June 20, 2009

FAQs about the book, not yet asked

UPDATE, 18 November 2009: Order directly from me. You'll still pay for the book and shipping, but it gives us a reason to connect person to person and I can write an inscription if you wish. You can send me an email to lizopp AT gmail DOT com.

UPDATE, 17 July 2009: QuakerBooks now has the book available on its website. Click here.

UPDATE, 9 July 2009: Feel free to call QuakerBooks to place an order: 1-800-966-4556. Toll free call within the U.S.

What follows below are answers to what I suspect will be frequently asked questions regarding the creation of the book Writing Cheerfully on the Web: A Quaker Blog Reader.

I'm also intending to post a summary of the reading that QuakerBooks of FGC is sponsoring on June 29 during the week-long Gathering in Blacksburg, Virginia. If you're attending, please plan to come to the Gathering Store at 4:30 that day and say hello!


1. How did you select the pieces you included in this book?

    There were a number of steps involved to gather up a list of potential blog posts to be considered. First, I created an online survey for bloggers and blog readers to complete, and part of the survey asked about the blogs that they read frequently and any specific blog posts that have "lingered" with them or that they have referred back to over time. I also asked some of the more experienced or prolific bloggers to identify some of their own posts that they refer back to or that they often link back to in subsequent posts. After all if they find their posts useful in a number of ways, perhaps other readers would too. Those two things alone generated a few dozen blog posts for me to look at. Then I began reviewing posts that a few respected bloggers had tagged in Delicious.com. Some had tags for "Quaker classics" or "Quaker foundations" or "Quaker traditions." That review added another few dozen posts. Throughout the process, I also took to skimming individual blogs of Friends whose voices seem to have helped shape the online conversation and clicked on random dates in their archives. And the list continued to grow. Lastly, I wasn't completely on my own in this work. I've mentioned all along that Chris M has been another pair of eyes, including helping identify blog posts for consideration and offering a second opinion if I was unsure of including a piece. Chris also was the primary "editor" for selecting blog posts from The Good Raised Up. (Thanks again, Chris!)

2. Is there anything that you wanted in the book that isn't there?
    Oh yes! I wanted to include a much longer introduction that explained the selection process, much as I described above. I also would have loved to have had another year or so to have explored much more thoroughly the "early days" of Quaker blogging--before 2005, for example. Back then--not even 10 years ago!--a handful of bloggers were beginning to wrestle with themes and topics that set the stage for the "blogging boom" of 2005-2008. Those initial bloggers used their names openly, commented on each others' blogs respectfully, and modeled humility and openness regularly if not imperfectly humanly. Those early posts were treasured but alas, many of them are lost because some of those Friends have taken down their blogs, making most of their posts irretrievable. Among these laid-down blogs are Alice MorningStar Yaxley's Public Quaker, Rob Buchanan's Consider the Lilies, and the blogs of Lynn Gazis-Sax and Joe G/Beppe, whose blog titles I've forgotten. Likewise, a good deal of long-time bloggers who have had a significant number of followers are notably absent: Some have declined to have their posts included in the book because they are considering publishing on their own. But most "absentees" exist because of the short timeframe I had set for myself to get the book out, and because I didn't (and don't) scour, skim, or receive the RSS feed of every single blog like some Friends do. A few of these unrepresented Friends include Cherice Bock, Lorcan Otway, Peter Bishop, and Marshall Massey. More generally speaking, I chose to exclude blog posts that had too many hyperlinks unconnected to Quakerism and posts that were guest pieces or that had overly long quotes by other Quaker bloggers or non-Quaker authors. As much as possible, I wanted the pieces in the book to be representative of the individual blogger.

3. If you could do it over again, what would you change about the book?
    Some changes would be minor, like including the publisher on the copyrights page (e.g. "Lulu"). Other changes are more significant, like editing the back cover to identify the preface's author Brent Bill better (e.g. "Brent Bill, author of Sacred Compass...") I'd also love to dedicate more resources--money and time--to the book's cover. A Quaker friend of mine who works in communications design did a couple of hours of pro-bono work to get the overall concept in place--a concept conceptualized by my partner Jeanne--plus another two hours to deal with details that arose later in the process. I didn't have the brain power left in me to think about images, artwork, or photos that could be used, but if I could do it over again, maybe I'd spend more time exploring those possibilities. Oh, and I'd put time into writing a very thorough Acknowledgments page. I ran out of time, given the push to have the book ready in time for FGC's Gathering, and I worried I'd end up forgetting to thank some people for their support, so I took the easy way out and simply left the page out of the book entirely. I apologize for any hurt feelings out there.

4. Will there be a second volume?
    I'd love for there to be a second volume of Writing Cheerfully on the Web--I'm not so sure I'm going to be the one to do it!

5. Would you publish through an online press again?
    I've been thinking about this question a lot on my own. I find that it's kind of like living through a hellish remodel of your kitchen: going through the process itself was highly unpleasant--in my real-life case, we needed to reorder the cabinets three times--but a year or two later, I've completely forgotten how bad the experience was because I'm so happy with the end result! So in all honesty, I'd have to say "Maybe." And especially if I had a really long timeline and a leisurely way to go about it.

7. How can I or my meeting purchase a copy of the book?
    You'll probably end up ordering through QuakerBooks of FGC--unless you are attending the FGC Gathering where you can pick up a copy (or two) at the Gathering Store. And FGC hopes to send along a couple copies of the book for book tables that FGC-affiliated yearly meetings have during their annual sessions, if they are occurring this year after the first week of July, so that's another opportunity to at least thumb through it. BUT... After the book reading on June 29, I plan to post a link directly to Lulu's "private" listing of Writing Cheerfully on the Web. That way, you can be free to order what you need. The online price will be $19.98, plus shipping and handling--but you'll be supporting the online press rather than QuakerBooks. And then a number of weeks later, the book's listing is even supposed to appear on Amazon.com--but I want to discourage ordering from them. I have had a long and strong relationship with FGC and enjoy knowing that others are supporting FGC's work, one way or another.
Those are the questions I can think of for now. I guess I'll find out what the "Frequently Asked Questions" really are once June 29 is over. I hope I'll see some of you there.



Daniel Wilcox said...

Dear Liz,

Besides the intriguing behind-the-scenes description of your how-to, I especially,very deeply appreciate and am spiritually inspired by your honesty and vulnerability and openness.

In this, the Good is truly raised up.

Thanks Liz,


Cat C-B (and/or Peter B) said...

Thanks for the FAQ!

Will Quakerbooks definitely be carrying it, and can folks order from their online service? I, too, would prefer to link there if I can. (I note that it was not yet listed there last I checked, but I'm hoping that it will be.)

I can't tell you how excited I am to have been part of this--nor how much I am looking forward to reading the book as a whole!

And having this book come out the same season that Peggy Senter Parsons' book is coming out... wOOt!

Chris M. said...

Thank YOU, Liz! You took an idea that's been batted around the blogosphere for a couple of years and actually did it. Congratulations!

May your presentation on June 29 leave you feeling close to the Light.