I return bearing good news.

To the North is on track to be released in December! Hurray!

It never really went off-course, per se, but I lost my optimism for a bit. There was one section I needed to rewrite completely, something that had been bothering me for months. I came up with a bandaid solution when I finished the first draft, because I didn’t want it to hold me back, but I never liked it. Trying to figure out what to do with that section was something of an albatross around my neck.

But today, I came up with a solution that works. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it better than what I had? Absolutely.

In addition to polishing the story, I’ve also had tons of fun working on the layout for the printed version of the book – and, it turns out, it will be longer than I anticipated. Right now I’m clocking in at around 315 pages. My word count estimates put it at closer to 250, but that didn’t account for specifics like font spacing and page breaks and such. Because the story has a lot of short chapters, it pads the page count a bit. This is good because it will make the book look and feel more substantial. And it looks good! I’ve created a chapter header and have set all my interior margins, and on the screen it looks very professional. Like, a real book. Like, I wrote a real book.

All that’s left now is one more thorough round of proofreading.

I know. I know. I’m supposed to hire a professional proofreader because no matter how good I think I am, I won’t catch everything. Well, you know what? Neither will they.

Right now I’m reading Shift by Hugh Howey, the second omnibus in his Silo series. Howey is kind of the golden boy success story in self-publishing, for those who are unaware. My copy of Shift is a print-on-demand, similar to what I will be using for To the North. By the time he wrote and published Shift, Howey had already experienced runaway success with the first installment in the series. I have no doubt he had a proofreader on this book. And although I’m only 100 pages in, I’ve already found 4 typos. I’ve also found a few other formatting things that just seem like laziness – like the page numbers counting from the title page instead of the first page of the story, and some missing paragraph margins. The kinds of things that I spent hours looking over yesterday.

I’ve gone back and forth on this a thousand times, and I finally decided that I would rather do it myself. That way, if there’s a mistake, it’s my mistake. I can own it. Even if I handed it over to a proofreader I would still go over their changes with a fine tooth comb, so what’s the point?

Will I regret this? Maybe. But if To the North explodes in a fireball of failure, I doubt a typo or two will be the reason.

By next week, I will upload the text to create my first proof of the print version of the book. I want to give myself plenty of time to receive the hard copies and make adjustments as necessary, and then schedule it for release in advance. I want to have it all set up and ready to go ahead of time so I can release the eBook version and have the print version available the same day. That means, in a couple of weeks, I’ll have a hard copy of my first novel in my hands! That’s an exciting thought!

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