Advice to New Writers Part 7: “The Blue Pen”

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The time has come for you, the writer, to send your creation out into the world. I know that your creation is like a child to you and that you are terrified about what comes next. It is a dark and scary world and everyone wants to hide their creation in a padded room and protect it from the ravages of reality. But unless you are done with your journey and are setting down your pen you must open the door to the outside world and take those steps.

I wish I could tell you it will be painless … I really wish I could.

Your creation is going to be abused and it is going to get knocked around. Asshole and jack-offs are going to criticize it because they are jealous, because they didn’t write it, because gods damnit you didn’t do it “THE RIGHT WAY” which means the way they want it not the way you want it. Putting your first work out there is a lot like the first day of High School.

Actually the entire writing world is like High School. But we will discuss that later.

Don’t panic.

Don’t run away.

Don’t do your impression of an insane monkey furiously flinging poo at your enemies.

Relax, have a nice adult beverage and put your feet up. There is a step between now and thrusting your naked and raw creation into the world. So before you let all of the self righteous pricks who populate the Amazon and Good Reads forums get their claws into your story we have something left to accomplish.

Editing

You have two choices when it comes to editing your book. Well actually you have three but I am going to STRONGLY suggest you not be your own final editor, no writer should ever be his/her own final editor. That is a mantra I live by and it was reinforced by an aged writer I knew well who agreed with me and then added “Except for me” and boy when you read his work it showed.

Choice 1

Hire an editor. Seriously kids there are more editors for hire out there than you realize. The hardest part about hiring an editor is that you don’t know if you and the editor for hire will be compatible. Just as every writer has their own voice so does every editor. My suggestion would be to sample some of the works edited by editors you are interested in hiring and send out a sample. For a few buck (usually less than $25) freelance editors are more than willing to edit a short sample work so you can get a feel for their style. The only caveat I would add is a get a contract. Make it clear and simple so both you and your editor know what the terms and conditions are. Allow me to reiterate this now, and don’t worry I will hammer it in again later.

ALWAYS HAVE A CONTRACT!

Choice 2

Go out there and get yourself some Beta Readers. Beta Readers are not professional editors or proof readers. They are people you know and trust, people you are sure will be honest with their feedback. Good beta readers will find typos, continuity errors, grammar errors, and spelling errors. If you choose to go the route of the beta reader I would suggest at least three and no more than five readers. You a deep enough pool to get overlapping feedback but not so many that it becomes muddled. And even though most beta readers are not paid in money I want you t remember …

ALWAYS HAVE A CONTRACT!

When you get the first edits back from your editor or your first batch of feedback from your beta readers things get interesting. Now you have to take all of the notes, changes, suggestions, and miscellaneous bits they send you and rework the manuscript.

There is no law or rule that states you have to take all (or any) of the edits your editor/bet readers send you. Often such things are a matter of opinion and preference on the part of the editor/reader. But only a stupid writer ignores the feedback sent to them by people who are only trying to make their work better.  If you have people working on your story that you trust then you would be a fool to not at least consider what they have to say.

Take your time.

Rewrite with an eye toward detail and precision.

As always, have fun.

When you have finished the last round of rewrites/revisions you have a finished product. What you have on your screen is a book, a story, a tale to entertain the masses.

Take a second to feel proud of yourself, you earned it.

Next time we discuss the things you will need to do, or at least should do, before you either publish your work or submit it for independent publication.

 

 

- Josh

1 Comment

Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books (www.palladiumbooks.com) and Third Eye Games (www.thirdeyegames.net) before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press (www.gwspress.com). I also work for Fat Goblin Games (www.fatgoblingames.com). In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!