We’re about 10 days into our challenge to publish a book in 90 days and in this episode for the first time, you’ll see what it’s like working with a professional editor.
Late to the party?
We’ve done a ton of work, but there’s still so much to get done. I have a feeling that things are going to hit a fever pitch. About 5 days ago, we put in the order to OliviaProDesign at Fiverr for 2 of the 7 covers.
As you might imagine, sending all 7 over would be a recipe for disaster, especially since we’re getting the eBook, paperback, and audiobook covers done at the same time.
I have reservations. Not with Olivia, but with my ability to distinguish between a good paranormal cozy mystery cover and a great one. So, I had to call Sarah into the circle to make sure I’m not approving covers that are what the market craves.
Sarah’s reaction to the first 2 covers?
“She looks so sassy! They’re great!”
I’ll reveal all 7 to you a little later, but right now, we’ve got to get down to business on Sarah’s manuscript.
Working with a Professional Editor
Even though Sarah has proven her skills as an author, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. You probably know what it’s like to not be able to afford a professional editor. Sarah has mostly relied on Fiverr for proofreading and beta readers to finalize her manuscripts for publishing.
So, I reached out to my personal writing coach, Jeanne De Vita, AKA Callie Chase.
For those who don’t know, Jeanne is a top author on Kindle Vella, a second generation author, and a writing instructor at UCLA. She’s edited many traditional and self-published authors.
Her direction and a validation is going to move Sarah forward in the publishing process, and more important as an author.
Last week, we sent Sarah’s upcoming release, Burned, to Jeanne for developmental editing.
Jeanne: First and foremost, I want to tell you I really, really enjoyed Burned. I love cozy mysteries and I feel like one of the things that is hardest about writing cozies is bridging that line between procedural stuff and technical details while still telling a very believable, compelling story.
I thought you did such a wonderful job with the mystery. Honestly, the number one message about any editor that you would work with that I think is really important to convey not only to you, but to all writers is the editor’s job is not to crush your story, crush your voice, or change who you fundamentally are.
Really and truly, what I want to help you with today and through the process of your working on, not only this book, but other projects, is to really see how an outside set of eyes putting a different lens over your work can really make this more readable for the reader.
At different points in storytelling, you’ve got the story that you have in your mind that you think is going to feel really powerful and compelling, but then when you get those words on the page, is it really going to make sense to someone who’s not in your head?
What a really good developmental editor or book coach will do is kind of take a step back from the emotion of your story and say, “Okay, Sarah, a good cozy mystery needs to do this: one, two, three, four, five. You’re accomplishing certain things in this way, but here’s where I was pulled out of the story or here’s where I got confused or here’s something that I thought was missing.”
What I do professionally is understand story structure and look at what’s happening in both the traditional market and indie published books and sort of see the places where other writers accomplish those same things so that I can draw those comparisons for you really quickly.
So, if I say something like, “the world building kind of breaks down here,” that’s not criticism or me trying to change your book, your process, or your voice.
It’s me really trying to identify those friction points where if a reader comes across even a single word in the connotation or the phrasing doesn’t make sense, it’s going to slow them down and they’re going to stake a step back and say, “I don’t get it” or “it’s a little too much work to keep reading.”
Working together, we just want to reduce the friction and keep that reader turning the pages so none of what I’m saying or what I will offer you today in terms of feedback is the only way or the right way to do this. It is truly a collective experience, energy, and skill. You’ll be able to take the vocabulary and the tools that I show you today and read other cozy mysteries and see these things at work.
You’ll then be able to look back at your own work and say, “Okay, I don’t want to do that because this doesn’t feel right for Penny or this doesn’t feel right for how I really want this series to live.”
That’s 100% okay. Now you’re making informed decisions rather than where you’re like I’ll tell the story, but I’m not sure what works and what doesn’t. It’s almost like having a little masterclass and then saying, “I’m still going to go my own way here, but I really liked how that sounded or felt and I feel I can do more with my book.”
The first thing I want to do is define the 5 essential building blocks of any book. It might look a little different depending on what type of story you’re writing.
You’re only getting about 7 minutes’ worth here. The entire coaching call was an hour long. If you want to sit in on that meeting and support Book Rescue at the same time, please consider becoming a channel member over on YouTube. You’ll get access to exclusive videos and all the behind-the-scenes footage from all seasons of Book Rescue.
