3 Writing Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

Backspace and delete. These two keys will become your best friends when editing your draft. But wait! You’re not there yet. You’re just trying to get started on a writing project in the first place and you want to know what to look out for. Great place to start. Here are three mistakes to avoid when writing:

Writing without a plan

What’s that you say? Oh, you’re a pantser. That’s okay. You still need to have some idea of where you are headed. Freewriting is fun and has many good uses. If you don’t know what freewriting is, that’s the kind of writing where you completely wing it: no plot, no setting, or no outline and no thesis. Just pure, spontaneous word vomit.

Use that when you have writer’s block or need to come up with the first few pages for a story, essay, or just about anything. Don’t keep going that way though, unless you’re really good at picking sense out of it all later. If you have no idea of where your project should end up, then you’re likely to end up with a poorly constructed document. If you’re a fiction writer, you especially need to keep this in mind. Because your writing lends itself to limitless imagination, it’s very easy for you to end up with a huge, unwieldy story that makes sense to no one but you.

You non-fiction writers aren’t off the hook though. Writing without research and some kind of outline (and a method for keeping track of your sources) will result in disaster and could even get you in a lot of trouble for accidental plagiarism or inaccurate reporting. Besides, do you really want your work to read like a boring encyclopedia of random, disorganized facts?

I edited a book once that had me reeling. There was so much repetition and so many inaccuracies because the author simply wrote without any rhyme or reason. It took me months to sort it all out, and even then I was hesitant to be named as the editor, because I was barred from making any content changes, so much of the content still left a lot to be desired.

Not hiring an editor.

You may be an English major or even worked in a publishing house for years. Maybe you edited a newspaper back in the day. That’s all well and good. You’re also human and more than likely to miss your own mistakes. Editors themselves hire other editors for their works. It’s just the way it is. After working on your manuscript for days and weeks, you will become so familiar with your own writing that you no longer notice any of your errors. Find someone to read the thing over and give you their honest feedback (if you don’t have anyone, contact me at yourwritinglady@gmail.com). It may surprise you how confusing your “clear” writing is to someone else. Don’t be too proud to ask for thoughts.

Doing too much at one time

Turn off the TV and the phone, put on some music and focus on your writing. You can’t be on Facebook, while Snapchatting and replying to tweets if you want to get your daily word count in. I don’t care what kind of mastermind multitasker you are–it simply does not work and you will get less done than you could have if you stayed focus.

If you don’t intend to get much writing done or you’re having a chill day, then by all means distract yourself, but if you want to put in serious work as a writer, then you will have to learn to treat your writing time seriously. It can’t be something that friends, family and other elements of life simply barge in on and steal time from at will. Put your writing on the same pedestal that you would a day job or something you could miss or be late for.

It isn’t possible to do your best work when many other things have your attention at the same time. Even if your spelling and grammar don’t suffer too much, you won’t get the best out of your thoughts if you’re trying to have many conversations going and have to jump from one line of thought to another. Focus, and then set the work aside when you’re ready to socialize or do other things. You’ll see the difference when you read your work over the next day and your thoughts are coherent, rather than mixed up and all over the place. Your editor will thank you for it.

Why no one cares about your book on Twitter

Most people have no idea how to use Twitter. They find the 140-character limit frustrating, as it does not allow a lot of space to advertise in depth. They also don’t understand why the pace is so fast. As soon as you tweet something, it will be pushed far down other people’s feeds in a matter of seconds.

What is the use of a network like that?

Simple: Twitter is about conversations.

You’re supposed to be talking

The point of Twitter was never to be a place for you to shamelessly plug your product and services the same way you might on a Facebook page. It was mean to be very similar to text messaging (hence the fast pace), except that multiple people could see and participate in the conversation.

To use Twitter to promote your book, you gotta focus less on promoting and more on making friends. People aren’t going to care about what you’re pushing if they don’t know you. You’ll just seem–and be–annoying to them. Search for other authors and read their excerpts and ask them about their experience, their characters, and even just everyday life. Strike up conversations with people who are interested in reading (you can find them by searching for tweets and profiles with the hashtags “#reading” “#bookworm” and such.

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform, so it wasn’t meant to work the same way as Facebook does, which allows you to get away with 1 to 2 updates a day and still be active enough for fans. Twitter requires more frequent updates and attention.

