Tag Archives: editor

Skip the Writers’ Learning Curve!

I wish I had a time machine because I’d go back ten years and give myself such great writing advice.

I always knew I would write a book one day. I spent years writing the beginnings of books but never finished them. I finally sat down and drafted my first complete manuscript while on maternity leave with my third child. It wasn’t easy to coordinate all three kids’ naps to create moments to write, but I did it. I had my novel drafted and I hoped it was great.

Spoiler alert, it wasn’t.

That amazing book that was exploding in my mind with all of its twists and turns just didn’t come together on the page. I’d been a business executive for twenty years. My grammar and spelling were top notch. But something was missing.

I didn’t give up. I was determined to do my book justice and so I took courses from some of the best writers, editors, and agents in the industry. I volunteered in my local writing community and listened keenly to those who had gone before. I got feedback on my work. I learned and became fascinated with the science behind how words on the page become a story to readers. Finally, my debut Young Adult Fantasy novel, The Fountain, was published and went on to sell thousands of copies and become a Finalist for an Aurora Award, Canada’s premier science fiction and fantasy award.

I was asked to speak, teach, and tour in schools, but I was working around the clock and had to choose between my job as a Vice President, Operations for a products company and taking the leap into ALL THINGS WRITING.

I leaped and I haven’t looked back. But I never could have predicted what would come next.

Writers asked me to read their work.

I shared what I’d learned and their books got better. I became an editor.

Writers then asked me to help them get their newest book projects started and provide them with regular feedback on their drafts, or help them build their author presence.

I discovered that I loved helping them follow their dreams.

That is how I became a Book Coach.

Through the community I had built, I met my first publisher, my publicist, and finally, my wonderful agent. I published two more books. I am now an Author Accelerator Advanced Certified Book Coach and I hear from writers every single day who want to know how they can take their writing to the next level.

And I want to help them all.

That is why I created Wicked Good Fiction Bootcamp. This eight-week digital course, available in March 2021, will include all the best writing advice I share with my book coaching clients, as well as tips from other gurus of the writing industry.

I can’t wait to share this course with writers everywhere and to celebrate, I am teaching a FREE Writing Masterclass that you’re all invited to. In this all-new Masterclass, available in February, I’ll share the three problems most writers have with their manuscripts, offer tips on how to fix them, and share the details of my upcoming Bootcamp.

Writing, like any passion worth pursuing, takes time to learn. But I can help you skip at least part of the learning curve. You have a story to tell and you want to do it well. Taking this Masterclass is your first step to making your next book one that readers will love.

See you there!

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Readers?

How do you know when your story is ready to nudge out of its nest and fly into the world? This question can take a lot of forms: Is my book good enough? Will readers care about my characters?
Did I catch all the mistakes?

Trust me, I know how scary these thoughts can be. Letting my books go gets easier with each one I write, but I still hold my breath when I’m waiting for feedback to come back from my agent or beta readers on a new project.

If you’re stuck wondering if your book is ready, your project can stall and your book may never get into readers’ hands. And this is true regardless of the publishing path you choose. If you’re pursuing traditional publishing, you might wonder if your book is polished enough to query agents or submit directly to publishers. In most cases, you only get one shot and these days publishers expect a book to be almost ready to publish when it hits their inbox, so you don’t want to send it off half-baked. If you’re publishing independently, you might be wondering if you’re ready to start the upload process and start selling copies. And the truth is, you could continue to revise a book forever and probably keep making it marginally better.

So, where do you stop?

Here are four steps you can take between revisions that will make your book the best it can be.

  1. Take your Manuscript as Far as You Can on Your Own

This may sound basic, but you’d be surprised how many times I give feedback on a manuscript, only to have the author say, “oh, yes, I knew that was a problem, but I just didn’t get to it.” Please, don’t expect your book to be ready for readers after a first draft, or compare your first draft to the writing in a bestselling book you just read and get discouraged. Your book will go through several revisions to iron out all the kinks, so dive in.

If you know in your gut that something isn’t quite right with your book, your reader will pick up on this, even if they can’t pinpoint why. Structural changes to a book can be painful, but if you know a change will make your book stronger, do the work and don’t send it out until it’s done.

  1. Get Feedback from Beta Readers and Critique Partners

These are the first readers you’ll share your work with. Treat them like gold, because their feedback is priceless. You may choose to use one or both of these types of readers in your revision process, but please have someone read your work besides your family, who will tell you it’s amazing. (They’re proud of you! But… this feedback won’t tell you if your book is ready to publish.)

A good beta reader reads a ton of books in your genre. You want them to turn into your biggest fan. To be clear, their job is to read your work and let you know what they think. How does it compare to other books they read in the genre? What did they like best, and least? These readers don’t need editing skills, and you shouldn’t expect them to make improvement suggestions. Their job is to read and react, giving you the valuable information you need to create a book that they and other readers like them will want to read.

A critique partner is another writer who provides feedback on your manuscript, usually in exchange for your feedback on their work. The feedback you get from a critique partner will vary depending on their skill level and their experience in the industry. My best advice when looking for a critique partner is to find one who’s supportive and collaborative, but will still provide constructive criticism. While it’s important to get an honest opinion of your work, it can be soul crushing to get a poorly delivered early critique, and nobody needs this. You’re writing a book because you’ve got something to say, and if it’s not perfect the first time, keep trying. You’ve got this.

  1. Work with an Editor

It’s important to find an editor who’s passionate about your story and who knows your genre well, including expectations on word count, tropes, and trends in the industry, so that they can give you feedback that increases your chances of reaching the publishers or readers you want.

There are many levels of editing, including Developmental, Content, Copy Editing, Proofreading, and more. There are several accepted definitions of what each level means and what’s included, so have a conversation with your editor before submitting your work to clarify exactly what feedback you’ll be getting to help polish your work.

  1. Proofread

Every time you touch your manuscript, you’ll introduce new errors, that’s just a fact of life no matter how much of a perfectionist you are. Every published book in the world has a few typos, even after they’ve gone through multiple levels of editing. But you want to catch as many as you can. I recommend doing several revision passes and at least one pass reading out loud to yourself (or having your computer or phone read it out loud to you). Listening to the words will help you catch errors that your brain corrects for you when you read.

You can also hire an editor to proofread. Your best chance of catching 95% of the errors is to get as many eyes on it as you can.

Writing a book takes hundreds or thousands of hours and knowing this upfront might just save you a lot of heartache when the revision process seems overwhelming or endless. But if you’ve completed these four steps and you’ve taken your book as far as you can on your own, it’s time. Send that book out or hit the publish button, knowing that your book is ready.

Suzy Vadori is a Book Coach, Editor and the award winning author of The Fountain Series (The Fountain, The West Woods, Wall of Wishes).