Editing – Next Best Thing to Writing

A little history first… Blue Violet – this book that I am so diligently working to publish – I actually wrote about two years ago.  It practically flew onto the pages.  And then I hit the editing phase and… slowed…. wwwaaaayyyy…. doowwnnn. Let’s be honest, editing your own work sucks.  You’ve already been so deep into it that it’s hard to disconnect and really edit.

A few family members helped me out with a lot of great edits and suggestions. But YA paranormal romance is definitely NOT the preferred genre for any of them. So up till now I have yet to be satisfied enough with my book to put it out there. Until I emailed with Indie Book Reviews and they connected me with Wendy who is now my editor.

Suddenly, the editing process has become one of my favorite stages of writing this book. In Wendy I have found a kindred spirit who’s comments are spot on as well as entertaining for me since we appear to share the same quirky sense of humor.  Wendy’s  edits, feedback, and comments are all aimed at helping me create a book that I am proud to share with the world. And suddenly I’m back in creating mode, but now focusing it on molding my completed work into something better.

So I thought it might be fun/interesting to share some of the edits – both constructive and comical- that have come out of Wendy’s first round of this process:

Most Common Edits:

Common edit #1 – Telling:

This is so much telling instead of having it unfold as part of the action and storyline for us to follow naturally.

This is telling. Can you engage the reader more? Maybe have them talk…have him SAY soething

Even if its just a few lines can you SHOW this happening? Have them have a small conversation, don’t just tell it.

Common edit #2 – Kids:

but be wary of the use of the words ‘kids” because it sounds inauthentic and like an adult is talking down.

I know I keep deleting where it says “kids” because it sounds off…like, little kids.

Common edit #3 – Need to introduce the conflict sooner:

We need more tension here. Some sort of stress, inciting incident. At this point I’m starting to wonder why she doesn’t just talk to them?

Part of me is wondering if some of this back story should show up sooner, like way earlier because then we would know WHAT the risk was, in her finding these people  and why there is some danger/tension.

My Favorite Comments (for various reasons):

Fav #1: In response to this line “lots of bronzed muscles, cropped golden blond hair, and tawny eyes that were almost leonine in appearance”… Yummy

Fav #2: Just a note- you never need to say that someone is asking something ‘curiously’ because anytime someone asks anything they are obviously already curious J…well, usually.

Fav #3: I was just thinking about pizza like 10 seconds ago. Weird.

Fav #4: Lol I have to lol again as I just inserted this a second ago. Gotta love those muscled chests!

Fav#5: Oh freakin RAD. Oh please oh please I hope we get some dragon action  up in here!!

Fav #6: YAY!! TENSION!! STAKES!!! CONSEQUENCES!!! I’ve been waiting for you!!! We needed to have met each other much earlier, my friends J

Needless to say… huge thanks to my editor Wendy who’s edits have inspired me to not only follow this project through, but to keep on going with the next book.

Blue Violet: Excerpt #1 – The Beginning

I have posted an excerpt of my soon-to-be released book, Blue Violet, on Facebook. I took a poll today to see if people wanted to get a peek at either the beginning of the book, girl meets boy, or supernatural powers on display.  The vote was unanimous for the beginning of the book.

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The first day in a new school was always the worst. Standing in the administrative office, as she had so many times before, Ellinore Aubrey shifted from foot to foot while she waited with growing boredom for one of the school counselors to give her the usual “new student” spiel. But Ellie would tolerate it. Just one last time she would tolerate it for what she had to do.

So far, her experience at this school was pretty much par for the course as compared to her other schools. Same generic brick buildings, very institutional looking, and obviously not updated in thirty years. Same kids hanging out in random patches around the school waiting for the starting bell to ring. Same secretary wearing a heavily decorated sweater, this one winter themed in keeping with the season. It was mid-January and Ellie was starting at a new school. Again.

Ellie glanced out the window. A least the locale was a little different than her previous residences. Estes Park was nestled in a valley in Colorado, just outside the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. In the distance was the beaver-shaped notches of Long’s Peak. At this time of year, Estes Park appeared to be a typical sleepy little mountain town, blanketed in white snow. Although Ellie had the impression that, come summer, it would fill with tourists, all of whom were out to enjoy the many entertainments the beautiful surroundings could offer.

