…I got deep into this process of writing. Or shall I correct that statement and say: editing.
Seriously, I thought: how is THAT possible? That statement remained a mystery until I began the process. Then I knew with absolute certainty that they were right.
I know, I know….I know what you could be thinking anyway. Editing is what someone else does… but you don’t write your book and hand it over to one editor and POOF, it’s done. (Not unless you are a best selling author anyway.)
Often, this is not how the process goes. Especially if you are a brand-spanking new writer like me. Eagerly awaiting your first book deal, struggling through this pain-staking process called self-publishing.
For me, this is how it went. This is how I discovered the truth behind editing is the real…well…bitch for lack of a better word.
then it was me editing it over and over until I couldn’t stand my own words anymore. By that point I wanted to chuck the whole manuscript (and my laptop) out the window. Or, take a lighter to it and watch it burn slowly.
Then, gathering my senses for the next phase, it was a few dear, very qualified friends who entered the editing process. I was so lucky to know these talented individuals that took it upon themselves to spend so much of their free time in order to do it for me. I mean, who has free time anymore? It’s a luxury to most. As a result, my book got tighter, grammatically correct and they caught many things I missed. No surprise there. My last English (or writing) course was in high school.
Now, based on a lack of enthusiasm from the first three people I reached out to on the endorsement level, I had to look at it again. What was it about my book that turned these people off? It was as if I were a desperate, single guy wearing bad cologne at a night club. You could practically see these potential endorsers wrinkle their noses, turn their heads up, spin and walk away. I had become a desperate, single wearing bad perfume trying to pick up an endorser. What was the worst part was I was not only having no luck, no one was even responding to my emails. It was that bad.
You can give your book to friends and family. Most of us self-published, new writers do this initially. We do it out of inexperience, necessity and security. I know I did. After my first editor, my mom was my first reader. And they may give you some extremely valuable and much needed criticism. (my mom did give me some valuable feedback….which I incorporated into my second round of changes.) But more often than not, they say “Oooh I loved it!” Or…”It was great, funny….I read it in one night! There are very few people who will go on to tell you “The chapter about the guy you got drunk with all summer was really too long.” Or “I was bored as hell when you went off topic for half the chapter in the middle of your Vegas chapter.” These are little tidbits that your endorsers (or general public) are thinking, not telling you, that your first round of readers are also not telling you.
So…join a group on line that does critiquing.(be careful though…there are many. Some are good, some are not so good). Join a writers group that does it.
Give it to friends who are brutally honest, maybe people you don’t even like that are extremely well read. Hey, you don’t have to be great friends, but you do have to respect their opinion. They are probably right anyway. We, as writers, are too attached to our work to have an objective opinion. We need others to tell us when we suck. When we are too long-winded and off topic. When we are describing a character that we too soon drop and so…why bother introducing them at all? Are they really imperative to the plot and story?
If there’s no group in your area, start one. I did. We are not a critiquing group. We are merely a support group. But that’s what I and everyone needed. Those that needed critiquing broke off and started a group for that sole purpose.
Don’t do what I did which was to edit the hell out of it, have others edit the hell out of it and think because of all the editing that it is okay enough to publish it. The friends and family are a help as your initial readers, but don’t make them your test readers. Give it to some people who don’t know you. Some people who will rip it apart. THOSE are the people who are going to help you the most.
I had one friend who, like me, has bipolar and ADD. She couldn’t get past the third chapter, saying it was too long. She got bored. She was my test audience, and only one of two people that read it that share the same illness. I took her advice over that of others because she is my audience. I was forced to weigh her opinion as heavier, more important than my own or others because she is my target market. Even if I thought it was my best chapter (which luckily I thought it was my worst), I would’ve had to look at that and weigh her opinion heavier than say, my mom’s or, my first or second editor’s opinion.
Find a book club and have them read and discuss it. This is a step I intended to do but never followed through with. It’s a suggested a well known author made to me at a talk he gave my writers group and had made in his book about getting published. Not a bad idea, I thought. It probably would’ve helped me a lot. One could make up a questionnaire with what you want to know, specifically, about what they thought. Dissect it a bit, you know, through specific open-ended questions to the book club members. Just a thought. The questionnaire idea is mine. It just came to me….
Anyways, I better go now. Time to edit. I have to get my book in print. It has been two years since I started it. My mind is really on my first novel that I’d like to attempt: DinerGirl.
Wendy ; )