The Importance of Editing

First, a couple of quick updates: Restoration continues to attract new readers (yay!), and I continue to work my marketing plan. Someone in one of the Facebook writer’s groups I participate in said it best: Being a successful author is a marathon, not a sprint.

So far, I’ve sold 142 copies and given away 204. I’m happy with these numbers because it means that  I’ve progressed beyond close friends and family and have started to garner interest from complete strangers…an important first step!

Assuming current course and speed, the audiobook version of Restoration will be out sometime in mid to late November. I plan on doing a good bit of marketing in November and December let people know about this option.

My second novel, The Fourth World, is coming along nicely, but I am still a couple of weeks behind schedule. My wife and I are going on a ten-day vacation in November, and then comes Thanksgiving, so I am going to have to be especially diligent to not get further behind.

With regard to the title of this blog post: I just learned some valuable lessons about the editing process and how important it is to have beta readers. I went through a rigorous editing process before publishing Restoration, and I even paid a highly recommended professional editor to give it a final once-over. Even still, the book went to press with more errors than I would have preferred.

Most of them were minor punctuation and spelling errors, but I was shocked to see how many of them slipped through my process. “What was your process?” you ask. Well, I’ll tell you!

Of course, I read the book…about two dozen times in fact, and in multiple formats (printed on paper, PDF on my laptop and Mobi on my Kindle Paperwhite). The problem with that was that I read it so many times I became blind to what should have been obvious errors. So, to combat that phenomenon, I purchased some editing software.

It identified a bunch of stuff and made some very good suggestions, but it had the annoying habit of suggesting corrections that I knew were wrong or didn’t reflect what I consider to be “realistic” speech between characters (it struggled at times with comma placement and dialogue).

Next, my wife and a couple of close friends read it…and they too had some great suggestions. But things still manage to slip through that gauntlet. So, I went back and re-read the book again, fixing errors as I went and hoping that my eyes would be open to anything else that had been missed.

After that was done I felt pretty good about the overall quality and decided to publish the book (fingers crossed!). Guess what…there were still errors. Thankfully, my father, being the loving, supportive parent that he is, bought a copy and dove in. The good news is that he loved the book and gave me a lot of positive feedback, but he also found several dozen errors that he was kind enough to type up and share with me. It probably helped that he is an English major, but I think that his critical eye and sincere interest in my success were the principle motivators behind his diligence.

The lesson I learned? Find as many people as possible like my father…people who not only have a good command of the English language (or whatever language you write in) but who also have a vested interest in your success. I wish the technologies in my book were real and I could clone my dad, but they’re not so I will have to improvise.

Please let me know if you would like to be a beta reader for future books, or if you have suggestions on how I can improve my editing process.

As always, thanks for reading!

Photo Credit: With Associates, The review part 1 via photopin (license)

 

Kirkus Review Posted!

“An insightful dystopian tale with dynamic characters and a surfeit of surprises.” – Kirkus Review

More positive feedback from a top reviewer. Check it out when you have a minute!

My Writing Process, Part 2

First, a big THANK YOU to everyone who picked up a free copy of Restoration yesterday! As a new author, eyeballs and reviews are far more valuable than dollars. So, if you read it and enjoy it, please do me a HUGE favor and take a moment to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads (or both!). We all have limited time, and your review might be the thing that convinces someone to invest some of theirs in reading my book.

In Part 1, I talked about the importance of goal setting and time management. I won’t rehash that here except to say if you want to be a successful writer (or almost profession for that matter), set goals!!

A friend recently asked me how I keep track of things like interwoven storylines, logistics, and character development. Specifically, he wanted to know if I fully mapped out the storylines and character backgrounds before writing the novel since, as he put it: “The logistics in the story are very complex – but are fairly easy for the reader to keep up with”. 

He was, of course, talking about Restoration, and I took his question as a huge compliment as that is exactly what I hoped to accomplish! The truth is that I don’t have a process for keeping track of all of that stuff. For the most part, I just keep it in my head. Oh sure, I do have some story notes here and there, and I have a bullet list of characters that includes their full names, relationships to other characters and important events…but that’s it.

Here is my approach to writing in a nutshell:

  1. Come up with a story idea.
  2. Imagine the main characters and events that are required to drive the story forward.
  3. Think about the story and characters until it coalesces in my mind with enough clarity that I can “watch it”.
  4. Watch story play out in my mind…like watching a movie.
  5. Write what I see, hear and feel until the movie is over (ie. the book is done).
  6. Go back and re-write as required to clean-up mistakes, improve flow, strengthen dialogue and enhance character depth/interactions.
  7. Edit, edit and edit again. (This part drives my wife crazy, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Aren’t you done yet?” in the last months of writing Restoration. Each time I’d say “Almost, just one more round of edits and it should be there!”. Note to wife: I love you, baby. Thanks for keeping me on track!)
  8. Say a prayer, cross my fingers and click “Publish”.

And that’s it…at least that was it for Restoration. For my next books, I am hoping to add one more step in between 7 and 8: 7.1. Give an advance copy to my friends/Beta Readers so they can provide feedback BEFORE clicking “Publish” rather than after.

It’s difficult for an author to see all of their mistakes since our brains tend to show us what we think should be there (at least mine does). Since it’s new material to you, you will probably read it once and find several obvious mistakes. As the writer, I’ve probably read it twenty times and missed it every time!

In order to implement that step, I need a pool of people who love to read, enjoy providing honest feedback and who have the time (and the desire) to invest in someone else’s success. If that’s you, please let me know and I will add you to my list of Beta Readers. There simply is no substitute for another set (or ten) of eyes.

As always, thanks for reading and have a great week!

 

Get Restoration for free!

Great news! I will be offering the e-book version of Restoration for free (as in $0.00) for everyone on Monday, October 15, 2018. That’s this coming Monday! If you’ve been on the fence, now’s your chance to see what all the excitement is about. Or, maybe you entered last month’s Goodreads giveaway but didn’t win? Now’s your chance!

This is a one-day promotion that starts at midnight Sunday and ends midnight Monday, so don’t delay!

“Restoration is my favorite book for 2018 ! What a page turner with unexpected twists and turns. The author has a spectacular imagination that keeps you guessing until the fantastic ending. Really well done, if you read only one book this year read this one.” -A Satisfied Amazon Customer

My Writing Process, Part 1

It’s hard to believe but summer is over and the leaves are falling from the trees. Oh, how time flies, especially when you are a writer working on a deadline (albeit a self-imposed one).

The Fourth World is progressing nicely. I am at 69,127 words, which is nearly double where I was on August 23rd. Unfortunately, that’s 10,873 words behind my October 1 target of 80,000 words. Why am I behind? Well, I was sick with a nasty cold for a week and a half and the meds made it hard to concentrate…but the real reason is that I, like many writers, am prone to procrastinate when presented with anything that seems like a reasonable excuse!

That is why I set daily, weekly and monthly writing goals—they keep me accountable. I would be right on target if I had written just 1,000 words each day I was sick, which is just 2/3 of my standing daily goal of 1,500 words. In full disclosure, I did write some during those ten days but I made up for that by slacking off a couple of other days. <Insert boyish grin and shoulder shrug here.>

Getting words from brain to digital paper is the single most important job of any professional writer. It’s great to have a ton of ideas, but they don’t do anyone any good locked up inside your head. That’s why I put so much emphasis on word count goals…I can always go back and clean-up a poorly worded sentence later, but at least it’s on the page.

In Part 2, I will dive into the details of how I go from idea to final manuscript. As always, thanks for reading, and thank you for your support and encouragement!

Image Credit: https://www.freeimages.com/photographer/patuska-34559