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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone!

I've recently discovered KBoards and have been lurking for the past week or so now. So I've been working on a novel (YA fantasy) on and off for the past year. I'd never had any intention of publishing it, it was just something I did for fun, as a way to distress and keep my sanity after my day job.

I'm about 5 chapters away from finally typing "The End" for the first time (it's my fourth draft) and have been leaning more and more towards self-publishing it.

Now for the newbie questions:
1. I've never had anyone read my story, how did you all go about finding crit partners or alpha/beta writers? Has anyone ever published something completely un-vetted by anyone before? How did that go? Did you regret it?
2. How important do you think it is to pay for professional editing? I'm thinking copyediting may be the most important?

Thanks in advance everyone! I've learned a ton through lurking but have also been getting more and more mixed up over what I should do or need to do

Jenna :)
 

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Welcome, Jenna.

A) Beta readers are very valuable. They can give you input on what works, what doesn't, typos, etc... If you have a friend that reads a lot, start there. Just ask for honesty. I found a beta reader thru another author. It was a retired English teacher. She's awesome (sorry, I cannot share her). You can join a YA Fantasy FaceBook group and perhaps find a willing beta reader there.

B) that's a big can of worms regarding professional editing. If you are a writer/editor for your day job, you can get away with no editing. If you've never written/published before, and CAN afford only one service, then my opinion (not having seen your writing) is to pay for copy editing. That. Is. My. Opinion. There are lots of opinions on the board. It is also my opinion if you cannot afford it, try to find a way to pay for it anyway  :-*

That said, there are many very clean Indie writers that I enjoy reading, who only self-edit. If you've got the chops, go for it. Just know if you're mistaken, you could open yourself up to bad reviews regarding grammer, typos, etc... Only you can make that decision, because right now, no one has seen your skill level. Hope that helps.

Good luck.
 

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Jenna_Elle said:
Now for the newbie questions:
1. I've never had anyone read my story, how did you all go about finding crit partners or alpha/beta writers? Has anyone ever published something completely un-vetted by anyone before? How did that go? Did you regret it?
2. How important do you think it is to pay for professional editing? I'm thinking copyediting may be the most important?

Thanks in advance everyone! I've learned a ton through lurking but have also been getting more and more mixed up over what I should do or need to do
Different forums have different strengths and weaknesses. Kboards seems to be the premiere site for authors discussing marketing of their books. Absolutewrite.com is better (IMO) for writing advice, and a good source of beta readers, although the vibe is generally more harsh. Critiquecircle.com is one of several sites that will allow you to post your work, a chapter at a time, and receive critiques. I put my first book through CC and learned a lot about writing in the process.

Unfortunately, a LOT of people have published books that are completely unvetted, and the thing is, you can generally tell. Paying for a pro is one way of doing it, although it has its own risks. I didn't, but I was lucky enough to get four beta readers to go through my entire novel, in addition to the critiquecircle work. YMMV.
 

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Hi Jenna!

Well, this is just my opinion, so take it for what it's worth. As far as beta readers go, I have several friends that love to read and I've been able to use them. I understand that, because they're my friends, they may not be COMPLETELY honest because they don't want to hurt my feelings. So, I usually tell them that I'm already aware of things that need to be fixed and I just want their opinion so I can see if they find the same issues I have. I explain to them that I would much rather hear about the issues they have with the book before i publish than to hear it from readers in bad reviews later.

I would have an editor look over your work as well. My mother edits documents as part of her job, so she volunteered to do a copy edit for my books. She catches a lot of typos for me, but I still use an editor for story and copy editing.

Another area I would spend some money on is your cover. You need a great cover or no one will give your book a chance. You can find good cover designers online. Also, 99 Designs is a great place to get a cover done.

Editing and cover design are the only things you need to really spend any money on as far as producing your book is concerned. (You'll spend a little more to market it later, but that's another post for another time.)

Hope this helps. :D
 

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I've worked with quite a few editors through my traditional publishing efforts and by and large it was always a rewarding experience.

HOWEVER, when it comes to my indie-published work, I can't afford to pay for an editor. Someday I hope to earn enough to be able to do that for every book. The fact is - even with forty years of writing experience and some experience editing and an English degree I still make mistakes. Way too many of them. I would recommend hiring an editor IF you can really afford to - especially if you are writing in one of the more popular fields - such as romance.

My two bits.

I had four bits I might actually hire me an editor.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all so much for all the replies!

L.L. Akers - thanks for telling me how you found your beta! I've been wondering how others have been finding theirs. While I'm not an editor in my day job, I was the go-to editor through university. But I've never written or had to edit something as long as a full novel, so I think paying for copy-editing may be best for me.

bizmuth - I've lurked absolutewrite a few times in the past, maybe it's time for me to dive back in. Critiquecircle seems cool. Can you just post your work or do you need to build up a reputation first (i.e. critique others before you can be critiqued?). It's been so long since I've had something I wrote, read by others (that isn't a a uni/work research based report or analysis)that I'm ridiculously nervous to put something out there! I can't be the only one right? I'm trying to psych myself up - the first time I show someone has to be the hardest right?

Jason Eric Pryor - I've considered asking friends, but most aren't big readers and if they are, what I wrote isn't really to their taste. Thanks for the tip regarding getting a professional cover! I have a friend who is a talented graphic artists and she's offered to make one for me, one less thing to worry about!

Steve Vernon - Yes I think I'm leaning towards the paying for an editor, it just gets crazy overwhelming looking at all the different types of editing available!

