A large part of this indie journey for me has been (what I would describe as) a healthy mixture of uncertainty and a search for validation. I’ve been indie publishing for about two and half years. In that time, I’ve published three novels, written four. Self-publishing a novel is a lot like being one of those poor contestants on a TV talent competition. You get up, stand on that stage. You’re saying to yourself, “well, I think I’m talented” but, inwardly, there’s that mind-numbing fear of being one of those deluded suckers who’s really making a sad fool of themselves. And if you are outed as said fool, there’s the added bonus of having willingly subjected yourself to public ridicule. That’s the fear. On the flip side is the hope that, yes, maybe you do have the talent, maybe the public will be receptive to your work, maybe you’ll be one of the ones that “make it”.
So far, I’ve been blessed to have received warm reviews from the random strangers that I’ve solicited through their blogs or gleaned through giveaways. It’s given me the little pat on my shoulder of, “ok, I guess you don’t totally suck. The fact that you think your novels are good isn’t all in your head”. However, the question of whether my writing would hold up to the scrutiny of the traditional publishing world, of whether I’m producing the same quality writing that would get a book published, has been that kernel of uncertainty that I just couldn’t shake.
Enter Awesome Indies and a wonderful author/friend who suggested them to me. They employ accredited reviewers to give your indie novel the onceover and tell you point blank whether you have a product that holds up to publishing industry standards. And if not, they provide you with notes on improvement and a chance to resubmit. This was the opportunity that I’ve been craving; a chance to get as close to a professional review as I can get without agents, endless queries, months of waiting for a traditional publisher to give me the time of day.
This week, I got my answer, and it was really the best possible news I could have received in-what I refer to as-the realm of “reality”. I received two graciously generous reviews praising the content and narrative quality of my work, and a rightful scolding on the lack of professional editing. In short, I’m giving my readers what these reviewers feel is a novel at the same writing quality level as a traditionally published author, only without the benefit that an editor provides, so an unintentional rough draft but a rough draft nonetheless. In truth, I was disappointed but not surprised. I’ve been going at this with the help of family, bloggers, fellow indies, and friends as my beta readers, but not a professionally trained pair of eyes. In truth, I’m making technical errors in my formatting that I didn’t even realize were errors; who knew that there was a difference between a hyphen and a dash, or that a space needed to go before and after an ellipsis? Not me! And I read…a lot! And was completely oblivious to these things.
So now I’m embarking on the next step of this journey, which is to find a professional editor to give my novel a thorough proofread. The short-term end goal is to receive the AI Award of Excellence or Seal of Approval that says,” yes, this is an indie worth reading”. The long-term goal is to learn what I’m doing wrong and correct those unintentional errors before publishing my next novel (which will also need that prof. edit whether I like to admit it or not).
There’s a lot that goes into indie writing that traditionally published authors don’t have to fret about. Paying a hefty sum for editing is one of those things. However, the freedom to decide the cover, the content, when and if to share one’s work with the world: these are great gifts that self-publishing has to offer. I’ll rest easier knowing that my work holds up in the arena of published literature, and I’m looking forward to re-releasing an edited second edition of Tomorrow is a Long Time.