Despite my best intentions, I have not done a very good job of keeping up with this blog. But it’s not for a lack of writing; it’s just that my writing efforts have been directed elsewhere. In fact, Lord-willing, they will culminate in the release of a book that I’ve co-authored with Kathy Brace called Born to Deliver.
Born to Deliver is Kathy’s story – one that has been life-changing for me, and we hope and pray it will be for many others as well. You can read chapter one for free on the website. And as of today, pre-orders are officially open, so if you’re dying to find out the rest of the story, just click the Buy Now button and you’ll receive one in your mailbox as soon as they arrive from the printer!
It’s no secret that many people choose to self-publish because they can’t get a traditional publishing house to publish their book. Many times this is due to lack of a platform. More often it is due to less-than-stellar writing skills. A while back I was reading the blog post, Mystory, by author Rachel Starr Thomson. I was strangely inspired to discover that her latest release, Coming Day, was almost ten years in the making and went through approximately seven complete rewrites before making its debut. Rachel is a fabulous writer, and I think this is why. She knows when her work is not good enough to publish. Oh, that more writers were blessed with such sagacity!
Curious to learn more about the process of writing, editing, and bringing a book to completion, I asked Rachel to consider addressing this issue on her blog. I am thrilled that she has agreed to tackle this topic and has begun a series of posts called, When Is Your Writing Good Enough?. You can read part one on her blog for starters, but then stay tuned for what I’m sure will be a plethora of great thoughts and helpful advice for all aspiring authors! As I mentioned in my CD, Journey to Self Publishing, I employed upwards of 30 people in various aspects of editing my book, Pajama School. I’m excited because I think Rachel’s suggestions will not only provide valuable tips to pass on to editors, but may also help me reduce the number of editors to a figure as low as, say, 20 in the future… 🙂
These insights from C.S. Lewis really resonated with me:
The way for a person to develop a style is (a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and (b) to be sure he is saying exactly that.
The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him.
I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right the reader will most certainly go into it.
This is definitely a challenge when writing, but then again, this is what makes writing such an adventurous pursuit! I have had my words (in my book, Pajama School) taken differently than I intended on numerous occasions. While at first I was tempted to become frustrated and to blame it solely on the reader, I am learning to view such experiences as an opportunity to refine my message and communicate with greater clarity what I really mean. The above quote from C.S. Lewis is a good reminder of how to do that!
I know I’ve been terribly negligent in keeping up this blog lately. There are a ton of things that I would like to add here that I’ve learned over the last couple of months, but for now I just want to give you a link to a wonderfully concise list of the parts that should be included in a book. Check out this great post by Todd Rutherford: Book Nuts and Bolts.
Every self-published author MUST know these parts of a book! And can I please just put in a special plug for the book foreword. There is nothing that screams “ignorant self-publisher” louder than picking up a book and seeing the foreward. I know this from personal experience – I was at a conference a while back and picked up a book written by the speaker. As I was flipping through it, the heading Foreward glared at me from the page. I know this will expose me as a book snob, but I put the book back on the table and refused to buy it. If an author/self-publisher hasn’t done enough research to at least get a basic thing like the spelling of Foreword correct, I can’t help but think that the rest of the book may lack elements of quality and excellence as well.
So, my fundamental piece of advice to all aspiring self-publishers is to do your research. There’s a reason self-publishing has earned a bad rap; many people don’t put in the time, effort, and resources to produce quality work – whether it be editing, cover design, page layout, printing, content organization, etc. I say, let’s do our part to change the perception of self-publishing!
For the past three months, Bryce Beattie, of the StoryHack blog, has been compiling and posting The Self Published Carnival. I’ve been a bit delinquent (as if you all didn’t already know that), so I just finally got around to looking over them in greater detail. They are fabulous! From writing to editing to marketing and more, the links on these carnivals are a treasure trove of helpful tips and tools for the self-publisher:
Check out this article at Self Publishing Advice with five helpful editing tips for self-publishers. I can vouch for the absolute importance of having an editor – multiple editors, actually! When I finished my first draft of Pajama School, I gave a copy of the manuscript to each member of my family for them to read and edit. (I think we must be a little bit on the geeky side, because just about everyone in our family enjoys editing…or at least pointing out errors in other people’s writing!) Once I inputted all of those edits and changes, I gave copies to the other four people I recruited to do editing for me. One of them is still finishing up his editing. (Note: Editing is a LONG process! Be sure you don’t underestimate the time it will take!)