Install the app on your phone and tweet several times a day. You know how you check your phone whenever you get a break, or instinctively look at the clock every 15 minutes at work? You need to get into the habit of tweeting about what you’re doing and interesting things that are going on, as long as they are related or semi-related to your book. The goal is to put yourself where people can see and hear you, and to become a fixture in their minds so that when your book does come out, they already feel like they know you and will be more inclined to buy from you.

Once you have connected with your potential readers, keep the relationship growing. Retweet and reply to their thoughts. Show interest in their projects. Remember stuff about then and ask them how various things are going in the future when everyone has all but forgotten.

Also, use Twitter to keep an eye on what other authors are doing, especially those who write in the same genre as you do. You can learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t from studying their approaches and developing your strategy as you go along.

Does it sound like Twitter is a huge time and energy commitment? It certainly is. But, you love your book, right? You want people to read it and like it and care about it. So, until you give a shit about other people and their work, there’s going to be less love coming back to you. Mutual interest and respect makes this world go ’round.

Get off your ass and follow your creative passions

Hey there. My name is Kim-Lee, and I am a writer. I’ve been a fiction writer for over 13 years—95% of my pieces have never seen the light of day. Oh, some of my work is out there, but the grand majority of it lies unfinished in an assortment of folders across three separate Cloud drives. Why?

Oh, fear, probably.

See, that’s a thing that plagues many creatives.

Actually, it plagues people in general, but I feel as though creatives are especially susceptible because our craft is often viewed as a hobby, you know? We’re told that we must have a lot of time on our hands. We’re asked over and over about when we’re going to get a “real job.” Family, friends, colleagues and many others assume that you ‘’don’t know what you want” and that you will eventually figure yourself out in time. And as time goes on and your art still remains your passion, their looks of concern and their scornful commentaries rise to rival Everest itself.

So, with that kind of energy swirling around your head, putting yourself out there can seem like the scariest thing in the world. Especially since I haven’t even mentioned the critics yet. Oh yeah. See, the naysayers and down-players of your whole passion for art are one lot. But there are also the people who DO see the value in the arts, but don’t see the value in YOUR contribution to it. Their intent and purpose is, apparently, to ensure that you never post another piece of your work again. Ever. Anywhere.

But you know something?

The strength to rise beyond that and to keep on sharing your talent anyway is a thing that every creative needs to find if he or she is to be considered worthy of the title they hold. Whether writer, painter, illustrator, dancer, singer, musician, and yes, even crafts person, you are not worth your salt if you don’t try and try again.

Aaaaah! Such a cliché. I know.

But listen.

The reason why things become clichés is because they hold true, time and time again—so much so that they are immortalized in this thing we call language. RISE ABOVE. Do you hear me? Yes, I’m preaching to myself here too. We’ve got to fight for what we believe in, and the one thing I think you and I have in common is our love of art—regardless of whatever genre we hail from.

Quit the second guessing and bare your ass.

No, no …not literally. Come on! You know what I mean. It’s okay to have doubts, it’s okay to be afraid. Hell, it’s okay to feel hurt that most people don’t take you as seriously as you’d like them too. But it sure ain’t okay to hide 95(or whatever percentage) of your work from the world because you think they may not like it, or because you think it isn’t good enough. Or because you think it still needs “fixing.”

I’ll tell you from experience: you’ll be fixing those goddamn manuscripts forever if you follow your inclinations.

Start a blog. Start a diary. Buy a notebook and take pictures of what you write in it and post them to Instagram. Buy a lamp and a camera and start being the photographer you think you need fancy equipment to be. Save up and buy a starter mic and put a piece of cloth over the thing ‘til you can afford a filter, and start that podcast. Mount your phone on a selfie stick and model your fashion designs. Get a tape recorder and record your music samples. Stop making excuses!

Yeah, I know, I know. I’m not the world’s best example of having my shit together, or being great at telling myself not to let days and weeks lapse between blog posts, or telling myself I can write those next 1000 words of my novel “tomorrow.”

But hey, while I’m screaming at the woman in the mirror to do better, I may as well jot it all down and encourage you too.

Maybe I don’t know you. Maybe I do.

But I DO want you to know that I’m rooting for you. All of you. I don’t care whether you’re full-time, part-time, or “just doing a lil somethin’ on the side.” Whatever you want to call it—if you’re an artist, then for the love of God, be the best artist you can be, with whatever resources you’ve got.

