Monday, March 14, 2016

What To Look For When Editing

You've finished your first draft and are eager to query agents or editors. But don't! Resisting that urge and taking the time to properly edit your novel will increase its chances of success exponentially. That said, when editing your own work it can be really hard to look at your novel objectively. You worked hard for months, maybe even years, taking the hatchet to it can be a bit traumatic. But for the sake of the novel, it must be done. Take off the rose colored glasses and prepare to polish that baby up. The better the piece of work you submit is, the more professional you look.

Spelling & Grammar: Spellcheck is wonderful but it doesn't catch everything and it makes mistakes. Use it, but don't rely on it alone. Check thoroughly for grammar issues. To polish to a high sheen, read and be familiar with The Elements of Style. It's an industry standard for the most part. Root out too much passive voice and telling.

Arcs & Pacing: Check for plot holes, twist tie-ups, plot arc, and character arcs. Check for consistency and pacing (a read aloud round of editing makes this part easier). Don't be afraid to cut. Try to cut anything that doesn't accomplish something for your novel, meaning for the protagonist, antagonist, or the plot. If you find a scene that doesn't have a purpose, delete it. This is not to say that you can't set a scene, just don't go off on a wild tangent that isn't going to tie in later.

Format: Know the format publishers expect to see your work in. Usually that's 12 font, double spaced, 1 inch margins all around, with the title of the work & your name as a header and the page numbers as a footer. A title page with contact information can also be helpful.

How many rounds of editing you do before submitting is really up to you. A good rule of thumb is at least two rounds, more if you aren't spot on with your spelling and grammar to begin with.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Is An Online Presence Important?

Yes and no. If you have a negative online presence, it can absolutely turn off agents and editors. If you have no presence, then you don't have any bad habits or negative impact issues they have to worry about. However, if you have an excellent online presence with a strong following, agents and editors notice that as well. Personally, I like to see an author that has established themselves in a positive and relative manner somehow online. It shows they are ready and willing to do the work.

Today a lot of successful authors not only have a great website, but they blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or have a Facebook page. Do you have to do all of these things to have a strong web presence? Absolutely not. Like most things in life, pick the things you're good at and focus on them. If you like to chat in an almost texting style format, then Twitter might be for you. If you like to talk about all the things that interest you, post pictures, and such, then Facebook or Instagram might be for you. Blogging might be for you if you have something to share with others. The thing to remember about blogging is that if its all about you, people will lose interest. They want to read about something that interests them or that helps them in some way. Once you're published and famous, then they'll love to hear all about you, but save most of that content for that point in time. That said, there is nothing wrong with a newsletter that others can sign up for. In fact, every author should have one.

So should you wait until your published to begin all this? Not necessarily. Beginning these things now will allow people to get to know you a bit and start to build readers, which is what the publishing industry refers to as a platform. Even if you only gather a few people, at least you have begun. The best part about it is you will have started to meet people with similar interests and you'll have started to network. And as we all know, networking is key in the literary field!