Sep 19

The update on the introduction today is brief, just two paragraphs. I’m not sure why they merited their own subheading when Beauty from Afar copy was being finalized. I recall being told, pretty much, that the more catchy subheads we had, the better. So that’s how we end up with A Nose Job in Iran?

And the answer to the question is: Why not?

What I was trying to point out is as true now as it was in 2005: There is terrific medical care in parts of the world that many people do not associate with terrific medical care. So while many U.S. citizens associate Iran with mullahs, election fraud and threats to world peace, we should keep in mind that Iran is a large and diverse country; that there are more than a million Americans of Iranian descent; and that if we’re worried about Iran’s nuclear technology, we can certainly assume their plastic surgeons may have mastered rhinoplasty.

In fact, they’re known for being good at it, which is why I mentioned it at all.

However briefly.

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Sep 18

I recall that one of my favorite moments in researching Beauty from Afar came not from the travel and not from the interesting people I met along the way. It was in finding out that Michael Crichton had written about medical tourism in — of all books! — Jurassic Park.

I’m not making this up; and the information made it into the introduction as a short section, which I added today.

I’m finding that I have to edit the text of Beauty from Afar, onscreen, with an actual copy of the book on my lap. The digital version I have to work with is missing words, occasionally, and is also entirely … mispunctuated. (Is that a word?) This is because I’m working from a Quark file turned into an Acrobat file, from which I copy and paste text into a text file, and then massage it.  Copy changes and even vanishes. Note to any other authors who try this: Yes, of course you could use the final version you submitted to your publisher in MS Word, or whatever. But … are you sure that’s the final version of the book?

P.S. The physical copy of Beauty from Afar has 215 pages. When I started this project, I thought that this online version would … mimic that. It made sense to me … the book has some 65,000 words and I thought that 300 or so at a time would be about right. And given that I’d like this project to at least pay for itself, I thought that having 215 pages with advertisements was not a bad idea.

Just a few days in, though, I’ve discovered what you would have, soon enough, if I had stuck to the plan. Page breaks are artifical and annoying unless you have pages you can turn immediately. (Well, it bothers me, anyway.)  So I’m repaginating as I go. This online version of Beauty from Afar, I’m thinking, will be more like 100 pages, in the end. I intend that each page will end as unjarringly as possible. There are no “widowed” words in the book; there will be no widowed paragraphs in the online version.

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Sep 17

We have reached that part of the project where I am finally posting what most people would consider to be the actual book part of the book, by which they would mean: The Introduction. Chapters. Etc.

We’re done with the packaging, the excusing, the thanking, the congratulating, the greeting, the Buy-Me-Take-Me-Home part of the ordeal. We are back where I was in mid 2005. I had signed a contract in January of that year to write a book about traveling abroad for plastic surgery and dentistry and medical care; but I did not really start working on it for a few months, because it took that long for my publisher to actually write me a check for the first half of my advance and I was otherwise sort of broke, or at least broke enough that I couldn’t afford to do the travel I needed to do for research until I saw some money.

I finally sat down to start the actual writing of BFA in June of 2005. I wrote an introduction. Then I wrote another introduction.

I hated them both, and I started panicking. What had ever made me think I could write a book?

Finally, I retraced my steps. I reread the original proposal I had written for the book, which I had liked, and which my agent had liked enough to represent me, and which my publisher had liked enough to give me an advance.

And I found the right tone, and the third try at an introduction was … well, you know. It was fine.

Introduction: How I Got My Smile Back

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Sep 17

bfa-frontThe jacket copy of a book, I’m told, works hand-in-hand with the covering. It is Point of Sale (POS) marketing. The cover and title (and perhaps the author’s name) are what make a prospective book buyer pick a copy off a table or a shelf.

Never mind the other things that POS can stand for.

Anyway, the idea is … you, the reader, are browsing in a store and pick up a book that looks interesting. If it still looks interesting in your hand, you might flip it over and read what’s on the back jacket. If it STILL looks interesting, you might read what’s on the book flaps.

Then, you’ll either buy it or put it down and move on. Unless you’re the author, in which case you might try to arrange the book or books so that they stand out better among the thousands of other books in the store, at least until some employee comes along and undoes your work.

Publishers have not yet figured out much about online bookselling and take all their cues from Amazon, which is making it up as it goes along. Here is the Beauty from Afar page at Amazon. There is no jacket copy, really. There are a bunch of nice reviews, though, and none of them was written by my mom.

I am feeling like this site wouldn’t be complete without at least some photos of the original jacket copy. Continue reading »

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Sep 16

I added Curtis J. Schroeder’s Afterword for Beauty from Afar today, along with fussing with links on the table of contents page and updating the “About” page to reflect the fact that I am available for work and that I am open to the partnership and advertising possibilities inherent in this site.

Curt, as far as I know, is still group CEO at Bumrungrad International in Bangkok, Thailand; and I am still grateful for his kind words, written in 2006.

Yes, putting up the Afterword now is out of order. I thought about putting it up last. But I decided that anything that was really about the book and gives people the reasons why they might want to read it, ought to go up before I started posting actual chapters.

Besides, I love the Afterword and it makes me feel good to read it again.

So … next, I’ll put the jacket copy up, somehow; and then the Introduction … and then, I’ll probably start letting people know about the site and, little by little, post the 12 chapters. I’ll make pretty ebooks, in various formats, once I have pulled all the text out of the Quark file and massaged it sufficiently.

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Sep 14

BFAcoverweb(9-15-09) added original Table of Contents

(9-14-09) Since it is increasingly apparent that physical copies of Beauty from Afar are becoming more scarce, I’m commencing to put the text online. Like, starting now, really.

I do not yet have pretty e-books made up. I’m working from an ugly Acrobat document I managed to make out of the original Quark document of the book that I wheedled away from my publisher in 2006. I don’t even know how I managed to get that far, since neither version of Quark I have will open the publisher’s file now. InDesign won’t do it either. If someone with a Mac and Quark 6 or so wants to see if they can help me out with a conversion … well, I’d be grateful.

Meantime, I’m pulling the text out and pasting it to a text file that will eventually work great as a flat format e-book. And, as I go, I’ll post pages. Today, we have the original author’s note and the foreword.

That’s the cover of the book, at right. I didn’t pick it. And, in fact, I’m still a little embarrassed by it, for obvious reasons. I’ve been told by a lot of people I shouldn’t be and they’re probably right. “Sex sells.” What’s to be embarrassed by?

Still …

Here is the never-before-published cover sheet I did for the original book proposal. You can tell I had a different notion of what the book was about.


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