Take the Wheel Gets Bigger and Better

The revised edition of Take the Wheel: A Woman’s Guide to Buying a Car Her Own Damn Self will be out in November! Here’s a quick tour of the changes:

  • The booklet Alternative Fueliverse has been updated and included in the text of Take the Wheel. If an electric car or plug-in hybrid is on your shopping list, you’ll find the most useful information for making that decision all in one book.
  • All makes and models have been updated, so there aren’t any mentions of cars that aren’t built anymore.
  • The financial and insurance sections have been updated to include special cases like ride hailing and car sharing. There’s information on these uses for your new car throughout the book, but you’ll see the most impact — and run into the most pitfalls — when it comes to financing and insuring your new car.
  • There’s basic information included on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and the coming of autonomous technology.

All told, the changes and updates add a couple dozen pages to the book. And it’ll be getting fresh, fly cover! And a new, lower price! It’ll still be available in both paperback and ebook formats.

There are a couple points of bad news. The first is that in order to create the new edition, I had to take down the old edition. So the 2013 first edition is no longer available. You can make it.

The second point of less than great news is that I wanted to include a myriad of voices from women who have bought cars. I put out the call, I boosted posts, I asked in person, and I got two lukewarm offers of stories. Meh. So I had to let that dream go and merely update the information to make it more timely and relevant for today’s car shoppers. If you want to tell me your car shopping story, though, I’d still love to hear it! Click Contact to send me a message.

If ADAS and autonomous cars are something you’re interested in, a published book is not ever going to keep up with that noise — um, I mean, news. To separate the news from the noise and find out how to use the new technologies in your new car, head over to Carsplaining.com.

Learning? Let Lynda and Your Library Help!

This post brought to you by the letter L.

I’ve self-published a book before (Take the Wheel: A Woman’s Guide to Buying a Car Her Own Damn Self), and I work in publishing, so I feel pretty confident about publishing Lightning in a Throttle: Three Early Electric Vehicle Victories this summer. I’ve got lots of friends and colleagues in the biz who can help me out, and the paper has already been edited, so it’s nearly ready to go right now.

But what if I did more? What if I used this book as an opportunity to learn new skills? What if I, a wordsmith of many years, tackled design, which I have no business doing at all?

My friends and colleagues are likely weeping at reading that. Self-published authors with outsize opinions of their design abilities are the bane of their existence. But how hard can it be to pick up InDesign when you haven’t used it since 2006? How difficult can it be to create a cover in Photoshop using a vintage image from a presentation you did and a font you downloaded? It’s an awesome font!

Um, it’s hard. All those things are hard. Even with an awesome font.

But not impossible, thanks to Lynda.com and the Multnomah County Library! So Lynda.com is a site where you can learn a whole bunch of business stuff; it’s owned by LinkedIn, which I do not use. Multnomah County Library is a magical network of books both print and virtual in Portland, Oregon; it is owned by the people, of which I am one! Just as I learned of the existence and usefulness of Lynda.com, my friend and fellow library user Carly told me that I could log in to the learning site using my library card and the classes would be free. Holy. Shit. Yes. 

This is where I am learning the very basics of InDesign CC, which I downloaded on Saturday. By the end of the afternoon, I had placed my text and made some headers using my awesome font. I have not yet tackled images in reflowable ebooks. It seems daunting. But I’m pretty sure Lynda is going to teach me how to make it happen in the next series I’ve saved to my playlist, InDesign CC 2015: EPUB Fundamentals. I took a short refresher course in ebook publishing basics yesterday afternoon on a whim. For free. I’ve also got Creating Ebooks for the Kindle waiting for me. I’m going to own this shit. Sort of. In all likelihood.

If I truly mess up my manuscript in the design process, I do have friends and colleagues I can pay to bail me out and fix my fuck-ups. Whether or not you have this kind of professional safety net, it’s worth checking to see if the library card languishing in a desk drawer might be able to help you improve your ebook’s design, inside and out. Though if you’re a writer, your library card is probably not languishing. It might be in rough shape from overuse, but not languishing. Languishing. Languish. Languish. Now it sounds weird.

Anyway. To recap: Lynda + Library = Love + Learning. Happy publishing!

Putting My Money Where My Pen Is

I wrote a draft of A Car of One’s Own last year and shopped it around to agents, to no avail. It’s a weird length at 30,000 words, and it’s not the kind of book a person would buy at Barnes and Noble for $15. It’s a tough sell for an agent.

Publishing it electronically myself seemed to make sense. So I said I would, and then I didn’t.

Then my friend Nicole, owner of Spot Color Studio, caught me in a brave (read: tipsy) moment. She was very convincing in her support of the book — she’d read an early version — and she had ideas for marketing it. I said, “Yeah! Let’s do it!” And then I didn’t for another little while.

Finally, I said I would publish this book myself enough times that I had to put up or shut up. So I put up. I put up a huge down payment to Spot Color. Nicole brought me a contract and a timeline and a to-do list and a harsh truth: A Car of One’s Own is a title for literary nerds like me, not for the vast majority of women who could benefit from the book. I brought her a big check.

I’m lucky that my marketing person is also my friend, and that she totally believes in this project. She knows how terrible I am at marketing and how good I am at writing, and she’s willing to make up for my weaknesses. She’s also willing to push me beyond my comfort zone, which I left the second I signed the contract and committed to publishing this book.

When I got home after drinking coffee and signing contracts with Nicole, I told my husband that all I wanted was to hide under a blanket with the dog (we enjoy it; it’s one of our hobbies). He said I was aloud to hide for two days, and then I had to get out there and hustle.

Regular blog updates are part of the hustle, apparently, so I’ll be posting here more often during the publication process. Next up: new title!