authors, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

LET’S EAT GRANDMA: The Importance of Proofreading

kathyideOne of the things I enjoy most about my current role is the opportunity to meet and interact with some amazingly creative and professional people. A few weeks ago when I gave the key note address at the West Coast Writers Conference Indie Author Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Kathy Ide.  Kathy is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker.  Her latest book is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors is a must read for every aspiring authorShe is also the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com).  

I asked her to share some of her wisdom and experience with my readers through a blog post. Her post is what follows and I think you will find it to be very helpful.

 

LET’S EAT GRANDMA: The Importance of Proofreading

Have you seen the plaques and T-shirts that say:

Let’s Eat Grandma.

Let’s Eat, Grandma.

                        Commas Save Lives.

I love that! It shows how one tiny bit of punctuation can change the entire meaning and tone of a sentence.

You may think that as long as you’ve got life-changing content in your nonfiction manuscript, or an intriguing story with lots of conflict and interesting characters in your fiction manuscript, that should be enough. And yes, content and story are extremely important. But no matter how good those things are, you’ll be running some pretty big risks if you don’t bother proofreading your manuscript carefully for typos, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies … and learning the industry-standard rules regarding punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling.

OK, you won’t be putting your grandmother’s life on the line or joining a tribe of cannibals. But tiny mistakes in your writing can have disastrous consequences. Here are my top ten:

 

  1. Mechanical errors can decrease your chance of acceptance by a traditional publisher.
  1. Mechanical errors can cause miscommunication.
  1. Mechanical errors can cause confusion.
  1. Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.
  1. Mechanical errors can be embarrassing.
  1. Mechanical errors may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.
  1. Mechanical errors can affect the sales of your book.
  1. Mechanical errors could cost you money.
  1. Mechanical errors can be distracting
  2. Mechanical errors can give you a poor reputation.

 

Professionalism Is Key

Proofreading Secrets_FrontCoverIf you’re writing just for family and friends, it may not matter so much whether every comma is in exactly the right place or if you have a few typos here and there. But if you want to get your book published in today’s highly competitive commercial market, you need every edge you can get. If you expect people to buy what you write, you need to take the time to do it right.

If you have a hard time finding typos, inconsistencies, and “PUGS” errors in your writing, consider hiring a professional proofreader. If you go to http://www.ChristianEditor.com and fill out the form for Authors Seeking Editors, you’ll be connected with established, professional editors who can make your manuscript shine.

A comma may not save Grandma’s life. But a careful proofread might make a life-or-death difference for your manuscript.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Editing, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

The Guardian newspaper in the UK suggests $6,000 needed to effectively self publish. Debate ensues.

Last week, Suzanne McGee, penned a feature  in the Money section of the Guardian, with the headline, You can try to be the next Hemingway — for $6,000 and the subhead, Self-publishing has made it possible to get your writing out in the world. But it hasn’t made it cheap.

In her article, she suggests based on her interviews with a number of self published authors, there are some critical elements you need to consider if you are going to self publish. Those include

  • An ISBN number
  • Editing
  • Cover Art
  • Paid reviews
  • Promotional print copies of your book

The GuardianShe suggested the total cost of the project would be around $6,000 with the two-thirds of that budget going to editing. Not surprising her article generated 80 comments and many opposing views.  Some were civil in their comments and some were rude.  Based on her response to the comments I think she was simply trying to point out that self-publishing is not and should not be considered a “free” opportunity as some might lead you to believe.

Certainly you can spend more or less than the amount she suggests, but those who were debating the number I think missed the most helpful points of the article.

  1. You are going to have to invest in editing to have a good book--I think this is the most important thing every self published author needs to remember and good editors are not cheap or free.
  2. You will have to invest time and money in promotion–She suggests paid reviews and many debate the value of those, but the point is you can’t just publish a book and wait for people to find it. You are going to have to spend some coin to garner interest and publicity.
  3. You will have to give things away before you see sales—In her article she suggests you need promotional copies of your book to hand out to media or others to get word of mouth about  your book started.  I think that is true, but there are other things you may want to consider as well.

The other great value to an article like this is it points out the need to have a simple way to evaluate the options out there for authors. I have written extensively about this topic and have a white paper title The Four Paths to Publishing, that layouts out the different opportunities available today for authors to get their books in the hands of readers.

If you would like to read the complete article in The Guardian, you can find it by clicking here.

 

 

 

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Author Solutions, authors, Editing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Answers to Mistakes spell check would miss, but a good editor will catch

In my last post, I suggested that spell check does not take the place of a good editor.  In fact, it will overlook errors that an editor will catch. I gave these examples and asked you to see if you could find the mistakes.

  1. I did not here the gate change for my flight; so I did not get there bags on the plane.
  2. Once I realized I needed to move myself foreword: I had the angel I needed to see what I needed to sea.
  3. He was so surprised. He looked like a dear in the headlights.

