Dash It All

When I made the decision to ePublish my backlist, I knew very little about the process. It all came about after a discussion I’d had with a well-known author in which he suggested that I could probably do very well publishing my backlist as eBooks. I might even make more with my eBooks than he could with his, because he doesn’t own the electronic rights and is entitled to only a small royalty. As popular as this man’s novels are, I’m quite certain that’s not the case, but the conversation did spark my curiosity. This took place in 2011 when some authors like John Locke and Jon Konrath had become household names in the ePub world.

So I diligently read their books and blogs, I attended panels having to do with ePublishing, asked other authors for information and referrals re: formatting, cover art, promotion sites, etc. etc., and went through my original manuscripts page by page, with each traditionally published book on a stand next to my monitor, updating. More than a year later, with the help of my technically proficient cover artist/assistant, I took the plunge. By then, so had a horde of other ambitious authors, both traditional and indie, so monetary success was somewhat harder to come by.

But I digress.

My series has been doing relatively well and I’ve been getting mostly four and five star reviews. Once in a while, however, I get a review that suggests that a particular book needs editing. Editing? Doesn’t this reader realize that the books have all been edited, copyedited and proofread down to the final comma by the original publishers? Are they suggesting there were MISTAKES in my books? I’d read them over and over, including the Kindle versions, until I thought I could recite them backwards. Highly indignant, back I went to check out the Kindle book (er, books) in question.

If only!

If only!

Uh-oh. Apparently, I have a thing about dashes. I tend to use them a lot.  I remember my Dell editor mentioning something about my needing to differentiate between em dashes and en dashes, but my copyeditor took care of the problem so I thought little more about it. In the Kindle versions, my multiple uses of two hyphens for an en dash and three for an em dash stand out like misspelled words. Of which, I shudder to admit, there are a few.  Had I actually missed that in the original m.s. I’d written din instead of dine, pallet instead of palate craft fare instead of craft fair? Mea culpa. I had. These are errors  that would not have been picked up by spell check. No matter how many times I’d reread those manuscripts, I hadn’t seen what a good proofreader would have picked up in a New York minute. (Is proofreader hyphenated?)

I was a theater major in college, not an English major although I did have some pretty tough English teachers in high school. Despite their best efforts, and the fact that, except for that pesky word “separate,” I would have won my fifth grade spelling bee, I have been known to make the occasional grammatical and spelling error. The mora lof (oops, also typo errors) my sad story is that even though I had the edited, proofread, and copyedited print book right in front of my eyes, my eyes alone couldn’t be trusted. I SHOULD HAVE HIRED A PROOFREADER!  I am now faced with the dilemma of sending the books back to the formatter to make the changes, an expensive process, or letting the books stay as they are, hoping that the majority of my readers will be forgiving. A conundrum. The perfectionist in me is keeping me awake at night.

Better late than never, I’ve hired a proofreader. Anyone know a bargain basement formatter?

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7 Responses

  1. It’s amazing how errors can slip by or slip into a book as it goes through the publishing process! When I did my back list after getting e-rights back, I was surprised at these little landmines that kept cropping up. Luckily I had good editor/copyeditor working on the books before they went to the production people where the whole thing started all over again. Frankly, I’m glad my back list wasn’t that big–it was painstaking work. Good luck to you!

  2. Well said, Nancy! I’ve come to the conclusion (erroneous or not) that a perfect manuscript doesn’t exist, no matter how many times how many people have gone over it. There’s still one little error lurking in there, just waiting for the right person to see it! Amazing, isn’t it?

    • Publishing anything, even with an editor, keeps you humble. But a friend taught me the simple basics of using the find and replace function to hunt for my double spaces (I learned typing a very long time ago!) and replace them all at once with single spaces, and to replace my double hyphens with em dashes, again all at once. Are my ebooks perfect? Hah.

    • Hi Pj, Would that it were only one. Now I have to get my formatter to convert the books back to word docs so I can work on them, then send them back to be reformatted. I’d better sell a lot of books!

  3. […] Author’s note:  This guest blog originally appeared on November 14, 2013 on The Perseverance Press Authors’ Blog, Get It Write. […]

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