The Rush To PublishSlow down, you’re moving too fast

While self-publishing, especially ebooks, offers writers an incredible opportunity to get their books under readers’ noses, one of the most common mistakes made by those new (and sometimes not so new) to self-publishing, is to get caught up in the euphoria of publishing a book, and rushing to hit the publish button.

It can be a tragic and perhaps fatal mistake, which could damage your reputation as a writer for a very long time. Publishing a book with a weak story, gaps or holes in the plot, errors and typos and/or poor formatting will not only kill sales potential but immediately damage your reputation as a writer.

Publishing an ebook on Kindle or Smashwords, or a ‘Print On Demand’ paperback with Createspace or Lulu takes literally minutes to complete and anyone with an ounce of computer know-how can do it. But don’t fall for the trap.

If you haven’t had your manuscript read by someone else, do not publish. As a writer, it’s impossible to be objective about what you have written. Get at least one opinion, but preferably a lot more to find out if the story actually  ‘works’ and if there are any holes in the plot. This should be done before detailed editing and correcting. It’s simply about the story, so don’t worry about grammar, spelling and typos too much at this stage.

When you get some feedback, don’t publish. Act on the feedback and improve the story. Once you’ve done this, don’t publish.

Now you have a story that works, walk away from it. Leave it for a month, or even two. Why? Because you need to approach the next stage with a fresh mind. Do not publish.

After a good break from your manuscript, start your editing process. Tidying up repetitions, overused words and phrases and check that the dialogue works and is properly punctuated and reported. ‘Perhaps get rid of all those adverbs you added when you were wrapped up in the story when you wrote it,’ he said wryly. Make sure your characters keep their ‘voice’. Take your time, and then, do not publish.

Now it’s time to find, pay or barter and get yourself a proofreader. Be patient and wait for that to be done and make the corrections. Then, do not publish.

Prepare your manuscript for publication and test it with a program such as Calibre and load it up onto your Kindle or iPad and read your book as your readers will. For POD, prepare the pdf version and check it carefully for pagination and font styles. Now, ready? No, do not publish.

Find some beta readers to read your finished book on their Kindle or iPad or whatever e-reader they have. Wait for their feedback,  and act on it and make any necessary changes you think will make your book better. Do not publish.

Prepare your manuscript again with Calibre, then read your book again, just one last time and be proud of how fantastic it is.

Publish now.

And know that you have given your book the care and attention it deserves and will enhance your reputation as a writer and self-publisher.

The Rush To Publish
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24 thoughts on “The Rush To Publish

  • 23/08/2012 at 2:15 pm

    This is excellent advice.! My book has been ‘finished’ for a month or two, It has gone through one editor and is still with the second one. I have read the end product myself several times and made corrections. I am near delirious waiting to publish, but I am convinced it’s worth the wait. Early trial and error, much error, has taught me patience.

  • 23/08/2012 at 3:35 pm

    This is exactly what I preach. I was so pleased to stumble upon this post. Spread the word! xox

  • 23/08/2012 at 3:42 pm

    I have one thing to add – what is missing in this post is developmental and structural editing – I highly recommend having your book edited for content, pace, structure, not just copy editing. Many editors claim to have that experience, but not many actually have it. Talk to references before hiring an editor, and it will cost you a pretty penny, probably $1200-1800, but it’s worth every penny. Readers deserve polished work.

    • 24/08/2012 at 10:32 am

      My editor, Lucille Redmond, a consummate professional, does all those things for my work, and she doesn’t charge anything like that. She is a prize-winning writer and a journalist with years of editing experience. We have been working together, on and off, for over 11 months on my new book (FIND EMILY). Here’s a link to one of her blogs

  • 23/08/2012 at 4:18 pm

    What great info…well said…we all spend hours/days/months/years writing, but ‘fresh eyes’, and not from close friends, is the real test. So worth taking the time to have it read. If you stumble out of the blocks…you stumble. Thank you…keep smilin’… Lee

  • 23/08/2012 at 4:30 pm

    Great advice that came at a great time for me. I’m 110,000 words into a wholesale rewrite, and I need to press on without worrying about publishing. It will be done soon, and that’s soon enough. No need to hurry after three years of work… :)

    • 23/08/2012 at 9:29 pm

      It’s always hard to convince some though Dina. But at least nowadays, the mistakes can be rectified with the ‘re-publish’ button. So long as not too much damage has been done with the rushed version.

