So what are the steps to success when, having weighed the pros and cons, you decide to digitally self-publish your book? Have a drink? Granted big leaps of faith require a drink or two, but no. Brag on Facebook? Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Start scheduling a string of very important black tie speaking gigs? Hardly, you are not the fricken Michelangelo of the written word just yet.
Most important, please never, ever forget this, is to write a shit hot (aka good) book. Then revise, edit, revise, repeat, get 5 different friends to edit, hire a professional, revise, repeat, stand upside down on your head, read backwards, forwards, out loud, revise, repeat. One of the major pit falls for self published authors is not having the manuscript thoroughly pulled through the bull pit in terms of accurate grammar, and thrilling plot or character development, or even just a good old fashion rearranging.
Any writer who is truly serious about putting out good content (If you want your readers to give a damn about you, you have to give a damn about them!) should hire an editor. If you cannot afford for them to do your whole manuscript I would recommend that you get enough money together so that they can look at the first 30 pages of your work. Any editor worth a grain of sand will be able to tell you most of your repetitive writing boo boos from the first 30 pages. They will be able to tell you if you have fondness for a certain word, long sentences, cliché characters, superhero dialogue or always writing there/their/they’re as ‘there’ regardless of the correct form. The editor needs to explain to you exactly why they are making these changes; if you don’t learn from the experience then you have wasted your money. From an editor looking at the first three chapters of my work I have improved my entire manuscript by at least 200%, that is how powerful this is. Writers’ centres also offer appraisal or editorial services for a very cheap cost to members.
Not only should you be making this your number one priority but you should also take at least one course on editing or barter with fellow writers for a read through. Your friends and family do not count. They are completely biased and entirely too nice to give you the real honest to god truth and in most cases, do not have a clue about what they should be looking for anyway. Underestimate the power of a good solid writers group at your own peril. Having people with different tastes, who read different genres and each with a different editing focus, will see your manuscript jump leaps and bounds without an editor.
Now don’t start giving me these predictable, “What if someone steals my idea?” excuses. If you think this way then your manuscript will in all likelihood only reach a hundredth of its potential and more often than not, will never see the light of day. You can have the world’s most fantastic idea, but if you don’t share it, it’s not going to mean a damn thing. If you do not gauge the reaction to your piece before it goes out into the big wide world of critical readers, you will be in for a rude awakening. More of a ripping your heart out awakening as opposed to a pleasant splash of a bucket of water over your head. I know many of you don’t want a single cell of bacteria, let alone a human being look at your work without it being perfect. However, if you wait for perfection you will wait forever. Writers groups are aware that every piece of writing you give them is a work in progress, it is expected, and the sooner you beat your bad writing habits out of you, the better.
Online writer and editor communities are also a fantastic place to learn the art of editing your work. While you have to weigh every comment for its relevance, you need to also consider there is always a reason behind every comment or suggestion that people make. If more than one person makes the same comment, you know it’s an area that needs looking at. At all times keeping an open mind is key.
Self-editing is the most crucial skill a writer can learn, it applies to any writing form, short stories, articles, poetry, haikus! Every piece should be taken through the ringer by yourself, and other people before you even consider publishing it. Tomorrow, I’m going to take you through the basics myself.
TOMORROW: I am going to discuss a step by step plan on how to begin self-editing your own work.