The Process of Publishing a Novel – 3 of 3

This is the last post in this series.. If you missed the previous posts they are:

Step 1 – Write your novel

Step 2 – Edit your novel

Or check out the collection for all parts.

Step 3 – Publish your novel

Here is a handy info graphic of what I’m going to cover in this post.

You can save this to your Pinterest board.

Blurb

If you are self publishing you will need a blurb for your book. You can write this yourself or hire a professional.

Here’s a post about the making of the blurb for Ocean Heart.

Cover Design

Your book cover will be one of the first official marketing materials for your book. They say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!” Except, people do.

You can design it yourself but if you are going to do print copies, it can be tricky to get the spine right if you don’t know what you’re doing. I opted for a professional.

Look at other covers in your genre. These covers are what your ideal reader is expecting. If your cover appeals to the wrong audience it’s going to make it hard to sell.

Here’s a post about how I chose my cover designer.

Marketing

Once you have the cover, start marketing your book. Don’t wait until it’s published to start marketing.

Fun things to do, are a cover reveal to drum up interest. Here’s a post going into more detail on how I did my cover reveal including tips on creating digital bookstagram pics for promoting your book.

You can also have a preorder period so people don’t have to wait until the release date to buy and can order it right away! These purchases won’t be counted until release day, boosting your release day sales.

I learnt a lot about marketing my book from author Pagan Malcolm and did the Storyseller Academy course that covers a lot of ways to promote your book and how to change your mindset.

Another, fabulous person to check out is Michelle Raab who specialises in Marketing for Indie Creative and is the founder of World Indie Warriors.

Check the links at the end of the post for posts on my book launch. They’re useful to check out if you need some ideas.

Formatter

This is the person that makes the inside of your book pretty and accessible in different formats for different eBook readers. You can do it yourself, or use tools available online.

Here’s a post about my experience with my formatter.

If you want to do it yourself, you might find it useful to check out Brittany Wang’s YouTube video showing where to get a free template and how to edit it.

Alternatively, you can use the tools provided by your chosen distributor to turn your manuscript into a book. I believe Amazon, D2D, and Ingram Sparks offer these tools for free.

Proofread

Big mistake I made was skipping this step. I uploaded my files to Ingram and then one of my ARC readers (author Cassidy Reyne) let me know where I’d missed some typos. 😱

My formatter was happy to amend my files for free but Ingram charged me for changing the files. 😢

Don’t skip this step. The last pair of eyes on your book are necessary. No matter all the edits already, and how perfect you believe it is, get a proof reader to do a final quality check.

Self Edit

If your proof reader spots any issues, you will need to make the changes and inform your formatter exactly what you needs changing!

And you thought you’d finished editing. 😂

Upload Files

If you are happy with everything, upload it to the distributor site you are using. Popular choices are:

  • Amazon
  • Ingram Spark
  • Draft 2 Digital
  • Lulu
  • Barnes & Noble

ARC Reader

Send your ARC readers a final copy. Between now and publishing you could make changes but we’d hope that by this point it is done.

The ARC readers need enough time to read it before you publish. This enables you to gather reviews for marketing and gives readers an idea of what others thought.

ARC readers will leave an honest review. Your book cover & blurb should attract the right readers. If your ARC readers are surprised by your book (and not in a good way) you might want to change the cover or blurb to ensure you attract the correct readers.

Check out my post on Betas vs ARC readers.

Publish

That’s it! Except now your book is out there, you still need to market it. Don’t be shy – every chance you get, give it a shout out. And, on that note…

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

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Why you need a Copy Editor

When I decided to self publish I knew I would need an editor. As much as I love writing and creating stories, English language was never my best subject at school.

I wasn’t the worst but I wasn’t top of the class either. Even if I’d been good at English I’d still need an editor, because people miss their own mistakes.

Once ready for an editor, I was over whelmed by how many different types of editors there are. For Ocean Heart, I used many rounds of Beta Readers, and two rounds of professional edits, and used a professional formatter.

I chose to use Avery McDougall as my copy editor. 

Developmental Editor

Avery McDougall was my Developmental Editor. I wrote a blog post about my experience and included her comments in my Behind the Character series.

