I’ve been writing a long time, five years to be exact. That might not be as long as some others, but my foray into the world of writing has been a quick and intense learning experience. You see, I work full time and I write part time so I’ve had to be clever with my hours/days and stick to rigid deadlines in order to get the work done. I’ve spent many an evening writing, maintaining a blog/social presence and reading hundreds of articles from other indie authors who have openly shared their experiences. I’ve submitted my manuscript dozens of times and from those more recent attempts, I received a full MS request. I’ve hired an editor, book cover designer and recently published my first science fiction novel, BECOMING HUMAN (Part 1, Exilon 5 trilogy)
From my experiences, I wanted to share 7 things that I think every indie author should know.
1: Hire an editor
If you read no further please consider this step, especially if you’re thinking about self-publishing. I’m telling you now, this work is essential if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. Your manuscript should have gone through a rigorous self-editing process before you even speak to an editor. Depending on what you hire them to do – proofreading, copy editing or more labour intensive work on structural problems – the least you should have paid for is some proofreading work. Think of it as a second, and valuable, set of eyes of your manuscript. It is impossible to self-edit a novel in its entirety and even more detrimental in getting a friend to help you out especially if they have no formal training. Only consider hiring an editor that has the proper credentials i.e. someone that is part of a credible organisation for editorial and proofreading work.
2: Take your time
If you’re thinking about self publishing or if your goal is to submit to agents/publishers, slow down. You will need to carry out several edits of your manuscript and you should leave a healthy gap between each round of editing. Why? Because time will help you to appreciate where the problems are in your writing. Back-to-back editing of your manuscript is unproductive and a waste of your precious time. You are better off forgetting about your script for a month and doing something else, new writing perhaps. When you do this, your edits will be robust and you will end up with a more polished version of your manuscript that might have agents/publishers taking notice.
3: Learn how to write properly
I don’t mean put the words down on paper and do some self editing. I mean learn what point of view is, how to incorporate/write backstory, when to use passive language, how to structure dialogue, how to begin and end a chapter, how to get your characters to interact with their settings etc. This takes years to learn and you will only get there with professional feedback through a good editor or critique service. Treat every aspect of writing like a business.
3: Don’t shy away from criticism
Constructive criticism is your friend. Take it on board and learn from your mistakes. It’s what I had to do and I viewed it as a challenge, not a hindrance, because I knew each rewrite would only improve my work. Negative criticism, as opposed to constructive criticism that focuses on the things you need to work on, is not helpful. Feel free to ignore any advice/criticism that isn’t supportive. Ask yourself: Who’s providing the criticism? Will they elaborate on the negative points in my story/writing? If they won’t, do yourself a favour and move on.
4: Cover/Back Description
What all authors want is for readers to open their book and start reading. Here’s how that happens: The cover excites a reader enough to read the back description. The back description excites them to read the sample. If your writing is strong enough, they will buy the book.
Think about what readers do first; they look at the cover. What do we want them to feel: curious, excited, interested? Yes, yes and yes. A strong book cover will do that and a sizzling back description will get them hooked.
5: Consider writing a series or trilogy
It’s true that books that are part of a series or trilogy can be more successful than stand alone books. The reader has to ‘reset’ their brains each time they pick up a new book with new characters. By writing a story as a trilogy or series, they will already be familiar with the characters and story and more likely to buy the new book to see what happens next. By the way, I didn’t think about writing a trilogy on the basis that it would get me more sales. The story was simply too long to condense into one book. I found out about trilogy/series benefits a few years later.
6: Remember to sell your book
I’m new at this. I only published my book, BECOMING HUMAN, in mid December. The sales from that month aren’t worth mentioning, really low figures. Truth was (and still is) nobody cares about me or my book. I had to think about ways to tell people about my novel. I started with a Goodreads Giveaway that I ran over two weeks. I had nearly 1,700 entries and half of those added my book to their shelves. So in that short time, I had gone from a handful of people showing interest in my novel to nearly 860 people suddenly wanting to read it. I’ve built on that with a free e-book weekend (end Jan), an intense 2 week blog hop and contacting a range of reviewers to see if they’re interested in my book. Goodreads really helped in that regard because I now have reviewers contacting me.
7: Keep writing
All the editing, cover designing and promotional aspect of publishing a novel can eat up our time, so it’s important to remember what we are: writers. New material will keep sales ticking over and allow you to build up your all important reviews and fan base. After this blog hop is done, I will be resuming my work on the second part of the trilogy, ALTERED REALITY. It’s exhausting, but will be worth it in the end!
About the Author:
I’m a thirty-something writer from Dublin, Ireland. I spend my days working as a Civil Servant and at night, I write my little heart out. I have been writing non-stop for a few years now. Having worked in various jobs as an administrator, I always felt like I was missing something creative in my life. Several years ago, I started writing and uncovered a new passion for the written word.
I have just released my debut novel, BECOMING HUMAN, part one in the Exilon 5 trilogy. The trilogy spawned from an idea that ‘just had to come out’. My inspiration for the story comes from a long time love of science fiction TV shows and films. I also have a healthy (although not obsessive) love of technology and sciency stuff. When I’m not writing, you can find me reading or at the cinema or using Zumba Fitness and trying (or failing) to look as if I’ve danced all my life.