Author Advice, Case Study, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Publication, Publication Ready, Self-Publishing Author Case Study

#SelfPublished #Author Val Portelli aka Voinks shares her #publishing journey today … #IndieAuthor #AmWriting #AmEditing #Writing

I am delighted to welcome Val Portelli to Creating Perfection today as she shares her self-publishing journey with us all …

Who are you and when did your journey begin?

Hello everyone. I’m Val Portelli, also known as Voinks. I live in London UK, and my journey began about five or six years ago. Although I’ve always loved writing, life got in the way until an accident left me housebound and put a stop to my normal manic life. The calamity turned into a rainbow, as it gave me time to start chasing the pot of gold and become an author.

Tell us about where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books publish, where you publish etc.

With two published novels behind me, I felt I had learnt enough to attempt self-publishing my third. Inspired by an Amazon competition I entered and met the deadline. (I didn’t win.) With the contracts on my first two books expiring, I’m hoping to self-publish them later this year, under my own publishing imprint. It’s a bit scary writing that, but with the ambition now in public view, it’s also motivation for me to get on and do it! I plan to self-publish my fourth novel by the spring and collaborate in a joint venture for a compilation of short stories, to be released in the early summer.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

I realised that the publishing industry was changing drastically, and it was an opportunity to be pursued. Rather than wasting time waiting for rejection letters, I could concentrate on writing and actually making my books available. It was also a reason to resign from the ‘Procrastinators are us’ club.

What’s the best thing about self-publishing?

The support of other Indie authors, bloggers and the camaraderie of the community.

And the worst?

Marketing. Many writers are by definition introverts, so to have to shout to strangers ‘Look at my books, aren’t they wonderful?’ is quite a culture shock. Having said that, I now realise that even with traditional publishing, authors are expected to do a lot of their own marketing.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?

The amount of help, advice, and information actually available from blog sites, social media writers’ groups, and the Internet generally. I knew nothing when I first started out, but it’s a constantly changing market so it’s good to try and keep up to date.

If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?

I would have been better prepared, but then I might never have taken those first steps.

Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?

Don’t be put off by how much is involved, but don’t type The End and think it’s done. That’s just the start of your journey. In some ways you will be an ambassador for self-published authors, so try to ensure your manuscript isn’t full of errors and grammatical mistakes. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses; learn yours and take help and advice when it’s needed. Join the groups, ask the ‘daft’ questions, read up all you can, but don’t let it stop you writing.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Read everything you can, both in and out of your own genre and natural comfort zone. It can help you identify what fans of your own work will enjoy or find irritating. Build up relationships with fellow authors you trust and ask for their honest feedback. Buy plenty of tissues for the knock-back days, enjoy your own successes, however small, and help celebrate the achievements of others. Never give up; leave the spiders to design their cobwebs if your writing is flowing. Like you, their time will come. Most of all, enjoy the experience!

Thank you for sharing your journey with my followers, Val! Some fantastic advice here!

You can keep up with all Voinks’ news by following their social media accounts:

Amazon author link and author profile

Facebook author page

Web site

Contact e-mail for paperback availability, questions, and suggestions

If you’re a self-published author and would like to share your journey with my followers, please click HERE to find the questions.

Voinks’ latest book, Spirit of Technology is out now, here’s the blurb …

A message from a stranger.
A modern day woman responds to an e-mail from an unknown contact. Against her better judgement she continues the correspondence with a man who tells her he was born in the 19th century.
Despite feeling an initial attraction, her concerns grow when he reveals secret details of her personal life.
Undecided whether it’s a friend winding her up, and worried it could be a stalker, the truth is the last thing she expects.

About the author …

The author’s pen name Voinks began many years ago. It started as a joke when a friend bought a holiday home abroad, then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published.

Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.

To save her sanity she completed and had published her first full length novel. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before deciding self-publishing was the way to go. In between writing her longest novel to date at over 100,000 words, she publishes weekly stories for her Facebook author page and web site.

She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’ From having too many hours in the day, she is now actively seeking out a planet with forty-eight-hour days, to have time to fit in all the stories waiting to be told.

She is always delighted to receive reviews, as they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant

New editing service – #ChapterByChapter editing #AmEditing #AmWriting #IndieAuthor #Writing #SelfPublishing

I am delighted to announce my new editing service, Chapter by Chapter Editing.

Following a conversation in a brilliant author group I am involved with on Facebook, it came about that the authors there felt a Chapter by Chapter service would be hugely beneficial to them, so I’ve decided to offer it out to the world.

Working on your manuscript in small chunks could be beneficial in many ways, for more details just pop over to Chapter by Chapter Editing and if you need any further information, drop me a message using the contact form there.

