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Offer ends 30 April 2019.
Thank you so much for joining me, Sarah. Can you introduce yourself and tell us when your journey began?
My name is Sarah O’Neill and my journey began almost ten years ago when I studied Creative Writing in college and it became more than just a hobby, it was something that I wanted to make a career of.
Tell us where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish, if you’re yet to press the publish button etc.
I currently have one published novel and I’m working on my second which will be ready for editing and publishing later this year. I currently publish primarily online via Amazon and Kobo. I publish paperbacks via Createspace which are available at Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
At the time, it was the best option for me because I had tried other routes and was unsuccessful. I researched self-publishing and found that it suited me more than any other option.
What’s best thing about self-publishing?
The full control that you have over every aspect of your book. You are totally in control of editing, cover design, etc. The book is still 100% yours at the end of the process because you’re responsible for everything.
And the worst?
The responsibility of every aspect. Especially as a new, emerging writer that no one has heard of because you are the sole person responsible for getting your book into as many markets as possible, for promoting your book, and for selling your book. It’s hard work but at least you know that you’ve done everything you possibly can.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?
I wish that I had researched the market before I published so that I was more prepared. My book was published in December 2017 and I’m still learning how to market, promote, and sell. This is very important information to have before you publish.
If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?
I wish that I was more prepared for every aspect that comes with selling and promoting your indie book. If I could change one thing it would be that I had researched before I hit that publish button.
Do you have any advice for those who might be looking into self-publishing?
Research, research, research. Have all your information ready before you decide i.e. editing services, cover design, selling portals (and the difference in formatting for each one), marketing plan, book reviewers, and budget. You don’t get an advance from a publisher so you need to invest your time and money and be prepared that you may not earn that money back or barely break even.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Believe in yourself. Self-publish if it feels right for you but always make sure that you’re publishing work that has been edited. Readers spend their hard-earned money on your book so you want it to be the best it can possibly be. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the experience.
Some wonderful advice here, Sarah, thank you.
Sarah’s debut, Deadly Obsession, is out now, folks.
Here’s the blurb …
Lilly Mason has always run from her problems, this time, she’s running for her life…
When word of a family bereavement reaches Lilly, she flees an abusive relationship in California and returns to Kansas to face her fears – the family she abandoned and the man she ran away from four years ago.
Donnie O’Malley knows that Lilly is hiding something. She’s terrified, on edge, and she’s got bruises she can’t explain.
Lilly’s new chance at life is threatened when her past refuses to let her go and she and her family are forced to fight for their lives against the enemy that threatens to end them all…
You can get your copy now:
And you can keep up with all Sarah’s news by following her on social media:
Sarah O’Neill lives in South Wicklow in Ireland with her fiancé and their dogs. She is a college graduate with a B.A in Humanities. An avid bookworm and animal lover, she is happiest with a good book and her beloved dogs. Deadly Obsession, her debut novel, is the first in the new Mason Investigations series.
If you’re a self-published author who’d like to share their journey, please follow this link.
If there’s one word that unites 99.9% of authors in a collective body shudder, it’s synopsis. Dreaded by authors the world over, it’s a necessary part of getting your manuscript traditionally published or bagging yourself an agent. But what do they want to see in the synopsis and how much information should you give them? And more to the point, what is a synopsis?!
In this article, I’m going to talk about what your synopsis should say and how you should go about putting it together.
So, what is a synopsis?
The Oxford English Dictionary says:
In essence, your synopsis should detail what your book is about, the reader should be able to determine what type of writer you are and what genre your book is. It isn’t the place to fully outline each and every chapter/sub plot. So basically, you need to tell the reader what happens in your book. Easy, right?
Until you find out you have no more than two pages to do it in – and that’s from a generous publisher! Some want a single sheet – they do typically take it single spaced, but still …
Doesn’t seem so easy now, does it? So, how do you get your eighty thousand word story consolidated into one page?
The late Carole Blake said that the synopsis should answer the following:
She recommends describing the action, as the reader experiences it in the book, but without numbering it chapter by chapter. Don’t give the character’s full back-ground, just tell the reader what they need to know about the main plot lines.
