Editing is a huge part of the writing process, one of which that cannot be avoided. There is no way that a writer’s first draft is going to be “the one”, or the one after that, or even the one after that. Writing is a much bigger process than just writing a bunch of words on a screen or on paper and then deciding to publish. For indie authors, editing can be a hassle and extremely stressful.
So why exactly am I telling to this?
Tonight I was faced with a bit of disappointment. You know what? Maybe disappointment isn’t really the word. Worry? Regret? Stress? All of the above? No matter what word I use to describe what I was faced with tonight, it all trickles down to the fact that it resolved around editing.
But before I go into what happened, allow me to tell you a little backstory on my writing.
When I first came up with the concept for my first novel, Before I Break, the plan had always been to publish it. Going indie was a little bit of a different direction than I had planned, though I have to say that I was happy with the end result. After about a month and a half of writing the first draft, when I finished, I felt like the King of the World and wanted it out for the world right away. Well, the more I looked into self-publishing, I realized there was way more too it than just putting my book onto a template, uploading to a site, and hitting publish. If there is one thing I learned from those couple of months, it’s that self-publishing was not going to be easy.
Mind you, I chose this route after getting tons of rejection letters from agents, and to be honest, I wasn’t all that surprised. It wasn’t that I thought that my story was bad, because if I did, I wouldn’t have gone indie. It had to do with two things in particular.
1. Rejection comes often in the publishing industry.
2. Rejection has come a lot in my life.
So with that being said, the rejections didn’t really disappoint me in any way, that just pushed me to fight harder, write better, keep going, and find other alternatives. I can always put the book on Wattpad, I thought. I can publish as an e-book. I can send it to my friends.
The problem was, I love physical books, and what I really needed was a paperback copy of my book that wasn’t just printed from a computer. My friend Nikki Rae pointed me in the right direction toward Createspace, a free independent publishing service that will print copies of your book. I swear to you it was as if light shined down from the sky and pointed at the screen when I loaded the site because it was exactly what I had needed (I still thank Nikki for that).
To make a long story short, I edited my book like a crazy person because I didn’t have money for professional editing, and despite how many friends I asked, no one was willing to beta read except for one. That left all the work to myself and it was not an easy job. It was the summer before my junior year in high school (yes, I said high school) and I was no literary genius. I just knew that it was a story that I loved, a story that was important to my heart, and one that I desired to see come to life.
When my book came in the mail, I almost cried at the site of it. It was my book, my child, and I wanted to flaunt it to the world. Friends and family were buying, because yes, apparently they wanted to read it after it was finished instead of helping me get it out there–not that I blame them, because editing is not an easy job, and I was about to find out that it was even harder than I thought.
I opened my book, and behold: a typo.
What? I thought to myself. I edited this thing!
I flipped through it, and sure enough, there were typos and errors everywhere, and to make things worse, people had already been reading my book! Embarrassment kind of consumed me then and I got really emotional, mostly because I wondered, “How can I be so stupid to not realize there were still mistakes in my book?” There were a couple of reasons why.
The first reason was because I edited on my computer, and I am no e-reader. Really, I despise reading things on the computer and would much rather read it as a book. The second reason was that as a book I could see the mistakes better because it felt real to me. I felt as though I was reading a real book–which I was–and the mistakes popped out at me like crazy.
So I took the book down and edited.
I proofread the book and made a ton more edits, hoping that I fixed it all, and when I was sure that I did, I re-uploaded the book. This time I was completely happy with the final draft and I let it go. Well, come to find out three months later, there were and still are typos, but because I had the book professionally formatted, I can’t make changes. The typos aren’t major and are hardly noticeable, at least to most.
So I started working on the first book in my new series, The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, and I got the cover from Nikki, started editing, and was getting ready to release it when I encountered a few different things by a few different indie authors. The first thing that caught my attention was a comment an indie friend I know posted on something, insinuating that a book isn’t worth it if it’s not professionally edited. That hit me pretty rough today, and my feelings got kind of hurt, I’ll admit, because I do not have the money for professional editing, even the cheap ones. My family loans me all my money and they don’t shit money, so professional editing really was just going to add to the budget. I let the comment go because I said, “You know what, I’m editing, have beta readers helping this time, and I think I’m doing a pretty damn fine job on my own.”
Then I heard very similar comments from about three or four other indie authors, all saying things like, “The author doesn’t care about their work if they don’t get it professionally edited,” or “You’re a bad author if you edit yourself,” and that “books are no good unless professionally edited.”
I’ll admit, I got really emotional after that because I think every author is at least a little self-conscious of their own writing (and if they aren’t, they’re usually the complete opposite and think their alpha wolf and are better than other authors), so this wasn’t helping my self-esteem. After thinking about it for several hours, I made the hardest decision I’d ever made in my entire life.
I decided to not publish The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles.
Of course, this got a lot of attention from readers who had been expecting the series and were really looking forward to it and it upset them as much as it did me. But to me, what would have been the point in releasing a book, only for readers and authors to point out how my books aren’t edited perfectly to the word. I even talked about it with a few close friends and family, asking for their advice because I just felt so…depressed.
I felt like I was worthless.
I felt like a terrible writer, and a poser.
I even considered taking Before I Break off of Amazon.
Then all of a sudden, I just kind of felt a little nudge. Some would say it was my conscience, I say it was God, but it basically asked me, “Why are you worried about what everyone else thinks?”
“I don’t know,” I thought back. “Because these are authors who are doing better than me and readers who are paying for my work.”
I started thinking about it and wondered why I would be giving up so easily. I mean, I am Alec John Belle, an Amazon Bestselling author, suicide survivor, LGBT advocate, big brother, son, grandson…and I was just willing to throw it all away.
After giving it all a good bit of thought, I have made my decision.
I will be publishing The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, but I am not going to market it. I’m doing it for the friends and fans that have been waiting for it, and am not going to get my hopes up. I am also putting the sequel to Before I Break on hold, because I have not decided about that. As far as when this series is over, I am not sure what I plan on doing. Maybe go to college, get a real career, but I’m probably not going to pursue being an author, at least not right now.
So fans, The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles is for you. I’m not expecting success, and probably won’t get it considering I won’t be marketing it, but want to give you what you all have been asking for. I hope that it meets your expectations and that you like it enough without professional editing.
Happy holidays to everyone. Thank you for being there.