Treat your writing like a passion, but treat your novel like a business.
Sometimes, most of the time even, new authors are consumed by and utterly immersed in their first few writing projects, often to the point of having absolutely no brain cells left over for any other creative or “businessy” endeavors. I’ve been there; I understand it. Nothing is more exciting to a writer than the story you are bringing to life.
Somewhere along this creative journey, however, new authors generally come to a decision about whether they will publish or simply allow their novel to be extant. It’s a question of public attention and acknowledgment vs. personal satisfaction and self-acknowledgment. (Here’s a little something I wrote on the subject of why we write that talks more about this public vs. personal dialectic). Once an author makes their choice, it’s time to get serious about carving out the time to include all those ancillary steps to the actual writing that will lead to your finished—and publishable, if that’s your goal—novel.
When that final draft is complete, the most vital step an author can take is to have their manuscript edited by a professional. There are many, many layers of editing, which I cover in detail here: How to Choose an Editor. If you’ve been following this series on self-publishing, Week 2’s post on creating your business plan and publishing calendar has hopefully helped you identify when in the publishing process to begin your search for an editor who fits your style and needs. This is where planning ahead is vital.
As an editor, I commonly receive queries from authors who would like to begin collaborating on their book immediately. Unfortunately, this is unrealistic. Editors would also love to be able to schedule new clients immediately, but most tend to be booked one to six months in advance. So let me emphasize: Begin looking for your editor and/or proofreader at least three months before you think you’ll need one. The same is true of a cover designer. If you would like to engage a line editor or developmental editor, you’ll need to schedule even earlier, up to a year out. Putting this on your publishing calendar as early as necessary will ensure you have time to find quality help that is compatible with your needs and style, as well as ensure they are available when you’re ready for them.
You may be thinking to yourself, All I need is a proofreader. I’m not saying everyone needs a line or copy editor, but here’s a quick test. If you have any trouble identifying what’s wrong in the following examples, I strongly recommend considering one or both.
1. She rode up and reigned in the silky black steed. Along with her horse, she wore knee-high riding boots and thick, heavy armor.
2. Susannah was loathe to quaff yet another decaf cuppa. How was she supposed to get through a day of ninja training without her high octane hit?
3. As the announcement of the a zombie outbreak spread through the city, there was a great deal of activity on the concourse. The planes were landing and taking off at a rapid rate, and it was extremely nerve-wracking and exciting for the waiting eager-to-leave passengers to watch.
4. The guardian looked at her like he knew something was off, but unsure what.
5. With less than sixty warriors at his side, there was no way Leonidas and his army would get any further inside enemy lines.
6. Her husband accused her of driving like a maniac as they drove through the crowd to escape the tsunami.
7. Even though he wanted to get out while he could, he is still trying to save his collection of priceless antique cigars. He could simply have bought new ones when the outbreak ended a year later.
8. The jungle was no better than the desert, with its thousands of creatures, the bellowing and vicious gorillas, tigers, and the snakes that wrap around their legs as they walked, lining up to make the explorers’ lunch.
9. Dave and Allister took the L to the ease village, where he got off.
10. “Either your dad or your brothers is going to get it in the end,” said the bitter mafioso.
Answers: (1) misused homophone and dangling participle; (2) misused homophone; (3) extreme passive voice; (4) faulty sentence structure; (5) misused word; (6) word redundancy; (7) tense confusion; (8) faulty parallelism, misused punctuation and lack of clarity; (9) unclear pronoun and capitalization error; (10) subject-verb agreement issue and capitalization error.
Create your business plan and publishing calendar.
Learn how to create an ebook or hire someone to do it (including pros and cons of each option).
Research the different distribution sites, their requirements, and how long they take to set up and use.
And finally, learn how to market, including using social networking sights, blog hops, and review requests.