The Easy Hard Way 2   8 comments

As it becomes harder for an aspiring author to break into traditional publishing, more are opting for self-publishing. Continuing from the last post, it should be obvious for the serious writer that self-publishing isn’t as easy as it first seems. Oh, sure anyone can do it, but it’s not just a case of putting your work out there, and sitting on your ass waiting for the bucks to roll in. That approach is a lot like trying to mow the lawn while your watching HBO on the boob tube. It just isn’t going to get the job done.

Even in today’s traditional publishing world the burden of getting your sales up is shifting to the author. Sure, you get a smaller up front advance, (which is based on how well the publisher thinks the book will sell), but most of the promoting and marketing is going to fall square in the author’s lap. The big advantage is that you will have access to a good editor, and limited access to a public relations department. Both assets are well worth the contract, but if you want your readership to grow, it’s still going to be your responsibility.

We’ve already looked at the value of beta readers, and critiques. Particularly so when they happen to be fellow writers. So, lets concentrate on the bane of any writer’s life. Editing. Before you make a mad rush for the exit, please remember that if you want a chance at succeeding in this business your going to have to do it anyway. Editing is as inescapable as death. To paraphrase the immortal Mae West, “When rape, (editing), is inevitable, you might as well relax and enjoy it.” πŸ˜‰

One of my favorite self-editing tricks that may, or may not, help you is what I like to call the ‘different format’ trick. Basically, what this entails is changing what your manuscript looks like, without changing the original. Two things that will come in real handy here are the ‘save as’ command, and a PDF maker. If you don’t have a PDF creator, never fear. There is a good free one for download at SourceForge. It will allow you to create a PDF from any Windows program. You use it like a printer in Word, Excel or any other Windows application.

Once you have your PDF creator, ‘select all’ in your manuscript, change your line spacing, font style, or anything else that will make the document different than the one your bloodshot eyes have been fussing over. Then, and this is the most important part, ‘save as’ anything other than your manuscript’s name. I usually name mine test, or edit. This will save a new document, and leave the original untouched.

Lastly, create your PDF from the new manuscript, and start reading. You’ll be surprised at the number of mistakes that will suddenly stand out to you. At least it does in my case. The reason why is; you have just tricked your brain into seeing the document as something unfamiliar. Since it is no longer totally familiar to you, many editing mistakes stand out more. It makes it easier to put yourself in the place of a reader of the story instead of the writer.

I have to say here that the above method is particularly effective when coupled with the ‘let it rest’ technique. Get away from your story for a week, or two. Don’t think about it. Work on something else, then go back and do the above. I think you’ll be surprised by the results.

While I’m gearing these posts more towards the growing self-publishing industry, I’m certain you can see the advantage of doing this for any manuscript, query, or *shudder* synopsis. Besides, if you do happen to land an agent, and a publisher, never fear… they are going to make you edit it all over again, anyway. πŸ˜‰

Now, I can’t say for sure that this method will work for everyone. All I can honestly say is, “It works for me.” If it can help you by making your own self-editing life a little easier, I’m glad I could help. If not, please feel free to put it all down as the diseased ramblings of a professed lunatic and ignore it.:D

Ever;
Pete

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8 responses to “The Easy Hard Way 2

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  1. You are awesome Peter! You did it again! Now I know what I will be doing on Friday and Saturday to get my chapters tip-top for the posting marathon!!! Excellent advice!

  2. You’ve described what I do! I post on Webook or print in a strange font and, blam, the mistakes stand out. I can catch all those verbs that got placed in the wrong tense when the sentence was edited. I can see those unneeded tags. A new font makes all the difference.

    Michelle4Laughs
    • Indeed it does, shifting the page format seems to help a lot as well. Sometimes the addition of changing the line spacing, and justifying will help just as much. It certainly adds to the font change trick. πŸ™‚

  3. This is a great idea. I’m going to use it in later editing runs. You rock. And/Or roll.

    • I do??!! Hmmmmmm?

      ‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars,
      And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars.
      The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap.
      We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat.
      And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars,
      In the VIP with the movie stars.
      Every good gold diggers
      Gonna wind up there.
      Every Playboy bunny,
      With the bleach blond hair.

      Hey, hey, I wanna be a rockstar. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

  4. I’ve been formatting mine into an ebook with Calibre and editing that way. Isn’t it odd how a format change can point out the things you couldn’t see before?

    • That is is, Darke.

      I think it’s a psychological thing. We become so use to seeing the manuscript in the format that we are working in, when we switch it it becomes slightly unfamiliar.

      In essence we’ve tricked our minds into seeing it as something a little different and it helps our objectivity.

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