Small Sacrifices was always intended to be a novel length size book. However while in Australia in 2018 I first wrote the ending as a short story. In 2019 I wrote the full story and sent it out to my Beta readers to gain their feedback. I then let it sit for a few months and went back to it with a fresh outlook in March 2020. I completed another edit during the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown, rewriting parts of it and adding to the word count. A writer is never fully satisfied with their work. We could go on editing year after year, always with a view to making improvements. But there comes a time when some questions need to be raised. Is it good enough for publishing now? Is there anything else I need to say about the characters, or have I said enough? Do I need to add any further twists to the plot? Is there anything I can cut?
I made the decision in June that it would be the next book I would publish. I just needed to make a few more amendments. One of my early readers thought the opening chapter featuring the character Ellen was too long. I mentioned this fact to another writer I exchanged emails with, Jackie Rohen (author of How to Marry your Husband – Jacqueline Rohen) who sadly died a few days before her first book was published in early May 2020. Jackie asked me to send the opening chapter to her and after reading it in March wrote back saying she didn’t think it was too long and really liked it.
Another of my beta readers gave it to a friend of hers who had once served in the NSW Police. Her feedback caused me to look at that first chapter again. She couldn’t stand the character Ellen and almost gave up reading it in the first chapter. I didn’t want Ellen to be so irritating that readers would be put off. So I restructured the opening chapter, added in some extra paragraphs and sent it off for the ex-police officer to read again. Her comments were favourable, saying it was much better; she was intrigued and wanted to read more. Now it was possibly good enough. The final tester is always reading a proof paperback copy. Editing and proof reading digitally can only go so far. Especially when I am doing it. As the author I read what I expect to be there and miss typos. Other readers are reading to gain meaning and can also miss typos. It’s only in the paperback copy that I can pick up any typos and notice any sentences that need re-structuring.
I uploaded the file to my printers once receiving the cover artwork and ordered a copy. I happened to be in London looking after a friend who was recovering from an operation at the time, but planned to pop down to Brighton for a few days to visit another friend once our quarantine period was over (with Covid-19, those who have had operations have to self-isolate for 14 days before and after the operation). I organised for the proof copy to be sent to Brighton, expecting it to be there when I arrived. However the couriers accidently placed it in amongst the delivery for a large book wholesaler based on the south coast and so I never received it. The wholesaler’s warehouse is so large that I was told it would take forever to locate it, so a replacement copy was ordered.
The replacement copy finally arrived the following week and I was able to get on with the proof reading. I was pleased to find only a few typos (unless I missed some). But I made a number of other minor changes for improvement. It then went back to my typesetter, a wonderful woman who made the changes swiftly for me, sending me back a PDF master. Then I sent it to the company who makes the e-pub and mobi digital files.
I uploaded the new print master to my printers and waited for them to process it so that I could order advance paperback copies. However once they processed the file (which takes several days), it came back with the cover of my previous publication, The Breakdown, showing on the file. Worried about this I uploaded the cover for Small Sacrifices again. It is still showing the wrong cover on my file, so I don’t dare order copies yet. Now it is the bank holiday and I am unable to contact anyone to ensure this is corrected!
You think you’ve planned everything well in advance, but there’s often delays that cause hiccups and throws a spanner in the works. Such is the life of self-publishers.