When you’re a fledgling, self-published author you take on a lot of tasks that should probably be done by professionals. Book layout is one of those tasks. Everybody’s seen the annoying little mistakes that can plague eBooks. Typos obviously but also stuff that pops up in the jump from your document to an epub format: strange page breaks, weird distracting spaces in the middle of words. Evo Terra calls them gremlins. That’s apt: tiny critters whose small acts of sabotage can bring the whole machine crashing down.
I just finished the formatting and preview phase of my next book. It went much, much smoother than my first attempt even though it has twice as much content. Part of it’s just the learning curve. Very few people are good at something the first try. So I was happy with it and made some corrections and it looks pretty good. The problem was that, by comparison, the first one looked shoddy and slapped together. That didn’t make me happy.
A huge entry in the plus column for digital publishing is the update capability. You don’t have to live with mistakes, big or small. I had already fixed some typos, but now I went back and really worked it over. I fixed all my page breaks, added a table of contents, put some links in the outro…just made it better.
It felt damn good to not be stuck with a lesser product, but it gets better. Your readers aren’t stuck with it either. I’m using Kindle Direct Publishing right now and they have a system in place to alert readers if there’s a better version of what they bought. That’s pretty cool and might win somebody back who was turned off by an amateurish first attempt.
Really, how many times in your work do you get an actual, real life do-over? If you’re like me you’ll always cringe when someone points out a typo or other mistake. But after the face-palm, take a look and make the change. It’s an opportunity to not just improve in the future, but improve retroactively. Maybe even ret-con yourself into a professional author.