Tag Archives: Edits that Rock

My Self-Publishing Journey: I am the Decider!

I just got the 2nd pass edits on LIGHTBRINGER back from Edits that Rock. One of the questions Rochelle raised after the first round was whether I wanted  to discuss religion quite as much as I did. In much of today’s paranormal romance, the big questions of religion are carefully skirted so as to not offend and lose readers. This isn’t as true in science-fiction and fantasy. A significant number of authors in those genres have tackled religion head-on, but not so much in romance.

I had what I think is a fairly average Christian upbringing, colored by an early love of science-fiction and fantasy.  In SF and fantasy it’s often acknowledged that in building a new world, religion is an integral part of  what motivates people. So for me, if characters have a conversation about life after death (VEILED MIRROR)  or angels (LIGHTBRINGER) it doesn’t make sense to pretend religion doesn’t exist.

And yet . . . I am paying Rochelle for her expertise, and I do want to actually sell my books, not just decorate Amazon’s website with my listings. So I thought pretty hard about her advice. I was free to take it or leave it. As I mentioned in a previous post, unlike an editor at a traditional publisher, Rochell has no leverage — the decision was all up to me.

I’m pretty good at catastrophizing. I can worry that a minor misstep can doom me to utter darkness and failure with the best of them. Interestingly, as I’ve progressed on my self-publishing journey, I’ve felt less of that. Where I used to worry that if I didn’t write the perfect synopsis I would be exiled to the outer reaches of writer purgatory, now a decision about editing is just that, a business decision.

In the end I decided to trim a few sentences from LIGHTBRINGER for the sake of the larger story arc of the Celestial Affairs series. And that’s the point of this post: It’s all about the story you want to tell. Every story has its audience. Don’t worry about that. In my opinion, the priority should be what works best for the story, not protecting the author’s ego and not potential sales.


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My Self-Publishing Journey: Going Deep

I’ve been working the last two weeks on the conceptual/developmental edits for LIGHTBRINGER. This is the first of three phases of editing Edits that Rock does in a manuscript level edit. Rochelle sent me a sixteen page analysis with specific suggestions for revision and explanations for those requests. In several places she reminded me that these were suggestions and that LIGHTBRINGER  is my book.

The relationship an author has with an editor who is buying her work, and an editor she hires, is necessarily different. In the latter case, the author is under no compulsion to follow the editor’s advice. She’s paid for it, but whether she takes it is entirely up to the author.

I read Rochelle’s feedback four times before I started work. The first time was to get an overview, the second through fourth times I took notes. I bounced ideas off my husband and friends (fortunately they’re quite resilient) and then I dove in. I agreed with most of Rochelle’s recommendations and have incorporated them. I thought a couple were off the mark.

One of the suggestions that was harder for me to do was adding a couple more scenes from one of the bad guy’s POV. At first I didn’t think it was necessary. Then I wasn’t sure where to put them, or what should be in them. Finally my subconscious sent me an email, and I was off. I had a blast writing these scenes deep in Dave’s POV. When I first drafted him, he was just a bad guy, doing what bad guys do. By the time I finished the book, Dave was going to be a continuing character in the series. And now, with the addition of these two little scenes, the reader will get to see Dave as more than a guy with a gun. Even better, these scenes help establish a tone that I didn’t know I wanted before, and foreshadow other events in the book, doing triple duty.

The next stage of edits will be deep line edits. I can’t wait! (Written with a certain amount of irony.)

As far as I’m concerned, my editors are worth every penny.



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My Decision to Self-Publish

The commitment to self-publish came slowly to me. As is my nature, I had to collect lots and lots of information before I could make the decision, and while I was researching the publishing landscape changed tremendously. What was once a questionable move became an obvious choice to me and many others.

Still, there are many who doubt.

One of the most persistent objections I receive to me, personally, self-publishing is, “Oh but your stuff is too good to self-publish!” This invariably comes from other writers who have only published with traditional or small publishers. They’re happy with their experience and think I should do as they are doing. They believe that I’ll do my work a disservice by publishing myself. The (usually) unspoken assumption is that no one will find my excellent work swimming in the cesspool with all the other sloppy self-published crap that’s out there.

Perhaps I exaggerate. But not much.

And, in fact, some of the indie published books out there are poorly written, proofed, and formatted. The woman who just did my mammogram volunteered that observation without being aware that I planned to self-publish.

The irony is that if I followed the nay-sayers’ advice, if I held out for traditional publishing because my work “is too good,” I would only perpetuate the underlying assumption that all self-published work is sub-standard. That only losers who can’t get published any other way self-publish. And obviously, if you can’t sell to a traditional publisher, your work must not be very good.

News Flash! If you still believe that, you haven’t been paying attention to how publishing works today. Editors are generally good, hard-working people who want to find great books for their publishers. Traditional Publishers are mostly huge corporations that see books as product, and want to see huge growth in sales. Modest growth is not good enough anymore. Editors hands are being tied. To a large extent, editors alone do not decide if a book is to be purchased. If the marketing department doesn’t see your book as having break-out potential, no matter how good it is, you don’t get a contract. I know more than one solid, mid-list author who can’t sell their next books.

Does that mean your work isn’t good? No. Does it mean there aren’t readers who would love to read it, if they only had the chance? No.

Let’s all agree: bad writing is bad writing, and shouldn’t see the light of day. Nor should bad covers or bad formatting. Mike Stackpole says it very succinctly:

Don’t mistake what I’m saying above as an endorsement of willy-nilly publication of whatever’s been scribbled down. Self-publishers owe it to themselves, their careers and the readers to make sure their stories are the best they can possibly be. If you need an editor, beg, barter or pay for someone to edit your work. If you need covers, use a professional graphics designer and professionally produced art to get a great looking cover. The idea that “someone will buy it” isn’t good enough. You want your work to stand out, to be the choice, not a choice from a bunch of lackluster offerings. All writers must constantly remember that any offering will be some reader’s first exposure to their work. If you’re not taking your best shot, you’re just telling new readers that they should look elsewhere in the future.

I’m of Scottish descent. My parents grew up during the Great Depression. I hate spending money on myself, but I don’t mind investing in a mutual fund that will pay me dividends. That’s why I’m investing in my career. I could design my own cover, and I think I’d do a pretty decent job of it, but the money I’d save wouldn’t be worth the time it would take me to learn how to do it well. So I’m hiring Hot Damn Designs. In my opinion, Kim’s work is worth every penny.

I could ask a slew of beta readers to help me proof my manuscripts that have already been through two critique groups, but I want the confidence that having a freelance editor’s eyes on it will bring. I want to be sure, especially with this first (self-pubbed) book, that it’s the best I can make it.

I could learn to format my books for Kindle and Smashwords, but I’d rather be writing my next masterpiece. I’ve talked to too many writers who say it’s a pain in the butt. So I’m hiring someone to do that, too.

Tim Ferris calls it outsourcing. I call it the best use of my time.

Ultimately, it will be the readers who decide if what I’ve created is worth their time and money. It will take time for them to render their verdict. Self-pubbing is a marathon. It takes time, and the release of several books, to build a career and show whether it’s moving in the right direction.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


Filed under writing