Sunday, May 22, 2011

Self-publishing or self-immolation?

My writing partner and I decided to take the plunge. We had finished our novel, Plotz, and were eager to see it in print. We'd read the pros and cons of self-publishing and thought, "Why not?"

Isn't that akin to saying "Why not?" when someone invites you to join their trek up the Matterhorn? Doable, but not without a lot of struggle and pain first. But you don't think about that when gazing at the summit.

He designed a cover and I formatted the book in Word, as advised, and we sent for a proof copy. Looking through it, we found many typos not evident when reading the manuscript on the computer screen. Moreover, the cover that looked so good as a .JPEG on my photo editing page was chopped off on the book. The design depends on balance and that was sadly askew.

I reworked the cover more times than I can count before getting one that came near our vision. And I reformated the copy, correcting all the typos. I thought.

We ordered another proof copy and lo! we found mistakes. We also had some other readers look at it and they found additional errors. No two readers found the same errors, which is interesting.

So we ordered another proof copy and looked through it. My partner said he thought everything had been corrected. I couldn't look at it again. I was getting heartily sick of the entire project. The cover looked as good as we could make it and the chapters started and stopped where they were supposed to. We put it out there, hoping someone would buy it.

Then I reformatted the thing for e-publishing, which is an entirely different matter. It took more hours and if I was tired of reading the same sentences over and over before...well, you can't throw a computer across the room although I was sorely tempted.

That done, I thought I would move on to another project. My mistake. My husband asked if he could read the book. I was thrilled. I've written several books and this is the first one he has shown any interest in reading.

A few minutes later he came into our office where I was busily adding a chapter to "A Question of Boundaries."

"Honey," he said, his finger holding his place in the book. "I'm not sure, but shouldn't there be a quote mark here?"

"Yes, there should be." I gritted my teeth. Maybe no one else would notice.

A few minutes later -- "Honey, this sentence doesn't make sense."

Of course not; in the process of editing an entire line had been eliminated. No chance of anyone not noticing that!

I gave him a blue marking pen and made him honorary editor. He is now happily marking typos and errant copy.

I guess we are going to have to repeat the process one more time.

Self publishing is not for the faint of heart. I hope the story is good enough that the people who purchased the book will excuse a few errors.

I hope there are only a few errors.

PLOTZ is available in paperback and e-reader on, and coming soon on

But you might want to wait a week or two and get the latest, hopefully-error-free-edition.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Letter

I could tell the minute I took the envelope from the mailbox -- a rejection.

An acceptance would have come in a large kraft envelope, big enough to hold a contract. It would not have come in a slim #10 envelope that I instantly recognized as the one I had enclosed with my manuscript almost a year earlier.

Yes, a year. The publisher had told me up front that it would be 11-12 months before I received an answer, so I put the submission in the back of my mind and tried to forget about it. As the year drew to a close, I began imagining The Letter. Or better yet, The Phone Call.

As if to add salt to the wound, the rejection came the day before Mother's Day. I guess that's not as bad as coming on my birthday. Or Christmas.

A year is a long time. I know you can send multiple queries, but sending multiple manuscripts is frowned on. Once a publisher has asked for en exclusive look, a writer has to hold back on further queries lest another request to view the story comes along. And then what do you do?

I know, it's a long shot and I probably should have continued sending queries. At the very least I could have written an agent and told her "Hey, I have two (or three) publishers wanting my book, how about you representing me and getting the best deal?"

The blog title says it all: I am by definition, a dreamer. For a year, I dreamed of that acceptance.

Pop! A rude awakening.

I am not giving up, though. I immediately wrote another query letter, attached a synopsis, and sent it off to a different pulisher.

And tomorrow --well maybe not tomorrow, my husband has promised to take me out to dinner for Mother's Day (and his birthday) so maybe it will be early next week before I send another query. And another. Until I get The Letter.