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After holding on to “Above the Storms” for over a year while trying to go the traditional publishing route, I decided facing my fears and apathy for the business side of writing was the right thing to do. I was proud of my handful of published short stories, but novels were always going to be my preferred form. That being the case, I needed to get off my posterior and do something with the completed product. I was proud of the finished work, and wanted to have it out there, even if it wasn’t what I had envisioned for my first publishing experience.
With that in mind, I present to you five of the many lessons learned:
THE BEAUTY OF COVER ART – I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this prior to my first few web searches. I have artist friends and family but cover art isn’t their thing. What a fantastic surprise that there are sites dedicated to art (I’m assuming) created and rejected for other projects. A few keywords later and you have hundreds of options. I spent a couple days going down the rabbit hole, and could have spent many more. Many thanks to John Lutheran and www.thebookcoverdesigner.com.
FORMATTING or fÓrMätT1nG – Another shocker was how easy it was to format the both the ebook and the printed copy. Granted, my needs were minimal. But considering how much time I had spent worrying about fonts, gutters, and pagination prior to investigating the available tools, the actual process (at least with Amazon) was a breeze.
READ A BOOK – OK, I didn’t believe it. I’d read the completed manuscript a dozen times, and didn’t believe there was another obvious edit to make. I was so confident I didn’t wait for the proof copy. Wrong Decision! Something about the printed page makes for a different read. Not only for the few errors I made in formatting (see above), but obvious typos jumped out at me. My first read through, I found eleven blunders, and felt like I owed every one of my beta readers and editors a huge apology. <Everyone, again, I’m so sorry.>
EXASPERATING RATINGS - Confusing, Inscrutable, Veiled, and a dozen others are the words I would select for the Amazon customer review process. Admittedly, I made a huge mistake, given my past career. I should have seen it coming. I posted a link on this site, FB, and elsewhere with my URL identifiers in place (i.e., the link I got after signing into my Amazon account.) Boom! All those people were instantly identified as being too close to me to leave a review. But it gets stickier, accepted reviews come and go without warning, some get initially accepted only to disappear two days or a week later, and many (at least two out of every three from my experience) are rejected without cause.
So the independent author is left in a catch-22. You need 50 reviews to get included in their promotions and lists, but none of those reviews can come from people you know.
KINDNESS OF READERS – Letters of appreciation. Requests to sign a copy. Deep questions about the characters, world, and plot. Gentle corrections. What I take away as an author (I can say that now) is that someone read one of my books and it stayed with them long enough to take another action. Brilliant!