Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Editing Indies

I’ve decided to start free-lance editing again. One of the many things I did when the youngest of my five sons started school was a two year Diploma of Arts (Writing and Editing). My local TAFE didn’t offer a second year in Editing so I drove a few hours extra once a week to complete it. Good fun.

I still plan to write books but I’m not overwhelmed with creative ideas at the moment and I might just write a few short stories because, with most things, I’m impatient. Surprisingly though, I’m actually very patient when it comes to editing, simply because you have to be. The devil’s in the detail and all that. I hate to brag but I have an innate ability to spot a stray apostrophe, my particular bugbear.

At the moment I’m only taking on Australian clients, simply because I’d rather not deal with other countries’ tax requirements, but I might change my mind if demand from one or two countries is great enough.

This blog was started with the intention of sharing my experiences on self-publishing, and I’ll still do that. Hopefully I can also help some independent writers now with my editing service.   Editing Indies

 

 


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Self-editing for self publishers

Okay–first of all, if there’s any way you can afford an editor, hire one! Secondly, if you do, make sure you do some research first. I’ve seen self-published books where the writer has acknowledged the help of an editor and the first page is riddled with errors. I spent a couple of years editing free-lance and I belonged to an organization called The Victorian Society of Editors, which may or may not still be around. There’s bound to be some kind of association, preferably in your own country, that can help you find a professional editor. However you find someone it’s a good idea to ask them for a sample edit of a few pages, and make sure you communicate exactly what you require. Don’t just rely on terms like ‘substantive edit’ or ‘copy edit’; make sure you tell them exactly what you are hoping for.

Let’s assume you are not going to hire anyone. You’re quite sure you can do it yourself. You probably can’t, so at least get as many people as possible to read your book. You might be surprised at how something that makes perfect sense to you makes little or no sense to a reader who doesn’t know what you’re thinking. Sometimes things are so obvious and we don’t want to treat our readers as dummies but we have to realize they can’t read our minds, only what makes it to the page!

If you can find a writer’s group in your local area, or online, who will read your work and give you an honest opinion, that’s a step up from your best friend who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Always remember opinions are subjective and not everyone will love your story–take criticisms with a grain of salt, but if several people are dubious about the same thing maybe you can rethink it.

All right, you have no friends, no writers’ groups, no family members whose opinions you value, or you just don’t want anyone to read your story (other than the whole world, after it’s published), at least read it aloud to yourself. If you can, record it and listen to it. You know how your voice sounds like someone else’s when it’s recorded? If you can distance yourself enough to hear what you’ve actually written, rather than what you thought you’d written, that’s a good start. Update on this–if you have Word, use Text to Speech to have a somewhat robotic voice read your book aloud to you. I found a couple of errors in my own book after many self-edits. One I recall was ‘whole’ instead of ‘while’. Very different when spoken but so similar in writing, especially when the i and the o are next to each other on the keyboard!

Now your story’s perfect and you’re up to the nitty gritty. So many self-published novels are riddled with errors. Please don’t think I consider myself perfect–I was reading through an old blog the other day and realized I’d written ‘dairy’ instead of ‘diary’! We all make mistakes and every book I take off the shelf at the library has at least one; we can only try to do the best we can. At least, as self-published writers, we can always go back and correct our mistakes; it’s never too late.what did

Obviously use your computer spell-check but don’t rely on it–if in doubt use a dictionary. The spell-check won’t pick up ‘dairy’ instead of ‘diary’. Again, reading aloud helps but we tend to see what we think we wrote, not necessarily what’s there. We also get caught up in the story and miss errors of spelling or grammar. If you print it out–yes the whole thing!–you may be able to spot errors better. Sit at the table with your manuscript and a dictionary in front of you and use a ruler to read one line at a time and prevent you from reading ahead. Then start again, this time from the back of the book, again one line at a time–this helps to get away from the story line and concentrate on each sentence. Another update! I’m now editing again, for Australian writers only. More details on my Editing page.

My ebook ‘What Did You Say?’ on grammar and punctuation, is available at Smashwords and may be of some use–it’s free anyway, so why not?

My books are now available on most digital shopfronts, including Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo via Draft2Digital.

Paperbacks and ebooks are also available on Amazon.


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Back to Smashwords

I’ve decided to re-publish some of my books with Smashwords, just to see how they go. I like the idea of having more options and not being locked into Amazon’s rules, although one of my major reasons was that Smashwords allowed the use of various reading devices, like smartphones, while Amazon ebooks only worked on kindles. I’m pleased to see they’ve changed that and you can now download kindle books to any kind of reader. There’s a link at Amazon to do that and it’s free so if you thought you had to buy a kindle to read Amazon ebooks, that’s no longer the case. Good news.

Anyway, another reason I had was that I wanted to make my little ebook on grammar, spelling and punctuation, ‘What Did You Say?’ free all the time and Amazon doesn’t give me that option.  I wrote this one, not as a comprehensive teaching tool, but as a collection of useful tips about common errors people make that some of us find very annoying. Grocer’s apostrophes for example. Grocers who put signs out the front of their shops advertising ‘Tomatoe’s and Potatoe’s’. Sign-writers are pretty good at that too, only they do it in much bigger print. Have a look and feel free to share ‘What Did You Say?’ with all your friends. I also have a brief interview on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ChristineGardner

I have a free book on Amazon, from the 5th to the 9th of November, called ‘Beast of War‘, a fantasy for kids. This is one of my favourites–I really enjoyed writing it and was kind of sad when I’d finished. I even had a sequel in mind but it’s hard to find a market for kids’ books. If you know anyone between the age of 9 and 13 I’d love their opinion on Beast. Or yours.

One of the best things about self-publishing is that you can edit even after your book’s published–or is that not a good thing? Debatable, I suppose. I have no desire to keep editing the same book for the rest of my life! I have been doing a bit of editing though, on my true crime, ‘Not Guilty’ and I decided to play around with the cover as well. I only meant maybe a change in the background colour really but I kept playing with it until I lost the original cover and, more importantly, the photo on it. One would think I had a copy somewhere but the only one I can find is too small to use. I suspect my computer holds lots of secrets, as does my house, of missing bits and pieces, never again to see the light of day.

I decided then to do something different–I have some rather nice photos of a certain place where my protagonist spent some months, under lock and key, after her crime, and I thought one of those might make a nice cover. Much to my surprise I was denied permission to use them (my own photos) as the organization didn’t like the association. Now I’m waiting to see if I can get permission to use a photo of the courthouse where she was tried. Hopefully they’ll be more accommodating. If not, I’ve found a rather good on-line site for free pictures http://www.morguefile.com/archive and there’s one there that will do. Most such sites seem too difficult and have all kinds of conditions attached but this one’s good.

Happy reading.