Self-editing, self-publishing

Editing your own work is difficult. There are so many things to which an author is blind in his or her own work. In a recent blog post, I talked about how I'm editing my novel. Like any author, I don't want to send this book out into the world while it's still just pretty good. I want it to be everything it can be.

"But Tony," you say, "haven't you been working on this same book since dinosaurs walked the earth? Quit dithering and just put it out there already!"

Actually, this delay isn't stalling or timidity on my part. I'm not endlessly fussing with the book because, like the poor cat i' the adage, I'm letting "I dare not" wait on "I would". I haven't been fussing with it at all. I declared it finished and started working on publishing it. I've been shopping this book around to agents and publishers for nine months, collecting rejections. One suggested it might make a good graphic novel, but had no interest in taking it on.

In that time, I've been following the news about publishing, about marketing, about the directions that author advances are going, about what kinds of books are selling and how author/publisher relationships are changing. I've become convinced that the traditional big-house publishing model is probably not the best one for this book.

Smaller, indie houses are more attractive, but I've seen more turnover and dodgy behavior in that market segment than I'm comfortable with. Do I really want to have my book tied up with someone who can't (or won't) pay me? Or someone who won't be around in two years?

That leaves me. If I can't transfer the risk and cost of editing to a publisher, either large or small, I need to take it on myself. In a perfect world, I'd have the cash on hand to hire a professional editor who could be ruthless in helping me with these six sigma enhancements to the text. I'd pay them as a work-for-hire, they'd make my book shine to its fullest extent before I publish it.

Alas, I'm too hard-pressed for that. Universal truth: what I can't hire someone to do, I have to do with my own two hands.
  • Editing: With the tools at my disposal, I can edit this book. Not as well, certainly not as quickly, but I can do it.
  • Cover art: I can't possibly do a professional-quality cover, so I'm going to have to hire someone for that. Please contact me if you'd like to be considered for the job.
  • Layout and formatting: I can do the layout and mechanics. I've already done layout, using Blood Picnic and other stories and Poetry on the Fly as test-beds and practice with the necessary software. (Why did you think I published a collection of limericks? Because I thought it would be a best seller?)
  • Promotion: That's something I'm still working on, but I'd have to carry that load no matter what publishing model I went with.
These are all a source of consternation and frustration, but not fear. Never fear to take on difficult tasks. You can decline them for good and sound reasons, but don't fear something just because it's hard.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.


  1. Welcome to the light side again, Tony! They may have cookies, but we have beer.

    Your friends are here to offer help & advice as always. For basic eBook formatting, I'll put my chops up against anyone's. (I got the Power of the Command Line behind me. :-)

    Best of luck!

    1. Thanks, Larry! I was going to ask you for help and a final review when the time came - thanks for extending the hand in advance!

  2. Hi Tony

    I always enjoyed your writing when I was more active in FridayFlash, I’m sure your longer pieces would be a dream to edit. But I’d be cautious of going the self-editing route. I tried it, and I’ve worked as an editor for many years. I left my novel for a few months, thinking that I’d go back to it with ‘fresh eyes’. Not so. Even for proofreading. The problem is you know what’s coming next and your mind fills in the blanks and skips over those details the spell check misses. A friend of mine recommended an editor he’d been working with, and I tried it. The whole thing cost less than I thought, and it was worth it. My novel is with a few more friends to read and their feedback so far is very positive. Next step is literary agents, and I’m feeling much more confident. We’ll see…

    Good luck with it whatever you choose




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