Wednesday, 6 July 2022


Your manuscript is formatted to publishing style standards, and you’ve achieved your word count goal. Bravo! 

Distance yourself from your manuscript for a week or two before working on polishing your work. This avoids missing errors because your brain remembers what it thinks you wrote rather than comprehends what you wrote. If this is your debut novel, utilize this time to investigate a cover design appropriate for the genre of your story and to research business publishing options.

Don’t rush time needed for self editing work that should involve some sentence rewrites. Search for one or two of the editorial steps mentioned below for each read through of your draft manuscript. 

A Team Approach to Manuscript Editing

Eight Self-Editing Steps

1.  Self-editing accomplished, seek input from a writer support group, if you have one, and/or four or five people (not all close friends or relatives) to be beta readers.  A beta reader’s job is not to edit your work. It’s to give honest feedback from a reader’s perspective on what they liked or didn’t like about your story before it is submitted for publishing. It is up to your discretion which suggestions you incorporate into your draft. Sending a beta reader a PDF of your manuscript will allow constructive comments to be added in the margin without altering your text. 

1. Read your manuscript aloud or use MS-Word's "Read Aloud Speech Mode" to check pacing, tone, writing voice, and story flow.

2. Proofread on-line and on a printed copy.  Your word processing software will highlight mechanics of style errors such as spelling, capitalization, grammar errors, and sentence structure irregularities but will not catch all errors. 

3. Your first few paragraphs in chapter one need to hook a prospective reader and confirm the story's genre. Subsequent chapters should have interesting beginning and concluding sentences to make a reader eager to turn the page.

4. Strengthen the quality of your prose by eliminating filler words that don't add importance to a sentence.  Words such as: think, thought, really, very, totally, somewhat, perhaps, maybe, usually, just, even, really, so, totally, sort of, then, seem or seemed. In addition, the Find and Replace feature in a Word document will highlight words you tend to overuse.

5. Choose character names to reflect their nationality and the story's geographic location. Avoid using the same letter to begin the names of more than one character. Ask yourself if the character dialogue fits your character description.

6. Sprinkle character and scene descriptions throughout your story. Avoid excess information dumps in one location.

7. The Show, Don't Tell writing principle should play a major role in your writing style. 'Showing' with vivid description makes a reader feel that they are experiencing a scene. Whereas, 'Telling' them what is occurring is reporting or narrative that distances them from the action. Avoid 'showing' in one sentence followed by a 'tell' in the following sentence.

8. Ensure your story's plot is not confusing and that it is rich with a satisfying climax and many intriguing anti-climaxes. If a sentence doesn't advance the plot or add to character development, axe it.

Self-editing accomplished, seek input from a writer support group, if you have one, and/or four or five people (not all close friends or relatives) to be beta readers. A beta reader's job is not to edit your work.  It's to give honest feedback from a reader's perspective on what they liked or didn't like about your story before it is submitted for publishing. It is up to your discretion which suggestions you incorporate into your draft. Sending a beta reader a PDF of your manuscript will allow constructive comments to be added in the margin without altering your text.

The self-editing tips above cover a portion of the editorial work provided by a professional fiction editor. This effort, on your part, may reduce the level of editing required by an editor and reduce billable hours. It is extremely difficult to spot all of our writing errors. A poorly edited manuscript could result in being rejected by a publishing house or an agent; uncomplimentary book reviews when published and/or a loss of potential readers.

In the back matter of your manuscript, remember to acknowledge those who helped you on your journey to being a published fiction author.

Article by Donna Warner

 DONNA WARNER'S book #1 in the Blair and Piermont crime and romantic suspense series, Targeted, is set in the Caribbean. Book 2, Death's Footprint, takes place in Canada's historic Quebec City. Both books are co-authored with award-winning mystery author, Gloria Ferris. Donna resides on a country property near Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization.

#crime thriller


#romantic suspense





Thursday, 19 May 2022


Toted books and props. Check. Arranged your display of books and psyched yourself into marketing mode. Check. You’re ready to dazzle shoppers with your work.

After four or five hours of talking and flashing smiles at book lovers and shoppers wandering by, even the muscles in your cheeks feel over-worked. Your back and leg muscles complain about the extended periods of standing.

At event conclusion, you dismantle and haul your materials out to your vehicle. You offer a silent prayer that everything will fit back inside in the orderly manner you packed them in.  This task can be as challenging as attempting to tease a paper road map back into its original folds.

Before driving home, enjoy a well-deserved break. Invite a few fellow authors to join you at a nearby restaurant. This affords the opportunity to mentally unwind and share anecdotes of this and previous signings with your colleagues. 

After a recent book selling event at the Canadian Legion Spring Craft Bazaar in beautiful Fergus, Ontario, three of my close friends, two who write under the name Jamie Tremain, and the other, Gloria Ferris, who is co-author of my crime fiction series, joined me at the Breadalbane Inn’s restaurant. In addition to our usual camaraderie, we conducted a post mortem on the event to discuss what worked well for us and what could be improved before our next book signing engagement. 

I hope you find some of our post event questions and comments worth considering, whether you’re a novice at this model of marketing, or like many of us, have taken a two-year hiatus from appearances at public venues.  

1.      Was I dressed appropriately and comfortably for the venue? Did I arrive with sufficient time for set up in order to appear calm when doors were opened to the public?

2.      Did my display attract prospective book buyers? Avoid cluttered or too sparse an exhibit. If using a table cloth, ensure it is wrinkle-free.

3.      Did I forget to bring any items useful for book signings, such as:

a.      A badge with your author name;

b.      Holder stands for my poster(s) to highlight book titles and genre tags;

c.     Holder stands to prop up a book sample (spine-out piles of books don’t attract attention);

d.      A banner for the front of my table or a banner with a stand-up frame (an optional display choice);

e.      Bookmarks, media sheets, business cards;

f.        A notebook for any follow up opportunities;

g.      A receipt book (occasionally needed);

h.      Scissors, cello tape or banner clips;

i.        Pens for signings that won’t smear; and

j.        Bags for customers who didn’t bring a tote and have bought multiple books.

4.      Did I have sufficient cash to make change for cash sales? If utilizing a credit or debit card machine, were there any problems with processing sales quickly?

5.      Were my book prices easily seen from a couple feet away?

6.      If including a personal comment when signing a book, did I have one in mind to speed up this process?  E.g., Warm wishes; It was a pleasure meeting you; Hope you enjoy this story; Best regards, etc.?

7.      Was my elevator speech for each book or series effective? Could my brief sales pitch be improved?

8.      Did I remember to thank the event organizer(s) and express interest in being considered for future vendor events?

9.      Did book sales provide a profit or a financial loss? In the latter case, if your business cards were picked up, you may have books purchased at a later date.  Even if you did not sell as many paperbacks as you hoped to, every public appearance increases awareness of your business brand.

Best wishes for achieving your sales objectives, increasing brand awareness, and having a wonderful experience at all your book signings.