I’ve finally done it. I’ve taken the next step in releasing my first young adult novel, Like You Mean It. I’ve sent the manuscript to be formatted to appropriate e-book standards. This was a big step for me and it wasn’t because I was putting my work in someone else’s hands. It was something bigger. It was about my desperate need to make sure this work is one-hundred percent polished and ready to publish.
This isn’t my first foray into self-publishing. When I released Letters from Linc back in 2006, e-books were an interesting idea being touted as the wave of the publishing future. Now they’re so prevalent that brick and mortar bookstores are struggling to keep up.
Thanks to e-books, self-publishing a novel is cheaper and easier than ever. Authors don’t have to toil in obscurity trying to find an agent or traditional publisher. Of course, there is a down side. Thanks to e-books, anyone who thinks they can write has the ability to unleash their story on the world. That’s not to say all authors self-publishing e-books aren’t worth reading. Nicky Charles is one of my favorite as is Kyle Adams and both of these authors are self-published. What sets them apart isn’t just good storytelling, it’s their high standards for editing. Their stories aren’t riddled with errors. They don’t lower their standards just because they’re author, editor and publisher. They’ve set a standard I aspire to. Not that I didn’t take my editing seriously before.
When Letters from Linc came out several years ago, I’d read and reread the story. I’d revised and changed and edited. I’d done everything I could to make it free of blemishes so the story stood on its own. At least I thought I had. I was disappointed to get the first printing and find I’d omitted a word in one of the passages. It was a mistake I simply couldn’t afford to fix so I let it go. As it turns out, that wasn’t the only mistake. It was just the only one I saw. Recently, there was a review of this novel posted on Amazon in which the potential reader was so disappointed with my poor editing that she returned the book for a refund. That one stung a lot. I haven’t read the story in years so I don’t know what other mistakes I made, but apparently there are enough that it cost me a sale.
I have no one to blame for this but myself. I couldn’t afford an editor. I’m not a member of a writer’s group that gets together to critique each other's work. I was afraid to ask a friend or family member to read the work. And when I did my own editing my eyes saw what my mind knew was supposed to be there.
Since then and with my newest novel in particular, I’ve changed my editing technique. I’m determined to give readers the best possible product. I love this novel so much that I don’t want to do anything to detract from its message. I want readers to focus on the story and not the mechanics. I can honestly say I think I’ve done it this time. Of course, I thought I’d done it before and I was wrong. Trust me when I say writers don’t set out to make these mistakes and we’re appalled when they rear their ugly heads.