This post focuses on the importance of using an editor and enlisting beta readers if you are an independent author.
Let’s start by comparing/contrasting independent and traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, an author receives an advance (if he or she is lucky). This advance is usually a fairly small amount. The author may then receive royalties for books sold after a certain number. The royalties can vary from pennies per book to dollars if you are a bestselling author. In exchange for allowing the traditional publisher to publish your work, you receive editing, formatting, publicity, and marketing services. The quality and effectiveness of these services can vary depending on how much the publishing company believes it can make from your book. In the end, very few published authors make a living wage from traditionally published books.
Independent authors know that their world is a different one. All of the services mentioned…
Guys, help me to congratulate my author friend Don Massenzio on his new business endeavor. DSM Publications offers Editing and Formatting services to Indie Authors at a reasonable rate with advice and networking with other authors. Don is a big supporter of this blog so I am delighted to return the favor! Be sure to like his new Facebook page HEREand to follow his new blog HERE and subscribe to his email list HERE. (If you sign up for DSM Newsletter, you’ll receive a free copy of Don’s book, The Ultimate Guide for Independently Published Authors.) To learn more, visit his post HERE. Remember, we are in this together! Whoo hoo.
You’ve finished your book. This is admirable (because so many people never finish) and worthy of celebration. Congratulations!
But, while this is an accomplishment worth celebrating, you are not done. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.
A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing. After you’ve finished writing your book, your manuscript is now considered the First Draft. It’s called the First Draft because it is the first copy of the book ever in existence where no changes have been made. It is a rough draft of the story straight from your mind to the page. According to Innovative Editing:
“In any piece of writing, whether a novel manuscript or a blog post, the first draft is also known as a rough draft. From start to finish, it’s technically a complete piece. It has a beginning that moves to a middle that concludes with an ending. But it’s a messy complete piece. There are still thoughts to ground, sentences to be revised for maximum reader engagement, and spelling errors to fix. Which is why a rough draft should never, ever, ever be your final draft.”
Once you’ve finished the actual writing part, it’s a good idea to let the manuscript sit for awhile. Take a few weeks off from the writing and go do something else. In a few weeks time, return to it with fresh eyes to begin your self-edits. A strange but helpful thing for me when self-editing on the computer is to turn my document into a PDF. For some reason, I catch mistakes easier this way. It’s the electronic way of printing the book out (which at some point you’ll want to do with your highlighter and pen ready.)
It may also help to take out a notebook and go chapter by chapter (maybe this week is Chapter One and maybe next week is Chapter Two.) This is what I did when self-editing Renaissance. I looked at each Chapter one at a time and wrote about it in my notebooks (things that didn’t make sense, add up, were inconsistent, contradictory etc. I am preparing to do the same with Book Two, which I’ve let sit a long while so it’s time to get back to it.)
The idea is to take the manuscript through enough revisions so that it starts to make sense and then you can send it in to be big edited but please, do not publish that first draft. It will need to be revised first. It is a rough draft.
I AM SOUL, my short collection of poetry, is now available.
Everyone is using Mark Monciardini’s Mock-Ups (Covervault) because they’re free. While everyone is using them, not everyone is familiar with the basics of Photoshop in ways they can get the most out of the experience. It’s like copying someone but because you don’t really know how to do it, it doesn’t have the same look. Mark is the real artist and we are all copying him pretty much. He has extended his expertise to us newbies by generously giving away his mock-up templates. Now anyone, with just a basic knowledge of Photoshop, can have professional looking 3D book cover images. But, make sure you are hiding layers you don’t need so your images don’t look the same as everyone else.
I’m going to use the wine bottle glass template as an example.
What you have here is everything as it is originally. One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is change the book cover. Most people stop here. Boom, they are done. Save. You can do that but it won’t look very original.
Here’s mine with Renaissancecover. It looks good but not very original. I did change something though. Can you guess what it is? No, not the cover. (Learn how to change the cover HERE) I changed something else.
I hid a layer and took something away. That’s right, there are no sparkles.
To switch things up, all you have to do is hide layers you don’t need or want in your image.
To hide the particles, I went over to the layers and clicked on the drop-down menu next to particles. Next to the sparkles, (I like the word sparkles better. Sounds more girly lol), I clicked on the eye to hide them. That is literally all I did.
You can do this with anything you don’t want in your image. Even the background. Don’t like the wine bottle look? Get rid of it.
If I don’t want the background at all, I can hide the background and upload my own. All I did was click on the eye next to backdrop and hid it (you can also delete layers but I prefer hiding them in case I want to use them again).
Here’s a closer look:
Basically, whatever you don’t want in the image can be hid. You can now use the space to add text, a logo or whatever you want. While all this is optional, remember that if you’re going to add text to a mock-up that has a lot going on, we won’t be able to read it clearly if you don’t hide or delete those layers first. Let’s look at one more:
This is the original but remember, you can completely make it over so it looks more you.
First, you want to get rid of all these leaves (unless of course you want them there which I don’t). To hide them, go over to layers and click on the eye to all the leaves. Light Leaf, heavy leaf and big leaf. Hide them all.