Life is way too short to spend it doing only things that don’t make you insanely happy.

I’m serious.

It is far too short for that.

Will you become a bestselling author?

The people who find themselves at the top usually weren’t looking for it. Regular people–just like you and just like me, put their heart and soul into their work, promoting themselves freely and, one day, just happen to strike a chord with thousands of people.

That may never happen to you. But, then again, it might. Sure, not every book that gets published in this world will have a sweeping effect on the masses. There is simply too much talent in the writing pool for it all to be at the top. You may become the next big thing, or you may not.

However. This is important. Listen up.

You should never give up hope. You know the quote, right? “The heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight…” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). It’s true. Baby steps lead to grown ones. Most good things in life don’t come easily. You can become a bestseller, and although there probably isn’t any guaranteed way to do so (short of a few well-greased palms), there are a few things you can do to put yourself in the way of success and let it come to you.

  • Develop your unique, compelling writing style
  • Talk about interesting content and concepts
  • Make your characters relatable, easy to love or hate, passionate
  • Promote, promote, promote… and promote some more.
  • Figure out your target market and how favourable it is
  • Make real connections and get to know people.
  • Let people get to know YOU. Not your sanitized mask.
  • Be patient, be persistence, be personable

You want to be the proud author of the next bestseller. So do I. More of us aren’t there because of so many reasons, ranging from laziness to busyness to straight up bad luck or few opportunities. No reason to give up, though. I believe there are many things we should be doing to give ourselves as many advantages as we possibly can to rise up.

  • Be prepared to put in more work than you ever have before.
  • Write your manuscript.
  • Get second, third, and, heck, tenth opinions.
  • Rewrite, refine, and refine some more.
  • Approach publishers tirelessly.
  • Don’t be daunted by rejection letters. Toss ’em in a box and keep on.
  • Talk about your book.
  • Get others inspired by the story.
  • Get people talking about you!

Good luck.

Should writers read in their genre?

The more books writers read, the better they will write, right? Not all the time. Common sense tells us to read widely from our own genres, but as logical as that seems, it can be counter-productive. For one, reading is fun and it can get addictive. You could find yourself doing so much “research” that you never get around to your own draft again (oh, if I had a dime for every time I abandoned a draft to drink up someone else’s novel).

Every hour you spend reading is an hour you don’t spend writing. So, keep in mind that distractions, even good ones, are the devil for writers. Overdo your research and you won’t ever get anything published. Reading is good, but don’t let your own projects suffer.

Also, reading too much in your genre can affect your style. You want to bring something fresh to the reading nook. Sounding too much like every other author will make sure you end up lost in the fray. You need to stand out. Your unique voice will shine brightest when it isn’t cast in some other person’s shadow. Read, yes, but avoid reading too much of your genre, so you don’t end up writing more of the same without realizing it.

Bring your particular view of life and the world to your books. Strengthen your impact. Great writing is less about playing copy-cat and more about getting a strong hold of your readers. The piece should reel them in and keep them dying to know what’s next. So, read moderately and stay original.

What to do when you have the writing blues

Spend 5 minutes on #AuthorTwitter and you’ll see tweet after tweet lamenting the gloomy spell cast over every writer at one point or another. An off day can easily turn into a week or a month, bringing on a bout of depression like no other. I’m here to help. Let’s talk about where you write. For some, it’s bed (warm, comfy, cozy…I know) and for others, it’s a coffee shop, train station, or maybe that corner of the basement no one else uses. Wherever it is, that your spot and you’re used to it.

But that could also be exactly what’s wrong. You see, too much of a good thing is…yeah, you know the saying. Sometimes, a change is what you need to spice things up and throw your brain into gear. Writers tend to find a nook and nest there permanently, but routine can become too familiar and stifle your creativity.

So? Get out there! Pick up your laptop or notebook and go somewhere else. When you find yourself thinking poorly of yourself, your writing, or just can’t seem to find anything to say, a change of scenery may be just what you need to get the brain juices flowing. You ever read over your last chapter and realize you’re saying the same thing over and over again in six different ways?

Yeah, time for a reboot. If you normally write at home, then go outside. If you are normally out and about, then try writing at home, for a change. Do the opposite of what you normally do and see how you feel. You can even change your method! Typists, get off the computer and grab a notebook and pen. Handwriters? You get the idea. Jump on the computer and try typing instead. Do you outline? Try freewriting. Do you normally write first and think about it later? Try a structured outline. Mixing things up will keep you fresh and hopefully keep the blues away.

