3 Tips For Editing Fiction: Edit Your Novel Like A Pro

3 Tips For Editing Fiction: Edit Your Novel Like A Pro

The most popular posts on this blog are about writing fiction. I’m thrilled about that, because I started out my writing career as a novelist. I wouldn’t give up my stable of copywriting clients for anything, but fiction is huge fun. What’s not to like about making up stories? Editing fiction is challenging, however.

Let’s look at how we can make it easier and less stressful.

A digression… editing is something an author does. Yes, there are editors you can hire: developmental editors, substantive editors, copyeditors — the list is long. However, before you hire anyone else, you must edit your own novel. Then you can pass it on to another editor if you wish.

You are your own best first editor. Only you know what you’re writing, and only your name is on the cover.

End digression. 🙂

Writing fiction made easy: first draft, edit, final polish and PUBLISH

Currently I’m coaching several Team Up students through their first novels. They’re finding editing a real challenge.

Believe it or not, editing is EASY… If you separate your writing into several tasks/ phases:

  • First draft;
  • Editing;
  • Final draft/ polish;
  • Publishing.

Editing is just as important as drafting your novel. I’ve long talked about the writing/ drafting phase of writing a novel as “making mud” — you can do whatever you like in this phase. All that concerns you at this stage is your creativity. It’s VITAL to keep your left-brain editor out of the writing phase. Editing comes later.

Consider what goes into making a movie.

The movie’s shot. The actors do many takes of their scenes. The director shoots many scenes, more than he needs. He knows that some scenes won’t be in the final cut. When the shoot is over, the movie’s cutting and editing phase begins. Editing usually takes longer than the shoot.

Similarly with your novel. You can only edit what you have. So it’s best that you allow yourself total freedom in your first draft. Ignore your inner editor. He’s just a pest in this phase.

To repeat, EDIT LATER… 🙂

Let’s look at some editing tips.

1. Time solves everything: before you edit, write another novel

I’m totally serious.

Before you edit novel number 1, write novel number 2.

The longer you can leave your novel before you start editing, the better. You want to clear your mind of that novel completely. Your aim is to read it as a reader would. This is impossible, of course, but do your best.

So, write another novel NOW.

2. Back to novel 1: read it, and decide what it’s about (in a sentence)

Here’s an excellent article on editing your novel:

You’ve had a break, and you’re looking at your novel, wondering how to get started on your edit.

Read the novel first. Just read it — preferably on an iPad, or your phone. You want to get away from looking on your novel as the author. Don’t make notes yet.

Once you’ve read your novel again (with any luck, it should feel unfamiliar to you), make notes.

Next, write a one sentence summary, stating what your novel’s about in a nutshell:

  • A burned out drunk detective tracks a serial killer when the killer targets his family;
  • A socially-awkward female surgeon exposes deadly corruption in a big city hospital;
  • A newly-widowed lawyer discovers her late husband’s secrets; her daughter is kidnapped to prevent her revealing them.

Your one-sentence summary is essential. Please create it before you do anything else — you can’t edit without this sentence.

Once you have your sentence, you can carve your novel out of your first draft.

3. Cut, cut, cut, then outline your novel, and write, write, write

You’ve got your sentence. Notice that in your sentence, you described your main character with an adjective or two? You need to show (not tell) that your main character is a “socially-awkward female surgeon” or whatever in your scenes. Show her operating on a patient, and show her being socially-awkward. You MUST show your characters being who they are. 

Read one-star reviews on Amazon. When reviewers talk about “thin” characters, and authors who label their characters as “strong” when really they’re TSL (too stupid to live), this is what reviewers mean. The authors didn’t bother showing their characters’ personalities.

PLEASE (I’m begging you) don’t skip these kinds of scenes: readers will forgive you anything, if you write great characters. Moreover, your novels will sell.

You show in scenes. Make sure that you create a character who can execute your plot. For example, your surgeon might be horrible with people, but she’s strong enough to handle corrupt hospital administrators — SHOW that.

Your aim in this phase of writing your novel is to carve away everything which doesn’t support your summary sentence. Be ruthless. 🙂

When you’ve finished cutting, outline your scenes.

You’ll be able to spot holes. Write fresh scenes and narrative to fill in those holes.

Read your outline again, to make sure that your plot makes sense, and as this article suggests, check your timeline.

When you’re editing your fiction, you’re shaping and building your story

Everyone hates cutting when they’re editing their first draft. I hate it too… but it must be done if you want your novel to sell. Check your one-sentence summary, and delete everything that doesn’t relate directly to it. You can keep your deletions in a “Junk” file, if it makes you feel better.

