Imagine that you are about to publish your book. The manuscript is as pristine as human eyes can make it.
However, to ensure this, the wise indie will follow these steps, in this order:
First, as they are writing the manuscript, they will create a list of made-up words and usages that are unique to their manuscript. This is called a style-sheet, or in some circles, a Bible. The author will refer back to it and update it. They will supply the editor with it, who will also refer back to it and update it, which will ensure that fewer inconsistencies make it through to the final product. Once the manuscript is submission ready, the wise author will:
- Have the early draft beta read by people who read in the genre you write in.
- Have the final draft professionally line-edited (yes, this does cost, but it is SO worth it).
- Have the final manuscript proofread by a professional (again, this may have a cost attached to it).
- After the final draft has been proofed, the wise indie author makes use of the narrator app that comes with MS Word or uses a free app such as Natural Reader. (Read along with it, and you will spot the inconsistencies.)
I made use of all these steps for my most recent manuscript and still, the narrator app helped me locate several small inconsistencies, one of which (lighting versus lightning) could have thrown a reader out of the narrative. (There is no such thing as a lighting-mage in my books, although I do have lightning-mages.)
I keep a style-guide, a list of all the names, towns, and other odd things with their correct spellings, and this is what my editor refers back to when she is going over my work. Using and reefing back to this list ensures consistency, so there is no accidental drift in the spelling of a name.
My global search list to correct inconsistencies found by the free Natural Reader narrator app for the final manuscript:
- Andresson/Andreson (found 0)
- Lighting/lightning (found 2)
- Stefan/Stefyn (found 1)
- Abacci/Abbaci (found 0)
- Sparing/Sparring (found 0)
- Jerika--change name to Erika (found 3)
- Johnny/Jonny (found 1)
Despite my best efforts, some of these inconsistencies (those I marked in red) were found in the ARC and were corrected. I accept that it’s possible that other inconsistencies will still exist in the published book, but not because I haven’t done due diligence and made every effort to eliminate them.
My next book, a literary fantasy set in an alternate medieval world, is undergoing the same process. The manuscript has been through the Beta Reading stage and is is now being edited by a professional line editor.
People say, “You’re an editor. Why do you pay someone else to edit your work?” I always answer, “Because I want the reader to love the book.” We writers never see our own work with a clear, unbiased eye. We see what should be there, not what is there.
This lack of an unbiased perspective is why Indies are held in such low regard by the industry as a whole.
Indies who want their work to be looked upon as professional will follow these suggestions. We can’t afford to be less than diligent with our process of preparing the manuscript for publication, as the industry’s reputation rides on our finished products.
Because the publishing industry holds indies in such low regard, we must ensure what we produce is a book the reader will like or dislike based on our work, our style of writing and the story we are telling. We owe it to our potential readers to give them a well-edited book, written with attention to the craft of writing AND publishing (yes, publishing is a craft) as well as with the passion of an author with something to say.
Connie J. Jasperson is an author and blogger and can be found blogging regularly at Life in the Realm of Fantasy.
The Craft of Indie Publishing was first published on Life in the Realm of Fantasy on 29 Apr 2016.