Think of it as the book equivalent of an Indie film: do what you want to do how you want to do it without the interference of agents and media gurus who believe they know what the public wants. It was a leap for me to give up on the process of finding a traditional agent and publisher, but after a two year search, that went at the pace of a slow snail (standard: send me a query and if you don't hear from me in three months, query again), then if they liked the idea of the book (and a number of agents did), you send thirty pages or so, and wait for six months till they get
Now at long last I have reached the goal, can clean up my desk and settle down to writing the next Morgan Kendall mystery. I hope it will go quicker.
The e-Book version of Fog went through several formatting and proofing iterations, each reviewed by the on-line publishers, and it now turns up in the various e-Book retail stores (that took a couple of months in fact), and the paperback version is available in the CreateSpace store and by the end of this week should appear on Amazon; it will take another 6 to 8 weeks to make it to the various retailer and library catalogues however. Yay!! And Wow!! too, for the amount of time spent preparing and proofing the manuscript. Independent publication offers authors solid control over the process, but it also means the author is responsible for 99 percent of the publication behind the scenes work too, not to mention learning a significant number of new (to me anyway) software tricks and techniques. Next time it should go more easily, “should” being operative word, since I’m well aware that by next year when “Wine” is finished, the requirements of the on-line publishers will have probably changed.
A friend remarked to me some time ago that she recalls working over her first novel for publication—over and over and over. By the time she deemed it reasonably “clean,” she’d memorized much of her story word for word. I didn't think that would really happen to me. But, you know, it did. I suppose I will soon be forgetting those phrases, but at the moment I can locate words and phrases without the use of the "find" tool. Seems to be how it goes. Of course that does leads to trouble too, for after sixth or sixteenth time through the ms I simply stopped seeing the words left out or the extra ones left in during a revision, or even the wrong words entirely creeping in because of spell-checker weirdnesses. Sigh. I suppose I could have been quicker about all this—maybe next time.
Anyway, a high point of the process was seeing my book for the first time on-line. That thrill lasted about a ten minutes, since when I opened it up and I began to read, typos and formatting errors popped out, and of course I had to fix them and re-upload and go through the review process again. This happened more often than I liked. Err.
The better high came when the actual proof arrived in the mail. If you've had that particular thrill, it's akin perhaps to God's satisfaction on the seventh day. It lasted about ten hours, or Monday, when I suppose God too had to get back to work. But it was very good. I went back to work too, dealing with the bottom margin problem, made intransigent by Word's hatred of so-called widows and orphans. I made some improvements, but still can't get those darned bottom margins all the same--I'd need more professional software I suppose. Maybe next time. What a process!
Most importantly, however, as I look back on this whole e-publishing adventure, I feel grateful for my blessed friends including Cindy Pomerleau, Dan Overgaard, Doren Greene, Nancy O’Reilly, and Kim Webster as well as my treasured family—Dan, Kate, and of course Don—who all pitched in at one time or another to help me along the way, from early revisions and copyediting to proofing the final manuscript. Tatra-Li Beuttler, who happens to work with death row inmates, helped we immensely with getting the inside dope on being a San Quentin visitor, and of course Betsy Joyce, who made me a superb cover and then had infinite patience assisting my efforts to get the jpeg file into the right size and shape for all the different publishing entities I was working with. I am humbled by my supporters.
Finally, I’d like to any reader of this blog who is thinking about setting off on a similar road to independent e-publishing: do read Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide and take what he says to heart. It's gruelingly tedious, and even if you decide not to publish via smashwords.com (Mark's site)—it was the best thing I found for learning to tame the infuriating hidden commands of Word—and they have to be tamed unless you want to write the html code for your manuscript, which I did not.
So, cheers everyone. Hope you like my book. And do send me feedback--nice things, questions, even typos you suggest I'd better fix (which I promise to do).