Friday Speak Out!: Maintaining a High Standard in the Self Publishing Industry, Guest Post by Laura Pepper Wu

Friday, December 30, 2011
Maintaining a High Standard in the Self Publishing Industry | Editing + Critiquing = Success!

by Laura Pepper Wu

Have you ever downloaded a book onto your Kindle and started reading it, enjoyed where the story was going, felt pleasantly impressed by the description, began rooting for the protagonist and then BOOM! The character who arrived in a taxi leaves in her car. Or the character from Luxembourg begins speaking Italian? Or the character leaves her house at 7am but by the time she reaches work she was already late for an 11am meeting?

It’s these small yet crucial details that can pull us out of the story, lose our faith in the world we have become involved in and in the authority of the story-teller. Quite simply, a minor mistake can ruin an otherwise excellent story.

A good line or copy editor will be able to point out these inconsistencies, as well as check each line for grammar, spelling and punctuation to avoid such annoyances.

But what about the pacing, the flow of a story, readability? Is this the role of an editor too?

Traditionally a manuscript would receive all three in-house; line editing, copy editing and a content edit, but with the reduced budgets of smaller publishers and individuals, the content edit is the step that is quite often overlooked. Many writers think that an editor who fixes grammar will offer suggestions on content and flow (and perhaps a good one will), but this is really beyond the scope of their job.

I believe that having a good critique partner, or several, can help bridge this gap for independent and self-publishing writers who wish to have content critique but whose budget simply doesn’t allow for it. What is more, having a critiquing relationship with a partner or group throughout the writing of your novel, and not just when it is finalized, can provide guidance with developing your plot, your characters and description as you go along (and not adding it all in later). This sort of interactive feedback is invaluable and your writing and WIP will both benefit from it.

It’s worth adding that not all critiquing relationships come equal. If you have been put off by a bad critiquing experience or unhealthy writers group environment in the past, or aren’t finding much value in the one you currently have, it’s worthwhile “shopping around” for a good fit. Like any good relationship it takes time to find. But it will be worth the wait.

Laura Pepper Wu realized the value of having a critique partner through her in-person writing group, but when it became harder and harder to make the Saturday afternoon meetings she began to search for help online. After realizing how difficult it was to find a suitable critique partner who “got” her genre (chick lit) she founded Ladies Who Writers of all levels are welcome to join and begin their search for the perfect critiquing relationship. It’s free and always will be!


Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.



Unknown said...

Agree with above comment! I am reading an ebook now that has a great setting but the actions of characters are out of sync.
On the other hand, I have read great quality ebooks as well!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this blog post and am glad you chose to publish it, but now I'm confused. The following sentence about the qualifications for posting on this blog appears below the blogger's bio:

"Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing."

While the current post is clearly about writing, I don't see how it's about women, other than that the blogger's bio mentions that she writes Chick Lit and maintains a Website dedicated to bringing together possible critique partners for others who write in this genre -- the implication being, apparently, that men don't write, or would ever write, Chick Lit.

I bring this up because I'm wondering if one would be allowed to publish posts here that focused on writing, but not necessarily on women writers only.

Laura @ Ladies Who Critique said...

Thanks for allowing me to guest post here! I enjoyed writing this article very much.
To the commenter above, the website I'm writing about (Ladies Who is for writers of all genres. (It just so happens that I myself write Chick Lit. Sorry if that wasn't clear :) ) Ladies Who Critique is primarily aimed at women writers but men are welcome with open arms. And there are some fantastic male authors writing chick lit, Nick Hornby to name one obvious example :)
But I cannot comment on the guidelines for writing on this blog, I'll let someone else answer that query.
Warm wishes!~~ Laura

WOW! said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thank you for your question. Like with all material published on WOW! (including The Muffin), every post goes through the editorial process. If we don't think the post will be a good fit for our audience we don't publish it. We've had posts about "women and writing" but weren't helpful--perhaps leaning more toward self-promotion or advertising (the most common problems)--and the author received a rejection. So, it's not necessarily the topic that will give you a green flag. The main thing to keep in mind is we're looking to hear from our core audience--readers who've been reading this blog or WOW! and have something to share with their peers. Typically, personal essays on some aspect of the writing life are the most popular with our readers.

Here's a copy of the full guidelines we publish in our e-mail newsletter (the above blurb was abbreviated):

Friday's are "Speak Out!" days. We allow posts from contributors for promotion. If you'd like to submit a post, please make sure that it's about women and writing.

Your post can be about: writing inspiration, balancing family life/parenting with writing, craft of writing fiction/nonfiction, how-tos, tips for author promotion/marketing/social media, book reviews, writing prompts, special opportunities (paying markets for writers), publishing industry news/gossip, and anything you think our readers will love.

Please make sure that there is take-away value to our readers. No press releases please. We're more interested in hearing from our core audience--personal essays and humorous anecdotes are encouraged as well, as long as they provide something useful to our audience--including a good laugh! ;)

How To Submit: Submit your 250 - 500 word post in the body of your email to our blog editor Marcia Peterson: Please put "Friday Speak Out! Submission" in your subject line. Upon acceptance, we will ask for your bio, links, bio photo, and any other pics to illustrate the article. We look forward to hearing from you!


So if you have a post idea that focuses on writing, but not necessarily on women writers only, send it on in! We evaluate each post on its own merit.

You may want to check the archives to see what we've published previously. We feature one of these posts each Friday.

Happy writing!
- Editors

Anonymous said...

After researching various options, I chose the self-publishing route for my novel. To ensure its quality, the manuscript endured a series of critiques, revisions, and edits.

I'll also freely admit that mistakes may be found, but I've yet to read a traditionally published work that did not include a typo, misused homonym which escaped proofreading, or factual error. As long as humans are involved, there will be errors. Writing is an art, after all, and subject to imperfection.

ML said...

Right on, Laura! As an editor, self-publisher and author of two books, I was startled when I downloaded an e-book to my Kindle and learned it had TONS of typos, grammatical and syntactical errors, yet it was a Kindle bestseller! I am struggling through it, but I can't imagine who manages to read and enjoy these things. We should all be careful to maintain strict publishing standards, and that means spending the money to hire a good editor, lest all our work is for naught. Pulleez!

Kindle How To Profit said...

Couldn't agree more. Self publishing will never be a mainstream alternative to the traditional industry until we solve the quality problem and earn our reader's trust.

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