How to Know You Need an Editor for Your Next Book

If you’ve spent much time researching the dos and do-nots of publishing, you’ll probably have read a number of different perspectives on editors and the work that they do in helping generate a polished, ready-to-publish manuscript. In fact, you might have read several dozen perspectives, or several hundred. There are, quite simply, thousands of authors and publishing professionals with strong opinions on the matter.

So: how do you know what’s real? And how do you know if you need to hire an editor yourself?

In self-publishing, the burden of editing is on you. Which is to say: it’s up to you to edit your work, or to track down and engage with the professionals who can take care of the various editorial processes for you. Spell check and grammar tools in your word processing software can only get you so far, as their algorithms lead authors astray as often as not. They are fundamentally incapable of recognizing some typos and misused words, and they often “autocorrect” perfectly correct sentences into something mangled and unreadable. They also have no way of noting inconsistencies, plot holes, and continuity errors. Word processors are not, in point of fact, insightful humans with decades of experience and an eye for sense and detail.

The only way to ensure that your manuscript becomes flawless (or even remotely near-flawless) is to hire a professional editor. This individual will be capable of editing your manuscript and providing a fresh set of unbiased eyes to double-check your work. In addition to correcting spelling, grammar, and stylistic bungles, a good and experienced editor will lend a good dollop of professionalism to your manuscript and iron out all glaring errors. These days, it’s entirely possible to find editors with decades of experience within the self-publishing industry. Outskirts Press has a team of experienced editors that we can set you up with.

Every author benefits from using an editor. After all, we all make errors, and it’s fundamental to your future success as a self-publishing author that you be willing to face that fact and take the necessary steps to address your need for an extra pair of unbiased, expert eyes.

So, how do you get started? Easy, visit: www.outskirtspress.com/p/editing and add professional copy editing services to your cart. Or, if you would like help identifying the right publishing options for you and your book, call us at 1-888-672-6657 to speak with a publishing consultant.

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Reading as Seduction: Writing Romance Novels

If you’re interested in writing a romance novel, that’s thrilling news! Romance is making serious waves in the publishing industry right now, and as the Washington Post calls it, romance has proven to be a “uniquely successful genre” in that it is one of the top performers in sales, across the board. What better time could there be to write that romance you’ve been thinking about? Simply put, there isn’t a better time! Stuck for ideas? We’re here with a few suggestions to help you put pen to paper (or pixels to screen) and bring your ravish read into the world, one step at a time.

STEP ONE: Center the book’s emotional crux.

By which we mean … from the very first page, you have to know what you want the heart of your book to be, and what kind of arc your characters need to have in order to evoke that heart from your novel’s first line to its last dot of punctuation. Readers love the romance genre because they want to be moved, and romances are the perfect vehicle for navigating deep and complex questions of love, relationships, identity, and hardship without leaving readers in doubt as to the final conclusion. Romance is, at its core, life-affirming! Readers know that misunderstandings will be resolved, tragedies overcome, and that love will triumph … most of the time, anyway. Even if there isn’t a perfectly happy ending, romance as a genre reaffirms that there’s more to life than just the mundane, and that change is the only thing we can count on. So, what is the point of your book? What emotion do you want your readers to feel or what emotional point do you want to bring home at the end? Write that down and stick it to the top of your laptop, or set yourself a reminder on your phone every morning when you sit down to write. This is what your book is about, and everything builds toward it … or detracts from your book’s efficacy.

STEP TWO: Center the action.

It’s no understatement to say that romance is a physical genre. And we’re not just talking about the sensual kind! No, romance is a genre which is underpinned by the characters’ ability to do things, and to move through the world in new and interesting ways. And remember that feeling, as we’ve mentioned in step one, is a physical sensation as much as it is a mental one. The quickest way to kill the forward momentum of your book is to stay always in your characters’ heads, describing how they think about various things. Instead of letting the dynamic tension bleed out of your text, follow what your characters do, and focus on building sensible action that builds to your emotional crux and its resolution. We’re not talking about packing in pointless action, because pointless is pointless is pointless, but rather about focusing on your characters as real and embodied people who inhabit real spaces and times, and who have conversations, go to work, battle each other with swords, or know how to bake a mean chocolate cake.

STEP THREE: Consider the formula.

Yes, there’s a formula. It can be rebelled against, reinvented, or responded to, but it can’t simply be dismissed. What’s the formula? Readers expect very specific things from the genre, namely:

  • A hero or heroine the reader can love and sympathizes with
  • A love interest the reader can respect and admire
  • A realistic conflict … something to keep the lovebirds at a perfectly tense distance. This conflict can’t be mindless, pointless, or easily overcome. It has to feel real and significant, something that can’t be dismissed after a couple of pages of rational conversation.
  • A satisfying resolution. This doesn’t have to look like any one thing (a marriage or an engagement, for example) but it does need to provide a path forward for the two main characters, either together or separately. But preferably, together. Statistics seem to indicate that romance readers really do love a happily-ever-after!

