Newsletter #71 — Autodidacts
December 1, 2023
Newsletter #71 — Autodidacts
The Dictionary People Redux— I finished reading The Dictionary People and enjoyed it very much. And I learned many interesting things about 19th century England and about the contributors to the Dictionary. Most of the contributors were not members of the upper class. In fact, very few upper class people contributed. Perhaps they thought the labor beneath them. Most contributors were middle class or working class. Among the latter were an amazing number of autodidacts. So many of the self-taught (mostly men) had to quit school at the age of 14 in order to help support their family. They went to work in the early hours of the morning (4:30 or so) and worked at one or more jobs until the evening, and then they taught themselves. They read books and explored nature and went to lectures and learned languages.
James Murray, the Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 to 1915, was such a person. Among his many accomplishments was that he learned and knew well over a dozen different languages. And he knew etymology. And was an amazing correspondent (probably three or four letters every single day) and a fantastic record-keeper. In fact, if Murray hadn't kept a record of all contributors (something his predecessor failed to do entirely), Sarah Ogilvie could not have written The Dictionary People. It was while she was in the basement archives of the OED that she discovered James Murray's little black book in which he had written all the names and addresses of the contributors, with at least six different evaluation symbols that he put next to certain names.
Exit Velocity: The Work Continues — It's fair to say that I've been very busy on Exit Velocity work. As follows:
- After four proofreadings, I approved the interior. And it looks terrific!
- After four go-rounds, I approved the cover. Also terrific!
- I sent out manuscripts to the people who said they would give me a testimonial blurb.
- I joined the IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association, so that I could participate in trade shows if I wanted to and get discounts on services such as Edelweiss and NetGalley.
- I began to write the Exit Velocity sell sheet, similar to a press release but aimed at the publishing industry. In my case, aimed at publications which review books.
- I spent some time trying to get various "buttons" on my social-media pages — thinks like the Amazon Follow button. These tiny little chores take up way more time than they should for the simple reason that few sites can clearly explain how to do anything on their site!
- I made a list of the top eight trade publications where I would like to see Exit Velocity reviewed. A trade publication in this case is one which focuses on the book trade. There aren't many of these, and my guess is that I'll submit to only four or five of the eight. One of the top ones is Kirkus Reviews.
- After making the list I had to hunt down the submission requirements for each of these publications. No two are alike, which is maddening. Library Journal requires a six month lead, so I must send them a galley of Exit Velocity very early in December. The others I can submit to in early January.
- Still not done. I then made a list of regular (non-trade) publications which review fiction. This list came to something like 28 publications. Some of these accept PDF submissions, but some require the actual book. Top among such sites are The New York Times Book Review, The London Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. It is unlikely that these sites will review a book by an indie-published author, but I have to proceed professionally. Which means I send the book out to reviewers.
- I received my first testimonial back-cover blurb!
- After that I had to arrange with BookBaby to get 25 advanced copies of Exit Velocity. These are called ARCs — Advance Reader Copies. I ran into a snag with that, which I'll report on in my next newsletter.
- I did take a break for Thanksgiving!
Ghost Is Busted — I'm happy to report that the Authors Guild solved the "ghost glitch" and Newsletter #69 is now fully visible on my web site.
BookGraphix — I've been experimenting with using AI to write my social media book posts. You can read about it in my December 1 blog.