When I wrote Social Media Success in 7 Days, I did the actual first draft in just 4 days. I knew my subject, I organised the structure using a mind map and I got busy.
For me, the writing part was easy. The bit that took the time was the formatting and the proof-reading, and sorting out the final formats for print, PDF and Kindle. That took nearly 4 weeks of full-time work, as I had to sort out quite a few issues because I had never done it before.
Also, I suffer from perfectionism and my “good enough” bar is pretty high! I can easily end up perfecting something for months if I am not careful and I have learned the hard way, no matter how uncomfortable the idea may be, a high level of perfectionism does not guarantee profits. You have to get it out there when it feels 95% good enough – no one can buy something that is still a file on your hard disk and a pipe-dream in your heart.
Here are my top tips for avoiding common publishing problems.
1. REWRITE! Revise your first draft several times to make sure it presents well on paper – especially if you are working towards publishing a printed book.
2. PROOFREAD. Read, re-read and be sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. No matter how many times you run the spellchecker over it, you need human eyes checking.
3. READ your work aloud. It will help you catch small mistakes on how it flows. Concentrate on the tone and rhythm of your work and make sure it doesn’t sound too dull or complicated for your intended audience.
4. LET the piece sit for a while. Sometimes the best revisions occur after you have had a period of time and distance from the work. Then re-read with fresh eyes. Just be careful you don’t slip into perfectionism and continually revise and revise when it’s already perfectly “good enough”.
5. PREPARE your work in a presentable fashion. print it out on clean paper with standard type fonts and generous margins. Every market has formatting rules – follow the guidelines carefully.
6. CRITIQUE. Have someone else read your work. You might find someone in a writer’s group or workshop. You may have a reliable friend, mentor, or teacher. Choose someone you can trust to be honest and thoughtful about your writing. It may help to have several people look over each draft. A good critique will address such issues as your work’s grammar, content, style, and overall effectiveness.
7. CONSIDER hiring a professional editor. Investigate your options and check the credentials of the copyeditor before you hire them. Editors often work with only one aspect of your work. For example:
• Substantive Editing – dealing with clarity of subject, logic and consistency, sentence analysis and syntax.
• Copyediting – Line by line, grammar and punctuation, sentence structure, passive voice, word choice, consistency of details, spelling, consistency of style, and clarity.
• Proofreading – Details missed in editing stages: spelling, punctuation, stylistic, serious grammatical errors in heading/footer, widow/orphan, bad hyphen breaks, et al
8. TRIAL RUN. Get some samples of your finished book printed and doublecheck how it comes across in physical format. You will find you interact with the information when it has been printed and bound – strange but true!
9) ENJOY IT. Few people get to create a printed book in their lifetime – enjoy the experience. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let your perfectionism slow you down unduly. Do you best and share your story, knowledge and skills!
If you would like help publishing your book, please do get in touch. I love helping other people experience the thrill of being a published author!