Once I receive the final edits this week, I plan to do one more read-through to incorporate all of the edits, suggestions, etc. Then we’ll be ready to move forward with the final page layout before printing. Hooray! It’s getting close!
Author Josh Harris shares How to Write a Book in 16 Easy Steps on his blog. Even though I’ve only written one book, I can totally relate to his bit of tongue-in-cheek commentary on the emotional rollercoaster of writing a book. A great little dose of reality for anyone working on a book or aspiring to write a book!
About a month ago I distributed copies of my manuscript to the four people who are doing editing for me. A couple of them are focusing more on the “big picture” of the book – identifying gaps or concepts that need clarification and evaluating the overall feel of the book. The other two are doing detail grammatical and sentence structure work.
Since I distributed the manuscripts, I haven’t personally touched the book. I thought it would be helpful to step back and clear my mind a little so that I can approach it with a fresher perspective when I set about to incorporate the editorial suggestions. As I’ve begun getting feedback from my editors, I had to decide how to respond. Here’s the list I’ve come up with for how to handle feedback from editors:
- Humbly receive every comment and critique.
- Ask questions to clarify what changes they are suggesting.
- Take notes that you can refer to on your own later.
- Don’t become discouraged; remind yourself that it will be better in the end because of the contribution of others to the finished product.
- Re-evaluate what you want readers to take away from the book and what you want the overall tenor of the book to be.
- Wait until you have received complete input for the entire book and/or from all the editors before you begin implementing changes.
- Pray for wisdom and discernment.
- Determine what suggested editorial changes will enhance the message of the book and are worthy of implementation.
- Implement changes.
I’ve made it to number 7 thus far and am in the waiting stage. This has been a tough process, but I continue to learn a lot and am truly grateful for the friends who are expending their time and energy to help make Pajama School a success. I am clinging to the hope that it will all be worth it in the end!
After running around in circles for a couple of days trying to figure out where to apply for what and in what order, I think I’ve finally managed to get some of this figured out! Here are some step-by-step instructions I’ve compiled to help other self-publishers navigate the various registration requirements in the most efficient order. I haven’t quite gotten through all these steps yet (and there are probably more yet to be discovered!), but once I have printed copies of my book in hand I should be able to finish up the last of these.
1. Go to the ISBN Website and apply for a block of ISBNs.
2. Upon receiving your block of ISBNs, follow the instructions in the e-mail to print and assign your book title to one of the numbers.
3. Go to the Bookland Website and use the free bar code generator to generate a bar code for your book. Download and save both the .EPS and the .PDF files to your computer. (Incorporate this into the final book design.)
4. Go to the Bowker Link Website and enter the username and password contained in the e-mail with the ISBNs. Once you are logged in, click the “Add Title” button and enter the information for your book.
5. Go to the Library of Congress Website and apply to participate in the Library of Congress Preassigned Card Number (PCN) program.
6. Upon receiving the e-mail indicating that you have been accepted into the PCN program, go to the PCN area of the Library of Congress Website and login with the username and password provided in the e-mail. Complete the application process by filling in the forms.
7. Wait 2-3 business days and go back to Bowker Link and upload a cover image to the book information.
8. Upon being accepted into the PCN program, send a copy of the best edition of your book to the Library of Congress at the address listed in the acceptance e-mail.
9. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office Website and you can either fill out an electronic form or download and complete a print form to send in to the office along with two copies of your printed book. (Based on Morris Rosenthal’s experience with the on-line registration process, I may just fork over the extra $10 and go the paper route.)
If anybody knows of anything I’m leaving out so far, please let me know and I’ll update the list!