Writing Tips – Self-Editing

What? A professional editor advising writers to self-edit? Surely not!

I’d like to make one thing abundantly clear right now: I am advising self-editing in addition to employing both a professional editor and a proof reader, not instead of doing so. Even the best writers in the world will miss crucial mistakes in their manuscript – unrealistic timelines, misleading or superfluous storylines, howling typos – because they’re simply too close to it. When an author’s eaten, slept and breathed their manuscript for weeks, months or even years, they get to the point where they may be reading the words on the page, but what their brain’s seeing is whatever they intended to write. (‘He visited they’re house’ made a valiant attempt to sneak into my debut novel, despite me reading the manuscript through about 100 times. Thank God for proof readers!)

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So why self-edit at all? Why not hand your manuscript over to the professionals the second you type ‘The end’ and have done with it? Two words – first draft. Do you really want someone else seeing the initial results of your brain going into overdrive while your hands struggled to type the words fast enough? No, neither do I. Furthermore, many editors and proof readers charge per 1,000 words, so if you can rein in the word count it’ll gain you some Brownie points with your bank manager too.

Self-editing is very relevant to me at the moment since I spent my Christmas break working through my own novel, Dory’s Avengers, due for re-release later in the year. I did this with the benefit of hindsight, extensive editing experience and the constructive criticisms of a number of reviewers, none of which I had four years ago when I first signed up to publish (with a vanity publisher – big mistake). Back then the manuscript weighed in at a whopping 163,000 words; I’ve since cut out 40,000 words of waffle and over-emphasis, rewritten passages that struggled, and dealt with characters acting out of character (why would someone who’s snivelling and needy in one chapter suddenly become admirably strong willed in the next?) and knowing things they couldn’t possibly know. (Just met someone for the first time? Well naturally you’re going to know all the names of their extended family – not!) Having done all this, though, I will still be employing professionals to go over my work before I publish. Yes, even editors use editors.

If you’re not happy with parts of your manuscript, the likelihood is your readers won’t enjoy those parts either. Can they be amended? Do they need to be included at all? Does your prologue (if you have one) entice people to read on or turn out the light and go to sleep? Does your epilogue (if you have one) add anything to the story, or is it just that you can’t let go? (Yep, been there, done that.) I know scrutinising every part of your manuscript will take time, but it’s well worth the effort.

Over the coming weeks I will share with authors following my blog the writing tips I’ve compiled from my three years as an editor, but I want to emphasise that these are only tips, not rules. You are the creative talent behind your manuscript and it’s essential that your author voice is heard; I merely make suggestions to help you produce a sublime reading experience. Next week I intend to tackle the ‘show don’t tell’ concept you may have heard writing coaches and other such experts lauding. Many authors ask me about that one, but it’s really not as daunting as it sounds. However, I recognise it’s not enough simply to wag an admonishing finger and say, ‘Ah, you should show your readers, not tell them’. It would be a lot better if I actually – well – showed you!

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If you’re an author looking for an editor and you’d like more information on the services I offer, please either click on the image below or email me directly on alisoneditor@outlook.com.

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‘Paulyanna – Life of an International Rent-boy’ Cover Reveal

Paulyanna Cover Reveal – Monday 23 September 2013

I have had the opportunity to read PAULYANNA – LIFE OF AN INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY before its release – just one of the benefits of being a book reviewer! Normally I steer clear of the autobiography genre, having no interest in the inane ghost-written bleatings of vacuous celebrities, so the fascinating and amusing PAULYANNA came as a breath of fresh air. The author, Paul Douglas Lovell, shares his past with down to earth humour, candour and the skill of a natural storyteller. He neither sensationalises nor condemns his past, and the result is a very readable and absorbing story.

We’re not sure yet when PAULYANNA – LIFE OF AN INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY will be available for purchase, but it will be soon. Paul assures me it will be out in good time for the Christmas shopping market, and suggests following his Facebook page or blog for more information.

Today I am very excited to be to hosting the cover reveal for PAULYANNA – LIFE OF AN INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY. I’ll now hand you over to Paul himself who has answered some questions about the design and choice of his cover.

