So then, what must an independent writer focus on in order to get their product in the hands of their reader? What will make the difference of your book getting reviews and sales from the ones that don’t? Well, to sum it all up you will need the following: an editor, preferably two), a cover artist and a book formatter. If you have a solid story, these three professionals can make it possible to be read. If you have a terrible story, with boring characters and bland dialogue, nothing will help you. However, when a writer spends money for editors, book cover artists and book interior formatters that money is well spent.
So you written your book and have revised it over two dozen times, put it away for a month, re-edited and reviewed it to completion, and you have finally eliminated all the squiggly lines that spell check has identified. “It’s perfect” you say aloud. Your dog and cat agree and you’re about to pull up Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble Nook Publishing for immediate release when you say “Maybe I should have someone look at it, just to make sure?” Without much of a response from your pets, you decide against it. Big mistake.
There is a blindness that writers experience when they re-write, re-work and re-edit their work. After all the checks and re-checks, the brain will auto-correct everything it sees on the paper to the point where even the most obvious flaws gets by the writer. For this very reason alone, I recommend having two editors – someone to do line-by-line editing and another to do copy-editing.
Line editing is the person that looks at the whole narrative picture from sentence structure, continuity, language usage and can give really good advice as to what to look at for deeper structure, plot and character changes, redundancies, and other things as pacing, unnatural phrasing and transitions.
A copy-editing, which always comes after the line-editing, takes a more technical look in correcting errors that are likely to occur after any writing and editing such as punctuation, spelling, grammar, consistency and continuity of fonts, transitions, and spellings. The copy-editor is typically the last person that major work is done as far as changes to the manuscript prior publication.
Why would you spend money on these two things? For me there are two reasons.
The professional reason is that when editing is non-existing, it shows in the final work. It will distract and turn many off from the story. Once this distraction takes over, suspension of belief is gone and your reader is either really annoyed or just walks away. Not good for sales.
The second reason I have two levels of editing (and a proofreader – all separate people – so it’s really three people) is because I don’t want to look stupid. This is all about vanity. When I get lots of red and tons of editing on my manuscript after it’s been to these three professionals, it’s a great day! That means that the mistakes were found, cleaned up and quality added to my work. I tend to accept all edits and revision as a result. I now have a vastly improved piece of manuscript and as the author, the reader thinks I’m smart. Maybe I am. But it’s the editors that make me look smarter. I’m all right with that. I dislike looking stupid.
The old saying “never judge a book by its cover” may make sense in many areas of life but it is a fatal error when you skip on paying good money for a book cover. Long before the age of attention deficit disorder, marketers and book sellers knew there was a narrow window of opportunity measured in mere seconds to get a potential buyer. While it would be wonderful to say that people buy books based on content quality alone, if you don’t catch their eye with a dazzling, curious and professionally developed book cover, your work will never see the light of day.
Arthur C. Clarke, Charlotte Bronte, George Orwell, J.K. Rowling, Ray Bradbury, Mary Shelley, Earnest Hemingway, and Virginia Woolf – all of these authors and writers might get away with a bad cover, or maybe even a blank cover but their name alone sells their books and stories. Anyone know J.M. Erickson? Not yet. Not today. That’s why I need great covers. Many of my works have been compared to these classics but my name remains an unknown quantity that the reader needs to get to know before they can rely on blind faith in a name. I will read anything with King, Shelley and Bronte’s work regardless of cover. I hope the same will happen for my work. So until your name is a pronounced and well known as the above, do the next best thing – seize the potential reader’s imagination and sight with a fantastic, professionally created book cover.
While this might seem far from sexy and important, have you ever read a book on your tablet, Kindle or Nook where the paragraphs, pages and sentence structure was out of line? Have you ever read a paperback where the interior format was messed up or just slightly off? This is a situation when the actual interior construction and arrangement of a book makes the entire venture of reading possible.
The best kind of book interior formatting is the one you just don’t notice. It is an invisible process and results in the reading focusing on the story content rather than wondering “what’s wrong with this book?” Interior formatting is the unsung hero of the writing production process. When it’s good, you don’t notice. When it’s bad, it can simply ruin any piece of work regardless of the writing and writer.
To sum it all up, if you have to spend money make sure it’s on the important people/services that will make a difference. Those professionals are as follows: editors, book cover artists and book interior formatters. I can tell you from my own experience and having made all of the mistakes, the ones that really cost me have been when I skimped on editing, the book cover and interior formatting. I have had to go back to all my prior works and have made all the corrections and improvements I wished I had done at the very beginning. Now, when I produce my work I know that when I pay the money I will have a great book that I won’t have to go back and fix.
More importantly, all these professionals make me look wicked smart. That’s almost as good as sales and positive reviews…almost.