Have fun, and take heart. Once you develop your write/ write something else/ edit workflow for writing your novels, not only will you write better novels, writing them will be easier too.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Self-Publishing: 7 Tips To Kick Your Ebook Sales Into High Gear

Self-Publishing: 7 Tips To Kick Your Ebook Sales Into High Gear

Self-publishing can be a real challenge. What happens when you publish, and your sales are minimal? Alternatively, what do you do if your sales are great, and then drop off a cliff?

Relax. There are many ways you can increase your ebook sales, and most of them are simple enough.

Self-publishing has given new authors, as well as established authors, many opportunities. For the first time, the gatekeepers are gone, and if you can write, you can self publish your words successfully.

Self-Publishing boost: kick your publishing into HIGH gear

It’s important to think strategically. For example, as a strategy, publishing series and serials is a no-brainer. In Kindle Publishing: Top Ten Tips For Success In 2016, we said:

Think series, and serials, for profitability

You know I’m a fan of serials. Whenever you release a new episode, it gets you onto Amazon’s New Releases list.

With the number of ebooks flowing onto the ebook retailers, when you’re planning a new ebook, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, ask yourself: “How can I develop this into a series?”

The episodes of your serials can be SHORT. Think in terms of 5,000 words per episode. If you create TEN episodes of a serial, that’s a 50,000 word novel. You can make a serial as long, or as short, as you wish.

Let’s look at seven tips which will help you to kick your ebook sales into high gear.

1. Start by tracking EVERYTHING, it’s essential

Things to track: the ebooks you publish, and when and where you publish them; your writing processes; your daily word count; your marketing activities and how much you spend on advertising; and of course your sales.

Even minimal adjustments to the things you can control can make a huge difference to your ebook sales and self-publishing success. It’s essential that you track everything. You can’t improve if you don’t know what’s happening.

2. Redo your covers, if a book has been published for longer than a year

Here’s the thing. Covers are tricky. A great cover won’t sell a bad book. However a bad cover means that a great book never gets a chance to perform for you.

You can spend a lot of money on covers. If you’re making a great deal of money in your self-publishing venture, then of course spend money, and hire the very best designers that you can. The bigger your budget, the better the designer you can commission.

On the other hand, if your self-publishing budget is zero, you can get good covers very cheaply by buying premade covers from good designers.

Either way, if your book has been out for longer than a year, and it’s not selling, redo the cover. It can’t hurt, and it may make all the difference.

3. Redo your blurbs: intrigue and excite readers

I’ve lost count of the number of students who’ve asked me for help because their sales were poor. When I clicked through to their Amazon catalogue, I spotted the road block to sales — their blurbs.

Their blurbs (ebook descriptions) were short, and boring.

An ebook’s blurb is an advertisement for the ebook.

Your cover attracts readers. Then your blurb encourages readers to click the Look Inside link, and read the first few pages of your book. If your blurb doesn’t intrigue and excite readers, they won’t click Look Inside, and they won’t buy.

As I tell my students about blurbs, it’s all about the people and their challenges. If you’re writing a blurb for fiction, focus on your characters. You’re asking readers to spend a lot of time thinking about your characters and their problems. Give your main characters a thumbnail sketch in your blurb and make it abundantly clear what their challenges and goals might be.

If you’re writing a blurb for a nonfiction ebook, go into detail on what your reader gets out of reading your ebook. In a nutshell, he gets information, or he gets entertainment. Preferably both. WHY should a reader read your ebook? Your blurb must give him a reason — and it must excite and intrigue him.

4. Stop the freebie insanity: charge more for your ebooks

“Free”works. However, free shouldn’t be your only marketing tactic. Keep this in mind: readers won’t pay for anything they can get for free.

As a corollary to that, if you’re enrolling all your ebooks into KDP Select, you may want to rethink that. Unless you have a huge publishing catalogue — I’m talking 50 or more ebooks at the very least — then you’re unlikely to make money from Select for more than a few months.

Here’s why. You’re attracting only freebie hunters, and your ebooks aren’t appearing on “also bought” lists. After a few months your free reads will cannibalize your sales: your Pages Read earnings drop, and drop, and drop.

Here’s the solution, drag some of your ebooks out of Select, and publish them to the other ebook retailers. Many of my students have found that within a couple of months, their sales on the other ebook retailers outstrip their sales on Amazon.

Why not find out if you’re leaving a lot of money on the table? Publish some of your ebooks other ebook retailers, as well as Amazon.

5. Create a social media marketing plan: stay visible

Create a social media marketing plan, and put your plan into action.

If you’re not blogging, start a blog as a matter of urgency. I know that currently there’s a trend for spending a lot of money on Facebook advertising, and calling your marketing good. This is all very well. For now.

