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.


  1. I feel your pain -- not that I've published anything other than Fan Fiction so far. But I know that coming back to edit something with fresh eyes, I still find errors that I can't believe I let slip through and 10 other readers didn't catch. Thanks for the realistic look. I feel less alone. Good luck with it!

  2. My first book went through three edits with two different editors and after the first printing I found 108 mistakes. Some little things, some super big! I made them edit again and again until they finally got it right. Mistakes happen. No one can catch them all, not even editors. And, as for the cover, God bless you! I can’t even make those crazy romance trading cards and they come with step by step instruction.
    Your book will be great and a few little errors will go unnoticed. No worries!


  3. Thank you. I was feeling really down -- I used to be a newspaper editor and so did my co-writer. Yet the boo-boos still slipped through. I think it's trying to edit on the monitor. I catch more errors in print.

  4. Yuck! How disheartening! I'll wait for you to tweak it some more. Try reading backwards, from the last paragraph in a chapter to the first. That's how I catch mine and it floors me that I didn't see it in any of the first 100 edits! I applaud you for trying this. Big leap, but don't give up or throw the computer (without a back-up disc made first, anyway).

  5. I think it's great you took this project on! And then put the bad part of your experience out here to share with others (me) who might be considering trying it one day. I may get both copies. Then one day, when you're as big as Ms. Nora and I'm struggling at can't-get-anything-right, I can look at the original and remind myself we all make mistakes before we become stars. It's part of what makes us stars. Perseverance. You kept on until I just know it will be wonderful. I admire you.

  6. Gosh, it is nice to know I'm not alone. My short story was recently published with typos after numerous reviews by myself and by an editor. It's amazing how our eyes and our brain see what they want to see.

    Way to keep at it. The good thing with e-pub, you can upload a new version. I hear it gets easier with practice. Good luck.

  7. I've been there, Sandy. Hours and hours of formatting and editing and sending it out to proofreaders and still the mistakes slip through. I had a friend read a copy of one of my books after I uploaded to Kindle. I thought that I and my proofers had finally caught them all and then my friend found about 15 more and kindly went through and marked them for me. Yikes! Proofing is hard enough. Then there's formatting...

  8. You are a brave woman and I salute you.
    I'm not ready to go into the dragon's lair yet.
    Thanks for sharing your story. It helps us all to go in prepared.