Jeanne: I think at the end, you’ll have a longer book and a slightly more robust…think of it like basket weaving. Those fibers are just going to be tighter and that means your reader is hopefully going to be more engaged.
You’ve got a great premise. This would be a very different conversation if the mystery didn’t work. The mystery is great, so hopefully, all these other things are just going to elevate the story that you want to tell and keep those readers coming back for more, book after book.
I also did a tiny bit of copy editing. One thing you might want to keep track of, and this is not a big deal, is your verb tense. There are times when you slip into present. I’m in there, I might as well mark it for you, but feel free to ask any questions.
If my comments seem clipped, don’t assume an angry tone. It’s literally that I’m confused and wondering what you meant. Always assume you’ve got this happy voice and very supportive cheerleader on the other side of all that red.
So, that’s briefly what it’s like working with a professional editor.
The Book Cover Reveal
While Sarah was neck deep in editing, we completed the rest of the cover designs.
Ready to have a look?
“They’re so cute and amazing. They capture everything. I see Penny as she’s a little bit saucy, she’s a little bit confused, and then the backgrounds are beautiful and her cat is just crazy on the side and the raven is always just there.”
We’re Nearly Halfway Through the 90 Days – What’s Next?
We’ve cranked out a lot of work. Sarah has already addressed the notes from Jeanne and is ready for the next step.
This woman does not play around!
It’s time to cut to the chase, and order some beta readers on Fiverr. I’ve mostly showcased Fiverr as a place for handling cover design, interior formatting, and book marketing. On Sarah’s recommendation, we’re going to hire some freelancers as beta readers.
Betas readers read, analyze, and provide niche relevant feedback to improve your manuscript.
Here’s the list of providers we used – https://dalelinks.com/betaread
All of these sellers say we can expect to hear back in a week and a half, so while we’re waiting for their notes, you can also access our full list of vetted providers here – https://dalelink.com/list
At this halfway point, we have a lot of work still. The good news is all 3 beta readers came back with their notes and had overall positive things to say about Sarah’s work.
While most authors would pull the trigger at this point, we decided to put on one more layer of protection: proofreading.
We want to make sure everything is ship-shape and showroom ready for launch. So, we’re tapping into a service with a familiar face, SamWrightWrites.
Sam is a top seller who ghost wrote a book for me a couple of years ago, so I’m circling back around to Sam to tighten up on Sarah’s manuscript. His experience with Penguin, Random House, Penn State Health, and Lulu are enough credentials to show how qualified he is for the job.
This is going to take another 10 days.
In the Meantime, Sarah Gets a New Assignment
There are 4 websites that I typically go to for free and premium book promotion:
Sarah’s impossible task is to go through this list and and sift through which sites are going to work best for her book.
Then she’ll create a spreadsheet of all the sites and the cost of each one.
Like you, we’ll be looking mostly for free ones because we’re working on a fixed budget. We are self-publishers, after all!
The point aside from book marketing here is getting Sarah used to finding those free resources and tapping into them.
Once you’ve done this once, you have these 4 websites and a spreadsheet for each book launch in the future.
I also recommend a book called The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages. This is going to eat up a lot of time, but it’s the same deal as with those 4 websites. Go through the book and see which methods work for your book and your launch.
Keep an eye out for timing because the websites want you to submit at different times.
Treat each site like a newsletter swap or group promo. Don’t load them all up on one day. Spread it out through your launch, from the week before until up to a couple of weeks after.
Put out a couple promos a day over the course of the launch. That’s easily 28 different avenues. Between the websites and the book, you’re going to have plenty of options to choose from.
Not to mention, you’ll have newsletter swaps and group promos set up ahead through StoryOrigin.
So, while most authors are scrambling to churn out their next publication, the savvy ones are taking their time. They’re being methodical and not skipping the boring part.
Because aside from boring, it is essential work.
When you launch a book, you want it to be well-received. That’s what the editing, beta reading, and proofreading ensure.
You’re going for lifelong readers and customers!
Why would you sleep on that opportunity by trying to beat the clock?
I’m not going to lie, I feel nervous knowing we’re at the halfway point, but I am quickly put to ease when I think about how Sarah is leading with her best effort.
Now, it’s time to plan the launch.
This is the single-most important event in the lifespan of a book. If we get this wrong, we’re back at square one.
Are we going to make it? Stay tuned to find out!
Want to Help?
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Many of them have donated products, time, and services to Book Rescue and it just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Maybe you’re wondering the same thing.
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