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
- 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.
- 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?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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—
- 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.