Sometimes embarrassment is one hell of a humbling motivator. This post is not only brought to you by embarrassment, but fueled by shame. Let me set the stage for what’s about to come. The road to being a professional writer is paved with some of the greatest potholes one could ever dream of navigating. During the early days of such a career, many mistakes will be made. The crucial factor is to learn and move on.
I have moved on.
But in the learning (and subsequent moving on), I realized that one of my babies fell by the wayside.
I know, you’re all collectively pouting your lips and saying “What choo talkin’ ’bout Willis?” Let me ‘splain.
About three years ago I relied upon an editor that was highly recommended to me. I trusted that recommendation and dove in blindly. Most writers make terrible editors — I’m one such writer and I depend upon my beta readers, editors, and proofers (at least that is the case now). But three years ago, I was too trusting and too naive to realize that not all editors should be, well, editing.
Eventually it came to light the editor I hired had no business working with words. Period. The work the person did was below sub-par and I was clueless about it. So, without proper vetting, I trusted the person and published my work. Years later, I discovered, first hand, just how bad the work was. The first victim was Screampark. A reviewer contacted me about the errors and I pulled the book. Two rewrites later, the book was clean and ready to be published (second edition included a one-act play I had written for the park). The second victim was Lie Zombie Lie. Again, two rewrites later and the book was where it should have been in the first place.
And then I breathed a sigh of relief. I found a real editor (the uber fantastic David Antrobus — who is worth every penny I pay him) and a group of betas and proof readers. Now I can comfortably publish my work without worry.
All was well. Or so I thought. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten one other book that “editor” had worked over. Die Zombie Die. I was getting quotes from reviews just the other day only to run across one review that mentioned errors in the manuscript. I pulled up the manuscript and realized that book was also a victim and I’ve spent every hour possible, over the last week, cleaning up the third book in the I Zombie series.
As I read through what was supposed to be the final draft, all I can do is shake my head. “What was I thinking?” On one level I want to blame that person who claimed to have have sound editorial skills. But, ultimately, it lands on my head. This is my art, my life and I should never have assumed someone without a resume was up to the task of cleaning and preening my works.
Why am I posting this for all to see? I like to have a certain level of transparency to my process. Many writers like to hide behind a veil of smoke and mirrors. Me? I like my readers and fans to be part of the ride (the Dark Hayride that is — remind me to tell you where I came up with that some day). Also, it is my hopes that those new to the craft of writing can learn from my mistakes. If you are a fledgling writer, here’s the lesson:
- –> Beta read
- — > Edit
- –> Edit
- –> Proof
NOTE: “–>” denotes sending the manuscript to other people! 😉
Those are my ten steps to publishing now. All of my books go through that exact process. And selecting an editor? Here’s what you do:
- Find an editor
- Send that editor your first chapter
- Have them do a sample edit
- Read carefully their sample edit
If their sample edit greatly improves your work — hire them. If not, move on to the next entry.
For me, life is a constant education. I live, I learn, I live again. Without looking at life in this way, I wouldn’t be where I am. If you ever find yourself thinking “I’ve nothing else to learn”, it’s time you re-evaluate your life. There is always education to be had. Always. Period. End of story.
Even though I viewed the last few years as an educational experience, I still feel a certain level of shame in releasing books that were not ready. Thankfully I discovered the error of my ways and altered my process. To those of you who purchased copies of Die Zombie Die that were last edited by that person “who shall not be named”, I humbly and wholeheartedly apologize. The second edition of the book will be released soon. If Amazon does not automatically allow you get a new copy of it, let me know and I will send you a .mobi file myself.
I also want to thank each and every one of you for being along on this ride. It is truly an honor to have you with me as we navigate the various dark and saucy waters of fiction. I’ve always said my readers and fans rock in ways most others don’t. Let’s keep rockin’, shall we?