For any writer, the time between final MS edits and seeing the work in print is the longest ever experienced. For the self-published writer, who has greater control over this “pre-production” period, there is great temptation to push the process forward, cut corners, and accept less-than-perfect results, in order to get that book into readers’ hands.
With FC:II (aka The Spirit of Thunder) I have had to be very strict with myself. I’ve gone through four proofs—one physical, three digital—finding and then fixing one small error after another. It’s been tough, and I’ve had that conversation in my head…you know, the one that starts, “Who’ll notice?”
Bottom line: I noticed. So will someone else.
The physical proof showed that all my margins, my font size, my graphics, etc., were all as expected. The cover gradient was smooth where I wanted it to be, striated where I wanted that. The pages were right, the layout was right. Ready to go, right? Nope.
First thing I noticed was that I hadn’t formatted the chapter headings the same as in FC:I. The chapters had the words for the numbers instead of numerals (i.e., “Chapter One” where it should have been “Chapter 1″). Small thing, but one of my main goals in this new release was to have everything consistent across the volumes. That meant everything needed to be consistent, where consistency was possible. So, a re-edit and I submitted a new PDF for review.
Looking at that one, I found another error, one that actually exists in FC:I, as well. It’s back in the glossary, and it’s a mis-formed column header. It’s a tiny thing, and won’t be noticed by many, but it was an obvious flaw. Grr! The temptation started to build here, but No! I stood strong, fixed it, and submitted a new PDF for review.
Then I noticed the third error: page headers in the glossary did not read “Glossary” as they did in FC:I. Again, the temptation built, stronger this time. Who’d notice? And if they did, would they care? Answer: no, they probably wouldn’t, even if they did notice, but dammit, I wanted it to be right.
CreateSpace puts all submitted PDFs through a batch review process, to make sure you have the highest quality output possible (or that you understand where you might improve it). I appreciate this review, as it has caught errors introduced by the translation from Word to PDF. So, in the end, each re-edit and re-submission cost me a little more than 24 hours, or about four days to fix all the errors.
If I had been more thorough in my own review, I would have caught all of these before submitting it. As it is, I just had to be patient, and disciplined enough to rein in my own enthusiasm for the project. Better to be a week behind schedule than to put out something that will nag at me forever.
So, be patient. Be strong. Put out the best product you can. Take the extra time. Build extra time into your schedule. Nothing in publishing is right the first time. Expect problems, look for them, find them, fix them.