An Author’s Learning Curve

reading a book - morguefileReading a post last month by fellow author Ruth Ann Nordin, I was impressed with how candid she was with her readers. It’s titled, “How An Author Decides What Book To Write Next.” The blue text (title) is the link you can click on if you’d like to read the article yourself.

What she explained is very true. If a book series isn’t going to sell well, most authors can’t afford to spend time writing them. Even most traditionally published authors live on a budget, and some continue to work day jobs …. because for every Stephen King and Nora Roberts, there are dozens, probably hundreds or thousands of great writers who weren’t in the right place at the right time.

That’s why there are so many indie authors today. Trying to get a traditional publisher’s attention has always been nearly impossible. Even some of today’s most famous authors were rejected, repeatedly (click here for a list of fifty). And when you think about bestsellers like John Grisham, E.E. Cummings, J.K. Rowling, and Margaret Mitchell being turned away – repeatedly – it’s proof that even publishing giants don’t always know what’s good and what’s not. Believe me, for every great traditionally published book I’ve read, there’s been a really, really bad one that made me wonder what in the world they were thinking.

And so, like many others, I chose to avoid the headaches, wasted postage, and the very real possibility that every manuscript mailed would wind up in a dumpster somewhere.

But in making the decision to step into the huge pool that is indie publishing, I had to commit to learning things I wasn’t necessarily good at. And some things, like marketing, I didn’t want to learn at all. Promoting my books felt very ‘used car salesman-ish’ to me, so I’ve had to find ways to market that don’t leave me wanting to brush my teeth for an hour to get rid of the bad taste it would leave in my mouth.

What came as the biggest surprise though was finding out that I wasn’t nearly as good at finding typos, extra words, and missing words as I’d believed I was. Nope. I discovered very quickly that authors tend to see what is supposed to be there rather than what is there.

I’ve gone back and tried to fix mistakes as people let me know what (and where) they are. Given that I have more good reviews than bad, I guess there aren’t so many that they take away from the enjoyment of the stories. Still, I wish they were perfect.

Unfortunately, I had to make a choice – spend my limited time and energy fixing old mistakes – or learning from them and making sure the quality of new and future books was better. Much better. And with the help of two fantastic editors, I think I’ve largely achieved that goal.

I apologize to readers who are disappointed in the quality of those early books. If you have the time, are so inclined, have made notes of the errors that bothered you, and are willing to share them with me, I will be glad to fix them. If not, that’s okay too.

No matter what, to those who love, like, and even hate my books, I appreciate that you took the time to read them. And I hope you’ll bear with me because in choosing to continue along this indie author path, I also choose to continue learning how to write and publish the best stories I can for you. 🙂

Photo credit: Morguefile.com

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4 Responses to An Author’s Learning Curve

  1. Awesome post! You’re right about the learning curve. It is so steep. People have no idea how much goes into writing and producing a good quality book.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Thanks, Ruth! I’ve gone back and fixed a lot of typos from the early books (and added or removed missing and extra words), but I still consider going back through them all again. The problem is, I wouldn’t be changing anything major – just tweaks to this sentence or that one. And it might make them better – or it might just be time and energy I could have spent on something new. So it’s hard to know what to do sometimes, but the consensus seems to be to concentrate on the future. I know there’s one I will work on though. Since it takes place in the same town as my Coach’s Boys series, I’d love to do some rewriting so I can add old friends to it. 😀

  2. daleamidei says:

    No one ever sees the other ninety thousand perfect words. That being said, there’s no reason to shirk making a title better after release. I take the view more people will read it in the future than have in the past. These works will outlast us, after all.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Ohh. I’m way behind. Have I ever mentioned that I hate tax return time? Or that I might not hate it quite so much if I were a little more organized and didn’t hate math? Therefore, I avoid the desk and computer, procrastinating until the last minute. 😀

      Anyway, you are right – about all of it. I sure hope more people will read my books in the future than have done so already. 😀

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