I’ve always said that Twitter was one of my most important marketing tools, and I could have been doing better lately. Here are some tips on using some new Twitter functions:
One of the ways to distinguish self-published material from traditionally published books is by counting the typos and plot holes. No, trad pub books are not perfect. I’ve seen all kinds of fun errors in books from big name publishers, but one quick look around self-published tiles on Amazon will reveal countless reviews detailing typos, confusing sentence structure, and gaping plot wounds.
You only have one chance to make a first impression, so avoid these three mistakes, and you’ll have a better chance at winning over readers for life.
- Sharing your work too soon. You’ve just finished your first draft and are very excited. You want to let your friends and family read it. STOP! Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. The rough draft is for your eyes only. The manuscript is still new and will require rewrites, and if you begin seeking opinions too early in the process, your artistic vision will be altered. Readers may see the book going a direction you never intended, and you might be inclined to follow their advice and end up penning something you never wanted to write in the first place. In addition, you might be discouraged by your friends’ response because, let’s face it, early drafts suck. They’re supposed to suck. If readers are cutting you down and not jumping up and down, it’s not going to help motivate you.
- Not hiring a professional copy editor. Copy editing is expensive. There. That’s out there. It’s a difficult, tedious job, and it takes a talented person to do it. Many first-time indie publishers balk at laying out the funds for this service, and it’s almost always to their detriment. Many people think they can copy edit themselves. But all writers reach a point where they cannot see their own mistakes. They are so familiar with the words on the page that they can no longer see errors at all. You need fresh eyes on the words.
- Not getting an outside opinion. Many indies use “beta readers” to critique their manuscripts. In my understanding, beta readers are friends or acquaintances who have some knowledge of the book in advance and who give their advice on the plot etc. They may have helped brainstorm and offered suggestions early in the writing process. I believe it’s crucial that at least one early reader be more like a true story editor, someone completely outside your friend realm, someone who does not worry about hurting your feelings or who has not been involved in the writing process of the book at all. If you’ve discussed plot or character with the beta reader, you’ve already tainted their view of the book. They know what you’re trying to achieve, so they may project that onto the book whether or not it’s actually there. You need someone with no bias at all, with no preconceived notions of the book and limited input from you about what you were trying to achieve. Sure, tell them your audience and a general overview of the plot, but let the book speak for itself. Someone needs to come to your manuscript cold to make sure what you think you’ve written and what you’ve actually conveyed in words are the same thing.
What advice do you have for first-time publishers?
First of all, Moral Hazard is back from the story editor, and the re-writes have begun. This is roughly the speed I’m going to attempt in order to get the book out ASAP. Plus any excuse to add a Big Bang Theory video….
Now on to the tips.
One of the most frustrating aspects of working as an indie author is dealing with iffy technology for uploading and managing books and accounts. Just this week, I’ve had to contact support for two issues in particular that really should have been explained on their websites or in their User’s Manuals. I mean, I can’t be the only person who has had these problems.
Kobo: If your epub won’t upload, you will receive the message that the file could not be uploaded. The only information on the page or User’s Manual says that the file must be below 100 MB and of a certain type. Well, those are not the only two reasons for upload failure. If your epub will not upload to Kobo and it’s smaller than 100 MB, then you most likely have an epub error. Go to an epub validtor, check it, correct the problem, and then try again.
Overdrive: I’ve been trying to log in to my account there for months. I was told to use the “forgot password” function to do this. However, each attempt yielded the following message: “The information entered is incorrect.” This is because Overdrive requires the use of Explorer. You can’t log in with another browser. (I finally got a message that says this after a month of incorrect info messages.) So if you’re having this problem, try Explorer.
After a slightly stressful day in the publishing cave, I saw this video from ASAPScience on YouTube and thought it appropriate.
While Moral Hazard is at the story editor, I have a bit of downtime. But just a bit. There’s always something to do, like create the cover, write the back cover copy, and, oh, start another project.