You may need to stop writing.

No, not forever, silly! Sometimes your block will be so bad that you need a day or two to refocus.

Don’t be afraid to take a break from writing altogether. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you’re not a writer anymore. Like anyone else, you just needed a short vacation. Stop writing, get up, and do something else. Take up a hobby or plan a few nights out or days in with friends.

Strike up a conversation with someone and really listen to them. Observe their body language and how they express themselves. Pay attention to the topics that make them happy, sad or angry. You can learn a lot about people this way, which will give you insights that you can take back to your writing. If you were having trouble writing great dialogue, then having real-life conversations can help you overcome that. Perhaps you were stuck on new topics for your blog. Well, people are always talking, and usually about things that interest them. The more conversing (and eavesdropping) you do, the better you will become at finding topics to write about.

Don’t try too hard. Sometimes the more you overthink the issue, the worse it becomes. Beating yourself up, feeling useless and entertaining doubts aren’t going to help you get any better at writing. They will only weigh you down and keep you from doing what you love. So relax, sit back and ride out the little storms that are often a part of the writer’s life! If the mood doesn’t strike to write, don’t force it. If you want to write, but don’t know what to say, freewrite until you stumble on the right thing (it happens)! Do enough of that, and you will have at least one page of writing to refine into something meaningful. It may sound crazy, but you are far more likely to find the motivation to edit a pageful of nonsense than to create a masterpiece in one attempt from a blank page.

You’re not published yet?

We all hate this question. It comes hard, fast, and without fail from friends, family, co-workers–pretty much anyone who knows you write. Many people misunderstand writing as a career choice and it can be difficult to explain that you don’t have to have an agent and a string of books to your name to be a “real” writer.

I know you feel like throwing a fit right now. After being asked this (and similar) questions one too many times, it’s only natural. You know exactly how much time and effort you put into your writing, but it seems like no one else really notices or cares. But, listen: you’re not alone. Dark thoughts plague even the best writers and it takes courage to keep pushing through them.

When you’re feeling low and unaccomplished, remember that writing is a process. Everyone approaches it differently. Some writers release new books every month and other spend years on their debut manuscript. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, don’t beat yourself up. Work at your own pace. Readers can tell when a manuscript was rushed. You don’t want that.

Getting published is the cherry on top of the writing process. Enjoy each step of the way. Feel the words as they flow out of you. Get in deep while editing and have fun figuring out the perfect titles, illustrations and covers. Whether you’ll be querying or self-publishing, allow yourself to take as much time as you need to research and make choices you’re comfortable with.

If you rush through it all simply to prove something to everyone, you’ll miss out on the joys of being a writer and the finish line will seem pretty underwhelming.

Is freewriting the cure to writer’s block?

Not so long ago (when I was in college) I had friends who used to say that the best way to cure a hangover was to keep on drinking. I preferred sleeping, so I never really figured out how true that was. What I have learned over my years as a writer and editor, however, is that freewriting is one of the best ways to get over a bout of writer’s block.

Not being able to write when you really want to is frustrating. Many things can cause it, but one recurring theme among the writers I’ve talked to is fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of saying the “wrong” thing. Fear of letting out the words one really wants to say. These fears will curl their claws around your mind and keep you expressing yourself the way you were meant to.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Why did you become a writer in the first place? Surely not to censor yourself at every turn! The only way to become better at writing is to actually do it. Even when it seems impossible. Sometimes you can’t find the time, or you’re tired, or the motivation just isn’t there. I get that. But rather than find 99 reasons why you can’t, you can take up a pen and and a notebook and tell yourself that you can.

Pull yourself out of that writing slump by plopping down at the computer to bleed. Freewriting is exactly what it sounds like: a few minutes of pure, unburdened writing. You can say anything you want and not worry about spelling, grammar, or making any sense. It’s a method where you don’t restrict your creativity with rules and expectations.  

You can just write. Let the words flow. No pressure, and no stress. It is a great way to get a lot done and feel accomplished without looming any self-imposed deadlines over your head. Write whatever comes to mind. Get any and all words out. Do it on a computer, or in a notebook—it doesn’t really matter. Just write until you have absolutely nothing else left to say.

