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Ryder Author Resources – book reviews and more

Ryder Author Resources – book reviews and more

Ryder Author Resources

…well, they do pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, reliably and within the meagre range of my budget; they offer author resources and services, including outreach to book bloggers, promo images, beta reading, blog tours, Facebook and Twitter management, and they’re willing to talk to you about other things on an ad-hoc basis.

I first met RAR! through my review blog (oh, yes, I do). They struck me as professional, (extremely) patient, and someone to look up when I had some cash to throw at book reviews for my own books. Among other things, I especially appreciated that they stayed in touch on social media, and seemed to have a similar sense of humour. (I’m not sure if that last is actually a compliment, but moving on…).

The set-up

Ryder Author Resources recently (well, since July 2018) updated their website, and the services they offer out of the box are clearly outlined on their author services page, along with how to get in touch with them to discuss other things.

They offer either package quotes, or an hourly rate for longer-term things, like looking for book reviewers. For longer-term things, they send out weekly updates to you on what they’ve been up to and how it’s going. The invoices show up monthly and itemised, with online credit card payment options – it’s all very painless and simple.

The results

Awesome! Not only have they patiently and persistently hunted down sci-fi reviewers, they also put me onto Hidden Gems, and all told Through the Hostage is now well past the miraculous 15 review mark on Amazon and headed for twenty-five. That’s not even counting readers who review to private blogs and / or Goodreads, or a few fantastic folks who review everywhere they have an account.

I was nervous about going in with any kind of professional publicist, as prior to Ryder Author Resources, I’d had a string of bad experiences, including someone who absconded with a substantial amount of cash and did absolutely nothing, but RAR! has gone a long way to restoring my faith in humanity. The team behind the RAR! are also genuinely nice people, and the weekly update emails and online exchanges are always a fun experience.

I’d definitely go in with them for reviewer outreach, and based on my experience with them on gaining a few more reviews for Through the Hostage, I don’t have any qualms saying that if they say they do something, then it will be done, and you’ll have a fun team behind you on the way.

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi

‘If you can’t provoke any emotion, there’s little point in writing.’

Buy the books!

Coming soon!

In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I started writing in August 2016, because I love the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre and I wanted to share my stories with people. My goal is to become a professional writer and my dream is to have one of my books turned into a movie.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I will pick only a couple of authors, like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Joe Haldeman,  Norman Spinrad, John Scalzi, Paolo Bacigalupi, J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Clayton Emery,  Joe Abercrombie.

Tell me a bit about your books.

The Restoration: A reptilian species uses time travel as a weapon to enslave other civilizations.

I published a revised edition of The Restoration in the summer of 2018. This book is available on all Amazon websites.

SS Vagabond: In a distant dystopian future, Captain Edward Turner is struggling to survive, transporting goods and passengers with his freighter, SS Vagabond. Eileen, the second in command and Edward’s lover, urges him to accept a risky yet lucrative mission to Mars.

I am only a couple of chapters away, and I will release SS Vagabond in the autumn of 2018.

Starship “Apple of Discord”: The Galaxy would not be the same, after the kidnapping of an alien crown princess.

I finished the first three volumes of Starship “Apple of Discord” on November 11, 2017. Between the three they cover more than 1300 pages and 350k words. Now I am waiting for an answer from several publishing houses from the US, UK, Canada and European Union. It will take a while and I am not sure that those publishers will agree to publish my space opera, since I am a debutant author.  So, if you know any literary agents or publishers send them my way.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I will continue to write more volumes on Starship “Apple of Discord”, because this saga isn’t finished yet. However, I plan to write other Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I started already to write a Fantasy novel, and I hope to publish it by Christmas 2018.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

I believe that a person is defined by their actions. The same applies to a book character. I tried to create realistic characters, regardless they are humans, aliens or from folklore (elves, dwarves, pirates etc.) Also my characters are evolving during the story and they are inviting the readers to care about them.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I don’t have the support of a publishing house therefore I am an independent author now.  Yet marketing is my kryptonite so I am looking for a serious publisher that will take care of this.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