Here are the corrections. quick edit of errors second attempt

 How many did you catch?

Also if you are looking for other information about editing, just simply type editing into the search box on the blog and you will find some helpful posts.

 

 

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Author Solutions, authors, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Mistakes spell check would miss, but a good editor will catch.

One of the most important things self-published authors can do is have their book edited by an experienced professional. Spell check does not count as editing despite what some first time authors may think. Let me just give you a few examples of mistakes in the following sentences that spell check would miss.

  1. I did not here the gate change for my flight; so I did not get there bags on the plane.
  2. Once I realized I needed to move myself foreword: I had the angel I needed to see what I needed to sea.
  3. He was so surprised. He looked like a dear in the headlights.

See if you can find them all and post your answers in the comment section.

In a few days, I will post the answers.

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Author Solutions, authors, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

The 4 most important elements of a great novel

The Author Learning Center was created with the purpose to help authors learn from other authors to improve their craft, understand their publishing options, plus gain insights on marketing and bookselling. I have made the statement before that I think it is the most comprehensive resource on the web for aspiring authors to learn about writing, publishing and marketing. The latest example that supports my case is this interview with Meg Waite Clayton, author of Wednesday’s Daughter’s among others.

Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t have those, you don’t have a story

In this interview, which was filmed at The San Francisco Writers Conference, Meg shares some practical advice on the key elements to include in a novel that is well written. The interview is only three minutes long and definitely worth the watch, but in case you don’t hit play, here are her recommendations.

  1. Focus on the plot–Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t have those, you don’t have a story
  2. Let your characters have flaws–Perfection is not that interesting according to Meg. Anger, frustration, shortcomings–these are the things that make characters interesting and help the reader relate to them.
  3. Deliver the details in an interesting way–Don’t just say the person has blue eyes. Describe the eyes as “dirty blue eyes” which tells you something about the person making the observation as well as the person being described
  4. Pay attention to your word choices– She quotes Mark Twain who says the difference between lightning and lightning bug is one word, but the addition of that one little word makes a huge difference.
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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Editing, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

4 great tips for every writer from Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

In my last post, I mentioned my attendance again this year at the San Francisco Writer’s conference, which took place back in February. One of the keynote addresses at the conference was given by Guy Kawasaki. Guy has published a dozen books using both traditional publishers and by self-publishing. He most recently self-published a book titled, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur. As he was researching the book, I had conversations with him about the services offered by Author Solutions  and other topics related to self-publishing.  I had never met him till the conference, but in our conversations I always found him to be a very reasonable and insightful person. His keynote only reinforced my opinion. He shared ten tips for authors today. With his permission, I am sharing a few with you in this post and in a  post to come.

  1. Write for the right reasons-According to Guy, writing for money is the wrong reason. Money is a consequence of writing a good book, but it should not be the primary motivation. He suggested there are others, such as enriching people’s lives, furtherng a cause or meeting an intellectual challenge. Could not agree more.
  2. Write everyday-I thought this was interesting challenge, but his point was writing is a skill and the more you practice  it, the better you get at it.  For a busy person, this can be hard to do, but it is a worthy goal.
  3. Build your marketing platform-This is not a new thought. Many have said it, but I thought he had some insights that bear repeating. The first point he made is you should build a platform so that you can “earn the right” to share your book with potential readers. That means you have to give to your audience before you ask them to buy your book.  One of the best ways to do that is “curate” content about the topic your potential book buyers are interested in.  Become a “sector expert” as Guy suggests, offering content that is of interest to your readers. In other words, become the go-t0 person for a particular topic.
  4. Tap the crowd-Seth Godin called this building a tribe, but it is the same idea. Use social media to build a following long before you publish your book. Use them for input on your title and your cover and even as beta readers. Their input will likely improve your book and give you a base of potential customers. Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

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Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, Editing, helpful hints, self publishing

The best tip I ever received from an editor

editingWe all need to write and read, then edit and rewrite. Stop typing. Walk away. Question whether it is really any good. Get inspired and furiously start typing again. And we all need to self-edit before we ever give our work to an editor, but we almost always do the same thing. We start reading from the beginning. We start with the first sentence and then read from there, but that is not the best way to determine what shape the manuscript is in. The best tip I ever received from an editor is read the  last chapter first when it is time to self-edit. Why? Because our natural tendency is start at the beginning and read from there, which means the first chapter probably gets read and edited the most. The last chapter is the last written and probably the one that is read the least of the whole book.

I know this may not sound that genius, but try it. I think you will find the need to edit will be much more evident in the last chapter than the first and give you a truer measure of what work is needed on the manuscript.

What tips do you have that you can share with authors? Use the comment section to share yours with readers.

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