Editing Stages for an Indie Author

Editing Stages for an Indie Author

“The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color.”

Emma Hill

Hey lovelies

Now in my previous post about beta readers being the secret to success, I briefly mentioned editors.

An editor is the next person (after you) who spends a lot of time with your manuscript. If you are even considering self-publishing then you NEED an editor. This is something you don’t want to skimp on — TRUST ME.

Now, I’m going to break down the different editing stages that I have come across:

Developmental Edit

A developmental edit focuses on the structure and content of your work. It will ensure that the manuscript is headed in the right direction and if it isn’t, they will help you find that direction — this generally means the place that would keep a reader hooked.

This stage is where things like inconsistency with the tone of work and unclear statements are picked up.

This may be the first stage of edits as it is like a breakdown of the manuscript.

Copyediting

This stage involves thoroughly checking and correcting mistakes. At this stage, your manuscript, having passed through the developmental stage would be in a better position.

This stage is just like a quick checklist, following the work from the developmental edit.

Proofreading

Then obviously you have proofreading.

Just quickly checking your work to ensure all the T’s are crossed and all the i’s dotted.

It is there to check for all those small mistakes you don’t want to see after print (because they would make you so angry haha)

So having gone through all those stages, your work is in a much better position than it was before. It would have evolved and developed so much that you may not even recognise it.

But obviously the benefit of being self-published is that you have ultimate creative control over everything so you don’t have to change something you don’t want to.

Alright, have a good day 🙂

How to Make Time for your First Draft

How to Make Time for your First Draft

The first draft of anything is shit

Ernest Hemingway

One question I usually get asked a lot is how I manage my time — balancing university, work and writing. One of my friend’s even asked me if I sleep at all and I always reply — obviously, I wouldn’t survive otherwise.

Anyways, back to point. From Ernest Hemingway and not me, the first draft of anything is — excuse my french — shit. 🙂

What this simply means is that you can write and write and write without stressing as to how perfect your writing is. But you still need TIME!!

One thing I’m honestly grateful for is the amazing writer community we have on social media. I’m mostly active on Instagram and I’ve gained a lot of friends and a lot of advice through it.

There’s a tip I’ve gotten from many author friends of mine that I want to share with you — ‘placeholders.’

And I kid you not, it is a life saver. There have been so many times I have been trying to write but felt stuck on a particular place and my WIP becomes in danger of writers block, but never fear — **placeholders to the rescue**. In chapter seven of my WIP, I have a section where I said, ‘input witty banter here.’ And I moved on with my writing.

With all the things going on in life, sometimes it is hard to find time for your manuscript. What I have realised over the last few months is that you have to make a CONSCIOUS decision to write. You need to be determined and make some sacrifices.

One sacrifice I made that made my WIP go from 9k to 15k in a couple of weeks was word sprints. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on my WIP so I made a decision and set aside an hour every morning. I would include it into my morning routine so that it becomes a part of my day.

Before I knew it, it turned into a habit. If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen my word sprints every morning at 8. I started slowly typing around 300 words. Before I knew it, I was typing 500 words. Then I was typing around 700 words. Then I started typing around 1500+. It was a struggle, I won’t lie to you but it was worth it in the end.

I made time for my WIP and the words just flowed after a while. Then I felt like a faucet that had just been turned all the way on. Before I knew it, I was writing at least six times a week — resting on Sunday 🙂

So start typing. KEEP writing. CONTINUE working. And you’ll see the progress in due time.

Have a lovely day xx

Beta Readers

Beta Readers

You’ve written a great story, right? You’ve gone through the editing process and you’ve broken down your story and put it back together. You’ve written something so amazing one that it will soar through the stars and excel (excuse my dramatic self)

Obviously you have written a great story according to your standards as an author. Then you passed it on to an editor/(s) to cut it down and build it back up again.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter how critical you are on yourself and how much you aspire for perfection — you won’t be able to find those secret corners of your manuscript that will turn a reader with the ultimate self control into an junkie for YOUR words.

And that’s where beta readers come into play…..

When I published my first book, if someone said the words “beta reader” to me, I would’ve looked at them like they were mad — ‘why you making up words?’

But a year and half later, I’m recruiting beta readers for my Christmas novella. Beta readers read through your manuscript after it’s been through all the stages of editing. They read the manuscript before it is published just to give some thoughts on the story from a readers point of view.

They are essential because as an author, the story is your baby and there are only so many ways you would be willing to be strict with it. Then your editor would be looking at it like the aunt asked to care for the child — so yeah they may be stricter but there’s a sense of familiarity.

A beta reader is like that one person in the park who sees your child doing something wrong and isn’t afraid to tell you. Yeah sometimes we don’t like that person because we think we’ve done a good job on our own but usually, they are right.

Enough with the family analysis — a beta reader helps tell you what your readers would think. They help to pick up on final areas for clarity and or reorganisation.

When I wrote my Christmas novella, I felt it was a good story — great even (dare I say). But when it came back from beta readers, I knew what I had wasn’t a diamond yet. They pointed out things that I wouldn’t have seen even if I was wearing my reading glasses. They pointed out phrases that maybe weren’t clear or maybe needed a little more explanation.

By the time I finished editing with their recommendations and my editor saw my work, I knew at that time that I had an amazing piece of work. On publication day, my book made it to TOP ten on Apple Books for Fiction and Literature. So, don’t take my word for it, stats speak for themselves.

Thanks for reading.

This post is part of a series I’m starting called Ten Things I learnt from self publishing.

Aside

How to pick an occupation for your writing

So, in every story there has to be an occupation. The characters have to be doing something with their lives. They can be in school, college, university, or in an office. It doesn’t matter where they are but what matters is that you want to be able to do justice to whatever you pick.

The key to succeeding in this aspect of your writing is ‘research’. You may be wondering;

“well, I got into the writing business so that I can leave all the stuff I left in school behind”.

I am here to say that what you learned in school applies so much to writing. Today, I am going to show you the best approach to researching the occupation for your characters.

  • Pick a career you know a little about

This is usually my go-to so that the research won’t be so daunting. If you already know a little bit about something, then you have an idea on where to start. For instance, when writing my first book, Hired Fiancee, I picked three main careers. They are medicine, law and CEO. At the time I wrote it, I wanted to be a lawyer and I was going off to university to study law. I had done law at A levels, so I knew where to start.

As for medicine, well it was a supporting career in the book so I didn’t have to go into it as much. I used my knowledge from all the medical programs I watched on TV. So, I had something to start with.

As for being a CEO, I watch a lot of programs and I happened to have been studying economics at the time so I had an idea of where to start from. So, I just had to pick what sort of company the CEO had to run and that’s easier because I had so many things I was interested in at the time. I just picked one of them.

This helped so that the research process wasn’t as daunting.

  • Observe

This is definitely another tip that is very important. Observe people around you, people you see on the street. Just observe everyone and anyone you can. Don’t stare of course but observe. Watch how real people do certain things and it’ll help you to make your characters real.

If you have kids and your setting is in a school then observe your kids in the morning before they leave and in the afternoon when they come back, if you can. I observed certain careers that existed in my family and it gave me an idea of how to write my characters into existence.

  • Ask questions

My mum always told me that if you always ask questions then you would never be lost. Just ask people, very politely about their careers or school.

You will be surprised at how much people will talk to you. Sometimes, people actually want someone to listen to them so kill two birds with one stone. Give someone a listening ear and gain more insight into an occupation to help your writing.

Hope this was really helpful, now go out there and improve your writing.

Till next time. xx