While self-publishing is often seen as a lesser form of publishing, thought to be unpolished, and oftentimes not taken seriously, there are always ways to combat that!
You don’t need to wait for a traditional publisher to approve that your idea is worthy of being out in the world. Your audience needs your expertise now!
That is why in today’s episode, Lauren is delving into how to write and edit your self-published book, the 3 part editing process to make sure it’s ready for publication, why instead of focusing on being perfect, you should focus on being professional, why hiring a professional editor is vital for your book before you hit publish, how to make sure your book caters to your audience, and how to find the best way to speak to your ideal reader!
Thank you so much for tuning in today! If you haven’t listened to episode 37 where Lauren interviews book coach and developmental editor, Suzy Vitello, then go back and check it out!
You can also stay tuned for new weekly episodes @schoolforwriters, and if you want to spread the love even further, consider following, rating, and reviewing!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
-Get on the waitlist for The School For Writers Academy! A new program coming in June 2021. Spaces will be limited!
-Thinking about self-publishing your book? Check out episode 4 with KishaLynn Moore Elliott.
-Check out episode 31 with Logan Rená where she talks about what it means to produce your own book, her thoughts around stigma against self-publishing, how to deal with procrastination as a writer, and more!
-Want to know more about the editing process? Check out episode 5, 3 Steps to Making Sure Your Book is Ready to be Published.
-Check out episode 34 where Lauren delves into the 5 main elements of craft or style of writing and how you can harness them to become a better writer.
-Want to learn more about the editing process? Then check out episode 5: 3 Steps to Making Sure Your Book is Ready to be Published.
Book Recommendation of the week:
–Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.
Wondering why we don’t link to Amazon? Check out Episode 2 of the Business School for Writers Podcast to hear all about how supporting independent bookstores helps you see more stories like yours out in the world.
Welcome back to the School for Writers podcast! Today, we’re going to delve into how to write and edit your self-published book.
Let’s start with talking about the elephant in the room: self-publishing is often seen as a lesser form of publishing because in many cases people will rush incomplete and unpolished books to market.
I think there are two ways to approach that. The first, and one I suggest all of my clients to take, no matter what their Path to Published™, is to accept that you’re putting a book out that is imperfect.
Self-publishing a book often means there are less eyes on it, less professionals whose job it is to make it polished. Which most likely means your book is going to be even less perfect.
But you know what? If you’re waiting for perfect you’re never going to get your book out into the world.
So, before you take another step down the self-published path, I want you to take out a post-it and write this on it:
Published is Better Than Perfect
Published is better than perfect. You know what’s worse than having a crazily written, horribly edited, and just plain bad book out in the world? Having no book at all.
As KishaLynn Moore Elliot said on Episode 4 of the School for Writers podcast: If I buy a book and I don’t like it, that doesn’t change the fact that the author just got my money.
You chose self-publishing because you don’t have the time to wait for traditional publishing to approve your idea and get it out into the world for you. Your dreams, your businesses, your audience needs your expertise out in the world sooner rather than later.
So, repeat after me: Published is better than perfect. Instead of perfect, I want you to aim for professional.
What makes something professional? Well, that depends on your profession.
I wrote my law school thesis paper on pornography and for many years I was a sex blogger. At the same time, I was also a law clerk at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
In both scenarios, I was using words to advocate for the rights of sexual minorities, but my choice of phrases, photos, illustrations, etc. completely changes depending on whether I was writing a brief for the court or my weekly column in VICE magazine. What was professional for the law center would be prude for my blog, and what worked for my columns would be seen as inappropriate in the legal field.
What makes something professional completely depends on your profession. So ask yourself this: what is the best way to speak to my book’s particular audience?
With your audience in mind, I want you to think about their expectation of your book. Specifically, I want you to think about how your ideal reader feels about these things:
- Punctuation, spelling and grammar
- Font choice and graphics
- Storylines and depth of characters
- Takeaways and lessons learned
- Time waiting for it and reading it
Every book’s audience will have its own set of needs, desires and biases, and your professional success and personal satisfaction will be enhanced if you focus on giving them what they want.
