Hey, how’s it going? Pull up a chair, grab a coffee (or tea, beer – Hell, have a whiskey if you really want), and let’s talk. I have something to tell you. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m willing to share it anyway. I made a mistake, and I’m going to share that mistake with you. Hopefully, we can both learn from it.
“Hello Stranger” and ‘Spettra’ are being released again, and the reasoning behind it is more common and avoidable than most people would think. The reasoning is simple grammar and textual errors that were published in the last editions of the books. I did not get a proofreader with them, as I was more concerned with getting them out, and I didn’t think anyone within my circle at the time had an interest, much less the time, to help me with the work.
Let’s just say, it was a dumb move and I’m willing to admit that, and even go back to resolve the issues of my past work. Even if you do eight drafts, if you’re self-editing and only self editing, you will always have errors, of one type or another. I shouldn’t have relied solely on self-editing, and learning the hard way is an experience I won’t forget. That’s what this blog is about. It’s about editing; about seeking and accepting help whenever necessary, and it’s about fixing your mistakes whenever they’re presented to you.
Typos are common, as I doubt I have to explain. The ones that make an author look the worst are the ones that can be picked out with the help of a proofreader, betareader, or editor. If you’re self-publishing, and just starting, you may not be able to afford an editor, which is why the first two are usually the most ideal. Let’s go over what exactly they are, and what they can do for you. When getting ready to publish your novel, I think both are necessary.
Proofreaders (to me, anyways) are often friends, colleagues, relatives, etc., who are interested in reading your story, and know that the word ‘your’ isn’t spelled ‘ur’ inside of a book (it honestly shouldn’t be used at all, but that’s just my opinion). As I’ve said, I believe these people are essential, and should be utilized, thanked, appreciated and acknowledged, as much as the beta reader or even the editor (though, if you use an editor, it is usually required that their name is put in your book, e.g, Edited By: Quinn Queeny). Proofreaders are the audience you’re writing for; the neutral party who knows nothing and everything. Some people may say there is no difference between a betareader and a proofreader but I say that’s not quite true.
What a proofreader is to me, is the type of person that doesn’t write much, if at all, but likes to read, and sometimes they only do that once in a while too. They do it for the story, and partly because, I think, everyone wants to be a part of constructing one, especially if you’ve ever been swept away by a television show, a movie; video game plot…Well, I think you get the point.
Proofreaders will pick out the obvious errors that they see (and no matter how good you are, you’re going to have a few in your manuscript) whether or not they know that a sentence requires a semi-colon or a comma. The most important thing is that they can tell you what they thought about the story, from a perspective that you may not get with an editor or beta reader. Of course, if you have a proof reader, make sure you also have a beta reader or editor, as well.
Just to add: If your proof reader is your friend, or relative – anybody close to you, hound them for honesty, not for praise. They are the ones who know you deeper than a fellow author or reader would, and once they start being honest they usually don’t hold anything back. I find that’s normally best. If you want things sugar coated for you when you get a critique, you probably won’t learn as much from that criticism. If you get the whole package straight from the heart, you get to see your work as the audience sees it. Sometimes that’s scary, but mainly, it’s enlightening.
Betareaders are people who know the craft, either publish or write themselves, and are willing to go through and pick out important errors in both the grammar, and plot line of the story, as well as offer constructive advice for your writing style. These things can include: What you need to work on in terms of structure, what you are getting wrong altogether, and sometimes betareaders offer you certain reads that can help you grow and adapt, and this is never a bad thing. In fact, part of being a writer is taking all the best you can from other writer’s advice, and put it to your own work, finding what’s best for you as you go. Normally people take the advice of the greats, ones who have made it, but taking the advice from those who are learning with you isn’t bad either. Learn and grow together.
