You’ve written, revised, edited, and designed your book. You’ve gotten peer reviews, and everything’s ready and how you want it. But what now? How do you get people to buy and read your book, and just as importantly, who’s in charge of seeing that happen?
As painful as it may be to hear, you are ultimately in charge of your marketing. That can sound like a daunting statement, considering you probably didn’t become an author to sell books. You had a message and a calling to share it with the world. Surely, other people are responsible for getting it out there?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
If you’re going the traditional-publishing route, this question probably won’t come up. The publisher arranges all of the steps of the publishing process, and your book will go through the proofreading process.
However, if you’re self-publishing, you’re probably looking for ways to cut out any unnecessary costs. A professional copyeditor has already done a thorough cleanup of your manuscript, and the book may have even gone through a designer. So, is another step really necessary?
Writing can often be a solitary practice. Even if you’re collaborating with another author, it’s probably just the two of you who see the manuscript until you finish with the first or second draft.
Eventually, though, you’ll need to get others involved in the process, from editors and proofreaders to beta readers and peer reviewers. Feedback from readers is essential to making your manuscript into something that will appeal to readers.
However, not all feedback is useful. Have you ever handed a friend or family member something you wrote, only to receive “Looks good!” or “It could use a little work” in return? That is not helpful feedback.
But often nonprofessional reviewers don’t know how to provide you with useful criticism and suggestions. So, the task of guiding them falls to you. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most from reviewers and readers.
If I asked you to make a list of the qualities of clear writing, what would go on that list? What qualities make something readable and easy to understand?
At the top of that list are probably attributes like vocabulary and tone. Maybe you included good grammar and punctuation. But for many writers, there’s one way to improve readability that doesn’t involve changing a word: paragraph length.
Perhaps your high school teacher or college professor gave you a rule for how many paragraphs should be on each page. Perhaps you’ve never even given it a thought. It’s a bit more complicated than X number of paragraphs per page, though, and it’s more important than you might think.
Several months ago, I posted a list of commonly misspelled words most spelling checkers don’t flag because the misspellings are legitimate words themselves. They’re just not the word you were going for.
Recently, an online discussion among my fellow editors provided me with a wealth of new words to add to that list. So, with my thanks to my colleagues around the world, I’ve listed the new additions here for everyone to access freely. Enjoy.
*At the bottom of this post, I’ve included links to download the PDF versions of the list of these new additions, the original list, and a combined list of all of the words I’ve gathered so far.
With each passing year, our world is gradually becoming more and more concerned about respecting the voices and experiences of people and groups who, historically, haven’t had a say in how and if they are represented to the general public. This may have been due to race, religion, gender, cultural background, or physical and mental disabilities, among other reasons.
We’ll put aside the argument of political correctness for the moment. The fact is that writers have a responsibility to their readers to represent the world in the most honest and genuine way possible.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t include elements and characters from other people groups. That wouldn’t be true to the diverse world we live in. However, it’s impossible for any one person to be an expert on all peoples and groups, especially if they’re not a part of that group.
Sometimes, we need to bring in an expert. That’s where sensitivity readers come in.
There are so many services out there offering to help you become a better writer, from master classes with acclaimed authors to professional writing coaches. But one of the most valuable resources for aspiring writers is at the same time one of the most readily available and one of the most overlooked.
All you need is a library card and a bit of free time for research.
I’ve read the writings of and listened to interviews with numerous experts, whether published authors or publishing professionals, and one of the most common pieces of advice they give is to read.
But what does that entail?
We’ve all seen that text message or social media post where it looks like the writer hit the Caps Lock key and couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. People often laugh about it as a marker of older generations, but the truth is that all caps is often overused in writing, regardless of the age of the writer.
But all caps (also known as shouty caps) does have its place and and purpose.
It used to be, if you wanted your book published, you either had to go through an established publishing house or spend stacks of cash at a vanity press and still not see your book get into the hands of more than a few readers.
As we advance farther and farther into the digital age, though, self-publishing becomes an increasingly viable option, but it’s still not ideal for everyone.
So, which one is best for you? There are pros and cons to both options. Here are a few points to help you decide which one best fits your circumstances and your book.
Nothing will ever equal the expertise and value a trained professional editor can bring to your writing project. However, not everyone has the funds or opportunity to take every project to a pro. And if you do decide to hire an editor, the better shape your manuscript is in, the less work the editor has to do and the less they’ll charge for the work.
I’m in this position myself with this blog. It’s just not practical at this time for me to pay someone to edit each week’s post, so the burden of self-editing falls on me.
Editing your own work is difficult at best. Assuming you have the technical skills and grammar and punctuation knowledge, your mind still often refuses to see your own errors clearly. Even professional editors face this challenge.
But there are some tricks I use (and you can, too) to catch more of those errors and typos.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.