Free At Last

After struggling without much success to publicize The Prometheus Option, I decided recently to offer it here for free to anyone who wants to read it.

The kicker was learning that I had sabotaged my own efforts to find an agent by self-publishing and failing to find the book an audience. It turns out that agents aren’t too keen on spending their time and energy trying to flog a book to a publisher, only to have the publisher turn up his nose at it, knowing that it already failed to make any money.

Apparently it doesn’t even matter how good the book is. And in the revised second edition, which is now available on the Downloads page in ePub and Kindle formats, The Prometheus Option is very good indeed.

The process of revising the book was interesting (at least, I found it so). The first step was to liberate the book from Microsoft Word. I wasn’t about to go down the path of fixing the italicization problems I ran into several times with Word. So I broke the book up into chapters and imported each one into Scrivener.

I had to invest a few hours into experimenting with the Compile formats to be satisfied with the appearance in ePub form, but when I was, I generated the ePub, saved it in Dropbox, and then imported it into Apple Books on my iPad Mini and read through the whole book, line by line. Every time I found an inelegantly turned phrase, missing italics (way too many of those!) or something that needed to be edited so as not to “date” the book, I highlighted it in Books and sometimes made a note. Italics changes were all highlighted in yellow. More substantial edits were in a different color.

When I was done (and very happy that the book still stands up three years after its initial publication), I started Scrivener, positioned the Books app on my iMac’s second monitor just alongside, displayed the notes I’d made in Books and went through them one at a time, correcting the manuscript as I went.

This workflow is extremely efficient, and what’s more, being able to take the book with me and read it in the comfortable context of a reader instead of a writer, made it much easier for me to be constructively critical. I could see the errors that formerly eluded me. Three years of time between me and the manuscript made it a lot easier for me to be objective, too.

The number of changes is high, but most of them are subtle enough that no one but I would notice them. The quality of the finished product was enhanced by a final laborious spelling and grammar check, which did flag a few usage issues and typos, but surprisingly few of them.

Scrivener makes it trivially easy to publish the e-reader formats I’ve chosen to support. The Kindle .mobi format required more work, but not too much: after downloading and installing the free Kindlegen and Kindle Previewer apps, I was able to export a clean version that looks excellent on a Kindle device, though for some reason the same document seems to be missing all of its paragraph indentations when seen on the iOS version of the Kindle app.

I’ll follow up on that and perhaps issue a new copy of the Kindle book to fix it, if I can ever find out why it happens, but it’s very low on my priority list now.

This is the last blog post I envision making here, unless someone decides they want to make a movie out of The Prometheus Option. I just finished a new book, The Spiral Starway, the first in a projected series of five books called “The Starway Saga.” I will not be making the same error with the new books: I’m starting the agent search now.

Finally, regarding the long-promised sequel, On This New Sea, I have to admit that although my enthusiasm about writing it spiked after re-reading The Prometheus Option, right now I just can’t justify the time and effort needed to do it. If The Starway Saga turns out to be a success, and a publisher becomes interested in making a few bucks from my back catalog, or if that movie happens (ha ha!), then I’ll take a crack at it.

In the meantime, I truly hope you enjoy the book. I loved writing it and I don’t regret a moment that I spent on it (except the many hours spent correcting Microsoft Word’s “I can’t undo that big change you just accidentally made” bugs. Never again! Scrivener is the only game in town.