Having self-published my debut novel Fox Halt Farm, I thought I’d share a few more of the mistakes I made. I talked last week about my cover (here is the post if you would like to start at the beginning).
I hope this might save other indie authors time, money and worry.
3. The interior design is crucial too
I watch when people pick up my book. All pause on the cover and I always expect them to turn it over to read the back – just like I would but some don’t, some people flick the pages – some read the dedication, some wade through a random paragraph of text. I find it fascinating trying to imagine what they are thinking and how they are judging whether they will enjoy reading my novel.
What I am saying is, you have to consider not just what you are saying and the way you are saying it but the actual interior design is vital too.
I changed the dimensions of my book and reduced the font size by 0.5 so its thickness didn’t feel uncomfortable to hold. There are so many factors to bear in mind.
The lesson I learnt was that the layout is really important. Always try to keep in mind that a potential purchaser could open your book on any page and their initial scrutiny has to be positive.
4. Employ an Editor
Initially, I didn’t think an editor was within my means, I didn’t have any budget for writing my book and I had good friends who had read my initial drafts. They picked up spelling mistakes, told me about holes in my plot and said candidly about the places where it was slow or awkward to read. I acted on their feedback and then employed literary consultant Melissa Eveleigh who gave me a wonderful summary of more things to work on. I rewrote and rechecked for typos and I was ready to publish. Okay, so I still had a niggling doubt about my ending but that was all – the rest was perfect!
Two things led me to my editor, one was the need for reassurance about my ending and the second, was the gentle prompt from the wonderful book blogger Anne Williams (of Being Anne) – this lady read the first pages of my ‘final’ manuscript and said in the nicest way that I needed someone to check my manuscript again.
Amanda Horan, the editor I found, says it all – I have shortened what I said, ‘My debut novel Fox Halt Farm has been a massive undertaking for me… I have invested hundreds of hours in it whilst trying to work full time, and it has been a massive mental and financial outlay. Amanda has been the best thing to happen to me on this journey… Amanda opened my eyes to so many things that were wrong with my original manuscript. She confirmed my doubts about the parts I wasn’t sure of and provided appropriate and well thought out solutions…I feel like I have been on a creative writing course…’
My editor made my writing better. She highlighted bits that weren’t phrased well. There were paragraphs that were obsolete and other places in need of expanding. She highlighted where my characters weren’t interacting in a realistic way. The edits were all my own because Amanda just showed me where the rewrites were needed. I still feel the book is wholly mine but the changes left me with a book that I am chuffed about. I love the revised ending and I feel very excited about sharing Fox Halt Farm with the world.
The lesson learnt is that a professional editor is essential – he or she will read your book from the reader’s point of view – they will add the polish and best of all, if you find an editor like Amanda then their suggestions will seem obvious. It will feel like they are just shining a torch on the bits that need changing and then shining it again to show you which direction to head in.
Celia Moore (1967-now) grew up on a small farm in Devon and had a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor working in the City of London before working her way back to Devon.
In 2000, she left the office life behind to start a new adventure as an outdoor instructor, teaching rock climbing and mountaineering amongst other things and managed an outdoor residential centre until she met her husband. Today she gardens for a few lovely customers, runs and writes accompanied at all times by their border terrier cross jack russell puppy Tizzy
Her debut novel FOX HALT FARM is a change-of-life set over two decades inspired by some of the experiences her life.
Celia’s blog/website - Celiascosmos.com
Celia Moore’s Fox Halt Farm is on Amazon - the Kindle version has a special launch price of 99p