I just finished a very informative series called Doing it Better by Polly Courtney. In this six part series, Ms. Courtney states that
“As an author looking to self-publish, what’s the number one rule? Do what publishers do, but do it better.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. I am a voracious reader and I’m always looking for new authors to try and I’m more than willing to give an indie author a go, but nothing turns me off quicker, and gives self-publishing a bad name, as a poorly delivered book. Lack of editing, poor cover design, plot holes big enough to drive a truck, and flat characters that just don’t make the cut. These are all signs of an author that rushed to publish, that didn’t take the time to do the work to ensure they were delivering the best quality product they could to their readers, or that didn’t want to make an investment in their own work in order to ensure that the quality was there.
If you are thinking of self-publishing, I highly recommend Ms. Courtney`s series. The first three parts apply to authors like myself that are just getting into the business of self-publishing. The final three parts….well, if you’re like me, you’ll watch them and laugh and think to yourself maybe someday.
Doing It Better: Editing Your Book
Doing It Better: Getting an Awesome Cover Design
Doing It Better: Publishing Your Book
Doing It Better: Getting Press Coverage
Doing It Better: Making a Book Trailer
Doing It Better: Holding an Epic Book Launch
Remember in primary school where you learned about punctuation, nouns, verbs and adverbs? Yeah, me neither. It’s all a vague recollection now. I do remember standing at the chalkboard (hmmm, am I dating myself with that? Do they even use chalkboards anymore?) staring at a sentence with no punctuation and the goal was to identify the parts of the sentence and correct the grammar. But that’s all I can remember. I can’t actually remember any of the rules I might have learned. Nope. Nada. I’ve got nothing.
You would think that being a voracious reader, I would instinctively know what is proper grammar and maybe in some ways I do. I certainly know when a particular bit of prose stinks, grammatically speaking. Some mistakes are so obvious, you wonder how an author ever let their book go to print with the error.
The main problem is that as an author you are too close to your own writing. You have read and re-read it over and over. You know what you meant to say and so you miss the glaring mistake. Reading your work out loud is a big help, but having a fresh set of eyes is the best thing to do. Beta readers are a very important cog in the wheel. Don’t try and publish without them.
I found this article online that offers some great tips about editing.
Check out The Ten Mistakes (that writers don’t see but can easily fix when they do) by Holt Uncensored.
I’ve discovered that when I’m in the ‘zone’ and writing (typing) quickly, I talk like a pirate.
“I also had two smaller knives strapped to me thigh and me ankle.”
“I pulled out me phone and brought up the map Bryce had created for me …”
See? I’m a pirate. Arrrrr!
It’s late and that’s all I have for today 🙂
Editing. I hate it.
Writing, while not easy, is fun. I get a scene going in my head and my fingers just fly across the keyboard. Sometimes, I just can’t seem to type fast enough. I’m sure there is probably some scientific study showing that whatever side of the brain is the creative side (I can’t remember off the top of my head, ha ha), kicks into full gear when I’m writing.
Editing, on the other hand, is a chore. The opposite side of the brain, the logical side, is in command and second guesses everything. The best way I have found so far to edit, is to read my words out loud. It slows the brain down and really gives you a good sense of whether a sentence sounds right. It also helps figure out where to put the damn commas, the bane of my existence as a writer.
When you are writing, your first draft, probably even your second and third drafts, are nowhere near being ready, even for your beta readers. At least if you want to keep them and not drive them crazy with all your mistakes.
To help with the editing process, I found Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King to be very useful.
I also found these 10 rules for self-editing helpful (spread out over two posts):
10 Rules on Self-Editing (pt. 1)
10 Rules on Self-Editing (pt. 2)