from the manuscript you submitted, and so your copy will need to be correctly formatted, no matter who publishes it.

Consider a passage describing research done by the eminent Professor Boxankle. APA style would format first the passage and then the reference to its source like this:

Content:
Boxankle (2017) found that the salinity of water in which baskets were woven “is the critical factor in determining outcome” (p. 143).

Reference Section

Boxankle, O. Q. (2017). “Underwater basketweaving: Key components for success.” Journal of Comparative Basketry 11(2), 140–50.

In Chicago’s author-date system, the same information would look like this:

Content:
Oliver Boxankle (2017) found that the salinity of water in which baskets were woven “is the critical factor in determining outcome” (143).

Reference Section

Boxankle, Oliver Q. 2017. “Underwater Basketweaving: Key Components for Success.” Journal of Comparative Basketry 11 (January): 140–50.

Chicago’s notes-and-bibliography system would elicit these:

Content:
In a 2017 study, Oliver Boxankle found that the salinity of water in which baskets were woven “is the critical factor in determining outcome.”3

Footnote:

  1. Oliver Q. Boxankle, “Underwater Basketweaving: Key Components for Success,” Journal of Comparative Basketry 11 no. 4 (2017): 140–50.

Alternatively, after the first reference or if the full references were listed in a bibliography at the end:

Second end- or footnote:

  1. Boxankle, p. 143

And that, let me re-emphasize, is from just two of the many manuals in use.

Few authors come to know these manuals in exquisite detail—research and writing are quite enough to take up one’s time and attention. That’s why authors and publishers hire copyeditors.

However, it’s wise to have at least a working knowledge of the manual your publisher wants you to use. First, obviously an acquisitions editor will be more impressed by a manuscript that looks reasonably clean than by an amateur production.

Second and less obvious is that a sincere effort at formatting your work according to the desired style can save you money. Editors set their rates to account for the difficulty of the job.

Some editors charge by the hour. Clearly, a task that takes six hours because the editor has to do extensive reformatting will cost you more than a job that takes four.

Others charge a page rate based on the editor’s estimate of the copy’s difficulty. This is especially true if English is your second language, since the challenge of editing ESL copy varies wildly according to the author’s facility with the language. My rates, for example, range from $4.50 to $15 per page. If the client asks for an hourly rate (some business executives prefer this), it will range upwards of $40 an hour, depending on how complex and demanding the job will be.

So, even though you needn’t be an expert in every style manual on the market, it’s in your interest to build a working acquaintance with the manual your publisher uses. If you’re self-publishing, get a current edition of the Chicago Manual and use it.

 

Writers: Please Don’t Do These Things…

New client emailed that the author of one article accepted for her employer’s latest anthology (employer is an academic press) has entered a section break at the bottom of every page.

Understand, these articles run upwards of 35 pages.

Not only that, but he entered random paragraph breaks all over the  place — in the middle of grafs.

Before she can send it to us for copyediting and documentation formatting, she has to go through the entire damn thing and remove every section break and every irrational paragraph break; then go through and correct the paragraph formatting and presumably try to figure out what the correct pagination is supposed to be.

Dollars do donuts the guy entered those section breaks in an attempt to force do-it-yourself footnotes to fit at the bottom of the pages. If so, when she deletes them, she will generate a Mess for the Ages.

Why do people do that? And who can second-guess such silliness?

Don’t enter wacky commands in Word. If you don’t know how to make Word do what you want it to do, either take a course in using Word or hire someone who does know how to use Word.

Please, dear authors…

Don’t…

Enter superscript letters and try to manually stick footnotes at the bottom of the page or at the end of the MS as endnotes.

Do…

Use Word’s footnoting function: Insert > Footnote
This function will allow you to select footnotes or endnotes, as desired.

footnote

Don’t…

Enter a hard tab (i.e., press the tab key) at the beginning of every paragraph.

Do…

Format your paragraphs so the first line is automatically indented: Format > Paragraph > Special. In this menu, select “First Line.” Word will default to indent 1/2 inch, but you can change that if you wish  (in the pulldown menu next to “First Line” that says “By…”).

Don’t…

Create hanging indents in your References section by hitting a the return key at the end of each line and hitting the tab key at the beginning of each subsequent line.

hangingindent

Do…

Select “hanging indent”  in Word’s paragraph formatting function: Format > Paragraph > Indents and Spacing > Special > hanging.

functionhangingindent

Don’t…

Hit the space bar twice after every period, question mark, exclamation point, colon, or anything else you can dream up.

Do…

Enter one (1) space after punctuation. A word processor is not a typewriter; with word processors we only enter a single space after all those punctuation marks. Typewriters used nonproportional spacing, and typists learned to enter two spaces after periods and the like to make it easier to see the ends and beginnings of sentences. Word processors allow you to typeset copy; typesetting does not place two spaces after punctuation.

Don’t…

Don’t EVER hit the “space” bar over and over to enter an indent, either at the beginning of a paragraph or to line up numbers in a column.

indent

If you do this, I personally will wring your neck.

