3 Reasons to Set A Novel Deadline

So you went the indie route. Great! Among other things, it means no agent breathing down your neck to finish by your publishing deadline. Fantastic, right? WRONG!

How do traditional published authors pump out so many books so quickly? They have strict deadlines. But they also have someone on their back making sure that deadline stays put. As indies, we don’t have that. Unless you have a writing partner and you whip each other into shape. But writers are generally solitary creatures. And unless you are co-authoring a book, then you write alone. So, who is there to get on your back?

You know the answer. YOU! *dang it!*

Along with being writer, publisher, cover-designer, editor, public relations and marketing (with the help of a select few: namely cover designer and editor), you are now your own lit agent. Which means you have to set hard deadlines for yourself.

“But is it really necessary?” you may ask? No. It isn’t. Unless you want to publish your book, or multiple books.
Take it from me, no deadline=no book. It was only when I said “Alright, Shelby. This first draft will be finished by the end of this month” did I actually push myself. And guess what? That draft was finished by the deadline. But if I didn’t set that deadline, it wouldn’t have happened. It would have come after dishes, after working out, after painting my nails, after grocery shopping, etc. It would never have been a priority. But with a deadline, I treated it like homework. It was worked every day, more if I skipped a previous day or anticipated being busy the next day.

Here are my Top 3 Reasons to Set a Writing Deadline:

1. Ensures consistent writing. Without a deadline, I would go days, weeks, months without writing. It would be pushed to the back burner, fall off the to-do list and plain forgotten. It wasn’t valued. By setting a deadline, especially if it’s a challenging one, I was forced to make time to write. Every day. Resulting in more consistent writing. I don’t know about you, but my writing style changes from year to year, and if it doesn’t change gradually, your novel is going to look like it’s been written by two different people. You can’t let a massive amount of time pass between starting and finishing. Get it done and be consistent.

2.  Pushes yourself. Write an entire draft in 1 month. Sound impossible? How do you know until you try? Maybe you only think writing a novel takes years and years. Newsflash: most books are written in a year. Some in even less time! My first book was done over 3 years! 3 years! That’s insane! My writing was inconsistent, I kept forgetting about it, and I became discouraged that it was taking so long. If you don’t push yourself, it WILL take forever. Setting a deadline requires you to test your limits, push yourself and see what you truly are capable of. It’s like working out (or so I’ve heard). If you’re like me and only do a few situps a month, odds are you’ll feel that getting in shape is impossible! But if you do five a day one week, then push yourself to ten a day the next week, and so on and so forth, guess what? You’re going to learn you are quite capable of getting in shape and in less time. So set a deadline you may think is impossible. Then try? Who knows? I myself discovered I can write a new draft in two to three weeks. So my 3 year timeline for book one is down to about 1 now. Because I pushed myself.

3. Results. You want to see your book published right? You want to get on to the next story in your head? You want to shove the book at all your relatives who smiled politely when you told them you were a writer with no books published? Then you have to buckle down. Deadlines produce results. Period.

I know it sucks. I know it’s going to be hard. But it doesn’t have to be insane. Everyone is busy. Everyone. Set a deadline like…you’ll finish writing this chapter by the end of the week. Perhaps that would have happened even without the deadline. But guess what? With the deadline, it ensures it will. And you can be proud of yourself for meeting your goal. Any deadline is better than no deadline at all. Push yourself. You might be surprised.

What deadlines do you set for yourself? What deadlines are you going to set? Let me know!

7 Thing to Look For In Your Fiction Editor

So your book is finished. Maybe it’s your first, maybe it’s your fifth. Now you need an editor for your novel. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to use the same editor from book one and on, you need a new one. If you’ve never had one, you  need to find the perfect one for you and your book.

What do you look for? Here are my top 7 requirements:

