After You Have Climbed The Mountain… — Derek Barton



Back in July when I first created this site and began to delve into writing blogs, I stated I also wanted to “share the wealth” of what I experienced and learned in my own journey into self-publishing. This is the first in my series of doing just that: giving you the readers a behind-the-scenes look into the steps involved and the resources that are out there.

The first step without a doubt is the most crucial and difficult task ahead: your manuscript. This is the main reason you are even writing after all and this is the focus point of every reader, editor or publisher that comes across your work.

Why you ask is the manuscript the most difficult part? Besides the obvious fact that you will want a compelling, provocative work that leaves your readers breathless and wanting even more. It is a top priority because there are so many working parts and a multitude of intricate details involved that have to be precise.

What I mean by that is if you want to be taken serious as a writer and by the industry, be trusted by your readers and/or fans, you have to produce value as well as art. Your manuscript cannot be riddled with mistakes, typos or grammatical errors.

Not only will your error be an eye-sore that some readers will not be able to overlook or forgive, it automatically defeats the very purpose of what you are doing: immersing the reader into your world.

If the reader comes across an error or typo in your prose, it is more likely that instead of continuing to read, that they are spending their time deciphering what you actually meant or determining what the real word you were wanting to use. In other words, instead of being right beside your hero as he paces in indecision in front of the creature’s lair and the reader is wondering whether your hero will brave the shadows ahead and face possible horrific death, a giant hand comes down snatches them right off the land of fantasy and right back into their grim desk chair of reality!

I spent three years off and on writing my first book, Consequences Within Chaos. However, when I was at the end, I quickly found out that this was not the conclusion I expected! No, what I faced was a ton of work ahead in editing and proofreading. It was as if I had struggled up the side of a huge mountain only to face a vast ocean on the other side before I could get home.  In fact, I spent another two years editing and reworking my book. Every time I thought “okay, now I am ready to have this sucker published!” I would find or a beta-reader would find an ugly, glaring error.

The main reason we as writers are not able to see these pesky word-gremlins ourselves is due to the fact that we are too emotionally tied to the work. We are blind to the little flaws of our work just like every parent feels unconditional love and pride in everything our own children accomplish. We know what we meant even if we didn’t actually convey it correctly on the page. Our brains fill in the missing words or even corrects the spelling in our minds so fast that we are literally just smart enough to get ourselves into trouble!

What can be done to fight this dilemma?  The best advice is to have it done by a trusted professional.

Is it cheap? NO WAY! The industry standard is relatively around $.02 to $.04 a word.

Will this prevent you from tarnishing your reputation, save you embarrassment and give you that polished, professional story?  Yes.

What if you are like me and on an extremely tight budget? Then you have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to have a clean manuscript and a work that you can be proud that your name is on. As I said, it took me two years of several full revisions, a lot of work with other writers (trading books for review), several rounds of beta-readers and tons of research and studying writing craft articles.

I am very pleased and happy with my work, but in complete honesty, I am also aware that I would have saved time and effort using a professional editing service. I am currently developing my sequel which I fully intend to submit to an editor this time.

There are certain elements to self-publishing that you can work on a DIY model, but there are other elements that truly require dedicated professionals. This is just one of the lessons I have learned and I am passing along here.

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