Transparency in Self-Publishing: The Perfect Book

Good morning, everyone!

Only 2 weeks until the release of Forged in Dreams and Magick!

Which leads into the fourth installment in my weekly series, Transparency in Self-Publishing: The Perfect Book.

The perfect book?

No such thing.

In fact, my supportive husband keeps highlighting typos from bestselling authors to help calm the anal-retentive perfectionist in me. Because at some point, we have to let the book go to get it published.

But . . . we have a variety of tools available to make our book The Perfect Book, or what should be more accurately described as The Best Book Possible.

After all is said and done, and the publishing button is irrevocably clicked, don’t you want your masterpiece to be well written and grammatically correct?

As I mentioned in earlier posts, our published books are out there forever. They are our immortality. Commit early to your level of quality, and hopefully readers will devour your books for decades and beyond.

Below are various resources that helped me write The Perfect Book The Best Book Possible.

Craft and Conferences

If you’ve been following my posts, you know I first began writing in the spring of 2010. As an escape from my Type-A side. The last thing I wanted to do was learn how to write. Nope. The whole writing thing began as a hobby and outlet for my creativity. And so I simply wrote.

After the draft was finished and an inexperienced edit was done (by me, who knew nothing about editing), I thankfully attended a national RWA conference. And promptly buried myself in every craft and editing workshop I could squeeze into my wrinkled, well-perused schedule. From 8am until 5pm for three days straight, I absorbed myself into all things writing, took copious notes, and realized I still had a lot of writing and editing development to do.

I highly recommend attending workshops at conferences. The caliber of talent at the national RWA conference was unparalleled, sage advice being doled out by bestselling authors and other professional experts in the industry.

Still, my aversion to doing anything too formal and outlined governed my learning tendencies. In keeping with my ruling creative, I only retained one or two nuggets of wisdom from each workshop to help improve my fledgling writing.

Writing Contests

Luckily, one of those workshops happened to be about the benefits of writing contests. I have a post from last year dedicated to the topic in Why Writing Contests Matter, which talks about the benefits, drawbacks, and process. But suffice it to say, writing contests were integral for my moving forward with my writing. Knowing key points that needed improvement, such as eliminating repetitive words, avoiding passive voice, and increasing the emotional depth, helped me hone my early craft.

Was it nice to have them praise me for my strong points? Absolutely. But setting aside my ego in favor of learning valuable lessons to improve my writing was the true benefit.

I strongly recommend them, if for no other reason than to get early opinions about your strengths and weaknesses. Later contests were entered with new material, what’s now known as Forged in Dreams and Magick, and I began to final in several, winning two of them. Although I’m immensely grateful for the awards and the validation they provide, the greatest benefit to me was in knowing how much I’d improved as a writer.

Books and Posts on Writing

As someone who did not want to “learn” about writing in a school-type atmosphere (nuts and bolts are too anal-retentive for me), I did shockingly pick up one or two books. Now, truth be told, I only thumbed through and scanned, seeking the get-it-now golden nuggets of wisdom.

Actually, the very first book I ever read about writing was J. R. Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide. {laughs} Yes. I am a fan, and it’s mainly about the BDB. But you know what? When I was in the middle of drafting my very first book in the spring of 2010, I read a golden chapter in there entitled “For Writers: Writing Tips, Advice, and the Original Proposal for the Brotherhood.” And then I reread it. As a fledgling writer, it was fascinating to understand the entire process and terminology from draft to published from an author I admired. And one phrase sticks with me as a mantra to this day. “Finish the book.”

Another book whose advice went from thumbed-through pages and into my hungry mind? The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. The absolute two best things I pulled from that book, but there were many others, are the importance of tension and the merits of scene rewriting.

Tension should be everywhere in a good book. If there’s a slow part? If readers (or you) are skimming over something instead of hanging on every word? You are missing tension. In order to create that page-turning, can’t-put-it-down novel, you need emotion and tension woven into each sentence, paragraph, scene, and chapter. Okay. Maybe not every single one. We do want the reader to take a deep breath now and again. But you get the point.

And on the second point, he makes assignments to the readers that involve rewriting scenes. After the internal groaning ended over how long it took me to create the coveted scene in the first place, I realized the exercise creates a talented skill. Soon after, I read a post by Karen Marie Moning (another amazing author I admire) about how she often writes a scene from several different perspectives until one feels so right, she knows she nailed it. Well, hell. If Moning sees value in such massive scene rewrites, so do I. Embrace your inner editor!

