Starting this week, I’ve decided to do something different with this series of articles. Instead of a weekly progress report, I want to write about the journey to bring a novel — a creative work — into the world. As Hillary Clinton wrote, it takes a village to raise a child. It may not take a village to write a book (though sounding boards are a wonderful thing), it does take a village to publish one. When I took my initial steps toward the goal of publishing The Gideon Effect, I had no idea how much help I’d find or have offered to me along the way.
I will have many friends to list on my eventual acknowledgments page. It may be longer than a page.
Currently, my writing hours are filled with a “final” round of editing on each chapter before I send them out to beta readers. I use the word “final” advisedly. My studying hours are filled with articles and blog posts about mistakes first-time novelists make, and expert tips on how to prepare a novel for kindle and other eBook formats. Once I finish polishing the story, I will do a round of testing and editing to make sure the novel is easy to read on a variety of different platforms. That will be a moment when being a geek with a variety of phones and different sized tablets to use as test platforms will come in handy. I speak Android, but I have friends with iPads and iPhones whom I can turn to before the moment of truth. Oh, and Surface! I can all but guarantee I’ll never own a Windows tablet or phone, but I’ll need to test my book on them as well.
This week, I’m looking into editing applications and considering whether to purchase one and if so, which one. I use the free version of Grammarly for browser-based editing. Grammarly is good at catching my flamboyant sprinkles of commas and my occasional misspelled word but doesn’t give me feedback about other things I’d like flagged, such as overuse of words and phrases and other issues that fall under the “style” category. That may be a limitation of the free version.
Another tool I’m looking at is ProWritingAid. This tool provides an incredible amount of style advice and suggestions. it’s almost overwhelming, but I think using a tool like this would help me to internalize some style changes I should try to make with or without software help.
There are dozens of other tools out there in cyberspace that I haven’t stumbled across yet. This week I plan to take a rigorous approach to finding the best of breed and learn what I need to know to comparison shop. My novel resides in Scrivener, not Word. I would like to find an editing tool that plays well with Scrivener.
At some point between working with beta readers to incorporate their feedback, and final publication, I may need to hire an editor. If so, I’d like to pay for content editing rather than copy editing I should be able to do myself.
Chapter 4 went out to some of my beta readers last night. I’m slowing the pace down for other readers due to vacations. I have work to do on Chapter 3 from last week’s feedback, and I’ll look at Chapter 5 with the help of editing software before I send it out.
In terms of my platform, (which in this profession means one’s reader base and one’s means of reaching that base) I’m still in the early stages, figuring out what seems to work for other new writers as well how established writers interact with (and find) their readers. It is a chicken and egg conundrum. I won’t know how I’m doing until I have a novel out there for people to find and read. Only then will I learn if it’s easy for readers to find me, and if the platform I’m starting now is what I’ll need then.
I’ll report back next week!