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Learning Experiences!

So the new novella has been out for three whole days now, and I have learned a few things, which I will inflict on you in case any of you have ever thought of self-publishing, or in case you already self-publish and want to point and laugh at someone else (or perhaps nod knowingly and reach for the bottle.)

Doing this right is hard.

I have burst into tears once, sulked twice, screamed multiple times, ran out of a coffee shop like my ass was on fire and my head was catching, and uploaded at least six versions to Smashwords.

We shall not number the hard drinks consumed, for yea verily, the path of the author is strewn with dying liver cells.

It may be easier with practice (I hope) or for some other people (I suspect) but seriously, every typo has filled me with burning shame before my ancestors, and I know for a fact some of my ancestors thought “wash” was spelled with an R.

Which leads me to the second point–oh my god, so many errors!

And I was GOOD! I hired a copyeditor and she is a very good copyeditor and caught hundreds of them before they could do more than squirm and hiss on the page! But two people going over something with a fine-toothed comb doesn’t cause perfection.

Now, I sort of suspected that, because hell, there are typos in the Dragonbreath books—the paperback version of Book One has two About the Author pages facing each other, and a whole print run of Digger 2 went out missing a page. So even meticulous professional publications go out with typos. I expected that.

I did not expect how mortified I would be by each one–oh god oh god everybody can see this they will see I am an unprofessional hack who didn’t care enough to go over it enough times to fix it oh god oh god the goblins deserve better than to have me for an author oh god-–and never mind that we DID go over it. (I take all the blame—a couple of the typos were even knock-ons from me having fixed other ones she caught in the final draft!)

This experience actually makes me cringe a bit because “typo-ridden” is so commonly thrown around as one of the big problems with much self-published work and I thought “Ha! I shall be better than this!” and then, oh god, like ten errors. Each one a small, mistyped dagger in my heart.

So, I’m probably less judgy now. That’s probably good. I guess. Or at least I have judged myself.

It’s like being Catholic AND an editor. God help us all.

I have also learned that if I do this again, the day it comes out is a total loss. No work will be done. It will be all putting out fires and tearing out hair. I will make a note of it.

Now, the good bits!

The nice thing about this is how nice everyone has been—y’all have been wonderful about reporting errors without going “Write it better next time, jackass!”

The other nice thing is that it’s fixable. I admit, I did not expect how many updates I’d have to do–I THINK I just sent out the last set, which had an exhaustive list of teeny changes—THANK YOU, DRAGONLADY!—but of course someone could turn up tomorrow and say “Yeah, so, that last update did something weird and Sings-to-Trees is now named “Craw-bob” and all the scenes with the trolls have been replaced with an ad for Liquid Plumber.” And that would be bad.

One nice thing—it earned out quickly and is now making money. (I had about $500 worth of expenses.) So in that regard, it’s a great success–we’re well over 300 copies, which is respectable for three days of self-publishing under a pen-name in a weird little niche market (and yes, I did just call you guys a weird little niche market, but I mean it in the nicest possible sense.) I have high hopes that it’ll crack a thousand. (And we were actually in the top 20 epic fantasy on Kindle for a bit there, so that was neat! Obviously George RR Martin was most of the other 19…)

That said, obviously I’m not throwing over Dragonbreath tomorrow–I mean, Book One is cruising towards the 200K mark at a good clip. Different worlds entirely.

However, it’s actually really gratifying to get this weird little story out there. (Heck, it’s just nice to write for grown-ups again—I am good at writing for kids, but I do occasionally want to start throwing corpses around.)* No, it’s not a huge sum of money (although a few thousand dollars and a long tail is absolutely nothing to sneeze at–a novella that pays the rent for two months and buys me occasional coffee is VERY SUCCESSFUL compared to a novella that lives on my hard-drive and moulders!) but finally I’ve inflicted the goblins on other people. And mostly people seem pleased with it. And that’s pretty cool.

So thank you all for being so patient with the typos and my flailing around like a panicked bird on a window-pane. I hope to do this again soon!

Like…err…next year or something.

Anyway, latest version available at:



and still hoping that it will hit iBooks/B&N/Kobo at some point. (If you can’t wait, Smashwords has many formats available, it’s just a matter of delivery to various devices.)


*Somewhere, my editor just twitched and isn’t sure why.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Huge congrats on just getting the thing out there. I would love to read it.
My partner did some work for an author who wanted to self publish several books on the reader platforms (I am trying to sound like I know what the hell I'm on about here...) and I can honestly say that you had the same experience she did. There were tears, screaming and things that were never meant to fly were seen leaving the room at about head height, unaided.

I have no idea why those things are so complicated. Whenever I get something to read it on this will be the first book I buy :)

All things considered, I think you did an excellent job and the flailing was totally reasonable and justified. You might consider having separate people copy-edit and proofread (and, as tedious as it is, having your proofreader double check any changes you make). Looking forward to the further adventures of our various heroes.

