5 Self-Editing Tips to Take Your Book From Good to Great

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Do you know what the top complaint on Amazon is for self-published books? It’s the lack of professional editing.

Prior to having your book professionally edited, you need to self-edit it. This will allow your editor to focus on the non-obvious errors and upgrade your book.

Here are a few ways to self-edit:

1. Remove unnecessary adverbs.

One of the best quotes from Stephen King on writing is, “I believe the road to Hell is paved with adverbs…”


Yes, adverbs will likely make your writing slightly weaker. Remove the adverbs from the prior sentence and it will be stronger. See - Adverbs will make your writing weaker.

Check your writing for those adverbs with the find feature. The easiest way is to do is a search for “ly”.

When you find those word look at the verb is modifying. Is there a stronger verb you can use instead? This is a good time to pull out your thesaurus.

For example instead of writing “quietly talked” try “whispered” instead.

2. Remove those favorites.

Moms will tell you they don’t have a favorite kid. While that might be true, most people have a favorite word or phrase.

Words and phrases such as – like, just, that, and I’ll always remember can weaken your writing if overused.

If you want a stronger experience for your readers you need to edit these words out when you read back through your writing. 

Use your find feature again. This time for words and phrases you know you overuse.

Will the sentence work without them? If so, remove them. If not, keep them in or look for a substitute word.

3. Read through it and look for any sentences that you stumble on.

As you read, if you have to pause and reread any sentence rewrite it. You knew what you intended so the reading should be easy for you. Imagine what these awkward sentences will be like for your reader who had no clue what you wanted to say.

When you stumble, stop and rewrite that sentence until it flows with no stumbling.

4. Read your work out loud.

One of the simplest ways to make your writing sound better is through reading your writing out loud.

It’s amazing what you can find when you do this.

This also gives you an idea of what readers will be listening to when they buy your audio book.

5. Use additional software with advanced editing features.

Use the editing function that comes with your word processer. On top of that, there are other amazing self-editing options available.

Grammarly is one of my favorites for books. I love the Hemmingway app for shorter writing pieces. Google them and you too will be able to see the magical difference they make in your writing.

There are 5 easy tips for you to use to self-edit your book (and any other writing that you do). Remember that you will also need to hire a professional editor in addition to this.

The Power of a Book at Christmas

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Books have such power including at Christmas time. Here are 5 stories of how a book can be powerful.

1. Christmas Joy

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting my oldest nephew’s wife who is pregnant. (I am not THAT much older than him.)

This is a time of hopes and dreams for our own babies and the babies of those we love. We want to set up the best future possible for these kids.

As we were sitting in the living room talking I recalled many of the books of my nephew’s that I had been given for my son. Specifically a Sesame Street one, which is ironic because my son never liked that show.

My nephew’s wife said that they had already started a library for their child.

At Christmas we keep a large red pail with Christmas books by the tree. During this conversation, I was able to pull out some Christmas board books we no longer use and pass them on to my nephew. Sharing of books. A family tradition to set the child up for their future.

As you know, there is so much power in a book. We learn from them and they are one thing that we use throughout our entire lives.

People remember good books. They recommend good books. They can be a legacy in a family.

Many of my clients give the books they have written to their family and clients for Christmas because it is a piece of them they want to share. It’s part of their legacy.

2. Your Book as a Christmas Card

Christmas is right around the corner. Some of us are in a moment of stress and others are soaking up every joyful morning.

I swing like a pendulum between the two. Today I am working on remembering the joys of past Christmases as I try to stay away from the stress feelings.

One of those fabulous memories is the joy a client had when she sent her newly written book to her entire Christmas list.

Just about 3 months prior she had come to me asking if it was possible to have her book written and self-published to go out to her Christmas list. We met in a local coffee shop/cafe that was also a used book store. I remember sipping my coffee thinking, yes, this can be done.

We came up with a plan and she did have her story of faith and fitness written and published in time to send out for Christmas. Her business associates, friends, and family were all so thrilled to receive the book.

This is where the 90 Day Book program idea was conceived. Years later we still reflect at Christmas time over the joyous publishing of her book.

3. The Old Fashioned

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Time to put a penny in the old man’s hat.

Those were simpler times (and surely rougher too). I look at all of the wrapped gifts under my tree and recall books that I have read from times where this tradition had not yet started.

However, even back in those simpler times, books were of value. A book was a good gift. A book held knowledge and power.

It used to be that only the privileged could read. They were obviously the ones with the knowledge as well as the access to the books. Books and reading were one of the distinguishing factors between the classes.

It also used to be that it was scandalous for a woman to write a book.

Things have improved since then (though we are not at 100% literacy even in the U.S.).

A book has even more power now that most people have access to them. A book has the power to communicate your message, as well as grow your credibility and business.

A book also has the power to bring a smile to someone’s face or tears to their eyes.

A book is a connection between the author and the reader.

4. Christmases Past

Do you ever see a book that reminds you of one from your childhood?

This book, Max’s Christmas, is one of those for me. I remember walking through Barnes and Noble about 12 years ago and lighting up when I saw it.

This was my mom’s favorite book to read to us at Christmas. Of course I had to buy it for my kids.

Books give us emotional connections, not just because of the content, not just because of the content, but because of the way they relate to our lives.

It might be the connection you feel to the person who read it to you. It could also be to the connection you feel to the author because of the changes the content brought about in your life.

That’s what a good book that grows your credibility and business will do. It will make the people who read it grateful that they connected with you and want to work more with you.

5. The Legacy Book

Books can play such a power role in our lives.

Years ago, my grandma passed away at age 96. I was extremely attached to her so the first Christmas after her death was difficult. I had to hold back tears as I listened to the pastor talk about her in a sermon. He shared about a book that reminded him of her (the one in this picture).

