Tag Archives: self publishing

How do I copyedit my book?

I’ve had a lot of questions about publishing lately, so I thought I’d take a second and answer one of the biggies.

How do I copyedit my book?

One of the most common ways to vet your book is to recruit beta readers to give honest feedback. Avoid people who tell you it’s great. You need to know where story has gone wrong so that you can improve the rough bits.

Fix logic bombs. If it doesn’t make sense, figure out a way to explain it or remove the section.

Sometimes you need to scrap a scene to save a story. Don’t be afraid to be brutal with your book. Take a critical look at everything that happens in your tale in point form, and if there are bits that are not critical to moving the story ahead ask yourself if they really need to be in there. Trim the fat.

When I re-read my work, I look for bumps – that’s what I call something that knocks me out of my story. Sometimes its an awkward sentence, or a word. Fix these.

Go through all your dialogue and remove every word that ends in “ly”, she said snidely, angrily, happily, sadly. If the sentence doesn’t read as snide, angry, happy or sad, no amount of adverbs are going to save it. ReWrite.

Make sure your scene is set. Think of the senses. What does your character see, hear, taste, touch, sense/feel? What is the light like? Is it hot/cold? Look for a way to integrate the setting into what your character challenge in the scene is. Can the setting mirror their experience in some way?

Here’s an exercise: write a scene using only dialogue, that gives emotional context and reveals the setting of the scene, without using any qualifiers or adverbs, no narration.

Good luck and let me know how you make out!

L.G.A. McIntyre

Keep Calm and Carry On

Overused catch phrase or not, it is true.Keep-calm-and-carry-on-scan

You wrote the book, and now you have to use the other side of your brain to get the formatting right, and it HURTS! Once you have decided upon a self publishing site, now you have to Read all the specs on the publishing site, make sure you have your work Formatted properly, that the margins work, that the finished copy will upload properly….. YARG!!!

The publishing site says one thing, and the people on the forums say something else… Everyone has a different perspective on what program you should have used to write your piece – I used Word, cretin that I am, and it worked fine. I downloaded the work templates from the publishing site – that were in Word format – and plugged my work into it.

In any case, it can be overwhelming. Don’t try to do it all in a day. Space the tasks out, and chomp at it a bit at a time. Set yourself Milestones and work only towards that goal, then the next. Don’t get caught up in minutia. Unless you are using an outrageous script font, no one will recognize the difference between Helvetica, Times and Arial.

I have to admit that formatting my work was the most laborious part of the exercise, especially after I justified the text, figured out how to turn off the “Widows and Orphans” feature on Word, and ensured that there were not to many Rivers in my text caused by the justification, and that the few hyphens I used didn’t spill between pages.

Okay, Jargon translation time:
Widows and Orphans – this feature in Word ensures that the top of every page begins with a fresh paragraph. Which can leave huge gaps on the bottom of the previous page.

Justify – When you justify text, it makes the right margin of the text as flush as the left margin of the text. To do this, your program opens up spaces between the words on a line. It promotes readability but can cause Rivers.

River – If the openings between words on a line, match up with openings on the lines above and below it creates a “River” of white space through your paragraph that can pop your reader out of their experience. To fix this, try adding a hyphen to the first word of a line, to see if you can get it to default half the word to the line above, thereby shortening the justification space – just be sure not to create hyphenated words on every line. Space them out.

I spent a day deciding what size my font should be. Well maybe not quite a whole day, but after researching the forums and nobody giving me a straight answer, I finally pulled a random book off my bookshelf, measured it with a ruler, and figured out the font size. In the end I used Times 10.5. I was trying to keep my page count down to reduce production costs.

Well there it is. Formatting. You gotta do it.

Good Luck with your efforts. Leave a comment, ask a question and if this was helpful, please share it with your friends!



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