As a blogger, I empathise with your need to share your message with the world especially when obstacles like rejection or financing have prevented you from pursuing the traditional publishing route.
However, I would like to urge you, dear author, to be kind to your readers. In this fast-paced and screen-led age, we hardly have the time to pick up a paperback with our attention being pulled in different directions. So now more than ever, you need to go the extra mile and pay close attention to the details that would deter readers from receiving your message.
From my experience and observations as a long-time reader, I would like to offer a few suggestions:
Have an attractive cover that ties in with the themes that you discuss in the book. Cover-buys (books purchased because of their outward appearances) are quite prevalent in the bookish community and have proven to be a great introduction to a new author’s work. I am not suggesting that you have to invest thousands of shillings in doing photo shoots or designing the cover in order to attract readers. But sometimes, less is more.
In the same vein, formatting the text increases ease of readability. My personal pet peeve is unjustified text; it simply screams out that you do not care about the reader.
Invest in yourself as a writer. This could mean attending free or paid workshops in writing, taking MOOCs and getting virtual mentorship from established authors that you admire. It might also involve investing in tools and apps that will make your work more crispier and tighter. I have found the free version of Grammarly (not sponsored) to be a life-saver.
Please. Please. Please. Do not skimp on getting editorial services. Your book is your business card and therefore a huge part of your professional life. Don’t hire someone simply because of your cordial relationships or because they are a cheaper option. Consider the person’s experience and qualifications.
Granted, these days you do not need a literature degree to be an editor but an editor should be at least have a portfolio or testimonials from previous client experience. It will be a definite plus if they have a blog and/or portfolio so that one can judge their writing voice and quality of work. For it will always be plus if they are diverse readers. This means that they will have been exposed to different formats and types of books and will bring fresh ideas to your work. They are also more likely to spot potential plagiarism pitfalls and misquotes. In this era of fake news, fact-checking and proper citations are uber important, so do not make sweeping statements without evidence and a proper bibliography.
I would highly recommend watching Mollie’s playlist on editorial services that she published for NaNoWriMo 2017. She dives into the whole editorial process that both newbie authors and editors should understand as well as insights from her own experience as a freelance book editor.
I know that we are human and we can still make mistakes even when we review our material with a fine-toothed comb ( I am sure that I have made a number in this post). My main point here is not to have glaring mistakes that will deter the present and future readers from picking up your work. Humans are fickle beings. People will judge your appearance before considering your message.
If you would like to continue this conversation, do not hesitate to reach out in the comments section below.
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