C.S. Maynard is the author of Blood of the Wolf and she has agreed to share her self-publishing experiences with us today. Thank you so much, Charlotte!
C.S Maynard on Self-Publishing and Editors
I had worked on a couple of books and written a couple of novels before my husband sat me down and said, this next one we’re going to publish. We’re going to go all the way. We did our research, we looked at the numbers, we read about traditionally published authors who were actively choosing self-publishing over traditional and then we decided. We chose the self-publish option.
We won’t go into the stigmas of self-publishing or the quality of it versus traditional. We won’t go into how or why an author should choose that over the other options. That’s another post. I want to talk about editors.
If you go the traditional route and you get a contract, you will have an editor. Sometimes not one, but several, depending on how big the publisher. They understand how important it is to have someone else give it a look over.
My husband and I fought over this concept as we pushed to write this novel that we were insisting that we were going to go all the way to the end. He kept insisting that we didn’t need one, couldn’t afford one, he could help me, we had good beta readers. The list of his explanations and excuses went on and on and it was always something so important that we just couldn’t make it happen.
I finished the book, we started having our beta readers do their work. I have some really good beta readers, some writers themselves and they all found important things. I learned a lot in the process, I’m still learning, and everything I had experienced told me that we needed that final editor, someone with grammar and punctuation skills that could give it that final polish.
Still, my husband fought me, insisting that we could do it on our own. Nothing I could say mattered. Then, he went to the most critical of our beta readers to get her opinion just on the first chapter. She was polite, non-specific, too nice in her opinions and he realized there was more to what she wasn’t saying than what she was.
They talked for awhile and he discovered that she did have issues. All manuscripts have flaws. You can be the most experienced, talented writer and there will always be something that you miss. In fact, there were so many issues that this very experienced reader couldn’t get past that first chapter. She didn’t finish it.
We had a real problem if we were going to take this book to publishing. Finally, I had that second opinion, that firework in the sky to convince him that maybe there was something to what I had been trying to tell him all along. We needed an editor.
I had worked with a free service before and they had some really good options, opening up their editors to doing original fiction. However, these were volunteers and not professionally trained. You roll the dice and hope that you get assigned to someone who not only reads and enjoys your genre, but has the skills and training to accomplish what you want. When I used the service, I found just that. It is possible, but you might have to go through a few to find the one that works best with you.
This is an option if you don’t know anyone. It’s an amazing service and I recommend at least trying it if you choose to self-publish. Especially with your first few books, money is very tight and every little penny counts.
In my case, I have a neighbor who does technical editing for a local University and she was willing to help me out. We paid her a pittance, but it was important to us to give her something for the really amazing job that she did. The difference was outstanding. She didn’t change the story or the characters or mess with my theme in any way. A good editor won’t.
She took what I had, the rough cut, fogged gem and cut away the detritus. After her polishing, my gem wasn’t the dirty, ragged thing I had given her. I won’t say it had become a diamond. It might be more accurately likened to a bit of topaz that you can find out on the ground in the mountains near where my story is set. But it was a far sight more beautiful after her touch than before.
I recommend self-publishing if you can put in the time and effort into promoting it. You will have to deal with the fact that it’s definitely not as fast growing and most don’t sell 100 books in the first month.
If you do choose to self-publish, however, find yourself an editor. You don’t have to pay the $2500 for some that I saw being offered, there are other options. Let the master do the work they love, put the polish on your baby and know that you really did put yourself out there in new and exciting ways that you can really be proud of.
Today’s post was written by guest blogger Susan Mac Nicols, author of recently released Double Alchemy. Of course I LOVE the title! Here is Susan to share a little about her writing process:
Often one of the questions people will ask is me is ‘How do you write- do you have a real idea when you sit down which direction the book is going or do you just type and make it up as you go along?’ The answer to this so far has been the second approach. I’m not one for plotting in too much detail. I have a few set guidelines I use when I begin and I’ve noted these below.
Characters – I outline about ten lines of the character
- DOB – Month and year. That way I don’t trip up on their age J
- Physical appearance – hair, eyes, body shape, anything distinguishing like Cade’s nipple piercing
- Profession -Cade is an anthropologist
- Where they work – geographically and the type of place -museum, office, restaurant etc.
- Some basic character traits – I actually use star signs to do this so I choose their DOB based on what I think my character is going to be like. Quinn for example was always going to be a Leo both in physical appearance and nature. I had this idea for him being King of the Jungle.
- If family is going to play an important part in my character’s life, then I’ll jot down a couple of sentences about each of them. Name, sex and a brief description of why they are in the story.
- My stories usually have the main location in mind when I’m setting the story – for Double Alchemy it was Hampstead Heath in London. Quinn has his house there, the magyckal Sprite pond is there and it’s also where Quinn and Jomo have their office.
- Other locations I write about arise as and when I need them. The Clapham Common Fairground for example, because I wanted the rather nasty Jeremy found at a local funfair.
- Scotland was important as Cade is studying the Picts for his dissertation and this is where they originated.
- I’ll then write about one A4 page of the plot. Very basic details – where they meet, what happens when they do, what I intend happening as they develop, and how the story needs to develop. It’s a very brief skeleton that I use to at least remind me where I want to get to.
Then I sit down with laptop on knee on my couch in the corner of the my lounge, write the first sentence and it all takes on a life of its own and begins to knit together. The characters develop quirks, frailties, strengths and senses of humour, and really become their own people.
It might not work for everyone. I know people who take an inordinate amount of time mapping out their stories using techniques like the Snowflake method.
I do know that for the book series I’m writing, I am going to need to be more organised and structured as writing a series of six books all moving on from one another is a challenge. I bought some story writing software called New Novelist V3 to help me do this and so far I’m pretty impressed with it. It’s very easy to use and as I’m a visual person, this meets my needs.
Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives in Essex. Her debut novel Cassandra by Starlight, the first in a trilogy, was published last year by Boroughs Publishing Group in the US. Sue’s latest story, Double Alchemy is her fifth m/m romance.
Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would see herself becoming a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.
Sue is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Romantic Novelists Association here in the UK.
Here’s summary of Double Alchemy:
Powerful yet tormented modern warlock Quinn Fairmont must initiate the silver-eyed Cade Mairston into the world of witchfinders, Withinners, and what can happen when two men fall truly, madly, deeply in love.
THE WORLD IN SHADOW
In modern London there lurks a warlock, Quinn Fairmont. Dangerous, powerful, tortured, sharing his body with the soul of an ancient Welsh sorcerer, Quinn is never alone—and never wholly himself. He fights against all those who would exploit his kind. He takes pleasure where he can find it.
In the forest of Hampstead Heath, Quinn’s hometown, Cade Mairston appears to him like a waking dream. Lithe, lean and silver-eyed, he evokes feelings in Quinn unlike any other: lust with true affection, immediate and shocking. Cade is clearly more than he seems. And yet, if a man of the world, Cade is innocent. He knows nothing of warlocks, witchfinders or Withinners. He knows nothing of what he is, what he might be, or what he might feel. For him, the story is just beginning. Magyck, peril and passion await.
I’m part of a blog tour arranged by Virtual Writers. You can click the banner to find out more about the tour and to discover other interesting book bloggers. Susan’s book can be found here.
Click below for a chance to win an ebook by Susan Mac Nicol.