Committed—Self-publishing Part 5: Last Stop Before the judgement

by wlancehunt in Personal Narrative

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

After diving headlong into research on various genres, not only the BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) codes, but into Amazon’s, Barnes and Noble’s and’s categorizations trying to divine their yardsticks for classification, and even culling blogs and literary agent sites, I suggested literary fiction, not because of it’s “literariness” so much as no genre fit well.

iUniverse countered with several different ones, saying that literary fiction has to be more stylistically complex, even experimental. I wasn’t so sure of that, but I couldn’t build a case for what I sensed was right, and as the book had to be classified somehow, I rolled with it. Looking over their suggestions, I settled, uncomfortably, with three: Fiction General, Fiction Urban, and Fiction Romance—Adult/Contemporary. None of these felt quite right, and the last two I didn’t really understand, and so this continued to bother me.

While refining the marketing text, I worked on developing an online presence: getting a domain name, a WordPress account, starting Facebook and Google + pages, though not publishing them yet, cleaning up my social media appearance, and reading more about what I needed to do to market effectively. I collected ideas, filling up yet more pages in notebooks. To the point of surfeit.

Then the content edit came back, again with many more changes than I had imagined. At least these were at the sentence and word level. Most of the changes were either necessary or obviously preferred, but some I disagreed with. Like their correction to “El” for what everyone in Chicago calls the “L”. Everyone including the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Transit Authority—style manuals be damned. “El” is for Elevated, not the whole public transit rail system. “L” is correct. Period. I wouldn’t defer on this one and they agreed. In time.

I, though, caved on using then as a coordinating conjunction: while it’s gaining acceptance, it’s not in their manual so not adding “and” might cause me problems—repeated grammar ‘errors’ don’t bode well for Editor’s Choice. The point is minor versus what I might sacrifice. If this book is successful, I won’t change it in my next I’d told myself: that though is for the future.

Mostly, this edit cleaned up some bad habits of mine, and improved the readability of the text significantly. While working on accepting, rejecting or modifying the changes made by the content editor, I had to resist the temptation to rework scenes or insert new ideas. This edit is only for sentence level changes. Deep changes would send this back to a Developmental Editor, which makes sense: We’ve been through structural issues, and are now down to the language level.

An author must mind that the structure has already been handled, and should expect that if he or she makes additional structural changes, the book will have to be evaluated at the structural level again. This helps assure the integrity of the process used by the Special Recognitions program, a process meant to assure a reader or book buyer of a book’s high quality.

As one of my editorial contacts had written me early in the process: “When we identify a book with Editor’s Choice potential, it’s about 5 percent of the books we publish. We do know that better books sell better […].”

A Perfect Blindness was written to sell well.

I was able to address all the editor’s concerns in 6 weeks and then returned the manuscript.

Next edit is the final stop before the reading that will either recommend the book to the Editorial Board for acceptance into the Special Recognitions program with an Editor’s Choice designation—or not.

This is the Quality Review. This editor does not read the whole manuscript, but rather minds the changes made after the Content Edit, assuring those specific issues have been resolved, and that no new issues have been introduced.

The standard acknowledgement came back telling me this would take approximately seven weeks to complete. It took five weeks, during which, I continued working on the marketing text as well as generating more marketing ideas, cleaning up my social media presence, and preparing for the “Cover Copy Polish” a service included in the book’s particular package that edits and proofreads exterior text and helps ensure that the cover maintains accepted industry standards in content and design.

When the manuscript came back, there were a number of minor fixes to attend to which took only three days to remedy. I returned the final manuscript to iUniverse on October 13th for judgment.

After all this effort, time, money and debate over fixing some fake underage sexuality, the book’s genre and the proper way to refer to the Chicago mass transit rail system, A Perfect Blindness lies in the hands of a reader who would, or would not, recommend it to the Editorial Review Board for the Editor’s Choice designation.

I waited. Again.

On October 20th, I got an email.

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