The next update of my massive—and getting even bigger—”Resources for Fiction Writers” page is now live, and it’s right HERE!
I’ve added quite a few new resources, all marked by an asterisk for easy indexing. There are new videos, new podcasts, new websites, and new blog posts, all designed to help you succeed as a writer and, as the case may be, a self-publisher.
And to top it off, I’ve added a shiny new Pinterest-friendly graphic to go with it. (Hint: Feel free to pin the list to your favorite board, along with any of your favorite resources from it!)
A New Way to Access the Resources for Fiction Writers Content
Speaking of Pinterest, I recently created a new Pinterest board that is basically a budding clone of my Resources for Fiction Writers list. It will take me a while to pin every single item on the list but all the new items are already there plus some old favorites.
As always, if you have a resource you highly recommend, I’d love to hear from you so I can check it out myself and maybe add it to the page.
Go forth and enjoy, and I hope you have a wonderfully productive season!
I am giving away ten paperback copies of my book Saving Money on Editing & Choosing the Best Editor on Goodreads.
The self-publishing industry is booming, and if you’re a self-published author, so is the competition. Having your book professionally edited is an essential step in getting your story to stand out from the crowd. But who knew that editing services were such a pricey proposition?
Janell E. Robisch, a professional editor with over two decades of experience, will show you how to save money on professional editing by
This book was inspired by and adapted from several earlier posts on this blog and is now available in paperback and on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Scribd, and other formats.* It is not simply a compilation of the blog posts. It has been completely edited and integrated. I’ve added updated information.
It’s a handy little resource to have around during the revision phase of writing your book, and it’s a great guide to help you get your manuscript in the best shape possible before you send it to your editor.
It will also help you find the right editor for you and your book.
Saving Money on Editing Availability
I had hoped to offer it on Kindle Unlimited. However, a different version of it, called An Author’s Guide to Saving Money on Editing, is being copublished by the Editorial Freelancers Association later this year. Amazon’s KDP Select program demands exclusivity, so Kindle Unlimited won’t be possible for this book.
The good news is that this means I can publish it more widely later. I can use services such as Ingram Spark, Kobo Writing Life, and Smashwords to distribute my little book to a wider audience at a later date. *The book has now been distributed through Draft2Digital and is also available in paperback.
A paperback version of Saving Money on Editing will also be available soon. I just need to check the proof, which is on its way to me as we speak.
This Is Just the Beginning
Saving Money on Editing is the first in a series of Indie Author Guides aimed at helping indie authors improve their craft and learn the business of self-publishing. I am learning everyday, and as I learn, I want to share that knowledge with you, to make the process of writing and preparing your book for publication as smooth and achievable as possible.
I may very well use this blog in the process of creation. I’d love to hear what you want to learn about. How can I, as an editor, help you solve your writing problems? What questions do you have about writing and self-publishing?
What issues or challenges do you deal with every day that interrupt writing or make the process more difficult? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. Let’s start a discussion on how we can help each other as authors. Also, how can editors such as myself help authors achieve their goals?
I often encourage my clients and other writers to get feedback from alpha readers, beta readers, and/or critique partners or groups to improve their writing.
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect science, and even editors can disagree on whether this feedback is useful or not. Like reading “news” on the internet, as writers, we have to learn what feedback is useful and what is garbage.
If you can learn to wade through the good, the bad, and the ugly, getting feedback from readers and critique partners can be invaluable.
In this post, I give you some tips on how to deal with feedback in a way that will not only improve your current writing project but also help you to grow as a writer.
Tips for All Feedback
Having multiple readers can be especially useful for learning whether a certain piece of feedback will really help improve your work in progress. All readers are subjective, but how can we determine which comments and critiques are worth our attention?
A rule of thumb is to always pay attention when several readers give you the same feedback. For example, if three different readers tell you that a certain paragraph or scene is awkward, make sure to go over it until you can pinpoint the problem and smooth it out. If possible, ask those readers for specifics to find out where they stumbled over the text.
You can also use this rule for positive feedback. Mark sections to “leave alone” if several readers have lauded a certain sentence or paragraph.
When only one reader points out a problem, however, as the writer, you must be the judge. Look at the text carefully and see if you agree with the reader.
If it’s something as simple as a typo or misspelling, that’s an easy call.
If it’s something more broad like “I think you should kill off this character,” then you have a judgment call to make. Is it something that works for you? Do you think following this advice would improve the story as a whole or just cause other problems?
Never make a change just because one reader said so. On the other hand, never avoid making changes just because they are inconvenient. Really evaluate the feedback and then decide whether your reader’s suggestion would make your story better.
Tips for Conflicting Feedback
Conflicting feedback can be especially confusing, especially to a new writer. If half of your readers tell you one thing and half tell you exactly the opposite, what are you supposed to do?
First, try to distill exactly what element of writing your readers are having issues with. Take some time to either learn about or clarify that issue and see whether there are any resources you can find that the deal with it. Talk with a trusted writing mentor. The point here is to make the most educated decision that you can. If there is no “right” way to deal with it, then use your own personal preference. These preferences and writing styles make your writing unique and give it flavor.
In the end, it’s another judgment call.
Tips for Positive Feedback
As writers, we all love good feedback. When other writers or potential readers laud our work, we can’t help but glow. However, that big grin on your face isn’t really improving your writing.
You may think that positive feedback is worthless, but it can help you mark your progress as a writer and tell you when you’re moving in the right direction.
If you give your book to six carefully selected beta readers and they all have mostly positive things to say, then you are probably ready to move forward to the next stage. (See My First Draft Is Done! What’s Next? for an indie author guide to the stages leading up to publishing.)
Tips for Negative Feedback
On the other hand, taking negative feedback—or outright criticism—of your writing can be a real challenge. How do you keep a badly worded or insensitive review from making you want to stop writing altogether?
The first thing you need to do is step back and process the feedback.
Natural human reactions to negativity make it hard for us to deal with this kind of criticism, especially when it’s targeted at our creations. It can take some time to be objective enough about it that you can evaluate whether the feedback is helpful and determine what you should do about it.
Depending on how harsh the criticism is, this can take anywhere from a couple of seconds to several days or even longer.
Once you feel like you can face the feedback without screaming, you need to distill it to find out if it will be useful for you.
You may find that for whatever reason, the feedback isn’t feedback at all but rather needless trolling with no other point than to be negative. Anyone who is on the internet has run across the kind of people who leave spiteful comments and reviews just to stir up trouble.
How can you tell if your reader is a troll? Look for insulting language or comments directed at you as a writer or person instead of the writing itself. For example, take “I’ve never seen such dribble” versus “I’m having trouble connecting to the characters.” The first is insulting, but the second gives you specific, constructive feedback.
If you think that you are the victim of a troll, just move on, and make a note never to use that reader again. This is one of the biggest reasons for getting to know your readers and/or critique group well before handing over your writing.
You may find that the person giving you feedback doesn’t understand your genre. Be careful that you aren’t just saying this because you want to argue with your readers. See how their feedback compares to that of others before discarding it.
How can you tell if your reader is an amateur? Look for signs that he or she isn’t familiar with the genre. Readers new to a genre are often overly enthusiastic or extremely negative about tropes that are very common to it. For example, if your reader is “not into all this new agey stuff” and your book is visionary fiction, there is your evidence.
The Honest Brute
Here is the one you really want to pay attention to. The person who honestly (and without insult) points out the flaws and strengths of your writing is the one who can help you the most. Take the time to really evaluate what this person has to say as it will likely help you improve not only the book but also your skills as a writer.
When receiving feedback on your manuscript, always remember that this is your book. Own it, and own the responsibility for revising it in a way that you feel makes it better. Don’t let strongly opinionated readers turn it into something that you don’t even want to claim anymore.
In any case, whether the feedback you receive is positive or negative, considerate it practice for when your book or story is live and people start leaving reviews.
Reviews bring attention to your work, so although they lay you bare for comments and criticism, they are an essential part of the published writer’s life.
