"Mistakes, I've made a few, but then again, too few to mention..."
Can you name that song? (My Way) How about any of the many performers? (Elvis should be first on the list) Whenever I hear that song, or read the words, the voice of Elvis Presley jumps into my head and takes over. It did just now, writing those words again.
But, the point to this week's post is about learning from mistakes, my mistakes. And trust me, I've made plenty. So whether you're a first time author, or somewhere in your sophomore year (like me), please read on.
Mistake #1: I rushed my first novel to press
In my defense, I wanted to have it on the market in November of 2013. I had to wait, and none to patiently, until March 28, 2014. I know, that's only four months. And in a lifetime that will hopefully span 80+ years, it's a mere 0.4% of my time here on earth. But I really wanted it out for Christmas! Big mistake.
Even when I released it on March 28th, it still wasn't really ready for publication. In the first three months I found, and more embarrassingly readers pointed out, at least two dozen grammar, punctuation and misplaced word mistakes. Had I waited for a few more people to carefully read the book, I could have avoided these issues.
Mistake #2: I skipped the line editing process
This kind of goes with the first mistake actually. But even if I had rushed the publication of my baby, and had taken the time to somehow get the darn thing line edited, it would have been a much better piece of work.
Now, line editing can be expensive; I realize that. In place of the cost I could have had three more betas read the final version and asked them to look for everything that made their eyes bleed. Here's an example:
On page 153 of the original paperback proof, near the end of the first paragraph, it reads:
The was no way could I object to her request. (Think could and I got transposed there?)
I read through this manuscript more than twenty times. Members of my family another dozen. Four beta readers saw this version. And still no one caught this error until approximately July 15th. That almost four months after I released the book. UGH!
Mistake #3: I failed to plan any promotion for the release
This was kind of silly on my part; especially since I did it on purpose. Without any fanfare, I quickly struck the publish button on the Amazon KDP site at approximately 3:30 p.m. on March 27, 2014. The next day the novel was on Amazon in ebook format. Yay me...
You see, I wanted to find out if this book would grow organically. I wanted it to live or die on its on merits. That was so stupid on my part. I failed to realize that most ebooks by first time authors rarely sell many copies, outside of their family and friends. Most of the time they don't sell any outside of your inner circle.
But dumb me decided to do an experiment. So when I sold my first copy on March 29th or 30th, I patted myself on the back and beamed proudly. It worked; my great cover and perfect blurb were enough to sell my novel. I got lucky; I've sold plenty of copies of WWIV - In The Beginning. For my next book, I plan on doing a much better job of promoting the book's release...ahead of time.
So, learn from MY mistakes
Don't rush things, take your time. Make sure you put the best possible product in front of the public. And plan your release. Plan a promotion of any size. Just do something! Anything is better than what I did (or failed to do).
Do you have mistakes form your debut novel you'd like to share? Please feel free to add them in the comments below. Realizing that everyone makes mistkes helps us all feel better - more human.
Until next week, keep reading.