I dropped the ball with Motors of Keldora. Badly. I want to take a moment to address what happened, and make sure everyone knows what I’ll be doing going forward so it doesn’t happen again. I also want to lead with telling you all that this is not me whinging or making excuses. This is an explanation, and what I’m doing for the future.
So, if you’ve already read it, you probably know the end result. The book was published in what is a, quite frankly, unacceptable state. What you’re probably wondering is how and why.
So let’s rewind. December of last year. I decided to put up Motors for an early pre-order set for the second Monday in February. My goal is 3 months between sequels in a series, so that was about the right time between Trains and Motors, I had the cover ready, and it seemed like an ideal time to publish. I also was curious what impact a longer pre-order period would have on sales, as opposed to my usual “one week before launch pre-order strategy.” On top of that, in January I was publishing Dragonflame, a book that had already been written, so I had plenty of time to finish the book.
Or so I thought.
Several things happened in my life during that period that ate up more time than I expected. Since this is not me making excuses, I won’t go into them – especially because I had an option. I could have pushed back the pre-order to a later week. While it would have been less than ideal to break a pre-order date that was already set, that would have been a much better option than releasing the book in the state I did.
But I didn’t. It didn’t even occur to me to move the release date. Which meant I was frantically writing the book right before it published. I finished the first draft the day before the deadline to submit to Amazon.
Which meant I had 24 hours to edit the book.
A bit about my editing process: I write in “events,” each event ranging between 5-20 thousand words depending on the book and series. When I go to edit, I first run the book through various spell checking programs, and then I have a Speech-to-Text program read the book back to me. I then I give the book one final read through to make sure I caught everything reasonable. Then I paste each event into a master document, compile, and submit.
And with 24 hours left, that’s not possible.
I didn’t have time to give it a final read through. The only way I had time to complete the Speech-to-Text was by doubling the speed it was read to me – which garbled several sections of the book. Then I had to paste them into the final document and submit to Amazon as the deadline approached.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering how part of Chapter 22 ended up after Chapter 27, that’s why – chapter 22 was the end of event 5, chapter 27 was the end of event 6. When I pasted in my blind frenzy, I noticed a minor error in chapter 22, made a quick fix, moved my cursor, then pressed the keyboard shortcut to paste.
You’ll note that I did not click after the quick fix. Meaning it pasted into the middle of chapter 23.
A new version of Motors has been uploaded, with the majority of mistakes fixed. As for how it first published, I have nothing to say but I am sorry. There are several things I could have done better with this whole thing, and they are things I will be doing going forward.
So, what are they?
For starters, I have gotten Beta readers. As I finish each Event, I send it to them to look over. That means I’m not writing and then editing a whole book, but editing the book as I go. Which covers two mistakes I’ll be correcting going forward. One is relying too heavily on my own eyes to edit my own book. The other is writing an entire book then editing with the time I have left.
Speaking of time – I don’t see the confluence of circumstances that happened to delay my ability to write Motors for most of a month happening again, but in the event that they do, I will push back the pre-order rather than sending it out. If that means Amazon blocks me from pre-orders for a period, so be it. I will never again be publishing a book in that state, and I think most readers would prefer a book that comes later but is of higher quality to one that is on time but is a repeat of what happened here.
I’ve also invested in some higher quality editing programs as opposed to relying on free programs. No editing program is perfect, and many of them give feedback that is just incorrect, but they still catch errors I’d have no hope of catching on my own.
These steps will also help fix other problems I’ve had in the past. I’m bad with homophones and making the bulk of my editing being Text-to-Speech doesn’t help with that. The beta readers will catch some of those, others will be caught by the program, and many of them will just be caught by the fact that I am going to have a longer editing process.
Finally, as soon as I am financially able to, I’ll also be hiring professional editing services. At this time, that is beyond my means, but once that changes, I’ll absolutely be taking that last critical step.
Thank you to everyone who sent me feedback to help me catch and fix errors. I haven’t been able to respond to all of you because the feedback was immense, but I have incorporated those fixes to the draft. A revised version has been uploaded to Amazon, and an update is being pushed to Kindle devices that fixes the error with the chapters being out of order. Per Amazon customer service, that change should take place at some point Monday 02/15. Many of the typos have also been fixed in that version – I’d estimate 90% have been caught between my own reading, two particular beta readers going over the sections that were the roughest, (Thank you both Casey and Aly, you’re lifesavers), and running it through my new premium editing software. As feedback keeps coming in and I keep editing it myself, I’ll upload fixes, but Amazon will only force live to readers if the errors were major – like, for example, chapters being out of order.
Thank you as well to everyone who read the book. I am sorry I gave you a book that’s beneath the standards of quality I have published so far, and I promise you that I will do better going forward.
Oh, and as I final note – I post serial content as well on my website, on Reddit and on my Patreon. I am still trying to figure out what level of editing before posting is best for those platforms. I’m currently leaning towards switching how I post on those platforms. Right now I’m inclined to finish the full event edit, and post it once the event is finished. This will make a regular update schedule impossible, given how event length can vary and that I’ll be waiting for feedback before posting…but if I’m being honest, I’m terrible at regular schedules anyway. Instead, you’ll get much longer updates that are of a higher quality than what I’ve been posting so far. If you do read in one of those places, let me know what you’d prefer.
Thank you again.