After weeks of irregular barn visits, I have gotten to ride Darcy twice so far this week. It’s been glorious. There’s something wonderful about being totally focused on her. It helps clear my mind.
I also started watching the first season of Person of Interest. I really enjoy it so far, but what’s with all the gunshots to the legs of armed threats? I get that Reese’s not interested in killing all these people, but it’s getting a little difficult to believe that these wounds prevent all the bad guys from firing their own weapons back at him. It’s like Alias: everyone got knocked on the back of the head while walking down a dark hallway. Did none of these people learn to check behind them? Or the Walking Dead: close a door behind you, people! But I digress….
I hope you’re getting a little downtime too. What have you been up to?
- TV is a waste of time.
- TV does not foster thought and creates mind-numbed zombies. TV watching is passive.
- TV fosters violent, anti-social behavior.
Okay, that’s out there. Everyone agrees with this, right? I mean, because who is going to argue that something so awful might be getting a bad rap?
That would be me.
Sure, TV can be a waste of time, it can be mindless, and it can encourage violence in individuals who have trouble differentiating fantasy from reality. I admit that all of these points can be true at times, but not always.
Let’s take these one at a time.
- TV is a waste of time. Yes, it can be, but what is TV? It’s stories. And stories have always been the basis for transmitting history and culture. Cavemen sat around fires and told about the time Great Uncle Grog lost half his hair in a battle with a Wooly Mammoth, and that’s why men of our tribe wear our hair short now. There are lots of ways to transmit stories that are important in our culture–books, internet, TV. It’s all about stories.
- TV can be mindless. No doubt. But it depends on how you watch it. I love to deconstruct characters I find interesting or try to figure out how actors make me like an anti-hero or how writers were able to surprise me with a plot twist. Most of the time, I’m not vegging; I’m learning. This is not to say there’s not a place for the escapism that TV offers; there is. But it’s not always an escape and it shouldn’t become a place to hide from the world. And as far as it’s being passive and brain-rotting, again, it depends on how you watch it. Do you discuss it with your family afterward or with your friends the next day at work? Probably. This passive, mind-rotting activity can be a story that binds and creates interesting opportunities for discussion.
- Yes, people who already have trouble separating fantasy and reality may feel confused or validated by violence portrayed on TV (or in books or the internet or by their idiot buddy down the street). But most people have no trouble understanding what is real and what is fantasy, and they do not become robots acting out what they see on TV or read.
I’m not going to say that TV time should be unlimited or that everything on TV has value. I just get tired of being told that TV is bad, bad, evil, evil when I see it as another form of story-telling, something I dearly love.
Anyway, I found the following article by Anna Davies about ghostwriting YA novels. I know that not everything in the publishing world works the way people think it does. For example, when you sell your book to a publisher, you sell your book to a publisher. That means they can basically do whatever they want to it. Depending on your contract, it’s possible that they can turn your book into something totally different from what you wrote.
But I’ve never worked on a project as large scale as juggernaut YA fiction. I knew ghostwriters existed, but I didn’t know it worked like this:
A lot of the major young adult series you see on the shelves — and the ones that have been translated onto the screen — are created by a group of editors, who come up with an outline for the story. For the first few books I wrote, I called out sick from my day job (sorry, work!) so I could head to a conference room and hash out plotlines along with three editors and the “real” writer — who did exist, and who approved all the books once they were written. Click here to read the whole article.
These books that began as the product of one mind can become the products of a group of editors and writers in a way that goes far beyond the author/editor/publisher partnerships that I’ve experienced.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this. But it can put things in a more realistic perspective for indie authors. To whom are we comparing ourselves? We might be comparing our one-person enterprise to a team of people who focus group the plots of their series before publication. Or to a writer who doesn’t even exist as an individual.
The cool thing is that indie authors can attain the same feats as these big name authors and writing teams. But remember not to compare yourself too harshly to them as you look out at the aisle of merchandise, movies, and TV shows.