That’s true. People can’t live only with the daily bread. Reading enriches your knowledge and this helps you evolve as a human being.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

I will start with the infamous writer’s block – I experienced this too but I learned how to deal with this issue. When I am exhausted or I have no inspiration, I leave my writing desk for a while and I try to recharge my batteries by traveling, reading, swimming etc. As I wrote before, marketing is my nemesis. Although I don’t care too much about money, I consider that a book without readers is like a flower without pollinators. According to my beta readers, my books are good and I enjoy every time when they tell me this. Actually, I’m embarrassed and my face turns red like a lobster when I hear that.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I always start with the title. Then I create a short plot that would become the backbone of my story. I add characters and details on the fly.  I like to be creative and to write genuine books. My beta readers can confirm this. I used knowledge of physics, mathematics, biology, psychology, genetics, history, geography, computer science, chemistry, astronomy and xenology to create my books. Also, I invented genuine names for everything: planets, animals, plants, items, ships, characters etc. I made a database with all this information in order to keep track of them. The readers will not be bored with science facts and this huge dictionary, because the story line will flow easy and naturally. Also, I created some bits of alien languages for my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, I love to plant Easter eggs in my books and in my book covers too. For example I know about the unlucky numbers from different cultures around the world and I use them to warn the readers that something terrible would happen in my book. Friday the 13th is the most common example.

Also I love to design my book covers. I don’t like to buy pre-made covers. There are high chances that these wouldn’t fit with my story line. I love designing my covers. Sometimes I paid artists to bring to life my vision – this is the case of the famous redheaded android of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”I am aware that I am only an amateur designer, a newbie, a rookie etc., but this doesn’t stop me to try. I am an indie author with a limited budget and I am not ashamed for I tried GIMP and many other freebies. I am grateful because they exist.

For the cover of my book The Restoration I chose a reptilian alien eye that dwarfs a city in flames. Also this city is mirrored upside down accordingly with the title.

The cover of my Sci-Fi novel SS Vagabond raised a tsunami of opposite opinions when I presented it in public. The cover depicts a woman and a cat having in background the highest volcano in our solar system, Olympus Mons. I was accused that I use a cliché – beautiful women who are selling wellness products and the cats that are damn popular on Internet. In my defence, I can tell you that the science fiction novel SS Vagabond is really about a woman and her cat that are doing a voyage to Mars. Most critiques I received from established cover designers who were upset because I didn’t ask for their services. They accused me of being stubborn too, although I didn’t disregard their advice and I fixed some minor artistically issues that had my cover. I want to thank Keith Draws (https://keithdraws.wordpress.com/) and author &  cover designer Louise Blackwick for their invaluable help.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

My hobbies are Science fiction and Fantasy genre, movies, gaming, traveling, cooking, nature, wildlife, geography, history, astronomy, science, space exploration and weird phenomena as  UFO and USO (unidentified submerged objects – possible alien vehicles or living fossils like Megalodon).

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Yes, I would love to live in the universe of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”. I did what George Lucas did it for Star Wars, minus the movies and the lightsabers. Although George Lucas was my model, Starship “Apple of Discord” is not a clone of Star Wars and I have introduced in my space opera cool features too.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Write earlier and publish more books.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Sometimes I listen to epic music when I write. I like Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, Lindsey Stirling & Peter Hollens, Hans Zimmer and Jan Chmelar.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Ignorance is bliss.

Tell me three unique things about you.

#1: The Restoration is my first published book.  Although I was working on Starship “Apple of Discord”, in the spring of 2017 I decided to take a break and learn more about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Therefore, I created this Sci-Fi story. The initial impression was favorable and The Restoration received 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, later, Amazon decided to change the rules in the middle of the game and removed all reviews posted by people who received free books on promotions. This happened to The Restoration. Now it has 3.5 stars, because the person who posted this review said that this is a great book but complained about my English skills. My English was rough when I started writing, but the more I write, the more my writing style has evolved.