Here’s my advice:
Work through each chapter, pick out the most important parts, and condense it down to two sentences.
The first paragraph should detail the world you’ve created – who is the story about, what are they going through, make the genre clear, and show your writing style. Then, put all your chapter sentences together and make sure the plot lines flow and make sense. You need to expose all the twists and turns and whodunnits. Flesh out the MOST important parts.
Now, read back through it and look at the character/plot arcs. How has your protagonist grown? Did they achieve what they set out to do? How was the plot resolved? Is it clear, concise, and consistent? Will someone reading it, who knows nothing about the book, know exactly what happens to who, when it happens, how it happens, and why it happens?
If you can answer yes to these, then you’re there.
Once you’ve got it nailed, you need to format it in a certain way. Most publishers and agents will detail their preferences on their websites but the general rule of thumb is:
What NOT to put in a synopsis:
There are some big, huge, absolutely-no-way-not-ever things you need to bear in mind:
Following these tips will give you the best possible start to making your synopsis practically perfect but it’s not a guarantee you’ll get a response.
Hopefully in a better position to tackle your synopsis than you were before you started reading this. Many agents and publishers suggest practising writing the synopsis for a book you know and love, maybe one of the classics. Practising pulling the information down to its rawest form and making it make sense to someone who knows nothing about the plot isn’t easy, but once you start doing it, it gets easier and easier!
If you’re still struggling, I offer a unique service to edit and critique your Submission Package, just click the link for details.
Next week I’ll be talking about the dreaded query letter so let me know if you have any specific questions before then and I’ll try to answer them for you.
Best of luck with your synopsis!
In today’s article, I’m going to talk about the different levels of editing available and how an author should decide which they need.
First, let’s look at the different levels of editing available.
There’s a detailed breakdown here but here’s an overview:
Structural/Developmental Editor: Will look at the big picture elements of your manuscript. Plot, characterisation, point of view, pace, and narrative.
Line Editor: Sentence level elements including: word choice, clarity, consistency, conciseness, dialogue, grammar, and syntax.
Copy-editor: Sentence and word level elements including: paragraphs, dialogue, spelling and punctuation, consistency in minor plot/character details, and clarity.
Proofreader: Sentence, word, and layout: basic formatting, dialogue punctuation, chapter sequencing, and indentation.
Many freelance editors will offer one or two of these services, and will perhaps combine two of them, but I’ve yet to meet any who offer all four levels. Typically, a line and copy-edit can be combined, and maybe a copy-edit and proofread, but a developmental/structural edit should be done on its own.
Now let’s look at some of the areas an author may find they’re struggling with:
The type of editor you need will depend on the issues you have, using the examples above, here’s who you’d need to call on to help:
As you can see, not all editors specialise in all areas and you need to find out what any editor you approach offers.
‘What if I don’t know what my problems are?’
It’s easy for someone in the business to say you need A, B, but not C, but that doesn’t always help the author if they don’t yet know what their sticking points are, after all, you can’t mend something if you don’t know it’s broken. A tiny gap and huge hole are very different things.
Consider this; an author skips a copy-edit as they’ve been told it’s the big picture elements that matter most, not a few typos. But what if it’s not a few typos? What if the novel has a wonderful and captivating plot, is beautifully paced, and full of characters their readers instantly fall in love with, but on a line level, it’s so full of spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes all the good stuff is lost inside and it’s too unpleasant to read?
Or, on the flip side, the author has been meticulous with their line level editing and proofreading, the sentences flow with no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mishaps but the characters are one dimensional, there are plot holes galore, and the reader is left with nothing but unanswered questions.
It’s such a minefield for authors, especially newbies. The best advice is to find some beta readers you can trust to provide honest and constructive feedback, or have a professional critique done on your manuscript.
There’s also the possibility that a sample edit from a freelancer will help shed some light on where you may need assistance.
So, how do you know when you’re ready?
I love how Jane Friedman explains it:
[N]ever hire a copy-editor until you’re confident your book doesn’t require a higher level of editing first. That would be like painting the walls of your house right before tearing them down. (‘Should You Hire a Professional Editor?‘)
This is such a brilliant way to look at the editing process. There’s no point in having all the typos dealt with if your plot and characters aren’t doing what your reader needs them to do.
