This is going to be a little different from my normal blog posts. An occasional series of blogs, charting my journey to self-publishing. This isn’t my first self-publishing adventure: I first published in 2016. But now, having done lots of editorial training, I’m going back and re-releasing my first book.
I write Tube Walks: 12 Countryside Walks from London’s Tube Stations because I love walking and the great outdoors. At the time, living in London meant I couldn’t always get out into the great outdoors as often as I wanted to. But, as I started looking at maps, I realised there was plenty of opportunities to feel like I had escaped the city whilst remaining in it!
Passion is important for any writing. If you love what you are writing – fiction or non-fiction – then it’s going to make the process much, much easier!
I had my passion. I researched and wrote. I walked, photographed and mapped out the routes. Did some background research and released it …
Back then, I didn’t really have a clue as to what I was doing! I researched for my book, yes, but I didn’t research how to make a book and how to make a book successful. I didn’t really understand the editing, proofreading and marketing jobs that needed to be done to make a book successful. I could publish but that’s not enough!
I am, effectively, beginning from scratch. I have some copies of the paperback book which a few kind people are looking at and giving me valuable feedback. I have all the knowledge of my own work as an editor and proofreader. (Although, I also have the knowledge that you cannot do those tasks to your own manuscript anywhere near as successfully as getting another pair of eyes on the words.)
So here’s my action plan for the next few weeks:
Get effective feedback. My book is out with editorial colleagues as well as my target audience (walkers). I need to listen to all their feedback, make careful notes of it all and reflect before attempting anything new. I need to not rush into things or take a gut-reaction defensive position if I receive negative feedback. Why? That’s not helpful! Feedback is not a criticism of the writer and I need to depersonalise it. Space to reflect is important.
Edit, rewrite and polish. Once I have reflected on the feedback, then I can start to make the necessary changes to the manuscript. I have spotted so many areas that I want to improve already and it would be great to mesh those with what my readers are saying. With my editorial hat on, I can also edit to make it as clean as possible for my copyeditor and proofreader.
Find a suitable professional. As I say, you cannot really copyedit and proofread your own book: if there’s a gap in your knowledge, you cannot plug it; if there’s something that doesn’t make sense to someone else, how will you know? I want to, and I think I’ve found, an editorial professional who knows about walking guidebooks. So then it’s time for the manuscript to get professional treatment.
That’s my plan for the next few weeks. Once all the writing bits and pieces are done, it’ll be time for the design stages, cover images, pictures and typesetting. I’ll post again and keep you all updated.
Nick (he/him) is an editor and proofreader, specialising in LGBTQ+ writing. He is an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and a member of PEN, the Professional Editors Network.
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