(Opinion) My advice to self published authors

books

I would like to start this post by saying that I have never, and likely will never publish my own book. I am obviously not an expert on all facets of that particular world and all of the struggles you have to go through or money you have to spend to make your book a reality. I admire you for having the creativity and courage to put yourselves out there and take a risk. That being said, I read a lot (hence this blog), and a lot of those books are written by those who are self-published and in various stages of the writing process, which has lead me to write this post with the following suggestions.

  1. Beta readers

I know it has to be hard to be patient once you finish your manuscript. While you might find your excitement is hard to contain, and piracy is a large concern, it is in your best interest to have beta readers take a look at your book before submitting it to a blog for reviews. I would also like to suggest that those beta reader not be someone who has an emotional connection to you because while your husband/wife/brother/best friend are your biggest support system, they know you and are going to be more lenient in the feedback they give. (Let’s face it, after seeing you work so hard for the last week/month/year, no one wants to tell someone they care about that this particular chapter sucks.)

2. Knowing your audience

I know that this is your baby and it is finally a chance to show off how great you are at writing and you want to impress the world but it is important to write (or at least edit) with your ideal audience in mind.

Take for example, a children’s book with a target audience of two year old. This type of book should have more pictures than text and it should have just enough of a storyline to keep the child engaged, but not so much that you lose that child’s interest etc. etc.

I have read more than one book where there has been what seemed to be a pre-teen to young adult audience and it has seemed like the author has tried to incorporate every 5 star word from the dictionary that they could find. I have no problem with doing this once a chapter or so (some of my favorite books teach me something about a person or culture that I never would have known if I hadn’t picked up that book), but alienating your reader by forcing them to look up 3 words in a single page won’t make a bestseller.

3. Character/Setting details

It is very important to develop your characters and give them history and give the reader a mental image of what is going on around them…but it is also important to remember that your reader does not need to have every single detail of your main character, their history and the room around them drawn out for them in excruciating detail in the first two chapters.  I would suggest giving a general description of the setting, picking one or two details for the scene and character and keep it moving. You could also use a preface or family tree if you need the reader to know something important about a character or a group of characters early in the book. For me this lets me know that this is something that I need to know to understand the world/situation/scene that I will be reading.

Thank you for your time and consideration in reading this post. If you are an author or publisher and have a tip you would like to add or a question about what I mean, please send me a message or post it in the comment section.

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