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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Treat Your eBook as Your Readers First Date (Editing Tips)

When considering whether to edit, or not to edit. Plus 11 Editing Tips!

The First Date

Imagine now. You’re on a first date. You want to be impressive, witty, clever and intelligent. Let’s face it, first impressions do count. Your hair is styled and you’ve shaved whatever needs to be shaved. You’re wearing your best shirt. You’re feeling sexy. You are ready. But as you look down…
You’re not wearing any pants.

Visualize, now, how your date must react and feel? Maybe awkwardly. Definitely let down!

The Way to your reader
Now, imagine, how a reader must feel, when they buy your (unedited) book. You used a clever synopsis to lure them as a pick up line. Even paid to get a decent cover designed (if not, you should!). Your Kindle price is an attractive $5.99 and the POD is $13.99.

Charmed by your prices and allure, your reader goes out on a limb and says yes to your book. But when they start reading, what do they get? Badly edited content – like you without pants on your first date. That is very disappointing for the reader. And you know what? That reader will not easily say yes to your books again.
This may be a long analogy to reach a simple point. And that point is this: if you want to be taken seriously, now, as an independent author, the time of getting away with not editing is long over!

Say yes to Editing
eBooks have been available for years now, and indie publishing is a thriving industry. Readers have begun to trust indie books! Many indie authors are selling books for more than the traditional $0.99.

In fact, personally, I like to buy an indie book that is over $7.99 because that says to me: the author invested in an editor and cover designer, and maybe a formatter too. That means I get a quality novel – on par with a traditionally published book – for my $7.99 or more.

When a reader buys your book, they are not just investing their money. They are also devoting their time on YOU because they have a need for escape and entertainment. They are trusting the book they purchased from you to fill that need. Now, if your book is badly edited, you are not fulfilling anyone’s needs. It only creates disappointment and annoyance.

All that said – yes – editing can be expensive. However, there is an editor for every author out there. You just have to find the right one that matches your budget and requirement. And as I have repeated many times over – an author simply cannot avoid getting a decent cover designer and editor anymore. Books ARE often bought based on cover design, and reviews ARE written about editing and bad grammar.

Here are 11 Useful Editing Tips for you as author to use

Before approaching an editor, you can make his/her work easier and your budget lighter by applying these 11 tips first before submitting your manuscript:

Editing Tips
1. Be consistent
Retain consistency while writing. Avoid losing track of minor plot details, character details and even time lines. Readers do notice small detail or plot mistakes.
2. Use simple grammar
The correct use of the period and comma use is a very common mistake in dialogue writing. Also, keep your grammar simple as most authors are not grammar experts, but neither are most readers. However, readers notice and do mention it on reviews!
3. Formatting
This is so important. Polish your book. Add formatted titles, subtitles, text font and an index (for eBooks). This is the ‘dressing up’ part of editing and presenting your book, and readers do appreciate it.
4. Narrative arc
These are the simplest of basics that indies get wrong. A story must have a: Beginning. Middle. End. Have the end goal posts in mind when you start the book and be sure to flesh out the middle without giving away the end too soon.
5. Tense usage
Choose a tense and stick with it. Past-to-present/present-to-past happens easily. Be aware and avoid confusing your readers as it makes reading choppy and unpleasant.
6. Read out loud
Read your text out loud. Especially dialogue! This helps catch mistakes and sentences that don’t flow. And you can ‘hear’ your characters’ voices and tweak where needed.
7. Proof-reader(s)
It’s fine to ask family and friends. But find someone who can give you objective and constructive feedback. You will need fresh eyes after months of creating this written world of yours.
8. Feedback. And then some more feedback
Accept feedback – even if critical. By now you’re in love with your book, and will need an objective point of view to catch inconsistencies and fix plot mistakes. Don’t just fix input where you want to, really consider all the feedback that you receive.
9. Cut out dead chunks
This is a very hard thing to do – but so vital. Read through every paragraph, and ask yourself “do I need this?” Sometimes authors go into over-explanation and over-writing. It’s not needed anymore in modern literature. If you can master the question of “do I need this?” and implement it – you are doing yourself, your editor and your reader a huge favour.
10. Line-by-line reading
You’ve completed all 9 points above. Now, start all over again. Read the novel line-by-line. You will be surprised at how many small mistakes you catch, and how many paragraphs you can polish to flow even better.
This is the golden tip of all. This tip can make a manuscript come alive and immerse a reader into a vibrant world. Show Don’t Tell is where you as author cleverly use dialogue and narrative to pull the reader into your characters’ worlds. And this is what will have readers coming back for more, again and again.

You can read a super informative article about the 11 tips above, especially Show Don’t Tell – plus so much more – here: http://bubblecow.com/editing-your-own-book-the-top-ten-book-editing-tips
To summarize, independent publishing is a serious money-making industry now. The more you invest, the more you will see returned. So dress up your book, and woo your readers into becoming devoted fans :)

Thank you for reading, and happy writing!
Jeanine Henning
Twitter: @JenVinci

About the Author of this Article: Jeanine Henning

Jeanine Henning
Jeanine Henning
Jeanine’s extensive professional background includes 16 years’ experience in cover design, children’s book illustration and publication, comic book publishing and editing, console game design, and writing. She has worked with editors, authors and artists on many continents over the span of her career, adding to her diversity and flexibility as artist and designer. Jeanine still works closely with traditional publishers on cover and book art.

For more information on Jeanine’s background and testimonials, visit her site at: www.jeaninehenning.com and author testimonials at: https://jhillustration.wordpress.com/author-testimonials/

Click here to visit JH Illustration website now to learn more and find lots of sample covers.

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Deb Coman said...

Love this, Jeanine. I agree that people should always put their best foot forward with a polished, professional message. I also love your simple, straightforward writing and editing tips.

Dennis Fleming said...

I like that you're selling yourself without selling yourself.

Daveler said...

In my experience, when I see an indie ebook over five dollars, it doesn't necessarily mean it's well edited, and in some cases a high price tag is a redflag. Many (though of course not all) of the people who charge way more than what their competitors do are often naive about the market, or egotistical enough to think, "I'm better than them!" and they don't try as hard.

One man in particular sticks with me. He said he was going to sell his ebook at 25 dollars because his did not "take two weeks to write." He later revealed his professional editor was a retire school teacher who had only found 14 errors in a 400 page manuscript, and over the course of a year, he went from giving her glowing praise to calling her work "absolute trash" as he found more and more mistakes she didn't catch.

He didn't understand anything about ebooks, the market, and disparaged other self-published authors, and when his book finally did come out, it was expensive, didn't sell, and chock-full of errors.

A lot of them are like that, though I typically give them the benefit of the doubt and attempt to judge each one on its own merit. It's just I find the more expensive it is, the more common it is to be a choice of ego over effort.

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