Why You Need A Developmental Editor

What is copy/line editing?

The two terms are often used interchangeably as they are similar and it’s important to check what your editor means so you can ensure what you are paying for is what you expect.

Copy Edit: Unsually involves checking SPAG, readability, and clarity. They may highlight where it’s not flowing right.

Line Edit: Usually focuses on the content and use of language. They highlight inconsistent style, where pacing is too fast/slow, if you’ve overused a word (or repeating yourself).

If you can afford both, do it. Traditionally published books will have a copy edit, then a line edit. If you can’t afford both, don’t skip the copy edit. Your spellchecker is not enough.

How I chose my Copy Editor

Avery was at the top of my list as I’d already had such a good experience with her, but I did consider letting another pair of eyes run over my manuscript.

Budget: This was a big deciding factor. I had a limited budget and had to operate within my means.

Recommendation: Connecting with other indie authors gave me a good source of recommendations, many are listed in the World Indie Warriors brochure.

Expertise: All of them had experience as an editor. One was new, but had already built a portfolio and I’d attended a workshop she did which helped build trust. But, Avery was the only one that specialised in YA.

I went with Avery as she ticked all my boxes and was already familiar with my book. As she does writing workshops with teens, she also has a close relationship with my target audience.

My experience

I paid Avery for a copy edit. But, it definitely over lapped into a line edit. For example, she highlighted a scene where the emotional impact needed work, and another scene where my character came off rude towards her friend.

Through Avery’s comments I learnt a lot about my writing. Once I’d actioned her feedback, my novel was definitely better.

Unofficial Proofreader

I wish I could have afforded a line edit but my budget was maxed out. Avery didn’t get to see it again, as I went ahead with my next step – formatting. Once formatted, I sent it off to my ARC readers.

One of my ARC readers was author Cassidy Reyne. She did an unofficial proofread for me. I didn’t ask her to do it, she’s just sweet like that.

As I’d already paid Ingram to publish Ocean Heart (it was on preorder) there was a fee to amend the files. I paid it because I wanted my book to be as perfect as possible. I’m so thankful to Cassidy for letting me know.

For my next book, I will seek out Cassidy’s eagle eyes – if she has time. If not, I will consider getting a professional proofreader.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

12 Tips For Self Editing

Behind the Character – Mariah

Book Review: Agent Undone – Cassidy Reyne

The Making of the Blurb – Ocean Heart

12 tips for self editing

This post was really popular last year, so I decided to revamp it and create a series of editing posts. 

I love writing. It is so liberating to allow the words to flow out however they may come. But, this means they need to be tidied up later. And, I’m not a fan of editing.  Without further ado, here are my tips to make self editing easier.

Take a break from your project

Don’t start editing as soon as it is written. When your writing is still fresh, you will be too close to the text that and will miss mistakes as you know what it is meant to say.

By distancing yourself, you’ll read it with a fresh perspective.

Set Goals & Create Trackers

After giving your novel space, this is the next thing you should do. Setting yourself a target is what will keep you going through your edit. Break the task up into manageable chunks and it will seem less daunting.

I will soon share a post about how I use a spreadsheet for this but for now, here is an example of my paper tracker. Seeing your progress is extremely rewarding and motivating.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxlI7PCAcqU/?igshid=2k4jqijd1acs

Versions

I always copy & paste to a new document so I don’t edit the original. This helps protects your work if you realise you cut something you shouldn’t have or find the new version isn’t working.

Change the format

There are several ways to do this and it will result in you seeing the novel from a different perspective.

Print it: I currently don’t have a printer at the moment so can’t take advantage of this one but having a hard copy will enable you to read it in a. You have the added bonus of being able to write notes on your document.

Change the font: Different fonts have different vibes and some fonts will make identifying mistakes clearer. On this note, you may find certain fonts help to be more creative when writing. I would recommend cursive or italic for creativity and sans or serif fonts for serious editing.

Audio: If you have software that reads your text aloud, this can help you hear mistakes. You can also try reading it aloud and see if you stumble over and of the text or parts that don’t flow right.

Basic Spellcheck

Today there are no excuses for misspelt words. Every modern word processor program comes with a basic spell checker built in. However, it won’t pick up the misuse of words if spelt or used correctly which leads me on nicely to my next point.

