Diary of a Lesser Author

 From the diary of a lesser author

Let’s start with what that title means. A few years ago I was invited to attend an author event, one of those multi-author signings in which several authors attend to meet-and-greet readers. It was prefaced that the hostess did not expect to secure any listers, but “lesser” authors, like me.  For clarification, “listers” are those who have made a list, while I have not.

Does this mean my writing is any less than theirs? No, actually, it does not. In fact, I’ve read many “listers” whose writing I’ve questioned, but that’s a different entry. For purposes of today, the answer is no, my words do not count any less than others. And neither do yours.

What does it mean, though? I’m not utilizing my full potential, possibly. I’m not doing the extreme marketing, definitely. I’m not as popular, absolutely.

Again, my words, though, are no less than any others. In fact, I know I’ve written a combination of more words than some of the largest names out there. It’s possible my combination of them is askew, but again, thoughts for another entry.

Today’s concern: skimping

I’ve recently read a new author’s comments that she didn’t have the money for an editor or cover designer, and she wonders why her book is failing on the market. While it could be any number of reasons, here are my thoughts on these two most valuable areas of first impression: don’t-do-less-than on the cover and edits.

Like it or not, covers sell your book. As much as we say don’t judge a book by its cover, we do. As much as we say, we’re sick of abs, we aren’t. Use professional software to design covers with original fonts, not the standard fonts included in a software package. Personally, I don’t have time to make covers (or the vision), so I hire out. There are TONS of pre-made covers by amazing cover designers available at reasonable prices. Just hunt Facebook for “pre-made covers” and designers galore will appear. Picmonkey.com is another great solution for making quality e-book covers if you know the standard dimensions per sales channel. You don’t need a cover model. It’s nice to have, but not a must. Plenty of stock images can portray your vision just as well without the added cost (and sometimes added headache of a model’s ego). Bottom line is, you can’t do “less” on a cover.

Editing is priceless. You can’t self-edit. Even if you have a strong command of the English language, you can’t edit your own work. You know your story too well, so you will insert words, revert misused words, and dismiss incorrectly spelled words. If your best friend’s neighbor did “good” in English, she can’t edit either, because she had to have done “well” in English, not good. And if “ur” only using “u” when you text, speak, or anything else related to writing, that’s a big no-no as well. Practice your writing by using proper English.

In addition, strong editing is hard to find. Honest. I haven’t read a trade-pub book in the last year that hasn’t had a mistake or two or ten, and those authors have professionals reading their work. It’s human error, I get it. More eyes are better. I know people who have a content editor, a line editor and then some betas, because more eyes are better. I, myself, use an editor, two proofreaders, and five betas, and then my mother gets the book and still finds something missed. You can’t do “less” here, either. Readers are forgiving but not that forgiving. Just because you can read does not mean you can write. And just because you can write doesn’t always mean you do it well. Get some help to proofread the manuscript. Download Grammarly as a start for minor grammar errors.

“Less is more” might be this case, but you may have to do a little more to move from a non-existent author to a lesser author. Who knows, that bump in your support team – cover designer and editor – might even move you to a lister…but don’t count on that for the first book. More on that in another diary entry….

For now, love, books, and lots of words.