Friday, 25 November 2011

JUST DO IT! - Susan Price

NIGHTCOMERS by Susan Price
          On Hallowe’en, I published my fourth and fifth e-books, the ghost-story collections, HAUNTINGS and NIGHTCOMERS.  I’m getting into a working routine.
          I start by opening a file in Word 2010.  I type in and centre the title and my name, then insert a page-break.  I paste in the copyright details, which I have on file, and alter dates and names where necessary.  I add a ‘Contents’ page.
          All my e-books have been previously published, so I take an old copy and rip it apart.  I scan the separate pages into my computer using a free Optical Character Recognition programme (OCR).  I click ‘convert to text’, and correct the programme’s near guesses – it almost always turns ‘wall’ into ‘wail’, for instance.
          Once a whole story or chapter is converted to text, I edit the separate pages together and add them to the book’s file.  It’s tedious, but easier than typing out the whole book.
          While I’m doing this, my brother designs the cover, and we swop ideas and sketches by e-mail until we have something we’re both happy with.
           As I add to the file, I format as I go – centring titles and quotes, adding bookmarks and hyperlinks.
          At the end I paste in another standard page, with details of Electric Authors and my forthcoming books.
          Then I proof-read.  I attach the file to an e-mail and send it, via Amazon, to my own personal Kindle.  It takes minutes.
          I have the ‘master copy’ open on my laptop as I proof-read on the kindle,  correcting every mistake I spot in the master-copy.
          I remove the test run from my kindle, add the cover which my brother has now finished, and e-mail it to my kindle again.  This time I use the AZW file which Amazon returns to me, to test it on my computer, using the kindle previewer.  This shows me how my book will look on various other devices.  My brother usually drops in at this point, to check how his cover looks, and to make last minute tweaks.  (He works on a computer, first scanning in a sketch, and then adding layers.)
          Finally, I load the book up to Amazon Direct Publishing – and publish!
HAUNTINGS by Susan Price
          This all worked very well until I got to the proof-reading stage of NIGHTCOMERS.  Then it all came to a halt – because I didn’t want to do it.
          I had so much else to do - preparing for another year as Royal Literary Fund Fellow at De Montfort, finishing the third Sterkarm book, roughing out the ‘next big novel’ (as my agent calls it).  Washing up.  Shopping.  Laundry. And I was supposed to read this book again?
          I’d read it as I’d scanned it and converted to text.  I’d read it as I edited the pages together.  It was fine.  Why not save some time, and just publish it?
          But no.  I gritted my teeth, made a cup of coffee and told myself:  Just Do It .
          On almost the first page, there was a big glaring typo.
          And in the Contents, the last story, Cold Silver, one of my best, didn’t have its teaser sentence.  Or a hyper-link to take you to its beginning.  I’d forgotten them.  I was sure that I’d gone over and over the book, and it was all correct, and proof-reading was a waste of time, and – I was wrong.
          In the first story was a stray apostrophe – not even a grocer’s apostrophe, just one wandering loose by itself.  There was also ‘arid’ masquerading as ‘and’.
          A note to self, and a warning to e-publishers everywhere: no matter how fed up you are, no matter how sure that it doesn’t need another proof-read before publishing – it does.
          So Just Do It.  (My motto)

          Praise for NIGHTCOMERS:-  'Every tale shows the quality of the imagination, and the accuracy of the telling. What most impresses is the authority of Susan Price's voice: exact, rich or spare when necessary, able to evoke the Past without falsity, and the present without effort.' (PHILIP PULLMAN, THE GUARDIAN )

                              To read a story from NIGHTCOMERS, click here.
My award winning blog is the Nennius Blog
          And my website, with other stories and extracts, is here.


Linda Gillard said...

Great covers, Sue. NIGHTCOMERS is really quite disturbing!

I'm told the way to proo-fread is to read backwards so you see what's actually there, not what ought to be there, but I've never managed to do it. Even more boring than standard proof-reading!

Lee said...

Just Do It is a terrific motto, but I still haven't found a foolproof method of proofreading. Just recently I sent off a batch of translations which I must have checked a kwakabazillion times, only to be told the next morning that I'd left off an entire paragraph (which I had in fact translated but not transferred to my final file)! And changing the font, printing out hard copies, and the like don't work very well with ebooks. Maybe a BFG? But at least you can fix things afterwards if you notice a typo.

And while we're on the topic of proofreading, the links at the bottom of your post aren't working. Would you mind fixing this, since I'm sure many others are as keen as I am to read your stories? Thanks - and no offence intended, since I must do something to repair my reputation here!


Lee said...

Apologies, now the links are live! Maybe it was my computer...

Susan Price said...

Strewth, you two are early risers! I'm only at my blog this early because I'm at De Montfort Uni - and I've just been round the back of the blog with a spanner, fixing the links, Lee. Hope they work now. The reason they didn't, is my internet link at home is kaput at the moment. Meant to fix them last night and - aagh! No internet. I feel bereft. At least it meant more Sterkarm work got done.

Pauline Fisk said...

Well, I'm an early riser too, and it's great to read about people going through the same grind that I've just been through. First time feels so traumatic. You make the process sound almost normal, Susan. I'm so impressed that you manage to do this without stopping the rest of your life.

Linda Gillard said...

Not an early riser, Sue, but an insomniac. I'd been awake since 4.00 when I left my comment. :-(

madwippitt said...

You say you're finishing S3? So can I put it on my Christmas list then? :-D

Love the cover for Nightcomers - but I'm curious - why is the horseshoe on it's side?

Susan Price said...

The horseshoe's on its side so it echoes the shape of the crescent moon above. It's my brother Andrew's illustration for my story 'Cold Silver' - a title given to me by a silversmith in Brum's jewellery quarter museum. I asked him about the possibility of making silver horseshoes, and he said that you wouldn't need a forge-fire as, 'It works cold.'
And Sterkarm 3 for Christmas - I wish! Next Christmas, maybe.

Dan Holloway said...

I agree with Linda about the great covers.

And be warned. That's not a stra apostrophe. It's a zombie apostrophe, part of the advance guard of a terrifying new wave of post-apocalyptic grammar...

Linda Newbery said...

Yes, these are terrific covers, Sue. (From another early riser ... )

Susan Price said...

Thanks, all of you, for the comments - and Dan, yuor zombie apostrophe made me laugh out loud!