Getting caught with your pants down

Okay, I know the title of the post will get all sorts of (ahem) different sorts of folks trolling my blog, but the euphemism fits the topic of today’s post – believe it or not.

As some of you may know, one of my goals this year was to self-publish a short story. At the beginning of this year (or maybe the end of last year, I can’t remember), I picked Súria; a sad story I wrote about a girl who becomes and remains trapped in magically enhanced abusive relationships. The short is not stellar, by any means, but it is my best work so far (that’s not saying much, seriously).

Anyway, I had submitted it to the Fantasy Faction anthology contest, but soon realized I had no chance of getting in so went about thinking about creating a cover, editing, and formatting the short for Smashwords. But I didn’t do it. Oh, well, yes, I did do the cover and even asked a great artist to cobble some pictures together for me (which he did, thank you, Raven!), but I didn’t once look at the story until, well, yesterday. Four whole days after my first upload.

But this past weekend, I decided that this was the one. The one weekend I would sit down and self-publish that short. No more wishy-washy indecision. I was going to be bold. I was going to be brave like Jack Black in Nacho Libre and wear my crimson underwear in public.

What on earth could go wrong, right? The guidelines, though a bit long, are simple to follow and anyone with a modicum of computer skills can deduce the formatting pitfalls and avoid them. However, there was one thing the guidelines failed to mention…

Before I go on, the important bit to take note of here is that there was a significant amount of time between when I submitted a version of Súria to Fantasy Faction and when I uploaded a version to Smashwords this past weekend.

So what was that one thing they failed to mention?

Dear readers, pay attention, please.

Make sure you upload the edited and proofed version of your story.

Because, no matter how well you format that puppy, no matter you follow the instructions down to the last letter; if it is crap, it will, miraculously, remain so after going through Smashword’s meatgrinder.

Yes, dear readers, I formatted and uploaded the wrong version of my short. Specifically, an unedited version.

The funny thing is, upon uploading the first time, I noticed I completely forgot to credit the artist and my writing coach. I uploaded a new version soon after the initial upload. Then I figured, oh, I should provide some links, too. So, I uploaded another version.

But, I did not read my story.

I didn’t notice that there were typos on the very first page. I didn’t notice that there were entire sections that referred to story plot that had long ago been edited out. I didn’t notice a lot of things, because I didn’t read it.

I put it up for free, and imagine my surprise that by yesterday, 23 souls sampled or downloaded the story. I was so happy, I thought I’d look over the story online via Smashwords.

After reading the first few sentences, my heart skipped a beat. There stood a typo in glorious, neon-black letters.

I read a bit more. (gasp!) There’s another one. And another! And, oh dear god, that doesn’t make sense. Who wrote that?

I honestly thought someone had sabotaged my story. I quickly unpublished it.

Last night, I printed out my Smashwords version of the story. I re-edited it, re-proofed it, and with a heavy heart, re-uploaded the story. (sigh)

Do I think I got all the typos? Who knows. But there it is, in all its tarnished glory, for everyone to read.

Lessons learned?

  1. Organize files so that the edited and proofed version is clearly marked FINAL.
  2. Print out and slowly read your Smashwords formatted word document before uploading.
  3. It is alright to go out with crimson underwear, but just make sure the elastic doesn’t bust, else you’ll find them falling around your ankles to trip you up.

Until next time, proof until your eyes bleed.

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20 thoughts on “Getting caught with your pants down

  1. See, that’s what happens when you do not do things correctly! Had a similar experience with Tuesday’s Tales on Lulu. Personally, I subscribe to the ancient adage: if you don’t get it right the first time, bequest the whole mess to your grandchildren and let them sort it out. This doesn’t improve my writing at all but it saves me much time that would be spent *working* on my stories. 🙂

  2. I am groaning in sympathy. At least, when I do a podcast, I’m the one who actually READS the thing. And, yes, I have found mistakes in the middle of reading. Good luck with your production.

  3. I feel your pain. I uploaded my cookbook with the old title on the copyright page the first time around. I think about 15 people bought it before a friend bought it and mentioned the error.
    The lovely thing about digital self-publishing is how easy it is to edit and re-upload!

  4. Lol! Ah well, a lesson learnt. I’m thinking of doing the same with one of my short stories to tempt potential sales of my expected short story collection at the end of the year. Do you recommend smashwords for this?

  5. You’re certainly not alone in the mild heart-attacks that come from making a mistake in your work for the world to see. I did the same thing, and I know just how you feel, even though I spent a month editing, and editing… and editing. I look at it like this: If there is something wrong with my car, or it needs service, I take it to the shop and they fix it. I see no shame in editing, improving, or expanding, digital works. I think that’s the greatest benefit we have for digitally published material. Of course, we shouldn’t go so far as to change the story entirely.

    1. Did I change it entirely? Well…

      Thank you for your support. I know I’m not the only one who has made a mistake like this, but I just thought I knew what I was doing. Not. 😮

    1. Right! It counts as my first step towards the obliteration of my writing career! Oh, no, I meant to say…It counts as my first step towards literary fame and fortune, and a Pulitzer, too! 🙄

  6. Ah, I downloaded the story, gave it a quick scan to admire the nice formatting job and set it aside to read later. But yes, keeping track of those file versions is a bear. I’ve started keeping charts because the ol’ memory just ain’t what it used to be. Not that it was ever that great to begin with.

    But the wonders of ebooks, ah, can always go back in and fix the goofs.

  7. I wouldn’t think a GIS professional would ever label anything “final”. When I think of all the layers I have called “Final3” or “reallyFinal”…

    Your tale sent a chill down my spine, though, when I envisioned my writing directory with all of its versions of stories floating around with subtle changes in filename.

    1. Right! I never do. The latest geodatabase is always the undated one (meaning, I put the date within the filename when it is changed, and that’s the immediate backup). Maybe I’ll try something similar with my writing files. Thanks!

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