I often wonder how I've even made it this far. Seriously. We're nearing the 1 year mark of my first publication and, as I look back nostalgically and such, I simply can't figure out how I've been so damn lucky. I've done this with 0% help from marketers, editors, consultants, publishers (Ok, well if you consider Lulu a publisher, then yes, they've been such a GIANT help), etc. And 100% support from my closest supporters (friends & family) and the many R.T. fans out there. But not every decision I make as a start-up author is pretty. Sometimes they are met with the gritting of teeth and exposing of claws. One of these decisions is the editing process:
I did my research (long, boisterous hours of research) and came to this conclusion. As a self-published author, I had a choice of these 2 options:
1) Hire an editor. Spend long hours and incredible amounts of money to make sure my manuscript is complete and polished. Be in debt right from the beginning.
2) Do it yourself. Spend ten times the amount of time working through your manuscript, but sacrifice when you realize you can't fix everything with one set of eyes. THERE WILL BE MISTAKES...and sometimes FREQUENTLY.
This is pretty much what I looked like when I tried to make this decision.
Do I suffer now or later? What kind of decision is that?
So I made an executive decision: this is my story and I will edit myself.
I wanted to involve my readers in a way that is different than simply sitting down and reading a novel on a Sunday afternoon. Let's be honest, you can get that anywhere. And sure, a 100% polished story is what people look for these days when searching for a "great" book.
But why shouldn't I take advantage of the fact that most of my readers are local and know me well or, at least, by acquaintance. Sure, my readership will expand. In fact, I expect it to soon, but it must build first from the very bottom--the foundation at the local level.
So that sweaty man from above turned into this dude:
Sample questions running through my mind at this point in my decision making: Will I lose credibility with my audience if there are mistakes in the book? Will word get out that I'm a horrible writer? Will my writing career be over?
Answers? 1) Maybe a little bit, 2) Probably not, and 3) NO.
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If you bought a 1st edition of Walls or The Reaper Trials or plan on doing so, this will explain why you have found grammar mistakes as you read.
A first edition of early R.T. Donlon novels are essentially 90,000-99,000 word finished manuscripts that I have read over sixteen times. Yes, that is no joke. I read my stories sixteen times in order to prevent as many grammatical mistakes as possible. And yet, even after I have read the story for so long, there are mistakes that are hidden that my eyes skip over because I'm so used to the story.
This is where my readers come in.
People have asked to read the novel and act as a makeshift editor for free, and although this sounds great, different people have differing opinions about content and grammar, which can play a weird perspective game with the story. I'm looking for something more community-based here. Something that won't change perspective, ideas, or even the way a particular sentence reads. I want as many people involved in this crazy editing process as possible. The more people who are involved, the more I know are truly invested in the story itself.
You all are so good at finding these mistakes, letting me know where they are so I can revise and send out as a 2nd edition. This worked so well with Walls and, so far, it's worked really well with The Reaper Trials. Because these are my first novels AND I have complete confidence in the fact that my writing career will take off (especially when I DO hire an editor and marketer in the future), my 1st edition purchases will serve as a piece of R.T. Donlon history in the future. You can say that you were a part of the very beginning, even after the market grows.
This might sound cheesy or over confident from my perspective, but ladies and gentlemen, I do not intend to stop writing. Words are my life. I see stories as the bridge from me to you and I intend to keep that bridge open until the day I take my last breath. I just can't stop. If there is construction along the way, we fix it and move forward. Kind of like this:
Now, with that said, Walls and The Reaper Trials will be the last novels I use this process for. Although it does serve its purpose, I do believe that a story without flaws is the best formatted story, but for now, I think this quirky editing process helps bring my readership together in a weird, etherial way. Does it hurt my credibility? I don't think so, but I'm sure there are some critics out there that aren't too impressed.
I think we'll look back at these two start-up R.T. Donlon novels in years to come and smile, knowing that we were part of something fun and exciting, especially when bigger things start flowing down the pipeline.
And yes, R.T. Donlon fans, those things are coming. Very. Very. Soon.
1st Edition Copies of The Reaper Trials are still available for a LIMITED TIME only. Once they're gone, they're gone! If you would like one, contact R.T. directly or purchase a copy through Lulu Marketplace, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
2nd Editions will be available in the upcoming months.
2nd Editions of Walls are available through online retailers for your purchasing pleasure.
Until next time,