The leaves are gone but that background still makes it look leafy. Unless you want that, you can change the background too or hide it altogether.
To change the background, go over to layers and hide the entire background.
What you have is a blank slate. You can now add text, logo, whatever you want.
You can actually upload your own background but we’ll go over that at a later time.
The point is that if you’re going to pay for Photoshop you may as well get as much from it as possible. To help your images to look more authentic, be sure to hide (or delete) layers you don’t want or need.
Wondering how many revisions you should make before submitting to the professionals? Technically, as many as you want but I found this article most helpful. I love how they break it down into steps so it’s not overly complicated. I also like the idea of self-editing / revising twice then submitting the third draft to betas, and then revising once more after that. I also love the rules for Betas. Check out the post at the link below!
(BTW, it’s not a good idea to publish a 1st draft. A first draft is after you’ve finished writing the story for the first time and it has not been revised or self-edited before being submitted to an editor.)
Ever wondered how to write numbers and time in Fiction? Check this out! The Editor’s Blog shows us how it’s done.
“We’ve got rules and standards for everything we include in our novels—how to start those novels, how to increase tension, how to introduce characters, how to format, what to include in dialogue, how to punctuate dialogue, what to exclude from the first chapter. And we have rules for numbers. Or maybe we should call all these rules conventions.
This article covers a few common specifics of using numbers and numerals in fiction. I’m just going to list the rules here, without much explanation, laying out those that you’ll typically make use of in a novel. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions. For the most part, you’ll want to stick to the standards to make the read smooth and easy for the reader and create consistency within the manuscript.
Yet we’re talking fiction here, not a treatise or dissertation or scientific finding. You have choices. And style choices sometimes get to stomp all over the rules. If you want to flout the rules, do so for a reason and do so consistently every time that same reason is applicable in the manuscript. For a comprehensive list of the rules concerning numbers, check out the Chicago Manual of Style or another style guide.”
I didn’t plan on sharing this but as I was editing some mock-ups I thought it would be nice to share what I am doing.
I am not a professional photographer, and I don’t always have a chance to take professional images. Therefore, I love using free mock-up templates to create professional images of my books. I am learning Photoshop also because if I can master it, I can also start to create my own book covers! (OK, that’s a far way off but a sista can dream).
But, while I am finagling (am I the only one who thinks finagle is a funny word?) around with this, I decided to put together a quick tutorial on what I am doing for those of you who use Photoshop. It’s super easy and if you have Photoshop, you should be able to get started right away.
Note: I’m not a professional “Photoshopper” and have instead found my own way of editing mock-ups because this way is easier for me but there are lots of other ways to do this.
Get Photoshop. You can get Photoshop CC for as low as $10/month. For me it’s worth the money because I use mock-ups often. However, there is a free trial you can use for seven days if my memory serves correctly. http://www.adobe.com/ (There are also plenty of free ways to create 3D images. I use Photoshop because the quality of the images is top notch.)
Once you have Photoshop, find a free mock-up that you like. Be sure the license allows you to use it. Most of them do as long as you don’t try to sell the mock-up as your own. You can find some great ones at http://covervault.com/
Download a mock-up you like. I’m going to use this one.
Click on the zip file and double click on the Photoshop file to open it.
OK so you can pretty much change anything on here to make it your own. Eliminate the background, upload your own images, change colors, etc. But…
I’m just gonna show you how to change the book covers.
Go to the side panel here. Let’s start with the front book cover. Click on the arrow next to Front Book, scroll down to front cover and double click on the space where the front book cover is…right where my arrow is.
It will bring up the mock cover here..
File > Open > Find the cover (or image) you’d like to use on your computer and click on it….and
It will open in Photoshop. When it does, unlock it at the bottom. If you don’t unlock it, you cannot edit it.
Click on your cover and drag it to the mock layer.
This one has lots of special effects I don’t need. If ever you don’t want something in the image you can either delete the layer or hide it. Click on the eye next to the layers to hide them. I want to hide the mock-up text and other things…
If you did it correctly it should leave only your cover and look like this (below)…if you look at the layers next to where my marker is you will see that the eye is closed. This means I am hiding these layers so they don’t show.
As you can see, when you move your cover to the layer (see step seven) it will be too big. On your MAC click command T to highlight it to resize. On PC click ctrl T. Now just resize it to fit the space.
Save your resized cover. File > Save as (save it under a name you will recognize. You will need to remember where you saved it.)
Go back to the panel and right click in the space next to the front cover.
If you did it correctly, it should bring up the box below…where you see replace contents, click on that.
When the box opens, find your saved image from Step Ten and replace the mock image with your own.
And that’s it!
For the back cover follow the exact same steps:
Click on the arrow next to back cover.
Double click on back cover
File > Open > Choose the image for your back cover
If it’s locked, unlock it
Click and drag your cover to the mock layer (you can’t move it if it’s locked)
Hide any layers you don’t need/want
Resize image > Command T (MAC) or Ctrl T (PC)
File > Save as to your PC
Back to the panel, right click in the space next to the back cover > Replace contents
Find saved image > place
The last thing you will do when you have both the front and back cover done is to File > Save as > PNG