Archive for content editor

Expenses to Expect when You are Self-Publishing Your Novel

Posted in Publishing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Writing a novel is not easy. But if you’ve done it and you think it’s a worthwhile read, you have a new difficult task ahead of you – getting it published.

There are many ways to get your novel published. They are the traditional way, self-publishing, and numerous ways in between. This article is about the newest and easiest way to get published—self-publishing.

Although self-publishing is the easiest way to get published, it is the most difficult for getting your name out there because you also have to self-market. And although it is often relatively free to self-publish, if you truly want your work to get read and possibly even popular, you will need to be prepared for certain expenses.

  1. Writing Supplies – This is an expense you will have whether you self-publish or go the traditional route. Writing supplies can include a computer, software, notebooks, notecards, pencils, etc. Costs may vary depending on your wants and needs.
  2. Beta Readers – Beta readers are the most basic type of reviewers. They are your friends, family, or other informal readers. They can help you find plot holes and minor errors. They can tell you which characters, scenes, chapters, and other things they like most or dislike the most. Keep in mind that these types of reviewers are not likely to provide a professional opinion and some of their feedback may even be wrong. Also, their opinions may be biased. Family and friends will probably do this for free, but if you want more objective reviewers you may want to offer an incentive to people who are not friends or family. I’ve paid between $50 and $100 per beta reader.

    I found some decent beta readers on Simbi.com. On Simbi, I exchanged services rather than paid them. They read and critiqued my book and, in exchange, I offered to do some art work for them. If you can provide a special skill, maybe accounting, dieting coach, or pet training advice, for example, you can offer your skills in return for beta readers. Keep in mind that some of the people you solicit will not follow-through. But at least all you’ve lost is time.

  1. Content Editing Service – Unless you’ve already had training as a writer, a content editor is a must. They not only provide an objective review, they also provide a more detailed review. They can tell you exactly what you’re doing right as well as exactly what you’re doing wrong. They will understand more about whether your book will capture a reader’s interest and keep their interest. They will be able to find plot holes better. The will tell you how to build your characters better, your scenes, and so many other things.

    I can’t stress the importance of this enough. When I wrote the first draft of my sci-fi, I knew and beta readers knew it wasn’t as good as it could be. But we weren’t knowledgeable enough to know what could be done to fix it. My content editor saved me. I think my book is ten times better now than it was originally, thanks to her feedback. Her services cost me about $500. And just so I can have a second opinion on the rewrite, I’ve hired another content editor for about the same cost.

    One thing about a content editor, they will be bluntly honest about your book. It will be very difficult to hear. You will want to get defensive about their opinions. But don’t. Listen. Listen to everything they say. Write it down. Then take a step back and think about it for a week or two. If you can learn not to take their advice personally, you will become a much better writer.

  1. Line Editing Service – A line editor will look for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Nothing is more irritating than reading a self-published book and finding dozens and dozens of errors. Hiring a line editor is very important for self-publishers. I’ve recently paid about $500, but the person was in my writer’s group and was doing a favor. I believe the service can cost much more.
  2. Art – You will need a book cover for your book. And unless you are an artist, you will need to pay someone else to do it for you. Although I am an artist, my specialty is not in sci-fi art so I’ve paid an artist to do my book cover. It cost me about $100 this time but I’ve seen sci-fi artists charge as much as $500 or more. I’ve also found art on photo sites. These look deceptively cheap so be sure to read their guidelines. Most photo sites require you to pay $100 or more if you plan on using the photo or art as a book cover.
  3. Publishing – Although it is possible to get your book published for free on some sites, such as Create Space or through Amazon’s e-book publishing service, other places may charge you. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. So while Amazon and Create Space is free, your only exposure for selling your book is on Amazon’s website. Plus, some writers believe the Create Space publishing format is not all that great. Other publishing sites can charge $50 or more to set up your book so that it can be available for print on demand. And they may also charge you for an ISBN, which is something all books will need before you can sell them. An ISBN can cost about $100 or so, I believe.
  4. Marketing – Since you are self-publishing, you really need to do a lot of work in order to market your book. There are so many ways to market and so marketing costs may vary. Here are just a few marketing ideas:

    -When selling on Amazon, Smashwords, or other online book-selling websites, make sure you use good keywords and that your book description, or synopsis, is very appealing for would-be readers.
    -You can pay for online ads on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.
    -You can run your own blog and website, which may cost you in hosting services. If you have your own blog or website, you may need to spend a lot of time optimizing these sites so that they can be found ahead of other writers’ blogs and websites. Be careful about companies who say they can do this for you. They will charge you, but their practices do not always live up to their promises.
    -You can promote your book at book stores, which means you need to pay for a supply of books to keep on hand. Independently owned book stores may agree for you to do a book signing at their store.
    -Depending on your genre, you can pay for a booth at comicons, expo-shows, or local events. I have a friend who is rather successful at selling his books at comicons. But the booths are very expensive. Over time, he’s learned to supplement his book sale income with sales on t-shirts, art, mugs, and other things which have pictures of his book cover art on them.
    -You can try to find people to review your book and post their opinions on their own blog or website. This can backfire, though, if they give you a bad review. Some people will ask for small compensation for their time. Be careful with this because a paid review can come across as biased.

