Category Archives: Blog
As I discussed in my last post, there’s a new bookstore coming to Billings, and I will be at the helm. The store now has a name: This House of Books, an homage to Ivan Doig’s masterpiece This House of Sky. There’s a lot to be excited about, but there’s one thing in particular that makes this store new and different: it’s a cooperative.
A cooperative is an organization that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use its products, supplies or services.
—Montana Cooperative Development Center
There are farm co-ops, food co-ops, and insurance co-ops, but book co-ops are not so common. A few of them thrive around the country, like People’s Books Cooperative in Milwaukee and Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca. They are, as the MCDC quote above says, owned by their community. That’s what we are doing with This House of Books, but we’re taking it a step farther: we’re not just working within our physical community (Billings, Montana), but reaching out into our virtual community, the people who write the books we love to read.
Two-thirds of our board of directors are published authors, including Carrie La Seur, who is shown helping me to announce the store’s name in the picture above. Over a dozen have invested, and more have made their commitment to be member/owners. The outpouring of support from the community has been amazing. One of our novel (pun intended) fundraisers is an anthology that we hope to release this August. All of the authors have agreed to donate their royalties back to the co-op, and my publishing company (Proseyr Publishing) is doing the same with a portion of the profits.
What does it mean to be a member/owner of This House of Books? We’ve prepared some fact sheets that explain everything in detail (download the PDFs here), but this is it in a nutshell:
- If you buy a $100 voting share, you may participate in all open meetings, help to select the board of directors, and vote on changes to the bylaws.
- If you buy any number of $500 preferred shares, you become eligible to receive dividends if the store is profitable.
- All member/owners, regardless of the number or type of shares, are eligible to receive patronage refunds if there are more profits after dividends are paid.
- We are offering additional benefits spelled out on the investor page of the store website, which include store discounts, early registration for classes and tea tastings, access to advance copies of books, VIP events, and more.
Let me be clear about something: we’re not just building a store here. We’re building a cultural hub in downtown Billings. We’re working with the public library, Montana State University, Rocky Mountain College, Writer’s Voice, Montana/Wyoming authors, and other literary groups. We’re building a place for book clubs and writers’ groups to meet, a place for authors to give talks and sign books, a place for poets to read their work, a place for creative people to share their art, a place for the community to gather to play games or listen to music.
The bookstore co-op has come this far thanks to endless hours of volunteer work by the board and the early advisors (including owners of three other Montana bookstores). Bringing it the rest of the way and getting the doors open depends on the community buy in, and I mean that literally. Close to a hundred people have put their money where their mouths are, pledging over $35,000 in total, but this doesn’t put us anywhere near the $250,000 it will take to open the store. It doesn’t matter whether you buy a single $100 voting share or a big stack of $500 preferred shares—every single share sold moves This House of Books closer to reality.
This article started out as something I posted on the CompuServe Court Reporters Forum (CRForum) a couple of decades ago, and was turned into an article for MS-Strokes (The magazine of the Mississippi Court Reporters Association) in 1997. Later, portions of this article also appeared in the Journal of Court Reporting. I came across the article while going through some old archives, and thought my friends in the legal and court reporting business might appreciate it.
The inspiration for this article, of course, came from Jeff Foxworthy. As a side note, at least eight of these came from real life — I’ll let you figure out which eight!
You might be a redneck court reporter…
…if you’ve ever missed the verdict because you were mooning the defendant.
…if you use the pencil holders on your steno machine for cigarettes.
…if you have to move at least three cats to get to your CAT.
…if you wear your fishing vest on depositions because the pockets hold four steno pads.
…if you use cinder blocks instead of a tripod.
…if you’ve ever bet your judge you could drink a six-pack and still report that FedEx guy.
…if you have six steno machines, and only one works.
…if you have “y’all” in your dictionary.
…if your living room bookshelves are boards stacked on boxes of last year’s steno notes.
…if you have a spittoon on the side of your steno machine.
…if your bailiff introduces the judge by saying, “Y’all git up, Bubba’s coming.”
…if your steno machine has ever spent the winter on your front lawn.
