the indie author hat, part 2: a story of great responsibility…
With the indie author hat comes a great responsibility. If you have the power to bring any words you want to the world, then you shoulder the WHOLE responsiblity of making sure they’re the best words you have to give.
Self publishing is not the easy way out. Sure, it *can* be easy if you’re doing it wrong – and yes, lots of people will do it wrong – but to do it right takes a great deal of self-discipline (even more self-discipline than it takes to publish traditionally, since the only deadlines and bars set for you will be your own). It takes a lot of stubborn-headed persistence and a little bit of idealistic hope.
And maybe some insanity too.
But most of all it takes the responsibility to know when something is ready, or when it’s not.
like drilling teeth:
At a certain point, you just want to be done with it. The later drafts become excrutiating. Like drilling teeth, both painful and necessary. Maybe there’s a reason the last draft is like drilling teeth, like extracting the rot from living tissue. (Oh – a warning, this post may take a sudden turn for the gross!) There’s a reason it’s so awful – a tooth is alive, with blood and marrow and nerve endings. It’s not meant to be cut into, but sometimes we do, to make it better and stronger than it was.
A book can be good, can be functioning and living, but that doesn’t make it done.
Because then one of your editors tells you, “You know, it’s not quite done.”
And you say, “Oh, no! It’s done. It is SO done! Nothing has ever been as done as this book is done!”
But he tells you again, “No, it’s not quite done. After another round, it will be done. But right now? No, it’s not done.”
*cue childish tantrum*
*eat copious amounts of chocolate*
It’s okay though. Because this thing happens – which as backwards as it sounds, is actually a wonderful thing – you fall out of love with the book. You have new and shiny projects banging down the door to be written, and you’ve been away from the book for some time, and if you have to look at this book for one more minute, you swear you will pull your own teeth out with a pair of eyebrow tweezers!
But you won’t. Because then you’ll get over yourself a bit. You’ll check your ego and artistic vision at the door (just check it – you don’t need to toss it out), and you’ll *listen* to your editors and beta readers. You chose them because you were confident they knew what they were talking about, and if they’re telling you the truth, you need to cherish them.
And with the new love phase worn off, you can now see all the book’s *tiny* cavities of rot. You didn’t see them before, and now that you see them, well, you can’t just leave them there. Because do you know what happens to tiny cavities of rot? They grow, of course. And they take over the whole tooth.
You can’t stand the thought of your book eating itself alive from the inside, so you’ll dive in again. Please pass the laughing gas.
But as you begin to work again, you’ll find that you haven’t completely fallen out of love with it. When it makes you laugh still – as sick of it as you are – it must actually be funny. When it makes you cry still, you know it’s working. And when you’re done this time, the book won’t just be functioning, it won’t be just passable, or even just good – it will be the absolute best book it could be.
As an independent author, you are responsible for at least that much.
the first thing you need to know about me:
If you don’t know this already, I’m hopelessly late for everything. As a Virgo, this is very uncharacteristic of me – I’m supposed to be ordered and punctual. I’m not usually so late that you’d want to give up on me. Not so late that it’s not worth it in the end. Not so late that you’d think it wasn’t coming. Not so late you’d give up. But a little late. Fashionably late, one might say, except I’m well aware that it’s just irritating and not fashionable.
Oh, how many lectures I’ve received from receptionists at dentists and pediatrician’s offices? It doesn’t help. Why don’t I just get up five minutes earlier? Not sit down to check Twitter that one last time? I’ve tried setting all the clocks in my house fast by different intervals of time – doesn’t matter, it doesn’t usually trick me anymore.
So if you didn’t know that about me, just keep it in mind. It’s always a possibility. I’m trying to get better. I’m at least getting better at not promising things I’m not sure if I can follow through on. Anything – an appointment, a meeting, an email, a release date, lol!
Better late than never?
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
— Douglas Adams
The motto of my life.
and then comes the punch-line:
But really, this all has been my very eloquent way of telling you that I’m pushing back my release date just a bit.
I became delayed when I decided to give it one more pass than I’d expected it would need. I have a responsibility to my readers and to the potential of what I want my book to be. If I rushed through this last revision, it might still be a good book, but would it be the most perfect book I could deliver?
No, probably not.
It sucks to have to announce that. It’s embarrassing. It’s maddening. It gets my Virgo sensibilities in a knot! I hope it doesn’t make me look like a complete flake. 20% a flake, I understand. I’m really not a complete flake.
(Most of the time.)
Lesson #1: an indie author shall not announce a release date until the book is truly and actually 100% done and signed off on.
(Now you know why traditional publishers have such a big gap between finished book and release date!)
And that’s hard to do, really. Because you want to have a goal in mind – it helps to have a goal in mind and you want to share that goal so that readers can know if they’re going to be waiting days or weeks or months or years… It won’t be years, that much I can promise. Not months in the plural either. Really, I’m just winging it. I’m totally making it up and learning as I go. For all the mistakes I make with this first book, my next book is going to be a breeze!!!
I do want to thank everyone for the infinite patience though, so as soon as this final draft is shipped off to my proofreaders, I still plan on doing the preview series (5 chapters) and I’d also like to give away a few eARCs to some of you very patient people!
More on that as it comes though.
I do have a new vague and flimsy target release date in mind, but I think I’ve learned my lesson well enough not to say it out loud. It can be measured in weeks away rather than months. It’s still this spring. It’s not as soon as I’d hoped, but I’m also not going to rush the book out the door because I made the mistake of promising something I couldn’t live up to. Egg on my face, maybe, but so be it. I can promise you one thing: when you finally read this book, it’s going to be full of the absolute very best words I have to give.