STEP 8: RELEASE THE HOUNDS
Now it’s time to call that group of people who told you they could help with reading, Editing, or feedback. As you are now starting to feel the cramping of the calendar closing in on that 30-day mark, ensure you are comfortable that these people will be able to provide the level of feedback in a quick turnaround. You will want to make copies of the manuscript at this time, as this is normally the easiest way for people to edit and put notes on. Some may have a program they are comfortable with, and you can output a Word doc if you trust them to put in track change mode and give suggestions in that manner (other programs provide the ability to track changes on documents, so go with what you are most comfortable with and make it easiest to garner these responses quickly). The other benefit of electronic versions is that you can get them back via Google Docs, Dropbox, or email and don’t have to worry about schedule coordination to pick up the manuscript with notes on it.
You should instruct this group (and you must mean it) to be brutally honest. Give them carte blanche to tear it apart; you need to get this feedback and find as many concerns as possible with this sizzling eBook before the public, who have no loyalty, gets their hands on it. You want to ensure the story flows, errors, grammar questions, and other general housekeeping of any kind are done by this individual or group.
This is the stage at which you might have an editor join your team down the road. Unfortunately, while good at writing, the best writers sometimes end up missing concerns when they work on a project too long. Having these additional resources on a book before publishing is so critical to the outcome. Even traditional publishers would always have books edited, and these are authors that may have put out ten full-size books already or more. This is important to wrap your head around because you need to understand that this group of people will provide feedback, and it is going to be tough. You think you are so close, found all the errors, and this romance will be at the top of the bestselling charts. This is the best thing you have ever done, and everything is all downhill from here. Then the first group of feedback comes in and knocks the Wind out of your sails.
STEP 9: GET THE TISSUES AND MAKE SOME HARD CALLS
Whether there wasn’t enough romance, too much romance, they don’t like a character, or the punctuation is not the style they prefer. Seriously ellipses versus dashes will become a serious argument in some circles. This is the point where you will question friendships, doubt your writing chops, and probably shed a tear or two through this final critical step of Editing and making hard manuscript change decisions. You must remember that books fall into a thousand genres because people like different themes, so the feedback will be stinted by personal preference. It will be your job as the author to keep your voice and weigh feedback for relevance and action on your part.
Sentence structure, story flow concerns, punctuation, and grammar, should all be addressed. Whether you decide on changes or incorporation, these are the first rule of thumb items that should not be ignored. Remember, if they found something they weren’t comfortable with, others will also. Meaning, even if in an attempt for dialogue, slang, or other excuses, something is written the way you intended but is part of the feedback – you might wish to make changes. In the end, you are the ones readers are going to critique, so all this work is suggestions only, but worth its weight in gold as I am a precursor of what a wider audience might report.
As for story flow objections and other opinions – these are again just that – opinions! I’m certain you have opinions daily that differ from your friend, but sometimes you let them win, and sometimes you get the final word. This is no different, but the stakes are slightly higher than those conversations over grilling and football on Sunday – I know even more critical than football! This is a piece of art you will be delivered to a worldwide audience (no pressure!). In the end, other readers will dislike your writing, hate the storyline, and not read another piece of work by you – this is expected. You can control this feedback to ensure that whatever changes you do accept add value to your piece of romance art. You need to truly evaluate what feedback would add to the story, which would devalue your vision of the story and incorporate and keep the process moving without letting this step slow your process – or even if you get too intensely setback by the feedback derail it altogether. At this stage, I tell people to go out and find their favorite author on Nook, iTunes, or Amazon and one of their favorite books by them. Go down to the comments and feedback section. Ignore the five stars and rave reviews by so many and focus on the one-star and subpar reviews. It helps put things in perspective; even prolific writers have their critics and have gone through this process – keep the march going. Don’t take too long, though, because you need to be at day 28 at most by the time; we finish this step if that big looming 30-day mark becomes a reality.
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