My Thoughts · Writing

How I Prepared for My Next Book

My Next Book
Photo by rikka ameboshi from Pexels

I had my next book in the back of my mind—a how to book on writing a biography after tackling the gigantic job of Marshall Flippo’s biography. Lin had suggested I keep a journal while interviewing Flippo and writing his book, so I did. I already have over 5,000 words towards that book. In writing that biography about a well-known figure, I learned so much in the writing and a lot after-the-fact. I even had a title picked out, “I Said Yes!”

            But life interrupted my plan! 2020’s coronavirus disaster sidetracked me because first, I wrote poetry to process my feelings about what we experienced. Then I shared them in my weekly blog posts for over thirty posts.

            After sharing my process in my blog posts, readers emailed me amid the craziness, thanking me for voicing the concerns and feelings in a way they couldn’t. Thus, my new book came to life, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, inspired by those blog posts.

            At first, I planned to just duplicate the posts with minimal revision and get a book out as soon as possible, while the angst echoed through people’s minds. Someone in my writing group asked after reading the first two chapters, “Are you going to combine these two and revise them before publication?”

            A resounding “No” came out of my heart and soul. That would take too long and I thought getting this book out the sooner the better would be a saving grace for its timeliness on the market.


            Then I added my professional editor to the mix. I did some revisions before sending the manuscript to her, realizing holes existed between the posts. After waiting a couple weeks past the date we had planned, she let me know she was doing more than copy editing. She was doing developmental editing, too, which took much more time.


            Copy editing “is the act of fine-tuning a book’s text, otherwise known as the ‘copy.’ A copy edit will generally address grammatical or punctuation errors, incorrect facts, anomalies, inconsistencies and glaring typos. Overall, the purpose of copy editing is to ensure that the language supports the writer’s intent — while also creating the most readable version of their book.”


As opposed to copy editing, developmental editing “is a thorough and in-depth review of your entire manuscript. It examines all the elements of your writing, from individual words and sentences to overall structure and style. In fiction, this edit will also address any issues related to plot and characterization.”

            I so appreciated her willingness to make my book the best it could be, and she had many suggestions to tighten it up and make a renewed version instead of a duplication of my blog posts. My blog posts inspired this book, but because of her suggestions, I have expanded it. So, I’ve spent the last couple weeks first going over and making the first easy initial changes. Then I went back over it in depth to make the voluminous revisions suggested. I will send it off to her in the next couple days for a final read-through to see if I caught all of her alterations, which I normally do.

            I deviated on one of her suggestions, though: I had questions at the end of each chapter for personal reflections. My vision of the book is the reader reading the chapter, then reflect and respond. She suggested listing the questions at the end of the book, but that didn’t fit with one of my objectives: I want the reader to reflect and respond. I felt if the questions were at the back, the reader might skip them.


            I hired a marketing agent with the Flippo book, finding her a valuable resource. So, I reconnected with her for this book. Again, I appreciated her many directions. Here are a couple of important ones:

  • Hire someone to write the book descriptions for the back of the book, an elevator speech (a short 30 second description) and then a lengthy one
  • Contact people to be Advanced Readers to read the book before release and then write a blurb to use for promotions
    • I had fun with this one. Because I classified this book as a spiritual self-help book first and then a memoir, I asked three people in the counseling field I know: a Christian life coach, a trauma-informed psychotherapist, a Catholic priest in recovery who has been my mentor for over thirty years and the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Three of the four have read it and responded with a publishable blurb.


            I have always done the covers for my other books and cookbooks which I thoroughly enjoy. My desktop design passions have always driven me to do my own. I had one cover for A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memory done by someone else, then I had to correct too much of it, so it ended up being my design anyway.

Recently I have been reading a book, How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market, by Reedy’s Richardo Fayet, and in the first quarter of the book, if he said it once, he said it five times, “Hire a professional to create your cover.” So, I’m taking his advice and plan to hire a company,, to do this one.


            Lin photographed the picture for my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, and we had a memorable evening taking pictures along the road going out to our ranch. We didn’t plan it, but he got a gorgeous picture of Mesa de Mayo in the background in one picture, so we used that one.

            I took the picture for my second book, When Will Papa Get Home?. I used a picture of Dad on his favorite horse, Rusty, for Let Me Tell You a Story. A friend took my picture with Saddlerock, a notable landmark near Branson, Colorado for my next book, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memory.

            For my last book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, I knew I’d use one of Flippo’s vintage photographs and love the one we ended up with. I had help from a couple of square dance friends on how to lay out the back cover.

            After a hearty conversation in the hot tub one night, Lin and I came up with the idea for the picture for my new book—a reflection of me in a mirror in his garden. We decided his garden a suitable location because I identified in the end of the book the surge of gardening during the pandemic throughout the world.

            So, for two evenings, we moved the mirror (a Mexican mirror about five feet tall on a stand) around the garden, trying different places, but after the second night we realized our peril: it wasn’t working!

            Then, I had a thought: how about me in Lin’s garden looking reflective? Lin loved that idea. The night we planned to do it, Lin watched an old rerun of The Doris Day Show with Denver Pyle as her dad. He instructed me to watch the intro, and he stopped it at a still profile picture of Denver with a reflective expression on his face.

            Lin directed me, “Channel Denver Pyle in the garden,” so that’s what I did. I’ll be interested to get your opinion when you see the cover.

            In conclusion, so much goes into publishing a book, and I love every facet. I also do the interior design of my book using a program named Vellum. I’m excited about my next book!

Did you have any idea about the process involved? If you have questions, don’t hesitate! (Scroll down below the information for the Comment section.)

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Flippo's Book cover - next book

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there:

~Pre-Order My New Book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? To be released mid-June

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”:


~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books:

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces