Welcome to my new feature, Writing and Publishing Tips. Yeah, yeah, I know, soooo original, right? Don’t judge, I didn’t feel like being creative the day I came up with it. Anyway, you’ll be seeing this new feature between twice to four times a month. Here, writers and readers alike can learn firsthand knowledge about writing and publishing from various authors (and occasional me). I hope you enjoy, and never hesitate to ask questions.
Please welcome Ashley Robertson, author of Crimson Groves, Crimson Flames, UnGuarded, and Death Dealer. She has an amazing guest post for us today that will help those of you planning to self-publish your novel.
You Wrote Your First Book And Now You’re Ready To Publish—NOT!
2013 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist
2012 Voted Best New Author By Popular Book Blog Nose Graze
Typing “the end” does not mean you’re ready to hit the publish button to every online bookstore out there. I almost made this grave mistake with my debut novel Crimson Groves. After editing it myself, reading it over and over and over again, I thought my new adult paranormal romance novel was perfect and ready to be shared with the world. But it wasn’t even close! My hubby was the first to beta read my novel, and he caught several blaring grammar errors—even after all that editing I’d done. I was completely bummed and immediately dove right back into reading over my manuscript again, for about the thirteenth time. Halfway through this round of grueling edits, of which I still wasn’t catching all the errors because quite honestly, you know the story in your mind and when you’re reading it over, your brain allows you to see the words that are meant to be there, not the typos that reallyare. And these “typos” are actual words so you can’t rely on that nifty built-in spellchecker to catch them… so my hubs suggested that I needed to find a professional editor.
At the time, I’d been planning on presenting my novel to a whole slew of agencies that accepted my genre and assumed that once I got signed, all the editing would be handled for me. This assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nowadays, most agencies aren’t even interested in new and upcoming authors—they seem to be targeting successful indie (self-pub) authors instead, purchasing the rights of the existing book(s) and then selling them to a big publishing company that will reproduce the novel through their famed publishing warehouse. So you see, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll end up self-pubbing, and trust me when I say there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve read countless indie books that blew me away—and guess what?—most of them were professionally edited with little-to-no grammar errors (which drives my slight case of OCD crazy) to act as speed bumps throughout the story.
Now, back to getting your manuscript edited. Even if you still want to pursue the traditional route and seek out an agent, you MUST have a clean and polished novel to present to them. Period. This is your chance to stand out above all your competitors, and trust me when I say there are thousands of new authors coming out almost every week—yes, it’s that competitive. Hiring an editor is an expense that, in my opinion, is worth every penny. After all, you want your story to be perfect, right?
So where do you find a good editor? Well, I’m very partial to mine—Stephen Delaney with Close Reader Editing Services (http://www.closereaderediting.com/). He’s done an amazing job with my new adult (NA) paranormal romance novels Crimson Groves and its sequel Crimson Flames, my NA paranormal romance/sci-fi thriller UnGuarded (which was a 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist in Fantasy), and my newest adult paranormal romance release, Death Dealer. Not only does he provide meticulous attention to detail, story, plot, characters, etc., but he also makes suggestions on how certain sentences and paragraphs could be better, adding that extra oomph to keep the reader turning those pages. There are also some helpful websites where you can find the perfect editor for your genre—yes, just like you need to target agencies that accept your genre, the same rule applies to finding your editor. http://pred-ed.com/peesla.htm and http://www.the-efa.org/dir/search.phpare just a couple sites out of many that list editors and what services each one provides. What ever you do, just be sure to hire a professional editor! Not your friend! You want someone that will shoot straight with you and not give a damn if they hurt your feelings because at the end of the day, you want your book as good as it can be for your readers, right?
Compare pricing! Before connecting with Stephen, I narrowed down my editor search to my top-three picks. I reached out to each one inquiring not only about their pricing, but also what the turnaround time frame would be. Both price and timing worked best with Stephen and that’s how my choice was originally made—but at the time it was still a leap of faith since I had NO IDEA what to really expect. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised, and I couldn’t wait to work with him again on Unguarded(which was actually the second book I wrote, Crimson Groves being my debut novel). Keep in mind, you not only need an editor for EVERY book you write, but if you go after an agent the traditional way, it’s in your best interest to get your query letter edited too, since that’s the absolute first thing the agent will see before requesting sample chapters.
Cover Art is Vital! Most people really will judge a book by its cover. So you need to make sure it’s awesome. If you can’t manipulate art in Photoshop or Fireworks then you are definitely going to need to hire someone to do it for you. I’ve worked with some amazingly talented artists. Claudia with Phat PuppyArt did the beautiful covers for UnGuardedand Crimson Flames. While Stephanie with Once Upon A Time Covers did the badass covers for Death Dealerand my upcoming release Blood Promise (due out this Winter 2013).
Be mindful of your budget! If you receive the countless rejection letters that MOST authors are no stranger to, then be prepared to eat the full cost of the editing and cover art. In other words, you may not get that money back if you aren’t able to make it in book revenue. And if you go the indie route, you will have other fees to consider too (i.e., eBook & paperback formatting, blog tours, release parties, etc.).
In summary, there really is no choice as to whether you need a professional editor or not—the choice is simply whateditor is going to be your lifelong business partner in your writing career. And the same applies with a cover artist, unless, like I said before, you can do that yourself…and do it really, really well. Best of luck finding your version of my Stephen, and that perfect cover artist like Stephanie and Claudia.J
~ Ashley Robertson
Author BioAshley Robertson resides in sunny Orlando, Florida, and loves writing about anything paranormal. She also composes poems and songs, though she learned long ago she doesn’t have a singing voice. When she isn’t writing you’ll find her spending time with family and friends, sharing personal training and nutrition advice via ExtremeMakeovers.com, traveling and exploring new places, and drinking fine wines and gourmet coffees from her Nespresso machine.
Visit her website to learn about her upcoming releases, guest blog posts, and featured giveaways at: AshleyRobertsonBooks.com
Ashley is letting me giveaway some of her books. Wait till you here what’s up for grabs. There will be 3 winners all together:
Open USA—One of Ashley’s paperback books (autographed), winner can choose (Crimson Groves, Crimson Flames, UnGuarded, Death Dealer). Custom signed bookmark included.
Open Int’l—2 eBooks (winners choose which 4 books they want and the format)
Abigail Tate was a normal human girl—until the day Bronx the vampire barges into her life and turns her against her will. Held captive while forced to deal with never-ending cravings for blood, Abby prays for a way to escape. Only when an opportunity arises, it’s with the aid of an innocent human named Tyler—except vampires are forbidden to interact with the unbitten. But Abby quickly learns this human has secrets of his own…secrets that can either help her or get her killed. Only Abby soon discovers that she is the one with the biggest secret of all.
Half-vampire Abby Tate is determined to learn more about the sorceress powers that were awakened inside her when she was turned into a vampire—making her a whole new hybrid species. There’s a group of rogue vamps banding together and forming a Resistance against the vampire governing body, The Head Council, and Abby’s newly discovered powers are the key to the Council’s victory. Now the Resistance will do anything possible to remove the hybrid threat, and with no other options, Abby is forced to rely on the aid of the Council, yet can she trust the very vampires that hunt for her human lover? And even worse, can she fight the unwelcome attraction that’s growing between her and one of those ancient vampire rulers?
Guardian angel Selene was so close to becoming an archangel—the supreme of all beings—until she fell in love with Cole, a forbidden dark one. Once she discovers her vampire lover has been kidnapped and the only way to save him is by abandoning her number one priority—Caitlyn, her human charge—there really is only one answer in Selene’s mind, even though leaving Caitlyn unguarded will most likely cause Selene to fall from grace.
But her choice to save Cole doesn’t come without a price…and now Selene is racing against time to not only save her dark lover, but find a way to keep Caitlyn alive as well.
With the help of a new vampire ally, Luke, Selene will push her diminishing angel abilities to the point where her very existence lies in the balance. Now threatened with the chance of becoming a fallen angel or even dying, Selene can only pray she’ll have enough time—and good grace—to save the ones she loves.
Death: a word Mia Baron was all too familiar with since the murder of her parents when she was a young girl. Her drive for vengeance was the reason she became a Death Dealer—a soul guide through the spirit realm—signing her life away in her own blood. Pain forged a concrete wall around her heart and no one or nothing would ever penetrate it…until she got what she desired most—revenge.
Deacon Gage craves justice for his own horrific tragedy that forced him into the same life Mia chose, with the same promise of vengeance dangling just out of reach. His expert training makes him an Elite—one of the few Death Dealers to ever achieve such a status—and no one can shift his focus from the blood he seeks.
But when the two are partnered for yet another job and a heart-shattering case rips open Mia’s heart, Deacon realizes he’s the only one who can save her…at a price that might be too much to pay: opening his heart to her. The clock is ticking and her life hangs on the balance of whether he can truly let go or will hold onto his desire for blood.
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Guest Post, My Features, Writing and Publishing Tips
Ashley Robertson, Book Covers, Crimson Flames, Crimson Groves, Death Dealer, Editing, Self-Publishing, UnGaurded, writing tips
Fabulous post! I probably won’t ever write a book but I still always love reading about authors’ experiences (especially indie authors) and what the publishing process was like for them!
