A Journey to E-Books, Part I

Maybe you’re here because you’re read my books and like them, and you want to know when more are coming, or something along those lines.

But maybe you’re here because you saw the sub-head Indie E-Books and that’s something you’ve been thinking about getting into yourself, and you’re looking to see how someone else did it. In that case, this post (or posts, as I’m not sure how long this will turn out) is for you. This will be a strictly personal account, though, of how I got here, but maybe there is something helpful you can glean along the way.

You can’t publish an e-book without having a book to publish first, and to have that book, you have to write. That may be the hardest part of the whole journey. Don’t get me wrong, I love to write. But in our fast-paced world, finding the time to sit down and write is difficult. You work all day long, come home and have meals to cook, laundry to wash, other household chores, don’t forget those favorite TV shows, and by the time you have a minute free, it’s 10 p.m. or later, and you just don’t have the energy to sit down and write. I can’t tell you how to find the time to write, but it kind of boils down to taking time from some other thing you already do. But you don’t have to write much each day. Think about this: if you wrote only a page a day (about 250 words, depending on the word processing program you’re using), you’ll have a 365-page book by the end of the year that’s about 91,250 words long! Not too shabby!

Typing ‘The End’ isn’t the end of it, though. Because you plan to be an indie author, you’re not just the author, you’re your own editor, proof-reader, and publisher. And before you can get to that last one, you have to do the prior two first. Editing and proofreading are the two big thorns in the side of this indie-author. I love to write, as I said, but editing I can live without. When I was still trying to get published conventionally (that’s another, different story) I would carefully edit the sample chapters which were required back in the day. But when submissions turned into a short email, not even to a publisher but to an agent who most likely had an automatically dispatched rejection letter in your inbox within seconds of you having clicked ‘send,’ I got lax about doing that. So I got into the habit of putting a finished book away, figuring the ‘cooling off period’ I’d have while it languished on a shelf would make editing easier later on. Not so, I’ve found, now that I’m publishing; I’m paying the price by having to go back and do all that editing now. Editing is more than just making sure all the spelling and grammar is correct and you didn’t give a character blue eyes in one chapter and brown in the next, or catching that when you used ‘find and replace’ to change a character’s name, not every version of the name was changed (NB: it tends to skip possessives). You have to tie up every little loose end in the plot, and make sure your chronology is right, and… well, the list goes on and on.

Proofreading is just as hard, because the eye sees what it thinks it should see, and you (or at least I) can read something countless times and miss a typo each time because the eye convinces the brain what’s typed there is correct, and the brain, which by this time has read the same book seventeen different times, is willing to believe that if the eye says it’s right, it’s right. But readers still see those errors even when you don’t, and it’s mortifying when you get reports of typos throughout the book you thought was done perfectly. I had read my first manuscripts out loud not once, but TWICE, thinking that would force my eye to see any mistakes I had made, but even that didn’t work. I think I had to go back and make about 200 corrections on the first book I published. (BTW, spell check doesn’t catch everything; if a word is spelled right, it doesn’t care if it’s the wrong word, e.g., you typed form when it should have been from. But no doubt you already know that’s the way spell check functions — but will you catch that kind of mistake? Doubtful, because your eye is saying, ‘Looks right to me!’) Fewer mistakes are slipping by me with each subsequent book, partially because I discovered if I run the cursor underneath each word as I read (silently or out loud), I’m more likely to catch a mistake. It just takes much longer that way.

Let’s say you’re now at the point where you’ve written your book, you’ve edited it and proofread it, and you’re ready to publish.

Not so fast. There’s still a bunch of things to be done.

And those things will have to wait until next time.

See you in Part II.

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