However, it’s short-sighted. Nothing lasts. Once the money you’re spending on advertising outstrips the money you’re making, what will you do then? You need a content strategy which is supported by advertising. Without that, when Facebook changes the rules, as they will, your publishing income drops to zero.

6. Advertise: spend whatever you can afford

The authors on the Top 100 lists in popular genres spend around five figures on each new ebook launch. This is fine for them, you might think — they’re making in the high five figures each month anyway.

If you’re just starting out with self-publishing, you can’t afford to spend huge sums on each launch. More importantly, unless you have a catalogue of many ebooks that your readers can buy, spending big on a launch is a waste of time and money.

That said, do look for ways in which you can support your ebooks with inexpensive advertising. Here’s a list of websites which offer inexpensive advertising opportunities.

7. Recover from publishing mistakes with a new pen name, a new series, and a new genre too

What do you do if your self-publishing efforts have hit a wall, and your ebooks just aren’t selling? This can happen for many reasons, and when it does, it may be time for a fresh start.

The solution: reinvent yourself with a new pen name.

You can have as many pen names as you choose. Simply create a new pen name, then create a new series. Yes, this applies to both fiction and nonfiction authors.

Start thinking in terms of series, rather than standalone books. Even major publishers with huge advertising budgets focus on series. They know that series sell books; each book in a series sells the others.

If you’re writing fiction, investigate genres you haven’t considered. In fiction, when you attack a new genre, it needs to be a genre with which you’re familiar, that is, you read in that genre yourself. It’s very hard (I’d say almost impossible), to write successful fiction in a genre which you don’t read.

Self-publishing success: what to do next

Start by tracking everything that you do, then choose one of our tips, and put it into action.

If you know that your blurbs are lacking, redo them. Next deal with pricing; that area seems to be a challenge for many authors.

Onward… even a minor change can have great impact on sales. Good luck. 🙂

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

7 Tips To Kick Your Ebook Sales Into High Gear
Boost your ebook sales

Professional Blogging: 5 Tips To Blog More, And Earn More

Professional Blogging: 5 Tips To Blog More, And Earn More

You’ve decided to take up professional blogging. You manage blogs for businesses and individuals, so you need to write two or three blog posts each weekday. At the end of the week you’ve written anywhere from ten to 15 blog posts. How do you manage to write so much?

And perhaps more to the point: how do you ensure that you can keep up this rate of production?

Productive professional blogging starts with your mindset

If I’ve learned anything about writing over the past 25 years it’s this: you do it by doing it. Stay excited. If you’re getting stressed, ease back on your workload for a time. Stay, as much as you can, in a DDT (do, don’t think) mind state.

These tips will help.

1. Repetition counts because it develops habits. When you develop success habits, you become a success

The beauty of habit is that once something becomes a habit, it’s just something that you do. So when I know that I’ll need to be very productive in an area, the first thing I do is schedule the tasks which will make me productive.

I stick with my schedule of tasks, and within a few short weeks, I don’t need the schedule, because I’ve internalized the workflow: it’s become a habit.

Once you’ve developed the habits of success, you ARE a success.

I emphasize mind states and habits to my students, because you can’t be successful at professional blogging (or anything else for that matter), without the habits which get you there.

Those habits can seem trivial. They might include getting dressed each day, even though you work from home, and planning each day’s activities carefully.



Even though my office is down the hall from my bedroom, I get dressed every day. I make breakfast and a cup of coffee in my favorite mug before walking it to my office. Which, according to our apartment floor plan is the breakfast nook. I wake up my computer and do a brain dump in my calendar.

2. Batch everything: do one thing at a time — you’ll save hours

“Batching” is simply grouping tasks together. When you do this, you’ll save a lot of time. It’s much easier to answer ten email messages, then go on to the next task, than break your concentration in the middle of a series of tasks to respond to email.

For example, if you know you need to write ten email messages today, schedule time for those messages. Close your email client until the time you’ve set arrives.

Similarly, if you need to create proposals and quotes for clients, do that two or three times a week. Or even once a week. While it’s essential that you respond to email messages within 24 hours, you can let your clients know: “I’ll get that quote to you on Friday.”

What about more intensive creative tasks, like developing blog post ideas for your content calendar? Aim to do that once a week, when you can schedule uninterrupted time. I schedule my content calendar tasks for Sunday afternoons.

Batch as much as you can, and develop templates for as many things as you can. You need templates for your clients: proposal and quote templates, questionnaires you can repurpose, contracts, invoices… And of course, when you’re on-boarding a new client, you need a checklist of things you need to do, so that the client feels that you know what you’re doing, and has a great experience working with you.

