DISCLAIMER: I have not published anything yet, so don't read this post. It's horrible, horrible. Because, what do I know? How can I even talk about publishing if I haven't gone through the whole process? Still reading? You really are?!? OK. Here is what prompted this - I've read too many indie books that were not ready, and got fed up. My dearest fellow writers, please PLEASE don't publish if you're not ready. Here is why:
Not only will I abandon your book, I will abandon your name. I know this sounds harsh, and I know that once I'm published, there will be people who will hate my book because, for them, it's wrong genre or tone or subject, and that's totally fine. I can't please everyone. But this is not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about little things, like proper formatting and beautiful cover design and no spelling errors or repetitions or continuity lapses or boring paragraphs. And, above all, a clean story that's easy to follow. I'm a good girl, I will honestly try reading your book, but at some point my patience will run out and I will toss it. And I'll never pick up another book that you wrote. So don't lose me as a reader. Please.
Don't lie to me, I'll never believe you again. I know those moments when I skip ahead in my writing simply because I'm too lazy to dive in deeper and really REALLY think. Or I'm too scared, or I have to run to pick up my son from school and rush it, whatever the reason. Well, guess what, as a reader I see those places in your book too. It's ok for little things, but not ok for big ones. For example, don't tell me your main character loves her husband, rushes home to him, and then never even talks to him, or they exchange only a sentence or two. I don't believe you now! You got me frustrated, and I'll toss your book aside. You knew the story wasn't ready, and I knew you knew. Double-fail.
You're doing a disservice to other indie authors. Now that I've been burned by your book, I'll be very VERY cautious about picking up another indie book. That's bad karma. We all want to support each other (mind you, this comes from a writer who doesn't even know if she'll go traditional or indie). I want to read great books, I do, I do! But you got me scared. I don't want to waste my time on bad writing. I want to learn, and I want to learn from good stuff and from the masters. See what you did? So, don't. Please, don't. You don't need an editor to tell you that - in your heart, you know. You know when it needs to sit a little longer and you're simply frustrated and want to get it done. It takes time. If it's no good, don't publish it at all. Which leads me to the next point.
A bad book will stain you for years. In my long gone past life, I used to help start-ups with branding, and I'll tell you what an author's name is. It's a personal brand. Everything you say goes either for you or against you. There is no middle ground, so you have to be very careful about what you say. And a book has many MANY words, it's hard to erase them once they're out. However, there is a way to turn around the negative impression you made, make it work to your advantage. Companies do it all that time. You know what it is? Simple. APOLOGIZE. Guess what, not many authors do, can or want. Not many will simply admit to being overexcited and publishing too fast. And that's a pity. Because we love the underdog and we will forgive you if you only ask!
BUT!!! Having said all this, there are always mistakes that we, readers, don't mind glossing over. Because the characters are awesome. Because the story is good. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect story, but there is such a thing as a perfect emotion. We all feel. And if you, the writer, will make us FEEL, we'll be happy.
Back to the point. If it's not a good idea to publish when you're NOT READY, then how do you know when you ARE READY? And the answer to this is, *drumroll*, I don't know! (Sorry, it's not 42.) I haven't done this yet, I have no clue. Some things I've picked up here and there, and I think there is a vague idea brewing in my mind. Brewing. I'll be posting on the publishing progress here, rest assured. Feel free to disagree or to doubt or to share your wisdom in the comments.