I began the editing on my Macs – the Pro when I was at home, the Air when I was elsewhere. At that point, I still wanted to be in Scrivener in case structural edits were needed: scenes that needed to happen earlier or later in the story.
I also used my Macs to incorporate feedback from alpha and beta readers. Alpha readers were subject-matter experts (airline pilot, aircraft engineer, software developers and so on), who could identify any technical errors or omissions. Beta readers were technothriller fans who provided more general feedback on the story itself.
I sent them PDFs of the novel which I asked them to annotate. I could then edit with the annotated PDF on the left of my screen, the novel in Word on the right, making it easy to search for phrases in order to make the necessary edits.
But when it came to my own edits, most especially getting a feel for how well the story flowed, I wanted to actually read it as a book, not as a document on a computer screen. I thus turned it into an EPUB file so I could load it into iBooks on my iPad. I also formatted it as a paperback and got a few proof copies printed through a print-on-demand service. I could then experience reading it as a book in both ebook and paper forms.
This, I found, made a big difference. I found that there were sections where I got a little carried away with my fascination for the technical details, and where it made sense to simplify and shorten. I also found sections where the opposite was true: where I could heighten the tension by going into a little more detail about one scene before switching viewpoint.
When reading on my iPad, it made sense to make the edits on it too (opening the novel in Pages). And when reading the paperback, the instant on/off of the iPad made that a more convenient devices than a Mac to incorporate the edits from that.
So the process of planning, writing and editing the novel saw it variously take form as a Scrivener document, Word file, PDF, EPUB book and Pages document.
Once finally edited (eight drafts in all), it was time to think about getting it in front of readers. I initially had a fairly big-name agent (a story you can read over on Kickstarter), but the tl;dr version is that I eventually figured self-publishing was likely to be faster and probably net me a similar return.
The technical side of self-publishing isn’t too challenging for the average 9to5Mac reader. You need to get to grips with converting between a bunch of different file formats, and even techies will probably find life easier with some ebook creation software designed for the job, but it’s not rocket science.
What is rocket science is figuring out how you get people to find out that the book even exists. A VIP subscription to BiblioCrunch gets you email consultancy and access to a sizeable collection of really useful info and links among them services to publicize your book. These services range in cost from $99 up to four-figure sums. It was clear that some seed capital would be handy. Kickstarter was an obvious way to raise that seed money, with the added benefit of also providing some initial publicity itself.
I spoke with Maris Kreizman, who is in charge of Kickstarter’s publishing projects, to find out how viable a platform it is for self-publishing. The answer was pretty encouraging, with over 6,000 projects launched,with around a third of them getting funded.
The difference, says Kreizman, is largely one of presentation. Although you’re pitching a book, you still need visuals and video. And rewards should all be related to the book, rather than merchandising like t-shirts and the like.
Kreizman also warned that many publishing projects had failed to do their shipping sums properly, hence my decision not to offer a standard paperback as I could see that shipping costs could easily result in a loss. I also figured that the majority of technothriller fans were likely to want the novel in ebook form anyway.
As with conventional publishing, you shouldn’t expect it to be retiring anytime soon, but the Kickstarter generated enough seed money to buy a chunk of promotion, which will hopefully pay off when I launch on iBooks and Amazon in ebook form next month and paperback in July (once Kickstarter backers have gotten their copies first).