Beta Readers

Beta readers are invaluable in the writing process. Usually trusted friends, they are willing to read your manuscript for free and give you their opinion. Done prior to editing, their main role is to find slow areas, missing elements that should be there, or unnecessary inclusions. Ask them to tell you if it sucks. And where. And why. If you insist upon this brazen honesty and can take the brutal truth, your writing and story will be all the better for their invaluable feedback.

You can read more about the topic in my post from January of this year, Beloved Beta Readers.

In my humble opinion, beta readers are a key element in the writing process and an integral part of any writers team.

And keep an eye out this Wednesday! I’m sharing a behind-the-scenes look into my team in The Beta Reader Interview. :)

Online Workshops

This spring, about a month before I sent Forged in Dreams and Magick to my editor, I took an editing workshop. Yes. You read that correctly. Unfortunately, I’m unable to leash my anal-retentive side everywhere. Hey, perfectionism is a valuable asset! So I allowed the overkill to occur.

And you know what? I’m SO glad I took that editing workshop.

The professional-editor instructor reinforced things I already knew and introduced techniques I hadn’t considered on my own. I swept through the manuscript and employed all the new nuggets of wisdom I’d gleaned before I sent it off to my editor.

The result? She said mine was the most polished manuscript she’d ever received. Did I take that as an ego boost? Nope. My extra diligence helped to make the product the readers will hold in their hands The Best Book Possible, which is all that matters to me.

The Price and Value of Editors

A strong reason for doing the Transparency in Self-Publishing series is to help writers understand more of the self-publishing process than I did when embarking upon it. Editing is no exception.

Editing is EXPENSIVE.

There. I hope that saves you from the heart-stuttering sticker shock I had. My editor sensed my unpreparedness and blessedly broke the news to me gently, but I gasped for air nonetheless. And researcher me should have known, as pricing is easy to find online. You will also find that pricing and experience varies significantly. After the sticker shock wore off, I vetted my choices carefully, asking for references and speaking to said references before shelling out the wad of cash for the much-needed service.

How expensive? Well, I was initially thinking $500-1000 for my 100,000 word novel. Perhaps, I’d read an article or two on book lengths of 50,000-70,000 words and hadn’t paid close attention. I truly hadn’t paid much attention at all and just had a lower-than-reality ballpark figure in my head. The cost for the developmental and copy edits was $1,750 for my 100,000 words. That didn’t include proofreading or formatting.

Lucky for me, we had a savings account to dip into. From there, proofreading and formatting seemed a bargain at around $400.

The value of the edits? PRICELESS.

I can’t underscore enough the incredible benefit gained from good editing and proofreading. Sure, they caught every typo and proper hyphen usage I’d missed. And I’m apparently the queen of dangling modifier, emdashes, and ellipses. But even greater than all of those corrections? The continuity issues, plot holes, historical inaccuracies, and conflict issues that were captured and corrected.

Every item corrected through the editing process keeps the reader out of grammar-groaning mode. Instead, they get lost in your engaging story, exactly where you want them to be.

How Much Editing is Enough?

Edits need to happen until you have The Best Story Possible.

I imagine the need varies from writer to writer. Anal-retentive me believes the story should be in the best condition possible prior to every stage.

My beta readers deserved to read a sufficiently edited version. Prior to sending to the professional editor, I swept through the story once on my PC with beta-reader suggestions and a second time on my Kindle. Prior to the proofreader? Yours truly proofread my copy edit changes again on my Kindle, reading every single word of the manuscript from the first page to the last.

A side note here: I find reading the manuscript on my Kindle to be invaluable. I catch many typographical errors and reading-flow issues on my Kindle, and believe reading the manuscript on an e-reader helps our eye catch more flaws.

Why go through all the time and effort of reading through before each professional stage? Isn’t that what they’re paid to do?

Well, that baby is MY manuscript. Anything I can do to polish it to shine, I’m willing to do. No matter the time or effort necessary. If each team member has the manuscript in the best condition possible, then they can make it even better.

As a well-qualified and hard-working team, we publish The Best Book Possible.

~~~

Thank you for joining me for the Transparency in Self-Publishing Series! More on many of the topics can be found in my posts in the Writing Tidbits category, including Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

I’ll likely add more posts to this series in the near future, perhaps one on budgeting and another on publishing decisions. Let me know if there is a fresh topic you’d like to see here or one you want expanded upon.