And Don’t…

Use the space key or the space and tab keys to line up numbers or blocks of copy in columns or on a page.

No attempt to align numbers

list-2Attempt to align with spaces.
These will squirrel around…
Trust me!

Do…

Use the Table function to align numbers.

list-3Numbers & copy aligned in a table

list-4

How they’ll look in print
or with the table grid turned off.
These figures will stay put!

Don’t…

Use Turabian for your documentation unless specifically asked to do so by your publishers.

Some schools encourage students to use Turabian for theses and dissertations. Real publioshers do not use Turabian. They use MLA, APA, or Chicago style, or they use a style manual specific to their academic discipline.

Turabian, as Purdue notes, “follows the two CMS [Chicago Manual of Style] patterns of documentation but offers slight modifications suited to student texts.”

When you use Turabian, some wretched editor has to waste time searching out and correcting every one of those “slight modifications.” Please. Get it right to start with.

Do…

Determine what style manual your publisher uses and do likewise. If you’re an academic writer, buy the style manual appropriate to your discipline. If you contribute to or write books, buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. If you’re a wannabe magazine writer, buy a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook.

Whichever manual is appropriate to your job, use  it!

Don’t…

Include items in your “References” or “Works Cited” section that are not cited as sources in text. An article or book chapter is not a Ph.D. dissertation: you’re not trying to prove how widely read you are to some committee.

Do…

In your “References” or “Works Cited, include only the sources you’ve cited in the body of your text. If you want to include a complete bibliography in your book, don’t call it “References.” Try “Bibliography”or “Recommended Reading” instead.

One could go on and on. Unfortunately, though, I have work to do.  Please don’t make extra work for me! Learn to use your word processor as a word processor. If that’s beyond your ken or you just don’t have time to fiddle with it, hire a virtual assistant to type your final manuscript before submitting it to an editor.

Please. READ THE WRITER’S GUIDELINES!

What is the matter with people that they just flat REFUSE to follow instructions? Please. Don’t be one of “those” people. When a publication has writer’s guidelines, read the GD things. And while you’re at it, try to figure out how to abide by them.

Today I spent a good five hours trying to untangle an unholy mess a contributor to one of our clients’ scholarly journal made of her references section. Page on page on single-spaced page of references: one long, nauseating tangle.

This journal wants accepted papers formatted in Chicago author-date style. Apparently neither of the faculty editors looked carefully at the final copy before accepting Author’s final effort and filing on DropBox for us to clean up.

Chicago author-date looks superficially like APA style. But it is, most decidedly, not APA style.

Author’s “References” section looked superficially like Chicago author-date. But it was,  most decidedly, not Chicago author-date nor APA style.

The only way to describe it is as a kind of half-assed, bastardized version of APA.

Chicago does NOT set titles — any titles — c/lc (“sentence style”).

Chicago does NOT leave quote marks off article titles.

Chicago does NOT insert punctuation between the journal’s title and the volume & number.

No style manual known to Personkind uses two colons in the data for a journal’s volume, number, and inclusive pages. Nowhere does anyone write Wallbanger Quarterly, 26:14: 226-348.  Or better yet, Wallbanger Quarterly, 26:14: (Summer 2014) 226-348. W.T.F.?????

By the time I got about halfway through this endless aggravation, I had to get up and pour myself a bourbon and water. Well before that point, I was so fully launched into swearing and calling upon any number of deities to lay supernatural curses on Author’s head that the cleaning lady asked me if I was all right.

I asked if I could go into business with her, cleaning houses. She pretended not to understand enough English to respond to that one. But she did like the idea that we should both go to school to learn how to drive a forklift.

All of this happened after my associate editor and her underling had gone through the document, supposedly behind me. Because they saw some edits and comments left by one of the faculty editors (or possibly one of Author’s readers or peer reviewers), they jumped to the incorrect conclusion that I’d already edited the copy. No. I had formatted it in the journal’s template but left the edits to the sidekicks, whose skills amply rise to the job.

Going through this bitch absorbed a good five, maybe six hours of my $60-an-hour time that could have been spent editing the copy of a client who does pay my full rate. I charge a cut rate to non-profits, because The Copyeditor’s Desk is interested in supporting good works and because we know full well a scholarly publication can not, on a bet, afford our august services.

Five hours of my time comes to about $300, at my regular rate. That is over a quarter — almost half! — of what we are charging to prepare the entire book for typesetting. And I will have to pay my subcontractors part of that for the work they did on this misbegotten document.

FIVE HOURS taken away from a client who does happen to pay a fair market rate.

All because some bird-brained author couldn’t be bothered to read the writer’s guidelines. Or if she did, she couldn’t be bothered to go to the library to consult a hard-copy Chicago manual or spring for the modest fee to look at the damn thing online…or take the time to look at it for freaking FREE.

This is it. I’m telling Client that when authors submit sh*t like this, we are bouncing it back, and they can kindly tell their magnificent contributors to do the job right.

If you do not want a variety of deities raining curses on your head, dear scribbler, read the goddamn writer’s guidelines!