Steps to Writing & Self-Publishing a Book

This is an update to a post I wrote on January 17 called On Step 4 of a Stairway to Heaven… or Space. A strange title for a post, yes. The reason I named it that was because I am not sure of my final destination. I know I am traveling, but who knows where I am going?

Steps in old town

Image via Andrew Griffith Flickr Creative Commons

I am hoping heaven. This would mean my book will be published, marketed well enough that more than just my family and friends buy it, and hopefully people love it–or at least don’t want to throw it out the window and run over it with a lawnmower.

The other destination could be some black hole where none of the aforementioned awesomeness happens.

I’ve made some progress in the ‘heaven’ direction–yay for me–I no longer feel like I am climbing the wrong staircase and will end up lost in space. (I’ve read The Martian by Andy Weir, and I tell you, being lost in space sounds worse than sitting through a small town theater production of Hamlet–the extended version. Ok, so some of you probably love Hamlet and/or small town theater, but I really, really don’t… so it would be very painful for me.)

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How Scribophile Can Help Your Manuscript

Looking for Feedback in All the Wrong Places

I have a beta reader who gives me great feedback on the overall scope, characters, plot and pacing of my manuscript.  But it is always a good idea to get as many different points of view as possible.  So I went on a hunt for more beta readers, particularly those who can give me suggestions on the technical side of writing, such as sentence structure and grammar.

On some of the sites that I checked out, the feedback consisted of ‘good book’ or ‘I liked it’.

Ummm… thanks but that’s a little vague.  Are you just here to read books for free?

I need feedback from writers that are better than me, writers that can teach me things.

Hitting the Motherlode

I found Scribophile at the end of December.  It has helped me connect with some really good writers from all over the world, who have taught me how to become a better writer.  And everyone is super welcoming!

If you are a writer and you haven’t heard of Scribophile, I need to tell you about it and you need to listen.

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On Step 4 of a Stairway to Heaven… Or Space…

What step am I on in the book writing/editing/publishing process?  Well, very close to the beginning as it turns out.

For those that are interested, my plan is listed below. (Red checkmarks indicate those items that are complete).  For those that are not, skip to the end of this page or look at the pretty picture above.

  1. Finish book
  2. Friends, who read fantasy, read book
  3. Revise book per comments of friends who read fantasy
  4. Find people who don’t know me – who hopefully read YA fantasy – to read book (aka Beta Reader and others)
  5. Revise book per comments of Beta Reader and others
  6. Read book aloud to hapless husband without either filing for divorce
  7. Revise book as per comments of hapless husband (maybe) and any errors that become obvious during reading aloud exercise
  8. Hire proofreader
  9. Create painful query letter and/or synopsis of book (For clarification: the query letters are not to be painful, just creation of query letters happen to be painful)
  10. Identify agents accepting YA fantasy novels
  11. Email painful query letter and/or synopsis to prospective agents as per their specific submission requirements
  12. Wait for rejections, and hopefully at least one request for further pages
  13. Wait some more
  14. Receive responses from agents

Please note the minimal amount of red checkmarks above.  This is a long and arduous process – maybe even more so for my husband during the ‘reading aloud’ part.

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The Importance of Beta Readers

Beta SymbolWhat is a beta reader?

A beta reader is not an editor or a proofreader.  They are simply people who read over your novel before it is available publicly.

They provide general feedback on plot, characterization, descriptions, sentence structure, consistency, etc.  For example, they could point out a story thread that is left unfinished; dialogue that seems out of character; a blue hat suddenly becoming a red hat; and, point out awkward sentences (like this one).

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