Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Taking the Time to do it Right

Ever since I started on this road to publishing, I heard people lament how long it takes to get published. First there was the grueling effort to achieve an agent, and then there was another grueling wait, hoping they could squeak their baby in the door somewhere. The journey could take years, and there was no guarantee of ever succeeding. Many writers were impatient with this. I admit it, I was too. I'm no spring chicken and I had a dozen manuscripts to get out there. At an average of one book per year, provided that ball got rolling, that was 12 years. Add an unknown number of years just to get an agent (hoping that agent wanted all of my work, but possibly not), then add another unknown number of years to get into a publishing house. I would never see my last book published, if any of them.

With the advent of CreateSpace, SmashWords, and yes, Barns & Noble's NookBook, publishing became incredibly easy, even free, not counting the cost of a cover, and if you can do your own cover, the profits are all yours. I published one book through CreateSpace and B&N NookBook and have recouped my cover cost by 200%. One happy camper here.

However, those first indie books were a shining example of why the long, grueling route was the way to go. Fortunately, some indie authors were aware of this and acted accordingly. They went to the trouble of finding a good editor and multiple readers to help them iron out the issues in their baby. They also worked hard to spread the word that such action is vital to the success of their books. Me? I was very picky to begin with. I wanted my books to be the very best they could be. My first book, published through a seemingly reputable subsidy publisher, was error free, but certainly less than it could be, but what did I know?

Now, I've come up in the world. I have my own Kindle now and have read quite a few books so far. Not a lot yet, but I'd say maybe a dozen since getting it last Christmas. So far, by comparison, writers still need to slow down and take the time to ensure their book is the best it can be.

Reputation is still important. The reputation of the big publishing houses is still that they turn out great books, as as far as I can tell, they do. The indie publishing pool started out with a very bad reputation. Rife with errors and bad formatting to boot. Today, I think writers are slowly dragging the indie reputation up out of the mud, but we're not there yet.

Recently, I was asked to promote a book offered free, in an effort to spur interest in the rest of the series. Personally, if this had been my book, I might have made the mistakes at first (though seriously, less than I found), but I'd certainly have gone through the book again before trying such a promotion. Heck, even the reviews on Amazon should have been a clue to the writer that something needed to be done. I rated it 3 stars, but before I posted a review, I read a few of the other 3-star reviews. They too said the book was frustratingly full of errors. I didn't read all of those reviews, but when the top handful of 22 3-star reviews mention many errors, you'd think she'd have taken the hint. But no, she went ahead and pumped out another five books in that series, and has 18 others. Like I said, reputation matters and first impressions are paramount. I will not be reading any more of her books, and I actually liked the story, but if the writer doesn't care about the book, why should I?

So gee, people. Slow down. Even if you can't afford an editor, there are ways to ensure your baby is as polished as it can be. I have my computer read aloud to me. That nifty little trick is priceless. Even if you read aloud to yourself, you'll say the words your brain wants to be there; it's up to your eyes to catch the difference, and if they can't, the error slides by. However, your computer isn't so talented. It will read exactly what is on the page and even pause for commas or sound run on if a comma is needed. It also finds those pesky words that look almost the same but sound and mean something entirely different. As you can see, it is a very cool tool. I recommend you figure out how to use it ASAP. That aside, a good editor is still highly recommended, even if you think you can be your own editor, it's best to turn your baby over to another professional. You know, kings used to do that with their sons; it was too easy to overlook some kind of vital training or be to lenient with your own offspring. The same goes for your book.

Do you take time?


Willow Drake said...

Excellent Advice! This is why my novel is on hold.

William Kendall said...

I certainly take my time with it!