Tips and quips…
Maybe when I’ve made $1,000 in book sales I’ll hire an editor, but s/he’d better be good, meaning part persnickety grammarian and part hand-holding psychologist with a soothing voice and a talent for shoulder rubs. But until then, I’m on my own. As this is my second time producing a self-published novel, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned.
- Nothing makes your mistakes jump off the page quite like having a printed proof of you book in hand. I highly recommend regarding your book as if you’re the reader and not the writer. You will be in for a world of pain (and hopefully some pleasant surprises), but it will be cathartic. Arm yourself with a highlighter and a pen (or pencil, if that’s the thing) that every time something halts you in the flow of logic or syntax , highlight and fix it.
- Take it outside. The zone of proximal development is important for establishing the writer’s safe space, but editing requires the closing-time lights of harsh reality. My favorite place to read a proof is at my local lending library. There is something about being surrounded by thousands of published books that drives home the point that I’d better step it up. Bring tissues, it’s painful.
- Read it aloud. Again, painful and time-consuming, but if you care about establishing some kind of musicality of tone and voice, read it as if you’ve been hired to read the audiobook. When your stumble over the words, get out your highlighter pen. Be ruthless.
- Make your corrections, upload the new version and order one more proof, go to the quietest corner of the library and read it one more time. You’ll find that you spelled Colombia as Columbia and it will be worth it.
At some point you need to let it go, but that’s only after you’ve made every possible effort to make your book as perfect as possible. It will never be perfect, but remember, if you don’t aim for perfection, it will never be any good.
Back to work.