It’s Kind of About Invasive Species

Yesterday I submitted my final reviews of the invasive species manuscripts I wrote work-for-hire. I did four of these: Africanized honeybees, red imported fire ants, zebra mussels, and kudzu (the vine that ate the south).

These were very short books for elementary school reluctant readers, so they had to be at a specific reading level. The process necessary to get them there turned out to be the most difficult job I’ve ever had, and if you only knew the behind-the-scenes stories of some of the projects I’ve worked on in my years in this business, you would fully appreciate that statement.

OK, one story: I once worked on a book that the author submitted hard copy. I had to arrange for someone to key enter the manuscript into Word. At one point the author submitted changes, including inserts where he had cut manuscript pages in two and taped in new typewritten passages. Now that was old school! Great guy and a great book, but . . . wow.

Back to invasive species: the ratio of hours of research, writing, and revising to the final word count was off the hook. I only barely crawled across the finish line thanks to my editors on the project. The finished books will be another strange addition to my scattershot publishing resumé, which includes Star Trek stories, a Led Zeppelin discography, and poetry (with one poem given an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year list in 2010).

I’m looking forward to sticking to one freelance project at a time for the foreseeable future. This will give me time to get back to some long-neglected writing projects of my own. At least that’s the plan, but . . . did I mention we’re house hunting?

2 thoughts on “It’s Kind of About Invasive Species

  1. One freelance project at a time? Really? No freelancer I’ve ever meet has that found such freedom. May you be the first. On a more realistic subject, congratulations on your invasive species for kids series. It sounds fascinating. Will they be available to the general reader?

    1. Well, there’s the usual juggling of overlapping deadlines and then there’s five-manuscript pile-ups where you wonder every waking second how you can possibly make it all work . . . and then you end up having to get extensions. My last month and a half was the latter, not the former. And I do still have a hobby job (I no longer call it my day job; being a writer/editor is my day job), so that counts as a second ongoing job behind any freelance gig I get.

      After these last few weeks, compounded by house hunting, I’m simply not going to take additional projects unless they are amazing can’t-miss opportunities. One Trek novel at a time is enough for now. Once we settle into a new house, then I’ll be open to more juggling. And I’ve got my own writing projects to move forward as well.

      The invasive species books, as I understand it, are going to be sold to libraries and schools, more of a trade deal than bookstore sales.

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