This'd be my suggestion. I edit for a self-pub'd author, and she has a friend proofread as I edit, edits, sends it back to both of us, and repeats once more before publishing. It's work for everyone involved, but it helps avoid the stab wounds published typos cause.

So far, I see six 5-star reviews on Amazon.com, one of which outs you and your DeviantArt page, and one of which compares you to PTerry and David Eddings (in successive sentences). The style was also compared to a Pixar movie. That's 6 5-star reviews out of 6 reviews total, btw.

I bought my copy yesterday after the double Chapter 2 issue was resolved. I don't know if that was version 2 or version 6, but assuming it wasn't the final version, do you know if there's a way to update my Kindle copy (or does that happen automagically)?

That is a fantastic question, and you know, I'm not sure? It says that users will be able to download the update, but it doesn't actually tell you HOW, and I don't think I've ever done it myself!

Before I go flailing through the bowels of the beast, do any sharp readers know the answer?

Congrats on a successful launch. I really hope it doesn't turn you off from doing it again, because I'd like to get more fun niche things to read from you.

The fact that it pains you to have typos makes me feel all the more forgiving, because I know you care and tried to get it right. If you just shrugged and said it didn't matter, I'd look side-eyed at you. XD

I'm glad to hear that you are planning more... And I can't wait for sequels/prequels to appear.

Typos are a fact of life - anything published WILL have typos - so I would advise you to stick with a minor grumble that this particular one got away and keep writing, just keep writing, OK?

I salute you on a fine product and bow to your eminence!

signed [Corpl Phreadde]

I am damn proud to be in a(nother) weird niche market. (Some of my others can't really be called "little", so I'll leave out that bit.)

Bought, downloaded, have about five other things queued up first--and that's just the ones I Really Want To Read Right Now Darnit--so I probably won't get to it for a while; but congrats and well done. And let me tell you, I've been a copyeditor in one type of publishing or another for about fifteen years now, and the longer I go the more it amazes me that ANYthing makes it out the door in even reasonable shape. So yay!

Edited at 2013-10-31 01:09 am (UTC)

Ordered but not yet downloaded :) And YAY for the weird niche markets :)

I am patiently waiting for Regency Ninja to make an appearance, now that you have sucessfully self pub I am ever hopeful.......

Bought it a couple days ago through Amazon. Didn't notice typos, didn't have a chapter repeat so I must've gotten it after you fixed it. Loved it! Need to go put a review in. Yes, your style in this IS rather like Pratchett, which is a good thing because it's also clearly not a wanna-be either.

I've read books that've passed multiple eyeballs--as in, beta readers, editor, line editor--and still had typos. I'm not sure it's possible to catch them all in something so long. Though I agree, all the "typo-riddled" remarks make me wonder just what that means, since for some people it's "the author of Plaguespell spells plague a different way each time. In a book about plagues" and others might draw the line at "they used rein instead of reign! Get an editor!"

"Typo-riddled" means at least ten obvious typos per page. It is a fact that typos happen, even in the best-edited books; the frequency of typos you get when the author is not really literate, or when the manuscript was very badly converted from another format and nobody even tried to remove the machine-generated errors, is a whole different world.

I do sympathize.

I have the opposite problem. I produce slowly because I am a fanatical nitpicker and will not allow a story to be seen until it is RIGHT.

Then editors come in like waves of bombers and suggest errors that would make the story more compatible with a style manual. I just finished replying to just such an email from one about a story I wrote for a collection in Larry Niven's JumpShift series.

Honestly, someone who wants to write for publication might as well go have a bullseye tattooed on.

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^ This.

Did the happy dance in my chair, proceeded to read, laugh, wake the dog with a snort-ish sort of guffaw and was totally oblivious to all typos and errors because there was plot!

I hope in the end all the frustration is worth it and you decide to write many more tasty snacks of literature. My brain loves them!

I do occasionally want to start throwing corpses around.

Don't we all?

Bought it yesterday, started it today, and am enjoying it muchly!

I just bought it and loved it and left a five-star review on Smashwords. It is a lovely little tale and I will read it again and again. (The nice thing about .pdf files is that the bindings don't fall off!)

As I said before, I do want the sequel with Elf and Orc!

a novella that pays the rent for two months and buys me occasional coffee is VERY SUCCESSFUL compared to a novella that lives on my hard-drive and moulders!

Now I'm imagining a novella that just sits on its author's couch, channel surfing and drinking all the beer, as the author desperately tries to get it to move. Maybe if it lost 1,000 words, it'd be more attractive...

*raises coffee cup in appreciation*

Only 10 errors? In all honesty, I've seen professionally-published work that had more. Like the omnibus Miles in Love edition that contains Komarr, A Civil Campaign, and "Winterfair Gifts" all in one volume. The first two are fine. The last one is absolutely RIDDLED with typos and just-plain-weird editing errors -- words that have numbers in them for no apparent reason, lines with a carriage return in the middle, things like that.

If it can happen to Lois McMaster Bujold, you have nothing to be ashamed of.