“Ellinore?” a voice asked from the doorway behind her.

“Ellie,” she corrected the counselor automatically, as she turned and offered a polite smile. Her full name was very old fashioned and hadn’t been popular in decades, if not centuries. Ellie gave a mental sigh as the counselor, Miss Langston, introduced herself. She was the usual counselor-type who wanted to connect with the kids and thought that she was hip to the latest fashions and fads, but probably mentally used words like “hip.”

Surviving Self-Publishing with Delirious Optimism

Before I ever became a writer, I was (and continue to be) first and foremost a lover of stories.  I am a voracious consumer of stories in all their forms: books – from multiple genres, movies – from the silent era on up, history lectures – I minored in history, story time at the local library – don’t knock it, and even business analysis – which is my “other” profession and takes more story-telling ability than you’d think. My insatiable imagination takes me into those different worlds, and I look around and think, “Oh yeah, I could stay here for a while.”

Stories float around in my head all the time. In quiet moments like driving to work or running, my mind wanders through different scenes.  I put myself to sleep imagining my characters and how they would interact. I lose myself in my ideas.  All before I ever put pen to paper (or in my case fingers to keyboard).

The stories in my head are the reason why I write. Writing has become my outlet, almost a catharsis, and I write for myself.  I write because I would love to revisit my stories and the places and characters I create. Like catching up with an old friend. I don’t write with fame or fortune in mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I would be absolutely thrilled if my stories reached out to readers…. if someone else looked around the world I created and wanted to stay there a while with me. And that’s why I am now working my tail off to become a self-published author.

I have only just started this journey, and let’s be honest; the stats are pretty darn depressing.  We self-publishers have all seen them.  For example, 2.75 million books were self-published in 2010 – and I’m guessing, with the growing popularity of ebooks and increasing ease of self-publishing – that that number will continue to grow rapidly.

According to lulu.com, of the self-published books in 2010, ~677-thousand were in ebook format.  And only 45% of 1st-time authors publish a second book. According to Taleist.com, only 10% of self-published authors are able to earn a living through this profession. And only 25% earned enough to cover the cost of producing their book in the first place.  Industry experts say most self-published books sell somewhere between 100 and 400 copies.

My own personal answer to the acknowledged unlikelihood of becoming a successfully selling self-published author is to approach this endeavor with delirious optimism. Oh yes. I said it. Not delusional optimism. Despite my vivid imagination, I am a practical person. Also not the first definition for delirium – which is mental disturbance (although on second thought that may not be far from the mark).  But the second definition of frenzied excitement and enthusiasm is where I’m headed with this.  Yeah… that’s the ticket…  enthusiasm and optimism in the face of the odds.

So with that in mind I am slowly developing my own personal approach to being a self-published author: have faith and keep it up.  Learn from those who have gone before. And focus on the positive stats out there (there are a few) while ignoring the negative.

I don’t plan to stop writing or publishing if my first book doesn’t sell more than a few copies. Regardless of how well my books sell, I am truly hooked on this process.  As I said I love the stories floating around in my head and writing them down is a passion I’ve had since I was a little girl. But now I’m discovering that I also love the publishing process – editing, creating a book cover, even the social media aspect – as time consuming as it is. And I figure the stats are on my side the more I put out there and the longer it’s out there.

So I ask the same question that I did in my very first post… think I can do it? I do!

Writing a Hella Good Book Description

I am working on a kick ass book description. It will be the first thing people read on Kindle when deciding if they want to buy the book or not.  I have to say that I’m struggling with this task a bit.  Here’s what’s making it tricky…

The book, titled Blue Violet, is paranormal (with a little romance thrown in too).  Sort of X-men meets Twilight – only no vampires.  The tricky part is that many of the coolest parts of the book that would catch people’s attention in a book description are revealed a little at a time.

For example, you start the book not knowing if the main character, Ellie, is a normal girl or someone with powers (and no, I’m not going to tell you which it is).  And the “bad guys”, called the Vyusher (see if you can figure out what that word means), don’t really make an appearance until several chapters in.

So the question becomes, how much do I reveal in the book description to make sure I snag people’s interest without spoiling the book?  It’s a conundrum.

