A haunted December...
Tis the season to be…haunted!
You read that correctly, it’s Christmas, which in the Victorian era meant ghost stories. Just think about Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol which contained four ghosts!
There’s a reason behind this post about ghosts during the Christmas season. Many of you have been following the ongoing saga of my fourth book, The Haunting of Monroe Manse which has been nothing shy of a nightmare for nearly five years now. Any author can tell you that a book isn’t born overnight and this one is positive proof. The tale of this problematic, and apparently haunted tome, began in 2017 when it was set for release by my then publisher, Tate Publishing. One week prior to its release, my publisher closed its doors. Granted, there had been issues up to that point, including an editor who barely spoke English and delays in production.
But before I could release this novel as an Indie author, I needed to make the necessary corrections to the ill-fated manuscript with its ocean of errors!
However, after making many of the grammatical changes something still didn’t bode well, leading me to seek input from others. The responses were disheartening. There were notable flaws with the storyline which demanded alteration.
Back to the editing board.
After another round of editing, the manuscript seemed much cleaner but something still wasn’t right. So, I put the book away for a while and worked on another project. Months later, I re-edited the manuscript but it still didn’t flow. This time I gave up. The entire thing seemed doomed. It would have been easy to abandon the project and never speak of it again. However, many people asked about the book and no matter how hard I tried to ignore its existence, it niggled at my brain. I brushed the dust from the insufferable project and tried again. Over the course of two years I rewrote, reshelved, abandoned, and rewrote the book. Like something from a horror movie, it seemed to have a life of its own, unwilling to conform.
At this point it occurred to me I was in over my head and needed outside assistance. I found two people (dear friends) who agreed to be beta readers. They read the manuscript making notations of a few minor discrepancies which I quickly fixed. Yet something unsettling lurked beneath the surface.
My next step was to hire a professional editor. Much like a friend in need of an intervention, this book needed help. I found an amazing editing company and hired them. What I wasn’t expecting was the depth of the problems and the overwhelming number of flaws. The novel was in much worse shape than I’d thought. It required more than an intervention, it needed rehabilitation. I spent the summer rewriting approximately 80% of the storyline. I was relieved when I finally emailed the rewrites to my editors, confident it was finally ready. My editors disagreed. Again, I abandoned the project.
But it haunted me.
Next, I hired a writing coach and our first project was The Haunting of Monroe Manse. At this point the manuscript had been through three editors, two beta readers, and a host of family and friends who had read the book throughout its various stages of development. Anticipating bad news from my coach to rewrite the entire thing, I was pleasantly surprised when she said it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Hope illuminated the depths of my writing despair!
Over the course of a few months, my coach and I were able to smooth over the rough spots and polish the manuscript. Joy! Now all I had to do was upload it and the cover design to the distribution company and end the five year long wait.
Turns out the entity haunting the book wasn’t giving up so easily…
The cover for the book had been designed by my former publisher which would save time and money. I submitted my cover design to a professional graphic artist to alter the publisher logo from Tate to Dickens Ghost. And that’s when the ghost reemerged. Turns out the cover was a ‘read only’ copy and couldn’t be utilized without the original file. Hmmm…that wasn’t happening since my publisher was no longer in existence. Dollar signs circled my head like hornets ready to strike. Another delay.
Without the funds to hire a graphic designer, I searched for design programs. Couldn’t use InDesign because my computer was too old. Actually, couldn’t use any programs because my computer was too old. Got a new computer (thanks mom). What seemed like an easy task soon became a nightmare. I tried several programs with little success. After all this time, multiple edits, beta readers, a writing coach, several bottles of wine, gallons of bourbon, and a new computer, I was no closer to publication. I abandoned the book again. (My liver rejoiced).
In addition to the cover dilemma, I was also trying to format the interior. My mother had successfully formatted it but every time we tried to upload, things would shift and/or spaces immerged where none had been previously. Weeks passed at the pace of a turtle as my mother did battle with the formatting and I searched for a program, any program, that my technological ineptness could maneuver.
The idea of hiring a priest to come in with Holy water crossed my mind.
Following a call for help on Facebook, a dear friend offered to show me how to create a cover and upload the entire thing to the distributer. Yes! The persnickety, phantasmal book was going to be finished!
Within a few hours, my friend had designed an amazingly beautiful cover. I hired him to format and upload the interior and exterior of the most cantankerous book ever written. If this had been a human child, I would have admitted it to a psychiatric ward for analyzation, therapy, medication, and possibly an exorcism.
Everything was uploaded successfully and a proof ordered. The day of publication was rising from the fog of mishaps like a phoenix. When the proof arrived, I was ecstatic. It was beautiful and in print!
Did I mention that the book is haunted?
I read through the proof and discovered a few mistakes which I corrected. However, the corrections altered the formatting which in turn altered the cover dimensions. Apparently, the ghost made everything go wonky. I imagined the spiteful little specter hovering within the pages, laughing at my disappointment.
Next, I consulted with an Indie author who uses a Mac. She recommended Vellum to format the manuscript. And it worked! Full steam ahead!
Unless your book is haunted.
The reformatting increased the page count. A lot. Needed the cover re-formatted to fit the page increase. My friend was on it! He readjusted the spine to fit the additional pages and submitted. Of course, the distributer had to charge extra fees for the reloads but at this point I’d invested so much money in the book even the best seller list couldn’t bail me out. A new proof was ordered. It arrived a couple weeks later and my pulse raced as I opened the cardboard container to see…the spine was off.
Contemptable ghost got me again.
Seriously considered going forward and ignoring the glaringly problematic flaw where the back cover eked onto the spine. But I’m a perfectionist. Contacted my friend. He fixed it, again. Reordered the proof, again. Drum roll please…
The spine was off, again.
I’d seen the template of the book cover that was submitted to the distributer and it was picture perfect. At that moment, reality struck. This book would never be right. It’s a cantankerous, defiant, problematic, and most definitely, haunted piece. This time, instead of giving up, I decided to embrace the mischievous entity and release the book, flaws and all, as a haunted tome.
Now that you’ve heard the story behind the writing of this book, I invite you to order a copy of The Haunting of Monroe Manse and read this five-year-four-editors-three uploads-two-cover designs-haunted book and let me know what you think. There are sequels in the wings that hopefully will be a bit more willing to go to print.
The Haunting of Monroe Manse is now available on Amazon and other online retailers. Signed copies will be available as soon as I receive them which may be delayed due to the holidays and the fact that the book is haunted. I challenge you to buy a copy and read it if you dare…
If you feel so inclined, please haunt your family and friends with this post and help spread the word about The Haunting of Monroe Manse!