Proofread

This is so important. A spellcheck is following rules of the English language but when you read it you may find you’ve used the wrong word or the sentence in not saying what you intended. For example, ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ are spelt correct but mean the opposite. Whilst proof reading you will also identify ways to strengthen weak text. I also will highlight text I need to return to look at again.

Hemingway App

This is a browser app. On the website I copy and paste the chapter I’m working on into the app. I tend to proofread in this app as it highlights weak words like those ending in ‘ly’ and passive words. It also highlights complex sentences which you may want to simplify for your readers.

It grades your writing. You don’t necessarily want a high grade. If your novel is graded high then it might feel like a chore for your readers. It actually is more enjoyable if it is a lower grade.

Hemingway will slap you in the face with your over use of ‘just’, ‘that’ and other unnecessary filler words.

Grammarly

Next, I paste my chapter into Grammarly. This focuses on different qualities in your writing and always makes further suggestions. It often picks up on my over or under use of commas.

It is an advanced spell check but it is following a set of rules and sometimes writers like to break these rules. For example, it might identify a character is not speaking in a grammatically correct way but maybe I want them to speak like that. This is why you must always review the suggestions.

I prefer the browser version to the mobile app.

Find & Replace

Use F&R to replace name changes or look for repetitive words. You can also use it to check for mistakes with spacing.

I used it to check my formatting for speech so I get it to find ” in my manuscript. I’ve also used it to change a name throughout my MS.

Structural edit

https://www.instagram.com/p/BumXZ5In8D6/

I used Save the Cat during my edit to check the pacing of my story.

Based on the original length of the novel, I calculate where in the story different beats should happen. For example, by doing this I was able to identify that my start was too slow so I looked at what was unnecessary to cut.

Back up

You’ve spent a lot of time working on your novel so ensure you back it up. There is nothing more upsetting than discovering you lost it.

Easy methods to back up is to save to more than one location: Pc/laptop, USB, Google drive, email yourself.

Feedback

Once you think it is perfect, it’s time to get a second opinion. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Editor: Do your research to find one that you would like to work with.  There are also different editors for different stages of your book.  
  • Mentor: Work with an experienced author to learn from them.
  • Critique Group: Join a group of writers to exchange novels and give each other feedback.
  • Share Online: Post on sites like Wattpad to see how your novel is received.
  • Beta Readers: Find a group of readers and gather there feedback on your novel (can ask them to complete questionnaires).

Some feedback will be based on personal opinion. Writing is an art after all and you can chose to ignore their suggestions especially if it is pulling you away from your original vision and voice. But if several people are raising issue with the same part, it is likely that they have a valid point.  They have taken their time to read your novel and help you, so respect their input and consider their feedback.  


Do you use any of the above methods? Have you any tips to add that I missed?

I’ve have recently received my novel back from a developmental edit.  The feedback has been unbelievably useful and my novel I once thought was close to ready is now requiring a lot of work. 

The editor wasn’t harsh.  In fact her feedback is what I have been craving for year.  It is like having a best friend who understands what you are trying to achieve and has the skills to help.  She has been honest with me about what is and isn’t working and even even shared resources to help me.    

Have you ever used a professional editor?

If you like this, you will enjoy:

Comma ‘gain!

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Write 50k words in 30 days

Do you keep notebooks of story ideas?

  if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

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@Redfae

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

I love writing. It is so liberating to allow the words to flow out however they may come. But, this means they need to be tidied up later. And, I’m not a fan of editing.

Over the years, I’ve found ways to make editing easier. Today, I will share my methods to help you and other writers.

Take a break from your project

Don’t start editing as soon as it is written. When your writing is still fresh, you will be too close to the text that and will miss mistakes as you know what it is meant to say.

By distancing yourself, you’ll read it with a fresh perspective.

Set Goals & Create Trackers

After giving your novel space, this is the next thing you should do. Setting yourself a target is what will keep you going through your edit. Break the task up into manageable chunks and it will seem less daunting.

I will soon share a post about how I use a spreadsheet for this but for now, here is an example of my paper tracker. Seeing your progress is extremely rewarding and motivating.