  • 23/08/2012 at 5:42 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree. I really should have been much more patient before publishing. Definitely a hard, and lasting lesson to learn

  • 23/08/2012 at 5:54 pm

    I published my book a month ago after having several people read it (and reread it). I’m fortunate to have a friend who used to be an editor and I can’t tell you how many times she alone went through my book. But even today as I pick up my book and flip through it I find things I want to change.

    • 23/08/2012 at 9:31 pm

      The good thing nowadays Shannon, is that you can make those changes with a quick re-publish. Never hurts to improve your book!

  • 23/08/2012 at 9:59 pm

    Great article Derek, Melissa at a rate of $1200-$1800 for structural editing, whatever that may be, it will remain missing for most of us. I have a hard time with the exorbitant prices editor seem to think their services are worth. That and the fact there are so many unqualified “editors” who think they are credentialed editors because they had an English minor in college. I see it as just another of many scams to fleece the wannabe writers for money. The whole point of publishing books is to sell books and make some money doing it. It is not about buying thousands of “how to write books” books, paying to publish through vanity presses or waste money in hundreds of different ways that have been concocted to separate the fledgling writer from his money. I am of the opinion that it can all be done, and in a professional manner for a very limited investment.

    • 23/08/2012 at 10:13 pm

      I hear you very loud and clear Rick. However, for some, using a professional editor is well worthwhile, and worth the money if you have a great story, but lack the skills needed to polish it ready for publication. I’m sure Melissa was making this point.

      But yes you’re right, there are just so many totally unqualified editors out there, who are very often failed or highly unsuccessful authors, who are now trying to make a few extra bucks out of self publishing by selling themselves as ‘qualified’ editors. Very few are.

      I think Melissa is right about how much it would cost for a good editor, so anyone doing it for a lot less should be carefully assessed before parting with any cash.

  • 24/08/2012 at 12:49 am

    Great piece, Derek, we’ve just wrapped up some similar pieces on editing and refining on our blog, as well as characteristics to look for when choosing an editor.

    Also, we’re trying to reach out to self-publishers just to let them know we exist as an option. Kbuuk is a new self-publishing platform and we’re looking to get people to try us out. We’d like to invite you and any of your readers to come check us if you have a minute.

    • 24/08/2012 at 10:43 am

      Checked out kbuuk. Couldn’t work out what you’re selling. Software? No software can edit a book.

  • 24/08/2012 at 2:54 pm

    Agree wholeheartedly!. I finished writing my first novel in January – it has had two professional edits so far (paid AU$1500), three others have read it and the first proofs have just been completed (late August) with mistakes still being picked up. Yes, I am impatient to get the book out there, but I want a polished product. Happy to take the time.

  • 24/08/2012 at 7:01 pm

    Loved your post, D. I shared with an upcoming author who is nearing publication and I reread as well and learn. Very sound advice.

  • 25/08/2012 at 1:44 pm

    Thank you! Sometimes we believe we are taking a leap of faith when really we are showing a lack of confidence. Allowing someone to read through our work, give editing suggestions, and to be ready for ‘what comes’ from the experience is tough. I suggest many readers with different backgrounds, and editors (plural). A potential solution can be found here and I will share your blog through our networks. Great to be connected.

  • 26/08/2012 at 10:31 am

    What about short stories in pieces like the old days when books were released in bits and chunks? Could they pass the test of when to publish? What if with formatting the author was purposefully ignoring those things to share a plot point in the story? Read a crazy one not long ago I found on Kindle, was REALLy good guys name was Conrad Von Supertramp who was doing that. Hard to read at times but when you get through it totally worth it. Worth the amazon search. BUT, he’s also not a bestseller. Thanks for the advice! Got any recomendations for quality ebook prep software?


  • 28/08/2012 at 12:46 pm

    I thought my first book was finished back in 2009. Then I started really digging into the thing and ended up cutting about 60,000 words. Every cut was painful but incredibly important to my manuscript.

    Had I self-published back then, before the book was ready, I never would have had a 3 book deal with Penguin.

    Now I’m an editor as well as an author, and I’ve worked with over 3 dozen novels worldwide. Look me up if you’re looking for an editor!

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