#2: As I wrote above, I started working on my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord” long before The Restoration. Actually, I had the idea for this book from when I was a student. One day I had a stomachache and I decided to skip class. It was a cloudy day and nobody was walking down the street. There were no cars either. I remember the appeasing silence and the dim light – the same happened during a solar eclipse that I observed long before that. An idea crossed my mind, “What if…”

When I got home, I started writing in my notebook the story that later became Starship “Apple of Discord”. Unfortunately, I was busy with my studies, then I needed to search for a job, and then I started a family. I kept postponing the writing of this book. In the spring of 2016, I went to the hospital, because I had peritonitis. After the intervention, I was in coma because of the anesthetist. When I woke up, it was the middle of August. I was thinking a lot of what happened to me and I decided to write again. Of course, technology has evolved a lot therefore I adapted the original story to accommodate these advancements. Also I expanded it.

#3: I was inspired by Greek Mythology to choose this title. I like the ancient legends of the golden apple. Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited to a party. So, she threw a golden apple into the ceremony. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera (the symbol of power and influence), Athena (the symbol of glory and wisdom), and Aphrodite (the symbol of beauty and desire).They brought the matter before Zeus, but he was cunning and declined this responsibility. Zeus assigned a man named Paris to solve this conflict. He made his choice and the aftermath was that the Trojan War started. You will find an unusual interpretation of this legend in my space opera.

Thanks for having me. Friends call me Andrew. I was born in August ’77 therefore I chose my nickname ACE977. I do NOT use a pen name.

I live in the European Union, Romania – you know, the country of Dracula and the World Tennis Associations number 1 ranked, Simona Halep. I work as an IT Engineer and I write in my spare time.

Andrew, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Self-publishing 101 – Part 1, print-on-demand

Self-publishing 101 – Part 1, print-on-demand

Print-on-demand

First seen on the By Rite of Word Blogspot

Well, it’s finally That Time – after months or years, you’ve written, revised, gathered your alpha and beta readers’ input together, revised a bit more, run a spellcheck, discovered just how awful MS Word spell check is, got a human editor to read it, found a cover designer … and you’re sitting in front of your computer with your heart pounding and your palms going sweaty, about to actually upload your work of genius for the worldwide audience.

How many copies will I sell?

Will there be trolls?

Will anyone pirate my stuff?

When will I be able to live off the money my books make for me?

Will the world know my name?

Before you can become an international bestseller of E L James-style fame (oh, God), you need to find a self-publishing platform. I’m going to provide a non-exclusive, non-endorsing list below of a few of the better-known options to give you an idea.

Self-publishing platforms come in two basic flavours: ebook only, or print-on-demand. In this post, I’m going to focus on the print-on-demand platforms – or this post will attain novella-length in short order. Catch up with me later for the ebook 101 post.

**ALWAYS read the terms and conditions / conditions of service / terms of use or whatever else they call it and make certain that there’s a clause in there guaranteeing that you retain copyright to your work. Whatever other paragraphs your eye chooses to blur over, make sure you’ve read and understand what your rights are if you choose to publish with a given platform.**

CreateSpace (Amazon), and Lulu are two of the best-known self-pub options if you want to provide physical copies of your book as well as (or instead of) an ebook. They both allow you to set up print-on-demand for nothing and take a cut of the book price every time you sell a book as their payment.

I’m also going to touch on Bookbaby, which doesn’t offer a completely free option, but does offer a lot more support options if you happen to have the funds to pay someone else to tear their hair out to get your book printed.

Other places you can look include IngramSpark and Blurb.

I also recommend that you check out Writehacked ‘Where should you self-publish your book’ from 2014 for a second opinion – I don’t necessarily agree with that opinion, but there are photos provided of the results from several of the major POD companies.

