The Frustrations of Perfectionism


Warren Beatty says of directing that you never finish a movie, you just let it go.
I’m starting to feel that the same must be true of self-publishing a book.

At what point do you look at your proof copy and say, “good enough!”?

I’m very frustrated today.  There were glitches in the eBook that had to be fixed by my layout artist and after not hearing from him for two days, I just found out that he’s been in the hospital with food poisoning.  He has my heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery.  He assures me that he’ll be back in the game tomorrow, and he’s so good and fast that I have no doubt he will be.

Now, with the latest proof copy from CreateSpace, I am disappointed to see that the print still appears light on the page, almost gray.  CS has done an investigation into this, and determined that it is printing at 100% black, but because of the font, it isn’t as heavy when printed on paper.   Changing the font would be like a page-one rewrite of the layout (which I love), so I don’t want to do that, and the book is perfectly readable, but it bums me out a little.  Could this make a difference to readers?  I don’t know.

I’ve gone back to the layout artist (in his food-poisoned haze) and inquired if the font can be made heavier without changing the spacing on the page, so we’ll see what he comes back with.  Fingers crossed that something can be done.

If not, I have to make a tough decision.  I’ve already started marketing the book through several personal and professional channels, with the intent that it be available this week, but (sigh…) that is probably not going to happen.  Maybe I have to accept that perfection is not in the realm of mankind, and, Like Mr. Beatty and his movies, let it go.

There is a section in the book about being right vs. being happy.  Now I have to choose between being perfect and being published.  If you’ve been down this road, let me know what you chose, and how it worked out.  Thanks!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 thoughts on “The Frustrations of Perfectionism

  • Janet Harvey

    Haha, I know the feeling. 🙂 As somebody who has worked in book publishing I can tell you – it’s important to make your book easy to read, and you’ll regret it if you go ahead with printing an unreadable book just because you liked the layout. This is the reason they have proofs – so you’re not surprised by glitches like this after you’ve paid for the printing. Let your layout artist recover and redo the font. Chances are, if you loved what he did with it the first time, you’ll love what he does with it again!

    • speakhappiness

      Amazingly, one minute after I posted this article, I got an email from the layout artist with a new version that increases the outline around the letters, without changing the font or spacing at all, and it looks 1000% better. I am ordering a new proof now. So thrilled that this was easily fixable. Still pushes publication back by several days, but I can live with that. Thanks for the advice. I needed to hear it!

  • C.B. McCullough

    I was conflicted about hitting the “Like” button on this post. There should be a “Sympathize” button instead– but judging by the comment above, at least some of your woes have been cleared up!
    Having just recently gone through Createspace, I know firsthand how a tiny issue can be compounded and cause exponential problems. Thankfully, it only took me two proofs to arrive at a satisfactory product. When it comes out right, they really do good work.
    Thanks for the post! A nice reminder that there are others out there going through the same struggles.

  • lnahay

    I’m curious- what does your layout artist do for you? I’m about to self-publish (with CreateSpace) as well, and am trying to coordinate everything I need to complete. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    • speakhappiness

      The layout artist designed the interior of the book — the Chapter front pages, the headers, other flourishes. Also, because my book has exercises in it for the reader and tables with examples, he set those off graphically in a way that CreateSpace would accept. I got the first proof copy and loved it, except for the gray look to the font. I also found a few typos I had missed. The second proof had the same gray look to the font, so I asked CreateSpace to look into it. They investigated and said it was right, so I asked the layout artist if anything could be done without changing the font and he sent me another draft in about 45 seconds saying that he’d “increased the outline on the letters” (whatever that means), and it looks so much better. I can even tell the difference on the screen.

      In addition to all of this, he did the .mobi and ePub versions, so those were accepted instantly without needing a lot of back and forth for format or technical reasons. I am one of those people who would rather pay a professional to do something and have it look amazing than be on a learning curve and do it myself and have it look so-so, especially for my first book. I found Ramesh on, and he’s done all of this for $200, which to me is money very well spent. The interior of my book looks like something from a major publisher, and I am really proud of it.

      • lnahay

        I didn’t know this was done until finding your blog, and then found an article about it on facebook. I agree- given we’re self publishing and the stigma we’re fighting against, there’s avenues that are money well spent to ensure our books look as good as we’ve written them. Hearing that you’re happy with his work is great to hear. I think my biggest worry is my book looking as though I’d done it myself- and poorly. Thank’s for answering my question! I wish you success with your book!

  • bowiefan1970

    A writer friend of mine showed me her Createspace book the other day. The right hand pages of the book looked like they were printed with grey ink, and some of it was so light it was illegible. Also, she showed me that the top of the book was cut at a slight angle instead of straight, so the top of the spine slanted down from one side to the other. I use Lightning Source and have had no such quality issues. Good luck…

  • hillaryrettig356l

    Valerie – as a professional whose specialty is helping people overcome perfectionism AND as an indie published author I think you made the right choice! copyediting and formatting my book was a real trial and took way longer than expected.

    Like Bowiefan above I used Lightning Source and no problem with printing. BUT prior to that when I got the printed proofs I was shocked to find the font too small. This problem was not evident on the numerous screen proofs I checked. I decided to just proceed – like you I had already started to market. (Plus it would have required reformatting the whole book and my designer would have killed me.)

    Another way to look at this is that, although you the author objects to the grey font, will readers even care? Odds are they won’t, and that’s a further reason to proceed.

    Good luck with your book – I’m sure it will be fine!