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The Back Office

10 May 2012

So proud and majestic.

Here’s a little glimpse behind the scenes of a midlist-to-lower-midlist author:

A few years back, I bought a completely thrashed 1994 Ford Thunderbird for $500. It had belonged to a teenage girl before I bought it, and she’d beaten the hell out of it. The thing was lucky to go five miles without overheating and evacuating its coolant all over the pavement. The transmission seemed to be missing a gear or four, and the inside looked like it had been firebombed.

I could have paid someone to fix it up, I suppose. Instead, I embarked on expeditions to the local salvage yard. I was lucky, as it seemed the mid-90s Mercury Cougar (which had the same 4.8-liter V8 as my Thunderbird) was a very popular car to wreck in the city where I lived, so I wasn’t at a shortage for parts. I rebuilt the transmission, replaced the cams, lifters, fuel rails, and a bunch of other little stuff that went wrong with the car. When I bought it, it was lucky to make it back to my house (I had to stop it twice to keep it from overheating). I drove that car without much of an incident for the next year and a half, fixing little things along the way, though I really had no training or expertise in automotive repair.

This ties back in to the author thing, I promise.

I’m currently working on a redesign for the 47 Echo site, which will hopefully launch tomorrow (as well as this year’s new, big, insane contest for the Supercritical release). Working on this site reminds me of the Thunderbird — I often have no idea what I’m doing, and I guess I could pay someone to do it, but…

Yep. When you’re a middle-of-the-road author like me, you end up doing a lot of things for yourself. And that’s fun, actually. I dig learning new things.

So, what skills have you picked up out of necessity? How have they helped you in your day-to-day life, even if it’s something you never saw yourself doing?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. christophergronlund permalink
    10 May 2012 1455

    Definitely Web stuff, here. Really, most computery stuff involving publishing. When my wife and I self published a comic book in the mid 90s, we were essentially blogging several times a week without a blogging platform. Archiving things manually, and figuring out design that didn’t look…quite so 90s. (Didn’t always succeed, there, as evidenced by the Internet Wayback Machine: http://web.archive.org/web/19981207005717/http://www.applink.net/gronlund/foundation.html .)

    I like that necessity can force a person to learn enough about things to do what they want. I may not always do things the most efficient way of doing them (“You mean that 32-step process I’ve lived by for years could have been done with the click of a button I didn’t know about?!”), but it really is amazing what a person can do when they put their mind to something.

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