You guys are all awesome :)
 

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Hey Jenna_Elle,

1. My first book went out completely blind, I had an editor, of course, and she included helpful edit notes on some (very few) things beyond correcting my sloppy mistakes, but no, I never had anyone beta read or critique it. In the end it was fine, I was fine, the book did well. Moving forward I've used critique partners very scantly. Maybe we exchange single, sticky chapters, bounce our blurbs around, brainstorm our ideas while we have our morning coffee, however I've yet to turn an entire book over to anyone other than someone I'm paying -- except my dearest friend who's working with me on my current WIP chapter by chapter, one at a time.

Do I regret not working with someone(s)? No. Like you, I started writing for the fun of it and for the love of it. I wasn't doing it because I thought about publishing -- self or otherwise -- seriously. In the end I'm actually happy I didn't overthink it or work with others. I'm thankful that I had a chance to develop my voice, unfiltered, and write a story completely on my own without any outside influence. I learned a lot from the experience and have been really lucky to parlay those lessons into my other works.

That's not to discount the importance of a beta reader, YMMV, everyone has to figure out what works best for them and proceed.

2. Editing is mandatory. It's not the place to skimp or the place to think you've got yourself covered. Writers are really good at reading what they *think* they wrote rather than reading what they actually wrote. The degree of editing you'd need is something only you can say, but at the very least you need someone to red-pencil you, which you'd do mention you'll do below... that's an excellent decision.

Good luck!

 

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Jenna_Elle said:
bizmuth - I've lurked absolutewrite a few times in the past, maybe it's time for me to dive back in. Critiquecircle seems cool. Can you just post your work or do you need to build up a reputation first (i.e. critique others before you can be critiqued?). It's been so long since I've had something I wrote, read by others (that isn't a a uni/work research based report or analysis)that I'm ridiculously nervous to put something out there! I can't be the only one right? I'm trying to psych myself up - the first time I show someone has to be the hardest right?
At CC, you have to build up points by critiquing others. Interestingly, doing that teaches you a lot, since you are getting a lot of opportunity to examine the raw output of other authors. You can also read all the crits from previous weeks (CC works in weekly cycles) to get an idea of what people do for critiques.

What I really like about CC is that each crit is done in isolation-- you can't see what others have written until after you've done a critique on a submission. So there's no piling on or bandwagon effect. I've found the atmosphere at CC to be very positive and supportive. And sometimes you'll find (as I did) that you end up trading an off-line beta with one of the other authors.

And yeah, it's nervous-making the first time. After that, you find yourself diving right in. One of the side-effects of doing 3-4k words at a time is that you learn from each round of critiques. For instance, by the third time people were pointing out my POV breaks, I was starting to realize I had a problem with that. You can then go through your MS and do a sweep for that particular problem.

Point is, each technique -- editors, beta readers, crit sites -- has its pros and cons. It isn't an either/or situation, though. Make use of all the tools at your disposal, and you'll be better off.
 

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bizmuth said:
At CC, you have to build up points by critiquing others. Interestingly, doing that teaches you a lot, since you are getting a lot of opportunity to examine the raw output of other authors. You can also read all the crits from previous weeks (CC works in weekly cycles) to get an idea of what people do for critiques.
I'd like to second the suggestion to join an online critique group. OP, be aware that there are lots of different ones, some specialising in certain genres, and they all differ subtly in the way they operate. It's worth trying several to find one that's a good fit, where you feel comfortable with the atmosphere.

And a plug for my favourite: Scribophile: http://www.scribophile.com/

For beta readers, I've had some luck finding them through Goodreads. There are several groups that focus on bringing authors and beta readers together. With YA fantasy, you shouldn't have any trouble finding volunteers.

Editing is a whole can of worms. If you post your work to a critique group, you'll soon get an idea of whether you need to pay for an editor/proofreader or not. Lots of SPAG (spelling, punctuation, grammar) errors? Start saving. Alternatively, if your book isn't too huge, you can put the whole thing through the group, and let them line-edit it for you. ;D

Good luck, and welcome to Kboards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you PaulineMRoss and bizmuth! You've both given me loads to think about :)

I'll definitely look into scribophile as well.

You guys have gotten me all excited to dive right in!
 

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My beta readers all found me. Here's how. I have a blurb in the back of my book that asks for the reader to send me an email if they found a typo (and part of the offending sentence, so I can find it.) Many, many readers really appreciate this because you care enough about their experience to get their feedback and do something with it. When they've written me about typos they might have found five or six and they go over each of them. I write them back, comp them to the next book in the series, and ask them if they'd like to be a beta reader. Obviously you can't do this with everyone, but you'll see which ones are really helpful and really sincere--they won't be hard to spot.

I self-published my first book without a proof-reader. Horrible mistake. I got eaten alive. Went right back in with a proof reader and made it better--but I'd still gotten several 1* reviews that hurt. Plus I felt miserable for delivering a less-than-perfect product. Despite what anyone tells you, you can put out a perfect product. Maybe not a perfect piece of writing, but a perfect product insofar as typos, dumb grammatical stuff, spacing, formatting--all those can be purchased for a very reasonable price. When you do, the only thing that can hold you back is your ability to tell a story in a way and in a voice that people love. If you can do that, you're on your way.

Go for it. You never know until you put it out there. Just put out the very best you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you all for such a warm welcome, KBoards is full of such friendly people :)

Also John - That's such a great way to get beta's. I may have to try that if i ever when I publish!
 
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