Tough Questions for Indie Authors

Authors usually fall into two categories: those who love editing, and those who prefer root canals. For me, editing is one of the most creative aspects of the writing process. Editing allows the author a moment of separation where they place their work in the hands of a professional; someone who – ideally – does not work for them, but instead, works for the characters and the love of a well-written story.

Your job, as the author, is to trust your editor. Your job is to deliver the manuscript and walk away. Your job during this separation time is to develop a marketing plan. While your editor works, build a platform and a PR machine.

Here are two harsh truths: if you do not edit your book, it will contain embarrassing errors. If you do not edit your book, do NOT release your book.

Releasing a book without adequate editing is a recipe for financial and professional disaster. As my grandpa said, “All you’ve got is your good name.”

Last week a colleague asked, “How do you know when to postpone a book release?”

My response: “You knew the answer in your heart before you asked.”

We live in a time where big name self-publishing companies charge for edits as part of a “shopping cart service.” An author must ask these questions, will I form a relationship with my editor, or am I just a number? Is my shopping cart editor investing time in my manuscript, or merely reading words on a page?

I have relationships with my clients because I believe in their work. I do not accept every submission; to do so devalues your work, and mine. Unlike major self-publishing giants like Create Space, I care about the success of your book.  Create Space charges $ 210 for an edit of 10,000 words which is roughly 45 double-spaced pages, or $4.78 cents a page. Does anyone think the staff at Create Space reads, edits, and then re-reads any manuscript?  No. Mega self-publishing companies such as the now-defunct Tate Publishing require(d) their editors to review a certain number of pages every day. No re-read. Just a quick read and on to the next client.

By comparison, I charge $ 2.00 a page, I invest time in your manuscript. I know your name.

Self-publishing companies don’t give a Tinker’s Toenail if you sell a single copy. They make their profit, from you,  upfront. If you sell a thousand copies . . . well, they call that gravy.

Yet every single day authors intent on self-publishing fight an inner voice urging them to hire an editor. They know they should invest in their manuscript which is why they ask relatives to read their work (who all pronounce it the next bestseller, or simply smile, nod politely and say it’s good). As I have stated in numerous workshops, there is a difference between a reader and an editor.

Ultimately, most self-published authors possess a strong independent spirit which benefits them when selling their book. This same spirit harms an author who releases an unpolished book. Independent spirits feel they must do things “their way.” Sadly, I have watched many authors deeply regret this attitude. They didn’t listen to my advice and when they email me with their regrets it is too late.

Many self-published authors overlook an important part of the publication puzzle. Answer these questions: Does my reputation matter? Is seeing my name in print more important than accurate, error-free content? Will I regret rushing this title?

Dear One, the book you release has nothing to do with you . . .  nothing. You write for the story, and for the person who reads your story. If you are writing for personal gratification mosey down to Kinkos and print ten copies. Keep one and give the rest to family. Trust me, today’s readers are weary of error-laden books!

Your readers deserve the best book possible, anything less dilutes the beauty of writing and damages your name, especially if you plan on releasing other titles. Here’s another question you must answer: Have I done everything possible to polish and perfect my manuscript, or have I taken the easy path and overlooked mistakes so I can hold my self-published book?

Only you know the answer.

About Renea:headshot

Renea is an award-winning author, blogger, and Georgia Writers Group Board Member. She has belonged to a phenomenal critique group for over a decade. She is a passionate friend of SIBA and local independent booksellers throughout the South. Renea is vested in the writing community of North Carolina and Georgia and has judged multiple writing competitions. Every client she has accepted has enjoyed the pleasure of publication either traditionally, or via self-publication. Contact her here.

What #BeTheChange really means

 

During the past year, I felt like I have been standing in quicksand, eager to free myself, to break free, but unable to do so. I bet many of you feel the same way.

There is too much . . . just too much going on in our lives, and in this world, for us to process.

Too much hatred

Too much anger

Too much bitterness

Too much fear

Too much work

Too much strife

Too much debt

Too much killing.

And there is too little:

Time

Money

Love

Hugs

Appreciation

Joy

And hope.

Many readers know that I do not have television. I am happy about this, ecstatic actually. Yes I am on Facebook, too much, but I do not watch videos of beatings, killings, or terrorists slaughtering innocents.  We are commanded to guard our heart, and violent images deposited into my heart quickly harms my soul. Be careful little eyes what you see, because once seen we cannot un-see.

