I thought I'd start a podcast, but have decided to try out instructional blogs to see how it goes, so here's the first installment. Gimme feedback.
This article assumes you’ve completed your manuscript. If not, WRITE! After self-publishing nine books, I thought I’d offer a series of comments about my experiences that might be helpful to others. I originally was going to do a PODcast, but thought I’d see what the response to blogs was first, so here goes. (This means you should respond. My skin is thick enough that I can take criticism.)
When I finished writing my first book, Sea Species, I tried to go with traditional publishing. The manuscript was BAD, so that went nowhere. Luckily, one agent kindly told me to rewrite. I did and submitted. A few agents and pub houses did send rejection notes, others never got back to me. Sea Species was a time sensitive novel with reality quickly catching up to the science fiction, so I decided to try self-publishing. I checked with a publishing house that charged to publish, known as vanity publishing. For a mere few thousand dollars they’d be happy to publish. I didn’t have a spare thousand dollars hanging about.
Amazon had a self-publishing division called Create Space. For no cost, they’d publish my book. Though the publishing was free, the submission of text and cover had to be complete and correct unless one wanted to pay for editing and cover artwork. Checking graphic artists showed me how expensive they could be. One GA took pity on me and gave me contact info for Steve Linebaugh. What a godsend he turned out to be.
After toing and froing several times, we clicked and came up with the first cover. I had several friends help me out with the editing, and I was ready. Or so I thought. Create Space was helpful in getting the formatting correct, and two weeks later the book was in my hands. I ordered a bunch. Create Space took a heavy percentage of pricing, but they have to make money somehow. Create Space has now become Kindle Publishing.
Get the work professionally edited. Whether you are submitting to an agent/publishing house, or self-publishing, it must be correct. I was embarrassed by the number of errors. You name it and it was in there–spelling, word usage, words omitted, POV changes, way too much rambling, all of it. Shop around, submit samples to see how good this editor is. I actually left some errors in to see if she would catch them. The most expensive are not necessarily the best.
Self-Edit First. After going through the work several times, including back to front reading (That keeps you from reading the story and skipping over errors), I use the Word editing tools. After hat I use Pro Writing Aid as my second line of self-editing. It’s not expensive and a full report means you are going through the work a dozen more times for each topic without reading it. I found myself changing my writing after using Pro Writing Aid.
I want to give my editor the best I can do so she isn’t focused on spelling and punctuation and helps on characters, POV, and story development. Remember, the editor is your friend and makes suggestions. You are the author but you want a great product.
Consider an editing group. I belong to and editing group. We meet weekly, read up to 10 pages after handing out copies to each of the members and each member notes comments and corrections and talks about them. It is critical that the members of your editing group are all helping each other. No room for egos. Carping or snide remarks will hurt your efforts. That means you have to take criticism as attempts to help. If that’s not the attitude, Get out. We haven’t done online editing, but there’s no reason it won’t work. I think it may be better in some ways, the members have more time to go over the submission and note comments and corrections. I did this as part of a writing class for ThrillerFest.
One important thing is that the members must have a commitment. We meet every week. There are times that some can’t make it. That’s understandable we do have lives outside of editing and writing, but chronic absences show a lack of commitment. Oust them.
Sending the MS to my editor is the last step in text preparation; I can accept or reject her recommendations,