This writing-related Challenge of the Week is a giant deal for any authors who’ve decided to self-publish their books. As such, forget any buildup or explanation. Here we go…
Don’t feed into the self-published stereotype!
Please, please, please don’t do it. Maybe I have too large a pony in this race, being a self-published author myself, but I don’t think I can stress this enough.
You need to make sure you’re producing quality writing!
If you didn’t know already, self-published books have something of a negative reputation. And to a certain degree, that’s deserved.
I’ll be the first person to throw away the argument that you have to be traditionally published in order to be a “real author.” That’s utter nonsense. But unfortunately, the idea that self-published books are poorly edited isn’t unfounded.
Some of them are. Perhaps even a lot of them are.
There are far too many of these cases out there, both non-fiction and novel, that should have gone through another several editorial rounds before they were presented to the public. They deserve to be called manuscripts, not books.
This isn’t a slam on these self-published authors’ talents or abilities. Producing a quality book takes a lot of time, effort and consideration. And, sadly, there are a number of big-name traditionally published authors who don’t get it right either, whether because they were never that good to begin with or because they’re coasting on their past successes.
It’s just that self-published writers have less resources to work with, so there’s arguably worse copy in greater numbers and proportions in that particular community.
I’m not even talking about the spelling and grammar errors, although there are definitely those too. Honestly, I can stand those kinds of mistakes in a book that otherwise has riveting characters, an engaging story line and well-structured sentences.
Oh, I definitely notice the errors (at least most of them). It’s really hard not to when you’re a professional editor, since that’s your job. But I don’t mind them if the details grab me and the way those details are presented keep me.
With that in mind, here’s a short list of questions to ask yourself and your manuscript:
Does your sentence structure vary or do you start out each new thought with a noun or pronoun? If you lean toward the latter, mix it up a bit for maximum engagement. Lead with a conjunction, verb or preposition every few sentences. It makes for a more interesting read.
Does your dialogue sound realistic? If your manuscript falls into the creative writing category or if you’re working on a dialogue-heavy non-fiction piece, try reading those lines out loud to yourself. Do you feel foolish saying them? If so, your characters probably sound foolish too.
Do you give your readers a break? This one is twofold (and then twofold again, I suppose).
Are your paragraphs really bulky or do you let readers catch a mental and visual “breath” in between your details or arguments? Varying paragraph lengths can automatically make your copy more interesting to look at and easier to follow.
Do you focus too long on one subject?
If you’re writing fiction, this largely asks whether you give too many setting or background details all at once – known as a data dump – or whether a round of dialogue goes on for too many pages without any additional insights added or purpose established.
If you’re writing non-fiction, then look to see if you’re overdoing a point or repeating yourself. Once you’ve established a fact or opinion and backed it up, move right along.
As I always stress here at Innovative Editing, there’s no such as a perfect writer. Moreover, there’s no such thing as a perfect manuscript. Plus, there’s no such thing as a perfect book, traditionally published or otherwise.
However, there are ways to make a fiction or non-fiction story stronger. And there are ways to fight against negative stereotypes… like not fitting into a stereotype in the first place.
Don’t feed into the negative reputation self-published authors carry with them! Make your book look professional. And don’t publish it until it’s ready!