But Hey --- Since I'm "Here" (Illustrated!)

By the way: book update: The copyedits happened last month. Dealing with copyedits is my least favorite part of the production process, so I was glad to get that over.

Last week, I proofread the galley (what was my typed manuscript now formatted and laid out as it will appear in "print" with the fonts, the spacing, the page numbers, etc.) (NB: the images you see here include some technical, page-setting stuff that will NOT appear in the final book.)

Proofreading involves reading the entire manuscript, word by word, out loud, starting with the last word in the manuscript. (Because reading it from start to finish means the text makes sense and thus it's too easy to read quickly and miss a typo).

title page

This week is my favorite part of the production process: creating the index. For reasons that aren't clear to me, I'm a superb indexer. That's not a boast. Rather, it's a statement of weird, weird fact about me. Ask any writer of books and odds are that he/she will shudder at the idea of creating an index.

Not me. There's something about the process that I find satisfying and challenging and immensely creative. What can I say? I'm a sick twisted soul.


This part of the process is very much deadline-driven. Stuff MUST be completely on schedule. MUST. BE. So I've had my head down.

Once I send the index back to the production editor (most likely next Monday, July 15), I won't see my baby again until the UPS guy pulls up to my house in late September, early October with a box full of books. So this is it: The end of a seven-year process.


And yes, it ends not with a bang but a whimper. Of relief and a certain amount of sadness. BUT: I've got this idea in my head, one that's been rolling around in there for about a year and so on Monday after I hit "send," I'll be thinking about my next project.

It's something about . . . yoga and alternative technology and capitalism and craft beer and the 1970s and 1980s . . .  well, something like that . . . . We shall see!

The Title. The Jacket. The . . .

The Whatever. Okay. We've got a title and a jacket design. I'm not crazy about the title but it's not bad for a compromise. (*1)   According to Amazon, the book comes out in mid-November. For a non-famous person like me, that means it will be out in mid-October. (*2)

Anyway: here is a virtual representation of the real thing.

Jacket Design Final


*1: As I said in my previous post: Please do NOT bombard me with emails or comments about how I really need to leave the publishing Nazis behind and self-publish. I know the drill. I have my view; you have yours. Self-publishing is part of my future, but that's then. This is now. (Re. the "Nazis" term: One reason I don't read self-publishing blogs anymore is because those who have them tend to be, shall we say, supremely self-righteous. A blog entry on one of said sites described traditional editors/publishers as Nazis. Oooh, boy, did I not ever go back there again.)

*1: Every book has what is known as a "lay-down date," on which the book is released for sale. But those dates are only real for Very Famous Writers, for whom a Big Fuss will be made on that date. For the rest of us, however, the book lands in stores and online whenever it's released from the warehouse. That's typically a month prior to the lay-down day.

Let's Try a Little "Crowdsourcing," Shall We?

Okay, people. I can't say I'm wild about the whole crowdsourcing concept --- but I've also never tried it. And now's the perfect reason to do so.   Here's the deal: As some of you know, I HATE the title my publisher gave my forthcoming book.



The problems with it are a) it sounds like it's only about beef, but the book cover beef, pork, and poultry (as well as cattle, hogs, and chickens); and b) the word "history" is nowhere to be found and this is a book work of history. (I should say there that I definitely don't hate the subtitle. It's okay, although obviously it would be better if it included the word "history.")

That title, in turn, spawned an equally icky proposed jacket design (hardly surprising that the one followed from the other).

First "draft" of the jacket design. January 2013.

I REALLY didn't like the title or the jacket, so I had a convo with my agent and he it turn talked to my editor. The upshot is that my editor indicated that she's willing to change the title IF I come up with something better. By which she apparently meant something better than the dozen-plus titles I've already run by her.

So. Want to help?

Here's a brief description of the book:

 The unexpected history of meat in America and how consumers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and food activists wrestled with the land and each other to build the world’s most elaborate, and controversial, meat supply system.