Have a great evening all x

Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Showing NOT Telling

Who deserves your word count? #ShowingNotTelling #AmWriting #AmEditing #IndieAuthors #Editing #Authors #AuthorAdvice

I have recently had several conversations with authors about fleshing out their manuscripts and where to use their words, so I thought I would share my thoughts on this with you all.

Take this description as an example:

We arrived at the pub, walked past the seating area and cigarette-filled ashtray, and went inside. The Smiling Mule was our local and we went there daily.

In my head as a reader, I am seeing my real life local pub, The Smiling Mule. Here’s what it looks like:

There’s a parking space for one, maybe two cars, a single picnic bench, and a typically overflowing ashtray on the wall. This is what I imagine whenever I read about a pub in a book. Now imagine that later on in the book, this pub, which is referred to a lot, is finally described as something different. Perhaps the author later needs a group of twenty friends to all be sat outside the front of the pub. In my head, this isn’t possible because there’s only one picnic bench outside my pub.

This gathering is integral to the plot so it has to happen but as a reader, I am left a little disappointed and frustrated that the images I have had so far, aren’t true.

Now try this description:

When we arrived at the pub, we walked through the huge, outdoor seating area, full of picnic benches and a decked area with booths perfectly placed for the evening sun on summer nights. The off-white walls of the exterior were kept gleaming, something that always shocked me considering the pub’s proximity to the main road. I also found it amazing how, once settled outside, the noise of the traffic soon disappeared. The hanging baskets were always filled with a multitude of colourful and beautifully scented flowers and the potted shrubs were well maintained all year round. The Oddfellows Arms was our local and we drank in there almost daily. We even had our own table, a bit like the gang in Friends

This is a picture of another pub I frequent, The Oddfellows Arms, and the setting of this one is perfect for the plot line.

My point here?

If you don’t show the reader what is in your head they will see what they want to see.

Then, if you change that image later in the book, they won’t be very happy.

As this pub is integral to the plot, the word count is justified. The first description uses twenty-eight words and the second uses one-hundred and twenty-two but the reader knows exactly where your characters are and can almost see the pub exactly as you do.

When it comes to allocating your precious words, think about the most important scenes. We don’t need to have a three-page backstory on a waitress who puts plates on a table and is never in the book again but we do need to know what the main characters look like, details of the main locations, characteristics etc. Don’t waste your words on ANYTHING that doesn’t drive the plot forward or build on your character/plot development.

Look at your most important scenes, when the reader gets to that part of the book, will they be able to see, feel, hear, smell, and taste everything that your characters do? Are you telling them what is going on or, are you dragging them off their sofa and into the pages so that they could be a bystander in the scene? Are they skimming over this ‘boring’ bit or are they sitting up a little more as their heart starts pounding because you have woken their senses and emotions through your descriptive showing? Have you broken their heart with a backstory that explains the character they previously hated or couldn’t they care less if this person lived or died?

Which responses do you want for your readers?

These are the scenes that deserve your word count. These are the scenes your readers need you to make the best they can be.

And don’t worry, if you aren’t sure about whether you have done too much in a scene or not enough in another, your editor will be able to guide you and make sure that you are fully engaging the reader without driving them to tears of boredom!

I’d love to chat about your experiences with this, do you have any tips for other authors that you’d like to share?

Drop a comment below and happy writing. 

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Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Manuscript, Publication, Publication Ready

Who can help you to get your manuscript, publication day ready? #AmEditing #SelfPublishing #IndieAuthors #AmWriting

You have spent months and months getting your manuscript into the shape you want it. You are confident in your plot lines and character development and, little tweaks aside, you are certain that you can hit the publish button.

But can you?

If you are the only person to have seen your work so far, then the chances are you need to get a fresh pair of eyes to look over your work. Your overfamiliarity with the manuscript will mean that your mind will see what it wants to see, and what it thinks should be there.

It happens to ALL authors and is not something to beat yourself up over but there will be room for improvement.

But who do you need? Where do you turn? Here’s an overview of some of the services available to you before you publish your novel.

Beta reader

Your first port of call should be a trusted beta reader. These are people who you can trust to give you honest and constructive feedback and who you will not be offended by when/if they are critical. A beta reader’s job is to cast a critical eye over your manuscript as opposed to being a supportive friend who will only tell you what they think you want to hear – that is pointless and counterproductive.

This type of constructive feedback at this stage is critical to your success as it will allow you to identify and rectify any plot holes that you may not have noticed and deal with any core elements that may need some revision prior to publication.

There is a temptation to use lots of beta readers to try and ensure that every issue is picked up, but I would strongly advise that you use no more than five trusted people, with the worry being that if you use lots and they all come back with different suggestions, what do you do then? Whose advise do you take? Too many cooks can spoil the broth and this is true with your manuscript and your confidence. Twenty different opinions will do more harm than good at this stage in the process.

