Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Aiming For The Tiny Scroll Hole

The author in control

I get stumped by computery stuff from time to time, sure, but it's a lot better than it used to be. Computers got better, and I got better too. Shoot, when I first started word-processing, entire documents used to vanish in the ether. One stray keystroke and all of a sudden text was going backwards and smacking into margins and puddling up and I don't know what-all. I had to summon the fairy children next door to fetch it back.

But now I've got that stuff mostly under control and I'm also familiar with the processes required to get the stuff out into the world.

That was hard at first, too. Back in 2008 when I tried to upload the essay that ultimately won the FieldReport contest, I couldn't make it go. I had to get my friend Magic Beth. My computer was a big dumb horse that munched grass and wouldn't move and it knew perfectly well that I didn't know what I was doing. Beth would come over and saddle up and pop a heel and snap a rein and the horse was all Oh, fine and then it would take right off.

But I've kind of got it down now. And I do try to get the stuff out into the world. You don't get as impressive a stack of rejection letters as I have by not sending stuff out.

Not that anyone's making it easy. Take Tin House, for instance. Tin House is a lovely and highly-regarded press that publishes about a half-dozen books a year, but that doesn't stop me from thinking mine should be one of them. Guess the hell what? They take submissions for non-fiction books two days a year. September 4th and September 5th. That's it.

So come the morning of September 4th, I jumped right on it. They use a form. Name, preferred pronouns (aw), overview, short bio, and your first chapter. Uploading your first chapter is a snap. You hit the button that says "Upload File" and it brings up a window with a list of everything on your desktop. You double-click the document you want and BOOP BOOP it gets sucked into the form. I do it all the time.

Not this time. This time everything on my desktop list is grayed out. That means you can't BOOP BOOP on it. I have no idea what I've done wrong, but I can't get my chapter into their form. They want it formatted as a Word document or a PDF, and my chapter is totally a Word document. I spanked it over from the Mac program myself. But it won't light up.

I never use PDF. I don't even know why there have to be so many formats. It's like screwdrivers. Just do flat-head and Phillips and be done with it. But no. As far as I can tell, PDF is this real old-fashioned-looking deal that comes spiral-bound and looks like someone scanned a printed book. I see no point in it at all. But just for the hell of it, I spanked my document over into a PDF, and then tried to upload it, and it lit right up and BOOP BOOP got sucked right into the form. So. Done!

But what the hell?

Turns out the form was looking for all the DOC files on my desktop and it didn't light any up because I don't have any, because that format got retired fourteen years ago. DOC and DOCX are both Word formats but DOCX has been the norm since 2007. My computer doesn't even recognize it. So for once the fault is with the submission form and not me. When they asked for DOC and PDF documents, they were giving us writers a choice. We could create a big thick PDF document on spiral-bound 8.5x11 bond paper and shove it over the transom. Or we could do a Word doc from the last century on parchment rolled into a scroll and poked through their tiny scroll hole.

I hope my chapter made a nice satisfying whump when it sailed over the transom.

27 comments:

  1. And I hope these foolish people finally see what a gem you are, and decide to publish you!

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    1. I still have to come over and give you $15 to read it. Then, I’ll send them a note of endorsement.

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  2. I hope that having landed they hang on to it, and refuse to let it go.

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    1. Me too! I have a bunch of feelers out there at the moment, but they do dwindle fast.

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  3. There were a number of files on my old Microsoft computer that didn't make the transition to my Mac. Mac scratched his head and said, "What kind of computer language is THIS? It may as well be hieroglyphics." I put everything on PDF now, as I find it easier. All I have to do is click on File > Print, and then instead of printing, click on Save as PDF. Then I can print whatever page I need to instead of the whole shebang. Or just keep it in my files, and a couple years down the road say "Why the hell did I keep THIS?"

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    1. Hmm. I just tried that and didn't see any Save As PDF. But then again I don't have a good reason to do it--I have enough crap.

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    2. I have an older Mac with El Capitan. I don't know if the newer Operating Systems have this option.

      Paul has a newer computer, with all kinds of bells and whistles that he won't ever use. But I am always surprised by the options that I have on my old computer that are no longer available with his. Hence my reluctance to upgrade.

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    3. I'm up to Mojave now. Probably a good idea to upgrade but I sure understand reluctance.

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    4. Try File>Export as PDF...

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    5. I did do that. That's how I got it in the form...

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  4. I am ever grateful for getting back into the work force twenty-one years ago (after being out for twenty years to raise a family) because I sorta kinda partly have kept up with this stuff. In Windows, that is. If I ever had to operate a Mac, all you'd need to do would be to sit in my general vicinity to feel very, very clever indeed.

    Good luck with the babies you are launching out into the world! I hope they find a soft landing.

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  5. It is their loss. Tin House doesn't sound like they are an actual going effort these days.

    I can't even imagine what would happen to me if i told the world that i am only accepting submissions on September 4th and 5th!
    And they have to be on Microsoft word!
    Sorry honey, but my pronouns are nunya bizness,and we don't use that Microsoft word thingy around here.
    They don't sound like responsible people and they should probably just step aside and rest on their laurels.

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    1. Their magazine is kaput, but I think their press is still well-regarded. I think they should rest on MY laurels. [Off to get some laurels]

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    2. We don't use Microsoft Word, et al, around here either. LibreOffice is the way to go, and a truly open document format, ODF. It will be accessible forever on all platforms.

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  6. I hope your chapter draws interest and they want to read, then publish, the rest of the book. As well as that first chapter, because coming in at chapter two might make readers think 'what the heck?'

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    1. Half the books I read seem to END on the next-to-last chapter.

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    2. I notice that both books and television series seem to jump around in time, so that I have to turn to The Man of Recaps (who is awesome, btw. I sometimes watch his recaps of The Walking Dead just because he makes me laugh, not because I'm confused. Although I usually am.) But, yeah, it can be a bit disconcerting for those of us who rely on linear time.

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  7. Can I find any of your books on Amazon or Book Depository? or anywhere else?

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  8. All the computer hassles aside, do you still ride?

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    1. Never did! I don't know how they perched me on that horse.

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  9. Good luck with your submission. May your trials garner you some clout with the universe.

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