Self-publishing is far more difficult than people give it credit for being. It is a journey filled with hurdles, and I’m not sure it ever actually ends. It is a lesson in itself, and my experiences writing Gemsong Saga: A Boy Named Zephyr have taught me several invaluable lessons.
Finishing The Book Is An Uphill Battle, And One Of Many
Often times it felt like a constant battle against my own book. It was less like I was creating it, and more like it was trying to destroy me. I wanted to quit a dozen times, but somehow, I pushed through. I would write, and then rewrite, and then edit… And finally, I had done what I thought was impossible- I had finished writing a book!
It felt amazing… Until I read it over and found out it was crap. Congratulations, I thought, and welcome to the world of being a self-publishing writer!
Self-Publishing Doesn’t End With A Finished Manuscript
After what seemed like an eternity of work, I had a finished manuscript. It was more or less done I thought, and it just needed a bit of polish. If I could just get that done, then I could send it off to the self-publishing firm of my choice, and that was that. At long last, I would be done!
Except I wasn’t.
It’s Never Just “A Bit Of Polish”
It is amazing to me how adding just a bit of polish can cause entire sections of a manuscript to suddenly clash, crumble, and spontaneously-combust. Before I knew it, I was rewriting the entire manuscript from page one in an effort to tie up all the loose edges I had unraveled with that “bit of polish”. After another long while, it was done. I uploaded it to Smashwords.com, and sat back with a satisfied sigh. I was done.
Except I wasn’t.
Beware The Meatgrinder
An unseen formatting error or some random bit of fate had made Smashwords’ meatgrinder hate me. My submission had failed to convert and I had no idea why. After hours and days trying to figure out what went wrong, I used the “nuclear option”. Simply copy-pasta it all into a notepad file to wipe any hidden formatting, then drink, then put it all back into a blank word file. Tweak the styles, resubmit, hold breath… And it converted successfully.
My first big dive into self-publishing was complete, and I was just awaiting final approval for entry into Smashwords’ premium catalog. It was time to dance.
Several days later however, I was notified that my submission did not meet the criteria for premium catalog inclusion. The reason? The title of my book had one word not capitalized. So I capitalized it, resubmitted it, and waited. One week later, I got the news I had been waiting for – My book had been accepted and it was now in the premium catalog. I was done!
Except I wasn’t.
A Print Edition Is Not Simply Copy-Paste
Despite weeks of proof-reading, editing, and giving it to family and friends to read over, I spotted a typo or formatting error every time I picked up the manuscript. I tried to ignore them, and then I tried to pretend they weren’t there. As I prepped the book for a print edition however, I found things that were simply inexcusable. And so, I fixed them all. This means I basically rewrote things once again.
Now freshly polished, I submitted my manuscript to Createspace.com. I approved the cover and formatting, and ordered a proof.
It would take several weeks for my printed proof to arrive, so while I waited, I took everything I had fixed, and re-submitted it to Smashwords as a second edition ebook… And then the Smashwords Meatgrinder failed to convert my work… Self-publishing! Yay!
I used the nuclear option once again and finally, after a dozen tries, my book properly converted. Not long after, I received my proof. After a dozen tiny changes, cover redesigns, and edits, the print copy was done too.
I was done. It was finished. I had actually done it.
And then I picked up a copy of my shiny new book, flipped to a random page, and found a typo.