Versions

I always copy & paste to a new document so I don’t edit the original. This helps protects your work if you realise you cut something you shouldn’t have or find the new version isn’t working.

Change the format

There are several ways to do this and it will result in you seeing the novel from a different perspective.

Print it: I currently don’t have a printer at the moment so can’t take advantage of this one but having a hard copy will enable you to read it in a. You have the added bonus of being able to write notes on your document.

Change the font: Different fonts have different vibes and some fonts will make identifying mistakes clearer. On this note, you may find certain fonts help to be more creative when writing. I would recommend cursive or italic for creativity and sans or serif fonts for serious editing.

Audio: If you have software that reads your text aloud, this can help you hear mistakes. You can also try reading it aloud and see if you stumble over and of the text or parts that don’t flow right.

Basic Spellcheck

Today there are no excuses for misspelt words. Every modern word processor program comes with a basic spell checker built in. However, it won’t pick up the misuse of words if spelt or used correctly which leads me on nicely to my next point.

Proofread

This is so important. A spellcheck is following rules of the English language but when you read it you may find you’ve used the wrong word or the sentence in not saying what you intended. For example, ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ are spelt correct but mean the opposite. Whilst proof reading you will also identify ways to strengthen weak text. I also will highlight text I need to return to look at again.

Hemingway App

This is a browser app. On the website I copy and paste the chapter I’m working on into the app. I tend to proofread in this app as it highlights weak words like those ending in ‘ly’ and passive words. It also highlights complex sentences which you may want to simplify for your readers.

It grades your writing. You don’t necessarily want a high grade. If your novel is graded high then it might feel like a chore for your readers. It actually is more enjoyable if it is a lower grade.

Hemingway will slap you in the face with your over use of ‘just’, ‘that’ and other unnecessary filler words.

Grammarly

Next, I paste my chapter into Grammarly. This focuses on different qualities in your writing and always makes further suggestions. It often picks up on my over or under use of commas.

It is an advanced spell check but it is following a set of rules and sometimes writers like to break these rules. For example, it might identify a character is not speaking in a grammatically correct way but maybe I want them to speak like that. This is why you must always review the suggestions.

I prefer the browser version to the mobile app.

Find & Replace

Use F&R to replace name changes or look for repetitive words. You can also use it to check for mistakes with spacing.

I used it to check my formatting for speech so I get it to find ” in my manuscript. I’ve also used it to change a name throughout my MS.

Structural edit

I used Save the Cat during my edit to check the pacing of my story.

Based on the original length of the novel, I calculate where in the story different beats should happen. For example, by doing this I was able to identify that my start was too slow so I looked at what was unnecessary to cut.

Back up

You’ve spent a lot of time working on your novel so ensure you back it up. There is nothing more upsetting than discovering you lost it.

Easy methods to back up is to save to more than one location: Pc/laptop, USB, Google drive, email yourself.

Feedback

Once you think it is perfect, it’s time to get a second opinion. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Editor: Do your research to find one that you would like to work with.
  • Mentor: Work with an experienced author to learn from them.
  • Critique Group: Join a group of writers to exchange novels and give each other feedback.
  • Share Online: Post on sites like Wattpad to see how your novel is received.
  • Beta Readers: Find a group of readers and gather there feedback on your novel (can ask them to complete questionnaires).

Remember some feedback will be based on their personal opinion and you can chose to ignore their suggestions especially if it is pulling you away from your original vision and voice. However, if they are likely to have a good point and are trying to help you to see areas where you can improve.

Do you use any of the above methods? Have you any tips to add that I missed?

I’ve just finished a full novel edit and it feels good to see the new improved final version. My novel has been edited so many times I have lost count. Each time I thought I got it but then I have discovered new ways to improve it. With each edit, I believe I have developed as a writer. I am aware that although I think this is it, I may find reason to edit again.

If you like this, you will enjoy:

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  if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

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Seven tips for querying agents

So, you’ve written your masterpiece and created a shortlist of potential agents.  Now, it is time to start querying.

What not to do

In this article I am going to encourage you to create a template cover letter with common content themes, however, do not send this template to agents.  Sending a blanket email will not impress.

