With only a few days to go until The White Light of Tomorrow is on sale in eBook format, I wanted to mention some of the people and companies I’ve relied on over the past few years to help improve my writing, and to make the final product of this furious activity as good as it can be.
Back in 2013 I joined the online writers community Scribophile and began posting some work there for critique. I had a generally very good experience there. By reading and critiquing other people’s submissions, you earn credits towards posting your own work. The quality of the feedback ranged from useless to excellent, but it was rare for someone to leave a critique from which I could learn nothing. I even made a couple of friends in the process. Eventually, though, I needed to step my game up to the professional level, and Scribophile is, at the end of the day, a self-help group for enthusiasts.
Having read Renni Brown’s book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, I decided to reach out to her company The Editorial Department and hire a professional editor. I wound up working with Peter Gelfan, a great guy who helped me smooth my book’s (extremely) rough edges. I worked with Peter for quite a while, and the manuscript I had at the end of the process was so superior to the one I started with that I can barely describe them as being versions of the same book. The single best piece of advise I can give is to accept that no matter how good you think your writing is, it needs to be better. Much better. The only way to accomplish that, in my opinion and experience, is to work with a professional editor.
An unexpected bonus of working with TED is that I became friends with Jane Ryder. Jane is the type of person with whom even extreme introverts like myself can quickly become friends, and so it is. Jane recently started her own business to support writers, Ryder Author Resources. She offers a ton of services, so you should really click the link and check out her website. I’m currently getting help from her with social media marketing, among other things.
So, after three years of work and countless bottles of tequila, I wound up with a manuscript I felt was finished; one that I could be proud of and that would give readers several hours of science fiction adventure happiness. I suddenly realized I needed a great cover, and that the interior needed a unique design and layout to make it stand out when potential readers Look Inside.
For the cover, I struck gold with James at Kira at Bookfly Design. The result speaks for itself. Definitely check out their gallery, but also be aware that their lead time is long–you need to schedule up to six months in advance. (Hint: the lead time is so long because they rock.) For the interior, I worked with Colleen at Write Dream Repeat. She created a completely custom theme and layout for the interior in just a few days, and provided epub and PDF files ready to upload to Smashwords, Amazon and CreateSpace. Highly recommended.
At this point you may be wondering about the cost of all this. Yes, it can get expensive, so if I were to prioritize, I’d say budget as much time with a professional editor as you can, then sort the rest in your own mind. You’re going to learn a lot from your editor (if you pick a good one, like Peter) and the upside of this initial investment is that you won’t need as much of their time in the future–you’ll be able to catch more mistakes before you make them.