I’m finishing the THIRD edit on Legendary Magic. That might seem excessive to some people, but it’s my usual process. I’m planning on an early September release, so the clock is ticking. For me, this is the most stressful part of self-publishing and there are many early mornings when I get out of bed in a rush because there are things that need to be done on the book before I forget. I usually think of these things right before I fall asleep the night before so by the time dawn comes, I’ve had at least seven hours to obsess.
And I do mean obsess. The last few weeks before the release mean crazy dreams. Last night I dreamed my husband and I ordered Japanese food from a food court on the North Shore for ourselves, a Japanese businessman, and a woman with purple hair from Germany. When the food didn’t arrive in two hours, I ventured into the kitchen to ask about it and nobody spoke English. Eventually, a hostile old woman began waving a ticket in my face while yelling that someone wrote one of the items down wrong, so they didn’t bother to make any of the food. By the time I found that out, all of the other restaurants were closed and I had to explain to my husband and two strangers who didn’t speak English that someone didn’t get something written down right, so we would all have to go hungry.
In the light of day, it’s clear to me that I’m afraid if I don’t get this book edited perfectly and immediately, I’ll starve and let down not only my family, but complete strangers. This is simply not reality; it’s just the stress of pre-release jitters. It happens every time I get itchy to publish my latest book.
There is no quick fix to this part of the process, but I do have a few strategies to keep me focused. I’d like to share those with you in case you find yourself in the same boat.
1.) Set a vague date. Don’t nail yourself down to a specific day until you’re sure you can get everything done by that date. If you’re self-publishing, you don’t need a deadline to strangle you. A vague date is good enough to get you on track and working toward a more specific day.
2.) Work out your pre-release marketing strategy. There are tons of places to post about your new releases, so make yourself a list of all of the ones you plan on using and set it up as a document so you can work on it in small chunks. I’ll post mine as soon as I’m up to the portion of my process (I’m not there yet – that’s the beauty of being an “indie”).
3.) Disconnect the internet. There are myriad places where indies go to chat about their books and connect with other indies (I have several, and most of the links are on the side of this page). If I can hop on-line I can see who else released what book and then spend a few minutes commenting on posts and pages. This leaves me feeling even more pressured to just FINISH! I generally complete my books in my living room (on the couch with my dog) and as far from the business end of writing as I can get.
4.) Since I publish exclusively on Amazon (that’s another discussion entirely) I can go in to my dashboard and upload my cover, blurb, details, and tags and save the draft until the book is done. That gives me peace of mind that all that’s left is the final conversion.
5.) Give your beta-readers a loose timeline. Mine know that when I give it to them, I’m itchy. They usually take no longer than two weeks to read. They’ve been with me a while now, so once the book is in their hot little hands, they flood me with emails and phone calls to point out the little things I need to go back and fix. Once I give the draft to them, we’re on short time. I edit, fix, and rephrase daily depending on their feedback. If there’s something glaring – I stop them all and fix the error – then I send a new copy out and we start up again. I’m in constant contact with them during this process and they are my salvation!
I should mention here that I have two groups of readers. The first group gets a rough copy, then I edit the draft a second time, take a few weeks off from the story, then the book goes through another round of editing. The copy that’s been edited three times goes to my second set of readers. The next time I finish a book, the two groups switch tasks (so everyone doesn’t have to read the not-perfect copy every time). While I do have a friend who edits for me (one with a Ph.D. in English), I also read the edited copy and sometimes sneak a change or two into the final draft because I am that obsessive.
As I get closer to publication, I’ll tell you where I am in the process in case something I do would make another author’s life easier. It’s hard to remember that you’re not alone when you’re an indie. You just need to work a little harder to find the tricks that make your process work for you.