Publishing 101-Phase 2
[Your Manuscript] Don’t Let Your Mom Read Your Book
Everything you need to know about Indie Publishing
in a Step-by-Step Plan
Does Your Manuscript Make Sense?
(and why your mom shouldn’t read your book)
There is no use publishing your manuscript if your book doesn’t make sense to anyone.
How do you know if it does?
Have you let other people read it and give you feedback?
Nothing is harder on a reader than trying to understand a book that just doesn’t make sense. When there are plot gaps, missing explanations or confusing sentences, you will quickly lose your reader.
Sometimes you will write something that makes perfect sense to you because you know what you are trying to say, or you know some background about your topic that your reader may not know.
Here’s an example. If you are writing a book about faith to and you use terms like “transfiguration” or “sanctification” without explaining them, you might lose or confuse your reader; you might not have thought to explain them because you know what those terms mean. Another example is if you refer to a verse in the Bible as if everyone knows what it is, you may confuse your reader who doesn’t know what that is.
Another example is if you are writing a military story for a non-military audience and you use acronyms or “military-ease” that is common among military but not to others, you do your audience a disservice by not explaining it. But you might not think to explain it because you know what you mean.
So what can you do to make sure that you are not skipping explanations that your reader may need? How can you ensure that your plot makes sense?
This is where the use of critique groups, beta readers and editors comes in.
Especially if this is your first published book.
Critique groups are by far my favorite way to develop a book. A critique group is different from a writer’s group in a few ways; it is small and provides accountability for your writing. Each week or month you meet with a few other writers and you all have a certain amount of time to read your work and receive feedback. This is a great way to work out your book for a few reasons. First, reading it aloud adds a new voice to your work and sometimes helps you hear when something is confusing, or rushed, or too slow. Second, you receive feedback from the other writers on things like grammar, flow, development, etc. Third, your group can tell you where they’d like to hear more, or where they were confused by your story. This feedback is invaluable to your story.
Beta readers are another way you can present your manuscript to get input on your writing. You can find people through social media sites like Goodreads.com who will read your book for free and provide feedback to you. If you go this route, I highly recommend you get strangers to read your book, as they will be more willing to give you an honest critique of your book.
Yes, you can have your mom or other people you know read your book…just be aware that you won’t always get an honest evaluation of your book from the people who love you. Their feedback will be salted by their love for you and their desire for your success and happiness. A stranger or peer will give you the most honest evaluation of your book because their relationship with you isn’t at stake. So always make sure you have people who don’t know you well in the mix of beta readers.
Finally, if you don’t use a critique group or beta readers, be sure to hire an editor (not a proofreader–who only reads for grammatical and spelling errors) to review your book for its content and value. You can find editors through professional associations, Goodreads.com and places like WritersDigest.com (that is, if you don’t hire me as your publishing coach because editing services come with many of my plans).
If you haven’t already, find some people who will read your manuscript and give you some honest feedback. I highly encourage you to find some people you don’t know well to be in the mix of the people who read your book.
And find a critique group. This will grow your writing skills by leaps and bounds! If you don’t have one and are interested in finding or starting a group, comment below and we will get some groups going on Google+ hangouts!
Your turn: Comment below if you are interested in being part of a critique group!
Read the previous Publishing 101 post here
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