…if you’ve pre-scripted the jury charge, and you call it up by writing “yadda yadda yadda.”
…if you bought text enlarging software so you could edit with a hangover.
…if you painted your steno machine black with flames coming off the keyboard.
…if you have a brief for “(witness nodding and belching)”.
…if you have a bass lure on your paper tray.
…if your front porch is held up by a hi-boy tripod.
…if you had your wedding reported so you’d have the vows in writing.
…if you’ve ever taken your notebook computer to a service technician to get the cigarette ashes out of the keyboard.
…if the attorney called for a sidebar, and you said, “Good idea, Judge! I’ll have a mint julep.”
…if there are at least three pieces of duct tape on your tripod.
…if you found underwear in your steno case, and you don’t know whose it is.
…if you’ve ever spilled a beer in your CAT system.
…if you’ve ever wrapped a fish in steno paper.
…if you’ve modified your steno case to hold the machine, tripod, three steno pads, and a six-pack.
…if you have a tripod rack in the back of your pickup truck.
…if you’ve decided to get into captioning so you can work in your underwear without the judge getting all upset.
…if you’ve ever had to call a scopist because you were too drunk to edit a daily.
…if you’re related to the judge, both attorneys, and the defendant, and don’t see anything wrong with that.
…if you check your purse on a date and find two kinds of steno machine oil, but no lipstick.
…if you watch Deliverance, and find yourself thinking, “How would you SPELL that?”
…if you’ve ever had a depo interrupted by a husband saying, “I did NOT sleep with your cousin Sally. She’s my SISTER, for chrissake!”
That was a short article, wasn’t it?
At the MPIBA conference last weekend, just about everybody had stories to share of authors who don’t think they need an editor, or copyeditor, or proofreader. Most of them, in fact, don’t know the difference between those three (more on that in a moment). Well, if Stephen King needs an editor and a proofreader, so do you.
Let’s say you’ve just banged out an absolutely amazing 100,000-word novel. You have created unique and believable characters. Your have brought each scene to life, so that readers feel, see, smell, hear, and even taste the places in your book. And with the average word being about five letters long, you have pressed a half-million keys (not counting spaces and punctuation marks). The odds of doing that without a mistake are infinitesimal.
I’m sure you proofread your own work. If you’re like me, you’ve probably proofread your book many times. But there’s a problem with proofing your own work: you see what you think you wrote instead of what you actually wrote. You know the book inside out. You will often read right past a typo or continuity error. That’s why there are three people you really need to enlist (sometimes one person may fill more than one of these roles):
Your editor is the one who reviews the book for continuity and flow. It’s the editor that might say, “spend more time explaining what’s going on in Chapter 3” or “I think Chapter 14 is completely superfluous.” Editors look at your plot structure if you’re a novelist and clarity if you write nonfiction. If you write YA or children’s books, it’s the editor that can tell you if you’ve hit your target age group. Good editors are experts in their genres. You may choose not to take their advice, but you should always listen to what they have to say.
Your copyeditor is the one that goes deeper than plot elements and structure. Copyediting involves checking your book for formatting problems, factual errors, style consistency, and other mechanical issues. If you say “see page 142” and the thing you’re referencing is really on page 144, it’s the copyeditor that will catch it — although in this era of ebooks, you really shouldn’t reference page numbers!
Your proofreader puts your work under a microscope, looking at spelling, punctuation, grammar, and the minutia of language. Treat your proofreaders well, because they’re the ones that catch the really embarrassing typos!
There’s a book we’ve been selling for years in my bookstore. It’s called Scats & Tracks of the Rocky Mountains. Here’s what the cover of the 2nd edition looks like:
The publisher has a new look for their Falcon Guide series, so they decided to redesign the cover. In general, it’s a good look. Everything went well until someone told the cover designer, “add an animal footprint on the front.” The designer added one, and they sent the book off to the printer. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the placement of the track:
Yep. It covered the first letter of the title, changing the book from Scats and Tracks to Cats and Tracks. Even the big publishers need to use proofreaders more often!