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Jan 28

Building a Quality Book

I have been focusing on a lot of marketing in recent posts and one of the things I have mentioned time and again is that marketing is useless if you do not have a quality product.  I have heard salespeople make the claim that they could sell ice cubes to people living in the arctic.  If they manage to pull off that feat, I can guarantee you that their buyers will feel swindled and will not return for a second sale.  If you sell your customer a poorly put together product, they will not buy from you again, it is that simple.

The first part of writing a good book is coming up with a great concept for your book.  Before you start typing you should have a general idea at the very least of where the book is going.  Many authors will plot out most of their book before they begin while others like to write by the seat of their pants.  Even the authors not using an outline still have a very good idea where they want to go before they begin.  Before you begin writing, I would suggest sounding your concept off of someone who will give you honest feedback.  Sometimes we get really dumb ideas that we don’t realize are dumb until they are pointed out.

Once you have a concept and you have an outline, on paper or in your head, it is time to create your first draft.  Some author’s will tell you to just write and not to worry about editing until after.  That is generally good advice unless you have decided to change something major on the fly.  I have been known to go back and add scenes to establish a new character that I was unaware of when I began the story.  Other than that, don’t worry about editing as you are going to get a lot of that later.  I feel like I should insert a diabolical laugh right about here as you will get so much editing it will practically make your brain hurt.

Upon completion of your first draft there will be a sense of great relief as you have finally  finished your book.  Unfortunately, that feeling will be short lived if you rush to publish at this point.  Some author’s do this, they rush to publish their story as a ninety-nine cent kindle book.  I want to clarify that not all ninety-nine cent books are poor quality.  However this happens enough to give independent author’s a stigma that we all have to strive hard to overcome.  The author who dumped their unedited first draft up for sale will sell some books, but they will not build a following.  I cannot stress enough that you should not do this and add fire to the misconceptions about independent authors.

The first edit should be done by you, this is your chance to fix up the obvious errors and make small changes as need be.  The reason I like to do the first edit myself is that it removes the obvious mistakes and makes it much easier for the second edit to find the more sneaky spelling errors and also focus in on what doesn’t work in the story.  The second edit should be done by someone who is not you and will be brutally honest.  A friend who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings has no business editing your book.  You may want to consider hiring an editor and if you do, make sure they are reputable as there are poor editors out there.  If you are uncertain about an editor, try the forums at goodreads.com and see if you can find one there with a few good recommendations.

After the second edit, you may very well be into a rewrite scenario as the editor may point out things that simply do not work.  The rewrite will not take anywhere as long as writing the first draft depending on how much needs to be reworked.  Once you have completed that, it is time to edit again.  This time, if at all possible try reading the story out loud as amazingly enough, this focuses your attention even more on what you are doing and you will catch more mistakes.  After this has been done, I recommend you do anther read because you will still find the occasional spelling error.

By now, you are very sick of editing and if you remembered how I mentioned that your brain would hurt, this is where you feel that.  The thought of one more edit makes you almost ill and luckily at this stage, your book should be very readable and mostly error free.  I say mostly because you will have errors when you publish.  Stephen King, for example, has some errors that make it all the way through his publisher’s stringent editing process.  If you visit his website, down at the bottom there is a link to report errors or typos as he calls them.  Your book will never be perfect, but it will be a quality product and you will build a following thanks to you taking the time to get it right.

There are a few more factors that you should consider such as the cover and how the formatting appears in the kindle.  Your cover needs to be catching as readers often choose their titles based on the cover and then the description.  You need to use a font on your cover that is still readable in a thumbnail and images that draw in the potential reader.  Formatting wise, once you have converted it to a kindle format, load it onto your kindle and make sure you don’t have any formatting issues.  Tab through every page to make sure there aren’t any problems.  I have read some great stories that have had some serious formatting issues that almost made me stop reading.  Once you have published your book, if you get feedback on any issues, you can still correct them and upload the corrected version.

I want to thank you all for dropping by today and I hope you found the information in my article useful.  Stephen King has been very adamant that the best writers are also extremely avid readers.  It is absolutely true and keeping that in mind I want to recommend that you read my paranormal thriller The Daughter of Man.  It is a great story steeped deeply with a theme of good vs. evil and I will even guarantee that there is a spelling mistake in it somewhere.  Please take a moment and visit my friends at Amazon for reviews and a free sample of the book.  I have been told that the sample is quite addictive.  Anyway, thank you for reading my article and please feel free to hit the comment section below.

31 comments

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  1. Robert Richardson

    Great detailed post, very informative. Thank you!

    1. camountain

      Thank you Robert!