I am very grateful to Alison for hosting my cover reveal on ‘An Author’s View’ today.  I’m delighted to be sharing my cover with you and to tell you a little about how it came into being.  My first priority was to publish a good quality read of a standard equal to that of the big publishing houses. This meant that after paying for a professional editor to achieve my aim. I hadn’t the funds to splash out on a graphic designer so had to go it alone. And here it is…

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OK, so why this cover for Paulyanna: International Rent-boy?

I chose this cover firstly because, out of all my attempts, it really was my personal favourite. I simply liked the colours. It was also created organically and without much outside influence, meaning I didn’t blatantly copy any other book.

I allowed the layout, colour scheme and font to develop as I went along. Trial and error – and this was made up of many errors. A bit like myself and therefore a very apt choice.

What does the cover tell us about your book?

I am not glossy or over-produced. I’m simple, perhaps a touch plain, therefore so is my story. I think it truthfully reflects the content.

Symbolically I am one among many and ALMOST like every other rent-boy, only red.

What were you trying to achieve with this cover?

I wanted to grab attention, draw the eye to my book. I think it is also more special if the author creates their own cover; it inserts an additional personal touch, a nice completion to the whole creative process. I am no designer and these things are taste preference anyway. I am aware that some people simply don’t like green.

 Was is it easy to design?

To design, yes. To lay out and implement my ideas, no. But that turned out to be a good thing since, as I said, this cover developed more out of the things I couldn’t do, Mistakes I thought looked OK and then played around with.

I used a basic drawing program that was very limited, sometimes insufficient. I searched online and used another program when mine fell short.

How many other cover designs did you discard on the way?

Nine. I got right into the designing process and could have continued on and on. My first was terrible and I got a bit better along the way. The only image I kept throughout was the royalty free clip art of the lone figure.

I’m not even entirely sure if I did get better. I enthused about all of my covers, but always seemed to like the latest one more than the previous. I get bored easily so perhaps it was the new and the different I liked.

Did you ask for other people’s opinions and was that helpful – or confusing?

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Paul Douglas Lovell

I did ask for opinions which was VERY confusing. Online you don’t know if the person you’re asking is colour blind, abstract-minded or a top-notch graphic designer.

Working for two hours on a design to get the response “I don’t like green” is not helpful, especially when another comes back saying “Oh green, how lovely”.

I found it better to create a straightforward photo poll with my shortlist. A poll with the simple option to click your favourite, leaving no room for discussion.

Having been through the process, what tips can you pass on about designing a cover?

Scroll a book site, see what sticks out or appeals to you and start from there.  Chances are your product will morph into one of your own making and not be particularly like anything you initially spied. Keep it simple whenever possible and try to consider the content at all times; it is amazing how quickly you can get carried away.

Finally, tell us about Paulyanna: International Rent-boy in 100 words.

A quick decision that steered me down a rather dodgy path. Without added glamour and grit, this is the tale of a 1990s British rent-boy. Risk and danger mixes with fun and thrills in my twelve-year career as a male prostitute.

A precarious existence on the streets of London and Los Angeles boulevards.

May not have been pretty but I had the audacity to succeed. This is not an erotic tale, more an intimate portrayal of day-to-day life as viewed from my quirky perspective. What goes on behind a glassy-eyed smile.

A road-book adventure in search of happiness.

You can find out more regarding Paulyanna: International Rent-boy by visiting my Facebook page.  Again I would like to thank Alison and also you the reader, so thanks.

Thank you very much to Paul for sharing his cover reveal and the story behind the design with ‘An Author’s View’ today. So, what do you think?

My Author Interview

I have given my first author interview. Throughout the process of publishing DORY’S AVENGERS I’ve had a persistent niggly voice in the back of my mind telling me that I’m not really an author. I’m only pretending. Finding a publisher, editing, proof reading, approving the wonderful cover art, promoting, guest blogging, networking, organising the book launch; yes, I’ve done all these book publishing essentials, but none has managed to silence the niggly voice.

‘But, look!’ I tell the niggly voice. ‘That’s my photograph on the cover of Dory’s Avengers. I am the author!’

‘Well now you’re being silly,’ replies the niggly voice. Smugly.

As I said at the start of this post I have given my first author interview, and to my amazement the niggly voice is silent.

‘Niggly Voice, look! An author interview, featuring me.’

Silence.

Could it be that my subconscious finally believes that I am an author? About time!

My niggly voice silencing author interview can be read on Jera’s Jamboree.