How to self-publish in two hundred thousand steps

Writing:  This is the fun bit.  The bit I can do.  The bit where I get to create, where I get to be someone else, where I get to think big Important Thoughts about the universe.  It’s the bit where I get to experience freedom, where I get to fly (the rest of the time the ground is so unsteady under my feet I can hardly move).

Editing:  I love editing.  I love hauling huge chunks of text around (sometimes from one book in my Fleet series to another).  I love slashing paragraphs to bits.  I love turning ashen pages into brilliant multifaceted gems.  I love attacking the plot from a hundred different angles.  I’ve even edited from the last chapter to the first just to watch the plot fold back into the envelope.  I don’t think in drafts.  The editing process is part of the writing process – I do it during writing AND after writing.  I do continuous edits.  I do plot edits.  I do character edits.  I do a Big Edit when I’m done.  I do Another Big Edit a few years later….because, frankly, I’m never done.  There is no “done.”  There’s only published.

Employing an editor:  This is the bit that fills me with horror NOT because I don’t like the idea of someone inspecting my writing with a microscope.  In fact, I’m desperate for microscopic inspection.  I want those clumsy sentences (that I can no longer see) pointed out.  I wanted spelling nitpicked and typos spotted.  I want plot holes (God forbid) exposed.  I want to be edited.  BUT I can’t afford it.  Simple as that.  I’ve heard a good editor costs £5 for 1000 words.  That’s £750 for Transference.  I don’t have £750.  I don’t have enough money to buy my daughter decent shoes.  I have a tiny job and live in constant fear of the DHS’s next dastardly decision.  Where am I going to get £500 – £1000 from?  A grant?!  More than anything I want to be professional in everything I do.  The world of self-publishing is full of speed written garbage.  I want to soar above the garbage.  I want to fly.  I want to be free.

And on that point I think I might just leave the other 199 997 steps to self-publishing.  All the rigours of proofreading, formatting, designing a cover (again, to pay or not to pay), writing a blurb, uploading…they are rice crispies compared to the vast mountain range of Financial Impoverishment.

Are there any problems in the universe which don’t boil down to this one single factor?  Even bad sex and the Higgs bosom are connected to money.  If you give me another decade (and a grant), I’ll work out why.


[With many thanks to Writing Magazine Aug 2012]


About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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