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Here's part two of my self-publishing tips series.  This time I'm covering editing and proofreading...

On editing:
Once you have completed the story, then the real work starts.  Editing is work.  Real work.  After you spend all this time writing your project, you now have to re-approach it with fresh eyes and basically tear it up to put it back together again.  The editing process is where excellence happens.   After I finished writing the initial story, I spent over a week not even looking at my manuscript.  I focused on other things, like cover design, marketing plans, etc. to maintain the energy of my project, but to give me enough time to do a reset on my brain.  Then, when I did re-visit my book, I was able to not feel so personal about taking it apart , deleting, rearranging, etc.  When you're too close, you don't have the objectivity you need to make the necessary changes so that your work becomes the best that it can be.  Another thing that I recommend for editing is to read your first draft all the way through twice before making a single note or change.  You'll be tempted to want to make edits along the way, but don't.  Don't worry about forgetting something.  Trust me, it will jump out at you later as well.  What you want to do is get a good overall sense of your work as a complete organic whole.  That will allow you to do the 35,000 feet analysis and maneuvering needed to get things in their proper place.  On each round of editing, I recommend reading the entire new draft through twice before you start to make your next round of changes.

On proofreading:
While they might disappear before your eyes, because you have gotten used to seeing them in your manuscript, typos takes your reader out of his or her experience with your work.  It creates seams and rips in something that should be seamless.  So, proofreading is a very important step.  You absolutely 100% have to have at least two other people read your "final" work all the way through with a critical eye.  If you can afford a professional proofreader, go for it.  Here's the place to splurge.  I had three people read my manuscript before I considered it final.  Then, I went back over it with a fine-toothed comb - a super fine toothed comb.  Crazy thing, I was still finding typos!  Even now, I hope that I got them all out.  Although I removed 1000 typos over 10 rounds of proofing, someone reading my book wasn't there for that process, so just one typo means a lot more.  One small typo can color the way that someone views your otherwise perfect process.  That's why I spent so much time and effort in trying to get it perfect.  Clearly nothing is perfect and typos can be easily corrected, especially if you're self-publishing, but you don't want to turn people off unnecessarily.

A few proofreading strategies:

Since your eyes eventually become immune to seeing errors in your writing, you have to find ways to shock your system into paying closer attention.  Two things I used:

1.    Dot or check each word as you read it.  Every single one of the 50,000-100,000 words of your manuscript.
 
2.    Read your entire manuscript out loud.  If you have friends with extreme patience, read it out loud to someone else.  Slowly and deliberately.

3.    Break up your proofreading so that you are only doing part in a day.  I suggest spreading the process over at least 5-10 days to make it through your entire manuscript.

I've been getting a lot of questions about the writing and self-publishing process, so I thought that I would condense my responses into a series of posts.

In Part 1, I'm covering the basics of the writing process, including developing your premise or idea, gathering your information, setting up your story/outline and the process of actually writing the book.  If you have questions, feel free to leave them as comments to this post, or you can always email me at Nokes@NikkiNokes.com.  Enjoy!

Writing process (non-fiction):

On the basic premise or idea:

The writing process started for me with a "why?" In the case of "Maybe...It's You," why are women single? The better your why, the more gas you'll have in your engine to keep going. My why was very important to me, as it was a question that I also needed to answer for myself.

On gathering your information:

Once your "why" is set, then you need to set about finding your answer.   Even if you feel that you are an expert on a particular topic, you should still research. It's only fair to your readers. Make sure that you're right. Everything looks so much more official in print, so you don't want to mislead people that are trusting you with their time and attention. Besides looking to articles, journals, and other third-party information, I suggest taking surveys to give you a change to perform your own analysis of real data. The only thing to worry about is your sample size and diversity. I used Survey Monkey for my surveys. They have free and paid options.

On setting up your "story":

Once you have your research, reading and analyzing your collected information should start giving you the basis of what your actual "story" is going to be. You write based on the information that you have.  If your original theory is disproven, then you need to go back and identify the actual truth that the facts are giving you.

On the writing process:

I started my actual writing with an outline. I ALWAYS do my outlines by hand with pen and paper. It helps me connect more to my thoughts. The outline is the skeleton to the form that my thoughts and ideas are ultimately going to take. Besides editing, the outline is the most important thing.

From the outline, you have to find the time to fill in your "story." I had to steal hours from my already full schedule.  I would wake up extra early to give myself time before work, and I used as much as I could of my weekends.  Writing takes discipline. I have found that if you just dedicate the time, even if it is just to sit in front of the computer staring at your outline, somehow, the information will start to pour out of you. It's an endurance play. If you only have five minutes to squeeze out of some days, then use that five minutes. Another thing that I found very helpful was a voice recorder. When I was in the car or somewhere where I wasn't able to access my writing supplies, I just took verbal notes, and in some cases, dictated entire passages. While the research and planning phase took about a year and a half, writing the book took me about three months.

Coming in Part 2...the editing and proofreading process...including whether or not you should hire a professional editor (short answer, yes!)..