- Amazon is tricky for a first-time user.
Amazon makes it easy to publish a book. That’s the claim. Anyone can do it, if they’re patient. But, what is said to take “minutes” took me 6 hours to do, first try. And that’s being tech literate. I wonder if luddites would have fared better? I doubt it. Point is, big companies tend to have issues, and it might take longer to resolve because they’re so big and have so much going on at once.
With Amazon, it took me ten tries to get the book to publish. Ten tries to upload a Word file version free from errors, errors which I knew for a fact I’d fixed (it must have been because I was uploading from my PC, when the latest version, edited by a friend who I’m paying nearly enough, was on my laptop. I figured this out after the fact, by the way.
So ten tries to get it done, and it took closing the web browser and starting the process again, before I managed to get it right. Closing the browser and restarting was the only thing that worked. Eventually. On the final try, I managed to not upload the cover. So my book was in a cover-less state, where the text was there but there was no cover, and I had to wait until it was approved before I know whether the cover would upload or whether I needed to do that part of the process all over again.
And that’s not fun. I get that these are big businesses and you can’t expect things to move 100% smooth and clean. But you also have to try and not melt into a glob of frustration, swearing storms and crying.
But I learned how to do it eventually. With so many attempts you’re bound to.
- You’re probably not as ready as you thought you were.
The number of things I’ve realised after hitting ‘publish’ (not that the button says that) is staggering. I realised I called a brassiere a bra. I realised I am translating crazy into English. I realised the blurb I have is vague, that I need a better one that tells of the central idea, the theme, and is an overview of events, all at the same time. I found that I rewrote the blurb about 50 times, which is nothing compared to how many times I rewrote some sections. And rewriting does take the life out of your work, if you do it too many times.
Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, rewrote the prologue about 150 times… and it shows. It might be flawless typographically, but it also felt DOA. Get past that and you get one of the most enthralling pieces of literature I’ve ever read, which was both commercially and critically successful. But that prologue was rewritten too many times. Somewhere, you just have to let it go and move on.
- You’re at the whims of your budget.
If you have no job, or if you’re minimum wage, you don’t have money. You can’t afford the $500 you have to pay a proper editor, or a proper cover designer, for example. If you don’t have money, you’re doing it yourself, and if the story fails, it might be because of this. Money makes the world go round, even if it’s the root of all evil (sorry, the love of money). Self published authors still have a stigma attached to them. Self publishing is still seen as a cop-out, a pathetic thing, to some degree – despite bringing about the likes of Hugh Howey (I loved Sand) and some of my more successful writer friends (such as S. Elliot Brandis). Yes, self publishing allows anyone to publish their novel. That’s the good news. The bad news? It allows anyone to publish their novel.
But the thing is, even if you put no money into it, you can make a top tier cover, or do a top editing job, or just plain write a good book. It’s harder, unless you know what you’re doing, but it’s worth it for today’s author to know what they’re doing in all aspects, and with self publishing, you have to unless you want to fork out the cash for a professional job – which isn’t a bad idea.
That said, there’s still some terrible crap in traditional publishing, and I guess that just shows that effort in means better product out. And don’t mistake your art as a non-product – if you want to sell your art, you have to see it as a product as well. Best-sellers are rarely Pure Art. There’s also a monetary factor involved. You might get lucky, but don’t count of that happening – act as if it won’t sell unless you’re prepared to put effort in, or spend on professionals who’ll help you for a fee.
- Things will go wrong.
You’ll forget to take hyphenation out. You’ll forget to format it to exactly the requirements of the publisher. Maybe, if it’s good enough, the reader – be that the editor or the person dropping $5 on your ebook masterpiece – will forgive you for that because they’re so engrossed in such an awesome story.
But you can’t go in expecting that people will forgive you for your follies. This harkens back to the previous point, money in usually means quality out. Yet, things will go wrong. Sometimes you can do something about it. With Amazon’s ebooks, you can alter things to your heart’s content. Once you hit publish, though, generally speaking, errors are committed to print. And you’ll do your best editing after you hit go. Good thing Amazon lets you alter things. Some companies don’t do that. Which is what editors are for. But the thing about editors? While yes, you’re supposed to consider them God, they aren’t actually infallible. *hides from the army of editors with red pens brandished as knives* Editors might be really smart, but at the end of the day there are actually human (so treat them with common courtesy and respect). They are trained and able to pick out errors and anything that doesn’t work. They’re not divine (*hides again*) but if you’re paying for their services, or you get noticed by them with your killer submission, then you can expect them to get a good 99% of problems worked out – more, if they’re Just That Good.
So it pays to get an editor, otherwise you might find all sorts of typos and the like in your work, and people on the internet LOVE to point out flaws and inaccuracies and typos, especially the typos. So make sure you go through it thoroughly.
- It’ll all be worth it.
And that’s the thing – it will be. This side of putting it up there for the world to ridicule, COF is finally done and I can be proud of this fact. By simply hitting ‘publish’ I’ve done what millions of others haven’t done. I’ve written a book. The first part in a series of whacky adventures in a world that’s one part Mad Max and one part Dresden Files, as well as one part Fallout, but it’s a book nonetheless. I’ve done what other people only dream of. I think I deserve this $15 box of cheap wine (cause that’s about how much I’ve earned in a week, without advertising) so I’m drinking it knowing it’s celebration wine (if you knew me you’d think I was a beer drinker, but I drink both, like how I write both sci fi and fantasy, and combine them despite my mother’s insistence that I simply aren’t allowed to do so).
And whatever its flaws, I’m proud to have finally published a book that’s taken 8 years of rewrites and edits and changes in direction. It’s good to hit ‘publish’. Finally.