This article will not be covering elements of my story, nor will I be talking about my process like I usually do on this page. Instead I am going to share with you a story of my failures that started shortly before I decided to go down the self-publishing route back in 2015. By the end I hope you learn a thing or two about what to do and what not to, maybe by reading this you’ll avoid the errors I made and get a head start on your own writing journey. Without belittling any of my previous publications on this site, I feel like this one is the most important to date. The best way I’ve found to address an issue of importance or an error, is to start from where the mistake was first made. So lets begin.
As some of you know I traveled Europe during the last five or so months of 2015, starting out on the 21st July. I saw a great number of countries in such a short space of time, that I have to seriously pick my brains when reviewing old photographs, to learn where some were taken. It was a great experience in general, full of its own ups and downs, successes and hardships. It is easier to name the countries I didn’t visit opposed to those I did travel to because the list is significantly smaller, for example I didn’t go to Spain, Italy or Switzerland. The reason being was not due to time, toward the end of the adventure I could have easily spent at least a couple of days in such countries before I headed back to France, to complete the last leg of my trip back to the UK. No, the reason being for not visiting these countries was simply due to lack of funds. I traveled very cheaply with my girlfriend, sleeping in her tent or in cheap hostels, eating the bare minimal and catching the cheapest buses and trains from A to B, we even spent a lot of our time hitch hiking from place to place to save as much money as we possibly could.
Months before leaving for Europe, I had gotten in touch with an editor who worked overseas in America. I dropped her an e-mail explaining a thing or two about the project I had going on, that I was interested in her editorial services and if she could help me while I was away on this trip from mid July till mid December. Before you publish anything, no matter how hard you work on it prior yourself, it is vital, imperative even that you get the work edited and proofread before you go and release it. A good editor will not only clean up your manuscript, going over your grammar and spellchecking every word, but he or she will reduce the word count and deliver your story in a constructive layout which best suits your readers. I have been searching for an editor for years, some have offered to service my work for as high as ten thousand pounds! Others went as low as two thousand (utterly ridiculous) even after I had explained to them my financial situation, which can be summarised in just one, short, rude word…Shit!…I find it astounding that some editors of today even bother to reply with such offers after learning about my current situation. One reply even had the cheek to say “We can reduce ten thousand pounds to eight thousand” I couldn’t bring myself to reply after I had recovered from a cracked rib due to endless amounts of laughter. It doesn’t take a genius to work out how much an aspiring writer, living in Oxford, working in retail has to spend on an editing service, you really don’t need much intellect, but still, if they can get away with it they’ll try. So you can understand the thrill when this keen editor from American, offered to go over Book One – Volume One for just $410 (£312.92p) on a half now, half on completion basis, it doesn’t seem like much but it is when you have a traveling budget to consider and stupidly high bills to pay. Needless to say I was overjoyed.
Without letting my excitement get the better of me, I decided to keep in touch with this woman for a while (a woman who will remain nameless throughout this article) just to talk with her about the details. The e-mails I sent to her over a period of about a month were received and replied to relatively quickly, they lacked length and cut right to the chase, I even noticed the odd spelling error here and there but I figured this was just due to the fact that she was busy and had lots of clients to deal with, so I didn’t think much of it. I really wanted to send her my final draft of Volume One before I set out on my travels to Europe, but I had to wait until my final paycheck cleared on the 28th July 2015 to be able to get the ball rolling, also I was travelling so far and so fast I rarely stopped at internet cafes. It wasn’t until late August, the 28th from what my e-mails tell me, that I actually had the chance to sign the contract and send the required funds, never the less, I managed it and sent her everything she needed all the way from Krakow, Poland. Seeing as I wasn’t returning to the UK for quite sometime, I gave her a large extension on her usual time limit, more than enough time to complete the project. With that weight lifted, I could relax and know that when I returned to the UK in December, not only would I be seeing my family again over Christmas, but there would be an edited copy of Volume One waiting for me, this didn’t stop me from brainstorming ideas however, over four notebooks as I traveled. If you have time, check out one of my previous blogs called The Notebook.
I returned to the UK and arrived home in Wales on the 22nd December 2015, I wished my editor a Merry Christmas and explained that I wouldn’t be able to pay her the final sum until I had moved back to Oxford, found myself a job and had settled into a new house, all this takes time, effort, energy and patience. This project has been in the works for over a decade so patience was something I had nailed. I set myself back up in Oxford, found myself two jobs and worked day and night to save up enough money to pay my bills which were raised after the second month of being in my new house. Eventually the time had come, I had saved up the money, I had designed my own front cover for the Kindle Release, I reworked the synopsis, announced on all my social media feeds that the first Volume of the first Book was on its way, coming in April 2016. My marketing campaign was strong thanks to my Promotional Teaser Trailer that can be found on Youtube, put together by the talented Oliver Richards and voiced wonderfully by Emma Charlotte Brown (link to the trailer will be found below)…FINALLY, a deadline had been set, it was all coming together. I paid the final sum on the 28th February 2016. Eager to get the work up and live, I just had to wait til she sent my work. She assured me it had been done, she had even asked to see the Graphics for the front cover. After hearing nothing back from her, I sent her a follow up e-mail, asking politely where the work was? Bear in mind sometimes I had to send two of the same e-mails twice, just to make sure she got them. I learned through an automated response that she was not going to be near her e-mail list from the 29th Feb through to the 6th March, and that she would send any relating work to her clients as soon as possible on her return. At this point, I am a master of practicing patient, so I waited…And waited. I sent her another e-mail on the 10th March, saying that I was getting rather concerned about the whereabouts of my work, that I have finished the marketing, that a deadline has been set, and that I need to review what she had edited, this again takes time and energy, among other things I figured I needed about a month of review time, I was on the clock. I received an e-mail in quick response, it said that her Grandmother was feeling sick and had been rushed into hospital, my editor had jumped on a plane but had left her laptop behind. Once again, I was left in the dark after this news, with no guarantee that I would receive my work on time to make the deadline. However, I understand that family, that health comes first, I know that life has a way of complicating things and getting in the way of our passions, there are definitely more important things to life when all things considered.
