Hello all and welcome to my Maiden Post for the Not So Famous Authors Blog. My name's Matt Schiariti and I'm sure you've never heard of me. Chances are, you can't even pronounce my last name. But that's okay. On both counts. I'm working on rectifying the former. The latter is another matter entirely.
So, you've written a book and you want to self-publish. Good on ya! Writing's hard. It can be a soul-sucking, head-bashing, oftentimes mind-numbing siege of character generation, plotting, pacing, researching, and typing. You've spent months on it, maybe even upwards of a year. You type 'the end', sit back, and bask in your accomplishment. As well you should. If penning a book were easy, everyone would do it. Many try. They start with the best intentions and they may even start it. Most never finish. Picture, if you will, your standard first day in any given college class. You know what I'm talking about: that time when the professor stands at the head of the class and says: "Take a look to your left. That person will not be here at the end of the semester". Yeah, it's kinda like that. If you've finished your first rough draft, you're already ahead of many others who stumbled within a few feet after having left the starting block.
So, is it finished? Negative.
What next, then? You read what you've written. You start making changes. Check for consistency, grammar, see if your pacing is even. Some dialogue gets tweaked. Perhaps you go back and change a few scenes, maybe even kill a few. Now, you've gone through your first round of initial editing, having turned your rough draft into a not-so rough draft.
By this point your confidence is ramped up. Yes, you've put in a lot of hours, but you're chipping away at the errant pieces of leftover marble that keep your statue from being seen in all its intended glory. Chances are good you may want to go through it again. You're thinking that it may be some time to get other eyes on it. Extra eyes are good. Beta readers are good. So what do you do? You give it to your Aunt Esther. She loves it!
Um, finished? Sorry, no soup for you.
I'm sure your Aunt Esther is a great woman, just a lovely lady in every way imaginable. But one set of eyes isn't enough. You need beta readers. Lots of beta readers. Friends and family are okay, but people that aren't so close to you are better. While it isn't a bad thing, family and friends may just be impressed that you've written a coherent story in 90,000 words or less. They may not be quite as willing to point out your faults. Point is, try to get as eclectic an assemblage of readers you can possibly muster, keeping in mind your target audience.
The beta readers loved your story! Finished now? Uh-uh.
You read it again. You look at any comments you may have received and determine if they have merit. Don't dismiss them out of hand. Listening to the opinions of readers can only help you. You don't have to accept everything, but you should pay attention to it. You go back, re-write.
You're finished...right? Guess again.
This is where I'd consider hiring a pro editor if I were you (if you haven't done so already). You can find many on the internet that have references and won't demand your first born as payment. Do some research, ask around, see who some of your author friends have used and what their experiences were like. Editing is an art form in and of itself and sometimes you're too close to the material to accurately critique things. It's good to have someone with experience under their belt to look at your manuscript. Chances are, they're gonna catch something nobody else has.
So, NOW it's finished! Mostly.
After you're done going back and forth with the editor and it's been proofed and all that other fun stuff, go back and check it again, making sure you've incorporated all the editorial changes that you agree with accurately. But here's the rub: there may be things you see that you wish you'd said differently at this point.
Truth be told, the cycle can get to be a Mobius strip. What you think is the greatest thing since sliced bread today may lose its luster six months from now, and if you're anything like me, you're your own worst critic. But in the end, once all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed, after you've written and re-written, and re-written again, you have to be happy with it. You've written a book. You've cleared out as many mistakes as possible. Your betas loved it, your editor loved it, and it's as polished as it can be. It was worth all the self-doubt, and writer's block, and hard work. Why? Because you're a writer and you love to tell stories. Just remember that you're striving to improve. What you write today will be better than what you'd written yesterday, but not as good as what you'll write tomorrow.
*sigh* So, finished yet?
Who is Matt Schiariti? I'm many things. Husband, father, master of the electric guitar (in my own mind), but most recently I'm a writer. I'm trying, anyway, and I'm the author of the the paranormal/urban fantasy novel, Ghosts of Demons Past and the horror novelette, Words With Fiends: A Short Story. When I'm not writing, I'm editing something, or thinking about writing, or reading, or doing something with the family, or something else entirely. I live in New Jersey with my wife, kids, and pets, and I refuse to acknowledge my Joysey accent. Check out my blog, Overly Verbose, my Facebook Author Page, or follow me on Twitter...or not. I'm not a pushy guy.