Thursday, September 15, 2011

Publishing: Me, My Team, and DIY

Today marks the one-month anniversary of me engaging the services of the Accurance Group to do interior formatting, cover design, POD paperback setup and distribution, and e-book conversion and distribution, for my WATERSPELL fantasy trilogy.

What have we accomplished since August 15?
  • All three covers are done (see them in the column at right). I’m very pleased with the covers, and I continue to get compliments on them.
  • I’ve seen and proofread (well, actually, my husband proofread) galley proofs of WATERSPELL Book 1: The Warlock (384 pages), and Book 2: The Wysard (440 pages).

The first run of galley proofs looked good except they were missing all the front matter (copyright page, dedication page, Contents, and epigraph). I took the opportunity, via Accurance’s “Galley Edits & Corrections Sheet,” to point out the oversights.

They did an excellent job then, incorporating the front matter in the second run of galleys. So when I sent them my final tweaks—a few minor refinements to the front matter and the “About the Author” page at the back of the book—I expected “my team” to whip out those changes in no time, and give me a finished set of error-free galleys, in PDF form.

But oops! They apparently entrusted my final tweaks to a newbie on their text-formatting team. The newbie had the temerity (or the poor judgment) to make changes where I had not indicated or authorized any. The most serious transgression was the newbie’s unilateral decision to drop the blank book-page that separated the Prologue (page 1) from the first page of Chapter 1. The dropping of the blank page (page 2) caused all of the pages from there to the end to be mis-numbered—out of sync with the page numbers on the Contents page.

Even sillier, the newbie added a page header to the top of the Prologue and on the first page of Chapter 1. She or he should know enough about book design to know that a chapter's opening page carries no running head.

So instead of having, in my possession, a finished set of error-free galleys for Book 1, I’ve sent back a third “Galley Edits & Corrections Sheet.” I’m hoping the production department will assign my original text-formatting team-member, and not allow the newbie to get anywhere near my books.


The only reason I’m blogging about this (relatively minor) snafu is that it makes me wonder: If changes like those I just described can be made in my book, without my authorization or permission, is there a possibility of more serious errors being introduced on pages that I have already proofread and approved?

The prospect makes my veins run ice. It is not physically or mentally possible to personally proofread every new output of 400-page galley proofs, looking for errors that creep in while my back is turned.

However, I believe I see a solution. When I finally receive a finished set of galley proofs, I can copy-and-paste the text from those PDFs into a new Microsoft Word document. I can then Compare Documents, comparing my original book file against Accurance’s text-formatting output, to assure myself that no creepy errors slipped in, between rounds of galley-edits.

When I first engaged the services of the Accurance Group, I committed myself to blog about the experience—the good, the great, the frustrating, or whatever I may yet encounter. My purpose in chronicling the entire process is to allow you, my fellow independent authors, to decide for yourself if you want to hire some help with your publishing ventures, or you want to do it all yourself.

If you decide to go solo, an excellent quick-start guide is Tricks, Tactics, and Techniques from Published Authors: Thoughts on Traditional vs. E-book Publishing, a brand-new e-book by my very well-published friends Jan Peck and David Davis.

Tricks includes information on and links to the major digital publishing services: Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, Lulu, and Barnes & Noble PubIt.

(Lightning Source is not mentioned, but it’s the POD service I plan to use. I’ll report on it when I’ve got firsthand experience with LSI.)

Tricks also includes fascinating facts about the current state of the publishing world, with information about traditional publishing, and when and why you might want to consider going that route.

The book will save you days—possibly weeks—of searching the Web for information on your publishing options. I recommend it highly, as a quick but comprehensive overview of what’s out there for writers who are ready to take matters into their own hands.

For me, I knew that between updating my various websites, taking on various (paying) freelance-writing assignments, finishing WATERSPELL Book 3: The Wisewoman (which I plan to release next spring)—and maybe even taking a few days of vacation this fall, for a rest-break that I believe I’ve earned—I would not have time to properly e-publish WATERSPELL in strict DIY fashion.

And so I hired the Accurance Group. So far, I’m glad I did. Despite the occasional glitch, they are saving me loads of time and effort.

Stay tuned: My e-publishing adventure will continue.

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