The hurrier I go, the behinder I get . . .

21 Sep

This is one of two supposedly Pennsylvania Dutch saying I grew up with. The other is ‘we get too soon old, and too late smart’. Believe me, these two sayings (possibly from the Katzenjammer Kids cartoon, although I can’t say for certain)  are, well, I guarantee truer words were never spoken.

If you are thinking about self-publishing your book, DON’T RUSH IT!!! You’ll make all kinds of dumb little mistakes—and probably some big ones, too—that’ll come back to haunt you later.

Oh, by the way, I need to point out that there are any number of advertisements for self-publishers tagging along on this blog. I have NOTHING to do with any of them! They’re randomly placed by WordPress to generate funds to enable them to keep this system free of cost. I do not necessarily recommend any of them to anyone at any time. Now, should you ask me privately, I will not hesitate to offer an opinion, but for myself, I’ve only really had experience with one of them, and I am very pleased with their process, so far.

So, whenever I refer to timing in this article, I am referring to Create Space. I suspect that not all self-publishers will adhere to these standards, so I  can only relate my own experiences.

If you’re the author, and are reasonably computer literate, there are a few tasks in the publishing system that you can undertake for yourself. Unless you are VERY good at editing and proof-reading, however, those two tasks should be farmed out to someone who is very good at them. Otherwise, you may well find yourself with an embarrassing manuscript. Or book. Which is even worse.

First off, if you’ve typed your manuscript into your computer yourself (from scratch) this next paragraph will have little appeal for you. However, if you’ve scanned it from a book or a typewriter-produced manuscript – beware! Unless you pay excellent attention to your OCR-recognition software, you may end up with a batch of gibberish. I’ve learned to always run a spell-check on a scanned manuscript. Generally, I’m not a big fan of spell-check, as it will only tell you if the word is spelled properly, not if it’s the right word. And there’s a HUGE difference there, believe me!

The non-automatic spell-check will at least point out obvious glitches, and let you fix them as you work your way through the manuscript. You’ll need to pay really good attention to punctuation, which seems to magically convert itself to some other entity entirely! Apostrophes and quote marks are singularly prone to this little trick. The new Word programs will let you change your old straight commas, etc., (including the “) to curly ones, If you so choose. Neither style is the ‘right’ one, exactly – what you really want to maintain is unanimity. Have them the same everywhere through the book!

You may be able to do a global search and replace for these little critters, but even then there’s sure to be one or two that will slip through. Aarrgghhh!  The biggest problem I had with Secret Shores was the scanner OCR-recognition program (admittedly several years older than the newer versions) had difficulties with the combination ‘rn’ as in the word ‘turn.’  It would, for instance, make each repetition of that word ‘tum’, which is, of course, a valid word, as in ‘Tum’.

I mean to tell you that at first glance, it’s really hard to find these mistakes! Of course, you can do a find and replace, but – sometimes you don’t really want the change to be made. When you’re working with a 110,000 word book, there is a limit to how many times you can read it before going sadly bonkers! Where I went most egregiously astray was in thinking that the first (so-called proofed version) was a good one. In all honesty, it wasn’t anywhere near to being good or ‘clean’. I am a German-Irish-Aries. If you read up on the signs of the horoscope, you’ll quickly discover the key word for Aries is impetuous and next comes headstrong. Oh, boy, is that me! Yikes!

So I opened an account at Create Space, and blithely entered both regular and large print versions to be produced. (As a woman of ‘a certain age’ I’m a firm believer in large-print books, although I’m not yet ready for them for myself on a steady basis.) But when I re-did Windsong five years ago, it, too, is in regular and large print versions, and the large-print has consistently outsold the regular print by a 2 to 1 margin!) I haven’t yet done Windsong as a Kindle, but I will. Hopefully, before the end of the year.

Anyway, I dutifully converted my word files to Adobe, and submitted them. All was well and they were accepted. (Formatting etc., will be a topic for a future blog.) The covers however, presented other problmes – also a topic for the future. But finally, we got them done, submitted and accepted. Then it was time to order proof copies. This is the ONLY required fee that you will pay Create Space for publishing your book. Unless it’s gigundic, and you live in (on?) Bora-Bora, and/or want it tomorrow, the total including postage should be well under $10.

A few days later, here comes the book. (In this case, books!)  Oh, it’s a BIG thrill, believe me. BIG! And it never gets old, either. Then, you flip the cover and look at the front page, and turn a few more pages, and BOINGGG!!! Typos start jumping off the page at you, right and left, and you sit down and cry, “What have I done?”

Actually, it’s more like what you haven’t done. You (me, in this case) didn’t properly proof it, or at least not carefully enough! It was a combination of the punctuation and the ‘rn’ problem that really made me want to pull my hair out. I resisted, however, and sat down with the large print version to straighten out this mess. A week later, I was still correcting! I really thought I’d done it right, and submitted a corrected file.

Somehow in the process, I messed up the rear cover (identical on both books, by the way) so the covers had to be re-done. Then re-done again! (I didn’t leave the lower right corner empty for the bar-code. Arrgghh! )

Then, I started on the regular print – I had been doing both files sort of simultaneously, but then, I found an entirely different set of glitches. I sat down and had a good cry, then it was back to the computer again.

More next week! See you then? But in the meantime, should you want a copy of Secret Shores, I wouldn’t be offended! Just do a search for the title at Amazon, and you’ll find all three versions, right there, nice and handy and available for purchase!

Please feel free to send this on to anyone you think might like to commiserate? And if you have questions, please write to me at bookmechanic@gmail.com

Cheers!

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