Saturday, 24 November 2012

Blog Entry Five

Twenty years ago, the world of publication has such a different look and feel.  It was a time in which a writer sent his/her manuscript through the mail and waited for months in hopes of being published.  It was a time when being published meant that you had perhaps an agent and an editor, and promotion of your book was largely done by your publisher.  It was a world in which fans sent letters by mail and stayed connected only through books, the occasional interview published in a magazine or perhaps a little television exposure. 

Nowadays publication is vastly different.  Technology has created an opportunity for writers to self- publish cheaply, publish fast, and reach a worldwide audience like never before.  The opportunities are endless, the choices boundless and the possible outcomes exciting.  It is ever present and ever changing. 

Becoming a self-published author has been a learning experience for me.  I had only a general knowledge base with regards to the entire process.  Now I would admit I have learned a great deal, and I still have many mountains to climb, rivers to cross and miles to go before I arrive at my destination, my cabin of knowledge in the woods, and it is both warm with a strong fire burning in the fire place, and inviting, with its well- worn couch and chair positioned to face each other just so.  This is the place where I will curl up with friends and enjoy a mug of hot knowledge.  We will share our experiences and our insights as we revel in the satisfaction of knowing that we have found some measure of success after a long and worthwhile journey. 

My journey started with just an idea that I turned over and examined every which way for weeks.  Once I was convinced I had something worthy of my time, I decided to get to work.  I researched for months and became a babbling idiot at times, randomly spewing facts to anyone who would listen.  It was actually kind of fun.

Once I had completed my research and began the writing process, I must admit, there was a great flow involved as I only had to stop writing once in a great while to check my facts.  The entire writing process was perhaps five months. 

And here is where the real work began.  I edited the manuscript in every place imaginable, at work, at my doctor’s office, in the park, on the bus.  And guess what?  After that I edited it some more!  I edited it in my sleep I am sure.  I would guess that I edited it six or seven times. 

Then I handed it off to my editor.  She made some great suggestions and sent it back to me with so much red; I actually tripped over my bottom lip, which was extended towards the ground in an expression of great awe.  I asked her if it was normal to see so much red.  She assured me it was.

I took my time and went through the manuscript, applying her changes as I saw fit, which was if I could put a percentage on the changes I accepted, was perhaps about 90%.  (Now is the time to be quite startled.  It really was a manuscript worthy of much change.)  At this point I sent it back to my editor who made the changes and sent it back to me.

Of course I had to read through the entire book again, after all, in self-publication; with regards to your mistakes…well you wear them.  You have to decide how much work you are willing to put into the project.  It is an intimidating prospect, to think that if you miss enough mistakes, you end up with a book that is so full of mistakes that it is distracting and embarrassing.  Yet you accept this as a consequence and carry on. That is exactly what I did, and edited the manuscript another 6 times.

If you think that is the end of the editing journey you are mistaken.  Of course I did not fool myself into thinking it was, I was fully aware of the two rounds of editing my independent publisher allowed for.  I sent them my book and crossed my fingers.

Then I rolled up my sleeves because when they sent the book back to me, I discovered about 107 mistakes in the first round of editing, or on average one per page.  This sounds fairly good, but it actually was quite frustrating to me.  Not only was it an indication of all that I had missed, it was a delay in my journey.  I corrected the mistakes and sent it back, with a great deal of hope that it was the end.

When I received the document back, with my changes made, I was so hopeful that it would be mistake- free.  Frustratingly it was not.  The document came back and I found perhaps 50 mistakes.  Wow, after all that editing and still I found on average nearly a mistake every other page.  I was discouraged.  I made the changes and sent it back, hoping for perfection and knowing that the editing was done as I had used both editing rounds.   Now all I could do was sit back and wait.

This is where the journey became a real challenge.  I was trying to pace myself through the dark, bumping into the unknown along the way.  It is such a learning curve, to self -publish and take responsibility for promotion. 

Of course I started with what I knew.  I knew a Facebook fan page was essential-and free.  I started one up and used it to promote my book, and I also filled it with images of the Halifax Explosion.  I then decided that a website was a relatively cost effective tool to try to gain a following.  So I had one created.  This is where a deeper understanding of website creation and design would have served me well.  I had little to do with the creation and I don’t actually manage it.  The thing is, I wish I would have known that my website cannot allow for a discussion board.  I think that some sort of way of interacting with people is essential for any website.  Then I turned to my twitter account, which I had created a few years back and begun tweeting about my book.  Finally I created several blogs in the hopes of gaining a following, which I am sure, will happen over time.

Recently I have created a book giveaway through Goodreads.   Here is the link.

I am still learning, still putting the pieces of promotion together.  I know that consistently participating in online interaction is part of the journey.  It is a lot of work, but it also gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that I am working towards my goals, and I am journeying to my cabin in the woods.  I will get there someday, that much I know for certain.

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