CreateSpace

Pros: They’re flexible, efficient, have great customer service and, provided you use one of their formatted templates (really. This part is important unless you’re a masochist) very easy to use. They provide a great quality of product. They’re also an Amazon company, so your print offering shows up, hassle-free, on the majority of Amazon country sites almost as soon as you approve your proof. You can opt for expanded distribution, which makes your work available to bookstores, libraries, and academia as well as Amazon. You can also opt for a number of helpful extras if you have the need and money, such as professional formatting, cover design, editing, etc. For the record, I print with CreateSpace.

Cons: Getting paid. CreateSpace only offers Direct Deposit (as of today) to authors with bank accounts in the USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Belguim, or the Netherlands. If you happen to not have access to a bank account in one of those countries, CreateSpace will accumulate the royalties from the sales of your book in each region, and send you a cheque when the total for that region hits about $100 USD. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you can sell $33.33 worth of product in Asia, Europe, and South America (or wherever else) and get a cheque: it means you have to sell $100 worth of product in Asia, or Europe, or South America to get a cheque, which you then have to convert into your local currency. So be prepared for the fact that for a lot of indie authors, this means you’re going to be effectively providing your print books for free for the foreseeable future when it comes to money in hand. Another con: should you choose not to copy your text into one of their pre-formatted templates, be prepared for a lot of hell when you come to upload into their online proofing portal. Their main outlet is Amazon.

Lulu

Pros: They offer payment via PayPal, which basically means you can be paid anywhere you can have a PayPal account that you can receive payment from. This may, of course, incur PayPal fees, but you aren’t left hunting a bank that will cash a USD cheque for you. They offer optional professional publishing services, but you can also go full-DIY if you choose. They will allow you to distribute your print on Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram, and they offer a wide variety of sizes and binding options, including stitched if you happen to be a fan of the traditional.

Cons: You have to have the software to put the ISBN and bar code, wherever you choose to get that from, on your own print cover for a certain set of print formats. The up-front expertise needed to prep your files for printing from you, the author, is a bit higher than for CreateSpace.

Bookbaby

Pros: They give you a webpage space with the publishing package. They distribute to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram, among others, as well as several niche options. You can choose to be paid via PayPal (there is a $1.50 processing fee per PayPal payment). They offer promo services with their packages, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Cons: You have to go with one of their publishing packages. There is no full-DIY option with Bookbaby. You can only opt for Direct deposit if you have a US bank account; if not you’re stuck with cheque in the mail (or PayPal).

Conclusion

So, you’ve now followed a bunch of links, checked out arcane FAQs that talk about metadata, ISBNs, ASINs, the non-transferability of your platform-assigned ISBNs, and tax-witholding, and your head’s spinning.

Is it really worth all this effort and research, just to get a print copy of my book? I mean, I’m indie. Is anyone really going to buy the d*mn thing anyway?

For me, I wasn’t going to bother. Not right away. Not after having figured out that I couldn’t get paid for it in any reasonable amount of time, and given indie sales generally.

Then, I actually had people – family, friends, colleagues – start asking me if they could get a print copy, and I sat down and thought a bit more. After a bit of that, I actually did set up POD – and I’m really glad I did. Not because it’s making me a fortune – hell no, far from it. But it’s not costing me anything extra, as I’d opted to get a print and an e-cover from my cover designer anyway.

But the real pay-off, from my point of view, was the moment my actual book proof showed up on my doorstep, and I got my book, after all the blood and sweat and tears, in my hands looking like a real book.

How do I get started writing?

How do I get started writing?

Get started writing – how?

Every writers’ forum I’ve spent time in has had someone, sometime, show up asking ‘how do I get started writing?’ At this point I always find myself needing to take my hands off my keys and wrestle down a sarcastic response like ‘Start typing’.

After a few months of feeling vaguely guilty every time the situation occurred, it came to me that while the question that kept triggering my sarcasm reflex was a dumb one, there were possibly a few underlying questions more worth offering time to.

