"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Sunday, January 6, 2013

6 Tests Before Publication

Last week I received critiques and edits back on several different projects. I’m now working on the rewrites.

No matter your publishing route, traditional or self, there are a number of tests for your work and abilities. Instead of rushing to put something out there on Smashwords or CreateSpace or in a query to an agent, we should evaluate if we’re ready.
Here are six ways we can do that:

1) Hire a freelance editor - This is a must for anyone.  To locate a reliable editor, begin with recommendations from other writers you trust. I also suggest this list of editors as a place to start.

2) Join a critique group - Other writers can give qualified and objective feedback about the writing craft and they DO NOT have to write the same genre as you.

3) Beta readers – they can test your story-telling ability. They may not be qualified to catch editing mistakes, but they can give feedback on the story flow, character (dis)likes and plot quality.

4) Enter writing contests – Some are free to enter and they (even the ones that charge) offer written feedback from judges. Sometimes the contest scoring can let us know how we’re doing compared with other writers, and you’ll be getting this critique at a MUCH cheaper rate than when hiring a professional proofreader.

5) Give yourself distance - After completing the first draft, I edit it, but then I usually wait several months before I go back to it and do my final rewrites. The time and distance help me approach my manuscript with a fresh perspective. I’m usually able to see the story more objectively.

Use a how-to-edit book - I recommend Revision And Self-Editing by James Scott Bell and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King.

The point is to create the best possible version of your work before releasing it for publication. Hopefully, these six tests will help us evaluate ourselves more clearly.

What mistakes have kept you from enjoying something you were reading?


Unknown said...

Hi, Sylvia. The thing that so often keeps me from enjoying what I read is repetition. Characters who constantly shrug. Or chuckle--that's worse. How much chuckling can one person really do in one novel, much less one conversation? Good post and good suggestions.

Botanist said...

What keeps me from enjoying something I'm reading? Practically every writing "rule" that critiquers have opened my eyes to (again, and again, and again...) that I nevertheless see liberally sprinkled in published works. Telling, backstory, adverbs, passive voice, any dialogue tag other than "said" ... in fact any dialogue tag at all!

Gah! Giving and receiving critiques has ruined my reading experience for ever more :D

Tammy Theriault said...

sylvia you have great tips that are short, simple to the point and a must do!! can't wait to put them to use when i finish my book. love the one about giving a few months before re-editing work. great idea. keeps things fresh

LM Preston said...

Great list! You've hit the nail on the head with all of these.

Anonymous said...

Great list-- good to write down and remember. I don't think the hindrances to my enjoyment are "mistakes" so much as style. I don't like multiple changes in point of view or deviations from rules like using quotation marks and denoting different speakers in different paragraphs, as an excuse for art. Drives me nuts.

Nicole said...

Great tips to catch those tricky mistakes that seem to work their way into even published manuscripts.

Sylvia Ney said...

Jan - repetition drives me crazy as well!