How To Self Publish #2

How To Self Publish — All By Yourself!

2 Preparing to Publish

Readers expect to read clear, polished writing—especially if they pay money for it. Taking a scenic drive in a beautiful setting in a car with dirty windows is irritating. Reading something with misspellings, grammatical errors, poor sentence structure, and all those other unforgivable sins is irritating in much the same way. No matter how charming the story, technically poor, unpolished writing keeps the reader from seeing the delightful landscape you are trying to create.

 There are two types of editing, developmental and copy. Developmental editing focuses on the story, the characters, the setting, etc. Are the characters consistent? Believable? Are there holes in the plot? Does the timeline hold together? Your editor may also give you ideas that will give your work more punch. A good developmental edit will make your story hang together and be as good as it can be. Many of my first draft characters tend to be feckless wimps. Probably because I am a feckless wimp myself, I have a hard time recognizing this until someone else points it out to me.

Copy editing deals with the dirty details of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. These are all the nit-picky, fine points that English teachers used to mark on your school papers. Trivial technicalities? Consider how the lowly comma changes the meaning of these two sentences:

“Let’s eat, Grandpa.”

“Let’s eat Grandpa.”

You have to be sure what you have written says what you mean it to say. Readers will notice. The more you write, the better you learn the rules. Even so, you need a fresh pair of eyes (or two) to make sure your writing is clear and correct.

 Developmental editing and revisions are a necessary part of the writing process. How many times do you need to go through your story? Once I get to the point where I'm not making significant changes, I go through the whole thing one more time. So what are significant changes? If I'm changing the story by doing things like adding description, clarifying motive, fleshing out a character, etc., I know I need to go back through the whole thing again to make sure the changes work. When I get down to debating that-v.-which, farther-v.-further, etc., it's time to send it off for review by another set of eyes.

I have trouble seeing my own mistakes. I know what the text is supposed to say, so as I proof read, I see what should be there—not what is actually on the page. Sigh. The longer you lay a story aside, the easier it is to see the flaws. However, unless you want to spend a lifetime revising the work, find an editor. Again, there are people who will help you with this, but you tend to get what you pay for. A writing buddy may be willing to trade edits. Maybe a friend will help you edit for a six-pack and a couple packs of beef jerky. Are you FaceBook friends with a former high school English teacher?

Or—maybe you should consider professional editing. Of course professional editing costs money. Since you edit before you try to sell you work, consider a professional editor an investment. You are putting money out on the table, and the roulette wheel is spinning. Can you afford to take the chance? Here is why beta readers’ are helpful. Was their original response encouraging? Now that you have done some serious revisions, consider getting some more responses. How much of a market is there for what you have written?

 Once you have a polished work, you could submit your work for publication, but remember. This is a guide for self publishing. You are the person who has to make the call. It will be your money. Do you have confidence in your work? Will you ever know unless you try?

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