  2. Mariam Kobras

    This is indeed how it works. You should spend a good amount of time on editing before you submit your novel! Good luck!

    1. camountain

      Thank you Mariam and you are very on the mark when you stress the importance of editing.

  3. Jorgen Poulsen

    Nice read. I’m definitely coming back. Jorgen

    1. camountain

      Thank you for your kind words Jorgen.

  4. Alex

    Candace, thank you very much for sharing! It’s exactly what I needed! One of my friends just finished her book. Actually it is a trilogy. While she feels a great relief (she’s been working on her books for several years), she realizes that a whole bunch of work still should be done. I’m gonna send the link to your post to her. BTW, she is a Calgarian too.
    Thanks again and hope you are having a fantastic weekend! Cheers!

    1. camountain

      Thank you very much Alex. Your friend will probably find a lot of my articles very useful as they are all slanted towards writers and helping them navigate social media and marketing.

      1. Peggy

        Thank you, Alex, for sending me this link.
        Candace, I did find this article as interesting and helpful as Alex said I would.
        At this time I have three people, Alex being one, reading the books and letting me know what I need to fix or rewrite. I do feel my brain hurt but fortunately, the story line is fun and I love re-reading my favourite authors like Burroughs and Heinlein.
        I’m going to check out your other articles and perhaps we can meet and I can pick your brain on publishing! Originally, I had imagined the book in old fashioned print, but am now certainly curious about the alternatives!
        Thank you again! Peggy

  5. Amber

    Great post, I do some of this already, but love the new ideas you give. Thanks =]

    1. camountain

      You’re welcome Amber :-)

  6. Joanne

    Great post – very informative. I’m in the early (very early) stages of gathering information to write a book about my adoption experience and I bookmarked this post.

    1. camountain

      That already sounds like it has some great potential to be a great book. If you need any help or advice along the way please feel free to ask me and I’ll help in whatever way I can.

  7. Lisa Mason

    Great post and I wholeheartedly agree. As writers, we have to fill many roles and wear many hats, as the saying goes. You have outlined the processes very well here!

    1. camountain

      Thank you Lisa it is always nice to hear from you.

  8. Mary

    My process is a little different. I spend a lot of time in revision/editing on the second draft. It takes longer than the first draft. The second draft goes to crit partners. My third draft goes to an editor. But it’s a similar process.

    Normally I like to leave at least 4-6 weeks between drafts. It helps me catch things I otherwise might not. Also, sometimes I think up things to amp up the plot or characters some. Great article, Candace.

    1. camountain

      Mary brings up a great point in that taking time between edits gives you the ability to come back with fresh eyes which can be really beneficial for your editing and rewriting process.

  9. Sue-Ellen Welfonder

    Excellent outline of the process, Candace. Best of luck to you and much success!

    1. camountain

      Thank you Sue-Ellen ;-)

  10. Jackie Bigford

    Candace, I can easily see why you are a successful author. This post was not only informative it has a great narrative style to it. Makes me want to write a book myself. Not sure where I would find the time LOL!

  11. camountain

    You are too kind Jackie :-)

  12. J.L. Campbell

    Good stuff, Candace. I’m one of those who edits the book to death, even when I think I’m done editing. When I start taking out commas I put in last time, I know I’m done.

    1. camountain

      I would say that is a good indication that you are ready to move forward :-)

  13. Jason Ramsey

    Great job Candace. Writers fascinate me, totally inspiring.

    1. camountain

      Thank you Jason ;-)

  14. Tracey H. Kitts

    Great article:) My books are edited a minimum of 4 times before they are published. Usually that’s twice by me and twice by my writing partner if it’s an indie book. If it’s a book with my publisher, it’s three times by me (before submission) and normally twice by my editor. LOL

    1. camountain

      You can never edit too much but three would be the bare minimum for sure.

  15. Samantha Gluck

    Hi Candace,

    This is such a detailed and relevant post to anyone who writes — even health care journalists, like me. Like many of your readers and others, I plan to write and publish a book in the near future, but your post really speaks to the feature news writer in me as well. Thank you so much.

    Samantha
    http://www.medtopicwriter.com
    http://www.freelancewritingdreams.com

    1. camountain

      I am glad to hear that Samantha and please keep in the loop when you move forward with that book :-)

  16. JGCantrell

    Good read and you are right, my brain is hurting!!!

  17. Elaine Cougler

    Candace, I found your site through the follow notice Twitter sent me that you have followed me there. First, thanks for that. Second, this is an informative and useful post about the writing process with seasonings of self-publishing tidbits thrown in. Well done!

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