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The story behind the books:
The Hot Apple Cider books actually began at Missionfest in Toronto on March, 2007, when I was talking to Eric Spath from World Vision Canada.
I knew Eric was doing Girls Night Out events and that they gave out a book in the gift bag each woman received. I commented that the two books they had given out at that point were both written by American writers and published by American publishers. I knew that Eric was choosing Canadian speakers and musical artists, so I asked if they shouldn't be giving out a Canadian book. He said they'd be delighted. But neither of us could think of a way to get them a book.
I wandered around and ended up talking to Martin Smith, who is active with the Gospel Music Association of Canada and also distributes Canadian music. I happened to glance down at the table and saw a CD with one song from each of 20 Canadian artists on it. Something clicked in my brain.
Later I found Eric and asked, “What about a compilation book? Short pieces from 20 writers?”
He thought it was a terrific concept, but since neither of us had any idea where we would find the money to produce such a book, the idea went on the backburner along with a number of other, “Wouldn’t it be great?” ideas I’ve had over the last few years.
Then, one day in September, Eric called me to ask me if there was any way we could get the book.
We set up a meeting between the two of us and Larry Willard, who publishes under Castle Quay Books, and who has been part of The Word Guild from day one. The three of us agreed that this was a wonderful opportunity for Canadian writers, but since Eric needed books by April 2008, it was virtually impossible. We had no idea where we would get the money to pay for publishing the books. Larry was already swamped with books he had committed to print. And no one in his or her right mind tries to do a quality book in six months.
But in spite of the many obstacles I knew would be in the way, I also knew beyond any doubt that we had to take this opportunity. “We can only do it,” I said, “if the authors will donate the money to pay for publishing the books to donate to World Vision.”
My calculations led me to think we needed 20 people to make it work. The same number I'd thought of at Missionfest.
The call for submissions:
On September 19, 2007, the first call went out to authors to find out if any of them were interested in participating in a project that would result in 30,000 books going out to women across Canada, beginning in April of 2008. (April 7th as it turned out.) The catch was that the authors would not only have to send a story, article or poem within a very short period, but would also have to commit to sending a donation to help pay for printing the books.
By September 25th, 18 authors had shown interest. On September 29th, with another 3 authors showing interest, my husband Les, Wendy Nelles (who would be co-editor), and I made the call to go ahead.
Our first priority was the title; the second was the cover design. Both came together quite readily and we sent the catalog copy to our US distributor by October 24th, the same day we’d given the authors to get their submissions in.
Then began the process of reading and editing the submissions, a task which in some cases was quite minor and in others more intense. Both Wendy and I read and discussed each item, and then whichever of us felt more passionate about the contents did the first edit, using track changes. We each ended up doing first edit on about half the items.
We then rotated items, and after the second edit, emailed the work back to each author, beginning an editing process which in some cases took only a few back and forth emails, and in others more.
In the end, 30 authors committed to the project, and bestselling Canadian author Janette Oke agreed to write the foreword for us. We had hoped for a 200-page book; we ended up with 296 pages.
Back in September, I had jotted down tentative dates by which we needed to complete each step of the process. As the weeks went by, I checked off the box beside each date. Title. Check. Cover designs. Check. Cover designs seen by experts in the industry. Check. Final cover chosen. Check. ISBN. Check. Catalogue copy written. Check. Entries in. Check.
Submissions read by both Wendy and N. J. Check. First edits by N. J. and Wendy. Check. Editing discussed. Check. Final edits. Check. Edited submissions sent to authors. Check. Authors input discussed. Check. Follow-up as needed. Check. Authors sent pdfs of their work to approve. Check.
Initial layout of stories in order. Discussion of story order. Check. Story order edited. Check. Initial layout done. Check.
Potential endorsers contacted. Check. Layout design ready. Check. Book laid out. Check. Layout edited by N. J. and Wendy. Check. Final edit. Check. Advance Reading Copies out to endorsers. Check. Advance Reading Copy out to proofreader. Check.
Proofreaders edits gone over by N. J. and Wendy. Check. More layout edits. Check. Advance Reading Copy to second proofreader. Check.
Final edit of all aspects. Check. Changes made as appropriate. Check. Book to printer. Check. Collapse of N. J. and Wendy. Check.
Unbelievably, on March 17th, the books were printed and ready for shipping. Thirty thousand of the books, donated by the authors, all of whom were members of The Word Guild, went to the Girls Night Out warehouse. The rest of the books, paid for by That’s Life! Communications, the publisher, went to various distributors’ warehouse in Canada and the USA. Six short months from the day we first asked if there was any interest, we had the books in our hands.
Since then, Hot Apple Cider has sold more than 12,00 copies in addition to the books given to World Vision Canada – even though it's still largely unknown to many, many people.
And two years later, again working with World Vision Canada, with stories from 37 writers, we began the process of editing and publishing A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, which came out in May, 2011, and which is an equally amazing book!