I'm reblogging this because, after I read it earlier today, I just couldn't let it pass me by without sharing it far and wide. There's just so much to this.
This comes from editor and colleague Angella Graff, who is an amazing author and my spirit animal.
Being in the indie market, self-published authors have one luxury most authors in the Traditional Publishing or even Small Press market don’t have. We choose when our book is going to be released. It’s part of the Power is in My Hands draw of that publishing market. As an indie author myself, I love it. I’m not bound by contract or dates, and when my book is ready to head to print, within twenty-four hours, it’s available to the public.
But it also comes with drawbacks, some of which I’ve seen in droves coming from the indie market. I’ve seen it first hand as an editor, and as a networker to a lot of my indie friends. Publishing too soon. I can’t tell you how many manuscripts I’ve had to reject in my editing inbox simply because the author requests an editing job done for a release date two or three weeks away.
When you’re an indie writer, the ball is in your court, one hundred percent. That also means you’re obtaining all of your services freelance. Book covers, editing, formatting, marketing, etc. And all of those things are necessary to bring a professional, worth reading, book into the market.
Traditionally published books often have release dates years out and those going straight to ebook, if they’re lucky, maybe six to eight months. There’s a reason for that, and the reason is– those necessary elements to making your book professional take time. Freelance editors, at least the good ones, are often booked up months in advance. My own personal queue is fully booked through June, and I’m not even accepting new authors right now.
So the very idea an indie would choose a release date just weeks away from when they begin to send out editing inquiries is beyond me. I don’t understand what the rush is. I know, you’ve poured your heart and soul into this book, and everyone who’s read it so far loves it, and you can’t wait to release it out into the wild.
Believe me, I know the feeling.
But good work isn’t fast, and fast work isn’t good. Neither is cheap work, or rushed work. If an editor tells you it’s going to take four weeks to finish your manuscript, take pride in the fact the editor is using their precious time to give your book full and absolute attention. You need a buffer, you need time to not only apply the edits when they return, but to finish re-writes, to perfect those tiny nuances of the book before you hit that publish button.
I find a lot of indies think the editing process is finished the moment the book is back in their inbox. They just hit accept all changes and that’s that. If you’re doing that, you’re doing your book a massive disservice. A lot of times when I do copy editing, I will offer content notes. I can’t help it. Yes, I’m being paid to look at grammar and spelling, but I’m still reading the book, and if something stands out, I will mention it. I can tell you with certainty, I’ve never edited a book, even just a copy edit, that couldn’t use a few plot or character changes.
I realize, for some indies, this is hard to hear. Indie authors are some of the most sensitive I’ve ever come across. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, or a harsh criticism, it’s just a fact. I’ve had scathing emails in my inbox when, after being paid to do a full critique, the author was unhappy I didn’t find their book to be anything other than absolute perfection.
Trust me, as an author myself, I know the sting of critique. I pass on a book which I believe to be the very best I can do, and when I get back comments telling me where I’ve failed, it hurts. But I take it in stride, and I give myself time to make the necessary changes to my work, because despite my desire to have my first draft be absolute perfection, I know it won’t be. I know changes are necessary.
I don’t want to rush my work out. I want to spend days pouring over my text and making sure I am one hundred percent satisfied with what I put out into the market.
To tell you the truth, most good editors– and by good I mean editors worth hiring– won’t comply with release dates. At least, not unrealistic ones. I will always ask when they plan to publish, and if the answer is anything less than eight weeks (barring a previous agreement and my queue being completely empty), the answer will always be no. Always. Even with a manuscript assessment, I can’t fully predict how long it will take me to finish an entire book. Without psychic powers, I also won’t be able to predict the little curve balls life throws at me, and it’s important to remember your editor is human. Sometimes things happen, and it will delay your book.
My advice, use the fact that you have total control over your book and don’t choose a release date until your edited manuscript is in your grubby little hands. Then give yourself several weeks of cushion to apply your edits, to go over it line-by-line. Use those weeks to line up release promos and book tours, and build up anticipation and excitement. Don’t rush.
In the end, you’ll thank me for this advice.
Side note: We have a lot of fun discussions on my Facebook fan page. I also sometimes use it to crowdsource future posts. So if you want to keep in the loop, or even be mentioned on TPF, make sure to give my Facebook fan page a like and follow my updates!