For many authors, writing is a solitary activity. As for me, I’ll take all the help I can get.
In the business of developing technology, there is no substitute for usability testing—i.e. putting prototypes in front of real users and seeing what they think. The same is true in the business of writing. The more readers you have the better your manuscript will be … if have the conviction to separate the editorial wheat from the chaff.
I’m fortunate to a large circle of friends who allow me to impose early drafts upon them. They have found grammatical mistakes, bombastic sentimentality, timeline errors, and myriad other problems (like the overuse of the word myriad). Their feedback has helped me develop my voice, characters, and plot. Like usability testers, they have improved my work.
Have No Shame
During the last five years of reluctant entrepreneurism and reticent e-publishing, I have learned the art of shameless inquiry: “I know it’s been years since we’ve spoken, but will you edit my manuscript?” Seriously, you never know who will, A) take you up on the offer and, B) have a surprising editorial eye. When I was editing my first novel, I attended a friend’s 40th birthday in Puerto Vallarta. There were a group of LA guys there whom I didn’t know that well, and after a few days of little interaction (we San Franciscans share a duty to be standoffish toward LA folk), one of the guys mentioned he liked editing. That was all it took. Vik has since become one of my best readers, as well as good friend.
The more specific you are in your editorial instructions (e.g. focus on dialogue, repetitive sentence structure, etc.), the more specific you editorial feedback will be. Funny how that works. In my current novel, I set a few scenes in Padova, a place I had never been. In researching the city (love Wikipedia!), I discovered that a friend of a friend had married a Padovan and had since moved there. I shamelessly asked for an intro. The email went like this: “Dear Sita, you don’t know me, but I’m a friend of …” And so an editorial relationship (and again, a friendship) began. A few months later, when my partner and I visited Padova (as long as you’re making things up, why not include an exotic setting to justify a research trip), Sita gave us an eight-hour tour that included every Padovan site I had referenced in Ere I Saw Elba. Talk about specificity.
Hire a Line Editor
No matter how good your readers are, they have no responsibility for editorial accuracy. Therefore, unless you have an infallible ability to edit your own work, hire someone. If you don’t know a good editor, I highly recommend mine: Kristy Lin Billuni, who is both a great development editor and line editor.
One Final Read-thru
When you e-publish, there is no publisher whose reputation is at stake for the quality of your work. You are responsible for every pixel of the finished product. Even after myriad numerous editorial cycles with readers and paid editors, there will be mistakes. Fortunately, if you do publish a glaring typo like, for example, picnic attack (Able Was I, p. 222 … ), you can fix it ( … corrected on copies printed after 3/09) if it you bugs you enough to pay for another setup fee.
3. Risk Reduction
4. The Network Effect
5. Been There, Done That (serial entrepreneurialism)
6. The New New Thing
7. Emergence & Maslow
8. The Analogy of the Watch (moving parts)
9. A Clean Cap Table
10. Perseverance or Blinders
2. Readers & Editors
3. Genre Opportunities
4. Target Marketing
6. Creating you Brand
7. The First Review
8. The Network Effect
9. Amazon Ranking
10. The Book Tour