Getting it Wrong, Then Making it Right: Self-Publishing Lessons Learned
I did it! I was very happy with myself; I had done what I had set out to do and published my first book. Despite my best efforts – lots of research of literary agents and publishers – I had not been able to find someone to take me on and publish my book for me. I took the self-publishing route. I also took the self-editing and self-proofreading route. The one thing I did do properly was invest in a professional to design my book cover. Apart from writing the book that may have been all I did right!
I have learned a lot since I released the first edition of my book on the world. I have learned most of it from Helen Hollick; she has been a blessing. I first found Helen in the pages of a writing magazine talking about taking on her back catalogue after being dropped by her publishers. In the article Helen mentioned her designer, Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics, and I bit the bullet and contacted Cathy. The result - a wonderful book cover that gives the reader a visual indication of what lies within. It is a shame that the inside layout did match the exterior promise.
Helen bought my book (I had joined Helen and Cathy writing on a weather blog). She liked the cover. There then followed from Helen several articles about self-publishing and the need for professional editing. Whether they were a direct result of my book, or purely coincidental, it matters not, what Helen said within the articles rang true. I had not edited my book properly.
For a start my layout was wrong. I had line spacing of 1.5 lines. This made my book look all wrong, it was not an inviting read. There were a few spelling and grammar mistakes within. I had edited and proofread the copy I don’t know how many times but I knew what I was supposed to be reading. If I thought ‘Tin Tin’ was meant to be on the page that is what I read, not ‘Tin Tim’ which was actually what sat there. I could not see the woods for the trees.
I have made every effort to address these issues. I reformatted my book which resulted in it losing thirty pages. Thirty pages! It was not a particularly fat read before, now it was positively skinny! But the narrative within is the same. It is still a book of travel memoirs and luckily people who have read it have enjoyed it (see the reviews on Lulu.com). Helen had enjoyed it, it was just the editing that had let it down she said.
There are lots of positives to come out of the process. It is been a steep learning curve and a self-publisher is going to make mistakes somewhere along the line. I made quite a few of them. As a self-publisher you have to be not just writer but agent, manager, marketing director and tea-boy all rolled into one, but don’t be the editor as well. City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities is out in its new, revised format – the second edition. The second book in the trilogy, City Chronicles: A Little Bit of Italy, is a work-in-progress. I am going to employ an editor before it goes to press. I already have the cover being designed by the wonderful Cathy, it looks great. This time I am going to make sure that the inside of the book looks as polished and professional as the cover.
City Chronicles: A Little Bit of Italy – April/May 2012
City Chronicles: Crossing the Bosporus – late 2012