Professional review/critique

It is wise to have your manuscript professionally critiqued. This is where an experienced editor will look at the big picture elements and give you detailed feedback on the overall style, structure, and content, outlining the strengths and weaknesses.

Structural, substantive or developmental editor

This is a more hands-on involvement and involves you employing the services of a developmental editor. They will give you advice about the overall plot, characterisation, sub-plots, continuity and consistency, and point of view elements. This isn’t a line-by-line edit, but once again, taking the bigger picture into account in their feedback.


Once you are completely happy with the big picture elements, the overall structure, and plot, you should consider investing in a copy-editor. Looking at your words on a line-by-line level, your copy-editor will help to ensure that your text is correct in terms of spelling, punctuation, and grammar, they will query any areas which they feel may not be clear to the reader and, whilst doing this, will ensure that your voice is maintained throughout your manuscript – they are not a ghost writer. The list of things a copy-editor will help you with is a long one! Take a look at my Big Difference Editing service to see more about how I can help with this.


The very final stage of the process, a proofreader will help to try and catch anything that has slipped through the previous editorial passes on the manuscript. With a delicate eye, they will check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, continuity and consistency from a textual, typographical, and point of view angle.

Be aware though, proofreading can only be successfully carried out on a manuscript where the majority of the sentence and word-level problems have been dealt with and all the big picture elements have been perfected. You can see what my Little Tweaks service includes here by clicking the link. 

There is no right or wrong way to get your manuscript ready for publication. Only you know what you feel you need help with and what you can afford. I would strongly advise that you save up if needed and employ the services of at least one round of professional copy-editing or proofreading though. When you read book reviews, the main area of complaint from readers is poor grammar and punctuation – it is also the area which many indie authors who didn’t go down this route, admit to regretting and wishing they could go back and change. With many actually employing the services of one or the other retrospectively. But by this point though, the damage is already done with some of your potential readership.

Bear in mind though, there is no guarantee that all the errors will be picked up either. Even the big five publishing houses, who run their manuscripts though several passes of edits, publish books with errors in them. Editors and proofreaders are only human.

Trust me though, we will do our utmost to ensure that your manuscript is practically perfect in every way.

I do hope that you find this information helpful and as always, let me know if you have questions.

Happy writing x

Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript

Keyboard shortcuts can help you save time #AuthorAdvice #Productivity #MSWord #KeyboardShortcuts #AmWriting #AmEditing

Being a mum to four children, a wife, an editor, and a blogger, my time is precious so I am always looking for ways to improve my productivity.

I spend a LOT of time on my computer and have therefore sought out ways to reduce the time I spend on it; one of the most effective ways I have found is mastering the keyboard shortcuts available.

I use Microsoft Word 2016 and there are some brilliant ways you can use their shortcuts to improve your productivity and I want to share them with you.

You can download the PDF Creating Perfection – Keyboard Shortcuts and print it out to keep on hand when you are writing. Most of these shortcuts can be used in other programmes too – happy days!

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips on increasing productivity.

Have a wonderful day and keep writing 🙂

Blog Post, Editing Assistance

When should you book your editor? #Authors #Editors #WIP #AmEditing #AuthorAdvice

Working as a freelance editor with both independent authors and publishing houses, I know that there are different processes when it comes to booking the services of an editor.

The publishers tend to have the author on a very tight and specific schedule and are therefore able to book their time in my diary in advance (most of the time that is!)

Indie-authors tend to be a little different and wait until they have finished their manuscript – again, this is in my experience and not the rule but it can, and does, lead to disappointment in terms of the author’s timeline expectations.

I am currently booked up for the next five weeks and I’m certain that this is the case for many other freelance editors out there. So far this week, I have had three enquiries from authors looking for an editor THIS WEEK!! It’s not an ideal situation to be in. I hate having to say no to people.

Finding the right editor for you and your manuscript is not an easy task and not one that should be taken lightly. You need to do some research.

What experience do they have in your genre? Can they provide testimonials? Do you get on with them? Are they available to speak with? Are they available when you need them? Are they within your budget? Are they able to provide the level of editing you need? Do they ‘get’ you and your manuscript?

This list is not exhaustive, and you may have other questions you need to ask, find out more about that here in my post about deciding what type of editor you need and what they should be able to offer you before you sign up with them

If you don’t have any idea when your manuscript will be ready, it’s still a good idea to start sourcing an editor for when you do have a better idea on your time frame, that way you can be confident that you’re ready when the time is right, and you will be able to save up, if you need to.

My advice would be to do your research and get your editor booked in as soon as possible!

Let me know in the comments below if you have any tips or advice for your fellow authors.

Have a super day x