Thursday, May 25, 2017

flaws and all

Here are the grammar/vocabulary textbooks I've been working on for the past year-plus. Except for Book 1A, I'm the author of about 15 of each chapter's 18 or so pages, so if the books fail, the responsibility is mostly mine. Luckily, reviews from teachers have thus far been good, which is why I still have a job.

So now you see the series's title; pay no attention to the pornographically named Real Deep, (also sitting on the shelf) which I worked on for a while, but which is mostly not my baby.*

Hats off to my freelance colleague Neil, who contributed the prose-dense reading passages to all the books. Neil's contributions (and he's a real pro) were crucial because most of the exercises that came after his passages were in some way or other based on them. If we're counting pages, Neil's stories take up 3-4 pages in each chapter, but the significance of Neil's content was much larger than that number of pages. His work basically provided content for two-thirds of each chapter, which is why he's listed as a contributing writer whereas I'm listed only as a copy editor. (We'll see about rectifying that in later books, given the amount of essay-length original content I contributed as well.)

Leave any questions in the comments.

I just finished proofreading the PDF for the manuscript of Book 2C, and later this year—no rush—I'll be working on 3C, which will complete the series. In the meantime, I'm tasked with creating a book on philosophy for kids, which seems like an enjoyable project as long as I don't have to rush too much.

If you're wondering why no Western names appear on the spines of our textbooks, it's because that's our company's policy: all glory, laud, and honor must go to our company's CEO, whose name appears on all our textbooks despite his having almost nothing to do with their creation (ssssshhhhhhhh). While this does rankle a bit, I told myself when I got here that I'd take no ownership of the work I did for the company. I'm a corporate prole on salary, and I've entered a phase of life in which I merely labor in obscurity. The only people who might know my name are the foreign (and Korean) teachers who use my textbook... but they'll know me only as an editor and not as the author of most of the material in these books. Ah, well.

As for scoring a writing credit later on: I won't be fighting that hard to get my name on the front-matter page twice. Once may have to be enough.

*In the office, we joke that the sequels to the Real Deep series ought to be named Real Hard and Real Wet. Maybe throw in a Real Hairy.


John from Daejeon said...

I hope your name is somewhere in those books. Sorry, I but I'm about to get a bit carried away, but even well produced pamphlets and advertisements should credit those who toiled away creating them out of nothingness.

As an avid reader (aka money-spending fool) of comic books and various TV/film novels, it upsets me to nearly no end when movies come out and blatantly rip off really great writers' work that spans multiple issues (and years) and then condense these imaginative and thought-provoking stories into a couple of hours of mostly incomprehensible on-scree gibberish. But even when the odd comic book movie strikes it big, the creator of the original work is seldom ever credited. Everyone knows Stan Lee (and a few know Jack Kirby) as the creators of Marvel, but they don't know that it was the likes of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza (Deadpool), Len Wein, Romita, Sr., and Herb Trimpe (Wolverine), or Chris Claremont and John Byrne (without this duo, there'd be no X-Men) that allowed Marvel to marvel both the comic book world and sometimes the cinematic world. And before George Lucas decided to mine his Star Wars film world for more money, he allowed countless books to be licensed and written based on the assumption that there'd be no more cinematic Star Wars masterpieces (and to this day, there aren't any). But now all those books I (and many others) bought and read are now no longer part of the Star Wars canon. The most egregious example involves the Star Trek book, Federation. It is a fantastic book involving Kirk, Picard, and Zefram Cochrane, but the later film, Star Trek: First Contact, pretty much invalidates the book written by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (aka William Shatner's ghost writers on his Star Trek novels). And you are right, "appropriation is just what we do." But, I do think that there is good and bad involved. The good is more people in the world now know who Deadpool is (and soon, Cable), but the bad hits many in their pocketbooks. And while I can lament the debacle that is Star Trek: First Contact and how it usurped the novel, Federation, in Star Trek canon. For a short period of time, I was moved, impressed, and entertained by the Reeves-Stevens' novel. And thanks to knowing their names, I've read many of their other works and seen much of their television work as well.

Kevin Kim said...

I'm listed on the copyright page as a copy editor, which is literally true, since much of what I do involves copy editing. I also want to be listed as a writer, though, because I've written sample essays, sample paragraphs, review questions, grammar exercises, etymological explanations, phrasal-verb charts, discussion questions, and all sorts of other original material. 80% of that content came directly from me, all original, none of it cribbed from online.

My coworker is in a similar situation. In the year that he's been working with me, he has quietly authored three or four entire books, and I'm not sure how much credit he's being given in the front matter.

The unsung heroes of publishing.