Thanks girl. I really do hope this helps a lot of aspiring authors. I’ve learned so much in the 2 and a half years I’ve been writing. 🙂
So happy to hear a non-writer can enjoy these posts too.
I never understood how important editing was (not just copy editing, but content editing) until I started reading self-pubbed books that hadn’t been edited. A few years ago, when self-pubbing was new, most of the books I tried were just horrible, practically unreadable. It’s gotten a lot better, or maybe I’ve just gotten better at screening out the bad ones, thanks to reader reviews and samples. Thanks for a great post.
So very true. Ashley is 100% right about getting professional edits. I just don’t understand why some authors don’t do that I would think it’s always worth the money to produce your best work.
A good editor is going to cost around $1k for a full-length novel. Sometimes a little more than that. And keep in mind that after editing, you still need to check the changes which can add an additional cost. The problem I see a lot in my writing groups is some indie’s refuse to pay that amount and they go with a cheaper service for around $200-$300. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out and the main negative feedback is the editing. A lot of people are trying to offer editing and formatting services without the proper schooling and knowledge to back them. That’s why I included the two links in the article above to help find a good editor. You want a professional, with the education and background to make your book the best it can be, not a DNF because someone can’t stand the grammar errors and because of that misses the entire story. My budget for each book (including tours, giveaway prizes, editing, formatting, and cover is around $2k) I’ve been praised by lots of reviewers for my books being well written with a smooth story-telling experience for the readers.
I’ve been doing my share of beta reading. When I started doing them I gave a general impression and answered any questions the author had. Now, I go deeper. I realize it is near to impossible to see the errors when you’ve read/edited the work a dozen or more times. 🙂
Love the insight. Thanks for stopping by.
It really is. Even after all the editing with other sets of eyes on the book, I’ve still caught a grammar error. It amazes me that my slight case of OCD will allow me to catch most errors in books I read except for the ones I’ve written. LOL
thank you for the giveaway firstname.lastname@example.org
I love this post. Thank you. It shed quite a bit of light on the publishing and editing route. I do appreciate it very much. Erika
So happy it helped you out. 🙂
Thanks. There’s so much more to the process, but I tried to keep the article focused on the two main points that I feel are most important.
A great post & thank you for introducing Ashley Robertson to me.
Happy you enjoyed it. Ashley is truly awesome!
Thanks Mary. Nice to meet you too 🙂
Fascinating post on editing! It is amazing how much work goes into publishing a book. Thanks for sharing.
I know, it seems exhausting, but I bet it’s so worth it.
Just like any job, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to get that book in readers’ hands. My least favorite part (and the most important one) is the editing because there’s no more room for error at that point. Crack the knuckles and double up on caffeine.
Great post! All excellent tips that I hope authors are really going to keep in mind while publishing. Thank you so much for sharing 😀 Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.
Thanks JC. 🙂
Thanks. I think most indie’s are stepping it up as I read quite a few good books by them lately. Liz Schulte’s Easy Bake Coven series is a great example of a fantastic indie author. Stephanie Nelson’s Anna Avery series is another one. And of course my editor was a huge reason why I was an Indie Excellence Awards Finalist 🙂
I agree, Ashley! I love a lot of Indies now. Thank you so much for listing some of your fav’s. I’ll check them out 😀 Congrats on being the finalist!!
This is a really interesting post. It must take so much hard work to get your book out there!
I know, I am scared to even attempt it.
It really does. But just like with any job, you pour your heart into something and you get fulfillment back in so many ways.
I may never write a book, but I like learning about new things and you never know what might come in handy. I believe that editing is the most neglected item.I can overlook a few things, but when I have to stop and reread or stumble all the way through the book – YUK. The whole purpose of a book is enjoyment – the thrill of the story and living through the authors words. How can I do that if I am constantly tripping and falling my way through the book? I must be pretty good at choosing books and authors, because I am constantly amazed at the quality of the stories and writing of the authors I have been reading. So, Happy Reading Everyone!!!
I couldn’t agree with you more. I have had a lot of DNF’s because of grammar—not the story. It sucks when an author publishes something with such great potential and I can’t get past the speedbumps of their writing. That’s one of the reasons I chose to address editing in this article. I think indie’s have been around long enough to get the importance of professionally editing their books. I understand we all work on a budget, but this expense in one that is unavoidable.
Anne Nelson (Angel Anne Reviews)
Thx so much for post and giveaway!
I have recently purchased Crimson Groves and would love to win a copy of the next installment. Thank you so much for sharing with us today and for the treat of a giveaway opportunity 🙂
Happy you enjoyed the post. Good luck.