Friday, October 16, 2015

The Authorteers' Guide to Self-Publishing: Revisions


Welcome to a new series of posts on The Authorteers! When we first started our journey to being published indie authors, we did lots of research on how. There are numerous articles on practically everything related to the different aspects of writing and publishing. With as many steps as there are leading up to actually hitting publish on a finished manuscript, aspiring authors can often be overwhelmed with the process, sometimes to the point of giving up before they've even started.

To be completely honest, we were overwhelmed, too.

All five Authorteers decided we wanted to help aspiring authors achieve their goal of publishing their first book. We're going to break down each step in an easy-to-follow guide to self-publishing. We'll cover all the important details you need to know, including some specific things that we've personally learned through the years. It's our hope that you're able to use this guide to reach for the stars and accomplish your dream of getting published.

Revisions

After you finish your first draft, it's time for revisions. Ask any writer and they will tell you that revisions are one of the most annoying things about the journey to publishing. It's time consuming, can give you a headache, and causes you to throw your hands up in the air. You might wonder, "If it's so painful, why bother?" There are many good reasons why revisions are important. Keep reading and find out!

You will make mistakes

It doesn't matter how many years you've been writing, how knowledgeable you are on grammar and spelling, or how diligent you are as you're writing... you will make mistakes. And you know what? That's okay! There's not one of us out there that hasn't made some sort of error in a first draft. It could be minor errors, like typing "our" instead of "out", or using an apostrophe in the wrong place. Sometimes it can be bigger, like a plot hole, or conflicting descriptions of people or places.

When you're in the middle of writing the first draft, you're often in the zone. You're so focused on getting the words out that you turn off your inner editor and just keep typing. There's nothing wrong with that! You'll catch those errors during revisions, and so will your critique partners and beta readers. So don't fret!

Letting it breathe

Another thing that plenty of authors will tell you is the importance of letting your first draft breathe. Take a step away from it for awhile--a few days, a week, two weeks--then start revisions. It's like looking at it with fresh eyes. It can make all the difference when you clear your mind and allow your brain to rest. You can really see what's great, what's good, and what needs improvement.

Where do you start?

Where you choose to start depends on you. There are different things you need to be on the lookout for when revising. There are grammatical errors, spelling errors, typing errors, missing words, inconsistencies, confusing sentences, words and sentences that don't belong, scenes that need to be expanded... the list can go on and on.

Some writers choose to tackle these things one at a time. They'll read through for basic errors, then read a second time to tighten up sentences and remove unnecessary parts, then they'll read again to make sure the plot is in order, etc. Other authors will read through and tackle everything at once. Either way works, you just need to figure out what is best for you.

Authorteers Tip: If you know of any certain bad habits that you have (overused words, overused phrases, etc), do a quick search through the document. You can look at each of these instances individually and either remove or replace with a synonym.

Other methods of revising

Aside from reading and revising yourself, there are other ways that some authors do as well. Some will read the draft out loud as they revise. This helps immensely because you can hear errors that you can't see as you're reading. Certain awkward sentences make sense until you read them out loud.

Also, some will put the document on their ereader and read it. Since you're looking at it on a different device, you can see more than you saw on your computer screen. You can also print out the document and use a pen to mark spots that need fixed that way.

Authorteer Link: Mickey Reed (AKA Eliza Boyd) wrote an excellent article on self-editing tips for us a few months back. Take a look at it here to find out some more tips you can use while you revise!

When will you know you're done?

This one is tricky. Every writer is different when it comes to how many times they have to read through the draft before it's ready to send to betas. You have to read through it at least a couple times, if not several, before you can move on to the next step. This way you're giving your book a chance to be the best it can be. If you only read through it once or you read through it too fast, you're going to miss a lot of errors.

On the other hand, you don't want to keep reading through it forever. Reading through your draft too many times won't be as beneficial as you think. You'll reach a certain point where you're not going to catch anything because your eyes start to cross from seeing the same words over and over again. Remember--you're going to be sending your manuscript to beta readers and an editor. They will catch any stray errors that you miss.

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So, there you have it! Next week we'll be discussing Critique Partners and Beta Readers.

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