Less work, more fun with paperback formatting

I’m working on a paperback today. I plan to get back to writing today (was supposed to do that days and days ago, but you know how that goes!) but first I want to finish up the interior formatting for the last release I did.

It’s a little tricky because it’s the longest book I’ve done to date, and I chose a 5 x 8 size for this series a long time ago and don’t want to change that. I also don’t want to go too small on the fonts, so I suffer with higher prices for the books and don’t worry about it. :-)

The paperbacks are more for me anyway just because I like having them.

On that note, I’m playing around with some stuff and have finally figured something out that’s been hindering me from having a basic template file that I can paste my manuscript into for an even easier paperback creation.

If you use section breaks in your manuscript (I do), you must delete them before you copy and paste the text into the template.

If you don’t delete the section breaks, your page layout formatting carries over into the template, messing everything up. I’ve tried this many times over the years and never could understand why it happened. I should have tried searching a little more diligently for the answer but I had fallen into the habit of formatting my paperback from scratch every time instead. I mean, I always tried at least once to copy and paste the text, but I had always given up after that and got on with the formatting.

That’s no longer necessary, because once I deleted the section breaks, the formatting didn’t carry over and my template held onto its page layout formatting for the whole document. Excellent news for me! :-)

Also excellent news is that I don’t actually need those section breaks since I gave up uploading Word docs to vendors (except for Smashwords) a long time ago. I make an EPUB in Jutoh, which testing shows puts page breaks where I want them anyway.

So one less step in my formatting process for the next book/story.

I’m going to test Smashwords on this too, with my next book. I do not yet know for certain that my page breaks will appear where I want them even without me putting them in manually, but I’ll find out. (Apparently the TOC is supposed to tell Smashwords where to insert page breaks but I don’t know for certain it’ll happen for all the formats Smashwords generates.)

If the page breaks don’t appear, I can add the “page break before” option to the heading 1 style in Word and manually insert the one other page break I need (between the title page and the copyright page, which I do not put at the end of the book because I don’t like it there).

Finally, I’m also playing around with Libre Writer for this paperback. Already I’ve discovered one thing it does that Word does not that I like very much. Libre Writer has a book layout view, much like Adobe Reader does. Word does not.

What makes this so awesome is that I can see the spreads (left and right pages side by side) as they’ll appear in the book. Word doesn’t give me that view and it can be a pain sometimes to notice where the blank pages are supposed to be but maybe aren’t.

Anyway, back to the fun stuff. :-) I’ll have an interior for this paperback before lunch if all goes well. :-) (I might still be tweaking it at that point, for margins and then hyphenation issues, but that’s just because I’m picky.)

Fresh starts!

I’m still working on coming up with a plan for 2018.

I have some ideas though, and they start with a target number of hours spent writing every day. Five hours is the number I’m leaning towards. Every day, I think.

(5 x 7 = 35, so it’s not a crazy amount of time, by any means. The way my brain works 5 hours a day 7 days a week is much better than 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. Much, much better.)

This matters because I still haven’t figured out how to get myself to stick to writing daily and how to stop falling into a funk after I finish a book. I don’t want to go so long between releases. Nine months was too long. My current book is paying for that publishing gap.

In the past, the longest gap I’ve had between releases has been five months. Most of the time, that’s closer to four months. Now, I’m not talking about novels, or even books in my best selling series’. But I’ve tended to release something within a four to five month window.

Not this time.

Big mistake. My current release is struggling, to be blunt. Even though fans seem to be enjoying it, I’m not selling as many copies as I would like, not by a long shot.

So, time for another book.

Looking at the bright side, maybe this pressure is what I need to push me right back to writing. I had already planned to ramp up my writing, because I feel like I’ve finally pulled out of whatever state I was in this year that led to me writing so few words compared to previous years (barely more than half the number of words of my next lowest year’s word count: 125,712 versus 217,641).

That’s a significant drop, no two ways about it.

I debated requiring something of myself before I call it a night, but it’s been a tough day, to be honest. I think I’m going to get some extra sleep, get up at a decent hour, and start fresh tomorrow on this plan to write for five hours a day.

See you back here then.

Edits are almost finished for this one

It’s been an odd couple of days.

I spent a good deal of time on Thursday away, so I didn’t make as much progress that day as I wanted.

