Saturday, September 13, 2014

Just How Careful Are You?

Are you self-published? Meaning do you publish your books yourself, either through Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, NookBooks, or any of the other publishing formats accessible directly to the writer. If you are, how careful are you about the product you turn out?

Since I started reading whatever tweaked my interest, especially within the environment I've currently been swimming, meaning the different on line forums where books are advertised by my friends and acquaintances and other people who frequent the same sites, I've noticed the product has improved over the last few years. In the beginning, the documents and PDFs I read were really quite bad. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about the story itself (most of the time), I'm talking about the product, the document, the book. Of course, most of the time, editing was the biggest issue in those early days, or at least that's what I noticed, and in those first days, if I noticed it, it was pretty bad.

Now, since I've had my Kindle, I see other things most of the time, not that editing isn't still something of an issue upon occasion, but usually it's just carelessness that grates my teeth these days. Nowadays, the eBook without a variety of formatting, or spacing, or paragraph indenting problems, is few and far between, and really very nice when I run across one.

To date, I've published two books all on my lonesome using CreateSpace (for paperback) as well as KDP for Kindle. Both allow me to look at what my book will look like as a finished product. Things I check for are:
  • Are the chapter headings at the beginning of the page?
  • Are my paragraphs all indented the way I like them to be?
  • If I used graphics, are they where I want them to be?
  • Is everything inside the margins prescribed by them?
  • Is anything at all out of place? (I once found a random line that didn't belong)
  • How about the header? (I once had to fix the indent there cause it was off center from the title)
  • How about the footer? Are your page numbers where you want them? I don't put page numbers in my eBooks.
That's not all though, that's just the kinds of things I look for while I'm there, but before I get there, I do a spelling and grammar recheck of my document. That clears all those things you've opted to ignore in the past. Now there's all those nice little red and green squiggly lines. Going through this step would have helped the book I'm reading right now quite a lot, because frequently the space is before the comma or period rather than after it. This is a byproduct of some formatting work that created more problems. I'm not sure what it is or how it got past the editor, but I've seen it more than just this time.

You also have to understand that those nifty little squiggly red lines won't find all typos. There are a lot of words that are official words, but they are not the word you want in that spot. One I've noticed in this book is a word I happen to like - belying - meaning 'to put a lie to' or 'show something as false or impossible' - in this case spelled 'bellying'. As you can see, the spelling isn't far off and they are both in the dictionary. Believe it or not, I even found a 'there/their' mistake. I was really quite surprised to find that one.

I do know that some of these typos are rather hard to spot. That's what makes a beta reader so valuable. There's nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to read through your manuscript, especially if they happen to be good with spelling. But in lieu of a fresh pair of eyes, you could accumulate a list of these kinds of typos and manually check for them. I strongly suggest you do this. At the very least, develop a list of your own writing weaknesses. I have one.

So writing your story is the fun part, but if you really care about your work, making sure the finished product is all it can be is the work part of your project, and none of it can be neglected. Take great care, and be very picky. The harder you work on this, the better the finished product will be. The byproduct of that will be a happy reader who just might tell a friend or two about your book, and that should put a smile on your face.



William Kendall said...

It occurs to me that I don't think I've ever personally used the word belying in writing.

Catherine said...

William^, you should, it is a cool word--LOL. Anna, you have a good point. Before purchasing an e- book, I look at the inside. It it doesn't look professional, I don't buy it.

Anna L. Walls said...

I look inside most of the time, but I buy for the story. If the blurb is iffy, I'll look at a few of the reviews, usually the harsher ones, those will be the ones that tell what, if anything is wrong with the story.

Willow Drake said...

Great advice! I only write the blog right now, but I know I have had to go back and tweak some of my posts because I don't check it well enough when writing at 2am.

I'm definitely going to have an editor when I do a book.

Anna L. Walls said...

Always a good idea. :D

BarbRad said...

It's so easy to make typos you don't notice. I've been revisiting some blogs to update the links, and I can't believe some of what got past me when I first wrote them.

Anna L. Walls said...

I know. I subscribe to my own posts, mostly to make sure the subscription works, but I also like to read through what I wrote. Probably about half the time I catch something that got past my first read-through. Frustrating sometimes, and embarrassing too.