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May 29, 2014

After the book

It's been forever since my last entry, and it seems like forever since my last dive.

After several years of averaging 40 to 50 dives a year, last year was dismal. It began well enough with a nice week in Florida where we visited all of our old haunts and favorite places. A week in Cancun in early summer proved a bust as it rained almost constantly and I only got four dives in. We did go up to Lake Tahoe in the Fall for a nice dive, and then had plans to spend a week on Roatan in December. That never happened, mostly because airline booking and pricing has reached new levels of insanity.

But mostly it has to do with finishing my book on scuba. Working on "Becoming a Scuba Diver -- From Pool to Sharks: Journey and Reflections of the First 250 Dives" had been a constant presence in my life and I was always eager to add another experience, reflect on another aspect of diving, and report on the latest dive trip.

Learning how to convert all those blog entries and notes into a cohesive book via Amazon's CreateSpace was an experience in itself. Proof-reading was just as tricky as I remember from the years when my job was publishing magazines. Then there was doing the cover, finding the right font, picking a physical size for the book, and laying it all out. Good thing I remembered how to use Quark XPress. At the end it was 365 pages, a pretty sizable book. Getting the first actual, printed proof copy of the book in the mail felt great. Then there was another proofing and editing pass, and it was done.

One of the wonderful things about modern self-publishing is that you don't have to shop your manuscript around to publishers, competing with numerous other authors for their interest. And you don't need to commit to printing so and so many books that may or may not sell. That was always a problem with publishing magazines. We never knew how many of the thousands and thousands of magazines we had printed would actually sell in bookstore and on newsstands.

So the book was done and though I knew better I thought now I could just sit back and wait for sales to roll in. People interested in scuba would find it on Amazon and buy it. Sadly, not so. A few books sold, but really just a token few. That was disappointing. But without marketing a products, that's the way it is. I had planned on notifying as many dive shops as I could in the hope that they would stock and sell the book, as most dive shops do. And I needed to do a proper press release, send out review copies, try to get media coverage and book reviews.

But somehow I didn't do any of that. It was as if I had expended all the creative energy in writing the book and bringing it to print. I had nothing left after that, not even taking the easy extra couple of steps of making it available in Kindle format. Months went by, and it's easy to forget how the CreateSpace process works if you're not at it every day, and so on and so on.

The other weird thing was that after the book was done and I had received a box of copies to give to friends and family, there was this odd sense of being done with the project. I still wanted to go dive, but the urgency seemed lessened as writing about places, dives, and gear was lessened. The book was done.

If you're really into something it tends to take over your life. Knowing all the ins and outs of a hobby, sport, passion comes natural. It's only afterwards that you realize how complex and involved it all was, and how easily one forgets, and how difficult it is to get back in.

So that's why there haven't been any new entries in this blog. We haven't gone diving. I'm frustrated over having let the finished book sit so long without publicizing it properly. And I am also frustrated ver not having gone diving in over eight months.

But the wait is over now. In a couple of days Carol and I will be leaving for the island of St. Maarten, where we'll board the Caribbean Explorer Explorer II for a week of diving off Saba and St. Kitts. We did that almost four years ago, albeit the other way around, starting in St. Kitts and ending up in St. Maarten. It'd been in the aftermath of a big storm and the water had been stirred up and not very pleasant. This time, I hope, conditions will be much better.

Posted by conradb212 at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)