January 2023 Update # 9 “Now It’s a Team Sport”
This will be the ninth update on my journey writing Torrents As Yet Unknown: Whitewater Ventures into Earth’s Great River Gorges.
If man fails to honor the rivers, he shall not gain life from them.
– The code of Hammurabi, 1760 B.C.
A very Happy New Year to all, and what an exciting year 2023 promises to be for Torrents! The years of research and solitary writing and rewriting, and rewriting, are over. Some minor to-ing and fro-ing with Chip Fleischer, my editor and publisher at Steerforth, is done, and the manuscript is now in the hands of a copyeditor, to sort out all the picky details of spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. And not a moment too soon. The “T” and “R” keys on my keyboard are solid black, the white letters worn completely off, and the “enter” key works only intermittently. I think I can fairly claim that I literally wore out my computer on this project.
Now that there is a real text after six years of struggle, a great team is stepping up to see Torrents over the finish line:
East Tennessee artist and illustrator Kim Abney has agreed to do pen & ink illustrations for Torrents, and she’s well on the way with some great sketches. Our plan is one illustration for each of the 10 chapters. Kim is a kayaker, caver, hiker, and general all-around outdoors person, and she had illustrated books for paddlers Phil Coleman and Doug Ammons, so she has a great feel for the subject. We’re both having fun with this.
At Steerforth, there is a team of six divvying out all the tasks to see us to a publication, or release, date of 12 September. That sounds straightforward. It’s not. To get it distributed to bookstores by that date, it needs to go to press by the first of June to be printed & bound. That means all the layout needs to be completed in May, so all the artwork must be finished before then. And the copyedited text must be finalized … and yikes!
I had more or less anticipated that process. But wait. There’s more. Steerforth is an independent press, but for marketing and distribution they fall within the Penguin Random House publishing empire. That’s a huge advantage in terms of getting Torrents out into the big, wide world – but it comes at a bureaucratic cost. Beginning about now the Steerforth rep, along with dozens of other press and imprint reps, will attend a series of meetings to brief about and plan the marketing of all the fall releases. And it appears that how impressive a book looks to the marketing executives can make a big difference in how and where it appears in catalogues and is presented to bookstores, libraries, etc.
So the jockeying starts next month, not to sell it yet to you and the public, but to the trade insiders. Kim’s sample illustrations will help. And blurbs! The list of recognizable authors willing to endorse Torrents, especially if they sell a ton of books themselves, seems to be an important factor, and I’ve been lucky. Doug Stanton (Horse Soldiers), Brian Castner (Disappointment River), Peter Heller (The Dog Stars, The River, The Guide), and Sir Chris Bonington (Annapurna South Face, etc,) have all risked their reputations by contributing very generous comments.
Did you notice at the beginning of this newsletter that Torrents has acquired a new subtitle? That too plays into all this marketing. These days it seems the role of a subtitle in not just to explain what a book is about, but to pack in as many keywords as possible to suck in electronic searches.
You can see the results of all this activity so far (which is barely the beginning) at the Torrents listing at PenguinRandomHouse. It’s starting to feel real.