Members New to Writing
The Reviewer's Corner - Help! I'm in Love with the Sound of My Own Voice!
Background note: I've recently joined a structured review group, which puts me in the position of seeing a lot of self-published books. The group’s policies prevents us from posting reviews of books that receive a personal rating of less than 3-stars (this is the Amazon system). Since only about half the books coming my way receive a “3”, I think it might be useful to point out some of the trends I’ve noticed. Your mileage may vary—but at least there might be some thoughts here worthy of your attention._____I consider the #1 failing of most self-published work is the simple fact of falling in love: as in “falling in love with the sound of your own voice”.There are financial considerations, of course, in hiring a professional editor. But, more than that, I believe, most DIY authors simply do not want bad news: as in “You probably should not interrupt this chase sequence with a recipe for banana nut bread”, or “Chapters 7, 8, and 9 aren’t really doing anything—you should slice those out....”.Long form work is hard, and grueling. There are moments of inspiration. Just the right phrase. Light coming down from the sky! A lot of people who sit down to write a lot feel that they have a lot to say. So they fill page after page after page. They really don't want to see any of it go away. Most of the time, when I suggest that a manuscript needs to be cut, all I hear are crickets.Which is how you end up with a book of 500 pages selling for $2.99. The bargain of the century, to be sure. But—if you're writing certain genres (thriller, crime, steampunk, etc.)—you have to keep it tight I would argue that 500 pages is too much for any manuscript that doesn’t already have a devoted audience.
There are other situations where a book is too long because the author believes that he (or she) is truly fascinating—and they’re sure that you’ll agree. One book of more than 500 pages was described to me as “the greatest American novel since Moby Dick”. Turned out that Herman Melville doesn’t really have anything to worry about (wherever he may be).NOBODY LIKES TO CUT. That much is clear in my mind. But recognizing “story” and recognizing “blather” is one that a storyteller has to cross in order to improve. Eventually you have to start tapping the DELETE key—even though it hurts every time you press it.Until next time....
I've always been known as a storyteller and my first draft always seems to reflect that fact. I enjoy going down rabbit holes and typing with extemporaneous spontaneity. But as much fun as it would be to become the next Hunter S. Thompson, I have learned through many reviews here on Book Country that if the words don't move the story forward - cut, cut. and cut.
Time helps. Write the draft. Put it away for a month and work on something else. Revisit the draft. What you found funny or interesting before may stick out as unneeded fluff. That may have been redundant? Regardless, save the draft as a version 2 and cut away. If, at the end of your own edits, you still like the original, you have the original file backed up somewhere.
Through your own 'timely' edits, and with the help of a few constructive reviews on Book Country, you can save thousands in fees paid to an editor. Am I saying you should not get professional editing? Absolutely not, but why not fix the obvious errors first?
Remember, every famous author had an editor somewhere.