Self-publishing a book is easy, isn’t it? Write it, check it over, press the buttons on Amazon, and there you are, another ebook is born. Anyone can do it.
If that’s been your experience, you might want to stop reading at this point. Otherwise, here’s how it might really happen, and how long it might really take.
I just published another book, a science-fiction space-opera romp called Streamrider. It was great fun to write, but then languished in a corner for many years as I concentrated on writing urban fantasy. So part of the reason it took years is completely my own fault for writing and publishing three other books.
Looking back, the first draft of the opening of Streamrider was written in 2012, and the next activity was in 2015 when I picked it up again and finished the first draft. So, all told, it’s been around for a while. In a moment of madness, almost exactly a year ago, I agreed with my partner that yes, since it was in good shape, had already been through multiple editing passes, 2019 was the year to publish.
The point is, the book was so nearly ready that there was almost nothing to do except a final polish and sort out the cover design. So, whilst I was slogging away, working on edits for “Hell Of A Bite” a year ago, my parter decided on a quick re-read of Streamrider, just to get ahead of the game. I mean, it would be a month’s work at the most, and then I could write another book for the rest of the year. Simple, right?
Such an easy decision since the book was almost ready…
The funny thing is that a book looks different when you’re about to publish. Little niggles that perhaps weren’t right but easy to ignore on a casual read suddenly become important. It’s like redoing the wallpaper in the lounge – it looks fine until the family come round and mention the bubbles, and that bit by the door where the pattern doesn’t line up. From the initial re-read, my partner evolved a long list of things that needed fixing, and when I went through, I found words, sentences, paragraphs and even scenes that I wasn’t happy about.
If it were wallpaper, I’d be buying a big tub of magnolia paint to cover over the mess.
Now, throw in a few Real Life surprises, because those always turn up. Perhaps a few health problems leading to editing whilst sitting in hospital waiting rooms, and publication of “Hell Of A Bite” overrunning into lambing season. and all those positive statements about “just a month or so” fell apart.
Honestly, forget the health stuff, that month was wildly optimistic of itself. With hindsight, make it at least three, and then double that to take account of all the other things intruding into our lives, and add on two for the overrun of “Hell Of A Bite”.
Self-publishing is exhausting and takes a huge amount of time, and no matter how ready you think you are, you probably aren’t. If you think it’s easy, then you probably aren’t doing it right, and even with the experience of previous books, I massively underestimated the amount of work.
Anyway, it’s done so time to start the next one. It ought to be written by June, ready to start editing for 2021…
Now, what was that formula again? Treble the first estimate, double that to account for real life, and maybe add two months for good measure?
Forget about the pain and stress, I’m just enjoying the sight of the book glowing in the reader. I’m also catching my breath before working out how to do the same book as a paperback. I’m ready, of course I am, and it shouldn’t take more than a month, should it?
Your turn, now.
OMP Admin Note: Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.
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