Since betareaders work for free (mostly), you should also be willing to read and edit for them, which is a good trade for self-published authors who cannot afford an editor. What goes around; comes around, especially in the writing world. This also goes with learning and growing together as a writing community. Edit for others, so that they will edit for you. If you edit for someone else, and they refuse to edit for you when the time comes, then they, my friends, are an asshat. There is no need for asshattery here, as there is writing to be done. If you come across someone like this, and you probably will, it’s best to let them go, and let the work you did for them be forgotten.
The lesson here: Never put a hat on your ass. (Don’t be an asshat)
Editors, obviously, are the best way to go, if you can afford it, and their rates can vary quite a bit. They’ve gone to school for it (most of them have, and you should find one who has some good credits); they will go above and beyond what a beta reader will, because they are getting paid for the project, and since they live and breathe different people’s works and ideas, they know the job as good, but most of the time better, than anyone. All around, a professional editor will give you the best quality of work.
So, where do you find these wonderful people?
There’s an easy answer to that, it’s called:The Internet.
Use it to search for local writing workshops, local events – anything and everything that features local, or new writers. Meeting and befriending other people who write, is one of the most valuable things you can do for your career. Not only can you seek to trade manuscripts for editing, but you can also help each other promote, succeed with marketing, and, this may sound corny, bounce around motivation. Hey, when you consider just how sensitive this job can be, a writer needs all the motivation they can get.
You can also find a huge (when I say huge I’m talking the population of Canada+) amount of writers, betareaders, or proofreaders, on social media and other websites. Some of them you use every day. Facebook groups, Twitter feeds, Goodreads Groups, and there are even websites devoted to getting critiqued and having people exchange work to learn and grow.
One great one is called: www.scribophile.com
I recommend this site. It doesn’t allow you to post until you give feedback, so you will get some critiquing on your work. If you’re worried about copyright, it’s no more troublesome than anything else you post online, and there are rarely issues. It’s there to help.
Also, don’t be afraid to use your search engines. You’re a writer, and you should know how to find things online. Finding a proofreader, betareader, editor, or whatever else, is as easy as typing it in. Getting them to do the work for you, well, that depends on what you’re looking for, and what you’re willing to give back.
If You Made a Mistake
Let’s say, you pulled the idiot move (like I did), and didn’t get a proofreader when you first published. Now, months later, you’re regretting it, or perhaps, your readers are regretting it for you. Now, you’re second guessing your own abilities, you may be wondering if your career is going to work after having this type of reputation (and for some, this is what kills their drive; a sensitive craft, after all), and you have no idea if you can stand to go back and redo the work. You think your writing career may be down the tubes, because you made the mistake of putting out bad work and it seems like a huge load to try and fix, especially with work, social factors, and life in general getting involved. Plus, people have already seen it, and it seems like the name, your name, has been tainted in the memory of readers.
Breathe, just breathe. It’ll all be ok. The sun still got up this morning, and so have you.
Is it easy to go back? No. But after realizing you made the mistake, and accepting that you want to change it, you’ll find it’s easier than you first thought. Once you get into working the piece again, and with the help of a betareader, editor, and/or proofreader, you’ll find you’re excited. You’ve learned new things since you’ve published that book, and you want to apply it wherever possible; show the world you’ve changed and adapted. It’s a good feeling.
Once you’ve redone your work, and it’s been critiqued multiple times behind the scenes, it’s time to re-release. Make a new cover, upload your content, promote, promote, promote, and get the ball rolling over again. Most importantly, be sure people know what you’ve done; that you’ve made the mistake and fixed it. It shows good character and strong work ethic, which is an attractive quality in a person, writer or otherwise.
That’s what this blog is about. I made the mistake, and I am just completing the fixes. If I wasn’t for the help of some of my friends, who also happen to be awesome authors, it would have been possible, but it wouldn’t have been as good. A ninth draft of only self-editing will still have its errors.
“Hello Stranger” is released this week! It will be #Free from Friday, March 6th, until the end of Sunday, March 9th.
Spettra will be released again early this March. Keep an eye out on the blog, or on my Facebook page, for the details.