Little things I've Learned about Editing a Book.



Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. But why bother, it's still an old dog. I very recently completed reading my second entire book on a tablet. Not a stone tablet, an electronic one. Big deal? For me it was. I have owned a Samsung tab for years and for certain things I really love it. Reading books has not been one of them (old dog). I still prefer paper but I had an ebook given to me. I really wanted to read it. There you go. I also recently got a Samsung tab e which is a huge improvement over the old one and I find myself using it for just about everything-ha, including reading. But wait there's more.



When I was in the endless editing of Firetok, I would print off chapters and even the whole book on computer paper. I would read the first paragraph or so to realize I had numerous problems, say a lot of bad words, edit and do it again. I wasted so much paper. I still contend doing a final couple of go throughs on paper is the way for me. I don't see that changing. Seeing and reading and comprehending and everything else- are very different on a screen than a piece of paper in my hand. It is even different from my monitor to my tablet. There is science to it and very smart people have concluded their conclusions. I am not one of them smart people but my conclusion is the same. It just works for me, let the scientists explain why ... but.

But what? Well, I thought I might share how I am doing it this time and what I have learned in the spirit of sharing my experience. I am fairly deep in the edits for the sequel to Firetok, Harbinger of Calamity. So deep, in fact, I am somewhere near the point of wondering if I did anything right or if I should be looking at wordless picture books. If you have written much, you know the spot I'm talking about. I have read the whole book numerous times front to back- editing and cursing all the way. When I got to the point that my eyes could no longer see mistakes, I uploaded the files to CreateSpace exactly as if I were going to publish. Which I am- but not yet. I put my cover prototype in, made up some mumbo jumbo bull crap for a temporary description, jump through their hoops and get to the publish part.



Here's the part I learned, you don't actually publish yet. Matter of fact they won't allow you to publish until you have proofed the book. Yeah, yeah, yeah any dope would know that. I didn't and remember all the paper and ink I wasted?

Part of the process allows you to proof via pdf which is handy. I can download the exact file and go through it again. I did, but just for looking at formatting, I didn't actually read it again at this point. When my confidence was really strong I uploaded the most recent pdf to CS (you can do this over and over- trust me) and ordered a paper proof. Why? Partially for the reasons I touched on, partially because I know the cover looks a lot different in print than it does on my screen. Go figure.

Guess what? You don't actually have to guess, I'll tell you. I had multi-numerous changes to make. Some I made before the proof even delivered. I should have known. I had the cover nearly completely redone too. Go figure some more.



So now I have made it through tablet reading therapy, how can I use the experience to my benefit? I use LibreOffice for my editing which has an export directly as pdf button. Super easy. Export it to my pdf file and open up my google books account. The same one I read Mind Games and Witches of Ashford Place on. But what I didn't know is that I can upload my own pdfs to my google books. La di da. Now I can proof my book in my tablet and when I realize on page one I have a mistake ... edit, reupload and blam. It's as easy as getting spam. It took me a couple times to perfect but now I can take the proof on the road, open it up from any device and keep going. I wish I figured this out before I ordered the paper proof. There have been days I upload a different version each day, depending on what changes I made. It has been a big improvement to my process. So what now? I have read it aloud a full time off the tablet, making changes along the way. What's next? More editing of course. Another read aloud and more cursing, a lot less wasted paper.

What I have learned is that I will do more read aloud before I even commit to the paper proof. I was not as close as I thought. The one downside is, I have not yet figured out how to make notes or highlight in the pdf proof- this would make the process immeasurably better. I still have to go back to the document to edit. What I forgot to mention is the paper proof is almost no dollars. It is way cheaper than printer ink and a box of paper that's going to get trashed in a fit of edit-rage and it is a chance to see the cover and overall layout, leaving me room for more changes.



Time for another round of read aloud, editing, cursing and gnashing of teeth. I'll keep you posted.

3 comments :

MJ LaBeff said...

Thank you Gordon for this funny but very informative post! Writing the book is the fun part, editing the book is the hard part. I agree with your observations regarding reading on an electronic device versus a paperback. Personally, I catch more errors and remember more about a story when I read the print version. Maybe it has something to do with the way we were taught to read? I'm from a generation that was just on the verge of so much technology we enjoy today, like eReaders and tablets and smartphones. I admire your digital editing process and the technology you've embraced to streamline it. I read Firetok, and am anxiously awaiting your next book Harbinger of Calamity. Wishing you the best! MJ LaBeff

Jenni Clarke said...

Hi Gordon
I always read my first draft on my kindle so I cannot be tempted to change anything. I keep notes on structure and plots, character arc etc.
Then I start a chapter by chapter edit, making the changes, using words review system. I then put the chapter on a writers site like wattpad , as writeon is finishing, amazing what other people find.
I then put it aside for a few weeks before reading it aloud to pick up silly typos etc. Then it goes to any beta readers I can find.
Then I read it again on my kindle.
I am planning on finding an agent rather than self publishing- i did leran tons from self publishing - the biggest was I am not yet good enough to go it alone.
Good luck and enjoy createspace!

Gordon A. Wilson said...

I already see some things I have not heard of and need to check out wattpad and writeon. Going on my notepad. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment- and share!