Therefore, there is a specific process, and it’s not based on importance but on logic.
Start your editing process with the big picture elements. Whether a professional critique or feedback from trusted beta readers, get all the structural elements in place. If no issues are found, brilliant, if there are mishaps, that’s great too as you can deal with them, either yourself or with a professional, before they are brought up in reader reviews.
Once you have the big picture elements sorted, you can look at the line and sentence level mishaps. I would always recommend an author employs a professional at this stage as although they may not be a specialist in the big picture elements, they will know if things are amiss.
They will guide you to getting your work into great shape and will advise if there are further needs.
I offer two main services, the Big Difference Edit which combines line and copy-editing, and Little Tweaks Proofread which combines copy-editing and proofreading. I also work with authors on a Step by Step and Consultancy basis
Your copy/line editor should be able to pick up other elements relating to the proofreading, but don’t expect miracles. They aren’t Superman and at this stage, there are likely to be more revisions to the manuscript during which further mishaps can be introduced. For more on this, read here.
Remember: Your editor, at any stage in the process, isn’t a ghost writer. As literary agent Rachelle Gardner explains:
Using a freelance editor can be a great idea – if you use it as a learning experience. You need to do most of the work yourself. I think it’s wasted money if you’re counting on someone to fix your manuscript for you. The point is to get an experienced set of eyes on it to help you identify problems and figure out how to fix them. (‘Should I Hire a Freelance Editor?‘)
There’s no doubt you need to have at least one professional editing pass on your manuscript. As this poem by Anon shows, we cannot rely on a spell checker:
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a quay and type a word
And weight for it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its really eve wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in its weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.
As you can see, there are many mistakes which won’t be picked by standard spelling checkers as they are only checking for incorrect spellings.
So, what now?
You know you need an editor, but how do you find one you can trust?
Word of mouth is the first place to start. Ask in the writer groups you belong to, (if you’re not in any groups, but would like to be, let me know and I’ll guide to some brilliant groups) who do other people use? If you’re not in any groups yet, you’re left with Google. There are many search terms you can use: freelance copy-editor/proofreader for example, this will bring up lots of pages for jobs and companies who offer these services but scroll through a few pages and you’ll eventually start to see the freelancers.
Always speak to more than one editor, and to help you determine they know what they’re doing,
here’s what they should be asking you:
here’s what you should be asking them:
Any editor worth their salt will be able to answer those questions for you. If they can’t, I’d be tempted to move on to the next person on your list. Full transparency at this stage is vital, you don’t want to end up in a position where you choose your editor, get your heart set on them, only to discover they charge twice as much as your budget will allow and aren’t free for a year.
So, there you have it.
You are now able to make a fully informed decision on which editor you need, you understand the roles played by both the author and the editor, and that full transparency by both parties can, and will, lead to a wonderful working relationship.
If you’d like to have a chat with me about your project and my services, please do drop me line, I’d love to hear from you.
Best of luck with your project!
So, you’ve written and published a book and are now looking for ways to advertise it. You have contacted some bloggers and although they aren’t going to read and review for whatever reason, they have offered you a guest post spot on their blog.
But what do you write?
There’s only so many times you can tell the world who your inspiration was, or which books you read as a child.
Well, as an ex blog tour organiser, I created several guest posts for my authors to mix things up on the tours and I’m sharing them with you.
Feel free to download and use these, they have proven most popular with readers in the past as they offer an insight into your characters that they wouldn’t normally get.
I hope they come in useful!
Happy writing x
It’s competition time!
I’m giving one lucky author the chance to have their manuscript proofread, as detailed in my Little Tweaks Proofreading service, free of charge!
All you need to do is email and tell me, in no more than 500 words, why you should win.
Entries must be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: I’m an Indie Author and I Should Win Because by [YOUR NAME] and your entry must be sent as a MS Word attachment. In the body of the email, tell me a little about you and where you are on your writing journey.
The competition closes at twelve noon on Friday, 27 April 2018 and the winner will be announced on Monday, 30 April 2018.
Your manuscript doesn’t need to be complete immediately, but you must be in a position to claim the prize within three months.
