When you’re a self-publishing author, the most important thing you can do for you novel is get it professionally edited.
Yes. Spend money on a pro that spends a lot of time with books. You aunt that reads a lot doesn’t count.
Why is editing so important?
A poorly edited book might as well have a radioactive stain on it. A big thing that readers do when they go book-shopping is read the first few pages or the preview that Amazon provides. I do. I look at the writing. There are readers out there willing to put up with B grade writing for a good story. I’m not one of them.
I’m not talking “grammar and punctuation” kind of editing. I’m talking plot, character, and style kind of editing.
Ah, there’s that word again – style.
When I say style, I’m talking word choice, repetition, chunkiness; I’m talking the three C’s: clarity, cohesion, and coherence; I’m talking a healthy balance of narration and action: I’m talking smart, witty dialog and voices that come off the page; I’m talking about things beginning writers don’t often grasp – I know, because I didn’t while writing that first draft of Devil’s Blood. Through the years of practice and study that followed, I started to get what those things meant, revisions and revisions later. That’s why a lot of authors say that your first novel will suck.
I can see a major difference in Devil’s Blood 1 and Devil’s Blood 3, and in Caroline Eversole. I have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t work. It’s weird to explain. It’s like a sixth sense that I’ve cultivated over time.
Again, I advise: don’t be so caught up in being an author that your novel suffers.
You might be a comma wizard, but your dialog is flat.
You can toss semi-colons like a pro, but your descriptions are boring.
You know the ins and outs of spelling and commonly misused words, but your characters seem to be lost through most of the novel, and you overuse “smile” as a dialog tag. (I did.)
There is a lot that goes into writing a good novel. More than I know right now.
There are a lot of self-published books out there that should not have gotten published without a professional edit, and it shows. When these aspiring writers are upset about not landing an agent, I can see why; they aren’t producing the quality of work required in order to land that agent – it’s not something you just have, it’s a skill you work on and craft.
That’s my biggest beef with the self-publishing industry. There’s no gatekeeper to tell these self-published writers, like me, that they’re not ready. So, the market is flooded with books that should have waited, but didn’t. (It’s also what I love the most about it. It’s a double-edged sword.)
Do you want your book to be part of that flood? Or do you want a chance to rise above? Get an editor. I’m not just trying to boost my own business; there are plenty of freelancers out there. I’m just one of the bunch – but before you hire an editor, check them out. Do some internet stalking. Not illegal stalking, but more… investigation. Pull out your inner Sherlock.