~~~

Also, please mark your calendars for the upcoming posts and events:

9/11 – The Beta Readers’ Interview
9/16 – Forged in Dreams and Magick promotion event begins (organized by AToMR Tours) *
9/21 – Forged in Dreams and Magick launch party hosted by Bookish Temptations (begins 7pm EST on blog and Twitter)
9/23 – Forged in Dreams and Magick RELEASE DAY!
9/23 – ARC Review Tour begins and promotion event continues (through 9/28)

* Any bloggers interested in signing up for the promotion event can still do so by clicking on Forged in Dreams and Magick AToMR Tour link here. Sign-ups for the promotion event will remain active until 9/25. Although the Review Tour portion of the promotion is now closed, reviewers can still obtain review copies either by contacting me through my Kat’s Connections page or by requesting a copy from NetGalley.

A huge thank you to everyone posting the wonderful early reviews of Forged in Dreams and Magick on Goodreads. I greatly appreciate each of you for taking the time to read and review the book. That so many of you love the story and are raving about the writing means the world to me, especially given the effort taken to write the best book possible. I’m incredibly grateful and truly honored.

I shall endeavor to write many more of the best books possible for you to read in the months and years to come.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Highland Legends Series News

Hello, everyone!

There is a great amount of Highland Legends Series news to share from the Kat Bastion Writing Desk . . .

Promotion Event: Forged in Dreams and Magick

Although the Review Tour sign-ups are now closed, the AToMR Tours Promotion Event for Forged in Dreams and Magick will remain open through September 25, 2013.

If you want to participate in the two-week Promotion Event, please sign up here on AToMR Tours. Many choices will be available, including excerpts, interview, guest posts, and each blog can offer an eBook copy giveaway in addition to the larger Rafflecopter Event Giveaway.

Forged in Dreams and Magick on NetGalley

In case you missed the earlier news, Forged in Dreams and Magick is now up on NetGalley. If you’re a reviewer, bookseller, librarian or member of the media, NetGalley is a great way to access ARCs (advanced reader copies) for review.

Please find Forged in Dreams and Magick here on NetGalley.

Six Weeks! Times Two!

The countdown has begun! Mark your calendars!
{whispers) And earmark a few dollars in your budget. :)

We’re only six weeks away from Forged in Dreams and Magick‘s release on September 23, 2013!

Another six weeks after that? Bound by Wish and Mistletoe, the Highland Legends Series’ holiday novella releases November 4th, 2013!

{{{vibrates}}}

Excitement on Goodreads

Forged in Dreams and Magick Cover

Forged in Dreams and Magick

Early reviewers have given Forged in Dreams and Magick 4 and 5 star reviews/ratings. (Two of the six are NetGalley reviewers.)

Read this wonderful review by Artemiz. {smiles slowly}

Outlander meets J.R. Ward’s Covet

Add Forged in Dreams and Magick to your Goodreads with the button below:

Add to Goodreads Button

Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for the Goodreads Giveaway. There are five signed copies up for grabs!

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe was added to Goodreads today!

Want a bit of Magick and a lot of Highlanders in your Christmas this year? Slide Bound by Wish and Mistletoe into your stocking.

Description of Bound by Wish and Mistletoe:

Desperate to honor a life-long promise, Susanna MacEalan escapes her abusive clan with the fierce determination of never falling under the power of a man. Ever.

Aggravated by shallow-hearted pursuing lasses, Robert Brodie, commander of his clan’s elite guard, has foresworn scheming women. Forever.

When magick transforms Brodie Castle into a Christmas wonderland, the two despondent souls find solace in a most unexpected place . . . each other’s arms.

Amid a whirlwind of escalating events, Susanna’s traumatic past threatens Robert’s ability to protect the one woman meant for him. In a harrowing moment when all seems lost . . . hope, faith, and love prevail, transforming silent prayers into wishes granted.

Add Bound by Wish and Mistletoe to your Goodreads with the button below:

Add to Goodreads Button

Cover Reveal for Bound by Wish and Mistletoe

Mark your calendars! The Cover Reveal for Bound by Wish and Mistletoe will be on Friday, August 30, 2013.

Sign-ups for the Cover Reveal are here on AToMR Tours.

Promotion Event and Review Tour for Bound by Wish and Mistletoe

Mark your calendars! AToMR Tours will be organizing the Promotion Event and Review Tour for Bound by Wish and Mistletoe, which will take place the week of its November 4th release.

