It took me the better part of three years to finish my novel, The City Of Earthly Desire. Three years is a long time to work toward a goal, so it is understandable why I was eager to pull the publishing trigger on what I believed to be a finished and polished manuscript. Since I believed I was done, I quickly went through all the steps of assembling the novel - creating a cover, formatting the text, choosing a font, selecting the size of the book along with the type of paper - and hit the publish button.
Naturally, I was ecstatic when I received the first copy of my novel in the mail. There is an indescribable sense of satisfaction involved with looking at and holding a book you have written. What, for months and months, existed only as a words on a computer screen or a pile of paper at the edge of your desk suddenly and quite magically transforms into a real book with a cover, spine, and page numbers. Holding your own book in your hands is the manifestation of a dream, the achievement of a goal. One of those epiphanic moments that make life worth living. It is small wonder that independent authors, myself among them, sprint for the finish line after such the long and arduous race of writing a book.
As sublime and satisfying as publishing a book has been for me, if I could go back in time I would force myself to resist the urge to publish as quickly as possible and delay the release of the book until all the kinks - of which I became aware only after the book had been published - had been eliminated. That is precisely what I plan to do for my next book.
Once I have convinced myself that I am finished, I will push the manuscript aside and dish out it to as many beta readers and proofreaders as I can find. I will then wade through the suggestions and corrections, make the necessary revisions, then forward to the revised copy to a few more beta readers. I will repeat this process at least three times. I will then hire the services of a professional typist to type out the final draft. After that, there will be one last round of proofreading. I imagine this cycle I have described will take anywhere from six months to a year. Only after all of that would I consider making the book public.
I went through all the steps described above (professional typist excepted) after my novel was available for purchase. It was a frustrating and painful process having to go back and work on a project you believed you had already completed. On top of that, I was constantly plagued by the nagging worry of knowing that the book I had on the market still contained typos and various errors. Luckily, I have not received any bad reviews criticizing these deficiencies yet, but the simple knowledge that they existed was enough to cast a pallor over the whole publishing experience. After a year of seeing the first cover I had created I even came to the realization that the image I had chosen to represent my novel was all wrong and I completely revamped the cover to its current form. All of this could have been avoided if I had not rushed the actual publishing of the book.
Undoubtedly, The City of Earthly Desire still contains some flaws; nevertheless, I am happy with and proud of the version that is currently available. It is as close to my original vision as it can possibly get without the involvement and investment of professional publishers. I am not a perfectionist. I don't think authors should delay publishing their work in the vain effort to make their books perfect. I also believe that readers who expect total typographical perfection in self-published books are unreasonable; however, I do believe in quality, and that is why I believe self-published writers should not rush the publishing process. Take an extra couple of months to check the manuscript over and have others check it over for you. Heck, take an extra year to ensure that the book you put out into the world is as close to perfect as you can make it with your limited time and resources. It won't be easy to resist the urge to publish, but delaying the process pays off in the end.