10 Tips for Fiction Writers: Editor Spotlight with Liz Broomfield

Hello dear readers! Please welcome my guest poster, Liz Broomfield: editor, writer, and wonderful resource for getting your book done write (er, right).

An editor’s advice: ten tips for fiction writers

As a busy editor (among other roles), I work with fiction writers, many of whom are considering self-publishing. I’ve seen the same issues time and again, both with their work and with their wider endeavours in getting their work out there, and I’d like to share with you ten tips that can

via Flickr Commons

via Flickr Commons

help you to write a good book and get it out to its audience.

  1. Join a writing group
    Everyone needs peers, and writing can be a lonely game. At a writing group, whether it’s online or face-to-face, you’ll learn a lot about how to write and how other writers write, and have your work critiqued if you wish.
  2. Be professional
    I’ve blogged about this elsewhere, but if you’re serious about your writing, you need to treat it as a professional job, allocate time and resources to it, and take yourself seriously. If you don’t do that, how can you expect other people to?
  3. Spelling and grammar do matter
    Many people seem to think that just sticking down your words anyhow and sending them out into the world is all you need to do. OK, I’m an editor, but how many times have you seen amusing signs and menus with typos shared on the internet, or read criticisms of books that are riddled with errors at the expense of getting the story across? Don’t be that person. Be the person whose reviews mention the good writing!
  4. Continuity matters
    Keep tabs on your characters, timelines, locations, everything. You can use software to help you, or an Excel spreadsheet or even index cards. A good editor will pick up when your character’s eyes change from blue to green, they age one year while 20 years pass in the world (and it’s not sci fi) or they break their arm in one scene, get all plastered up and then wave their arms around in happy abandon the very next day (all true examples!), but if you keep control of it all, your book will just hang together better.
  5. Get a team on board
    As you might have gathered, I’m suggesting using an editor here. There are different kinds of editing, but having someone else, a professional, look over your words is vital. I do it when I write, and I’m an editor myself! It’s also worth getting a book cover designer. I know that makes all the difference, as sales of both my books jumped when I got the covers designed and matching.
  6. Use beta readers
    In addition to editors, have a few people who are familiar with your genre read your book to give feedback from a reader’s point of view. You can ask them a set of questions or leave it to them. Check if they’re OK with you quoting their (good) opinions in your publicity material; prospective buyers will want to see reviews to check the quality of what they’re intending to purchase.
  7. E-books and print on demand
    I strongly recommend publishing your book as an e-book first. You can upload the files yourself to Amazon, Smashwords, etc., so there’s little expense or technical knowledge needed. My rule: my book must pay for its own print version, so I won’t do one until online sales have made enough for me. If you do want to go into print, go for print on demand rather than having boxes and boxes printed in advance that you’ll never sell. Many publishers, as well as designing the text and setting up the printing, can set up the fulfillment for you, so they take the orders, print the book and send it out. Be careful and compare prices, but this is still better value than paying upfront for printing.
  8. Learn about marketing
    Educate yourself about marketing your book. Just because you have written it, it doesn’t mean people will buy it! I recommend the Creative Penn website for masses of information and guidance.
  9. Social media is your friend
    Get on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Build groups of friends, join communities, share other people’s content and blog posts and book links and they’ll share yours, too. Which brings me on to—
  10. Guest post, send review copies and build karma
    Consider harnessing the power of book bloggers and other writers’ online platforms. Write guest posts full of useful content. Send a free copy of your book to a book blogger and ask them if they’ll review it for you (many of these have guidelines, so do take note of those). If you have a book review blog or a Goodreads account, or your own writing blog, allow others to guest post for you. Do it reciprocally, as Tammy and I have. Good karma leads to more recognition leads to book sales and opportunities!

Good luck in your endeavours. Be professional, work hard for that overnight success, and share your good fortune with others.

Liz Broomfield is an editor, proofreader, transcriber, localiser and writer. She’s passionate about helping her clients and about helping people to transition to self-employment the safe way. Her e-book, Going It Alone at 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment is out now, and you can visit her at www.libroediting.com for business, writing and Word tips and www.librofulltime.wordpress.com for her own personal journey plus book news and book reviews.

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All content copyright unless otherwise specified © 2013 by Tammy Salyer, writer. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided proper attribution is given.

29 Replies to “10 Tips for Fiction Writers: Editor Spotlight with Liz Broomfield”

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  3. AJ Davis (@anniejaydavis)

    Liz, great post! I appreciated all the information in one place. I was wondering if you had any advice on how to find beta readers? And does it make a difference if they are “known” or just “regular” people when it comes to using their reviews to show the prospective buyers?

    1. Tammy Salyer Post author

      Hi Annie,
      Thanks for stopping by. I know several authors who have found beta readers on message boards or on Twitter simply by sending out a general query for readers in their genre. Getting involved in a local or online writing group is also a great way. Some areas have writing groups on MeetUp.com, which is a really great shared interest site for groups. Another author I know has asked his fans if they’d like to be beta readers (from his previously published works, so it’s dependent on your publishing history). Of course, the most common beta-reading pool is people getting their own friends and family involved. Good luck with your search!

    2. Liz at Libro

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
      As for recruiting beta readers – your immediate and wider circles are fine to start off with, and then if you have a blog or use other social media you can ask if anyone would like to read a beta copy. I prefer to use people closer to me for this part, and I think other people do, too, because this is a stage where the book is still not in its final form, and you have to consider who you are happy knowing about the tweaks you still need to make.
      I don’t think I would send someone “known” a beta copy, and I really don’t think that, even if you’re offering review copies of the final product, this is necessary. You’d have to do really well to get a “name” to read your book unless you have a lot of social capital. I have offered review copies of my cholesterol diet book to a heart charity and my business book to a business owner who reviews books, as they are active in their field, and it’s useful to have beta readers and free review copy recipients who are active in that genre or at least read a lot of it, as they will understand the parameters and ways that the genre works.
      When it comes down to it, people buy because of people. If you can get some reviews up there, whoever they are from, people will read those people’s opinions and feel more inclined to read your book.
      I hope that helps! And good luck with your writing projects!

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  5. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    In-person writing groups are indispensable when it comes to learning how to give and receive valuable feedback. So many times, people voice frustration that they don’t get enough time spent on others giving them feedback, but really, the art of learning how to give fellow writers feedback works wonders in making a writer better at critiquing their own material.

    1. Liz at Libro

      That’s a very valid point. Also having that group support can be invaluable. If I’m working with a writer who isn’t part of a group, I really do advise them to join one and, yes, in-person ones are, I think, the best.

  6. Katie Sullivan

    These are great things to remember – I know I have a dining room table littered with post its and index cards, keeping track of certain details. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and perspective!

      1. Katie Sullivan

        Paper is my first love. I used to write all my first drafts in a notebook, and I still have to have the notebook for inspirational moments – there’s something about scrawling the inspiration across the page that does not translate to typing.

        1. Tammy Salyer Post author

          I used to love paper too, until my brain started moving much too fast from my hand to keep up. Patience is not my strongest virtue 🙂 I don’t know how I’d survive without a keyboard, and am still waiting for the day the Tommyknocker machine is invented. Thanks for your comments, Katie!

    1. Liz at Libro

      Thank you for your comment, Jennifer, and I’m glad you found the article useful! I’ve recently written an article on my own blog about what happened when I crossed the divide from editor to author – hopefully these understandings make us better writers and editors, whether we’re one, the other, or both.

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  8. Liz at Libro

    Thank you for having me as a guest blogger, Tammy! I’ll be happy to answer any questions people might have, and look forward to reading your readers’ comments!