Self-publishers: Your book may be good. But can it be better?

Self-publishing your books can prove to be a great choice. It can bring you fame and money and even the satisfaction that you can beat something like an Orange Prize winner in charts (See Kindle bestseller chart: Catch your Death – Number 1, The Tiger’s Wife – Number 5, at time of writing). 
There are many questions you will ask yourself before you make the step and upload your manuscript onto Amazon’s site. What should you price it at? How will you market it? Will it be visible enough? Does the cover look intriguing? Will it get good reviews? Obviously, will it sell?
You clearly must believe your book is a good book if you decide to send it out there. But there is one question you must ask yourself before you self-publish. Can your book be better than it is?
What if it can and you missed out on the opportunity to make it better before you publish it? What if you lose out on all that potential that could have turned your book from good into great? The edge that could make the difference most bestsellers have?
There are a few ways to realise all the potential in your book. One would be to take a course in creative writing and apply everything you learn to your manuscript. At least one of the authors of Catch your Death, the current Number 1 in the Fiction category on Amazon did just that.  Another would be to read a shelf of creative writing books.
One of the straightforward ways is to get a professional editor or literary consultant involved.
I think it was Gill Davies who said that an editor is an author’s ambassador and a publisher’s advocate. Or the other way around.  I would add to this list of respectable professions a further qualification: mineworker. It can take a lot of tough digging in low-quality materials to expose the really valuable resource that makes the hard work worth it. In our case, the potential that can turn a good book into a great book.
There are so many freelance editors available, it’s impossible not to find one with great credentials at the end of a few minutes’ search.
What can an editor do for a self-publishing writer?
They will assess your book. There will uncover the weak writing in your manuscript, the fragments that need the most of your attention. They can help you make your characters more compelling, your dialogue “more” natural, your style “more” consistent, your narrative flowing better, your plot well-structured, your ending appropriate and complete (“with no loose ends”), your grammar flawless and your punctuation perfect.  If that’s not enough, an editor will give you invaluable market awareness by comparing your book with your main competition, the bestsellers for the genre. It will advise you on audience profile so you can give your audience what they are likely to expect from a book like yours.
Today’s readers are savvier than ever and this shows through in book reviews published everywhere. An audience can instantly tell if a book is a first draft or a refined result.
No self-publisher should overlook the editorial stage. Missing it out could mean giving your book an unfair start and risking its chance to success. It is an absolute must before your let your book go to print (or to Kindles, as the case may be), not only because you will have a reputation to lose, but mainly because you never know if your writing could be substantially better than it is.

About Lorena Goldsmith

Literary consultant at Daniel Goldsmith Associates.
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