Rants of a Writing
At writers conferences and chapter meetings I often hear
novice writers express the same reasons for self-publishing:
afraid someone will steal my ideas if I submit my manuscript.
don’t want the hassle of submitting to editors and agents.
share my profits with an agent and publishing house?
want full control over my work.
Some of these points reflect common misconceptions. The
theft of a manuscript idea (as opposed to a screenplay) is far less of a threat
these days than the unauthorized sale of published works on rogue websites. “Hassle
of submitting ” may reflect fear of rejection, lack of understanding of where
and how to submit, or an unwillingness to accept criticism. Sharing of profits
and creative control raise valid points, but should be considered along with
how a publishing house or agent can contribute to your success.
I frequently judge writing contests for published and
unpublished authors. The latter give me an opportunity to offer constructive
feedback. My goal is to help new writers hone their craft. Before I became a
multi-published author of Young Adult romance novels (the Teen Wytche Saga
I entered several writing contests. As I applied the invaluable tips the judges
offered, my entries advanced from Honorable Mention to First Place, and caught
the attention of editors and agents.
Unfortunately, there are no comment forms for published author
contests. It is assumed published authors are working at top form, and their
books have benefitted from professional editing. With the emergence of debut
self-published books, that isn’t always the case.
3 Edits to Make
Before You Self-Publish
While judging contests for published authors, I have been
dismayed to see solid story ideas undermined by poor writing and the lack of
expert editing. Before you rush to self-publish, have a qualified critique partner
or professional editor, check for the following:
all clichés. Clichés represent lazy, unoriginal writing and fail to reveal
character or further the plot. Use them if you wish in your first draft, but
flag them so can return when you know your characters better and can dig more
deeply. (Bolted like a flash of lightning vs. dashed down the street, my hand
pressed to my side to stem the I-need-to-work-out-more pain, as I pumped my
stubby legs in a doomed effort to outrun old lady Mattie’s commando poodle.)
out all adverbs. Are they needed, or are you using these -ly ending words to
pump up weak verbs? (He asked impatiently vs. he snapped).
eliminating wordiness by replacing passive verbs and gerunds. (She was walking
quickly vs. she strode.)
A top editor will scour your manuscript for these problem
areas and more. Plotting. Head hopping. Passive voice. Continuity issues. So
don’t rush. Solicit expert advice. Then craft the best product you can before
you hit the publish button.
Copyright 2015 Ariella Moon