As a self-publishing author it can be overwhelming to try and get your novel ready for publication. While editing your grammar and punctuation is important and probably second nature…perfect grammar and punctuation will not guarantee the success of your book. Ensuring that the content of your book is in tiptop shape will make your book successful.
As a content editor and an avid reader there are several common mistakes that I see from both self-publishing authors and those who have publishing contracts. We’ll discuss three critical mistakes you need to be aware of.After getting acquainted with these mistakes take a read through your work again, see if you can see any of these issues. (Believe me they’re there) Better yet hire a content editor or recruit a friend to read through your work and look for these mistakes. Having someone other than you look at your work is always the best method in weeding out these issues.
Lets get started!
Writing from the wrong point of view. I recently started editing a novel for an author I have worked with before. I loved the idea of the story but I was having some trouble staying connected to the storyline. As a reader I was lacking an emotional connection to the main character and I just couldn’t place myself in that main character’s shoes. The issue was that the author had written the story from the third person point of view. While the third person can work for some stories it didn’t for this particular storyline, in this case it actually detracted from the novel. Spend some time thinking about what point of view works for your story, it may even be beneficial to take one chapter and write it in varying points of view. It will become apparent shortly which point of view you should be writing from.
Questions to ask yourself about point of view: What point of view will help my reader connect more strongly with my characters? What point of view will allow me to provide more detail about a character’ surroundings?
Not developing your characters enough. This is a big one people! This will break your novel if you don’t do it right. It is critical that you provide ample detail about your characters to your reader. I’m not saying that you have to give a bullet point list but you must provide enough detail that your reader can begin to build images of these characters in their head. You need to build both the physical and emotional spectrum of your characters. Also, you should start this process as soon as the character is introduced in the book (as a reader I don’t want to be halfway through a book and all the sudden realize the short, young, cute, blonde hair kid I imagined is really 6’5”, built like a lumber jack and should be Hugh Jackman’s twin.)
Questions to ask yourself about character development: If I had my reader draw a picture and write a description of my character would it match what I would do? Can my reader give me an example of a real life person they know or know of that is similar to my character?
A horrible first chapter. I hate to say this but it’s true you MUST have a good first chapter! I know how difficult you worked to write your book and sometimes the first chapter is the last thing you write and it’s been just thrown in there because the story needs to start somewhere. The issue…as a reader I must be hooked right away. I will not continue a book if I don’t connect with it right away. Give your readers a reason to love your book from the start! This is especially important when it comes to samples of your book for e-readers. Generally e-reader samples are the first few chapters of a book. If your first chapter isn’t good you could loose a potential reader. Your first chapter is the foundation for your story…make sure it’s strong!
Questions to ask yourself about your first chapter: If I gave the first chapter of my book to a stranger would they buy the rest of my book?
As an author you want to make sure to avoid these mistakes. Being able to recognize these issues in your story and fix them will help strengthen your story and the connection your reader has to it. The questions included in this article are a good starting point to uncovering potential content issues your story may be suffering from.
by Melissa Van Dover