By guest editor and contributor Macy Cochran
Patience is key to publication, and after writing a novel, the dreaded editing process is next, calling for the utmost patience. Writing a novel might sound like the difficult and tedious part of publishing, but isn’t editing your work the most time-consuming part?
The editing and revision process is hard on the author and even more trying when beginning the process right after completing your last chapter. All writers need a break from their manuscript, so before taking a nose dive right back into your novel, give yourself a break and allow for time to refresh your creative mind prior to looking upon your manuscript with a pair of fresh eyes.
Some of the best practices for editing your work prior to publication or professional editing can be quick and easy if you take one step at a time.
First, read through your manuscript checking for instances where you might “tell” the action instead of “showing” it. Doing a word search for adverbs that end with “ly” is a perfect place to start. The best way to avoid pesky adverbs is to consider the sentence and create a description the adverb was trying to imply.
All writers face overused words that always make their way into your work. While editing your own piece, start cutting some of those overused words. Though it might seem time consuming, a quick read-through of your book is what will call attention to any sort of redundancy that’s woven within.
Like most authors, we’d like to think our work is a masterpiece that needs no professional editing. The problem is that all authors need editors, and even better––all editors need editors. While you might not catch some awkward phrasing or wordy sentences, an editor is sure to polish those blemishes.
Editors can seem intimidating in the beginning because they’re literally hired to find your mistakes. But what might not meet the eye upon first introduction is that working with an editor builds a level of trust. An editor cares for your book as much as you do, and that’s why they chose to work with you.
Working with an editor is often a learning experience.
During the time you’re with an editor, you’ll get a better understanding of what kind of editing you need. While developmental editing clears up plot holes and character development, line editing takes care of general syntax issues where grammatical errors tend to appear. Proofreading is almost always a necessity that gives your manuscript a final review for typos and last-minute details prior to publication.
But if working with an editor right after the completion of your novel feels too soon, online workshop classes are a timeless means of receiving peer feedback from writers and editors alike. Every author’s opinion is valuable and worth considering.
When it comes down to it, editing is likely the most important part of publishing a novel, so track down an editor who’s right for you and your genre and get to work!
Macy Cochran is a freelance editor and writer for the Tryon Daily Bulletin.
Want to know more about working with editors? Check out a previous blog post about working with professional editors: It's your baby, let it grow!
Once your book is published, it's critical to build your audience. This doesn't happen overnight, but rather one night (or day) at a time. We've highlighted several components of building an author brand in past blog posts: Building meta data into everything you do on your author platforms is a way to promote your book with every search; Taking one step at a time to build your author brand; Digging into the mechanics of creating an author website; Pumping up the volume on your social sites; and Strategies for marketing yourself as an author. A big part of continuing to build your author brand is to find new ways to connect with readers.
Creating new content, like articles and short pieces, based on your book or variations on your books theme is a great way to do just that.
Everything you write has the potential to generate book sales. This could be as simple as a book review on Goodreads, a blog on your website, or converting your book (or pieces of your book) into short fiction or article-length pieces to pitch to magazines or online periodicals.
You can create these pieces and offer them for free to newspapers and websites in your specific area of expertise or that cover topics highlighted in your book. For example, a novel about an exotic location could be perfect for an article or excerpt in a travel magazine or blog. Newspapers, online sites, bloggers, and magazines are always looking for strong content - and you are a published author! So put that street cred to work for you. In the bio included after your piece, you have an opportunity to mention your book and your website, which may lead to new relationships online (and down the road, new buyers for your book).
This type of content marketing is sneaky - it helps you build relationships and promote your brand as a contributor and author, all while giving you the opportunity to mention who you are as an author and send readers to your social platforms to follow you and learn more.
So write for free . . . and watch it pay off in sales (and great new relationships to boot)!
Here's a SmartBlogger article about writing for online publications, but there are others, just search on Google and start submitting!
Are you up for the challenge? If you want to jump-start that great novel idea that's been jelling in your mind forever, there's an organization that can help! November is National Novel Writing month and NaNoWriMo can help! You can join authors from all over the world to complete an entire novel in 30 days! The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November and the website offers tools to track your progress, get support, and meet other writers online. There's also prizes and a cool map that shows how far your fellow writers have come. Check out the National Novel Writing Month FAQ's for more info and get writing!
We appreciate our talented authors and the unique aspects each one brings to their work and to IngramElliott. Susan K. Morgan is no exception. Susan is an eclectic old soul who draws inspiration from many muses. She’s a licensed Spiritual Healer, Reiki Master, Christian minister, and longtime birder. Susan and her husband of 20 plus years own a crystal store and metaphysical resource center in Historic Downtown Paducah. Susan’s novel, Surrender, combines all these aspects in a fun, romantic adventure that will restore readers’ faith in true love.
We chatted with Susan about Surrender and her career as an author.
IE: How did you come to be a writer? What inspired you to write Surrender?
Susan: I’ve been a wordsmith for the corporate world for decades. I’m an avid storyteller and wanted to bring some of these characters and their stories to life.
IE: What does your book’s title, Surrender, represent to you?
