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Getting Your Writing Ready to Self-Publish

May 4th, 2018

First, thanks to Jackie for last week’s blog. Self-publishing is turning out to be the preferred option for many writers these days and over the next couple of months we’ll be looking at others who have made this choice, not because they couldn’t get a mainstream publisher, but because they preferred the freedom and control it offers.

But if you are going to publish your own work then you need to employ a first-class proofreader/copy-editor or be very confident that you have the skills needed to do the work properly yourself. There’s nothing puts people off more than buying a book (whether online or a print copy) and finding it full of typos, stilted sentences and inconsistencies. I borrowed a book recently from the library (produced by a reputable publisher). There were lots of typos and someone who had read it before me had marked each one lightly in pencil. I don’t condone defacing books but I could understand the irritation that had prompted the previous reader to action.

But if you’re determined to do this critical work yourself (or can’t afford to pay someone else) here are my three top tips.

First, always work on a hard copy – don’t try to do it on your screen. So, whether it’s a full length novel or a short story that you’re submitting to a competition, print it off. When you’ve produced something on screen you are so familiar with it that you see what you expect to see rather than what’s actually there – and that’s why you can’t always spot the errors.

Next, read your work aloud. By doing this you pick up on any sentences that sound odd or stilted; anything that runs on too long and gets confusing. Also, it distances you from what you have written, putting you into the readers’ shoes so that you can be more objective.

Finally, don’t get so attached to your work that you can’t bear to delete anything. Hopefully, on your second (or third, or fourth) read through you’ll be able to see phrases, paragraphs and even whole scenes that are redundant, that slow your story down or are – let’s be blunt – purple prose. Get rid of them. You may have loved them when you originally wrote them, but if you’ve any doubts be ruthless!

Now, before I leave you I just thought I’d let you know about the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. It’s hosted by the international art and culture publication, Aesthetica Magazine, to support and nurture new writing talent. Prizes include:

£1,000 for each winner (Poetry and Short Fiction); publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology; consultation with Redhammer (Short Fiction Winner); full membership to The Poetry Society (Poetry Winner); one year subscription to Granta  and a selection of books courtesy of Bloodaxe and Vintage.

There are two categories to enter; Poetry and Short Fiction. Previously published works are accepted and there are no limitations on theme or subject matter. Poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines and Short Fiction entries no more than 2,000 words. It’s £12 to enter a poem and £14 for a short story. Submissions close 31 August 2018.

My guest next week is Vicki Harwood (writing as Elsye Harwood) who is our Writers Bureau Writer of the Year 2018. She’ll be looking at how her motivation to write changed as circumstances around her altered.

Author: Diana Nadin

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