Are you ready to use self-publishing services? Post at Writers & Artists

wa2Yes, I would usually have put up an original writing post this weekend, but I seem to have had a lot of posts on other blogs in the last few days. So rather than appearing in your inbox way too many times in one week, I thought I’d take a bit of a rest.

Today I’m back at Writers & Artists. They told me a lot of writers approach them for advice on self-publishing and self-publishing services, but it’s clear they’re not ready and would be better doing more work themselves. They asked me for a piece to help writers hone their novel before they pay for editorial services.

The number one problem I notice is that new writers try to publish a first draft – so this post is a newbie’s guide to revision and an insight into the secret graft behind a good novel. Many of you guys are more advanced than that, but if so, I hope you’ll know someone you can pass it on to. Even if it’s only your long-suffering family and bloomfriends, who are wondering why you haven’t ‘finished’ and published! Here it is…

Meanwhile, if you’d like to share how you revise a novel, or add your tips for getting it in perfect shape for publication, share them here!

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  1. #1 by Katie Cross on June 17, 2013 - 7:37 pm

    Sometime I wonder if we tend to have a crush on our first draft. We think it’s ‘the real thing’ and doesn’t get any better than that. The only way I extricate myself from my own self-love is time and distance. :)

    Then you go back, look it over, and thank yourself for not making the biggest mistake of your life!

    • #2 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on June 18, 2013 - 9:15 am

      That’s a good way to describe it, Katie – and if we don’t have any idea of how it can be better or what writers normally do, it’s understandable that we make that mistake. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. #3 by Leslie on June 17, 2013 - 7:56 pm

    Great post! As a professional editor, I find many novelists do want to have their first draft edited. When I tell them they would be better off just having me read it and give a detailed critique with suggestions; they don’t want to hear it…

    I’m dumbfounded by the things people send me. It’s obvious when they’ve only done one draft. But, on the other hand, if they don’t know how to spot the flaws or make helpful revisions themselves, an edit at that stage can be like a course in how to improve one’s writing, if an author chooses to take it that way.

    • #4 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on June 18, 2013 - 9:20 am

      Thanks, Leslie! I’ve found that many writers don’t realise that published authors do more than one draft, and how hard they might edit. I did a signing recently when a chap admitted his novel was 400,000 words and he might have to cut some of it, but he thought in the meantime he’d crank on until the end and see if someone wanted to read it. It hadn’t occurred to him that there was a lot he could do himself, just using the faculties he’d used to write the first draft!
      I’m nodding my head about the manuscripts. Sometimes people are surprised by how much a developmental edit costs, but I explain to them that the things they will learn will stand them in good stead for all the novels they write.

  3. #5 by K.C. May on June 18, 2013 - 2:31 pm

    When I start revising, I find it helpful to note where I’ve neglected to specify the setting or the time of day. Readers don’t want talking heads bobbing in empty space.

    Another task I set for myself is to identify the sentences which introduce conflict. If a scene doesn’t have conflict, it needs to be scrapped or rewritten. Motivation is a good thing to look for, too. Is it clear why a character wants, fears, or said something?

    • #6 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on June 18, 2013 - 7:41 pm

      Those are three great tips, KC. I remember in the early days an editor had to point that out to me. Where’s the scene taking place, she’d say? Who’s in the room? Roughly what are they doing?
      I always had a more instinctive grasp of the conflict side of things, and the need to move the story onwards. And the motivation – or consequence of an action – is important too, so that the reader knows why it matters.

  4. #7 by Andrew Heath on June 19, 2013 - 4:37 am

    Yes, editing is important. My first two novels were not great, but the editing process I used was to go to Waffle House and sit all night editing them. Now, as I work through my third novel, I’ll be spending considerable more time on editing.

    Personally, I think it’s better to edit in pieces and then move on to the next “piece.” Editing should take a long time, in my humble opinion, out of respect for our readers. I can tell you truthfully though, my days of doing a one pass revision are over.

  5. #9 by Dennis Langley on June 19, 2013 - 1:17 pm

    I am always surprised at how much the rewriting affects the story. We think the first draft is the story we wanted to write until we start carving away the fat and tightening the plot. I think we find out that we can, in fact, write something interesting once we do some revision.

    • #10 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on June 19, 2013 - 4:33 pm

      Dennis, I couldn’t agree more. I find the rewriting is where the most radical work is done. And it’s not until quite late in the revisions that I see the most focussed direction for the novel. (But then, I do tend to try out radical ideas, and they take time to ferment. With more straightforward novels, such angst isn’t always necessary. )

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