by Nancy O’Neill August 17, 2012 (Previously published in Menifee Buzz)
Part 1: Writing and Editing
With today’s advances in print-on-demand technology and endless resources at our fingertips, more people are enjoying the option of self-publishing. However, it means finding the right solution that fits your needs but not taking short cuts.
Not every author is a good writer or even a writer at all but that doesn’t mean you can’t become published. If you are not interested in writing, that is where a ghostwriter comes in. The right person can take your basic story idea and turn it into a full manuscript. The most important thing to consider is your genre. All writers are not created equal. Just because someone may be a good mystery novelist doesn’t mean they can write a children’s book.
For those who love to write, here are two tips you might consider.
1. If you write on some electronic device, don’t use the backspace or delete key. Instead, hit the enter key a few times and write your new text. Sometimes your first thoughts and words are your best ones. Remembering exactly what you wrote after it’s deleted is nearly impossible.
2. If you write on paper, use a pen instead of a pencil for the same reasons as above. Plus, erasing words slows down your thought process. I have a system where I cross out words, use arrows, asterisks, a bullet or number system for inserting sentences or paragraphs, and I even write in margins sometimes. I use a spiral notebook, date each story or each version of the story, and I never rip out pages or throw any away.
Regardless of who writes your story, the next step, which should never be skipped, is editing. Just like ghostwriters, all editors are not created equal and again, it’s important to find one that works with your genre.
“But I had my friends and family read my story,” is a common statement from first-time authors. It’s fine to share it with them but not for the purpose of editing.
“I had my English teacher edit it,” is also common. While a teacher may be able to proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, a book editor looks at content, story flow, character development, organization, appropriate text for the reading level, among many other things. So unless your friend, family member, or favorite English teacher is also a book editor, keep looking.
Even though you can’t effectively edit your own work, doing these steps before you send it to an editor will save you time and money.
1. Use a spellchecker. There is no reason to let basic spelling errors get by.
2. Read it out loud, word for word, very s-l-o-w-l-y. It makes it easier to hear your own mistakes instead of reading what you think you wrote or intended to write.
3. Read each page separately from back to front. Now you are reading only sections of text which also can help you spot errors.
4. Wait a few days after Step 3 and then read the whole story again with a fresh set of eyes.
Becoming a self-published author is not a quick process but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Look for Part 2 in the series, “Book Design & Printing.” In the meantime, if you need help with your book project, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org