In my first post, I shared the path that led to my own decision to self-publish. In my second, I briefly compared traditional and self publishing. Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty. How do you get your story out there for the rest of the world to read?
Okay, you have a polished manuscript that’s seen suggestions and revisions. You’re ready to publish, right? Don’t even think about it until your manuscript has been thoroughly edited. I know, I know, even professionally prepared books sometimes contain errors. But indie books have gathered a notoriously bad reputation in this department, and for good reason. Many of the ones I’ve read have been so poorly edited that I hesitate to purchase them without previewing first. And this coming from a self-published author!
It’s a good idea to hire a professional editor. They’re simple enough to find through a Google search, but with fees charged per word, it can get costly in a hurry. (Self-published author and blogger Lindsay Buroker recently posted a nice summary of three degrees of professional editing and their price tags.) So I chose a non-professional option:
After the completion of my manuscript, I set it aside for a few weeks to let some of the details sift from my memory. Then I read it again, twice, purely to search for errors. After that, I sent it off to three fellow writers. None of us proofread for a living, but we all have spell check and an excellent grasp of grammar. I couldn’t believe how many errors I missed! After making corrections, I went ahead and published my books…only to find they still weren’t ready! My first few reviewers picked up on another ten or twelve typos and homophones (ie. sees/seas) in each book.
You’ll recall that my first several titles were published about the same time, so this process overlapped in a three-book mess. One of my early titles, because it is the second in a series, didn’t receive quite the same amount of proofreading given to the others. (Everyone wanted to read the first one.) To my utter embarrassment, when I reread it several months after publication, I found dozens of errors. I was horrified! It has since received the attention that should have been lavished on it immediately. Fortunately, digital publishing makes the correction of errors a fairly simple matter. It cannot, however, erase the impression readers received when they purchased my unprofessional book.
So what have I learned? Editing requires time and meticulous care. And more eyes is definitely better. A dozen typos isn’t horrible in a 50,000-word novel, but that’s still way more than I want. (Dozens is unacceptable.) For my next novel, I will repeat all the steps I mentioned above. Then I’ll label my book as an ARC (advanced readers copy) and send it out to a much wider group of proofreaders, including some of the reviewers I’ve been fortunate to meet this past year. Only after these come back and additional corrections are made will I launch my book.
I made a mess of my first attempts, and I do NOT want to repeat those mistakes. Readers deserve a quality product immedietly (not to mention your reputation). Take the time to give it to them.
**I’ll be without my laptop for a few days, so bear with me when I don’t reply to comments immediately.
Go to Part 4: Cover Images