The Journal, Wednesday, 11/30

Hey Folks,

Yesterday was so hectic, I actually forgot to view and listen to the Week 5 videos of the DWS workshop I’m taking right now. So I spent the first couple of hours this morning doing that.

Well, summer in southeast Arizona is officially over. Shortly after the sun came up this morning (pilot light was on, blower wasn’t working yet) it was 21° outside. Ugh. No moisture in the air to hold in the heat of the day. It Is Eye-Cee.

Topic: Horrible Advice

By “horrible advice,” I mean advice from people who recommend you do exactly the same garbage you’ve been hearing your whole life and THAT DOESN’T WORK.

This topic was keyed by an article at BookBub: “Self-Publishing Your NaNoWriMo Book? Don’t Miss These Steps” ( I provide the link NOT because I recommend the article (I Don’t), but so you can see first-hand what bad advice looks like. I intend to defrag (or maybe frag) their advice a bit later in this topic.

Okay, first, as everyone who follows my Journal knows, I don’t like NaNoWriMo. It’s wonderful to get a person started writing. But in every other way it’s terrible. Now, I know some of you like it, and that’s fine.

Most notably, it is actively based on the premise that you should give yourself permission to write a bad “first draft” and then fix it later, and it prods you to involve others in your work (critique, content edits, etc.). There are other bad things about it, but those are the big two.

So with that as the basis, back to the BookBub article.

First, their introductory premise: “Your NaNoWriMo book is most likely not ready for readers today.”

No, if you wrote it in accordance with NaNoWriMo guidelines, it probably isn’t because you INTENDED for it to be bad.

Writing something intentionally bad the first time is like filling a wheelbarrow with dirt a shovelful at a time. Then moving it halfway to where you want it. Then dumping it. Then loading it all back up again and moving it the rest of the way. So metaphorically speaking, how many times you “revise” or “rewrite” or “polish” is the number of times you’re dumping and reloading the wheelbarrow.

But if you wrote the cleanest “first draft” you could at your current skill level, do this:

1. run your contextual spell checker,
2. have someone proof it for spelling errors (yes, even after you ran the spell checker) and wrong-word usages, and
3. publish it and start writing the next one.

IF YOU TOOK NANOWRIMO’S ADVICE and intentionally wrote a “bad” first draft, I advise you to go back through it ONCE, reading for pleasure but with your fingers on the keyboard, and allow yourself to touch it. When you finish, it should be as good as you can make it at your current skill level. This is not rewriting because it’s done with your creative subconscious in control.

Okay, now to the ten points BookBub says you shouldn’t miss (and why you should ignore them):

1. Revise the book (and they say “several times”).

Umm, no. Not even once. I’m a writer. I’m being paid to write. I’m not being paid to rewrite, revise, or polish. IF YOU DO REVISE, REWRITE OR POLISH, YOU WILL POLISH YOUR ORIGINAL VOICE RIGHT OUT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT.

2. Get critique partners.

Umm, No! I strive not to allow my own conscious, critical mind into my writing. Why would I allow someone else’s? Also, why in the world would I accept advice from someone who isn’t a LOT farther along the road as a writer than I am?

3. Do line edits. (Wow. Under this one, they list “43 Words You Should Cut From Your Writing Immediately.”)

Again, no. This is your proofreader’s or first reader’s or copy editor’s job. And please PLEASE don’t cut ANY words from your writing “automatically.” Words are there to be used. Use them as necessary.

4. Hire an editor.

Okay, yes, a copy editor. But a “developmental editor?” Seriously? How can ANYone else POSSIBLY know more about your characters and your story than you do?

5. Understand your target audience.

Blah blah blah. Everyone knows this is smart. In the real world, it means “Be aware that there’s a reader on the other side of the book.” That’s all. Don’t worry about it. Besides, If you write what you love, readers will come. (Do I need to repeat that?)

6. Choose a great title.

Umm, yeah. Duh. But most often the story itself will give you the title. Again, don’t worry about it.

7. Hire a cover designer.

Okay, but I recommend you learn to do it yourself. I design all my own covers. Most of them take about five minutes if I have already selected the cover photo. This isn’t difficult if you follow a few basic common-sense guidelines.

8. Format your book correctly.

Again, duh. But I wonder why they didn’t say “Hire a formatter?” Anyway, this is also something you can learn, FREE OF CHARGE, by downloading The Essentials of Digital Publishing from my Free Stuff page at my website.

9. Choose retailers and/or distributors.

Yeah, this is kind of misleading. (Like if you stand in the path of a tidal wave you might get “kind of” wet.) As long as you aren’t insane enough to go exclusive with Amazon or anyone else, you’ll do fine on this score. And if you DO go exclusive, well, then you don’t have to worry about stores and distribution, do you?

Here: Upload ebooks to Amazon and Smashwords and let the latter worry about distribution. For print, upload to CreateSpace and then select “Extended Distribution” and you’re done. This advice is gratis from yer Uncle Harv.

10. Create a marketing plan.

Uhh, no. Write the next book. The most effective marketing you can do is to write the next book. And the next one. And the next one. Do that, take my advice on other matters (like #9 above) and understand that writing is about the long term and marketing will take care of itself.

But if you’re stuck on the notion of marketing, I recommend Kris Rusch’s book, Discoverability.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, An Interesting Assumption ( He flat nailed it. Pretty good daily post below that too.

Today’s Writing

Started on Ray Acuna around 9:45 after writing everything above, checking Dean’s site, etc.

Got about 900 words done in a good first session, then went in and tried to try on my old field jacket from the Marine Corps (17 years ago).

Uhh, No. Seems there’s a three-inch gap down the front that didn’t used to be there. Funny how clothing shrinks over time. Off to the thrift store it goes. Back to the novel at 11:30.

Guess I’m finally back on track with writing. Pretty good day today. Oh, and I’m pleased to announce this feels like it’s gonna be a novel. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3752
Nonfiction Words: 1130 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4882

Writing of Ray Acuna (tentative title)

Day 1…… 2058 words. Total words to date…… 2058
Day 2…… 3752 words. Total words to date…… 5810

Total fiction words for the month……… 24539
Total fiction words for the year………… 679694
Total nonfiction words for the month… 19060
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 257900

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 937594

3 thoughts on “The Journal, Wednesday, 11/30”

  1. Developmental editing is deeply ingrained in a lot of writers. When I started looking for a copy editor, I said, “I’m looking for a copy editor.” I got recommendations for people who only did developmental editing. I went to a SF con and attended a panel on editing. I was thinking I might find a copy editor from the panel. Before the panel started, they asked me what I was looking for (I was the only one there; others trickled in). I told them. During the panel they made it a point, clearly directed at me, to state: “Getting only copy editing is a really bad idea. You must get developmental editing.” Yes, coming out of the mouths of the people who would be making the money …

    Then one of the writers who had recommended a developmental editor who didn’t copy edit had an absolute meltdown when she found out I hadn’t gotten developmental editing. She informed me that I wasn’t doing the best for my book, and that I was doing a disservice to my readers by getting “cheap editing.” What a lot of writers don’t realize is that the developmental editing myth comes from two sources: 1) Beginning writers who are listening to 2) Developmental Editors who want to make money.

Comments are closed.