That’s when you’ll take a break, close it, and come back tomorrow to edit, revise, and write again. If you get into the habit of free-writing, you will always have material to work with. On days where you don’t feel very creative, you can always go and revise an old free-write. Once you’ve got several pages of raw writing, the refining will be the point where you will improve on all your skills. That is when you will edit it to make sense, and add more content to fill in the gaps.

Writing is your golden key to becoming a better writer. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become with words. Use dictionaries and thesauruses to expand your vocabulary. You’ll feel so much smarter, I promise. You can read books, eavesdrop on conversations, and throw story ideas around in your author groups, but until you get around to actually writing, your skills will never get any better. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a good book.

How do I edit my book draft?

It would be a shame to open your newly published book and find errors on every other page. Yet, it happens more often than you think and many authors wish they had spent a little more time on the editing phase of publishing than they did.

Now, it’s true—you might not escape a missing comma or two—but you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to share your book with readers, family, and friends once it’s out and ready for a signing.

You can avoid this by making sure that your book has been properly edited before it ever gets to a printer. Editing it once isn’t enough, no matter how sure you are that you caught everything. Although I will never say that it is impossible to edit your own book draft, it is certainly difficult and you’re likely to miss things that your eyes got used to.

Woman drinking out of a cup and using laptop. Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I can’t remember where I saw it, but I once read that the reason why it is hard to edit your own work is that your brain knows what should be there—and it goes ahead and fills it in for you. The problem is…nothing happened on the actual page. You saw what you wanted to see.

Annoying, right? Well, thankfully, there are a number of ways to make your draft as clean as possible without breaking the bank.

Get an alpha reader

Have you heard of an alpha reader before? They aren’t talked about as often as beta-readers are, but they can be very helpful once you’ve completed your very first rough draft. They will ignore most of the spelling and grammar errors and get right to the heart of the story, telling you where it feels weak and where it’s strong. It’s best if your alpha reader is a fellow writer (preferably a bit experienced) as they will know where you’re coming from and can help you flesh out and structure your book from a writer’s standpoint. Alpha readers volunteer their time, so this form of review and editing won’t cost you more than a few emails and maybe a cup of coffee if you meet one in a local writer’s group.

Seek out beta-readers

If you spend any time at all on Writing Twitter, you’ve probably seen the term beta-reader thrown around quite a bit. Beta-readers are people who test read your draft, similar to volunteers for market research and taste-tasting studies. They aren’t paid to do this, so finding a few won’t put a dent in your saving account (especially great when you’re working with a tight budget). Though they usually aren’t professional editors, they are a sample of the everyday readers who will eventually enjoy your book. They can pick up on glaring typos, awkward sounding sentences, and plot holes (or inaccuracies) that you might miss in your own review. They will also give you a feel for how a broader selection of readers might react to your book. This will save you a lot of heartaches when approaching agents and publishers with your draft. If your beta-readers didn’t like it, then it’s unlikely to get you much more than a pile of rejection letters (though, one can always hope for the best)!

The feedback you receive from helpful beta readers can help you to improve your draft in ways that would make you cry if you had to pay for all of them. So don’t skip this phase: the criticisms may hurt, but they’re worth it if it means you can produce a book worthy of the name.

Hire a content / copy / line editor

Woman sitting with crumpled balls of paper on the ground. Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash.

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

Wait! What’s all this? There are different types of editors? That’s absolutely right. I don’t mean to make things complicated, but you’ll have an easier time of it if you know what kind of editor to actually hire for your draft. This is where you have to fork out a few dimes, so let’s talk about these options so you’ll know where to go from here.

Ideally, you’ll want to find one person who can do the job. This may be possible, depending on your budget and how experienced the editor you choose happens to be. What you may not realize, at first, is that one edit is not usually enough for most manuscripts—especially complicated ones.

Content Editors

If you’re writing fiction, you’ll want to find a content editor. Let me hasten to say that if you have a strong writing community and can find alpha and beta readers who are highly experienced in writing for your genre, then you may not need to hire a content editor.

Should you choose to, however, ask for examples of edits they have done for other authors in your genre. If they are just starting out (we don’t want to exclude new editors completely!), then ask for a list of books they have read in your genre and ask for a phone consultation so you can chat and feel them out a little. Once you’re confident that they understand your genre well enough to help you sort out issues with plot and world-building, you should be good to go. But, oh! Don’t forget to ask for a free sample edit before you sign any paperwork.

