Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hard Return and Hard Come Backs

“Thank you for your patience, Debra, we do apologize for taking so long to call you back on this matter.”
“That’s no problem, as long as I get the status of where my book is, and if it is in the printing process, I’m fine. Do I need to correct any errors that you can see?”
“Not at this time, Debra. It is in the ‘acquisition’ stage, and you should be hearing back from Rebecca shortly after that.”
“That’s fine, Robert, as long as I am informed so we can get this moving, I’ll be more than happy to make additional corrections as needed.”

Having this be my third time around with my editor correcting punctuation and margin errors can get frustrating. The most challenging aspect of this all, is dealing with four people at a time who are working on my book to be published. Great, four people, right?


I got shuffled around to four people handling matters that were frustrating. I first went to Brian, who then sent me to Tammy, who then sent me to Susan, who then sent me to Rob. All of them say, “Please contact only me, regarding this.” Then when I do, they say, “Well so & so will be handling this from now on.”

Then I receive an e-mail.

Dear Debra,

I have reviewed the files you submitted for your title. There are a few concerns that need to be addressed before we can continue forward.

You may wish to view your formatting marks to assist you with finding the next concerns. Go to tools > options > view > formatting marks and select the box next to "all". **Please remember that if you are using a program such as notepad or WordPerfect to create your file, the following instructions will be different. Please contact me for further instruction if you are using a program other than Word and are unable to use the following instructions to make your corrections.**

We require the use of page breaks instead of hard returns to indicate places, like the end of a chapter, where the next text must begin on a new page. To insert a page break in Word go to insert > break > page break. To remove the extra hard returns, backspace through all of the blank lines until they are gone.

You have used text throughout your document that will not flow into our templates and may very well cause conversion errors during the formatting process which will result in your title being rejected during formatting. Please make sure the document is in either Times, Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New font. The text font will then be set up according to the interior template you have chosen.
The crosses on page one of your text file will not flow into our templates. These will result in conversion errors if left in the document and must be removed.

You have used the space bar and/or tab key to center areas of text throughout your document. This is indicated in your text by a row of dots and/or arrows preceding the text. You will need to remove all spaces (dots) and tabs (arrows) that appear before the text and center the text using the align center text button on your toolbar.

You have randomly placed a hard return (pressing the enter key) at the end of a line, in the middle of sentences. You will need to remove the hard returns at the end of every line. Text must flow from line to line without interruption. You only want to enter a hard return at the end of a paragraph to begin a new paragraph. Your interior text will be formatted according to the interior template you have chosen. The extra hard returns will disrupt the formatting of your text and therefore, need to be removed.

The asterisks that you have inserted, for instance on page 169 will not format as you have intended. If you would like to insert a sort of section break that will add fleurons (symbols) in your text, you will need to use the section break notation as follows:

The proper insertion method for this notation is to place 3 asterisks, side by side on a row by themselves with no spaces before, after, or in between:

You have smileys inserted throughout your text, For instance page 174 after the words "Good Evening". We are unable to format these in your text file and will need to be removed.

Please make the necessary changes to your file and reupload it to your author panel for further review.


Hard returns. Fine. I tried to list off a scripture from Psalms that needs to be formatted as so. Without the hard returns on the scripture, it loses it’s poetic depth to it. It’s not supposed to be jumbled up into one big fat paragraph!

“Well, it cannot fit into our templates, and it will end up making a mark or arrow in place of the hard return.”

Fine, but what year are we in? What do poets do regarding chapbooks??? I don’t get it, in this day of age, we cannot format accordingly to the author’s request? It baffles me.

I finally end up speaking to Shannon, the manager of the publishing company to discuss my concerns.
“All your reps sounds as though they are incompetent and don’t know what they’re doing- on top of that, they never call me back! To me, that’s a ‘no no’ in customer service.”
“Yes, we do understand your concern, and we will have a conference call with you. What time would you prefer?” Shannon asks, as her words were mellifluent; calming me down.
“10am. Is that okay?” I ask.
“Yes Debra, we’ll call you exactly at 10am Thursday morning with our team, and we will assist you step-by-step and get this book rolling.”
“Thank you so much, Shannon. I really appreciate this.”
I said, relieved that something was going to happen.

Thursday morning. 10am. Silence. No phone call, no email, just the sound of my fingers tapping on my desk waiting for my phone to ring.
“Damn it!“ I said out loud. I call my first rep that I dealt with, hoping that he remembers me.
“Hey Deb! How’s it going?”
“Not good. No one likes calling anyone back it seems.”
“Ah man, that’s not good, let me send them an email to remind them”
He says, in his 'cool dude' voice. He sounds as if he's nineteen years old.
“No, I have called their voice mails and left numerous messages. The next step is, another publishing company."
“No! Wait, let me at least get in touch with the managers and get back to you.”

I have never dealt with such awful customer service. Is it the publishing company I’m dealing with? Or do any of you go through the same thing? I’m venting this, because I know that there is a writer out there who has experienced this horrible phase that I’m going through. I don’t mind making corrections, but what I do mind is lousy customer care. That makes my blood boil. I was tempted to get obstreperous like a little whiny kid who didn’t get their way, but I refrained and tried to calm myself from these idiots who seem to be bouncing off one another debating who should call her first.

If any of you writers who has had a book published—please comment and let me know your experience with your agent/publishers, etc. Does it have to be this hard? I’m getting really discouraged as a writer, and need some feedback. This whole scenario makes me discursive and agitated, so I apologize for this weird rant I’m doing today.


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