Sunday, 5 August 2012

Self-Publisher's Remorse

Self-publisher's remorse: That sinking feeling in an indie author's stomach after they have hit the publish button and then realized their manuscript is not fit for human consumption. For many the first symptoms of self-publisher's remorse do not appear until the book has been enrolled in the KDP Select program, committing the author to three months on Amazon.

My story: The first Kindle Select promotion for my Eternal Hunger series just finished, and there were a respectable number of downloads over the twenty-four hours it was free. I should be feeling happy about this, but instead I've been struck down with an acute case of self-publisher's remorse.

Why is it that you can never see all of the glaring mistakes in your manuscript until the free promotion is already well under way? Up to this point I'd only had a couple of sales so it didn't matter so much that only a few people would see the errors before they were fixed (although I do feel bad that they actually paid for it). Now my book is out there, typos and inconsistencies on show for hundreds to see. The worst part is I have no one to blame for this but myself. My husband has told me repeatedly that once I've finished a book I should sit on it for a least few weeks (figuratively speaking) before looking at it with fresh eyes. All the articles I've ever read about publishing give the same advice, but I'm one of those impatient people who get so excited about finishing a project I just want to see it out there....until self-publisher's remorse sets in.

All of the things that make Amazon such a great platform for self-publishers are the very same things that make it so dangerous. It's just too easy to upload a book without going through it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it's perfect. In an ideal world we'd all be able to afford professional editors, but without them the best scenario for people like me who don't have anyone they want to burden with proof reading is to take ten steps back and just let it rest for a while. It's amazing just how much you miss when you read over the same pages continuously. You just become so accustomed to skimming that you don't even see the words on the page anymore. I found this out with Hunger of the Wolf because it was with a publisher for over three months and during this time I put it away for at least a month before re-reading and fixing errors I'd never noticed before. Unfortunately I didn't learn from this experience.

I also discovered how easy it is to overlook things with my first two trade published books Shadows of Yesterday and Pleasure Island. These books were professionally edited and I was stunned at some of the things the editor's picked up. For instance in once scene a character threw a gun across the floor and then in the next paragraph she was holding it again. How could I not have noticed that? Even professionals can miss things because in Pleasure Island, Jack, gets lost on the beach one night and is forced to call out to Allie to help him find his way back to the house. As he yells out her name he realizes it's the first time he's ever said it out loud.....except that three paragraphs earlier when he's talking out loud to himself he mentions her by name. D'oh!

This time around in Eternal Hunger Lucia is shocked at how much Drake L'amour has changed since her turned her into a vampire "against her will." The only problem is he didn't turn her against her will, he tricked her by failing to mention the downsides to being immortal (like the unquenchable thirst for blood), but she was the one who made the decision to be turned.  In another scene the characters are standing on the porch, but then they are described as walking back towards the house. Double d'oh! Then there were the usual problems with the wrong character's name being used and numerous typos that should have been picked up before I hit publish.

They might seem like minor errors but they take the shine off what should be a proud event, and they are the sort of mistakes that really stick in readers' craws. And so they should because they stick in my craw too when I come across them in other people's books. (I've never really been sure what a craw is, but it sounds quite painful to have something stuck in it).

I decided to blog about this because I know I'm not the only person guilty of the crime of premature self-publishing before a manuscript has been polished and buffed to its absolute best. My advice to myself and fellow authors is SLOW DOWN and don't be so eager to get your book out there because it is so much better to wait a few weeks or months and publish something you can truly be proud of. Otherwise you too will suffer the pain of self-publisher's remorse, and you may find it becomes wedged  in your craw permanently. Ouch!

Perhaps I should have bought a copy of this book before I began my self-publishing journey:

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