Thursday, March 3, 2011

Further adventures of 'Hang Fire'

Last week Hang Fire, the fourth in the Steve Martinez mystery series, came close to being sold to a British publisher who markets his wares in the United States. The deal-breaker was that he wanted a two-book contract, with the second book delivered within six months.

Unfortunately I can't write that fast. Two years, I said. Nope, he said. He needed to strike with the second book while the market was still hot. Or words to that effect.

So we parted with nice sentiments for each other. (He said he liked Hang Fire very much and was sorry we couldn't seal a deal.)

Yesterday Hang Fire was sent to one more publisher, and I have my fingers crossed.

It took quite a bit of work to reformat the manuscript for that new publisher. I had written it (as I had done the earlier novels) with, an excellent free word processor that reads and writes Microsoft Word files.

But the publisher's reformatting instructions are both complex and Word-oriented. I probably could have done the job with OpenOffice, but that would have meant really learning the program's command structure -- and I never had learned anything more than I needed to in order to produce a manuscript.

Stupid of me. Instead of inserting page breaks at the end of every chapter, as the new publisher demands, I had just hit the return key until I'd inserted blank lines enough to start a new chapter. (That will screw up the formatting every time you change to a different word processor.)

So I borrowed the Lady Friend's copy of Microsoft Word, imported the file, and did the reformatting. Took quite a while, especially since I also had to reformat all my em dashes (never put them within spaces!) and get rid of all tabs (which I had used to start new paragraphs).

The experience was highly instructive. No matter where Hang Fire ends up--with a publisher or self-published as an e-book--I won't have to do that sweaty stuff all over again.

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