Under New Management

I recently re-acquired the rights to my debut novel, The Shelter, and I’m currently re-editing it (I’ll explain why later), and by the time I’m done it’ll have taken me around 30 hours to re-edit, re-format and list the bugger. Self-publishing is like having homework everyday for the rest of your life.

The Shelter was released last year by an indie publisher, but the launched version was not good, I’m sorry to say. The previous publisher let the ‘Find and Replace’ function do much of the heavy lifting in the edit because they wanted some of the characters to sound more American. They changed some words, like Storm became Hurricane, en masse, so now people hurricaned out of a room, and there was a hurricane in a teacup. There was also formatting issues with character dialogue – occasionally, there was no new line between different characters speech. It was like one person was having a schizophrenic conversation with themselves.

No final checks were made before it was launched, due to the already rushed edit going ‘down to the wire’ as they said. I was disheartened by the process, so much that I couldn’t look at the book after launch day, and it made me wince to see someone read it. Ten months on, I’m reading it, re-working it, and hanging my head at some of the errors that were published.

This kind of thing seems to be more common that I’d imagined. I put up a post in a writer’s group on Facebook and a lot of writers had painful stories to tell about working with publishers. One writer said the publisher put their book out with all the tracked changes showing. Another said the editor changed the name of the main protagonist without asking. Lot’s of comments about rushed edits and botched edits. How crazy is this?

I think this happens with big publisher as well as indies, and what I’ve learned is that if your book is not a publisher’s priority for whatever reason (stacked launch schedule, staff shortages, etc), things are not going to go well. You’d really be better off self-publishing. At least, if it ever came to it, you’d be prepared to delay the book launch if the edit is botched, rather than publish a book that still needs another 30 hours work. I feel bad for the company that bought the audiobook rights to The Shelter. I wonder what that poor narrator thought when he was reading all those screwy lines!

The publisher could have at least pointed out, or corrected, a few of the more basic copy editing issues that were present in the book. I was a debut author after all, so I still had a lot to learn and some passages were naively written. Any decent editor would have helped me out in those moments, but instead they just gave me enough rope to hang myself.

I asked the previous publisher about the Find and Replace issue, and they didn’t reply, which tells you a lot about the world of indie publishers. Unless they think you can make them serious money, they’ll feel no shame in neglecting your work. So be alert to the danger, is the advice I would give to an aspiring writer. Just because you get a deal, it doesn’t mean your dreams are going to come true. This can be said for lots of industries. Ask questions about the editing process. Ask what launch day will be like and what marketing commitment they are prepared to make. Get all promises in writing and reserve the right to make all the final checks yourself.

So the new ‘Author’s Cut’ version of The Shelter (complete with new cover art) will be on sale in June. I can’t wait. I feel like I’m finally banishing a curse, which is pretty fitting, given The Shelter’s plot.

So there we are. I’ll keep it brief because I have some long awaited relaxing to do, and I better do it now because tomorrow I’ll be back working on The Shelter. So, enjoy the sunshine, wherever you are. Sometime soon I’ll be showing off the Mika Ito cover, which is something I keep threatening to do, and when I do it, it’ll be on this blog first.


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Mika Ito Cover Reveal

It’s time. Although it might still be a little early, I’ve decided to reveal the cover art for my upcoming book, Mika Ito. The book will land this August, all being well. It’s with the editor as we speak, then it’s off to the typesetter, then to the proofreader, so stay posted for updates (don’tContinue reading “Mika Ito Cover Reveal”

An Interesting Thing

An interesting thing has happened. How’s that for a hook? Needs work, but never mind that – something has happened to my debut novel, The Shelter. The publishing rights have reverted back to me less than 12 months after it was first published (and that much be some kind of record). I won’t go intoContinue reading “An Interesting Thing”

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