Friday, 20 September 2013

Stuff Happens

Here's a little bit of insider writer-type knowledge to anyone thinking of getting into the game of publishing their work.

Stuff happens. 

No matter how much you plan and plan, and plan some more, things will inevitably happen to throw off your well-thought out ideas that you so meticulously laid out. 

Stuff happens.

This seems especially true when you choose to self-publish. Or maybe it's just more noticeable because there are no flunkies to correct any errors that occur or a control-freak manager who oversees every little detail of the project as though it were a life and death matter. When you self-publish, YOU are the flunkie who gets all the crappy jobs, YOU have to be the control freak that makes sure every "i" is dotted. Because if you don't... Well, that's when stuff happens.

One thing to understand, though, is that things will go wrong. Sometimes you get lucky and the mistakes actually improve what you're doing; you go off in a direction that you never even considered before. 

Other times... Yeah...

Other times, you feel like the world's biggest idiot. Maybe you were, at that moment, (though odds are you weren't- watch the TV show Dumbest Stuff on Wheels, you'll see what I mean) but the good news is that if you stay (relatively) calm, you should be able to fix it. 

But before you get to that point, there's always a great little thing I learnt when I was in Scouts, called "Be Prepared". 

Now, unless you're Batman, you can't possibly prepare for everything that could happen, but there ARE some steps that you can do to soften the blow, as it were, should things go wrong. Common sense stuff, but some times we need common sense solutions pointed out to us. 

First off, give yourself some extra time. 

If you expect your book to be printed and shipped to you by the 16th, go with the 20th as the REAL date. Things get delayed. Things get lost. Misplaced. Returned to sender. Held at a border. Maybe you got sick and never finished by your deadline. Maybe your artist fell ill and things went off the rails because of it. Maybe your calendar was actually on LAST month and the 25th came faster and your script STILL wasn't done.

Second, expect things to get broken. 

Say the aforementioned book order is for 60 copies and you have all 60 of them pre-sold. Congrats on your sales, but think about it for a minute; are YOU the only person in the world, in all of history, who's package ISN'T going to be dropped, kicked, stepped on, or otherwise mishandled on it's way to you? If you are, stop the book thing and go buy a lottery ticket, because you have an unheard of amount of luck. Or just send some of it my way. 

If you search around the internet, or the forum of where you have your books published, you'll find what they call a "breakage percentage" meaning the amount of books per order EXPECTED to be damaged represented as a percentage. I've seen it range anywhere from 8 to 20 percent. At 20 percent, that's 12 of your 60 books that you may have to either offer a discount on or completely write-off. Money, gone.

So that's giving yourself time and a little space in terms of your product, but what about making your product the best it can be? How do you avoid THAT little pitfall?

Get help. 

You can TRY to do everything on your own, and I'm sure you'll do a helluva job, but even the best of the best recognise that going outside one's self is the surest way to success. That's why pro athletes have trainers, singers have vocal coaches, and writers have editors. And proofreaders. 

Which is the wholes reason I write this blog, this evening, for you. I was one of those who said, "bah! I am amazing and can surely do this on my own! How silly those folk are that seek out assistance, when they could do a much better job of it, themselves, without the interference of other people!" 


Those people know what they are doing. It is VERY easy to overlook small things, especially if you've been living and breathing your project for months. You start seeing what you KNOW is there, not what IS there. You read a sentence and fill in the missing words or read over spelling mistakes. You forget that, sure YOU know that that building is the Lorenz Tower of Awesomeness, but when you switched scenes, did you write that down anywhere so that the person buying the book knows that? 


And that's why you cannot and SHOULD not do it ALL on your own. You lose track without knowing it, you miss things that you WILL kick yourself for, the first time someone points it out to you, and you have more than enough to do as is. If someone is kind enough to volunteer to go over your work for you and offer insight and spot any small errors that you might have overlooked? Let them. If you don't have anyone like that, strongly consider hiring someone to do it. You'll thank yourself (and don't forget to thank THEM, as well) and find that you end up with more time for doing what you really want to be doing...

Playing video games.  

I mean... Creating.  

                                      Yours, as always,

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