Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Going Indie? Enlist the Help of Others

Not long ago, I had a chance to chat with a traditionally published author.  I asked if she belonged to a writing group, and found out that she does not.

Although this author does have a writer friend to bounce ideas off of (which we all need), she said that a book is one writer's vision, and should not be written by a committee. I completely agree with this!

However, if you're an Indie or self published author, you don't have the benefit of a publishing house, which provides content editing, copy editing, proof reading, etc.

I'm not sure how many different editors there are, but a work published by a publishing house is read by several sets of eyes before it hits the market!

Most Indies are on a budget, so until you can afford to hire professional editors and proofreaders, here are a few things to keep in mind to improve your Indie books:

Your writing group or critique partners can help you better develop your story.  Don't allow them to change your vision, but do be open to advice in what will improve your story, or what doesn't make it work.  They may not be content editors, but your finished product will be vastly improved if other writers read it.

After incorporating changes, enlist the aid of beta readers. Friends and family are great for this. Not only can they find typos and grammatical errors, they can point out what's lacking, what's boring, and what's not moving your story along.

Can't afford copy editing? Barter services with a writer friend who's a capable editor. (When bartering, it doesn't have to be for the same service. If you don't feel you're the best at copy editing, and you lack the critical eye of a proofreader, volunteer to be a beta reader).  A copy editor will do more than just proofread. In addition to spotting typos and grammatical errors, she'll finesse the writer's prose into a highly polished product.

Can't afford a proofreader?  Again, barter with a writer friend.  A person with a sharp and critical eye is needed to find the teeniest of errors in a finished (proof) work. 

So, as an Indie/self published author, you do end up using a committee of sorts.  Don't ever let them alter your vision, but do consider them your publishing house!

Do you belong to a writers group or have critique partners? Thanks for visiting!


Jennette Marie Powell said...

I worked with a critique group when I first started writing, over 10 years ago. I learned tons from this, but I also found that I need to write my first draft (and second) with the door shut. I learned how to revise with the distance of an editor with Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel workshop. I use beta readers and a copy editor, and mine are AWESOME. I barter cover design, print book setup, and web site maintenance/enhancements for this.

Old Kitty said...

Yay for these practical advice! I think it's great to utilize all the (free but still quality!) talent around you!!

I use my manager as my proofreader for my short stories! It's great - he catches all the grammatical errors I miss!!

Take care

Lorelei Bell said...

Good advice!

shelly said...

Very fantabulous good advice!:) I belong to a critique group and beta read outside my group for others.


Maria McKenzie said...

@Jennette: You've got it all covered plus lots of talents to barter with!

@Old Kitty: There are lots of generous and talented people willing to give!

@Lorelei: Thanks, Lorelei!

@Shelly: Sounds like you've got things covered, too!

Intangible Hearts said...

Yes, I have two betas and one critique partner and they all say nice things and any criticism is quickly a big "Oh, I'm so sorry," as if I would really get upset or something. Honestly, I think they are just being nice.

Norma said...

Maria, the key to utilizing input from others--as in a critiquing group--is to listen to what they have to say with an open mind, but ultimately to trust your own instincts. I published fourteen books through two major houses and worked with some wonderful editors...but when all was said and done, I had the final word.

William Kendall said...

I've been doing a certain amount of bartering with other writers for awhile now. I think it helps having other eyes on your work, and being indie means having freedom, and not having to deal with marketing chimps and editorial gorillas.

Maria McKenzie said...

@Eve: Those nice people! I told a beta friend of mine not to worry about hurting my feelings. I'd rather people I know be direct with me about something they don't like, instead of having it pointed out in a mean spirited review;)!

@Norma: I agree! And it's nice to know that you had the final word with the publishing houses:).

@William: Bartering is so helpful! And being indie does provide a lot of freedom--you are in control!