A Note on Self-Publishing

A few thoughts on the beauty and inherent imperfections that accompany the publishing your own novels.


David Lalonde

9/14/20233 min read

My first novel, Death of a Millionaire, is in the Amazon queue now, waiting for their final review (up to 72 hours they say ... I am impatiently hoping it takes less). I have the draft copy and .... forgive me for my vanity ... it looks great. I'm informed by my bias for real, tangible books; I just love them and the fact that I wrote this one feels good. So, my wife left it on the kitchen table today, and I picked it up ... with trepidation. I knew I was going to find an error or two. It's inevitable. And, I found a few, but what struck me most was that after reading the novel over again, ad nauseum, I found myself laughing at things I had written, and getting a little choked up at others, and even feeling a sense of awe that I had written some things that I think are rather profound. Where the hell did they come from?

I did my own editing and proofreading, aided by Grammarly and 30 years of editing my own judicial authorizations (read search warrant applications here), which I knew would be under the scrutiny of the Court, often at the highest level. So, why didn't I hire an editor (they have different ranks ... who cares) and/or a proofreader? Was it just the money, (not that much in the grand scheme of things)? Was it the fact that even professionally edited books have on average two errors for every 5,000 words (don't bother fact-checking me on that)? In the end, here's why, and I will explain this in my own way, using the habit I have developed of using analogies (yup, I used using twice in one sentence ... really, who gives a shit?).

So, here goes with my analogy. I love John Prine. I especially love his song Dear Abby, because, amongst other lines, he talks about his stomach grumbling when he gets nervous; mine does too, embarrases the hell out of me but it's become like an old friend. Well, in the middle of the song, John Prine fucks up the lines. Yep, a professional musician who has sung this song probably hundreds of times, and he messes up his own lyrics. Well, it makes the song! Then it struck me, I love live performances better than the finished studio product. I love to listen to Bruce Springsteen struggle at points in his acoustic stuff, or how Johnny Cash has this quirky (but fabulous) strum pattern. Sara Harmer sings the same verse twice in a live performance, and even the ultimate master and professional, Frank Sinatra, sang the same song, twice in a row during a live performance. You got a problem with that? You tell him.

Famous editors like Max Perkins criticized one of the finest novelists of the 20th century, James Jones, for his grammar, tone, and use of language. He refused to cave in. That's how people talk and think, he believed. Hemingway's sentences were too short, he was too hyper-macho. James Joyce's Ulysses didn't make sense (unless you knew what he was driving for). Shakespeare's versus don't rhyme. Daniel Steele writes the same thing over and over again. You don't like them: don't read them. You'd be in the minority though. If you want perfect read Munson Danielburger: the grammar, tone, voice, tense and spelling are perfect - and you'd be alone, (okay, I made him/her up, but you get the idea ... perfect ain't what sells).

So, if you read my novel, and I hope you do, I hope you will realize that I wrote it as an opportunity to share snippets of some of the wonderful people I have known. I hope you will see them, and perhaps some of yourself in the characters. I hope that if you find an error, and you will, that you consider the wonderful raconteurs you may have known, maybe a beloved friend or family member, and ask yourself if you didn't get as much out of how they told the story (with it's imperfections) as the story itself.

Mostly, I selfishly wanted this novel to be my own. I wanted to tell you a story in my own way, with blemishes and imperfections. I wanted my voice to be purely my own. And that's what you are getting.

Anyway, if you don't like errors, I don't give refunds. Take me as I am: that's how I take you.


p.s. if there are errors in this post I made them on purpose