A lack of criticism can lead you to believe that you are flawless as a writer. Unfortunately, that in itself can lead to a degradation in the quality of your writing. Writers need to be open to new ways of learning, new techniques, and of course, criticism to keep improving.
How do you deal with feedback from readers on your own writing? How about feedback from editors?
When you finish the first draft of your book, you might feel lost. What are the next steps? How long it will be before you can publish it? Here is a handy guide to getting your book polished and ready for publication.*
Let it rest. Really. Put the manuscript away for a while. Maybe you can start a new project or work on a different one. Get some distance so that when you come back to it, you won’t be blind to your own mistakes. Six or eight weeks should do the trick.
Breathe. When you’re done, take a few days to breathe. Make sure you’re really finished with the second draft. It’s easy to get impatient and throw your manuscript at people the second it’s done. Your patience will pay off in the end.
Send it to beta readers. Send your manuscript to several beta readers. Beta readers can be friends and family. However, the best ones are people who read regularly in your genre and who like to talk about it. Get more beta readers than you need. Reading and commenting on a whole book is a big commitment. Some readers will never finish. You can find free beta readers through critique groups or social media groups. You can also pay for professional beta readers. Paid readers have a good incentive to complete the job! Self-editing and using beta readers will also save you money at editing time. Editors charge on the basis of how much work is needed on your manuscript. (For more details, see my blog series on Saving Money on Editing.) If you are thorough and willing to learn as you go, you may be able to skip structural editing and lower your copyediting costs. In any case, your book will be better off for it! Don’t skip these steps!
Revise again. Take your beta readers’ suggestions into careful consideration, but feel free to ignore some of them. Pay special attention to issues that have been flagged by multiple readers! If most of your readers are telling you the same thing, it would be unwise to ignore it. Repeat steps 2 through 5 as needed until you feel that you can’t do anything more with your manuscript on your own.
Consult a professional editor. Many editors offer a free sample edit. During this time, the editor will go through a sample of your manuscript and make a recommendation about what kind of editing it needs. Feel free to get several sample edits. Go with the editor who is the right combination of fit and affordability for you. You will often pay more for a better editor, but get that sample edit to be sure that your editor is worth her price. (See my post on vetting editors.)
Get developmental editing/make revisions. At this stage, you will be working with your editor on big-picture issues such as plot, theme, character, and structure. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation just yet. Don’t need developmental editing? Hurray! Skip ahead to step 8!
Get copyediting/make revisions. Time to fix all the grammar and spelling mistakes and inconsistencies. Time to improve the flow of your sentences. Just as with beta readers, you can and should choose which edits you keep and which edits you toss. Just be thoughtful. Ask questions. Your editor should want your book to shine as much as you do, and it will make you a better writer.
Lay out your book. Hire a book formatter or design and lay out your book yourself if you know how. Don’t forget to add front matter and a table of contents (a linked one for ebooks)!
Get a cover designed. You can start this step earlier if you’d like. However, if you are self-publishing a paperback or hardcover version of your book, your cover designer will need to know the final page count to determine the spine width for the design. Yes, you can design your cover yourself. However, I only recommend this if you have graphic design experience and really know what you are doing. The cover is the first thing that a potential reader sees. Investing in a good cover designer will boost those original sales before reviews start to come in.
Write your back cover copy and get publicity blurbs. While your cover is being designed, write and edit your back cover copy and use your formatted manuscript to solicit blurbs (good quotes!) for your back cover. If you’re not selling hard copies of your book, you still need good descriptive copy for your book’s sales page, so don’t skip this step.
Get proofreading. You can complete this stage during cover design. Once your pages are laid out, have a proofreader check them to catch typos that might have slipped through or been introduced during corrections (yes, this happens). This is not the time for big changes or rewrites. They will only cause you to have to redo or fix the formatting. Get each format (ebook and hardcopy) proofread because there can be minor differences.
Publish. Upload your files and publish at the vendor of your choice! There are many more choices and steps during this stage, but I’ll leave that for another post!
This post is a slightly more detailed update to an infographic I posted earlier.