Thursday, July 26, 2012

Self Publishing Too Soon

I get it. I completely understand how this happens. It has been one of my biggest complaints in reading self publishing works as well as one of the biggest cons I have seen in articles about self publishing. You can always tell when an author published their work before it was truly ready for public consumption. You can see it in the typos, the formatting, the cover art, and sometimes in how the story is presented as a whole. Editing and cover art are the two issues I am going to touch on because they are the ones I am struggling with right now.

From what I understand of the traditional publishing world (which is admittedly very little as I am still peering over the cliff that is publishing before making that leap), a manuscript is usually not only given a copy editor but a content editor as well. And from what I understand, typically you have more than one copy editor. They are given (or create, little confused there) a style sheet that is basically a cheat sheet to you and your work and then they get to editing. 

Now, that is definitely one of the downsides to self publishing from what I can see. If you want to release quality work with very few mistakes and typos, you really need to hire a copy editor. Not everyone can afford to do that. I am lucky enough to have not one but two friends who are working as copy editors. One has experience with it already and has been hired out before and the other is a writer who knows how to edit without stepping all over my prose and style. But there are still bound to be things that they don't catch. And that idea makes me cringe. There are mistakes even in traditionally published books, but I know that even I am guilty of being harder on self published books than traditionally published ones when it comes to mistakes. I also know that if I wait for my manuscript to be perfect, I am going to be waiting forever. Editors are human and miss things all the time and I could have my manuscript pass through the fingers of dozens of editors and still come out with typos. It happens.

That being said, I can still understand how people self publish too soon because I am fighting against that urge now. I expanded my beta reading group to roughly eleven people and the anxiety is killing me. You would think that I would be ready to bury my head in the sand with so many people reading it, but instead it has me ready to smack it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and call it a day. I don't even have my cover art yet, but I do have a new understanding of how people end up with crap on their covers. The graphic artist I want to hire won't be available to work on my project (if he takes it on, still no solid word yet) for months. In the months spent waiting on him to be available, I will be applying the edits given back to me from my two blessed copy editors and my content editors, as well as any notes from my beta readers. So it will be time well spent. But again, I don't want to wait. I am fighting the urge to take a picture of my own damn face with hair blowing in the wind, photoshop it a bit, and smack it on the cover. It's a ridiculous notion, but one that I am fighting nonetheless just because I am so ready to release my book.

That's really the issue though, isn't it? I am ready to release my book because I am ready to move forward. But is my book ready? No. It's still got a ways to go and even when I do finally release it, it still might be too soon. So I think that's really the question self published authors need to start asking themselves: Is my book ready to be released, or am I just ready to release it?


  1. This is the problem I had with my first book (the only published book I have right now).

    I edited it myself, rewrote and then hired a freelance editor through Facebook.

    I wish I would have known then everything I know now.

    Since then I've had to edit the book at least five or six more times because I keep catching things that slipped through the cracks. I'm pretty sure everything is ironed out now but...

    For the second round I will be hiring a real copy editor, I don't even care about the cost.

    I've got a good idea of how to tell if my story is ready, but when I read I get swept away so much in the story/a story that it's actually very hard for me to spot errors.

    ...unless the story I'm reading happens to suck. haha! I've had a few I've gone into that absolutely bored me to tears. I guess if you can write something utterly boring it'd be easy to edit.

    Regardless, do it when you're ready. I think my mistake with Pax was that I put all of my faith in one person and jumped the gun before I was 100% sure of my book's "cleanliness."

  2. Yea, I can edit the crap out of my fanfictions. Well, I guess not the crap out of them since they are fanfictions...But point being, they are much easier to edit than my story. A lot of people think it is silly to fangirl your own work, but I wouldn't write it unless I was a fangirl about it, you know? So like you said, it's easy to get swept up in it and miss things. I've got the first book of my series out with 11 people right now and I am still entertaining the idea of paying a copy editor. It's worth it to make sure what you are putting out there is the best it can be. Otherwise I might as well stick to fanfiction.