Thursday, July 10, 2014

Self Publishing

Allegra returns to her home town following her mother's death, a town she had fled because of her broken romance with Nick. Even though Nick had betrayed her in the past, Allie has forgiven him--of course she has--after all it's the Christian thing to do. But it would be silly to consider resuming their romance. She had been hurt too badly the last time. Still Allie finds Nick and his young daughter irresistable.
Question from the E-mail: You published my first book five years ago.  You may recall, as you helped me find somone to type it into a computer file, as I still work on a typewriter. We corresponded quite a bit before it was published and I got galleys to correct, if I remember right. Never sold much, though. Someone in my writer's group said I could make a lot more money if I published my new one myself and set the price real low. I had asked you about it and you said it was "too long." So I took her advice, though I had never heard of the company she recommended. 
When I got my paper copy the pages were double-spaced just like the ms. I had sent them. Nothing had been edited. I never saw a galley. The cover is Black letters on White paper.  Worse, it is 890 pages long. How did that happen??

Answer: Sounds like they photocopied the pages, and dumped them into an electronic file. That's possible, though it the pages get mixed up, they will be printed out of order. Almost all publishers use the digital file you send them to set the type. 
Most "You are so Talented and we'd be Happy to Publish Your Work!" companies will do better than that, Rosie, but very few will edit anything unless you pay extra $$$ for editorial services. They will use whatever you send them to set the type. Chances are, nobody will even read it. You will pay extra for color covers, too. And for cover designs, if any.
They may, run spell check but if there are homonym errors spell check will not catch them. Like the ms. I saw last week where someone cut out a pattern with a "PEAR" of scissors. 
If you know what you are doing or have worked somewhere as an editor, you may be able to fix things well enough, but if you, like most of us in the beginning, don't know anything about stylebooks, or the rules of usage, your book will look like 99% if the self-published books that sell for .99 cents on the Internet.
Characters will go upstairs when they are already upstairs. Dogs will lie down, when they are already lying down.  People will drive off in cars they have wrecked in the previous chapter. Characters will light a cigarette when they did so in the paragraph above and in the one above that, all without putting any of them out.  Characters with long or ethnic names may find they are spelled two or even three different ways.

So if you are a long-time writer with some editorial experience, self-publishing may be a good choice for you. But if you are not yet aware of all the rules of good writing and editorial usage, then you may need help with it.

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