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We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t edit a page that hasn’t been written.” But you may be wondering what happens when all the pages have been written?


Should you send your manuscript straight to your editor(s)? Let your family grammatician have a go at it? When should you have your favorite beta readers jump into the fray? The answer will vary for each author and can depend on several key metrics.


Purpose



Although producing the highest quality story should always be your goal, your road to getting it there may differ greatly whether you are self-publishing or going through traditional publishing. I know indie authors who release books knowing they aren’t as polished as they could be. After all, it only takes 1-2 days usually for your edited manuscript to go live through Amazon’s KDP. At the time of this blog post, KDP does not charge you for any uploads of your story, whether it’s the first time or the twentieth*! Since printing is on demand, you are only ‘out’ by whatever author copies you’ve had printed. Try telling a traditional publisher you want to reprint the first 5-10 thousand copies because you spelled ‘peeked’ as ‘peaked’ a few times (shout out to my newsletter subscribers who saw this beauty in my sneak peek of The Raven’s Fall. Sigh...I did say it was the unedited version.)


*Please note that other self-publishing platforms do charge per upload, so always do your due diligence before hitting that publish button!


But, Rose...everyone knows first impressions matter. Why on earth would an author release a book before it’s ready? Glad you asked, since it leads me to the next thing to consider...

Time constraints



As soon as you hear the term traditional publishing, you think of deadlines, right? I mean after you’ve played out the posh readings, six-figure book deals, and book-to-movie adaptations in your head. Still with me? Hello? Yes, you looked lovely in your cameo.


If you’re a self-published author, you may be surprised to find that you, too, are beholden to the hands of time. That freedom of publishing your first novel a few months after you started your social media journey (I wouldn’t recommend this, by the way), disappears the moment you realize you now have readers that want to—wait for it—read your next book!


And guess what? Those readers do not want to wait for it—for long. At the very least, they will want to know what season and year you plan to release in. And just like that, you are working on a deadline.


If you are writing a series, this can quickly become a double-edged sword. Your gratitude for having ravenous readers will war with your ability to produce the content they are hungry for. It will also bring changes to other aspects of publishing, such as affordability.


Budget


This is the area where self-publishing takes a wide berth around traditional publishing. If you are traditionally published, the cost of editing isn’t something you will (usually) need to contend with. If you are querying to agents or already know you are going the indie route, prepare for a large hit to your wallet.


Why? Editing is often expensive. It is also often one of the top three things you should never shortchange (book cover and blurb copy are the other two.)


Editors should be pursued only after your second draft and self-edits have been completed, and you have incorporated all your beta readers suggestions (that you intend to.)


Did you know? There are different types of editors who each perform vital roles along your story’s publishing journey.


1) Developmental editor - Coaching and story structure (or restructuring.)

2) Line editor - Content and flow. Tense, sentence structure, reader engagement and experience.

3) Copy editor - Spelling and grammar, typos, inconsistencies, and confusing language.

4) Proofreaders - Should work with your final hard copy. They’ll be looking for the same as your copy editor with the addition of formatting issues (errors in chapter headings, page numbers, etc.)


With all these eyes on a manuscript, it’s incredible to imagine that things get missed, but they do, and regularly! If you’re a writer, give yourself a break. By this point in your publishing journey, you’ve earned it!


A wonderful romance author friend of mine, Debbie Cromack, recently asked what my word of 2022 would be. I chose “connected.” I want to work on my connections with family members, old friends and new, the writing and reading communities, and my inner voice.


After making the rounds of social media, I realized many people are feeling this way. From the tweets of lonely people asking if anyone is listening, to the skyrocketing growth of TikTok, (where showing yourself in your natural state is supported and even encouraged,) a common theme is emerging. People are craving connections with one another more than ever. But, why?


Sure, the pandemic has curtailed social gatherings, but it’s also had a large impact on everyday social interactions that aren’t as obvious. Households are split between the high-risk individuals and those who experience high rates of exposure. Dating norms have veered ever more sharply toward online interactions, and an entire generation of family members have yet to meet their grandparents and extended family. We talk to each other through masks, plastic partitions, and behind electronic screens. Hugs and kisses have been relegated to ‘maybe when this is all over.’ Even stopping to talk to someone in a grocery store will earn incredulous side-eyes and impatient fly-bys from the shoppers who want to limit their potential exposure to the virus.


Of course, there are people who have flourished with the changes. Less emphasis on social interactions means it feels less pressing to look ‘social ready,’ which makes many people happier. More time spent at home suits an introvert’s lifestyle very nicely. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience. Ahem.


Yet, even the individuals who loudly proclaim themselves happiest when they're home reveal their loneliness if you know what to listen for. Maybe they’re the person who says they’re 'fine' the loudest. Or perhaps they let slip that they’ve had less energy or spend more time sleeping in recent days.


This individual could be you.


If you can’t remember the last time you had a hug or welcome home kiss from someone, know that it can have a profound effect on how you feel. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the history of mankind, but humans appear to be creatures of community. When you remove that sense of connection, of course it will lead to emotional changes. So, what can you do?


First, think of what makes you happiest when interacting with others. Is it finding people who share your interests? Or do you prefer opposing views that stimulate new ideas? Do you live entirely alone and miss the warmth of having something—anything—to snuggle with?


