Thursday, November 13, 2014

Before it was a book: the making of Rite of Rejection

I've talked a lot about what I am doing to market the book now that it's a real thing that exists as a finished product, but if I'm being honest, the marketing started well before then. Because all of these efforts will achieve nothing if I don't have a quality book.

I realized while going through my notes, that I've never talked about the process I went through to get Rite of Rejection ready for publication. Time to fix that.


Self-Editing
Like every author on the planet, I start with a rough draft. That is actually the shortest part of the process for me. Total writing time for that initial draft was about six weeks. I tend to write sparse, so it was around 60K words (the finished book is a little over 80K). Before anyone even sees a single word I go through a rigorous self-editing process. I leave myself little notes as I'm writing so editing means fixing all of those issues and well as searching out more. For this book, I used Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass to dig deep into the story. One of my favorite scenes in the whole novel came from a prompt from that book.

CPs and Beta Readers
I honestly can't even tell you the number of people who graciously read drafts of this book. It was a lot. Once I feel like the story reads cohesively and I'm happy with the way the plot runs, I turn sections over to my CPs. They read about 5K words at a time and then I edit them while they read the next section. My CPs are awesome. After I incorporated all those changes and rewrote some sections I turned it over to my Beta readers. These fabulous readers really helped me to cement my character motivations and made me prove everything in the story. I wasn't allowed to phone in the world building details and it's a better book because of them.

Professional Editors
I worked with two editors on this manuscript after I felt it was a good as I could get it. They pushed me even more ensuring that every word, every sentence captured what I was trying to achieve. Big shout out to the wonderful, talented folks at Teen Eyes Editorial for all the hard work they put into this one.

Proofreading
Once I knew all the pieces of the book were not going to change, I hired a proofreader. Unfortunately, I don't think I hired the best person for the job. My proofreader did find tons of grammar mistakes that I completely missed and helped me with my issue of never knowing when to use a comma. That said, I also felt a lot was missed and ended up having more post-proofing errors than I would have expected. This is one of those areas that can absolutely kill a novel. Too many mistakes can mean a reader getting jerked out of your story and possibly deciding they don't want back in. Sadly, too many authors self-publishing skip this step. My advice, don't skip it and be willing to pay for a quality editor.

Cover Time
This was both my favorite and most hated part of the process. With the edits, I at least felt qualified to make decisions. The cover design process was when I most wanted a publisher. I know so many authors bemoan the lack of decision making when it comes to their authors, but I would have loved for someone else to tell me which one to pick. I solicited opinions from close friends, avid readers and fellow writers. Everyone liked something different for different reasons. In the end, I absolutely LOVE my cover, designed by the talented team at Deranged Doctor Design and they were a dream to work with. The pressure of deciding how readers would view my book for the first time, I could have done without.

Another Read
Even though the book was pretty finalized at this point, I still read it again and asked a few new readers to look at it. At this point, I was only looking for mistakes. A missing word, a rogue comma, an incorrect capitalization. This is where I realized I should have spent more on a proofreader. Luckily, I have some amazing people in my support team and I'm fairly confident the book is as error free as it can be. I have now jinxed myself. I also used this final read to look for pull quotes which I'll be talking about in another post.

Formatting
If you have the cash, do yourself a favor and pay someone to do your formatting for you. The process of getting your word doc manuscript in the right format to submit to all the various vendors is a tedious nightmare. If, like me, you need to get your book out there on the cheap, I highly recommend picking up a print copy of Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard. She spells out the process step-by-step, with pictures and tells you exactly what buttons to push. Plus, the book has all kinds of other fun stuff that is good to know.


Pushing the button
This might have been the hardest part. With the eBook I have a bit of a buffer since self-publishers now have the option of setting a future publication date. But the print book doesn't offer that option yet. I knew once I hit the accept button, the powers that be would start working to get it out there. I had heard that this process can take anywhere from five days to two weeks. Being the paranoid perfectionist that I am, I hit the button yesterday so I could be sure the print book would be available by Dec. 4th.

In an act of over-achievement gone wrong, CreateSpace managed to get my book up on Amazon in about three hours. Yep, way to go! What does that mean? It means the paperback copy of Rite of Rejection is available to buy, right now! As in, you won't have to wait until December 4th for it to ship out! It's (a)live!

Yeah, I'm kinda freaking out, too!

The silver lining of the early posting is that now people can post reviews. The books still pull up separately, but I'm asking Amazon to group them and hopefully, that will happen soon. So, if you've received an ARC, and have finished reading it, I'd be amazingly grateful if you would leave an honest review. I've talked before about how important reviews are to a new author, so I'm not going to be shy about asking for them.

So that's the story of how this little story became a book. I imagine, it's about what you would expect. But I'm all about being transparent with this whole book launch deal. If there are other areas that you think I've missed, please let me know. I still have a lot more posts to come about my efforts, but I want to make sure that I'm not skipping over something that I didn't even realize I did. Does that sentence even make sense? Probably not.

Anyway, let me know what I'm missing and be sure to come back tomorrow. It's my birthday this weekend, so I have a surprise or two in store for all of you lovely folks!

6 comments:

  1. Happiest of Birthdays, Sarah. Celebrate the awesomeness of You!

    How did the process work for self-publishing in the case of Rite of Rejection, and any submission steps, seeking representation, etc.? (Were you agented before? Or was that as a result of writing RoR?) Did you submit queries before deciding to self-publish, or did you go straight to that decision? If you did submit, how was it received? (partials, fulls, etc.) Forgive me if I've asked questions you've asked elsewhere, but I may just need to go back to your previous posts and read it over.

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    1. See, I just thought that was stuff that noone would want to know. Not sure if I can fit that in before the actual publication (lots of marketing posts to come), but I can definitely work up a more detailed "how I got here" post for after the launch. :)

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  2. Thanks for the break down. I'm learning so much by following along!

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  3. Have a great birthday, Sarah!

    Thanks for sharing about your editing process. Did you end up doing both a developmental and a line edit with the professionals?

    Also, one random question: What's your take on author blurbs? Did you end up getting endorsements? (I couldn't see the back cover of your book on the Amazon site.)

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    1. I didn't do a developmental edit. Both of my editors at teen eyes were content editing. This is where they are looking at plot, pacing, character arc, scene consistency, etc.

      I am getting some blurbs, though I'm not ready to talk about it quite yet. I'm still waiting on a few responses. I will have a followup post on this. And they won't be on the cover, because I would have needed them ages ago and that wasn't going to happen. They will go on my website and the Amazon posting. :)

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