When I get a book nearly ready for publication, whether it be a collection of stories or a novel, I always order two proof copies- one for me and one for Kelly (and she is following suite with her novels). I am her editor/proofreader and she has been mine for much longer since she hasn't been writing nearly as long as I have.
I read my new novel and caught a lot of punctuation oversights because I type fast and often forget to put them in until later anyway. I caught several continuity errors and she pointed out several weak spots that needed to be amped up. I had tons of stuff to edit that I wanted to address while she finished reading her proof copy. She finished last night and left it for me.
I spent about an hour and a quarter starting from page one and ending around page 164 last night. This morning at breakfast I tackled more of her edits, zipping through to page 225 before having to go to work. Tonight I'll finish with her edits, and then do all the tweaks that make it look polished and professionally published.
And then I am going to disassemble it, putting it back into manuscript form and I'm sending it to a real publisher who only deals in this one genre.
It's a lot of work to get this ready, after it's been sitting idle for nearly two years. Kelly suggested a glossary of characters because there are so many, and each one is rather unique. They all have unusual names for this country, but not in their own region. She got a little confused here and there. I had written out guidelines for my own reference, so they can be easily converted to a simple glossary.
If people think self publishing is easy- I'm proof positive that it's not you write a book, you put it in a pretty cover and you're done. I am a serious author with a vision of what I want for my work when it meets the public eye. I repeatedly comb through the text fixing errors that slip past me in initial proofreadings and edits. I use Microsoft Words' review feature. I control-F spaces and hyphens to make sure I don't have odd spaces between words. I now justify the text so it lines up neatly down the pages. I study other authors self published works and view them with a critical eye. I look at professionally published books and adapt what I like for my books. I am learning from my daughter how to use my own photographs for my covers.
When I put out a book and it has my name on it, I want it to be the best product I can create using my skills, the knowledge I've acquired over the past two years, and the new things I'm learning every day. And yes, when I get the finished product copies and read through one and find yet another error I cringe inside because that is a reflection on me and means I was not as careful as I hoped I was through the last edit. At least I have the luxury of being able to pull the book again, fit the error and get it back out there within a few days time.
Maybe I'm a little OCD, but I work hard writing my books and stories. I don't want them leaving my hands and landing in a reader's hands who will be too annoyed by the errors that I've made to thoroughly enjoy the story for itself. It's too distracting. I want a smooth, enjoyable read for those who care enough to buy my books. I am a literary entertainer- not a hack slacker putting out a shoddy product to make a quick buck. I'm the kind of person that is going to give you double the value for the price- at least that's what I am diligently trying to do with each book.
A lot of love and attention goes into each one because I care about my work, and I care about the experience the reader will have reading my work.
And that is the difference between a publishing house that just wants to make money off an author who places their trust in a company that may or may not produce the best quality book (it drives me crazy when I buy a big publishing house novel by a favorite author and there are errors that should have been caught by a professional proofreader throughout! Come on! There is NO excuse for that)
But, maybe that's just me...