What you must do

Take time to make it personal

First, make sure you have time for each agent.  Do not rush your query.  Read their requirements and personalize the template to show them that you choose them for a reason.  This will make them feel more special than if you ignore their guidelines and send them flowers and chocolates.

Query IG.png

Common themes

I’ve been querying one of two agents a week.  This enables me to think about what I am sending them.  I am focused on that agent as an individual rather than as another query.

However, although requirements differ between agencies there are common themes in the content requests.  I have created a ‘cover letter ideas’ document with headings for the different content requests.  This helps me find the paragraphs I need for the agency and then amend to personalize it for them, saving me a lot of time.

Here are the themes:

Letter opening

Okay, no agent has requested this as content in the letter but it is a basic requirement for letter writing.  I just state the reason I am contacting them ‘please represent me’.

Tagline

In the age of social media, more agents are requesting you to pitch your novel in one sentence!  You can use your tagline to promote your book on sites like Twitter or Instagram.

About me

Finding an agent is a bit like dating.  They want to know a bit about you to see if you are someone they want to work with.  They are interested in what makes you-you.

Writing Bio

This is a paragraph or two about my writing experience.  They want to know if you have ever been published, won a literary contest, completed a writing course.

About your novel

To start with they need to know the basic credentials of your book like the word count and genre.

They also want to know things such as why you wrote this novel and what is it about.

Brief pitch (Blurb)

Check what they mean but this as one agent said ‘brief pitch’ and when I read what they wanted it some described a short synopsis (see below).  More agents who requested a brief pitch wanted me to sell them my story so I shared my blurb as I type of teaser to encourage them to want to read the manuscript.

One paragraph synopsis

They want you to sell the story to them and the plot in one paragraph – if you thought writing a synopsis was hard then you are going to enjoy this… Actually, I found this easier than condensing the whole plot to one page because I knew they had the full synopsis to read if they wanted so I just had to make it enticing enough for them to want to know more.

Book marketing

They may request who you think the target market is and what books it would be placed alongside in a bookshop.  They need to know if the book is part of a series or have the potential to be.

Why you?

Some agents wished to know why I had chosen them.  You can’t default this content as will be a unique element of the query for that individual or agency.  Instead, I created some prompts:

  • why did they make my shortlist
  • what authors or titles have they been involved with that is similar to mine

Letter closing

This is a simple ‘look forward to hearing from you’ together with my valediction and contact details.

Check before you send

Before you send your query to make sure it is as perfect as you can make it before you send it:

  • Spell check:  There are no excuses with modern processors that will check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Proofread:  Sometimes the spell checker will miss words that are spelt correctly and make sense but are wrong.  For example, ‘people go to church to worship their dog’.
  • Grammarly:  There are apps to help check that your writing is as at it’s best.  A quick scan online using Grammarly can find mistakes you otherwise could have missed.

Contact method

Many agencies today will request you send them an email or use an online form on their site.  Make sure you follow the instructions for the format of documents correctly.  For example:

  • If they request, all attachments must be .doc files, make sure you ‘save as’ and chose the correct file format.
  • If they ask you to send it within the body of the email then copy and paste the content into an email.
  • If you must paste into the online form or attach the document to their online form, please follow the instructions.

If you don’t follow the instructions, they may not be able to open your documents, it may get blocked by virus protection or their server.  If you cannot view what you have sent, then you’ve wasted your time as well as theirs.

Common attachments

Preparing these common attachments before you start will save you time.

Query manuscript versions

I have a few versions of my manuscript prepared for querying to meet the most common requests.  These are:

  • Full manuscript
  • First three chapters
  • First 10,000 words (to a suitable breaking point)

Query synopsis versions

I have a few versions of my synopsis prepared for querying to meet the most common requests.  These are:

  • Full synopsis
  • One page synopsis
  • 300-word synopsis

 

Keep a spreadsheet

You can get free online spreadsheet software from Google or Window Live and many smartphones even had free spreadsheet apps.

I keep a spreadsheet with the name of the agency and agent I contacted, the date I contacted them and when I expected to hear back – check their sites for details on response times.  When they responded I recorded the date they replied.

I hope you have found these tips useful. I would love to hear how you got on and if you have any tips to help me too.  

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