Writing and publishing a book is an incredible learning experience. It’s exciting, confounding, and sometimes downright scary—especially if you’re putting your life on display in a memoir. In other words, there are plenty of mistakes to be made.
I thought it might be helpful to those coming down the same path to share mine—so far. I have a feeling there will be more.
One of the early mistakes I made was sending my manuscript out to beta readers too soon. I was anxious to know whether the story line worked, but I should have waited until I had a polished manuscript. Looking back, I was probably trying to get a mini developmental edit without hiring an editor. Although I appreciated all of the feedback I got and found it helpful, it would have been more valuable if my book was just about ready to go out the door when I sent it to my beta readers.
It can be expensive to publish a book, and a large chunk of the cost goes to editing. I had a bit of sticker shock when I saw how much my modified copy-edit cost. I say modified because it also included a couple of developmental edit items like pacing and glaring story errors, but it wasn’t a full developmental edit. I’ve been second-guessing that decision ever since.
If I had it to do over again, I would bite the bullet and get a development edit earlier in the process to give myself peace of mind that I was on the right track and to prevent me from repeating writing gaffs. Since I don’t have other books already published to bring in sales to offset the costs, I was trying to keep the budget reigned in. Which leads me to the other type of editing, proofreading.
Now I’m a very detail-oriented person and I write and edit training courses and manuals for a living, so I have some experience with catching typos, grammar goofs, and other errors. Besides, I have Grammarly!
I got this, I thought. I decided I could do my own proofreading and save money. Big mistake.
I read my manuscript aloud so I could hear any errors as well as see them. I felt satisfied after making further revisions and was excited that my book was finally *DONE*. I got a couple of quotes for the interior formatting, selected ebooklaunch.com for the job, and sent off my manuscript. They returned several different file formats (for Amazon, Ingram Spark, and Smashwords) with instructions to read through the PDF file carefully to look for any last-minute mistakes and let them know if there are any revisions.
Boy were there! I will be sure to follow their recommendation to get two copies of the printed proof and read through it again, plus have a friend review it.
“You will be surprised at what you can miss when viewing your book on-screen,” they said. I believe them.
The importance of good editing and proofreading by experienced professionals can’t be stressed enough. I think it’s worth the investment, now that I see the time and frustration it has cost me. If you want to learn more about my editing experience, see my earlier blog posts on that subject.
You definitely can’t please everyone when you’re writing a book. Knowing what advice to follow and what to ignore can be tricky. Sometimes the suggestions I receive are fantastic, and other times they just don’t feel right.
One of my writing group members recently said she heard successful authors follow a third of the advice they get, incorporate a third of the advice with modifications, and ignore the other third. Hearing that gave me an enormous sense of relief. I could stop trying to follow the ping-pong ball of advice and finally let go of my worries about which advice to listen to. Now I’ll just follow my heart (and my editor’s advice) on what makes sense.
Those are my mistakes so far. What are yours?