Then yesterday, I spent more time editing than reading, by a large degree, and I ended the night feeling like I was still stuck in some hypercritical state of mind.

After inputting all my edits for the day into the document, I loaded up my most recent version of the file onto my old Kindle Fire and took it to bed with me to read the next few chapters but was too tired to even look at it.

Then today came.

I woke up and immediately read three chapters before I even got out of bed. And found myself in the right frame of mind for this process—finally!

The number of corrections marked went way down between yesterday and today (not for actual typos, etc, those are about the same, I think). I think getting started so early caught me while I was more likely to read as a reader than a writer.

And it stuck.

Today’s progress was fantastic. I finished chapters 23–42 (43,792 words). I still have to input edits for all those chapters, but it’s only a few pages of highlights—nowhere near the level of edits I had to input for the first half of the book.

And I do think it was my frame of mind that made the difference today, not the quality of the material.

(I’m not counting chapters 5–7, because the stuff I fixed in those chapters has made a huge difference to the rest of the book. The fact that the rest of the book is better for it instead of needing tweaks to make it work shows that the fixing I did was necessary, not optional.)

I have to say, I am thrilled that I got so much done today, especially since I’ve felt a bit sick all week, and my kids are both sick now. :-)

Here’s the latest:

Screenshot of editing time log spreadsheet
The reading time for chapters 1 and 23–26 are guesses.

I deleted the editing time left estimate because it just wasn’t working for me. (I had added it to the sheet for this book as a test.) It’s been so far off the mark the entire time that there’s just no point to it. I like the fact that the reading time estimate is fairly accurate. The editing estimate was not.

I think I’ll be doing a black line compare as soon as I finish inputting the changes, to help me pinpoint areas that need a second read through, since I did so much more than correct a word here and there for some parts of this book.

I don’t want to get trapped reading the whole book again, but I can’t remember where a lot of those specific lines were. More typos or errors could have snuck in.

I also have a few items marked for continuity checks, since when I got to them, they felt off but I couldn’t remember for sure if it was an issue. (The hazard that comes of spreading the read-through out over several days.)

If I had it in me, I would read the whole book again, right now, but gah, I just don’t think my nerves could handle it. I want to be done, so bad.

Then I have my copy edit checklist, full of words I literally check one by one for mistaken usage. It’s/its. There/they’re/their. Phase/faze. Many more. Yes, it’s tedious. No, I actually don’t usually find many, if any, of these errors, but I like knowing I double-checked.

Then there are some specific errors I noticed in this specific book: tried for tired (I’ll check the opposite too), breath for breathe, anyone that (anyone who), two character names I somehow mixed up a couple of times, the were for they were, this for his.

Just a list of stuff that I messed up at least once, and could have easily overlooked, so I’ll check.

I might do a post when this is all done detailing out how I so this big self-edit. It’s a process, truly.

Now, off to finish this thing. I’m watching the Psych movie as my reward for finishing. As a huge Psych fan, I can’t wait. ;-)

(Affiliate link. My disclaimer: I’m just as likely to link to crap I hate and tell you I hate it, as I am to link to stuff I love that I tell you I love. I don’t care if I make money off recommendations or not, I don’t recommend shit that I don’t like.) :D

An improvement, but still editing…

So there it is, the current estimate of the time it will take me to finish this edit: 18.8 hours.

Screenshot of editing time log spreadsheet

The estimate is considerably better than the last, which was 44+ hours. On the other hand, I’ve gone from time logged of 8.83 hours to 18.8 hours. Because I’m literally halfway through the book, my time spent and my time left are a sad match.

I don’t want to spend another 18.8 hours on this edit.

I have a feeling I’m being hypercritical still and just can’t see it.

On that note, I’m going to get back to reading, because I still have half the book to read. It just doesn’t even feel possible, knowing what I know about the book and where it’s going!

Still editing…

A small update of how the edits are going.

Screenshot of editing time spreadsheet

See that outlined box (the one that says 44.16667)? Those are the hours my spreadsheet estimates this edit will take me to finish.

That’s all because the edits so far have been outrageously time consuming. I’m very hopeful that’s all about to come to an end though (maybe an hour to go) and I’ll be back to doing my normal style of proofreading edit, which will drive down the editing time to go and make this a more reasonable estimate.