Susan: "Surrender" was word play on both giving into love and passion, and a nod to how wonderful things can happen in our lives when we surrender to who and what we are at our core. When we stop fighting to live up to other people's demands about who we should be and what we should be doing, life gets much more interesting and fun!
IE: What genres, other than romance, have you considered?
Susan: I love a good story and interesting characters. Romance is such fun to write, I’m likely to stay close to that genre. I suspect there will be some fantasy and paranormal in future books!
IE: What do you hope readers will gain from your books?
Susan: My books are sexy and fun, quick reads with fascinating places and intriguing characters. They have interesting stories to tell. My primary message is life is short. Live like you mean it!
IE: What advice would you give budding writers?
Susan: If you want to be a writer . . . you must write something.
Well said! Learn more about Surrender and Susan K. Morgan at www.susankmorgan.com. Surrender will be available for purchase this holiday season.
Many a great editor have pushed authors to the limit. Is this really plausible? They ask. Wait! They wail. This character was supposed to be born in 1240 but the black plague didn't happen until a century later! Pesky little details. Yes, they are.
Developing a plausible backstory and timeline for your characters is key to making your readers true believers. Even if no one will ever read that Uncle Jimmy's folks were circus performers in the South in the early 1930's, it has a direct relationship to Uncle Jimmy's odd fear of clowns, which leads to his overreaction when Jimmy Jr. comes running in one Halloween night dressed as Bozo and Uncle Jimmy nearly loses his mind. Perhaps that's a bit extreme...but you get the point.
Timelines - especially family details and birth and death dates - can make a big difference to how you present current events for the characters in your stories. Sometimes dates really matter - like your little girl shares a birthday with her mother and that birthday lands on a Monday instead of a Saturday, causing you to have to figure out why the little girl is having a sleepover on a Sunday instead of a Saturday...to more general knowledge about how your characters real histories, ages, and home lives can influence why and how they make decisions in your plot.
Plausibility is another biggie - especially in fantasy, sci-fi, or supernatural manuscripts. If you are using fantastic elements like magic, time travel, or ghostly interferences, you need to understand the rules of the world that you created and stick with them!
Back story may have a direct and explicit affect on the current storyline, or it may just be notes you have for reference that make their way into the narrative at key moments. Backstory can give characters depth and increase interest. Introduce backstory in dialogue: "Hey, baby, when we first met, you were so free. Remember the marshmallows? You helped me...be...free. And now we're all chained up." You can also allude to backstory with flashbacks or with inner dialogue. "Are you kidding me! I didn't sign up for this! I didn't sign up for anything. Heck, I can't even write my own name without thinking about daddy. Why'd he have to give me his poor, useless name. Daddy shoulda' left before I was born instead of after. And taken his name with him." You can also use flashbacks or narrative to introduce elements of your characters' pasts.
You get the drift. So take some time and create a family tree for your characters, take them out for a drink, and really get to know them. Back it up!
Jerome Stern wrote in his time-honored tome on creative writing, Making Shapely Fiction, that, "a story that appears full-blown, finished, and completely realized in its first draft is rarer than the ninety-yard pass, the hole-in-one, or the sixty-foot basket....for writers the general rule is revision."
In today's world of flash fiction, six-second videos, and 140 character limitations, revisions can seem outdated. Got a cell phone? You're a writer. Have 100 followers reading about your love for corn-based foods? You're a blogger. It seems in today's world of quick hits, the lost art of editing can be, well, lost.
Revisions are the heart and soul of a story. Yes, the first blush of inspiration can be intoxicating. But even Mozart had lots of dark, inky blobs on his parchment. Because even geniuses don’t get it right on the first try. In fact, we believe that honing the manuscript, digging into the details, removing unneeded adverbs, and adding that essential detail to your character’s backstory… are what will make your writing fall into melodic perfection.
Mr. Stern goes on to encourage writers not to get hung up on first-draft ideas, but also not to mercilessly cut passages that may be their freshest just because they are weird. Revisions can take a story sideways, or up, down, or forward. You may end up with a completely different story than you started with. This can sometimes freak writers out, but we say revisions are the layers on your cake, the cherry on your sundae, and the gravy for your biscuits.
Allow revising your manuscript to be progressive, but know when to call it quits. Once you’ve taken the story as far as it can go at this moment in time – it could be one revision or six – it is time to let your creation live on its own. Pull the plug and let it sing. Like Mozart, you’ll eventually hit all the right notes.
Speed writing tips for today, from some of our favorite writers of both fiction, journalism, and business writing. They work for all. Now keep you foot on the pedal and stay above 55 miles per hour:
Now back on the bus...speed tips are over!
There are lots of writing books, classes, blogs, groups, tips and tricks for turning your writing into a career. Many of them include ideas like setting aside a certain time of day for writing, celebrating milestones along the way, and removing pesky distractions while you work. Find the strategies that resonate with you, but remember - YOU are one making and breaking the rules. We've found that if you find what works for you - DO IT. If one day you fall down on the job and watch an entire season of that reality show you've been dying to watch, it's okay. But pick yourself up and begin again the next day on making...and breaking...your own rules.