Despite what I like to believe, learning really isn't always fun. Discovering new things without the bother of experimenting and getting things wrong is exhilarating, but the more common way of trial and error sometimes sucks. Often sucks, in fact. I've been so frustrated by this entire process sometimes, and with my own inability to reasonably estimate the amount of time something will take, that there have been many times when I sincerely wished I'd never started any of it.
Frustrated Lilli: "This isn't worth it. It's not even a very good book. It's just a sucky first attempt at writing a 'real' book, and I wish I hadn't wasted my time and money and so many waking hours on it."
But, overall, that's not how I really feel.
Calm Lilli: "Everyone's got to start somewhere, and I think it's not a bad first book at all. I wish it hadn't taken so long, and I wish I knew everything at the outset that I know now, but if I hadn't taken this first step, I'd never be able to take a second."
During this past almost-year, I've developed a mental list of things that I've learned this time around that will make next time a lot easier.
Things that would have made self publishing faster and easier:
1. Owning the newest, non-trial version of MS Word.
My love and appreciation for Open Office has definitely waned during the self-publishing process. It's a sad truth, but the world runs on Word, and those evil masterminds behind it will find ways to make even the most compatible alternative software incompatible with any publishing platform that utilizes Word. Half a millimeter's difference in formatting can utterly destroy all you've worked for. It's just not worth it. Next time, I'm caving and buying that hateful program. And all its updates.
2. Owning the newest, most expensive non-trial version of Adobe.
I can honestly say that the great majority of extra time spent on this project was due almost entirely to not having these two programs (or the money to buy them). Next time, I will simply have to save up and install them both on my computer.Even more annoying than not owning MS Word was the fact that I had only the cute little free Adobe Reader on my computer. That meant that every single time I needed to update the master file, I had to drive across town to the college library, get logged in, make a twenty-second change in Word (which I'd then convert to a text-embedded PDF), and then go back home. I couldn't even use the public library, because it had the previous version of Word installed on its computers, and would therefore totally screw up my entire file if I dared to save even the slightest change.
But now onto the update part of this update.
It's with great disappointment I inform you all that the illustrations will not be making it into the final version of Pleiades. You may recall that my sweetheart and I had a disagreement about including them. I was worried that the final quality wasn't good enough, and he argued that the book would be of lesser quality without them than it would with them. He told me not to let "perfection be the enemy of good," and I eventually sided with him.
I added the ISBN to the book, making it officially a Real Book, and order one (hopefully) last preview copy to make sure it all looked good. It did... except for the images. This time, it wasn't a very slightly fuzzed quality to my darling illustrations that caught my attention. It was an undeniably craptastic, 50-times-through-the-copier quality that led me to literally throw the copy across the room and against a wall. Really, guys, they were just that atrocious. Since I had changed nothing about the images, I could only conclude that including illustrations in the text of a novel was playing publisher's roulette with image quality. I was not willing to risk getting 50 books with hideously rendered illustrations and 50 with nicely reprinted illustrations. It was with a heavy heart (and another trip out to the college library) that I removed them completely.
I plan to include separate prints of the illustrations in the books sent to the backers.
So, at last, another test copy is on its way. I pray this one doesn't suck, so I can finally get these books out into the world.