Friday, 29 July 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: Edit, re-edit, and edit again!

Advice for Indie Authors: Edit, re-edit, and edit again!
This week has been busy and productive, and things are now starting to pick up some real pace. Two days ago I approved my final edited manuscript to be sent to press. Within a week I will receive the first hard copies of my novel, The Drought.

There is a real air of excitement now. For the last two weeks I have been spending pretty much every spare minute I have reading, checking, and re-reading my manuscript, to make sure all mistakes are ironed out. I have been working with a brilliant editor at Pen Press, who has been helping me every step of the way.

I can’t stress how important the re-editing stage has been. Over the last two years I have lost count of the amount of times I have re-read my work, edited it, changed things, added new characters, deleted chunks of text, re-written whole chapters, and somehow inserted an extra 10,000 words worth of new content.

When I completed that first draft back in September 2009, the most difficult thing I found was to sit back and be self-critical. I knew I would have to make the odd spelling and grammar correction, but in my eyes all of the effort I had put in already was enough.

But you have to be open minded to realise that there is always lots of room for improvement. I tried looking at my work through a different set of eyes. It never ceased to amaze me the amount of errors I had missed, or how much of the content I decided to change, each time I re-read the manuscript.

I started to scrutinise every minor detail, but in doing that I gradually fell into the trap of being overly critical, obsessed with making it as perfect as possible, and sometimes making changes for the sake of making changes. A comma here or an extra word there; I think I drove my poor editor, Claire, mad with all of the little last minute tweaks I insisted on making towards the end!

I’m confident all the changes and the time putting into the editing stage will all be worth it in the end, but as Claire said to me: “You have to learn to listen to that instinctive voice inside that tells you when it's done and to step away from the canvas.”

And that is what I did in the end – I listened to myself.

The rest of my week has been spent looking at designs for my marketing material. As I mentioned in a previous blog, social media is a fantastic tool, but nothing still quite does it like good old fashioned print.

Through Pen Press, I was put in contact with a company called Author Essentials who specialise in marketing and promotional services for authors. I have opted for flyers, bookmarks, postcards, A3 sized posters, and business cards, and I plan to use them all in various different ways. But perhaps the most useful way will be off-the-cuff conversations I have with people who take an interest, and I will be able to physically hand them a piece of marketing material related to my book. The power of print…

The next step of the process is now in the hands of Pen Press, who are taking care of registering the book and uploading information (ISBN, price, dimensions, genre and description). As per national legal requirement, all books are registered with and copies sent to The British Library and Neilsen BookData.

Nielsen's supply information to the majority of the book trade, and is where all reputable book sellers get information on books so that they can sell it. It is important to give an advance release date when registering. It takes six to eight weeks for booksellers to upload their information for PODs and three months for full, traditional published books.

Once that has been complete, I will be a published author. Writing the book in the first place was by far the hardest part, but the guidance I have received from Pen Press since April to get to this point has been invaluable. I’m already looking forward to the next chapter in this process.

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