I had never finished a story.
Technically untrue, there were little short stories I’d pounded out, but I’d never finished a novel. Novel length stories are a considerable undertaking. It’s not just the major plot arc, which is easy to plot out, it’s the details. When you’re writing a story, your only goal is to get from a to b, hopefully by a route that makes sense. But what you wrote on page 40 isn’t in your head when you write the climax on page 350. That one detail can bedevil you, either by missing it completely and having your readership point it out, or by having to backtrack over 310 pages and clean up the mistake.
Naturally, never having achieved this goal before, I had never entered into the land beyond, the land of formatting and proofing and printing and selling. It is a foreign land, with strange sensibilities and arcane vocabulary.
Now that I have seen beyond the curtain somewhat, I understand why publishing is a separate business. My first proofs were rife with errors. The software somehow ate upwards of 300 indents through the story. The cover was overdone. Oh, and the last quotation mark on the last sentence of the book was missing.
My husband was over the moon that he was holding a book in his hand, but I, on the other hand, was horrified. I contacted my publisher and advised them of all the print errors in the proof. This is where I found out about the software issue.
Looking back now, I’m not as horrified by the proof. It exemplified the point of the proof. Of having good communication with the publisher, and the patience to remember that rarely is anything perfect the first time. My first draft of The Corsican wasn’t perfect, it’s not perfect now, and the proof is that reminder. It also reminds me of how far I have come.
I could have been more prepared, but I think only slightly more so, even if I’d reserached. The Publishing Conglom keeps their system under wraps, to maintain their niche. It’s not a good strategy when indie publishers are racing in to scoop up the e-book share of the market. Having spoken with a friend of mine who published about a year before me, I know that the indie publishers lack in poise, but make up for it in chutzpah.
It is a changing world that we enter when we step onto the publishing stage, but if there is anything that remains true, the written word is not going anywhere any time soon.