And yes, they should have you sign an agreement before you get started.

Copy Editors

If you’re looking for someone to find spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, then a copy editor is the one you want. Their job isn’t to tell you that you can’t have ice on your Mars-like planet because there is no water. They are there to fix that pesky habit you have of spelling “committee” with only one “m.” Oh, did you completely forget a word altogether? The copy editor will be on it (in their offices, a thesaurus is never too far away).

If you are very sensitive about the content of your draft or simply haven’t written something very complex, you can get away with only hiring a copy editor (or having a general book editor only do a copy edit). They will go through your draft with a fine tooth comb and, yes, replace those missing commas. They will ensure you’ve used the right punctuation, not too much of it, and will ensure that your spelling is correct and consistent (I’m looking at my fellow Canadians, with our wild swinging between U.K. and American English).

Line Editors

So, who do you hire when you want your world or framework left as is, but you want your editor to correct a little more than simple spelling and grammar mistakes? A line editor. These are the people who will go line-by-line (as their name suggests) and tell you when a sentence is awkward, when dialogue is clunky, and when your character has blue eyes in chapter one and green eyes by chapter twenty (assuming you’re not writing about iris re-pigmentation surgery set in the year 2049).

Line edits are often the most appropriate edit to do after your book has been through alpha and beta readers. You don’t want to waste time doing a copy edit to catch misspelled words and bad sentences that might not even be in the manuscript at all after a line edit is completed. So, unless you don’t plan to have your draft checked for awkward constructions, conciseness, and clarity, have a line edit done before you call for a copy edit.

The one edit we haven’t talked about

You’re probably realizing by now that a book may need not one, but two or even three edits before it’s publisher ready. How much time and money you want to spend on editing is up to you, but it’s a necessary step no matter what you’re publishing.

Before you find any alpha and beta readers, and before you hire any editors, there’s one thing you should always do first: go over your own work yourself. Why did I put this last? There’s no reason, I just like to do that.

First, go over your work with a wide-toothed comb. Look for the huge mistakes your brain won’t gloss over. Don’t stress over it, though, just work the biggest lumps out of the cake batter, so to speak. Take a break for a day, and then take a fine-toothed comb to the draft on day two. Use this review to resolve subtler issues that you didn’t notice before. Look for major issues with style, clarity, consistency, and phrasing.

Your style is the way you write: your unique tone. Sometimes, you may weave in and out of a consistent style as you write. This second review is where you will try to recognize where you do this and correct it. Don’t be afraid of not catching it all: it will be hard for you to detect everything yourself. Your editor will pick up on whatever you miss.

Clarity is, well, how clear your message is. To fix this yourself, you will need to be honest with yourself. Be objective. Be harsh. Criticize it the way someone would if they didn’t like you or your book. Remove needless words and simplify any complex ones, if you can.

Remember to be consistent. If you spell neighbour with a “u” in the first few pages, then you should not be spelling it as “neighbor” by the end of the book. Take your time and fix all the less obvious problems you can find. If you’re ever mixed cake batter, you know that the small lumps are far harder to find and crush than the bigger ones.

Getting ready for the publisher

This is your book. You have spent days, weeks, and months pouring over the words. They are a part of you so you will be used to them. You’ve learned that your eyes may glaze over areas of text because you know what it says already, so there will be mistakes that you don’t catch—like that one person in every room, sometimes you can’t smell your own breath.

We’ve talked about getting a second opinion from alpha and beta readers. An alpha reader should be another writer, but you can ask trusted friends, relatives, or anyone really to beta read your book and send you their feedback. Try not to take their comments to hear. Just listen with an open mind. They can even use Track Changes in Microsoft Word to mark and comment on each line. Accept the changes you agree with and discard the rest.

You will have a solid manuscript by then, so your last step is to hire editors. Having cleaned it up as much as possible, you will save money on the final edits. A good, professional editor should offer you a sample of their proofreading or editing work at no charge, so you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into with them. Always trust the vibe. If you don’t feel like you would enjoy working with an editor, or even a beta reader, then don’t. Finding new editors can be a hassle, so if you can find one you truly feel a bond with, then stick with them. You shouldn’t have to worry about your book being subject of a nightmare about typographically-challenged manuscripts.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

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