Friday, March 17, 2023

Proofing and Public Speaking

By Johnny D. Boggs

Yesterday was one of those days I dread.

First, I had to get the final proof of a forthcoming novel for Kensington titled Longhorns East – shameless self-promotion – back to the production manager.

That’s never fun. Well, it’s fun to know that you’ll have a book coming out – in September – but that also leads to all sorts of stress.

Did I hit my goal? … Am I catching everything that needs fixing? … Does it read the way I want it to read. … Bigger question: Will anybody actually want to read this? I mean, it’s about a cattle drive to New York City and it opens in 1840 England! … It’s also my first original trade paperback. If the sales aren’t there, that’s when novelists get dropped.

There’s no job security in this business.

And you never know what the reading public will like and buy.

For me, the deadline for final corrections is more nerve-racking than the deadline for filing the manuscript. I’m confident that copy editors and main editors will catch the silly mistakes, question the parts that need questioning, offer erudite suggestions (or orders) and turn what I’ve written into something better.

But once I send in the final fixes, it’s all over but the worrying.

And then there was the rest of the day.

I had to give a talk for the Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library on the newest nonfiction book, American Newspaper Journalists on Film: Portrayals of the Press During the Sound Era (McFarland), at the Santa Fe Woman’s Club.

I know. It’s not that big of a deal. And I speak in public often. Have for decades. I’ve acted in theater (still waiting for some company to announce auditions for Mary Chase’s Harvey (Elwood P. Dowd or any part!), Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s Inherit the Wind (the Reverend Jeremiah Brown) or Sam Shepard’s True West (either brother, but I’ll do the producer, too). I’ve been a talking head on documentary television shows. I get interviewed by newspaper reporters and magazine writers fairly often.

Besides, this is a library fundraiser, and I’ll do anything to help libraries. But then, paranoid as most authors are, I worry about trivial things like How Many People Will Show Up (maybe more this time, since they serve alcohol) … What Kinds Of Questions Will They Ask? … And I have to give a talk. Keep them entertained. Remember not to say anything that will turn them off. But what if they don’t laugh at my jokes?

High pressure. Maybe even more pressure than writing a Western novel that opens in England and focuses on a pre-Civil War cattle drive from Texas to New York City.

It’s a lot less stressful sitting in a room all day just typing ... with nothing to disturb you but doggies that demand attention and spam telephone calls that interrupt your train of thought.

But – and I tell every beginning author this when I’m speaking to beginning authors (which I have to do March 26 for New Mexico Writers):

It’s part of the job.

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