These are the expenses I’ve encountered in self-publishing so far. There could be others. I’ve heard of some people paying the self-publishing sites for additional services. This could be helpful for you, especially if you don’t know how to do something yourself. And despite your expenses, there is no guarantee that you’ll make the money back. Selling books is hard work. But at least you will have the good feeling of finally getting your novel published.

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Finding Core Story Problems with a Content / Development Editor

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Kavakian Empire, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Have you ever heard the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know”? It is very difficult to critique your own writing skill. My beta readers helped but the feedback they provided just touched the surface of what was wrong with my story. So I hired a professional content / development editor, one that looks at the overall story development. And let me tell you, Kristen Lamb’s feedback was phenomenal.

I knew my story wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t know why. I hoped it was good enough, but knew deep down that it wasn’t. When she discussed her findings with me, it was like a lightbulb came on and I was struck by lightning at the same time.

Lightning Bulb

The lightning strike was because nothing pains the heart more than hearing the story you’ve poured your soul into still needs more work. The lightbulb was because she also provided feedback that encouraged me to move forward. My writing is great. My story is on the right track. And the story problems can be fixed. Here is what she said:

Luke Skywalker Fights His Father

Your Primary Protagonist Has to Face a Hard Choice

You can’t just throw trouble at your character and always have him make easy choices to get out of trouble. You have to really push them to the edge in the final act. You have to force them to do something that goes against their nature. And you have to make the choice a sacrifice no matter which they choose. Think about how Luke in “Star Wars” is forced to kill his own father. His hard choice—sacrifice the galaxy to save his father or sacrifice his father to save the galaxy.

Labyrinth Ludo Sarah Sir Didymus

Your Primary Protagonist Has to Grow

Your character starts out one way at the beginning of the story and learns something so profound from his journey that he changes into someone else. I don’t mean literally, though it could be literal, like in “The Fly”. And I don’t mean their whole persona. I mean something about his or her character changes. Think about Sarah in “The Labyrinth”. She began with the romanticized view that she was a Cinderella-like person forced by a wicked stepmother to care for a spoiled sibling. Then she faced a real adventure and learned to appreciate her life and her brother.

Choose One Protagonist to Focus On

Although you can have multiple protagonists, only one will face the hard choice and truly transform and grow in the end. Consider “Star Wars” again. There are many great protagonists in the story. And they all have grown in their own way. Han Solo isn’t such a scoundrel after all. Neither is Lando. Leia and Han fall in love. But the primary protagonist is Luke. He’s the one who grew the most—from the whiny kid in the beginning to a Jedi master at the end. He’s also the only one who truly faced the heart of the Empire. And he’s the one who sacrificed the most when he made his choice.

You Have to Have One Strong Antagonist

When you just throw trouble after trouble at your character like I did, it’s more difficult for your character to face a hard choice at the end. And as you will see in the next heading, it’s more difficult for them to fight a final battle.

The Departed

Your Primary Protagonist Has to Face the Primary Antagonist in the End

I wanted to add “and Win” because I like my heroes to win. But they don’t have to win in order to make a powerful story. The movie, “The Departed” comes to mind. Although Billy Costigan killed Colin Sullivan in the end, Billy was also killed. Anyway, without one primary protagonist and one primary antagonist, you can’t have the hard choice with the big battle at the end. You simply have a journey from one place to another with no ultimate purpose to keep your reader interested.

What This Means for “StarFire Dragons”

To keep this post from getting too long, I will post my musings on this next Saturday.

Conclusion

As writers, we can either let critiques bring us down and keep us from writing, or we can accept them as learning experiences and work on improving our skill. Because the feedback I received from Kristen Lamb was so spot on and made so much sense (and wasn’t at all contradictory like it was with the beta readers), I’ve chosen the later route. I strongly encourage you all to get your own stories reviewed by a content / development editor. They’re well worth the money. You can’t become a great writer if you don’t learn what you don’t know.