The reading estimate, on the other hand, is very accurate, based on current reading speeds. So the only way to improve on that will be to start reading faster, which I won’t be doing, or highlighting less (because it takes time away from the reading flow and slows me down). The highlighting less could happen, if the rest of the book has fewer mistakes to be corrected. :)

No doubt about it though. I will be reading at least the opening one more time after this, which will add to the total time, because I can’t make these kinds of changes and not do another typo check. :D

Changes always introduce new errors. Therefore, I always try to reread anything I’ve touched for more than a simple typo correction before I claim the book is done.

Now, back to work for me! I have lots of stuff to do. :)

And a post with no title

Mind the Time says I’ve spent 1 hour and 15 minutes active on this site today.

That time is all related to my last post (except for about 3 minutes for this one). It’s something I’m going to have to think about.

Especially considering that it’s actually been about 3 hours and 25 minutes since I started that post and most of the stuff that took me away from being active on this page was stuff that was still related to that post in some way.

I’m going to have to find a way to put a stop to this kind of thing.

The editing continues

I went back to the book last night and dug in. Considering how I felt when I started, it went well. Overall yesterday, I added 385 words to the book, corrected some issues and left myself in the middle of a mess. :D

It could be worse!

I’m starting early this morning (relatively speaking, after staying up until 2 am). I’ve had breakfast and I’ve gone back into my hosts file and blocked some particularly distracting sites because I’m actually excited to get started again and I do not want to squander that feeling by scrolling through news and forums posts for a hour or more.

I’ll scroll through my document instead. :)

In actuality, I’ll start by reading what I added last night—stuff to tie in the ending better, really, and just some redrafting of a few paragraphs and sections, because just changing the wording around isn’t the goal here. I mean, I could, but it’s a waste of time and wouldn’t help the issues, and could make things a lot worse.

My problems with these chapters aren’t just issues about how I wrote sentences. That stuff is irrelevant at this point. This is something else, something deeper. Right here, in these places, the story just doesn’t feel right to me.

Since I’m my own reader, if it doesn’t feel right to me, it ain’t right. Period.

If I let myself fall into the rabbit hole of making this about the sentences, I’d probably ruin the book. I’ve learned my lesson on that.

It’s very easy to steal all the life from the words by massaging them into “something better.”

I believe that wholeheartedly because it has happened to me a few times, the most notably being when I smoothed out the beginning of the first book in this same series. I read back through it right before I went to publish and realized it was just flat—flat and lifeless even though it was an exciting scene. Or it was supposed to be. It had been. So I pulled up the original beginning, unedited, and plopped it into place. Since the edit of that had been all about the sentences and words, there was nothing to fix to make it work with the rest of the book. I published it like that a few minutes later. (Maybe hours, lol, because I did still have to format the book and that was back when it took me longer than the five minutes it takes now.)

That is still my best selling book and the opening is absolutely fine. I was being hypercritical of myself and the way I sound on the page and I almost messed up the beginning of that book, all because I didn’t trust myself. That was my breakout book. It’s why I’m able to write full time.

This situation is different. I am trusting myself here. The problems with these chapters I’m working my way through aren’t the fevered imaginings of a hypercritical reader. I’ve gotten pretty good at shoving that aside when I’m reading during my edits—sure, I may cringe occasionally over a real clunker, but I tend to recognize that for what it is. Maybe not all the time, but right now, for this, definitely.

There are problems here that need fixed.

So that’s what I’m going to do, get in there and fix them.

I’ll post the log of my reading and editing times when I finish this thing. :)

Here’s where it stands right now.

Screenshot of editing times

I went back to a different book to compare these numbers and for that one my reading speed was very close to 10,000 words per hour. That just goes to show how slow this one is going.

And just for comparison, chapter 4 is not a short chapter. It was just a good one and I was finally getting into a groove with the reading. Then chapter 5 hit.

So about that editing…

I’m still editing. In fact, it’s going much slower than I want and I’m not sure if it’s the book or just me. Chapters 1–4 went well, and then I reached chapter 5.

I had to step away for a while. In fact, I stayed away all night.

I thought that had to be as bad as it could get, and then I read chapter 6. That was tough, but then halfway through, things got better, and then worse. Chapter 7 came and oh my.

Now chapter 5 isn’t the worst, not by a long shot. Chapter 7 is.