Stay tuned for sign-up information.

{folds up the hefty Kat Bastion Writing Desk newspaper}

That’s all the news for today. Plenty of exciting tidbits, don’t you think? I can’t wait to share more as events progress.

Oh, and remember to follow me on my social media channels so you don’t miss a thing:

 Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thank you for your continued support. It’s greatly appreciated.

Until next time . . .

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Everyone seems to be afraid of… or utterly dread… editing. Going back into work you’ve slaved over and doing the mechanical “stuff.” (highly technical term)

For me? Editing is the most amazing part. Now’s the time I get to shine—weave magic into an already stellar piece of art…or…not…depending on whatever I was thinking when my fingers flew across the keyboard at Mach 13. (which is 9,896 mph, in case you were wondering) … {fogs my nails and buffs them on my shirt}

Why all the anxiety?

Well, by the time you’ve finished. You’re a little bug-eyed. You feel like your head is about to explode. You’ve been so long in the forest you’d forgotten there were trees. With leaves. That are green. Usually.

Like fine wine, some things need to breathe.

Give it a rest.  Let that beauty sit there long enough for the oxygen to enhance your creation… and recharge your brain cells.

So now what?

First, you have to prepare yourself.  Put your sweats on, tie your hair in a high, fluffy ponytail, and keep a dose of dark chocolate close at hand. Put on those sexy librarian glasses that make your man think you’re imminently do-able, but force him to take pause because he knows there’s a whole lot of something else going on over there.

Now, you sit down and break it down—Chapter by chapter; Scene by scene; Paragraph by paragraph… Down to the very last sentence.

  • Is there a goal at the beginning?
  • Was it achieved at the end?
  • Did the world I create pull me in? Can I see it, feel it… smell it?
  • When the tension built, did his inner turmoil come across?
  • Does my plot move forward at just the right pace?
  • Am I using an active or passive verb in that sentence?
  • Did I use the best possible words to convey feelings and action?
  • Are my scene and chapter breaks in places that make sense?

Now. Usually all that analysis, and the weaving of those magical elements, comes in waves for me.  I am a pantster, after all. But the point is, I know what to look for. I know where my weaknesses lie in my drafts. I know how to fix them.

Use “Find” in your word processing program.

Are there repetitive words? Especially unique words that will pull your reader out of the story when they notice. Like… bristled… or askance. Do you really want your readers to stop and think to themselves, “Damn. There’s a whole lot of bristling going on.”? No? Me either.

I’ll never forget, as I looked up synonyms for enormous. I decided to do a word find. I found: 8 enormous, 4 vast, 7 massive, 1 huge, 2 gigantic, 2 giant, 1 mammoth, and 1 gargantuan. I got excited. I had yet to use oversize, colossal, and substantial.

How do I remember that? I’m looking at the yellow sticky pasted to editing notes. 

Okay, Kat. We get it. Everything is massive. {smirks}

Learn your craft.

Trust me, I didn’t always love editing. But, mentor’s words and techniques ring into my head when I’m elbows deep in reworking my rough draft into a polished diamond.

  • J.R. Ward ~ “Finish a book….” … from The Black Dagger Brotherhood, An Insider’s Guide
  • Karen Marie Moning ~ In an introduction to JZB’s POV last year, said she often writes difficult scenes from more than one perspective until she feels it’s perfect.
  • Donald Maass ~ “Rewrite the page… Rewrite this page again… Rewrite this page again…” … from The Fire In Fiction.

What did I take away from those greats? Finish what you started. Make it better. Everyone has to work hard to get results… it isn’t through the wrinkle of a nose like in Bewitched.

What’s the secret to editing?

Perspective is huge. How you go about doing something always impacts the result. Like I always say… about everything… if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

I make it fun, with the sweats and the ponytail and the chocolate. 

As I work through my paper-pushing day job, I can’t wait to finish, so I can tweak that scene. Add the idea that’s rattled around in my head. Polish that rough spot.

For me, the magic truly begins with the editing. The story I’ve written comes to three-dimensional life as the world mists off the pages and surrounds me.

Editing is seducing your story—teasing her slowly with grace and care until the best part of her shines through.

Can you tell I’m in the middle of editing? {laughs}
I’m having a blast with rewrites, revisions, and editing. Oh. My.

I hope you join me… and have fun with seducing your story, too.

Please comment and share your favorite techniques of editing, your challenges, and the pet-peeves you’ve seen in writing that you wish would have been edited.

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion