Thursday, May 29, 2014

NOTE TO SELF: Copy edits come BEFORE the book comes out, not after

So, here’s me being completely honest on this Indie pubbing journey—I ‘thought’ I had Strange Faces completely copy edited. Well, okay, I’ll blame it on my birthday. I also blame it on the fact that I’m a big picture person. I’m more concerned with plot “working” and characters staying “in character” than a misplaced comma or an extra space before a period at the end of a sentence . 

(Did you catch that?)
But first, my birthday. I was working along on compiling some of these favorite  short stories of mine, when it occurred to me that I could have Strange Faces out on birthday, it made me sort of, kind of, a bit rushed. Not really, but sort of. Because how fun! To release this on my birthday!

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I did copy edit it, first on the computer screen and then with a red pen on printed copies. But because it was just me, it wasn't enough. It takes two sets of eyes to correctly copy edit a manuscript. I will repeat. It takes two people. At least two. My husband, who is an eBook formatter didn't get the chance to read it through for copy errors because I kept saying, "We have to get it out tomorrow!"

Here’s why it takes two people—I can read over the same sentence five times and not notice the misplaced comma. Another person can come in and see it right, away. 

(Did you catch that?)

Which leads me to my next point, the actual take-away of this rather rambling blog. There are two kinds of editing. First, is what I call a global editor, although they are called other things by other people. That’s the person who notices plot irregularitries, or characters not behaving in character ways. That’s the editor who also notices that Wednesday isn't the day after Sunday, and how did Main Character’s eyes change from blue to gray halfway through the story? She’s the editor who notes general clunkiness and plot weirdnesses.

I love global editors. They help me write better.

The second level of editing is the copy editor. That’s the nitpicker. The comma slasher. The spelling queen. The grammar guru. That’s the editor that goes over the so-called finished product and finds missed words and missed 

(Did you catch that?)

So, why am I writing about this on this particular day?

Strange Faces ended up with a few copy errors which were pointed out to me by a friend in an email who had purchased the Kindle edition. (Did you just hear that groan of utter chagrin?)

So, we go in and change them, one after the other. What else can you do? My formatter husband says this happens to every author who gets their eBooks out there. “It’s no big deal,” he says with a smile. I think he's just trying to make me feel better. 

So, my FIRST bit of advice in this candid, tell-all blog on how not to do what I do—is read the thing a gazillion times before you get it out there. 

I’ve decided that in all future books I will 1) read it over for copy errors on the computer screen, 2) and then print it off and read it over with my red pen, and then 3) put the whole thing on my Kobo and read it like I’m reading a book. 

Maybetthen Ill finddd more copy errrors..

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Going it Alone (but with a little help from friends!)

It’s quite fitting on this—my birthday—that not only would I be releasing my first independent book, (Strange Faces), but that I would be undergoing a major shift in my writing career. Since 1992 I have been traditionally published. That means I queried agents and publishing houses and got traditional contracts with advances that had to be paid back with royalties. I wrote 18 novels this way. 
During the past few years, I’ve fancied myself as something of a hybrid author with one foot in traditional publishing and one foot as an Indie. I’ve been able to get the rights back on many of my older and out-of-print books which I’ve re-edited, re-covered and gotten them out there for sale. But I didn't want to give up that elusive promise of a contract with the Big 6 - oops, Big 5. Well, maybe Medium Sized 5 by now. 

Like so many authors of late, though, I am stepping over that fence and planting both of my feet on the new green grass of Indie publishing. I no longer have an agent. I no longer have a publishing contract with any traditional house. I’m on my own.

It’s been a strange and weird and a long process over the past couple of years. And if I had a nickel for every coulda, woulda and shoulda, I’d have enough to buy a whole library of books for my Kobo. 

You have to have lived under a bush for the last number of years not to notice how much technology has totally changed our lives. How many of us drive down to the local video store and come home with a VHS in our hand for our evening’s entertainment? How many of us buy music CDs? Like me, you probably buy all of your music online and rent your movies from iTunes where you browse them in the comfort of your own living room.

The same has happened to publishing. As more and more readers devour their books on Kobos, Kindles and iPads, the old bricks and mortar bookstores have taken quite a beating. Used books are bought more for their collectible value than for actual reading. My husband and I don’t even go to the library any more. Our province’s library system is hooked into the Overdrive program, and we can “go to the library” while we sit in our easy chairs and click a few links. A good thing? Bad thing? You may long for the good old days, but it won’t change anything. The changes are pretty much here to stay and I’m predicting more to come.

Authors, too are changing. Instead of having to work through gatekeepers such as agents and publishers, we can just sit down at our desks and with a few pushes of a button, we can put our great Canadian novel out there for all the world to read. We set the price. We can even put our books on sale if we feel like it. Every day we can check and see how many people have bought our books that day, something that is virtually impossible with the older publishing model. 

Today, on my birthday—yes, back to that—I’m putting out my first book length original work, a collection of general market short mystery stories that I’m pretty proud of. In fact, I’m very proud of them. In the coming months I will be getting a new mystery out there, featuring a wonderful amateur sleuth that I love. More about that later. 

My intention in these blogs is to take you on this journey with me as I move through the self-publishing process. If you’re a reader, you’ll get to see what I do all day. (Oh fun!) If you’re an author, it might even be educational, or at least you can avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

I’ve chosen to align myself with a publishing group, The Alexandria Publishing Group, but I’ll write more about that in a future blog. There will be more about everything in future blogs, including the blogs I devour daily, the self-pubbing podcasts I listen to, the books I read, the online groups I belong to and the advice I follow. 

My birthday present this year was this huge mural of the NY city night sky. As I stand in front of it I can pretend I’m looking out and across to New Jersey where I spent all of my growing up years my nose in a book, and reading far into the night, and dreaming of one day being a writer.

So, I invite you to go on this self-publishing journey with me.