Friends, I do not have the answer to why this is happening, but I do know this. . .  Jesus is coming, and soon. I am helpless to change any of the violence and I know myself well enough to realize that if I had television I would plug in and watch, helpless, and pretty soon negativity, bitterness and hopelessness would creep into my soul.

This I will not allow.

I do not watch, nor do I share images or video links of violence on Facebook, nor do I tweet popular hashtags (although I will use them in this blog post for emphasis).

Social media is not activism.

bethechange

Unless you are posting live as you march through the streets of Atlanta for change, social media is the safe (and lazy) way most folk use to puke their opinion, then sit back and feel better while friends comment, or agree by pressing the word LIKE.

Wow.

Really?

We have become a lackadaisical – yet fearful- group of souls, and once afraid we withdraw when what we really should do is release our fear and go forth bravely.

Yes. Bravely. Unplug and do something.

But I changed my Facebook photo to the color of the French flag, you say.

Whoop-tee-doo.

Not to be harsh but no one cares.

#BeTheChange

Be The Change means do something.

Literally.

Physically.

Actively.

Do.

Something. . .  anything other than Like another post.

No, I don’t expect you to stop terrorists, but I do expect you to stop posting on Facebook all day. I do expect you to get up out of your chair and give.

#GiveLove

Use words if necessary.

givehope#GiveHope

Use money if necessary.

Hundreds of small businesses are struggling. Support them. #BuyLocal shouldn’t be just another hashtag slogan. Buy Local falls into the Love Thy Neighbor category. Don’t feel sorry when a small business in your community closes if you have done nothing to help them keep the doors open!

This includes authors and artists who are barely getting by.

#BeTheTruth

Recently I saw an author’s selfie. She was standing in a room of empty chairs. No one had attended her reading (this happens often, has happened to me).

She could have lied. She could have said, “Great event today.”

But she was honest.

She was real. She posted a photo of the empty room and said, “No one came.”

She displayed her fear to us and in doing so she claimed dominion over it. Afterward many commented they had purchased her books. Buy the book of a #lesserknownauthor, read it, and then give it away. Or better yet, purchase two copies, one to keep and one to give away.

#BeTheChange

Children are hungry. Summer is a time when many children do not receive adequate nourishment. Find a church making lunches during Bible school activities. Buy a loaf of bread, or better yet, volunteer to pack lunches. School supplies are also needed. Seek out the poorest school near you and buy supplies.

#BeTheHope

Our elderly are in crisis. If you are concerned about the future, imagine how the elderly feel. They are scared . . . petrified.

Open your eyes.

See them.

Befriend them.

Love them.

Let them teach you how to love (they are experts).

Go to any Kroger or other grocery store on Wednesday, which is usually senior citizen’s day. Watch. Look. Help. The need is great and you, yes you, are powerful.

You ARE The Hope someone has been praying for. Don’t you realize that?

#BeAnAngel

Buy gift cards.

Keep them in your wallet.

Give them away.

Randomly.

To the cashier.

To the waitress.

To anyone you meet over the age of 60.

This is what it means to BeTheChange. You may think a ten dollar gift card won’t make a difference, but I promise you it will.

#BeAnExample

Take your children. Make this an adventure. Make it a game. “Let’s see who we can help today.”

You can do this. I believe in you.

I believe in us.

Let’s teach our children to be givers.

#BeAnomyous

Let’s face it, you know someone who is struggling . . . we all do.

Someone facing job loss.

Cancer.

Someone with a broken family.

You know where they live. Yes, you.

Step outside of your personal circumstance. Send them a card for Pete’s sake. Include a gift card. Order a pizza delivered to their house (how easy is that?). Send flowers. Hide surprises in their mailbox. Cut their grass while they are at work or at the doctor then slip on back home and act surprised when they tell you about it.

#BeTheLight

This week I send you out on a mission. For this mission you need two things: Twenty Dollars and courage. That is my challenge. Take twenty dollars and give it away. Of course you can split it into two tens and double the blessings, of course you can give more if your budget allows. Today, after reading this blog, unplug from the fear and hatemongers and the incessant negative noise. Go forth and be a blessing. Then later, mosey on back and share your story. Inspire others. You have shared the bad news in the world on Facebook and Twitter, go now share something good. Share this post. Share your story. I have a sneaking suspicion that during the process of being a blessing it is you who will also be blessed.

Let us boldly fight fear with love. Because as the hashtag says, #LoveWins. Love always wins.

headshotRenea Winchester is an award-winning author of three non-fiction books and a collection of short stories. You can order, or download her work here.