One of the challenges most Indie authors face
is deciding when your book-child is ready to release into the wild to flutter off (and hopefully soar) on its own. This is particularly challenging because we are virtually by ourselves in the decision. We don't have an agent or an editor to give us the green light and say "Here you go, printing date in three months." We have to make that call for ourselves.As Indie writers, most of us have experienced that heart-freezing moment when one of our beta-readers (or well-meaning family members or friends) asks us about a plot hole that we simply didn't consider. We must race off, open our file and type feverishly. Hopefully it doesn't make the whole plot impossible and unravel our entire literary sweater.
Or worse, we have published our book, released it into the Amazon jungle, promoted the tar out of it... and we receive a two star review because of a major plot issue. And we can't explain it away. It's just there.
I realize I have painted a bleak picture, but these things do not have to happen. As Indie writers, we need to know the correct steps to get the best book possible out to our adoring public. And we need to have the confidence to let our child take its first steps into our reader's hearts.
Here is the process I put each book through before publication. I'm sure everyone has a slightly different method.
After my book has been typed out, I post it on http://Scribophile.com. This is a great critique group where people trade critiques. I will put each chapter through until it receives at least five critiques, editing as I see a need. This process helps me catch major plot holes and think through sentence structure. It's also a great way to get reader's impressions, sentence by sentence.
I try to find at least 5 people who will read my book all the way through, preferably people who A. enjoy reading the genre and have certain expectations for the category I have written, and B. Are not people I know personally. This is a great way to check for plot holes again and gage reader's impressions of the book as a whole. I don't hand my book out to betas until I have polished it as much as possible and 'sat on it' for a few weeks, then polished it again.
This one is highly debated; how much editing does a book truly need? One of the great advantages of being an Indie writer is not having an editor who must hone our story into something they believe their company can sell. It's what makes Indie writers able to publish anything they desire without having a commercial dragon breathing down their neck. I firmly believe if most writers follow steps one and two and find reliable readers who will be honest with them, they will probably not need in-depth, creative editing. On the other hand, copy editors are extremely important. You absolutely must have extra sets of eyes to check for SPAG issues. I have two copy editors, and I hand them proof books which are in proof form and already formatted. This is a great way to check for alignment issues as well.
4. Letting it go
After you have had your book proof-read, read through it yourself several times with a red pen, and gone through the dreadful-ahem-delightful process of formatting for Kindle and whichever other platforms you have chosen, it's time to sit back and watch the pages flutter away. The wonderful thing about using the process I have outlined is the book will not be released until you have had at least 12-15 educated, invested, objective readers involved. I'm not promising you will have all five-star reviews, but you can know you did the best you possibly could.
If you are a brand-new, self-taught writer, just dipping a toe into the creative universe, you might want a more extensive process for your first few books. But over time, you learn what to look for and avoid, and your children's faces will become cleaner in every new venture into the world.
I would love to know what you think of this article, and if you have anything to add. Please comment below!