Advice to New Authors From the YA Author Club

YA Indie CarnivalThis week the YA Author Club is sharing insights into the editing process. All the authors in the YA Author Club are indie authors, so our experiences apply most especially to those authors looking into self-publishing. I’m a few weeks behind thanks to my little sabbatical, but I’ll do my best to catch up now. Here are my quick thoughts on formatting and editing:

 Editing

I hate editing. I really do. However, an author who wants to be taken seriously will invest both time and money in the editing process. Even the most famous authors you could name have been through rigorous editing and may have worked with multiple editors before their books became best-sellers. My first search for an editor landed me a fabulous developmental editor who worked with me on the fundamental story structure and character development of A Light in the Darkness and To Light the Path. She was very thorough and I ended up with a line-by-line edit of my final work. She is incredibly talented and I came away from that experience a better writer. THAT, above all else in my opinion, is the mark of a gifted editor. Then again, it only works if you are paying any attention to what they are doing and actually taking their advice. Many writers want to fight every step of the way which is immature and ultimately bad for your business. Stop fighting and trust the person you are paying. If you don’t trust them, then find someone you can trust and then soak up every word they shower upon you and your manuscript. Even the criticism I found most painful and hard to swallow I ended up using to strengthen my book. For example, my editor disagreed with the premise of my second book, arguing against the very point I was trying to make with my main character’s actions and beliefs. I literally sat and cried over her comments, frustrated and confused about how to move on and doubting my own conviction in the power of my story. I sat trapped in this doubt and dark depression for weeks before I was finally able to move forward. I began to see that her comments were exactly what I needed to strengthen another character, Justan, who was himself doubting the validity of the main character’s plan. Justan is the character I least identify with and so his dialogue is always the hardest for me to write. When I realized that my editor was asking the same questions he would be asking, I knew just what to do. I followed her train of thought, her emotions, her frustration, and I used it to build a stronger character, intensifying the drama. When I’m writing the rest of the series, I’ll be able to come back to those conversations and see a bit of his side peeking through. That is invaluable!

In the end my editor and I discovered that we didn’t have the same vision for my work. She couldn’t appreciate the direction I was going with it and I respected her enough to not force her to see it my way. Books, like so many other art forms, are subjective. What inspires me may not inspire you. So, we parted ways and I moved on in search of an editor who could embrace my hopes and dreams for the series. I agonized over that decision, but in the end it all comes down to “who will help me reach my goals?” That is a question you must always ask as you choose cover artists, editors, graphic designers, marketing people, and a slew of other people who will become your team on this journey.

If you are looking for an editor, I happen to know a fabulous freelance editor who is available. Jessie Sanders from Stormy Night Publishing is a very talented editor with experience in small press and self-publishing. Maybe she’ll be the right fit for you!

Formatting & Self-Publishing

I won’t say much about formatting because I am still learning. Here’s my advice if you aren’t naturally gifted in this area: Use Draft2Digital. It will cost you nothing to sign up with them and you can thank me later for introducing you. Many self-published authors use Smashwords because they were the first big guy on the scene to hold authors’ hands as they made the leap. However, Smashwords is messy and infuriarating! Skip the style guide headache and the weeks/months of waiting for your work to be approved by Createspace and iTunes. Go straight to Draft2Digital and you will be so glad I sent you. Seriously! I upload my file, fill out a short form online, review my document and click approve. Done! Within 48 hours my book is live and available across the globe. Amazing! And I didn’t have to know a thing about formatting to do it. They have complex computer coding that cleans up my messes for me. I love that! Also, their reporting is beautiful! Real-time charts show me how many books I’ve sold across all titles and they’re adding more sales charts/graphs as they go. Tax time was easy with Draft2Digital thanks to their accounting system. Do I sound like a paid advertiser? Sorry. I just really love them and can’t imagine trying to do this all without them. They make it easy and I love clicking over to my account and watching my sales numbers climb.

Curious what other authors are saying about editing? You will find other experiences, tips, and advice from the YA Author Club. Just click on the links below. Best of luck finding what works for you!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy

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