Two Recommendations

The Girl In The Red Hoodie was (still is, though stay tuned) was my first self-epublished book for Kindle. As with all first attempts at something, it had issues.

The story itself was done about two years ago. I hadn’t really proofed it for copy yet, but I had proofed it for content. I made some changes here and there, tried to get the language into some semblance of continuity throughout, and generally tried to get the story onto paper the same way it was in my head. A friend of mine read through it, made a recommendation or two, which I then folded in.

Done.

Then it sat. The last of the revisions were finished near the beginning of this year. And then what did I do? I procrastinated. (Did I mention that I was a gigantic procrastinator?) I found every reason under the sun NOT to go back to the story. Work was always at the top of the list, given that I’m in the middle of some pretty large system implementations (the day-job calleth). There were family excuses. Birthdays and kids’ activities, and other stuff that didn’t really take up THAT much time. But they were great for excuses as to why I had yet to publish.

And then something snapped. Not sure what. One night it just became time. Time to work up a cover, time to format the book for Kindle, time to put it out there and see what happened. I didn’t have huge expectations. Still don’t. It’s just a short story, a little bite sized gulp of serial killer nastiness. I figured it might sell a few here and there, and those would be mostly to friends and family.

In the back of my head, I could also hear the one thing my friend had told me in December: “Every day you DON’T publish is day you DON’T make money. Every day you DO have something published is a day you COULD be making sales.”

Okay. It was time.

I think the big thing that was holding me back was the fear of that final mouse click. Would I put it out there and would it fail? Would it get crappy reviews? Once out there, would I ever be able to pull it back? Would I screw it up while trying to publish it?

The answer to all these questions was a big shrug of the shoulders. Who knows? Nobody. But until I got off the sofa and tried, I’d never know for sure.

I realized that fear was probably the biggest thing holding me back. It was time to take a big deep breath and jump into the deep end of the pool.
So what happened?

Well, after publishing it I made a couple of sales, including by some people I didn’t know. Okay, so, the fact that it sold some meant it didn’t fail. After all, it didn’t cost me anything to publish it except my time and about $15 for the underlying image I bought for the cover. I can’t say I’ve broken even to cover the cost of the cover image, but the Federal Tax return covered that for me.

Did I get crappy reviews? Nope. I haven’t gotten a single one to date, so no problem there.

Can I pull it back if need be? Sure. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program will let you take the book offline whenever you want. So no danger there.

Did I screw it up while publishing? Well….a little.

In my hurry to get it out on Amazon for Kindle, I may have missed one or two (or more) tiny grammatical and spelling mistakes. Oh yeah, that proof for copy. Forgot that step. And for me, an English lit major, it was more than a little embarrassing for my mother, who bought and read it, to email me saying, “great story, but there were some typos in it, do you want me to send you a list?”. With a hung head I said “yes”.

About three weeks after publishing The Girl In The Red Hoodie, I revised the source document and then resaved the (new) final copy as a Kindle formatted document. I re-uploaded the file and now it’s as good as new. Actually, it’s better than new, since the original “new” version had typos.
What’s the moral of this story? I guess it’s twofold:

  1. Don’t procrastinate. Keep working forward, even if it’s tiny tiny tiny steps forward. But keep some momentum going or else you’ll stutter and stall.
  2. Don’t rush. Do things right. This includes proofreading your work or having somebody else who’s exceptional at it go through it. Cause it’s a reflection on YOU, the self-publisher, if you publish an e-book with crappy formatting or textual errors.

Was that too soapbox-y? I hope not. Cause part of the point of me sharing my experience with you is telling you where I screwed up so that you don’t make the same mistakes.

Til next time…

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