The hardest part of self-publishing?

Lots of challenges litter the path of indie publishing. Editing, cover design, formatting, interior design, marketing & promotion, building your own validation, bad reviews, confidence, sales numbers—there are pitfalls every step of the way.

the Book of ChangesAll those things have been hurdles for me over the last month. But the hardest part of self-publishing for me is often leaving it alone.

I think it’s good and even right to fix minor issues like typos, perhaps even inadvertent, minor inconsistencies. But anything more than that, and you run the risk of the slippery slope of perpetual editing.

Author Ally Carter (one of my faves!) said it well in a recent Q&A:

Do you ever re-read your own books?

Not if I can help it. That sounds like my definition of torture—reading something I can’t fix if and when I find mistakes or things I just want to change. And, believe me, I would want to change things. All the things!

Ally is trade published, so she most likely doesn’t have the opportunity to change her works. Can you imagine the torture if you can change things? And if you can, should you?

In the new publishing paradigm, there might not be such a thing as a “finished” book. We can edit forever. And while, again, fixing typos is good, having 8 (or 800) various editions of your book out there just feels wrong. I think there has to be a point where we decide our books are truly polished enough—not to give up too soon and call it good, but to recognize that we’ve produced a finished product to the best of our (and all our helpers’) ability, and share it with readers without shame.

What do you think? How much are you willing to change once you’ve hit “Publish”?

Photo by Nikki L.

5 thoughts on “The hardest part of self-publishing?”

  1. Oh, I so agree. Glad I’m not alone! LOL
    I haven’t hit the publish button, but I just can’t help myself and keep thinking my story isn’t ready yet even though it’s been through the ringer so many times. I think it stems from me being afraid to put my first ever work out there and not have it be ‘perfect’. I’m a perfectionist that way.
    It’s friggin terrifying. But I like your last statement about finding that point when you just have to let go. Without shame. Because nothing will ever be perfect and you can’t please everyone. And as long as you gave it your all, you have to take a chance if you want to get anywhere.

    1. That confidence is so hard to come by! I totally agree. And you’re right: if you never hit publish, you’ll never be able to share your story.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Great thoughts! I totally agree. I think you have to find that sweet spot because with words you CAN change them forever, but that doesn’t mean you SHOULD. 🙂

  3. I actually think it’s really unprofessional to edit a book after it’s published, no matter how it’s published. I think fixing a big typo or grammar mistake is okay, but anything else is like ripping a book from someone’s hands, writing all over the page, and handing it back. They bought it the way it is. I would hate knowing what I read last month is now different because the author felt they should change something. I think that’s what new editions are for. I’ve been both self-published and traditionally published, so I know what it’s like to be able to change my work and not be able to change my work. It’s difficult either way, for sure.

    I think it’s important to realize that once a book is published, it’s out there and shouldn’t be touched. It is a perfect preservation of where you were, who you were, and what kind of artist you were, when you published it. I think it would be a shame to alter that. It took me a long time to get to that frame of mind, but it has saved me many times since I have.

  4. Oh, I’d be tempted … but … it took me long, long, very long, months of angst to let go of the errors I found in my trad published book, so If I wasn’t brutal about a indie book, I’d never get another piece out there.

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