To Edit or Not to Edit

I belong to an email group for indie writers. Recently the group had a discussion about professional editing and whether or not it is important to hire an editor to review your story. With the changes taking place in how we write (no more cursive, text abbreviations), will it matter if our stories aren’t perfect?

Books have been professionally content and copy edited for many years. The goal is to have a polished book that is clean of errors. But how many times have you read a book and found one or two errors? If you do find one, you’re caught off guard for a second, and then you get right back into the story. And for those readers who finish reading a book in a day, do they really “read” the book or skim through it? Would they even find the errors?

Many of the members in the indie group thought that errors are acceptable based on today’s standards. In a new generation of abbreviations and less focus on proper English, the grammatical errors aren’t as noticeable. Of course, other members responded, as I expected, that if you want to be a serious published author then you must professional edit your work. What surprised me is that the majority, even a bestselling author, leaned toward the side that standards are changing.

So what is right? I think it’ll be interesting how books will be edited in the future. Look at how writing has changed from the old form of English to our current version. Wherefore art thou Romeo? Say what? If proper English is turning less than proper, what will become the acceptable norm? The English language continually changes, including how we write it.

When I finished writing “Gitana – Life Plan,” I had a few friends read through the manuscript for errors before I even sent it to a professional editor. I loved getting feedback and their suggested changes, because I wanted a polished book. For my blog, I don’t have anyone proofread my work. I probably should, having found a misspelled word in last week’s blog, but I’m not a stickler because I consider my blog normal, personal writing. I will do my best to catch errors. I know my grammar isn’t perfect. I will misspell words and not catch them. I hope my readers are forgiving.

So is it safe to say that there are different levels of published writing? Will we become more relaxed in how we publish books? Less formality? I’m curious to how the next few years play out.

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Lessons Learned: Two Goals for “Gitana – Life Plan”

One of my goals for this year was to publish my first book. In March, I published Gitana Life-Plan in electronic format. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBook, and other outlets. A second goal for this year was to publish in print format. Drum roll…I’m happy to say that Gitana Life-Plan is now available through Amazon in print format!

When seeing Gitana Life-Plan for the first time on Amazon in March, I was thrilled to no end. I immediately went to my Kindle and bought my eBook. I clicked through the pages with a big smile. I did it! I was a published author.

Front Cover

Front Cover

However, being old school, I knew there was nothing like holding a real book in my hands. I decided to wait at least six months before publishing in print. I began the process in October, using CreateSpace (Amazon) for my POD (print on demand). Again, I was thrilled to no end when I opened the box that held my proof for review. I loved feeling the book in my hands. I loved how the cover, spine, and back turned out. I read each cream-colored page (and so did my husband!) to make sure all was correct before clicking on the “Publish” button. I’m still smiling to know that I’ve accomplished my two goals. I can’t wait until my next one comes out 🙂

Back Cover

Back Cover

Lessons Learned: Heavy Sigh Moment

I am close to publishing my contemporary romance Gitana – Life Plan. I planned to work hard this weekend to add the final touches to the manuscript document and to upload to the sites. However, the only “finish” I completed on Sunday was to shut down my computer after a frustrating few days.

On Friday, I had trouble with my work computer and my personal computer. This should have been a sign for the weekend, but I was ready to tackle my list. I went on to Amazon and set up my account and upload my nicely formatted manuscript. The good news is that you get a chance to preview what your eBook will look like on an eReader before published. For mine, the paragraph indents were too long at .5 as instructed. I now have to go back and reformat the manuscript (hoping that I don’t mess up anything else) and then upload again.

I started working on the manuscript document when suddenly my computer security software flashed a warning sign that something/someone was trying to get into my computer. Immediate shut down occurred. I stared at the black screen with a sick feeling in my stomach. My book was inside of it. I pushed the power button. The machine crackled to life, and I mean literally crackled like static. I held my breath, then swore. It shut down again. After two tries, I resuscitated my computer. Needless to say, I took the time to back up all my documents and pictures to an external drive…just in case.

Back to the book. I decided to wait on the manuscript formatting and went to upload the book cover. I wanted to see how that would look once on Amazon. I had used the size and options recommended from the class I took. Shouldn’t be an issue, right? Wrong. I couldn’t read my name or the book title. It would have been okay if it were blurred or hard to read since it is a small picture, but I couldn’t make out any of the letters. I went back to work on the photo. I stared at the picture as if it would magically correct itself, because I couldn’t remember how I managed to create it in the first place. I did a lot of guessing and now nothing worked.

So yes, this is my heavy sigh moment. I’m on the home stretch of getting my book published, but I’m tripping over my shoe strings as I run to get there. I have to stop, concentrate, and work on one issue at a time.

If you hear any grumblings, it’s probably me.

Lesson learned: Writing or Publishing – which takes longer?

I’ve been asked which one takes longer, writing or publishing a book.

My first response is to say publishing. The learning curve is huge when you do it yourself. Yes, you can have your fiction or nonfiction work uploaded within a few hours. Just follow the instructions that each distributor provides. But what if you want to be professional, polished, and serious about the success of your work? A few hours won’t do it and not the route I chose to take.

