In July, I published the Kindle edition and audiobook of Edna Ferber’s classic coming-of-age story Fanny Herself: A Passionate Instinct. On the surface, the task of publishing new editions of a public domain work might seem simple. After all, the author has done the hard part of actually writing the text. As you’ll discover in a short series of articles from several journal entries I want to share, the effort and decisions occurring behind the scenes were almost as difficult and time-consuming as creating a new story.
You may remember from this post that in order for me to publish an audiobook from a public domain book on Audible.com — my end goal — I have to create a new Kindle version of the text. This version must be distinguished from the free version in the Kindle store in 1 of 3 ways:
- annotated with substantive, hand-created content
- illustrated with 10 or more pictures that are relevant to the text
- translated into another language
I had illustrated my first book The Heart of The New Thought and decided to illustrate Fanny Herself.
Monday 31 March 2014
When it comes easy, you know it’s meant to be, and the Universe was certainly smiling on me this afternoon to make it easy for me to illustrate Fanny Herself!
Last night, I started looking for stock images to illustrate the book. I thought it would be easy to find a Victorian, plush photo album shaped like an acorn. I’m sure I’ve seen such a thing in a magazine. I spent at least an hour and maybe even 2 looking for that one picture but came up empty. As we went to bed, I thought I should plan to annotate my Kindle book instead of illustrate it.
I started researching the famous violinist Schabelitz to see if he really was a violinist or an imaginary character. Ferber mixes real and imagined people and things so easily that I don’t know where fiction ends and facts begin.
I found info about the German influences in Wisconsin and a journalist in Cincinnati named R. E. Schabelitz. These were interesting finds, and I thought of other things to add.
I saw several links to the book and looked at a few. One was the Emory Women Writers Resource Project, which might be a useful repository of future publishing projects.
Another link was the JACKPOT! I found Volume 83 of The American Magazine containing their issues from Jan.-June 1917. Fanny Herself, I quickly learned, was serialized in that magazine starting in April 1917! And guess what?! Within each month’s portion were hand-drawn illustrations by M. Leone Bracker! I found 10 between April and June, which is all I need to offer the book on Kindle. I also found a picture of Ferber and made copies of the magazine cover and some promotional paragraphs.
I looked for volume 84 in Google. They have digitized a number of volumes of The American Magazine, but they weren’t in order. I never could find volume 84. I was thinking about checking libraries to find it.
I decided to look on eBay. I queried “American Magazine 1917” and got 41 results, most of which were for different magazines like the American Magazine of the Arts, Mentor, etc. Someone had the April 1917 issue of The American Magazine for $20.
I about jumped out of my skin when I saw the holy grail: Volume 84, bound like a library copy, of the July-Dec. 1917 issues of The American Magazine!! I didn’t even read the description! I saw the pictures and the price of $18 plus $3 shipping, and I bought it!
I then saw that the front and back covers of each magazine are missing, along with about 12 pages throughout the book. The probability that those 12 pages were the pictures I want is too remote to even consider. It’s coming from North Carolina, so I should have my book later this week.
When I think of the probability of the very book I need being on eBay at the precise time I looked, my astonishment and elation increase. What are the odds?! Obviously the Universe and perhaps Edna Ferber herself want me to have an easy time of bringing new life to this book! I’m soooo excited that I will be able to include the original illustrations from the magazine in my book!!