And this is where the power of the internet is my best friend.  There is a lot of great advice for first-time, self-publishing writers out there – if you can wade through a lot of useless drivel.  I found this blog post by another self-published author, Karen McQuestion, and it was the exact advice I was looking for – and 30 minutes later, I was done.  (Needless to say, I’ll be following that blog from now on.)

http://mcquestionablemusings.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-method-for-writing-book-description.html

To do item #549: First draft of my book description – check. So without further ado, here is the book description for Blue Violet:

Other than her twin brother, Ellie Aubrey is all alone in the world, their family having been murdered by a rival clan called the Vyusher many years before. But a mysterious dream reveals to her a potential new family in a group of people with extraordinary powers. Despite her brother Griffin’s warnings, Ellie risks coming out of hiding and moves to Colorado to find the Jenners, although she attempts to remain safely anonymous as she slowly befriends them. In finding them, she may have also found a soul-deep love with Alex Jenner. But at what cost? Ellie has unwittingly placed them all in terrible danger as the Vyusher once again threaten everything she holds most dear. Now Ellie must fight to save all of their lives.
Exceptionally imaginative and magically romantic, Blue Violet delivers equal parts fantasy, romance, and suspense. A must read for paranormal fans everywhere.

I am very open to feedback if you have any.  This is a first draft after all.

Social Media – An Author’s Best Friend? Or Worst Enemy?

Has anyone else born before about 1990 secretly questioned why so many college grads these days are offering up their services as social media consultants? Ha! Well I am finally starting to get it.  Here’s why…

In writing my first book, I’ve decided to go the route of self-publishing through Amazon Kindle.  I’m only at the beginning of the process, and I’m starting to learn that self-publishing might be even more time consuming than writing and editing the book itself (more on that tomorrow).

Logically I started at the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) section on the Amazon website.  Incredibly helpful, but a TON of information to wade through.  And I found that it generated a “To Do” list three miles long.  (More on that on another day.)

One of my key “ah-ha” moments while fishing around on the KDP site was that once I get my book posted on Kindle I need to do the marketing to get it moved up in the search list so that people will buy it.  Many of the the posters on the “questions” section of the site mentioned smart use of social media as critical to this goal.

I thought, “Hey… I’m a smart person!  I can do that.”  And off I went to create my Facebook author page, blog, and Twitter feed.  Four hours later, I was still at it, and I’m already amazed at how much work has to go into this endeavor.

For example, on facebook, I can’t get my “Likes” to show up on my author page, they only show up on my personal page, which is what I don’t want.  Same thing for my tweets which I finally got linked to facebook, but to the personal page, not the author page. And don’t even get me started on tweeting. What the heck is a hashtag used for? And is it incredibly sad that I don’t already know? At the very least, it probably dates me, right? The blog was the easiest of the three options to get going (thank you to all things good and holy for small mercies).

In addition to the set up, I now have to maintain my presence on all these social media forums, which means posts (or at least tweets) daily.  Now I have to say that social media as a form of self-marketing for writers is a pretty natural fit because we like to… well… write.   So this part I actually enjoy.

That said, it is still one more thing to do when I could be concentrating on, among other things, editing my book so that it actually gets published and all this work on social media forums isn’t for a book that never makes it out there, let alone gets read by someone other than my parents, much as I love them.

So I totally get it.  Social media consultants would be very useful to businesses, large and small.  There are a lot of ways to take advantage of these technologies and I’m fooling myself if I even think I’m scratching the surface. But I’m a fast learner, and pretty darn stubborn.  So I say bring it on!

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Tomorrow’s post… a little about my book!  I’m trying to put together a kick ass description and will try it out on this forum.

1st Time Author – Think I Can Do It?

After years of walking around with stories and book ideas in my head, and trying to write them down non-stop, I am finally getting around to trying to publish a book.  I am still in the beginning phases of the process.  The book is written.  I have found an editor, Wendy, who is incredible.  (More about Wendy and the edits later.)  My plan is to self-publish via Amazon.com through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).  I am swiftly learning that writing the book is the easiest part of this process.

Follow me as I  go through the fascinating, and I suspect often painful, process of trying to publish my first book!