This weekend has been one of those exercise in futility projects. I tried unsuccessfully, 11 times, to upload the manuscript for my newest novel, to convert it. This is what self-publishing is. Along with the freedom to write what I want and make all my own decisions I have the unique privilege of trying to figure out how to solve technical glitches which I'm fairly certain are not my fault.
Now I want to be clear, many of you would never have bothered. You may never have even noticed the slight difference in font size appearing in the beginning of every chapter. But the editor in me refused to accept even the smallest error. That's not to say you won't find one here and there, in fact my newest nightmare is that I have discovered many modern day fonts do not clearly indicate open and close quotes. So my books tend to contain all kinds of strange errors not detected in digital form. I'm still working on that.
If you're an avid reader, and like to try out new authors, I'm sure you've run across more than a few that you think to yourself probably self-published! Yes, absolutely. So next time you have that thought, consider just what it takes to self-publish. It doesn't make the story any less compelling or the author any less capable. It's a heroic first attempt, and you should applaud it. We should all have much more respect for those who endeavor to see their creations come to life. In fact I divide my reading time equally now between "Bestsellers" and debut novels, mostly self-published. Truthfully I'm usually more disappointed in the bestseller. And always impressed by writers like myself who are basically attempting to climb mountains in their bare feet with no sherpa.
The fact is it is hugely difficult to self-publish. The technology alone is intimidating and ever-changing. This is one reason I don't write on my iPad. I don't do well with frustration. I tend to drop tech items that annoy me. Hard. On the floor. Hoping when I pick them up they will somehow cooperate. I know it doesn't really work that way, but I do feel better whatever the outcome. So I stick to using my desktop computer. It's too heavy to pick up and accidentally drop. I do however tend to swear at it. I miss my typewriter. For those who have never used one, trust me, they were awesome.
In the world of self-publishing, once you type in the proverbial "The End" it's time for the not so fun stuff. You don't just type up and format a manuscript, use spell check and upload it and pat yourself on the back and say "Well Done Self!" Nope. You have to proof it 4 or 5 times maybe 10. Out loud. Never silently. Read it. Reading it out loud means you can't skim or skip over things. Then have someone else read it. And someone else. Then and only then, when it's all clean and shiny and polished, you upload it. Convert it into 8 or 9 different formats. Apple, Kindle, PDF whatever. Then you download each of those and open each app and triple check once again. Find that wayward comma in the middle of empty space and realize you have to re-upload, reconvert and re-download and reproof. It's not a simple, or pleasant, experience. Then there's the paperback version. Sure you can hire someone to typeset and format and polish and design a cover, but hey where's the fun in that?
This is truly the ultimate DIY project for the creative soul. The feeling you get is incomparable. Trust me. And it is so worth it. Because once your printer's proof is on order, you can pour a margarita, sit back, put your feet up, and read a good book. That's the reward. You knew there'd be one right?
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