I write a monthly post on Indie Jane, a website that caters to writers and readers of Austen-related works. Over the past few months, I compiled tips and advice for hiring and working with freelance editors, and I’ve been meaning to link them here.
So here they are:
1. Introduction: Let’s Talk about Editing
The most critical part of the pre-publication process is editing. In reviews, readers can leave all sorts of opinions about your characters, plot, and style, but those facets of a book are subjective, open to interpretation. But reviews can also contain objective, provable feedback about typos and spelling and grammar errors. Poor editing stands out, but writers can take simple steps to prevent embarrassing typos by hiring professional editors. Click to read more.
2. Author/Editor Relations: Don’t Treat Your Editor Like a Supercuts
Editing is hard work, and it requires a great deal of time, focus, and concentration. An editor does not approach an editing job as if it is a pleasure read. This is meticulous work. As such, a book that may take the average person 8 hours to read for pleasure will take far, far longer for the editor to edit. And by far, far longer, I mean weeks, or in the case of nonfiction manuscripts with footnotes, I mean months (really awful, horrible months…but I digress). Click to read more.
3. Rates and Services: What to Expect from Your Editor
When your work comes back from the editor, you should be able to recognize it. That means, the editor should not send you back a rewritten or completely reorganized version of your own work. Every suggestion should be made in such a way that the author can either approve or disapprove of it. The author is ultimately responsible for every change made to the manuscript. Editors can only make suggestions. Click to read more.
4. Going Pro: So You Want to Be a Freelance Editor
Thanks to the explosion of self-publishing, the demand for good copy editors and proofreaders is high. Freelance work is far more readily available than it was five (or even two) years ago. That means this is a good time to take on a client and see how the job suits you.
“But how?” you ask. Click to read more.
5. Becoming a Freelance Editor: Corrections and Egos:
There are two things that all equestrians must remember if they want to have a good ride:
- Always relax!
- Never relax!
Here, you might be asking two questions:
- What does that even mean?
- How does it apply to editing? Click to read more.
When researching the science of fear for Riding Fear Free: Help for Fearful Riders and Their Teachers, I learned many surprising facts about how fear works in the brain. As a recovering fearful rider myself, it helped a great deal to learn that fear was the brain’s way of keeping the body safe. One of the most crucial aspects of overcoming fears is learning how to tell if feelings of fear are based on actual circumstances or if you have created a “what if” situation. Is the horse actually about to spook or am I just wondering what would happen if she does spook? Learning to ask good questions about the circumstances that have caused the fear has helped me ride with confidence and have a lot more fun with my horse.
I liked learning how the brain was working, what actual, physical, chemical processes were guiding what was I feeling. So when I began to have trouble motivating myself to write, which is unusual for me, I wondered what was going on in my brain.
I learned some interesting facts from the video embedded below about productivity. Here are the bullet points that helped me:
- Willpower might be a limited resource. You can’t always grit your teeth and muscle through a task. You can’t always force yourself to try harder. (You can’t do that with fear either, btw.)
- Break down each task into small steps. Riding Fear Free encourages people to start where they feel no fear and take the smallest step possible so that they do not induce fear. By adding up these small steps, you can ride fear free. It’s the same with productivity. Have an overall goal–finish Moral Hazard–but then break it down into small chunks that will not overwhelm your brain–today work on chapter 30.
- Get started on a task, and you will be more motivated to finish it. The Zeigarnik Effect shows that starting a task actually makes your brain want to finish it. The brain doesn’t like to leave a task unfinished.
- Work more deliberately. Work hard for a certain period of time and then take a break.
- Give yourself a deadline and document your progress. Tracking your progress will be a reward in itself because you will be able to see and celebrate each small step, which is often forgotten in the bigger picture, as it contributes to the larger goal.
Let me know if this video helps you as much as it has me.