If you’re in the internet marketing world, your audience might not care at all about whether your punctuation is correct or even if words are spelled wrong, but they’re going to want your book to be a quick read with solid takeaways that they can implement in their business right now to make more sales.
If you’re romance, your audience is going to care a lot about certain parts of your story-line, like the meet-cute or the happily ever after, but they’ll be less worried about depth of character and an intense plot. The average romance reader devours about 100 books a year, too, so they care about you creating books quickly more often than they care about the writing being of the highest quality. That said, they don’t want too many errors to distract them from the story, so you still need a decent editor to help.
If your audience is very high brow and literary, and they care greatly about their books being of the highest quality edit with no errors in story, punctuation, or grammar, I’m going to suggest that you go the hybrid or traditional publishing routes, especially because people who are that literary still have a bias against self-published so they might not even give it the time of day.
So, keep that audience in mind as you write and edit your book. Focus on the parts they care about the most, put your time, money, and energy into making those parts the best they can be. And then let go of the rest.
Why? Because published is better than perfect.
As you write your book, focus on telling not selling. Yes, you want to understand how to sell your book eventually, but when you’re writing it I want you to tell stories, not sell your book. Because by the time your audience is reading it, they’re going to have already bought it! So develop a marketing plan later. Right now, as you write your book, focus on telling stories that will resonate the most with your audience.
If you want help with that, check out the School for Writers Academy, where we support you in both the craft and career parts of writing, including how to write stories your audience will love to read. Plus, our weekly writing sprints and accountability groups will help make sure you actually sit your butt in that chair and do the work. Find out more at SchoolforWriters.com/Academy.
Once your book is written, you’re going to want to take it through a 3-part editing process to make sure it’s ready for publication.
Just like you wouldn’t throw a newborn baby into a pool and expect it to swim, you need to make sure your book is developed enough before you put it out into the world.
Here are the three edits you’ll want to do before pressing publish on your book:
- Content Editing – Does your book have an overall flow? Is there a story arc with a solid beginning, middle, and end? Do you make the point you set out to make when writing this book? Is there a solid takeaway for the reader? Is the tone consistent throughout?
- Line Editing – Does each line of your book make sense? What language are you using to convey something to the reader? How does it read? Is it clear and concise? Is it pleasurable to read? Do you have extraneous words or run-on sentences?
- Copy Editing – Does your book have any technical flaws? Are the commas in the right place, is everything spelled right and is it grammatically correct? Are there any discrepancies in your characters, plots, or points made? Is everything that needs to be factually accurate correct?
While you can, and should, do these three edits for yourself, I also highly suggest hiring professional editors to help you. Not only does it give you a perspective outside of yourself, but professional editors have eyes trained to catch what your eye might skim over.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a wrong word and totally not seen it because my brain turned it into what I meant it to be.
Professional editors are a wonderful way to make sure you don’t regret sending a book to an agent or self-publishing it with embarrassing errors.
I *highly* suggest hiring a professional editor. You can Google your book genre plus editor, I’ve done that in the past. But I much prefer going with a reliable source.
Editing is 100% worth the cost, but can get expensive, so if you’re short of funds try finding that one friend who is always pointing out your grammar mistakes on social media (we all know that person) and offer to take them out to dinner or clean their house in exchange for their time and skills.
I’ve used Facebook Groups and writing groups, like my School for Writers Academy, to get recommendations from other writers.
Whatever you do, don’t let cost keep you from a thorough three edit process. It is the most important step in making sure your book is ready to be out in the world.
Remember, published is better than perfect.
Successful books cater to the needs of their audience.
First things first, you have to write your book.
A three-part editing process will help your book feel polished and professional.
We’ve got editors and coaches here to support you through the whole process.
Okay, that’s it. Once your book is written, edited, and professional (not perfect!) you’re ready to go on to formatting and design. We’ll talk about that two weeks from now on the podcast, so be sure to follow or subscribe wherever you listen so you don’t miss it!
Thanks again for joining us today. Until next time, happy writing!