Before…A word to live by

…along the way to seeing your book published – 

I’ve run into a ‘few’ barriers. First there’s the big one that says you’ll ruin your writing career if you self-publish. The number of Indies out there who can refute that myth easily enough is growing. Another barrier is the learning curve one must surmount or have enough money to pay someone else to surmount regarding how to format and make a cover, pick a company to publish with, createspace, lulu, kindle, smashwords…The indie author who really means to go for it has to find out what all these things mean and what’s involved, and going it alone means there is potential for making a lot of mistakes.

 I’m going to focus on just a few here so as to help the next independent minded soul avoid the same problems. 

#1 biggest mistake to make. Rushing. 

Rushing the book is one thing… Writing fast and furiously when the ideas are flowing is wonderful and exhilarating. Nothing beats that feeling of creating from whole cloth a world, a character and the intriguing things they have to go through. There is nothing wrong with typing out those words as fast as your fingers can race across the keyboard, or with a pen in hand even, the ‘old-fashioned way’. But rushing through the edit? Bad idea. 

The brain that wrote that last intense chapter will not be able to see the typos or the grammar mistakes your fingers made. If you can’t pay someone to at the very least read your book for typos, take two weeks or more away from it, so the words aren’t so fresh. You’ll be less likely to fix the typos in your head as you read instead of on the page where you need to concentrate. Better yet, get yourself a reliable beta reader who’ll give you a line by line. Most of the time they are free and will do this work for nothing more than a thank you. That goes on your acknowledgement page, or front matter. It’s a whole new language I’ve learned in two weeks. 

You have to do the work of making sure your manuscript is in the best shape it can be before you hit the send button to kindle, or smashwords, or anywhere else you intend to publish your story. Now that it’s so easy to do, we indie authors will have to show some restraint. Due diligence is a good phrase to keep in mind. I started three years ago (yes, three!) on the editing trail with beta readers and friends and family reading and correcting mistakes in my manuscript and while I hope there aren’t any, I will bet you good money that there are still a few typos remaining. The little buggers are intentionally difficult to find. 

Rushing through the formatting process once you have your story set is another big mistake. It’s harder than you think to slow down the rolling boulder that takes hold of your spirit and mind once you’ve made the decision to publish. You read up on all the things you’ve got to do (that list is extensive), and after you’ve gotten through about half of it, well then, things start to seem not so necessary, or you forgot you didn’t do h. on said list (you made a list, right?) and accidentally skipped it. The saying goes, make your list and check it twice. I’d say in this case, three is better. 

It was on my list and I did do this one – google your book title. Go on Amazon and search there too. There are quite a few books out now with at least part of the same title as Chosen. You have to make a decision how married you are to the title you picked, what meaning it has for the whole story and if you’re willing to set that title aside if you find fifty of them already out there. I opted to keep mine and added the series title, which made all the difference in the world of search engines.

 You must google your author name too. You must! It feels weird, but just do it. Go on Amazon as well, and search your author name. And you want to do this before you format all your works and make your cover. What happens if you don’t is you may discover, as I did, that there is another J. M. Harrison out there! Who sells books on Amazon! This is such a no brainer I’m a bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t do this simple task. 

My author or pen name is my choice. It doesn’t have to be my real name. Yours either. It can be almost any name you want and it’s not a bad idea to create different pen names if you plan to write in different genres to help keep your readers from getting mixed up with genres they want nothing to do with. Dean Wesley Smith  has several pen names. 

The nome de plume, a pseudonym adopted by an author goes back a few years.  Lewis Carroll, Richard Bachman, George Eliot, O. Henry, Voltaire, Mark Twain are all pen names. There is a fairly large list of famous writers who didn’t use their real names to write under. So it is something you want to put some thought into.

I did not. 

Now to fix this

I’m fortunate that I have a somewhat unique first name that my very common last name won’t need changing. But these are thing you want to think about before, before, before. It isn’t the end of the world either if you have a common last name, Smith, Jones? And want to publish in your own name. If you have a common last name, come up with an uncommon book title. If you’re a complete unknown, first time, never before published person feel free to make up a name that suites you.

 Right now, two weeks after publishing my first book, I’ve decided to change my pen name and I’m in the process of getting all the places my ‘old’ name will crop up shifted over to the new name. That means pulling my book off kindle and republishing with a new corrected cover and interior file. Uploading again to createspace (for the dead tree version) which I thankfully hadn’t gotten too far along in the process there with corrected pdf file and cover. The folks at createspace are extremely helpful when it comes to this sort of thing. Smashwords is the easiest to fix because 1) it’s a .doc file to begin with that’s easily modified on your computer at home, and 2) their instructions are easy to follow.

 Nick, over at Everything Indie, who did all my formatting for me is probably the most valuable resource I’ve found in all this figuring stuff out. He’s fast, his rates are reasonable and he’ll fix anything you feel is an issue. 

It all could have been avoided had I stuck to the list, followed it like a good little writer and let my creative side do what it does best – make stuff up. Apply that to the whole project including your pen name and title and due the proper research. You’ll avoid some after publication hassles and time wasted you’d rather be spending on promotion!

Good luck with your publishing endeavors and may your formatting errors be few.



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