All entrants will be eligible to a 25% discount on this service if booked and paid for within six months of the competition closing.
Here’s the small print:
Feel free to share this far and wide!
So, you’ve completed your manuscript and now want to find a home for it. Your next step, if you’re not interested in self-publishing, is to try to find an agent or publisher.
But where do you start?
There is so much to consider and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and advice available. I’m going to try to consolidate some of the information for you here.
First, you need to find out who will be the best fit for your manuscript. There’s not point sending it to a romance publisher if it’s a horror, you’ll be wasting everyone’s time doing that.
Second, once you have a list of target publishers, research them.
Third, do you need an agent?
Fourth, putting your submission package together.
Once you’re ready to hit send on the email – STOP!
Get it checked over either professionally or by someone in the industry who can help you spot any mishaps and provide their critical feedback.
To introduce my new Submission Critique and Editing Service, over the next few weeks I will be sharing insider information from publishers and agents to help you create an outstanding submission package, from creating a superb cover letter to nailing your synopsis, I will guide you to making a fantastic first impression.
Let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll do all I can to answer them for you.
Regular readers of this blog will know that for the last few months I have been sharing the journeys of some self-published, indie authors.
They have shared with us the highs and lows of their experiences, from having to learn new skills and discovering a whole new world of online marketing.
Although all have shared that there are low points, the majority are success stories, maybe not in that they are all multi-award winners with a case of bestsellers under their belts, but every one has overcome something to achieve their dream of being a published author.
I asked all the authors involved if they had any advice for others looking to start their journey and a staggering 70% said that the main thing to do before you publish your manuscript is to ensure you have a great editor:
Pauline Barclay, author of six self-published novels says, ‘Always use a professional editor, never assume you can do it yourself.’
Stephen Enger, who self-published his first six books and is now traditionally published for his last five (Endeavour Press and now Bookouture), says, ‘I wish I’d spent more time seeking professional editing support for those early books. The stories are good, but the quality of writing is not as strong as it perhaps could have been.’
Conrad Jones, who has self-published seventeen novels told me, ‘Editing is king! Finding a good editor/ proofreader is everything.’
You can read their full interviews by clicking on their names, and search #SelfPublishingCaseStudy to find more advice from other authors.
There was lots of other advice given too, when I asked Rachel Amphlett, self-published author of fifteen crime thrillers, what she wished she’d known before she started on her journey, she told me, ‘You really need to sit down and prepare a business and marketing plan rather than leave everything to chance. In fact, if you’ve only got one book available, I’d wait until the second one is ready to go before you publish, simply because that way you can maintain your visibility on the retailers’ websites.’
While Alan Jones credits his success to date to the help of book bloggers, stating, ‘I wish I’d known about Book Bloggers and Facebook book clubs. The limited success I’ve had so far is almost entirely down to them.’
What I have seen from this #casestudy so far is that self-publishing isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a solo journey. Although you may have spent hours and hours locked away with your manuscript, getting it out into the world isn’t something you should attempt on your own. There are a whole host of people who can help you ensure that your manuscript is practically perfect, that your cover is current and eye-catching, that you get the exposure online you need to reach potential readers. But you have to put in the effort.
Don’t hit the publish button until you have built up an online presence and made sure that your book is the best it possibly can be.
Make a start on these while you’re writing. Start chatting to people in Facebook groups or on Twitter. Start researching editors and finding out what you are going to need to save to pay for their services. Start saving now so that when you are ready you are in a positon to hire the editor you want.
Take a look through the other case studies, they are filled with some invaluable advice! And, if you’re an indie author who would like to share their journey, click here for the questions.
I’ll leave you with this piece of advice from Louise Ross, bestselling author of the amazing DCI Ryan series:
As a book blogger, I have received messages from many authors telling me that my review made them cry. Today it was my turn to receive a review that brought a tear or ten …
Roger Bray is an Australian author who self-published two books, only using someone to help him with the covers. A year or so down the line, he decided that although the reviews he was getting were good, the comments about editing were getting him down to the point he took both books off the market so that he could have them professionally edited.
Both of Roger’s books have now been republished and I received this review from him this morning: