Some things in life are more difficult than others. Learning to be an Indie Author is one of the more difficult ones. I love to write and have been doing so almost as long as I can remember. But translating that into ePubbed books is a long process of trial and error, learning all along the way. This is definitely not something for the faint of heart.
First off, you need a book: a short story, novella or novel. Then you have to edit until you don't want to ever see it again as long as you live. And then you have to edit some more. It helps to have other eyes look at it too. But in this busy world, it's not always easy to find someone who will go through your book with a fine tooth comb. At best, a friend or family member will read the story and let you know what they would have done if it was their book. Not sure if this is really helpful.
I've heard authors say they bribe their friends to read and edit. Oh, yeah? And just where did you find those wonderful friends? I don't know anyone who has the time to carefully read and edit a novel, let alone a short story.
Even when I belonged to writers' groups, they only edited anywhere from the first three pages or, if lucky, the first chapter. No one edited a whole book for someone else, not even when I was a member of the Cactus Rose Chapter of RWA. I still have all those old edits on partials that I boxed up years ago. Gee, I really loved the comments like, "I wouldn't put a kid in the story if I was writing it." Well, if I took the "kid" out, it wouldn't be the same story. Sheesh! Or how about, "A four year old wouldn't talk that way, she'd talk baby talk." Huh? My two and a half year old twin granddaughters don't even talk "baby talk." They talk in full sentences and the words are very clear. So edits like that don't help a writer at all. Those kind of edits/comments are just someone else's opinion and nothing else.
For instance, my husband wrote a sci-fi story that was edited by a writers' group. One of the edits was, "Your premise is all wrong." So what are you supposed to do? Throw out the whole story? Another writer said, "I loved your story." So do you keep the story? Or throw it out? Or completely rewrite the thing?
Having friends/family members edit could cause life-long resentments between said parties. I'd hate to lose a good friend over some stupid comments made about my story, novella, novel. Of course, I have some great friends who, for some perverse reason, happen to like what I write.
So now we come to the aspect of having a stranger edit your book. There's the major problem that Indie Authors are usually pretty poor and can't afford to pay a few hundred dollars to have someone edit their books. Yes, there are "starving writers" out there, just like there are "starving artists." Several hundred dollars per book for edits just isn't in my budget right now. This is where I apologize to my readers. I can't afford an independent editor.
There are some advantages though. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English. That has to count for something. I know how to edit and have edited other peoples' writing, so I should be qualified to edit my own. Plus, I did technical writing for years. I mean, I was actually paid to write. So that should count for something. So I can and do edit my own work. It doesn't mean I'll catch everything, but I do the best I can.
Now we're back to square one about learning to be an Indie Author. You've written your book and edited the heck out of it. Now you have to make sure it's formatted correctly. So you go over and over it with another fine tooth comb to correct any formatting problems. You and Word have become close friends and adversaries at the same time. You learn to plead with Word and praise it and, at the same time, curse it's quirks. But eventually you get the formatting right too.
Now, you have to learn how to ePub on Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and if you're really daring, on other sites. The first few times is often trial and error. What's a vetter error? You'd better read the Smashwords Style Guide. KDP has it's own quirks too, so you have to read the Kindle Direct Publishing Style Guide too. In fact, you start reading style guides and how-to-ePub books like they're going out of style. You learn some things, but mostly just get confused. Eventually, you just jump in there and ePub your first book.
You think the second book will be easier to ePub, but you're wrong. By the time the second book is ready to ePub, you've forgotten everything you learned the first time around. The third book isn't much easier. I'm told that eventually it all starts to click in your "old brain" and it gets easier. I'm still waiting for that moment.
Before I forget, Indie Authors need to learn about book covers. Remember all those gorgeous book covers that you've taken for granted for years? Well, now you have to create one of your own. If you have an enterprising, talented (though very stubborn) husband like I have, then you're halfway to a good cover. I must say some interesting arguments (fights?) can occur over book cover design. In the end, if you're lucky (and still married) you have a great book cover. Then you have to figure out how to add the cover to your formatted book. Nope, nothing is easy in the early learning process, but it has to improve somewhere down the line. Doesn't it?
I'm realizing now that this post is a really long one. So I'm breaking it into parts in order to get Part 1 out there. Part 2 will be posted soon. Thanks for your patience. Oh, did I forget to mention that patience is one of the most important parts of being an Indie Author? Well, I'll get into that later.
(NOTE - Please forgive me for any errors in this post. I don't have time to do a fine-tooth-comb edit of this post. I just wanted to get this info/advice out there for anyone thinking about becoming an Indie Author. I don't intend to discourage anyone. My intent is purely to let you know that it's not easy. Read all you can about ePubbing and it will help you along the way. I would spend more time on this post, only I have my next ebook, Bayou Blues and Other Sorrows, which is running behind schedule. I intended to make the book available online today. Only I was sick for the last week and lost all that time. So please forgive me for the delay. Bayou Blues... will be available in the next week or so. Thank you for being patient. Please check back over the next few days to read more posts about "Learning to be an Indie Author.")