I'm pleased to welcome Betsy Miller to the blog today, who, as a judge for a well-known indie book award, gives us some interesting ideas on how to help
our books stand out in the crowd.
Here we go...
Betsy Miller writes books about children’s health topics including the picture books Tiger Livy and Hip, Hop, Hooray for Brooklynn!, and the nonfiction books The Parents’ Guide to Clubfoot, The Parents’ Guide to Perthes, and The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia. She co-founded Thinking Ink Press, a small press located in Silicon Valley.
You can reach Betsy through BetsyMillerBooks or on Twitter.
JUDGING INDIE FICTION
For the past few years, I’ve been reading and evaluating a lot of indie books as a volunteer judge in the Benjamin Franklin Awards. The judges use criteria based on professional editorial and publishing standards. As I was going through stacks of books again this year, I decided to share my perspective on a few things that indie authors and publishers can act on to make a book stronger, depending on the time and budget that’s available.
Note: I’m not advocating for entering book awards—just sharing some things I’ve noticed over the years.
Here are some editorial and publishing essentials:
When You’re Ready to Commit More Editorial Resources
Here are some additional things you can do, to bring up the quality of your book. These may be overlooked by indie authors who are starting out and don’t have a lot of experience or resources.
Some ideas for levelling up your craft:
Don’t be afraid to try taking away the first chapter. You might need to revise or rewrite the first chapter a number of times to get it to a professional level. This is especially true if you’re figuring out how to write your first book. Think of this as problem-solving and discovering new techniques. This doesn’t mean you’re failing. It just means you’re not finished yet.
If your budget can’t cover all this, then self-edit as much as you can before you hire an editor. I recommend setting aside the book you’ve written for a couple of weeks or longer before you begin to edit. You can also test drive an editor by having a short portion of your work edited so you can get a benchmark of how much revision it needs.
When you revise your work to fix something, it’s normal to discover that you broke a bunch of other things. It’s like a series of dominos where each one knocks over the next. For instance, if you streamline a section that’s dragging, that might create a continuity error later in the book. You will have to find and fix any problems introduced by your revisions. You might need to come up for air and take a break before tackling that task.
Some things you can try:
Whether you’re covering the basics or committing to more, don’t let the editorial cycle paralyze you. Do what you reasonably can, and then celebrate your published book!
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