Page Numbers vs. My Sanity (Plus an excerpt from my new book!)

In the span of an afternoon, I was angry, depressed, despondent, violent, lethargic, contemplative, and resigned. I could have thrown my tablet and keyboard out the window. I would gladly have watched it disappear into the green oblivion that is the Italian valley, stretching out before me from the rooftop terrace of this beautiful house sit. Give me a reason to change my profession, I demanded of the universe. Anything will do.

Writing a book is hard work. Self-publishing is harder.

This is not my first rodeo. I published my science fiction short story first, as an ebook in October 2014. I have since published three riders and a full-length novel in my young adult fantasy series in both ebook and paperback forms. Each time I have learned something valuable about the publishing process.

For “Shattering the Mirror” I wanted something special. I am extremely proud of this work and I wanted to give it a quality presentation. I have gone out of my way to create a cover and to format the book correctly. I had it all laid out and ready months ago. I shipped a proof copy to an editor and writer friend to review. She had some suggestions and I researched the best ways to improve my book.

Despite the great pains I went through to design the cover and format the book correctly, it all seemed to be unraveling, just weeks before the book release.

I have spent hours upon hours working on the formatting. Page numbers defied me. Preloaded book templates failed me. The cover I hired someone to create ended up being utterly unusable, even after a week of corresponding and communicating my very specific requirements.

I found myself asking fundamental questions about what I believed when it came to creating my art. Namely, what is the most important part of what I’m doing?

A lot of people will not read self-published books because they believe them to be of a lower quality. If I give up on my formatting and take the easy route – leaving the numbers a hair sloppy – am I feeding that notion? Or am I saying that my art, my words, are more important than the presentation? Should I try to mimic the quality and expectations of traditionally published books? Or should I take advantage of the freedom offered to me through self-publishing?

And finally: WILL ANYONE ELSE EVEN NOTICE THESE PAGE NUMBERS, OR AM I LOSING MY SANITY FOR NO REASON?!?!

I have observed in myself a level of stress that I had not experienced since I began my life as a nomadic backpacker. How fascinating. Formatting, you guys. Cover designs. FREAKING PAGE NUMBERS.

Someone pour me a drink.

And yet, even in my most stressful moments, I am glad to be crawling under the blankets at 2pm to scroll through Pinterest because I’m angry at myself for not knowing all the intimate details of how to best pursue my dreams, than because of any other reason. I used to do that same thing after getting off a shift working at a job I hated. Progress is progress. I’ll take it.

I may not have answers on formatting, but at least I am in a place to be asking the questions.

 


 

We are a week and a half away from the release of “Shattering the Mirror”!

This week, I’ve decided to share the longest excerpt:

Soon you will all be able to read the rest!

If you enjoy narrative-style essays, poetry collections, or prose, and also want to help support the arts, consider joining me on Patreon. For as little as $1/month you can read exclusive works released only to my supporters. Find out more at patreon.com/cmcoxwrites

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