I don’t even want to start chapter 8. I’ve just about lost all my motivation to read this thing. What should have taken two hours tops has taken two days—and I haven’t even made the edits. That’s just the reading, and the avoidance of reading, and a few typo corrections.

I think I’ve done this before. But I’m not actually sure. On the one hand, I feel like maybe it’s not as bad as all that, and I’m just really not in the right head space for this edit. And then I think, nope, I’ve been worried about this book all along, I’ve had major trouble writing it, and maybe there was a reason for all that.

Gah. The sad part is chapters 1–2 were just fantastic. The last two paragraphs of chapter 7 were fantastic. I really liked them.

Everything else sucks.

All I’m doing at this point is planning to get in there and fix some stuff in a way I usually don’t do after I’m done. It’s not that the writing is horrible (it ain’t great in places, for sure, but not horrible). It’s that there are just gaps—honestly some of it just doesn’t even make sense.

But some of it is really good. I mean it. It’s a totally weird thing that I don’t think I’ve seen happen before, like I was writing with a split writer personality, one experienced and one just learning to put sentences together to make paragraphs.

I really don’t think I did enough of the kind of editing I usually do when I’m writing. (Going back through to tighten, add, smooth, and make sure I actually said what I thought I said… it’s hard to explain. I have to do that as part of the writing and I don’t call it editing. It’s just part of the writing and how I get what’s in my head onto the page. I don’t even know. I’m really worried, that’s all I can say right now. Really, really worried.)

On the other hand, I’m feeling hypercritical right now, so who knows? Maybe it isn’t as bad as all that.

Back to it, I guess, or I’ll never get to move on. I definitely want to put this one behind me.

Ready to edit today

screenshot of sunlit paper Today I’ll be editing. I have fresh coffee, my document on my Kindle Fire (the oldest one I have), and some fresh sunlit paper and a pencil for notes. I have tablets and journals and pencils and pens everywhere, to be honest. :)

It’s time to edit this book and I want to do it while the story is fresh in my mind. I know that’s opposite of what a lot of authors recommend to other authors, but I have my own way of doing things, for reasons that make sense to me.

Of course, I dated the page yesterday, so that’ll have to be updated, but other than that, I’m ready to go.

With as much sun as is shining onto my face, I’ll have to watch out, but I want the warmth of the sun right now. I find it motivating when it comes time to focus on reading. :)

So here is the plan.

Every chapter will be timed. (I do this to stay focused.) If I need to stop for a break, it’ll come at the end of a chapter. This is helpful so I can get a feel of the momentum in a chapter and pay attention to pacing. If I’m stopping three times in a chapter, I just get to the end and have no idea how fast or slow it felt.

After 3 to 4 chapters, I’ll catch up typo edits and the like, and save all other notes (highlights really) until the end.

This is so I don’t run into an issue with the Kindle losing my highlights. It hasn’t ever happened, but if it does, I don’t want this to be the day. Until I started doing it this way, I regularly ended up with 30+ pages of highlights to deal with all at the end. The horror of losing all that and having to start over is what led me to change my ways.

I’ll be using the notes page to make notes of continuity stuff and things I want to check at the end. I’ll be jotting down eye/hair/clothes/names and a small chapter summary of one or two sentences, too. But I might save that for the end of the chapter so it doesn’t bog me down as I read. This is something new I’m adding to my process so I’m going to have to work out the details as I go.

Anyway, I think I’m ready. I will definitely post a screenshot from my spreadsheet later. :) It’ll be interesting to see it all laid out. The spreadsheet tracks the reading sessions, and using it and the timer has worked really well to keep me completely focused on reading.

It’s also cut the time it takes me to do the read through by a significant degree. It used to take a week at least. Now it takes a day (or two).

This is the kind of thing I’m hoping to find with my writing someday. A process that just works.

I haven’t given up looking. But for now, it’s time to focus on edits. :)


Restarting my 500 words a day minimum

So today I thought I could not possibly write 500 words since I’m supposed to be reading through my book and all I’ve done is tinker with my ending a bit instead. I was sure I’d have to restart my minimum tomorrow, when there’s at least a chance I’ll be done with this read through and I’ll get to write some words on another story. But then I put in my current book’s word count for the day and, wow, I had written 615 words just tinkering.

So I guess the restart is today after all.

I’m pleasantly excited by this little surprise. :-)