Five self-publishing lessons


Let me begin this first piece of balderdash by claiming an unabashed ownership of my mistakes, and their valuable lessons. I hope to present a short but concise summary of what I have learned, so far, in the process of publishing my first novel, Silent Subversion I. If you’re like me, long paragraphs tend to induce a mental coma so I will present the lessons in more of a presentation format.

  • Don’t get too excited to publish. (1 lesson point)
    • Save your excitement for finding time to read a good book. Of course, you can say this about anything. Don’t drink too much water, too much poison…
  • Before giving your work to an editor, fix all the mistakes. (2 lesson points)
    • This seems counter-intuitive, but the editing process can be compared to washing a shirt with thick mud smeared all over it. Even an amazing washing machine cannot perfectly clean a piece of clothing in such a condition. Rinse off all the mud then wash it. If your editor or proofreader receives a slightly dirty piece of laundry, they can focus more on the story and consistency than spelling or grammar.
  • After fixing all the mistakes discovered by your editor, edit your manuscript more (3 lesson points)
    • I felt thoroughly impressed by what my editor discovered, but mistakenly thought she had discovered all the errors and inconsistencies in the manuscript. After fixing everything she discovered, I put it on the market and experienced a nightmare. Friends and colleagues started telling me about little errors they had found. The horror! After the years spent writing and editing this precious and beautiful creature, I had distributed a tainted version. Thankfully, Amazon allows additional editing.
  • Don’t accept free help (2 lesson points)
    • Always pay the people who do work for you. Devise some method of compensation, even if it’s just a free copy of the print version. BTW, this lesson applies to situation outside of publishing.
  • Require positive and negative feedback of your work. (2 lesson points)
    • Even if you receive unsolicited feedback of your work, attempt to acquire information you can use for improvement. Friends usually want to make you feel good about yourself and might fail to reveal something they think you won’t want to hear. Do not fear negative feedback! As a creator, we want to know how to improve our work. Alternatively, positive feedback is just as useful as negative feedback. We want to know the material our audience enjoys so we can create more of it.

There are more lessons to be learned, and unfortunately, more mistakes to be made. Don’t fear to open those doors.


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  1. Agreed. Mistakes are the best form of learning, because they honestly tell us what doesn’t work. The purpose of life is to learn from our mistakes, not just to avoid making any. If the majority subscribe to anything, it’s occasionally the truth, but rarely the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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