What to Focus on When You’re Not Writing Fiction

In every indie writer’s career, you have to make choices. These choices are always hard and nothing is ever guaranteed.  That is the nature of many things in life but writing is a passion, a love, ad craft and for many a driving force.

While there are many who would argue that “writing is the easy part,” I think it is. You know that as a writer you will need to write, re-write, edit, re-work, re-write, re-edit, and so forth until exhaustion, fatigue, energy or time has forced you to end the writing phase.  It will never be perfect even though you try. You will never be truly happy with it because you’ll see something that could be changed, added, eliminated, and modified or something else.

I can live with that. That’s the process.

But the hard question – “where will I spend my energy and money to get my work into the hands of readers” – that is another source of anxiety all together. More choices with no guarantees are on the table.  Independent of the actual writing phase, I made my own decisions of where to focus energy, effort, time and money in the business of writing and publishing books. While others may have a differing opinion (and that’s alright) the areas I concentrate on are narrowed.

      Editor – the person or persons that review your work with a dispassionate eye for accuracy, structure, presentation, voice, perspective, sense, and usually all the very things you thought you had done correctly, they show you what and where you missed. As difficult as it is to receive feedback, I respect and graciously accept the feedback; the more red on the screen for edits, additions, deletions and questions, the more I feel I got my money’s worth.

Ultimately, I nearly always take the editor’s feedback and accept edits, and I work on the points they raised. I do this because they are trying to make the work better.  If they make the work better, that will yield a better book that I authored.

Yes – let me say it loud: good editors make better authors. They can make us sound brilliant, edgy, insightful and good at story telling. In short, I don’t want to look stupid; having a good editor helps with making me look smarter. I’m okay with that.

     Proof-readers – similar to editors, these are the professionals that find all the other errors – grammatical mistakes, structure problems, confusing points of view, and all the things that will distract your reader from enjoying your work.  And just like the editors, I appreciate every error and issue they find, and I typically accept all of their edits. Why wouldn’t I? If they make sense won’t their work make me look better?

      Book Cover Artists – without an excellent cover artist, you can have the best story that has been beautifully edited and could change the course of literature and fiction, and have it passed over, discarded and not even looked at because the cover is not professional. A professional book cover is only the beginning. It needs colors, font, images, sizing and an assortment of other variables, large and small, that can capture that critical five to eight seconds the prospective reader will spend looking for something “interesting.”  Without a good book cover artist, your work will be buried under a sea of other works never to be heard from again. I know about this mistake – I’ve done it three times (I’m a slow learner) and it was painful.

Once you have a sample of covers – at least two – you will need to review and listen to your gut. Then share the covers with people, as many as you can, to get their thoughts as to why they like one, and why they dislike the other. If you love a cover but no one else does, re-evaluate your choice; they might see something you don’t.

      Interior Format Designer – this is the guy or gal that makes all the margins line up and link-up, ensures the spacing is correct and appealing, and meticulously arranges pages, table of content, images and all things interior with the purposes of  a) making the reading experience devoid of distraction and b) making the book easy to read.  This is the person that makes sure there is nothing by way of interior arrangement that distracts the reader.

This is also the person who may convert your paper-back into an ebook; if they are good the ebook version of the paper version will generate the same reading experience – no distraction and ease of reading the story.

All this is to say that when it comes to allocating resources, time and money I prioritize editors, proof-readers, book cover artists and interior format designers. After they are taken care, whatever is left will go to other important parts of publishing like professional reviews, book expos, advertisements, and other marketing venues.

I swear the writing part is easier.