Here's a slightly longer description:

The moment European settlers arrived in North America, they began transforming the land into a livestock and meat-eater’s paradise. Even before revolution turned colonies into nation, Americans were eating meat on a scale the old world could neither imagine nor provide: an average European was lucky to see meat once a week, while even a poor American man put away about two hundred pounds a year. In BOOK TITLE, Ogle takes readers from that colonial paradise to the urban meat-making factories of the nineteenth century to the hyper-efficient packing plants of the late twentieth century. From Swift and Armour to Tyson, Cargill, and ConAgra. From the cattle bonanza of the 1880s to modern feedlots. From agribusiness to today’s “local” meat supplies and organic counter-cuisine. Along the way, Ogle explains how Americans’ carnivorous demands shaped urban landscapes, midwestern prairies, and western range, and why the American system of meat-making, for so long a source of pride, became a source of conflict and controversy.

Okay, people: give me a new title. If I decide to use any or all of something you suggest, you get your name in the acknowledgements. Right, right. Not a big deal, I know. But, hey, it's all I've got.


Or whatever. Okay, so here's where I'm at. Yesterday my editor sent me her text edits of the second draft of the manuscript. And HIP HIP HOORAY! --- it held up under her expert scrutiny and there's not much left to do on the manuscript.  

Relatively speaking, of course: Given where I started seven years ago, the amount of work left to do is dinky, teensy-weensy. Practically nothing. You've NO idea how great I feel about that.

The plan is to finish the revisions by the end of February and send it along to her, and unless something horrible happens (like: I DON'T finish these revisions by the end of February), the book will land in bookstores in October or November. (Or wherever it is we'll be buying books by that time. God knows.)

This is where things start to move at the speed of light and one measure of that lightening-like speed is this item, which landed in my inbox about an hour ago: The first go-round of the jacket design:

First "draft" of the jacket design. January 2013.

Do I like this design? Actually, I do.

BUT: there's one tiny problemo with both this jacket design and the title: the book is about beef, pork, and poultry. (*1)

See any hogs or chickens there? Nope, and neither do I. According to my beloved editor, whom I adore and worship, this is the "first round" of possible jackets, so. . . . We shall see, eh? (*2)

Anyway, I'm still away from my observation post here at the ol' website, but yeah, baby, I'm getting SO. CLOSE. to the time when I can get back here regularly.

Again, that's barring some unforseen disaster. Let's all pray that there is none, okay? Anyway, aside from having been sick for most of the past ten days (at least the timing was good: I was waiting around for these revisions), I'm feeling fabulous. Relief of a sort that you probably can't imagine.

Anyway. That's what's new in my part of the world. See you SOON, my friends, SOON. (*4)


*1: Although as my editor pointed out, at least it does NOT include what I really didn't want: cowboys, the western range, or a barn.

*2: No, I had no input on the title (well, sort of not. *3). And no input on the jacket design. (Because Rule 1 in publishing is: Authors are not entitled to jack shit unless they're a) already famous; or b) are mega-bestsellers.)

*3: Here's the story behind the title: Waaay back in 2006, about three weeks before the beer book came out, I cranked out a proposal for this book about meat and sent it around to agents (because I needed to find a new agent). I needed to attach some kind of title to my proposed book, so in a ten-second brainstorm (I'm not kidding), I came up with IN BEEF WE TRUST.

My new agent, in turn, sent the proposal to my editor, who agreed to buy it. In no way, shape, form, or universe did I intend IN BEEF WE TRUST to be the title of the book itself. And believe me, in a zillion years, the first title someone comes up with is almost never, and I do mean NEVER, the actual title of the finished product.

So wouldn't you know that this is the zillionth year: the people at the house (that's publishing speak for the publisher) loved it. Never mind that the book isn't about beef only. They liked it. And then they took a subtitle that I came up with somewhere along the way and added that and --- Voila! Title. Sigh.

*4: Honesttogod, I hope I'm the only person who manages to include three footnotes in a 600-word post. Because if I'm not, the future of civilization is in doubt.