Ignoring the fact that some people really do show up on forums and ask stupid questions simply for attention, writing a book can be overwhelming. Here are some thinking points to make it more overwhelming.

Hubble, bubble, boil and trouble

If I were to write a 101 Guide to Getting Started Writing, some twenty years of fiction writing later, I’d have to say that there are a few vital ingredients that need to be tossed in the pot if you hope to make the magic happen.

  • A dash of crazy. No sane person decides to write a book, spends a year or so of their lives writing, editing, and formatting it, and does all this knowing full well that they’ll never get paid for their time.
  • A heaping teaspoon of inspiration. You’re crazier than I am if you’ll waste months or a year of time for no remuneration and without something to write about that gets your blood pumping, whether it’s space battles or how to come up with the perfect hall decor.
  • A solid dose of grammatical understanding (substitute a silly amount of money here if you have it). If you can’t be bothered to learn or look up basic grammar and punctuation rules for your language of choice, or don’t want to pay someone who does to edit your work, stop writing now and back away from the manuscript slowly. There’s a difference between idiot savant and idiot.

What genre should I write?

Doesn’t matter, it’s not catching.

If you have a good story to tell, it doesn’t matter if it’s about terraforming Mars or a half-siren ‘acquisitions specialist’ being paid to acquire the Peaches of Immortality. Good story-telling never goes out of style. On the topic of trying to follow writing ‘fads’, check out Writing Myths: slay the dragon.

I know someone who manages to mix sci-fi, steampunk, and fantasy – and I can’t put their books down. I also know someone who invented the entire genre of elfrotica.

If you want to know more about genres of writing, I suggest you pull up a search engine and dig in. Wikipedia is always a good place to start. If someone’s harassing you to come out of the writing closet as a certain genre, I suggest smiling sweetly and telling them that you aspire to be original.

But which writing house will the Sorting Hat put me in?

Writers tend to gravitate to one end or other of a spectrum that ranges from ‘pantser’ at one end to ‘plotter’ at the other. Read on to discover which school of writing wizardry best suits you.

To avoid any embarrassing misconceptions, it may be important to note at this point that ‘pantser’ in this context refers to one who flies by the seat of their pants. It does not necessarily relate to their state of dress or undress whilst engaged in the practice of writing.

You may be a pantser if you have voices in your head, a setting, and no idea in the world how it’s all going to end, but you can’t stop thinking about it and you’ve already had detention for drawing spaceships in class.

You may be a plotter if you have a ton of post-it notes arranged in careful patterns on your wall, detailing the main idea, the sub-ideas, the plot arc, the chapter beats, the sub-arcs (with the kinky bits inserted on the hot pink notes) and have a file on your protagonist detailed down to their first word and the exact position of the mole on their arse.

Which is best? That’s the great thing – there is no ‘best’. There’s the approach that works for you, and the others, which don’t. Most people fall somewhere in between.

Give me facts! I cannot make bricks without clay!

The fact is that the amount of actual money to be made from writing hit rock bottom about a decade ago and then started burrowing. Think I’m kidding? These guys did the math: The Authors’ Guild – The Wages of Writing.

Additionally, traditional publishing houses are taking on fewer and fewer new authors, while trumpeting ever louder that independent authors, or ‘indies’ are the leeches on the underbelly of professional writing. Therefore, starting to write books with the idea that fame and fortune await is delusional, so you’d better have another reason for doing it (see the heaping teaspoon requirement).

If those facts haven’t put you off, then at least you’ve got the dash of crazy. Congratulations (…I think).

So how will I know if I’m doing it right?

Assassin’s Creed II

Assassin  “Where other men blindly follow the truth, remember…”

Initiate: “Nothing is true.”

Assassin: “Where other men are limited by morality or law, remember…”

Initiate: “Everything is permitted.”

