One of the good things about being a long-established author these days is that several manuscripts that in the past never saw the book store bookshelves can be self-published instead. We’ve all got ’em. Plenty of manuscripts – not just mine – are rejected by publishers, because they don’t fit a certain criteria or their “list”. It’s not about whether the book is good enough or not.
I always had a lot of faith in The Mirror Of Madness and it bugged me no one saw its potential. So I’m really glad of the opportunity to publish it for myself. Of course, it needed a good editing spit-and-polish, then I had to design the cover. This is the end result. I’m calling it a paranormal fantasy, but it’s also all about modern witchcraft.
Here’s the Amazon US link http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Madness-Story-Modern-Witchcraft-ebook/dp/B00QVFWNM6/ref=asap_B0058SQWQ0?ie=UTF8
Want to know how to get a publishing contract? One of those six figure, dream of a lifetime deals? It’s easy – well, how to get one is easy. All you have to do is write the best book ever, ever written. The best, right? Publishers the world over will beat a path to your door.
So now you’re thinking, “Hah-ha, very fucking funny, smart arse”. But wait a second – what’s stopping you? All you need is a couple of fingers on the ends of your hands. You don’t have to be uber-fit, like a pro footballer. You don’t need any qualifications or some fancy education. The only equipment you should have is the cheapest, second hand computer, because word processing is no big deal. So all you really need is a good idea – and the determination to turn it into a book. You are utterly, completely responsible for how good that book can be and theoretically there is nothing to stop that book being the best ever.
Okay, it ain’t that simple, but you get the concept?
The reason I’m blogging about this is that on another forum the debate is raging as to whether self-published writers need their work professionally edited. A lot of them say, “I don’t need an editor. My books are selling well, so I obviously don’t need one.” What a load of horse shit. Apparently, if you sell books, it means your writing is perfect? Sentence structure is precise? Plotting and continuity is flawless?
People say you can get “too close” to your own work, but I look at it slightly differently. The thing is, you start to memorise your own work rather than read it, when you’re editing. Instead of reading the words one by one, as you would the first time you read something, your eyeballs start tracking over the text picking out familiar phrases and your memory fills in the rest – often incorrectly, for that matter. It’s why you can overlook an error time and again, and you can’t believe you didn’t see it. It’s also why putting a manuscript away for a while gives you a fresh look — in fact, it’s your memory getting flushed out, not your eyes.
Just like writers, there are good editors and bad ones. If you find a good one, what you’re getting is an objective view of your manuscript in regards to structure, plot, characterisation… all those “global” kinds of things that might have you swapping chapters, changing character names and such. A good editor will also apply a deep knowledge of grammar and sentence structure that can add a certain polish to your writing.
So the truth is everyone can benefit from a good editor.
But is it worth it? That’s a different question. If you’re writing short novels (or even long ones) for your own fun, and you’re putting them out there on Amazon at 99 cents for the world to hopefully discover – but you’re not stressing about becoming a best seller, then it’s not going to be economical spending anything up to $1000 for a professional editor. You can do your best, get people to proofread your manuscripts, maybe find some “test” readers before you actually publish… a lot things without paying for professional help.
A lot of authors get away with not using an editor. People buy their books. They might even have a fantastic grasp of the written, English language.
But never underestimate the value of a skilled editor. You’ll be surprised, if not downright upset, at how much you get wrong in your “perfect” manuscript.
Every cloud has a silver lining, or so they say, which sounds more like a bit of meteorological bullshit to me, but anyway…
With my German publisher Weltbild going rather inconveniently bankrupt I’m faced with some interesting choices. I’m not too worried about Weltbild. It’s a very large company and no doubt it’ll restructure and emerge from the mess in a better state — although there’s a risk they’ll use the insolvency to avoid paying its author royalties for the last 6 months. That might prompt an interesting foul- language post! In the meantime I’m left with writing stuff for fun, just for the hell of it, (which is always the best way to write by the way), because there’s not much point in writing more crime novels for my German readers until I know for sure it’ll ever see the light of day (sorry, German fans, but as I said, I’m sure it’ll all come out in the wash).
I’ve been looking at a few unfinished manuscripts that were curtailed, because no one thought there’d be a market for them. One is another And In The Morning war story and I was surprised to discover I’d written almost 60,000 words before shelving it. The problem was, I think, we believed there’d be a glut of such writing with the 100th anniversary of WW1 on the horizon, but that shouldn’t discourage a good story, right?
The second manuscript is a science fiction/thriller thing that has, as far as I’m concerned, a really unique premise. So unique that, so far, no one else “got” what I was trying to do when I showed around the initial chapters and the consensus of opinion was it would be a waste of time. I’m daunted by the premise myself! I reckon the idea is great, but can I make it work?
Maybe that challenge is exactly what I should be taking on? And after all, I’m not saying for a moment it’s a best-selling, genius idea, but unique books come from unique ideas and if none of us pursued these things and ignored the criticisms, literature would be a pretty bland place.
It’s also true that regardless of all the argument, debate and shit-fighting over the self-publishing industry, it is an option for manuscripts that traditional publishers won’t accept. These days, unwanted novels don’t have to languish in bottom drawers undiscovered.
That war novel is nearly half-finished though. Probably I’ll work on that first. Of course, there’s more than the beginnings of a new John Maiden (from Missing Pieces) crime book on my hard drive. If Weltbild pops up in a new suit and asks for it again, I suppose that’ll have to take priority… Bastards better pay the bills first though!