Saturday, July 16, 2011

Make your book as good as possible

Writing is hard work. Did someone tell you it's easy? Well, that someone lied. Big time. The transformation from the very first draft to the actual book published is enormous, especially when you're just starting out with your first book. If you are lucky and happy to learn, it will get easier once you've been through the process of rewriting, editing, proofing, etc.

I've read a few self-published books that weren't ready by a long shot and I've stopped reading most of them. Not saying there aren't good self-published books out there, but it looks like I didn't find them yet. I'm self-published myself and I know how hard it is to go through the book over and over and over again until you're sick and tired of the book you once loved, but it's worth it. It's my reputation, my author's name out there and I want the book to be the best it can get. Though, I've learned that I've sold over 1000 copies of the short stories with words missing, stray words and typos I didn't see. I've sort of rushed to publish it, not doing another round of proofing. Luckily, a friend was kind enough to point them out and it's fixed now. He also found quite a few in my novel, even AFTER proofing twice. That said, I can live with typos and missing words, but I can't live with poor character development, continuously use wrong dialogue attributes, plot holes and illogical story lines. Those are things that drive me mad as a reader.

Now, how to avoid things like that, you wonder.

Well, first off, learn the craft. Talent is one thing, but you need the skills to actually enhance your talent. That's what beautiful writing is. See it as a paining with a perfect frame, it will accentuate the painting, if you have a shabby frame it will look odd, drawing your eyes to the ugly frame rather than the painting itself. It's the same with writing, a great story can be disturbed by bad use of grammar or dialogue attributes or plot holes.

I'll take the painting again: imagine you have a person in it and he has an arm where the ear should be, now wouldn't that irritate you? Same goes with writing, when you have plot holes, it disturbs the flow, lets you pause and drags you out of the story, you stop to think where that character came from, where it went and what purpose it might have when it doesn't add to the plot.

Learn as much about writing as you can, try to secure yourself some beta readers, those who are confident in giving feedback. Try not to ask family and friends, unless they know a thing or two about writing and are honest with you. Compare your dialogue with traditionally published books and correct yours. Google is your best friend when it comes to read about 'rules'. Depending on how self-critical you are, you might need three rounds or more of editing and beta-reading. (I went 16 times through my first novel.) Don't ask the ones you've had before, they're now biased. Fresh eyes is what you need.

Be patient, don't rush into it. When you put a book out which isn't ready, you're likely to lose potential readers for your second or third book.

Make your book as perfect as you can. The end customers, your readers, will thank you by not only recommending a book they enjoyed, but also with loyalty.

If you'd like to know more about the journey of my novel No Wings Attached, please read an interview with me here:

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