First, I wanted to make sure that ePublishing was the direction I wanted to go. I researched. I went back and forth on traditional versus independent. I continued to research, and I listed the pros and cons to each option. I attended conference sessions to hear others and collect information from their experiences.

Once I decided to be independent (self-publish), I chose to have an editor content and copy edit my story. I had to find an editor and then work within their time constraints. I had to create a book cover, format the document, create the Table of Contents, and add the copyright information and author bio. I had to learn about ISBNs, Sigil, and Calibre. Not to mention, my novel isn’t published yet…but I’m still looking at this month for the launch date.

And then I listened to the analyst in me and wondered if I should have said writing took longer. I’ve been writing for decades with the wish to publish, but I never hardcore pursued the dream. I’ve written four other stories, with only one making it to a first manuscript draft.

The first three didn’t count. Let’s just say Starsky and Hutch, the Monkees, and Elton John were main characters, and the stories should have stayed in my head. The fourth, the manuscript draft, I’m going to revisit. Next, I wrote my current story Gitana. The first rough draft took 30 days to write. The next 11 months were used to edit and polish the story (with two rewrites and family health issues to contend with). When I thought I was done, I did another edit before sending off to the editor. So if you add up the years that I’ve been writing and editing, you could say the writing takes longer.

So now which one do I believe takes longer? What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Steps to ePublishing

This month is a heavy hitter for me in terms of getting my novel ready for publishing by the middle of March. I have a white board posted in my office with the following February tasks:

Week 1
Take author photos
Complete final edits

Week 2
Size cover photo and author photo
Format document to all eReader formats
Add cover, front and back pages, and author bio to document

Week 3
Scan the documents for a final quick read to make sure everything looks good
Order promotional materials

Week 4
Write book blurb
Finish what I hadn’t completed in the first three weeks.

I’m not sure if this will be a heavy load or not, but we’ll soon find out. I think back to the past year when I first started the process to publish my manuscript. In April, I wasn’t sure the route I would take, either solicit to agents or ePublish. I leaned toward ePublish and that’s why I went to the RT Booklover’s Convention in April, 2012, to learn more about it. I think I was overwhelmed because a little bird sat on my shoulder and pushed me in the direction of trying for an agent.

By June, a wise old owl swished that little bird off my shoulder and stamped “ePublish” into my forehead. I decided my goal was to publish by the end of the year. However, the first editor that I hired didn’t work out and caused a delay. In September I was extremely happy to find my new editor, and her first availability time to copy and content edit was in December. Her second and final round of reviews ended last month. Last month I also bought my ISBN numbers and created my cover.

I’m probably taken longer than the average new author to get her book out to the public, but I want to make sure that the final product is professional and polished as if printed by a distinguished publishing house. Next book will be a little easier.

And tonight, I introduce to you the cover to my novel Gitana – Life Plan.

Gitana-Book-Cover-Blue

Lessons Learned: Reflections

The last day of the year can be a time for reflection. You think about your past and what you did in the last year. You then think about what you want to do for the coming year and in the future. Of course, some people just think about the party. Who cares about the past or the future? Let’s just have fun and worry about life later on.

Whatever you decide to do is up to you. For me, I usually reflect both on past and future during the last few weeks of December. By the time New Year’s Eve comes around, I’m tired and ready for the New Year to begin. In reflection, I’m happy with the last year. I’m happy that my final edits are with my editor, and I’m that much closer to ePublishing. Next year, I’ll be an author. Am I looking forward to 2013? You betcha.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, no matter how you reflect or celebrate.

Even Small, It’s Still Exciting.

Last spring, I attended the RT Booklovers Convention to learn more about ePublishing. I had a conversation with Jim A. from Smashwords when I visited their booth. He asked if I would be interested in talking to someone who was writing an article on ePublishing. Of course, I agreed. After exchanging email addresses and correspondence, I received an email from Andrew Rice who writes for Time Magazine. He asked if he could interview me, but he couldn’t guarantee that he’d use the information for his article. I was fine either way. We set up a time for the one-hour interview.

During the interview, we talked about why I was at the convention, what I wrote, what my story was about, and how I felt about the ePublishing process versus going the traditional agent/publisher route. We talked a lot during the interview, and when our time was up, he had to state once again that he wasn’t sure if my information would be used or not. For me, I was just excited about the experience!

Mr. Rice thought that the article may come out sometime in June. June came and went. I didn’t think too much about the interview after that. I figured the timing wasn’t right for the story, or that the story may have been completely dropped.

Two days ago, I received an email from Mr. Rice stating that the ePublishing article he wrote should be in stores soon. The issue would have Egypt’s leader on the cover (the December 10th Issue). In the email, he included a PDF version of the article.

My little fingers clicked open that PDF in no time. I scanned the document for my name, and there it was near the beginning. My name in Time Magazine! I was okay with the one sentence blurb – a sliver of the article. From our conversation to what he wrote, I understood the reason why he said what he did.

Thank you, Andrew, for including me in the article. You made my day!