2015-12-06

Self-Publishing: Dedication

Update
The re-editing of Honor Thy Enemy (book 3 of the Galactic Alliance series) is complete. Formatting for CreateSpace is also complete. I will be working on the new cover and the Kindle formatting today. If all goes well, the newly revised book will be uploaded on Monday. During my updating of HTE, I found a few issues that also appeared in the first two books I re-edited. I will be uploading these corrections as well.

I have also dropped the price of the remainder of my books as well as enrolled them in Amazon's KDP program. This is still an on-going experiment and I will let you know how this pans out.

Lessons in Formatting
Before I jump into the topic for this week, I thought I would share a few lessons I've learned during this long re-editing / reformatting project. The overall lesson I've learned is: Pay attention to detail. I was looking at the PDF of Honor Thy Enemy and I noticed that the odd pages had a line at the top while the even pages did not. After fixing this, I went back and looked at the first two books - Translight was okay, but Chroniech had the same problem. How did I miss that? I also found that I had forgotten to switch the font from Georgia to Garamond in one of my styles. This wasn't very obvious when editing in Word but it stuck out like a beacon in the PDF.

After you've done your formatting, export your novel to PDF and switch the display to show pages side-by-side. Don't read, just flip through the entire manuscript and run your eyes down each page. The formatting should appear smooth and consistent. Make sure you are following your formatting rules and look to see that each and every page is correct. If you need a refresher on formatting, take a look at my past post on formatting.

Dedication
How long does it take you to read a book? Let's say you can read a 90,000 word novel in about a month. You read at home, during lunch at work, sitting on the pot, on the bus, wherever you can. That's a lot of time. Now think about how long it takes to write that novel. The initial draft might take a year, two years, or many more depending on the writer. But once the first draft is done, the editing begins. The writer now reads the entire novel again, making changes along the way. If she does what most writers suggest, the manuscript is set aside for a month to put some distance between the words and the writer. She will then go back and read it again and make more changes. This process is repeated several times. Often, another person reads the manuscript and provides feedback. The writer then reads the entire manuscript again and incorporates the changes. This entire process is repeated until the novel is done.

But wait - we aren't done yet! If you're a self-published author, now you must take the time to format your novel for distribution. Often, you will read the entire manuscript again while doing this. If you produce output for both Kindle and printed versions, you will have to at least scan the entire novel once for each output format.

Sounds like a lot of work - right? You bet! Since most writers also hold down a regular job, all this writing, editing, formatting, and revising is done when most people are out with friends, reading books, watching movies, etc. And, if you want to sell your book, none of these steps can be shortened. This takes a tremendous amount of dedication. How many readers ever consider what it takes to write a book? The next time you meet an author, thank them for their dedication and for the sacrifices they have made to put that book in your hands.

After attending WordCon earlier this year, I promised I would take the time to ensure that my currently published novels were as professionally formatted and edited as I could possibly make them. I set aside a novel I was working on and started my re-editing / reformatting project. There have been times when I wanted to set that project aside and get back to writing. But, I had dedicated myself to doing what I had promised. There is a price to pay for this.

Book royalties are based on a number of factors. To name a few: How many people spread the word; How many books an author has in print; And, how often an author puts out a new book. If you put out a book every year or two, people tend to remember you. If you take longer, your name and the name of the book they read by you will fade from memory. Sales of all my books increase when I release a new novel. I'm coming up on the one year point since I released my last book and I'm getting uncomfortable about not having one ready to release. Does that mean I'm going to abandon my project? NO!

The books I have in print right now are a reflection of who I am as a writer. If they appear unprofessional, then that's the opinion people will have of me no matter what I write in this blog. I will finish the project before I go back to writing. Dedication is not easy, but it's a way of life for a writer. If you want to be respected by your readers and other writers, you've got to have focused dedication to the art and craft of writing.