Once you have plotted out what you want for each of these points, the rest is … well, it’s the book! And it’s your book, one that we dearly hope you will publish so that we can read all about it. Following these steps may not always be easy, but we hope that they’ll provide that little extra motivation or inspiration to keep going as you write your next romance novel!

Not sure what you need to get started publishing your romance novel? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Plan in 2018

Almost every blog, workshop, and website on the subject of self-publishing advocates for creating a book marketing plan even before your book has been printed. You will already have read about a number of marketing methods, from virtual book tours to book signings to book fair partnerships to glossy mailings featuring your book. Have you followed that advice?

Sometimes, even when we answer “yes” to this question, our sales numbers may not reflect the hard work and the (usually) good advice. You might even be following every piece of advice you’ve received to the letter. So, how could this be? And more importantly, how do we fix the problem?

The simple truth is that your book’s marketing plan may have a fatal flaw, and this flaw may be costing you sales. And truthfully, this is a common problem among self-publishing authors, which means both that you’re not alone and that we’ve figured out a couple of surefire ways to troubleshoot the issues.

Instead of looking at your book marketing plan as an enemy which is actively working against you, ponder these three questions. Your answers might just help reshape your marketing plan to be more insightful, more effective, and more successful at moving your book off of the bookstore shelves.

  1. Have you clearly defined your target market? When you wrote your first book, you just knew that everyone would love it. It would make you the talk of the town (or maybe even the talk of the nation or globe). It would be the “it” book that everyone would want to read. But … that’s a rather lofty goal. Many might even say that it’s an impossible goal, in that even the most successful authors (like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, and Jan Karon) aren’t able to reach everyone with their books. And that’s fine; they have developed loyal followings among readers who are committed to them and their books. That’s where their success lies, and even if you’re not a blockbuster breakout success on the scale of a Stephen King, one can learn from that core truth: loyal followings sell books. How, then, do you seek them out? First, ignore all of the white noise, and dispense with the idea that your book is for everyone. There isn’t a book on Earth that’s for everyone. So, who is your book for? What is your intended audience? Start locking in the details, from demographic details like age and occupation to the qualities they look for in books. Define your target audience with care, and with specificity. If you can’t name some specific characteristics, you won’t be able to market to them.
  2. Have you figured out what differentiates your book from the other books available to your target market? Can you tell us why your book is both different from and better than any other book on the market in its genre? Is there a lesson taught in your book? Are your characters easier to relate to? There has to be a reason why readers want to buy your spy thriller instead of the latest from John le Carré. As daunting as it is to consider as a competitor THE AUTHOR who leads the pack in terms of sales in your genre, doing so will help you figure out your book’s strengths. You aren’t just churning out another Vince Flynn action book; you’re publishing a book with its own strengths of plot and character. Find out what makes your book special and use that as your unique value proposition … in marketing as well as every other context.
  3. Have you updated your book marketing plan lately? The book marketing industry, like any other, evolves with blinding speed. If you don’t keep your plans up to date, your plan can easily become irrelevant and your book sales will flag. We recommend that authors review and update their book marketing plan at least once per year, and that they make sure to get other eyes on their plan than their own as well. Having that external insight is vital and important to making sure that every detail of your marketing plan serves a purpose!

Have your book sales been flagging and you can’t figure out why? Visit your Author Center account online at www.outskirtspress.com to explore more marketing options and resources, including the chance to book 5 hours with one of our award-winning Personal Marketing Assistants!

Save Time, Spare Sanity and Trim 10% from Marketing Assistance

There are so many tools and channels the modern author can use to promote a new book, many authors say that the process of marketing is even more stressful than the writing. In the interest of saving time — and keeping your sanity — consider enlisting the expertise of an experienced book marketing professional, who comes preloaded with a wealth of marketing knowledge on instant recall.

An Outskirts Press Personal Marketing Assistant, or PMA, is an advisor on strategic marketing and sales with specific experience in the literary field. They are enthusiastic book fans, dedicated advocates and determined spokespersons. But they’re so much more than cheerleaders!

An Outskirts Press PMA is charged with providing every self-publishing author with tangible and practical tools that will help them market effectively for years to come, including:

  • A detailed marketing plan to guide your efforts
  • Resources, tips and connections for radio and print promotion
  • A thoughtful and well-developed social media marketing plan
  • Outreach and follow-up on marketing campaign leads

If you find yourself out to sea on how to develop a book marketing plan or struggling to prioritize the book sales strategies, it may be time to consult with a Personal Marketing Assistant. He or she will provide you with a detailed marketing plan that gives you a clear understanding of where, when and how to set your plan in motion, and the confidence that your book sales will never again be at the mercy of directionless fate.

Then, your PMA will relieve you of time-consuming responsibilities, such as arranging your first book signings or interviews, identifying reviewers, reaching out to media or other tasks you don’t have the time or expertise to tackle. It’s a 5-hour jumpstart that saves you weeks of aggravation and lost opportunities!

