Lessons learned on writing, editing, and publishing

There’s different stages to getting my novels out in the world, especially because I’m self-publishing. The fact that I have a bachelor’s in publishing (or a similar degree, international equivalences considered) has made some things easier, but it’s still been a learning curve. And for different roles there are different tasks with specific issues that may arise for each. So, maybe some of my lessons can help!

When it comes to writing, I’ve learned a few lessons.

First, finding the time and really focusing on writing can be more challenging than not, and there have been a few instances when I wasted or let go of valuable time. I’ve also learned about how valuable plotting is for me, as I’ve ventured into a story or two unaware of a clear path and failed. Well, not failed, perhaps, but rather found it dissatisfying as a way of writing and was unable to complete those attempts. And I’ve also had to learn when to leave a story, knowing that I was unlikely to return to it if I started another tale.

For editing, the biggest takeaway is that I need time to go by, really clear my head, before I edit one of my texts. Distance does wonders, not just for typos or grammar issues, but more so for plot or storytelling issues.

Sometimes I’m eager to edit a text as I want to move forward with the publishing, so it’s a good way of developing my (lacking) patience.

Without letting enough time go by between when I finish the draft and when I start editing, I’m too “close” and can’t really see bigger issues.

And another editing lesson that I learned is that there aren’t enough editing rounds, but it’s important to make a final call. I could keep editing a draft time and time again, because there’s always something that can be worked on: a chapter, dialogue, a description…So, at some point, I have to pay attention to the voice in my head that says “time for the next step”.

And when it comes to lessons learned about publishing, there’s quite a few I can think of, too.

For starters, there’s listening to my gut feeling when I’m ready to publish. If I’m not feeling it, I know I’m not ready. There’s also a lot of information that needs to be triple-checked (at least) when it comes to Amazon, Goodreads, and my website. Time is of the essence, not for rushing, but rather because I mustn’t rush through any of the steps.

More lessons learned? Working on social media and advertising leading up to the publishing, and finding the right balance of information to share.

While this may appear a rather simplistic gathering of bits and pieces, the truth is, it has all been trial and error. Yet I don’t think of the mistakes as anything other than the way to learn, improve, and figure out the best way to do things—or the best way to do things for me.

And these lessons are priceless.

Moira Daly

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