After nine days of nothing at all, I write her a lengthy e-mail on the 19th March, an e-mail expressing my concern for her families sake and that I hoped everything was alright, but I also expressed concern for our business, a little clarification was all I needed, a suggestion of a time frame perhaps, anything! This was when I started to notice a few things over the course of working with my editor from America, I would always put time and effort into my e-mails, they were always well constructed, covering each and every topic at hand in a very professional manner, always I was sure to highlight, underline, bullet point or include photos and references to certain things making sure that what I wrote was well understood, and was sure she had everything she needed. Where as when I looked at her e-mails over the course of our business, her e-mails were loaded with spelling errors, in length some were as long as only a few sentences. I felt like I was wasting my time, that I was chasing a ghost, that I was being conned, I do not want to think that my editor was making all this up, who uses sick family members to cover up a scam? Even scam artists have ways to get out of sticky situation without involving family. That is a horrible thing to do and extremely low. Her response to my lengthy e-mail can be summed up in a few lines, all the e-mails are saved in my inbox but there is no way I am going to post them for all to see on here, but in short it said…Her Grandmother had died, she was unable to revive her, how sorry she is for not staying in touch, and how she keeps work separated from social media and all other communicative forms…Once I read through the paragraph I wrote back right away, I wished her all my sympathies and left it at that. I know what it’s like to lose family members, it’s something we all have to deal with eventually in our lives, the last thing I wanted to do was bombard her with messages, but once again, she left me with absolutely nothing to go on.
On the 30th March, I sent her an e-mail, asking her for a rough time and date where she could deliver my work, the deadline had been set, April was my time frame. When no response came I e-mailed again, and then again. On the third attempt a response finally came. Apparently the weather was too bad for flying out on, that snows have been coming in and it’s impossible to go anywhere, so I drew from my patience bucket once again and waited. On the 5th April, I repeated the questions; Where is my work? Is it going to be sent soon? Always, I remember to be polite, patient and understanding. My editor e-mails me from hospital, she has to go in for major surgery, that’s right major surgery out of the blue. What happened was, she was on her way to the airport when something went wrong with her and she was rushed to hospital. She sent me a couple of photographs of her in hospital, from a bed and wrote me one final e-mail from her mobile, she stated how sorry she was, that I should just carry on the work without her…I decided to prep what work I had, and published The Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream – Volume One on the 14th April (my elder brothers birthday) 2016. The first free book promotion went live on the 27th April (my younger brothers birthday) for a day.
So that’s the story. Obviously I did not cover every e-mail, I did not cover a lot of the little details but I highlighted as best I could the key points of my interaction with this editor from America. Once again, I was always sure to write with professionalism, honesty and never forgot to be polite and understanding. I did attempt to make communication easier, we live in an age where communication is everything, so at the end of most of my e-mails, I left my mobile number, my Facebook and Twitter names. Maybe what she went through was indeed all true, it’s impossible to know for sure, or maybe it was a con? Arguments can be made for both cases but the fact of the matter is, is that I signed a contract, I paid her in full under tight conditions living up to my end of the agreement, I even gave her an extended period of time to work in and I received nothing but short, poorly written e-mails, a lack of enthusiasm and a string of set back after set back. The last e-mail I wrote to her I got an automated response, once again it felt like it had been rushed, many spelling errors occurred throughout, but it said coming from the editors mother…She is in a coma…There was no number I could call, no other outlet I could reach to discuss loose ends, it was very inconclusive, very abrupt and lead to a dead end. Once again, this could be true or maybe it’s not. I will make one more attempt in the future to reach out, but I very much doubt I will get further than this. Should all this be true, and my editor was telling the absolute truth, then my thoughts will be with her family and friends.
With that aside, The Utopian Dream – Volume One is in fact being looked over by a good friend of mine, who has experience with editing and creative writing, hopefully before September I will be able to re-release Volume One in a style which does it justice. Problems with it have been brought to my attention and I have made updates since its release to improve quality. Although most of my feedback is positive, the negative feedback stems from the simple fact that its NOT been professionally edited, this had all been explained in a little disclaimer called; Notes to the Reader before the beginning of the book. I cannot afford to pay the editor I hired who did Volume Two, because my bank account is wrapped up with my Australia fund, but for those of you who have bought, borrowed or stolen Volume One, please please please be aware that the new edited version is coming, that the story you hold is still within the pages, that huge amounts of time and effort has been dedicated to deliver you the start of something wonderful, exciting and exhilarating. For those of you STILL waiting for the Paperback, I have not forgotten, once again it boils down to money and bringing you the very best version of the story. If you have your own patience buckets, now would be the time to draw from them as I have been doing for a decade. Its been a rocky start, it was always going to be troublesome and problematic, but the process will inevitably get smoother as I progress, and I assure you that I plan to carry on with this Odyssey ALL THE WAY!
Thank you for reading. As always if you have a question you’d like to ask me, if you found this article or any of my others helpful please feel free to drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @MegasTeque for quotes and updates. I’ve been getting a lot of messages in regards to the release of Book One – Volume Two, both Volumes can be found in The Amazon Store, the link is listed directly below. The image displayed does not belong to me nor anyone for that matter, it is used as an example to teach kids how to draw. Again, thank you for visiting, your time spent here is greatly appreciated.
To The Amazon Store