So, you will be pleased to know that throughout January we are offering our Personal Marketing Assistant option — 5 hours of dedicated, one-on-one marketing help — at 10% off! All you need to do to take advantage of the offer is add the PMA option to your shopping cart and enter the promo code Save-PMA at checkout.

Start and finish 2018 knowing with all the confidence of an author in full control of the publishing and marketing processes!

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3 Ways to Keep Your Resolution to Publish – with 15% Off + a Free Kindle Edition!

Did you promise yourself you would publish in 2018? If it seems daunting, read on to find out how not only how to publish in 2018, but how to do it quickly and do it more affordably.

Set specific goals. This first step is where most resolutions fail. Instead of resolving “to publish this year,” consider what specific things need to happen to get published. “Write 1,200 words per day from Jan. 1-25” is specific and helps you envision your progress and success.

Make goals ambitious but attainable. Did you identify what’s standing between you and your publishing goals? Make these your mini-resolutions. Resolve to finish your manuscript by the end of the month, or to edit, proofread and submit your manuscript by a specific date.

Hold yourself accountable. Set deadlines for certain tasks and create a system of rewards for meeting your mini-resolutions.

Outskirts Press can help you meet all three of these goals so you can start off the year on the right foot with a resolution kept and money saved. This January, we’re offering 15% OFF Ultimate or Full-Color Publishing PLUS a FREE Kindle Edition of your book! Set a specific goal to finish your manuscript in January, which is ambitious but attainable, then hold yourself accountable by ordering your publishing package before the “rewards” of a promotional discount and gift expire.

To claim this big discount and free Kindle Edition, simply add the Ultimate or Full-Color Publishing package to your cart, enter the promo code SavePlus-Kindle at checkout.

Ready to conquer your self-publishing resolution? Talk with a Publishing Consultant for help choosing the perfect package for you! There are three convenient ways to connect:

  1. Call us at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS)
  2. Live-chat with us via our website
  3. Go online to schedule an appointment
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Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Publishing This Holiday Season

The most magical time of year is upon us. The lights are twinkling. The carols are playing. Children are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa. And you’re probably hustling around trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list. This holiday season, don’t forget yourself (or another fellow writer considering self-publishing). The gift of publishing is priceless.

Just in time for the holidays, Outskirts Press is offering 20% off of our two most popular publishing packages. The Ultimate and Full-Color packages include everything you need and now you can save even more with this month’s 20% off promotion.

The Ultimate and Full-Color publishing packages include…

  • Customizable Covers
  • Standard Formatting
  • ISBN and Barcode
  • Press Release
  • Free author copies

…and many other features you won’t find anywhere else.

To save 20% on either of these two comprehensive packages, simple enter the promo code Sale20Now at checkout.

For more information about self-publishing with Outskirts Press, get in touch with your Publishing Consultant. There are three convenient ways to connect:

  1. Call us at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS)
  2. Live-chat with us via our website
  3. Go online to schedule an appointment
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Write, Finish, Edit: A Writer’s Guide to Moving Forward and Finishing

We’ve all pictured the cloistered writer hunched in solitude over a notepad or laptop, furiously scratching out word after glorious word well into the wee hours. The brilliance flows faster than he can capture it on paper until the day he triumphantly types “The End” …

Well, that’s how we imagine it, but it rarely goes so smoothly! Writing a book is a big project and a long process, and the direction is not always obvious or easy. It’s common — even normal — for an author to hit roadblocks. Call it writer’s block, brain cramps or something else, but it gets us all at one time or another.

Let’s face it: We need more than an imagination and determination to get to the finish line. Sometimes we need outside intervention, and it comes in many forms. Here are some writer’s block-breakers you can seek out next time the creative juice stop flowing:

  • Inspiration. It can be as simple as a walk or a favorite song, or as stimulating as a brainstorming session with another writer. Enlist someone you trust to motivate you to think about your story in a different light.
  • Advice. Sometimes the inspiration is there but you just need specific, practical guidance to iron out the wrinkles in your plot, character development or story arc.
  • Unbiased feedback. Enthusiastic cheerleading feels good, but it’s not always what you need. If you’re relying on friends and family for feedback, you’re better off with brutal honesty … but how many people you know are willing to provide it?
  • Editing. Leave this one to a professional. While it’s fine to lean on friends, family and fans for the final proofread for typos, hire or trade services with a professional editor to do the heavy lifting. They’ll not only whip your grammar, syntax, punctuation and spelling into shape, but will also make sure your story is organized optimally for clarity and enjoyment.
  • Help finishing. There’s no shame in handing off your “baby” to another writer. Ghostwriters are a poorly kept secret in the literary world and extremely common. Odds are some of your favorite bestsellers were penned — either wholly or in part — by a ghostwriter. A talented ghostwriter is adept at adapting to your voice and creating a finished work that is everything you envisioned, or even better than you pictured!

When writer’s get stuck, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Writing consultants, editors, Publishing Consultants, proofreaders and ghostwriters all fulfill different needs, so figure out how extensive your manuscript issues are before deciding on a path to getting it back on track.

Not sure what you need to get over that writing hump? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

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