  1. Testimonials: This is perhaps the biggest factor. These are other authors praising the editor you’re searching for. If you see one or two, this could be disturbing. Because it means either A) the editor doesn’t have much experience or B) they don’t have very good testimonials. So unless they are charging you very, very little, make sure they have a good lineup of previous work and some solid testimonials.
  2. Second Pass/Stages: I’ve looked. Not many editors offer a second read-through or do their edits in stages. If you can, you should really try to find one that does at least one of these. This is even more important if you are having them do developmental edits, content edits, and line edits. Those are all different levels of editing. Logically, they shouldn’t all be on the same draft. How can you “Tighten this scene” or “Develop the romance more” at the same time as fixing that dangling modifier? If you change something large, what you add will need to be edited, right? Likewise, if you have a ton of line edits on a page, it’s quite possible you may miss some or add in additional errors while correcting them. A second read through to ensure you fixed everything, as well as to make sure your editor didn’t miss anything, is beyond valuable.
  3. Pricing: This is all very opinionated. Ask anyone. Editors charge a very wide range of prices. First, find out what you can afford. And be generous. If you’re hoping to edit your 100k book for $300, think again. For the most part, you get what you pay for. For the most part. So if you do find an editor willing to do it for that little, odds are they don’t have much experience or education. That’s just the way it is. The price can vary widely, but stick to $0.006-$0.05, as those are the most common prices I’ve seen and they aren’t too low or insanely high. Personally, until I find an editor I want to stick with forever, I’m sticking to $0.01 or under for copy/line edits. Some charge more for developmental, some charge more for line edits. But no matter what, you should always feel comfortable with what you’ll be paying your editor. If you are uneasy, STOP! And remember, just because one charges $0.04 and one charges $0.008, it doesn’t mean the cheaper one does poor work. It could be because they want to help us poor indies. It could be becuase they love what they do. And the one charging more doesn’t mean they are better. It just means they charge more. So if you’re stuck between the two, obviously use this list as a guide, but let #4 show you who is really better.
  4. Sample edit: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS get a sample edit! Most editors offer a 2-10 page sample edit. If they offer less than 2 pages, I’d be wary. If they don’t offer one at all, I’d be even more wary. They should want to prove themselves and display how they operate. This will also put your mind at ease and you can compare sample edits to see who you feel can help you the most.
  5. Genre/Interest: Does your editor have experience in your genre? Or are they at least interested in your book? If they primarily do paranormal YA romance and you’re wanting them to edit a serial killer suspense book, do you think you’ll get the best help with your book? Or if they primarily edit fantasy and you give them a non-fiction book, do you think they’ll be interested at all in your work and give it the most time/thought? If they don’t do the genre, don’t fret. Find out if they rae at least interested. Perhaps they’ve never had the opportunity to edit that genre, but perhaps they read it all the time? The most important thing is that they WANT to work on your project.
  6. Teaching: Your editor should also be your teacher. They shouldn’t just fix your writing, they should point out problem areas and give you guidance on how to fix them. Your next book should be better, the book after that, even better. You shouldn’t be repeateing the same mistakes every time. If so, your editor is doing you a disservice and just wants to charge you more. A good editor wants to make you a better writer. It’s like a school teacher. They want to help you succeed because it reflects well on them and you’ll keep coming back. They don’t want to not teach you in hopes you’ll be held back and provide them with job security. So if you’ve been with the same editor for a while and you haven’t learned how to fix your big problem areas, consider his/her true value.
  7. Communication: Your editor is your partner in writing your book. Ask any bestselling author and they’ll tell you they’d be lost without their editor. In order to secure that strong bond, you need to feel like you can communicate with your editor. Do you feel your emails are an annoyance or a welcome teaching opportunity? Do you feel they are too formal or like you’re talking to a friend? Do your emails go days without a response or do you get it the same day? I personally HAVE to have an editor who is like a friend. I ask a LOT of questions. So I need to feel like I’m no an annoyance.
    8. Humble: If your editor thinks they are the sh** and you don’t need any other sets of eyes to look over your manuscript a final time (ie Proofreader) then you should pause. Most editors should end up reading your work at least twice. By then they are too close to your work for the final proofread. If they include the proofread with all the other edits, stay far away! If they offer to do the final proofread at the end, pause. I learned this the hard way. Go for a seperate proofreader who hasn’t read your work yet. If your editor thinks they are the best and don’t encourage you to seek other eyes, you should wonder.

So…you may be wondering if I’ve found such an editor? Well I have just secured a relationship with one but she, for the time, shall remain nameless until our first edit, but I will add her name once I’ve confirmed every step. But let’s just say, so far, with only the sample, she has met EVERY one of these requirements. Stay tuned to find out who she is and if she continues to live up to my expectations! I’ll also be working with a new proofreader, so stay tuned for that name too! They’ll both be added to my Team page.

What about you? Do you have an editor you love? Recommend her/him below! If they’re awesome, get them some more work! What do you look for in your editor?

From the Ashes in Final Draft

I’m going to die.

Not really. But I want to.

Okay not really. But I feel like I am. I am working on the final draft of From the Ashes before it goes to my editor at the beginning of Nov. So not quite the final, final draft, but the last one I can fix myself.

And I just got back beta feedback. Oy.  I have a HUGE problem with my main character. So she is in need of a total makeover so she isn’t quite so…realistic. 🙂 So, unlike Shattered, where I only had a few minor tweaks to my book and could squeeze in the final edit, all in a month, this book is going to kill me. I only have a month. To do a laundry list of changes. Which is my fault. I did have quite a few betas. But that’s good. Lots of eyes means lots of feedback which means lots of improvements!

Lemme just say how I love my beta readers and would be utterly lost without them. They take their precious time to read my atrocious draft of a novel and are kind enough to slog through and tell me what a mess it is. That is pure selflessness. This feedback is hard to get and some of it is a treasure to get. And I have a problem. Many authors will tell you that you only need pay attention to the things they really had in common or you agree with. I’m a little different. Why? Because I’m of the mind that improvement is improvement. And even if something only bugged/stood out to one reader out of ten, it means it stands to bug 100 out of 1000. So I take into consideration every little thing my betas bring to my attention. Their feedback is anything but undervalued.

Yes, I could just do a few tweaks to my character to solve the issues. I could ignore the remarks from only one beta. I could. But in reality, I can’t. I wouldn’t be satisfied. So now what I anticipated was a week of small tweaks has become a few huge changes and lots and lots of little ones.

So that is where I am. Taking a few minutes to lament this career choice. I actually had to take time off my day job so I could squeeze in two full days of writing/editing this month. Lame.

But! On a positive note, I’ve got my new editor chosen! And I’m super close to picking my proofreader. And also, my cover is being designed by an up-and-coming cover designer and I can’t wait to brag about her and be her first book cover! So at least I’ve got a good balance of stress and relief. 🙂

Also, Among the Flames, book 2, has a solid outline/rough draft prepared. Each scene is planned and it is waiting to be written. Which *gulp* will be next month, when From the Ashes is being edited. Yep. Writing two books at the same time. I’m crazy.

Till next update! Hang in there with me!