3. Read, read, read: input equals ideas and output

You’re creating content. That content comes from your thinking. You can only think effectively when you’re informed. You become informed by reading, and by building a knowledge base in a specific area, as well as being well-informed in general.

For example, let’s say that you’re managing a beauty blog for a client. You need to read:

  • Press releases (published by your client, your client’s suppliers, your client’s competitors; as well as press releases published by big companies in the beauty industry.) Create Google Alerts, as well as saved searches at publicity companies like prweb.com;
  • Other beauty blogs;
  • Websites of the biggest companies in that space;
  • Marketing books and blogs;
  • Biographies of people in the beauty industry.

Obviously, this is a broad range of material you could be reading. Set aside reading-time for each of your clients. Reading-time for each of your clients is non-negotiable. You must factor it into your schedule, and you need to take it into account when you take on a new client. The better-informed you are, the better your blogging.

4. Parlay low-priced gigs into higher-paying gigs to avoid blogger burnout

When you start out as a professional blogger, your clients will be small; their businesses can’t pay you much. At least once each quarter, look at your client list. Aim to get higher-paying clients.

In your first year as a professional blogger you may be making $50 an hour. At the end of your second year, you need to be making $100 an hour. Use the experience you gain, month by month, to pitch clients who can afford to pay you more.

5. Explore voice recognition software: it can save time, and your hands

Voice recognition software isn’t expensive. However, the software works best with a good microphone. So, splurge, and invest in the best microphone you can afford; it makes a difference.

Dictating a blog post is faster than writing it. Once you get used to voice recognition software, you can write three blog posts in less time than it takes you to write one.

It will take you a couple of weeks to master dictation. I batch blog posts — I dictate the first rough (very rough) drafts of several blog posts. In my next session, I edit the posts, manually, without any software. In my third session, I create images for the posts.

The more you can integrate voice recognition, and batching, the more productive you will be. Get into the habit of batching, before you get into voice recognition software. The software isn’t magic, but it can be a very useful tool, especially when you take on more profitable clients.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money

Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money

Genre: Writing
Tag: writing process
Length: 162 pages
Publisher: Angela Booth
Publication Year: 2016
ASIN: B0055IVS80
What's holding you back from the writing career of your dreams? If you want to write more, sell more, and have more fun writing... it's easier than you can imagine. Discover the secret to writing every day, and becoming a prolific writer.
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What’s holding you back from the writing career of your dreams? If you want to write more, sell more, and have more fun writing… it’s easier than you can imagine. Discover the secret to writing every day, and becoming a prolific writer.

Angela Booth shares her writing tips garnered from 30 years of writing.

You’ll find writing tips to help you to write for the Web, write books, novels, articles — anything you choose to write, or must write. Become prolific, and eliminate procrastination.

You’ll discover:

* How to let your subconscious mind do the work of writing for you — tips which ensure that whatever you’re writing, whether it’s a short story, a novel, or anything else — you sit down, and have words flow from your fingertips, without even thinking about it. You can get into the “flow” of writing easily, so that you write FAST and well;

* Ways to structure your writing — you can use these forms to write anything you choose, including articles, short stories, novels, blog posts…;

* Five ways to turn off your inner editor — and three ways to bring him back when you need him;

* How to develop your imagination: see it, and believe it, so that you can achieve any goal you care to set. Discover how to change your self image as a writer — so you can become the writer that you really are;

* How to get inspired on demand. Discover how to to get outstanding ideas, also on demand, anytime you choose — this is a wonderful skill to break through any and every writing block;

* Sixteen professional writers’ secrets to help you to write more;
Three ways to deal with critics, inner and outer, AND how to handle all the real life stresses that get in the way of your ability to write;

* Ways to set writing goals that are fun and achievable for you — and more ways to scale up your goals so that you can achieve your dreams as a writer;

* How to write truthfully and write more — an easy way to turn off your inner censor. You’ll discover how to use the “feedback loop” for enhanced creativity, and develop your ability to be creative on demand — an amazingly easy and fun skill you’ll learn and enjoy;

* Six ways to get your writing unstuck, and four ways to write when you have NO TIME to write;

* How to get comfortable outside your comfort zone — now you can confidently take on any writing jobs and tasks you choose, and you’ll be able to handle rejections, so that they inspire you — you’ll realize that “rejection” really doesn’t exist;

* Exercises — each writing tip gives you an exercise, so that you can put the tip into practice IMMEDIATELY. These writing tips will become part of your life — and will change your life.

Get started writing easily and well today: these writing tips will change your writing life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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