This quote is particularly applicable to writing. The way I do it won’t be the way you do it. The way J. K. Rowling does it will be different from both of us. None of the three of us is ‘wrong’. Some people use a pencil, others touch-type at 100 WPM, others again dictate to voice conversion software.

Write whatever way blows your skirt up. There is no set of commandments. The only restrictions are your imagination and your writing ability.

Self-editing for dummies, or how to not annoy your readers

Self-editing for dummies, or how to not annoy your readers

Self-editing

First seen on the By Rite of Word Blogspot

Readers are picky beasts, and just because they couldn’t necessarily correct your writing, it doesn’t mean that they can’t recognise and be annoyed by constant technical issues. Leave enough editorial screw-ups in your manuscript, and not only will you lose readers, but arsehole book reviewers, like me, will call you on it in public. Actually, so will Amazon.

Yes, editing is expensive – or time-consuming. And boring, for the most part. But no, people won’t cut you slack just because you’re indie – and nor should they have to.

When you publish a book, you’re producing something you’ve spent months or years on. You owe to yourself, not to mention your readers, the respect of doing it properly.

You may not be able to afford to have your 350-page manuscript professionally edited at $45/hour.

However, there are a number of things you can do yourself.

Will this self-editing be as good as having it done professionally? No, probably not. But at least you can minimise the chance that someone’s going to use your precious manuscript for toilet paper because the typos, homophones, and other easily-avoidable technical eff-ups are making their brains hurt.

Step 1: Eliminate the obvious

I use MS Word, but whatever word-processing tool you use, either find the native spellcheck option or mug someone for their computer and load your MS up into software that has one.

  1.  Highlight your entire MS. (In Word, Ctrl+A.)
  2. Select the dialect of English (or whatever language you’re in) that you want your MS to use. I use UK English.
  3. Go through your entire MS and check out all the errors.
    • If a word, phrase or sentence has a coloured line under it, that means you either have a spelling error or a grammar error – or the spellcheck thinks that you do.
    • If you write fantasy / sci-fi, or some other genre that you’ve made up words for, I recommend adding them to your dictionary. It saves you having to ‘ignore’ them several times a page.
    • Spellchecks can be wrong. If you aren’t certain that your red, blue or green wavy underline is actually right, go online and do your research.
    • Spellcheck, for the most part, will not catch homophones (words that sound identical but mean different things). You’re going to need to figure out that a horse doesn’t have reigns yourself.

Step 2:  Use your brain

Go back up to the very first sentence in your MS. You know, the one you hoped never to see again, because you agonised over it for weeks.

  1. Re-read your entire MS. Don’t skim. Read it as a reader.
    • If a sentence makes you pause, highlight it.
    • If you see an error you missed and the spellcheck missed, either fix it or highlight it.
    • If something doesn’t seem logical, highlight it (possible plothole).
    • If you find yourself starting to skim, ask yourself if it’s because you’ve inserted four words, four paragraphs, or four pages of unnecessary yak. Highlight it.
    • Does your scene suddenly change view-points? Highlight it.
    • Got sections where the hero’s rugged face took on a look of surprised dismay before he began to reach out to gently touch the heroine’s velvety, petal-like cheek? Highlight ’em.
    • Be consistent. If you hyphenated ‘cloud-filled’ in chapter 1, hyphenate it in chapter 20. If you spelt it ‘adrenalin’ in chapter 3, don’t use ‘adrenaline’ in chapter 4.
      • If you find yourself wondering about a word or words each time, make a list of the things you keep having to back-check on and use the list to stay consistent.
  2. Go back over all the sections you highlighted.
    • Could you rephrase the sentence / paragraph / section to get rid of whatever made you uneasy when you read it? For example, have you used the same sentence structure multiple times in a row? Is there a pet word that you’ve just used too often? Is the sentence structure just clunky?
    • Get all the weird and wonderful things that spellcheck missed and you highlighted. Spellchecks are tools, not a substitute for your brain.
    • Check the places where something struck you as not logical or missing something. Maybe you need to add an explanation or tie up a loose thread.
    • Check the spots were your eyes started to unfocus. Do you really need them in the book? Or are they pacing disasters that are going to put your reader to sleep?
    • Check your point of view. If you needed and planned to head hop, fine. If you’re just slipping from one character to another at random, or sliding into the omniscient view-point, re-write.
    • If you think that a lot of adjectives and adverbs enrich your writing, please think again. They’re like spice. Add none, and you’re bland. Add a bit, and you’re great. Add too much and you need to start freezing toilet rolls.

