Editing/Proofreading Tips for Indie Authors

Nice self editing tips ūüôā

Cassidy's Bookshelves

As an indie author, you are responsible for the entire publishing process ‚Äď writing, editing, proofreading, publishing, and marketing.¬†But that doesn‚Äôt mean that you should do it all yourself.¬†Even if you are working with a low or¬†almost non-existent budget, make sure that you¬†get someone else to participate in the editing process¬†‚Äď someone that has editing experience¬†and who won‚Äôt be shy about pointing out problems in your manuscript. Your editor can be a paid professional editor¬†or a qualified and capable friend.¬† You should never unleash your masterpiece on the world without having it properly edited.

Before you submit your work to your editor, make every effort to  weed out as many of the errors in your manuscript as possible. Eliminating simple typos, extra spaces, and so on, will make it easier for your editor to focus on the story flow, the wording, and the important stuff that you simply don’t see because you are…

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you for the nomination. Some old favourites in your list that I already follow, as well as some new ones I will check out ūüôā

Natacha Guyot

very-inspiring-blogger-award

I was recently nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by the talented Tonya R. Moore from Spec-Fic Genre Love. Thank you very much!

Rules for this Award… should you choose to accept it. (If you don’t, simply consider it a token of appreciation!)

  1. Display the award on your blog
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you
  3. State 7 things about yourself that most people may not know
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations

Seven Little Known Facts About Me

  1. My second cat (Kenzi) is a turtleshell like my first one, Sissi (who passed away in 2013) was. I didn’t do this on purpose but I fell in love with both amazon ladies!
  2. I am allergic to onion.
  3. My first work of fiction coming out this month, a French Science Fiction novella for kids (La Cité de Sharianth), was the…

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Where we write – writer’s nook

2015-04-03 15.35.10Looking forward to a lovely long weekend for the Easter break. We have some friends visiting Sunday morning with their kids for an Easter Egg hunt which will be a lot of fun, but otherwise I am intending to dedicate some time to writing.

Above is the view from the bench outside my front door, where I am sitting to write this post. Now back to my little writer’s¬†nook in my office pod so the serious writing can begin!

Happy Easter and Happy Writing! ūüôā

The art of writing – learning to share

As a person who spent 20 years writing without another soul seeing it, I think its fair to say I am a self-proclaimed expert on the difficulty of sharing.

I think this is probably something many writers struggle with at first. That transition from our innermost thoughts being just that, to allowing them exposure to the light of day and the critical assessment of others.

It’s daunting, I get that. Really, I do.

10410610_931654273528561_2198993264378937219_n Why do you need to share? Why do you write?

This is the first question you need to answer before you go any further. If you have no aspirations to publish or simply love to write but have no desire to do anything more, then you should feel no burden or need to share. For a lot of my twenty years writing I was exactly this, happy to write, no burning need for it to go anywhere or be seen by anyone

I guess I got to a point where I felt, why not do something more? Why not let it out there? See what happens?

Yes, I did want to publish. Yes , I did want the satisfaction of sharing what I had done, and hopefully someone (even one person) saying yes, this work resonates with me.

You will never¬†became a michelin star chief if you don’t let people taste¬†your food.

A friendly first

There are two ways that I know of in making this first step. The first is to find a ‘friendly’, someone you know and trust to be gentle, but who at the same time, will provide some valuable feedback on your work. That’s a big ask, and not everyone is this person. So take you time, choose carefully and be brave.¬†Critique Partners

The second way is to share anonymously.¬†Wattpad¬†for example. There are plenty of other great sites where you can put your work up for¬†feedback from the masses.¬†And the best thing is –¬†you don’t need to tell anyone if you don’t want to!

An editor

There are all kind of editing options out there. Developmental editing for example will assist in story structure, copy editing for grammar and punctuation, or proof reading if the story is almost there and you need a final check. Editing v Proofreading

Generally, this is a service you need to pay. I used a copy editor but she also offered some amazing insights into my story in regards to areas I may need to explain further or adjust. I learnt an insane amount by having my story professionally edited.

Receiving feedback with grace

You don’t always need to dip your hand in your pocket though. Beta readers and/or sites like wattpad are full of avid readers who are more than happy to tell you what they think. This can be invaluable,¬†but,¬†you need to be mindful that they are not all master writers, and not all their¬†advice needs to be taken. I would say that generally when someone gives you advice you just know if it’s something valid and valuable or not. I usually read it, let it sink in, and then read it again a little later. You can pickup some amazing nuggets even from what may at first seem like a very negative review.

10945022_933085073368785_9184225261499281719_nI think I am pretty good at receiving feedback now, an age thing maybe. I find that I actively want the input,¬†just tell me straight and don’t sugar coat it.¬†The last thing I want is someone being too subtle and me¬†coming away thinking a passage is great when it’s not.

Without feedback you will never learn or improve

This is the truth of it. Yes, reading books about writing techniques, blogs, and online articles are all very helpful, and there is no doubt they will be able to help you to improve. But! There is really no substitute for ‘just doing’ and receiving feedback. In my opinion this is the only true way to learn and grow.

I spend a lot of my day helping people improve the quality of their work in a field which I am now the expert (no, it’s not writing, I wish it was). I give them guidelines¬†to read before they start, but encourage them to jump into ‘doing’ as soon as possible, Then I encourage them to let met me review it with them asap, and then send them off to do it again. Each time I review they make less mistakes. Each time I review I offer new insights into my suggested changes and explain why. It’s a well proven pattern and in a short period of time there are almost no errors. Their¬†work quickly becomes quality, and they don’t need ¬†my insights any more.

This is a wonderful feeling as a teacher. And a proven training technique. We don’t often learn by reading something once, or even twice, and we don’t learn without any feedback at all. Just imagine trying to learn to play the violin without a teacher to guide you! Learning is an iterative process, which by definition means you have to do it more than once.

The concept of receiving feedback is part of our earliest childhood and follows us throughout our life.

So what’s holding you back?

BiXiMA-CUAEk3DtSource https://twitter.com/tomgauld/status/443008838791213056

If you are anything like me, and you struggle with the very idea of sharing, ask yourself why you write and if you are ready for feedback.

A few encouraging words can provide a world of motivation!

So, if you haven’t shared before,¬†why not jump in. You might be pleasantly surprised ūüôā

 

Divided Serenity out now on all Amazon stores, and free with Kindle Unlimited.

Divided Serenity Book Cover

What do listen to when you write?

quiet

Being quiet

I am guessing not everyone will share my sentiments, but for me, there is great comfort in being quiet. I write best when¬†I am sitting in my little pod office,¬†with the lovely view of trees, and…absolute quiet.

My husband is incredibly noisy, so this does present some problems on occasion! But on the whole, when I am writing, I am left alone in this noiseless state. I do deviate occasionally, but more on that below…

E.B. White “I never listen to music when I‚Äôm working.”

Background chatter

I am a self aware introvert. I accept this is what¬†I am.¬†That said, this desire for silence is a little extreme even amongst the introvert brigade. I was recently reading a book on introverts. The aptly named ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain, a great read btw. In it, she talks about her writing routine, and she actually found it productive to sit in a coffee shop to work on her book. The background chatter, and the unobtrusive¬†presece of people helped her to focus. For her, too much isolation was actually a bad thing.

Block-rocking beats

The concept of writing anything of worth while listening to pop music is beyond my comprehension. But, E.L. James found Will.I.Am blasting in the background an inspiration when tackling her ‘naughty’ scenes!

Classics anyone?

Classic music can create a powerful mood in a movie, but what about when we write? I do have a few pieces that I enjoy occasionally, when I want to create a pull in a particular emotional direction. I am definitely not alone in this one.

In an interview Edmund White, the writer of award-winning fiction, biographies and memoirs, said he liked to write to chamber music by Debussy, especially the cello sonata.

Non classical music without words 

This is probably one of my favourite deviations from silence. I love things with a good beat if I am writing an action scene. It’s a great tool for visualisation!¬†I picture the scene unfolding as the track plays, and repeat until I get it right.

And playing fast music when writing¬†can¬†definitely speed up your word count! Those fingers can’t help but try to keep up!

So, what do you write to?

Thoughts, suggestions? Have I missed any obvious ones? What do you like to write to?

 

 

Book names – decisions, decisions!

If you haven’t already read my post on naming characters¬†Character names – decisions, decisions! Then just to bring you up to speed, I now seem to have developed a bit of a naming problem in general. While there are a lot of characters in your book, and so the task of naming them is multiplied by many, your book title is the window to your work, and so is just as, if not more, important.

I have been writing my current book, off and on, for ten years. I have a huge number of WIP projects, so I used to jump about a bit until I most recently decided to get my shuffle on, and actually publish one of them.

So my book has been called THE WALL, for ever, because, well, everything sort of centres around the wall.¬†However, while working on my pitch, this long standing title has been exposed to new people. That new audience has provided some feedback, which has made me question it’s merit. The book name¬†is very important. It’s the first thing your audience is exposed to, and it conjures up an instant mental image.

Humans are creatures of association. How many people love the sound of a name, but won’t use it for their kids,¬†simply because it reminds them of someone else who is¬†horrid! I used to love the name Clarissa, until I read the book Clarissa, and after I was scarred for life. Which is tragic, because I still think it’s a beautiful name, but now I have this unpleasant connection¬†that is hard to shake off.

So it seems the first thing that springs to mind with THE WALL is Pink Floyd!

For goodness sake, how old is that song? Still, it is what it is, and if even a percentage of people go off on a tangent when they pick up my book, then I think it’s time for change.

So, to put what follows in to context. In case you don’t already know I live in Australia. And I often have text conversations of an evening with my¬†90 year old, flight-sim playing, father who lives in the UK.

Here we are, discussing my recent name change from The Wall to The Technological God…I’m the blue ūüôā

talk 1talk 2talk 3talk 6

What motivates you to write?

What motivates you?

My first reaction¬†to this question¬†was a little bit erm,¬†I’m not sure. I just really, really want <Insert your desire here>¬†. I have described myself as a little bit of a life drifter in the past. I have a great life, and I am very happy with what I have achieved, but do I really set myself a course? Or have I just acidented upon what and where I am?

Was I really motivated?

My thoughts drifted (yes, there’s that word again) off to the usual things that people talk of when¬†they refer to positive motivation. Commonly mentioned things¬†include¬†money, fame, recognition from peers, perhaps the satisfaction¬†you feel from helping others, or even a¬†determination to find a cure¬†for a¬†disease. I realised that what motivates people is the vision of the end goal. That these ideas of motivation were¬†all end goals, places we want to be physically, mentally, and spiritually.

“People are often¬†motivated by¬†the vision of the end goal.”

Ok, I kind of like that. I’m a writer, I love visualisation, I could get lost in visualisation!

Yep, better stop there, otherwise you can fall into the trap of spending so much time and effort visualising where you want to be that you never actually get there!

dream

So many people want things, but they are not prepared to put in the effort to get there. You want that great body, but do you get up early to exercise everyday? You want to be a hot shot lawyer, but are you prepared to study, and work the long hard hours to achieve this dream?

Achieving is sometimes about¬†giving something else up. Motivation is the thing that makes it easy to give up x in order to get y. Working long hours doesn’t¬†feel hard when each hour¬†takes you closer to your dream. Not only does putting in the effort not feel like a burden, you actually enjoy it!

So, we have a dream, we are motivated to put the hard graft in to achieve it. We are mentally prepared to give up our time, comforts, donuts (donuts can be hard), to turn our vision into reality.

what

Now we are just missing one vital step…A plan to get us there.

Part 3 coming soon –¬†Achieving your¬†dreams by setting goals

What inspires you to write

I have recently been through various personality style / assessments at work as part of some training. I am deeply fascinated by this sort of thing. I love exploring personality types, both my own and others. I love trying to figure out what makes people tick, their goals and aspirations, their life journeys, and what makes them unique.

The main one I have done is called Life Style Inventory. If you are not sure what Life Style Inventory is click here to the link. Basically you answer comprehensive list of questions. You, your peers, your manager, and your subordinates all complete this questionnaire, and you received detailed feedback on your thinking and behaviour styles. Not quite the same as a personality type, but sort of similar.

I have a coach who works with me on reviewing all the feedback and, as if I haven’t already done enough questions, he sent me a separate questionnaire to help him better understand how to work with me as my coach.

Amongst the many questions¬†was…What inspires and motivates you?

Ok, I love questions like this¬†ūüôā

Lets look at inspiration first.

The immediate thought that came to mind was no one, as if only other people could be an inspiration. You often hear people talk about being inspired by other people who have succeed in their chosen field. For example athletes, humanitarians, great writers or poets, pop stars etc.

I was feeling a little, nope, thats not me.

Then I turned it around and asked myself what makes me want to write?

IMG_3963

This was instantly easier to answer. I love looking out at nature, and I have an amazing view from my writing room (above). But I also feel inspired by beauty and art of all kinds including music, stories, buildings, etc. If I was also going to get into specifics I would add, myths, legends, fables, and any tale with a theme that resonate with my inner hero.

I love travelling and history, and there is nothing more moving to me that standing at a historical sight and letting my imagination run wild. I find this very inspiring. Wherever we go on holidays I always work it around something I know I will find inspiring, and afterwards it’s pretty much an ideas avalanche.

Below. I find castles to be be a huge inspiration personally. I find they both tragic and romanic, particularly ones like Raglan in Wales, shown here. Raglan has such a dark and traumatic past that it is hard to walk around it and press your fingers against the ancient stone without feeling a little of that history seep into your own soul.

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Below, taken on a walk along a stretch of the Great Wall of China, just outside Beijing. I saw some amazing historical sights while travelling through China. I love hearing about the history, the culture, and events that happened at the places I visited.

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So in conclusion, for me, it is the product of amazing people, not necessarily the people themselves, that inspires me. I wonder how these genius creators would feel about me stating that?

I think that if anyone ever said a book I had written inspired them, even in some very tiny way, I would be beyond delighted. So I think, and I hope, they would be happy to know I find the results of their hard work so inspiring.

And, if I had to choose between someone remembering me or my book. I would choose my book every time.

Part 2 coming soon. What motivates you?

The English Question – choosing your flavour / flavor of English

As a¬†child in the UK¬†I grew up grappling with the ungainly language known as English. I will be the first to admit I find English a baffling language. It’s full of contractions, rules that have a list of exceptions as long as your arm, and obscure principles steeped in the mists of time that make no sense at all.

For all its quirks and problems, I still love English, and for better or worse, for a large part of the planet, English is here to stay.

English comes in flavours, and other countries have their own set of slightly different rules that go some way to removing a few of the more extreme pain points. Additionally, we batlle with the concept of colloquialisms, that British people say one thing, but Americans, Australians and other English speakers may say something else.

As an English expatriate, who now lives in Australia, I have become desensitised to this variation in the spelling, and in the colloquialisms. I watch American TV, Australian TV, and British TV. I buy books from Amazon.com so it’s fair to assume that most of these are in American English. In short, I have become immune to the subtle differences in the language such that I don‚Äôt even notice them anymore.

When I first made a decision to look at publishing a book, I realised the vital first step was enlisting an editor. I am not a person constrained by boundaries, and it did not cross my mind to look for a local editor, or even necessarily an editor who was from Australia or the UK, I simply looked for an editor I felt I could work with and connect with, and as it happens, my editor is based in America.

One of the first questions she asked me was what ‚ÄėEnglish‚Äô do you want to edit in.

Until this point, I had just assumed I would stick with my native language but now I questioned that presumption.

After some discussion I settled on American English, and in short, it’s the biggest market, and even in the other markets, it’s not unfamiliar.

Given my perceived language immunity I assumed this was a simple flick of the dictionary once I finished writing and, ta-dah, all would be good.

This was my first mistake. It’s actually a lot harder to write in your non-native language than it is to read or listen to it, and while you think you understand all the subtleties you really don’t.

With hindsight, it was actually a good move to pick an American editor since I wanted the finished book in American English. My editor picks out all kinds of subtle things that I would never notice, and I think an Australian or UK editor may also not notice, or at least not notice as easily.

Picking your final audience is an important decision when finalising a book. I am happy with my decision, and time will tell if this was ultimately the right choice.

Just for fun I thought I would leave you with a few of the colloquialisms picked up along the way ¬†ūüôā

English American
Lift Elevator
Bloke Guy
Mad Crazy
Got on Get along
I’ve not had I haven’t had
Messing about Messing around

 

Making a commitment to yourself – New years resolutions

This time last year, I made my first ever new years resolution; I said that I was going to publish a book. And while I am not there yet, I am so excited about my progress that it is hard to feel like I have failed.

If I hadn’t made that commitment, I would not have got as far as I have. Since January I have, finished a book Р90k of words, found an editor, and gone through 2 rounds of editing, hacking, chopping, rewriting. In between edits, I have written the second book Рanother 90k, and began drafting the third.

I have spent hours reading, blogs, books, articles of every kind about writing.

I have started  a blog,  opened a twitter account, facebook pages, and various other social media accounts, where I share, and learn from others doing the same thing.

In short I made more progress towards my dream last year than any other year of my life ‚Äď and I did this because I made a commitment to myself and because I wrote that promise¬†down.

So whatever it is you want to be or achieve or do, stop waiting for it to happen, make your own commitment, and write it down. Don’t short change yourself, don’t give yourself an easy target, make it hard and make it worth the effort. If you aim high and fail, then you will still have achieved a lot.

If we want to make our dreams a reality, we have to take a risk. We have to risk being a fool or a failure, and recognise that by doing so, we ultimately become neither.