As a writer, I understand the protective instinct that develops when it comes to your work. You’ve poured your heart and soul into this idea, and obviously it is important enough to devote your precious time to it. So when you show it to someone, be it a classmate or a friend, you may want to stand over that person’s shoulder and explain your thought process. You will want to answer questions and deflect criticism.
Here is the problem with that: If you publish your book, you are not going to follow around every single one of your readers to answer their questions as they arise. Nobody is going to sort out any confusion for them.
This brings me to today’s point. Your writing needs to speak for itself. It is so easy to get defensive when someone challenges a plot point. And sometimes it really is just a misunderstanding, and the reader just didn’t follow along. But that is the exception, not the rule. Generally, if someone has a question that requires clarification/explanation, then you have left something out of your story. Go back to you current draft, and edit, edit, edit.
There are no set-in-stone rules to being a writer. The point is to be creative, and explore a world you can paint with words. Depending on what you want to achieve with your writing, you may need to touch up your work. Be open to doing re-writes, and you can be successful.
As you know, I published Tilted Tales to Amazon.com via CreateSpace. It was not overly difficult to do, and they give you plenty of instructions/advice. Even so, I had a little help with the formatting from my previously published friend, and I leaned so much from her during the process. But, as with any first time project, I learned some things not to do the hard way. I’m happy to share it now.
1. If you are working under a deadline, give yourself at least a month to edit and proof your copies, so you are certain the final project is everything it can be. I was pushing for a Christmas deadline, and I feel like a mistake or two I made might have been caught sooner, or avoided, had I not felt so rushed.
2. Don’t trust the color balance on the digital proof- ordering a physical proof is an absolute must. I ordered bookmarks from Gotprint.com, and the color balance on my cover image was perfect. I (wrongly) assumed that meant the digital image was perfect, and I submitted Tilted Tales without getting a hard copy- after all, it was already printing out correctly, right? Wrong. Different printers have different color balances. I have discovered that Amazon.com’s printers are about two shades darker than the ones at gotprint.com. I ended up having to resubmit and order new proofs of a lightened image. Don’t make my mistake.
3. PDF files do not convert well to Kindle format. You will note that the Kindle edition of my book is not up yet- that is because I am still working on getting the correct format. When submitting your manuscript, you will need to save one file as a PDF, and one in HTML. Now, if your version of Microsoft Word is older than 2010, you will not have this option in the drop down menu in the save as window. There is an alternative option. Google docs has the option to save your document this way, however you will have to fiddle with the formatting a bit. Also, the file name of your manuscript does show across the top of every page, so I recommend naming the file by the title of your book so it reads like a header. I also recommend buying a newer edition of Word. I certainly will.
If you take only one piece of advice from me, then let it be this: Take your time, check everything twice. Your book is your baby- you worked very hard to complete your manuscript. Don’t cut corners at the moment when you need to shine.