Step 3: Use someone else’s brain

Yep. Really. Even if you can’t afford a full edit (we get it: they’re expensive), there are a number of options that won’t cost you $3,000-plus.

  1. Beta readers. Get some. Beta readers are free, if occasionally difficult to come by. Ideally they should be people who read your genre, but who don’t know you, don’t care about you, have never seen your manuscript before, and will tell you the absolute truth. Try Goodreads as well as the options in the other links.
    • Give them some guidance (The Killzone Blog questionnaire is a good start)
    • Give them a timeline
    • Give them a free copy of your spell-checked, re-read, re-edited manuscript
  2. Get a manuscript critique, or partial manuscript critique. This may probably will cost money, but it’ll be double digits to low hundreds money, not thousands.
  3. Friends / family. Not ideal because they will for the most part want avoid hurting your feelings, but they’re usually easy to come by. Again, if you choose to go this route, give them some guidance (like the Killzone Blog questionnaire). Tell them when you need the feedback by.
  4. Join a writers’ group. Again, the standard on these varies wildly, but they’re another free option to get some feedback.
  5. Read some bloggers who publish editorial hints and tips. Here are a few to get you started:

Most important: while the manuscript is out with your critiquers / beta readers / Aunty Mae … don’t open it, don’t edit it, don’t read it, don’t think about it. 

Step 4: Use your brain some more

First off: Thank your betas / friends / family. You’re not obliged to agree with what they had to say, but all these people did donate their time to try and help you.

And now … oh yes. Now that you’ve got your beta read feedback, your manuscript critique, your Aunty Mae’s 4,000 word essay on why she never reads science-fiction except when it’s yours … grab a beer / cup of tea / relaxing beverage of choice and open up all the emails / documents / spreadsheets where people have taken their best shots.

Throw a pity-party, get over it, and spend a few profitable and possibly pleasurable minutes duct-taping your ego to the bedframe. I’m not judging.

Then, go through all the feedback. I recommend sorting it into at least two categories (1) things everyone, or more than one, of your sources is saying; and (2) the things only one person has noted.

If more than one person has highlighted something, put a big red circle around it for serious consideration. If only one person has it as a pain-point, well, it’s worth considering, but not agonising over.

Now … Yup! You’re going to read your manuscript again!

The good news is, the time while your readers were doing their thing means you haven’t seen it in a while. That means you will have got a bit of distance from it and you’ll probably be much more efficient (and ruthless) with the remaining errors.

Re-read it with the feedback, especially with the feedback where multiple people had the same thing to say. Implement what you feel needs implementing.

Keep in mind, however, the beauty of being indie: if you truly feel, after reviewing a bit of feedback and your book that you prefer your original set-up … well, you’re indie. Your call.

Now that you’ve added, deleted, struck scenes out altogether, spell-check it again. (You remember how that works, we did this already.)

Then, if you’re using Track Changes, get the final view, or print out a clean copy, or copy the whole thing into a 5x8 print template – make it look totally new and different – and repeat Step 2.

Step 5: Publish your masterpiece

This is the easy bit, right? You’ve got your cover, you’ve decided if you’re going Kindle Select, or Kindle and everywhere else you can get your book formatted for, you know if you want to do print-on-demand or not …

Good luck and thank you from all your prospective, un-pissed-off readers.

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