Then, research the best place to find these individuals (or pets, if you prefer.) If you’re an author reading this, then put as much thought into this as you did when considering who your typical readers are. Where would they most likely hang out? What hashtags, sub-groups, big-name accounts would they interact with?


Next, think outside the box in terms of your willingness to find and connect with these individuals. You may dislike social gathering in person but find the pace of a social media place like Twitter easier to navigate. You can simply sign off when you’ve had enough! Or, if you consider yourself a highly visual person and love taking pictures, open or dust off that IG account. Share what your passionate about.


Consider taking online classes. There are so many more options than colleges! Fiverr.com offers gigs on just about anything you can think of, for affordable prices. Podcasts, YouTube videos, and even audiobooks are great ways to expand on your skillsets and interests.


Bring a pet into your life. This one must be considered very carefully, since your post-pandemic lifestyle may differ widely from your current one. Pets should be taken on only if you can commit yourself to caring for them for the long haul.



Also, celebrate your normal big events, even if it’s on a much smaller scale, or done virtually. Even if you can’t invite your family to a birthday party, you can receive gifts at the door and wait until they get back home to open then on a Zoom call. Believe me, it makes a difference in our mental health and helps keep our familial ties strong.


Finally, take advantage of the individuals and community that you do have open to you. Chat with your neighbors, even if it’s across the lawn or over a fence. If you feel comfortable, visit a store you love at an earlier hour when you know it will have less traffic.


Of course, please be safe in whatever you choose to do. And know that although these times are challenging and often frustrating now, they will not always be so.


We can get through this. Together.


Updated: Jan 14


While I was writing my first novel, I never thought about what would come after I completed it. Madness, right?


I knew nothing of author branding, publishing, marketing, or growing with the industry. Now, these are the things I think about every day, from the time I open my eyes until the time my head hits the pillow. This tunnel vision has served me well.


So, I have decided to continue with the momentum from 2021 and make 2022 the year to focus on growing my author business. I will accomplish this through increasing exposure, releasing new material, and actively connecting with others.



If you have followed my journey, then you may be wondering why I’m marking this as having a new outlook, when I spent part of 2020 and all of 2021 working toward these very things! Here are a few reasons why, starting with the challenges I faced and how I solved them, and ending with my continuing goals.



EXPOSURE


Challenge: Before I was published, I didn’t have much of a social media presence.


Solution: I now have a solid year of operating a website and posting a monthly blog and newsletter. After some trial and error, I figured out what posting schedule worked best for me (blog posts go out at the end of each month while newsletters are sent at the beginning), made some design changes, and experimented with a host of different material.


Continuing goals: I plan to expand my social media footprint. So far, I’ve discovered Instagram’s wonderful bookish community and dived into the fascinating writing community of Twitter. Over the past several months, I have joined a multitude of Facebook groups for readers and authors and have interacted with some incredibly supportive members. As soon as I have cleared enough space on my phone (I’m up to 7K pictures on my camera roll—I know, I know!), I look forward to joining the booktok community on Tiktok.



NEW MATERIAL


Challenge: It took me close to a decade to write, edit, and publish my first book! How long until I could put out a second? This is especially tricky while writing a series, which is why many authors will either write the entire series beforehand (or at least the first couple) before publishing. Duly noted and moving on... During 2021, I was worried that with so many new demands on my time I would miss out on doing what I love most—writing!


Solution: I have since found that with a little careful finagling, I can make the time to do it all. That has meant everything from making meals for my family in larger batches to adjusting my sleep schedule to optimize my most alert moments (since switching to decaf coffee, this has become even more crucial.)


It has worked, since I am now the proud author of two novels and a novella!


Continuing goals: I plan to use the processes and tools that worked, but search for even more ways to streamline them. One thing I have realized is that the learning curve is often steep, and things are constantly evolving. So, staying flexible in this fluid environment is imperative.


ACTIVE CONNECTIONS


Challenge: In the middle of 2021, I looked at where I was with each platform and determined that I was still not where I wanted to be. For instance, erratic posting made it harder to stay abreast of what others were doing. To make up for the large gaps in between reading posts, I only had time to send a quick heart or one word answer.


Solution: Instead of merely liking a post, I realized sharing my thoughts on it helped both the original poster and me to find like-minded followers. It also helped with those elusive algorithms that determine who and how many people see your posts!


Continuing goals: Quite simply, by being consistent and more active. While my original passive approach was fine for the learning stages, a more active plan will help me propel my business to the next level. I’ve watched authors who joined Instagram at the same time I did build their following exponentially by posting consistently and actively seeking out other authors and readers in their genre. Makes sense, right? Not many people achieve their goals by sitting back and waiting for things to happen.


I look forward to applying these ideas and more across my platforms and will share the results with you along the way!


Here’s to a year filled with many more learning—and therefore, teachable—moments. I look forward to 2022 and hope you are, too!


Rose


My newsletter is the perfect place to get the inside scoop on any of my projects and receive exclusive material. In fact, I’ll be working on a story this year that will only be offered to newsletter subscribers—make sure you don’t miss it and subscribe on my bio page!