This book became a fixture in our family and my mom found these ornaments of the book for us one year. This is the power of a book.

A book that you read can speak mountains to you. A book you write can be a legacy.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good READ!

If you want information on how you can start your legacy book, click here to book a discovery session.

Get Your Book Done: 5 Techniques to Help You Out

John Maxwell says, “Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”

Should you focus on time management or prioritizing? To me they are one in the same.

There are several techniques that I teach my clients when it comes to time management for writing and publishing their books.

Here is a brief overview.

1. Use writing sprints.

These are my version of the Pomodoro Method. This method, came about in the 1980s, the same time as Cheers, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Alf.

If you’re not familiar with it, you will be happy to know about it. It’s a time management method that was invented by a college student who used his tomato (pomodoro in Italian) shaped time to create work intervals or sprints.

During these 25 minute segments there is intense focus on working on a task. After these 25 minute segments a short break is taken.

Each guru has their own version of this method.

My version is writing sprints. The technique I teach my clients is to write for 45 minutes straight with complete flow. After 45 minutes people have up to 2,000 words written. That’s the power of focused time!

2. Focus with a “Later” list

You go on to Facebook to post one thing and connect in a few groups. A few minutes later you look up and it turns out it’s three hours later. Have you ever done that? It happened to me on Saturday.

Where did that time go? Seriously.

Then I remembered that in between I had random thoughts of gifts I needed to buy and made some visits to Amazon’s, American Eagle’s, and Uncommon Good’s sites. Who knows what else I did.

Maybe Buzz Feed called out to me or maybe I had to take a quiz to see what celebrity I most look like.

If I would have used the power of focus and grouped my Facebook activities followed by my shopping activities, I am sure it would have taken much less time.

One way that I know to do, but don’t follow well enough on the weekend, is using a “later” list. When I am focused on a specific project or task and the thought of something else I should (or WANT) to do comes into my head I write it down on a piece of paper I keep next to me. Every week day I have one of these lists. It keeps me focused.

This is a technique that I teach my clients to use when they are writing their books. It is especially helpful when they are doing research because, well, we all know what happens when the Internet is involved. Distractions! Squirrels!

The power of focus is huge and will allow you to either accomplish more in a day or accomplish the same amount in less time.

3. Know How Long it Will Really Take

Have you ever heard that people estimate it will take 2/3 of the time it actually does to complete a project?

This is something I heard 20 years ago and it has stuck in my mind ever since (especially since I used to be an engineer).

When you are working on a large project, such as a launch or writing a book, time estimates are important.

This is when having a structured approach with each step involved broken down and a weekly check in on progress can keep you on track.

This is what I do with both my one on one clients and group clients in The 90 Day Book program.

Time management is so important to complete a project that is on a deadline.

If you want to know how close you are to your time estimates track yourself for a few days on different tasks. Estimate the time and record how long it actually takes. You may be surprised by the difference. This will tell you how much of a “fudge factor” you need to add to your estimates to get a realistic timeframe.

For example if you estimate it will take you 45 minutes to do something and it actually takes you an hour. The ratio of actual to estimated time is 1.33. If you find this to be consistently true when you estimate time, then your fudge factor is 1.33. In future projects take your estimated time and multiple it by 1.33 to get a better estimate of the actual time it will take.

Knowing the actual time something will take will help reduce your stress and overwhelm and get your book done.

4. Schedule your priority items

For better or worse, I am very open about the mistakes I make. I think that everyone can learn from them.

Back at Thanksgiving I was in a panic. When I checked my scheduler, I realized that I had an appointment the morning after Thanksgiving when I had family plans and Wednesday afternoon when I was supposed to be half way through my 11 hour drive to my sister’s. On top of that there was one more conflicting appointment.

It was all my mistake. I had assumed that no one else would be working the afternoon before or the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, the U.S. is the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving on these dates so clearly I had put no thought into that.

Scheduling things out ahead of time, including your time for writing your book, will keep your life so much more calm and productive.

One thing that I have all of my clients do is schedule writing time for their book in at the start of the week. That way they have the required time blocked off to complete their planned writing for the week and the book is completed on time.

Fortunately for me, all people impacted by my scheduling mistake were understanding AND I now have a system in place to immediately block off holidays and even tentative travel plans so there are no conflicts.

Yes, I also do schedule my writing time, which has allowed me to publish 6 books and help many clients see theirs published too.

If you really want to write a book, schedule a time slot at least 5 days a week to work on it.

5. Have a morning routine

I am an odd combination of liking to have things completely full in my schedule and liking to have some breathing time in there as well.

One of the non-negotiables in my day is my morning routine. My personal routine (after I drop off my daughter) is a devotional/prayer, reading affirmations, reading my life plan, meditation, and reading part of a business related book. It sets the tone for my day and helps me manage the time for my entire day better.

This is something that I just started early fall and has made a huge difference for me. I’m no longer scrolling through MSN or Facebook, or catching the next story on The Today Show, when I should be starting my work that I love.

It gives me a focused start, and puts me in the right mindset. It’s a perfect marriage of time management and mindset that transitions nicely into my scheduled writing time.

There are 5 tips to combining priorities and time management to get your book done!

If you want to learn more about how you can use these techniques to start or finish your book, schedule a free discovery call here.

5 Must Haves for Your Amazon Book Description

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Book marketing is so important. In this quick video you will learn some of the key elements that you should have in your book's description on Amazon through an analysis of Jen Sincero's You Are a Badass books.

Here's an easy list:

  1. Establish your authority
  2. Use any significant social proof
  3. The big idea/hook of the book
  4. The benefits of the book
  5. What you walk away with

Conquer Writer's Block

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Is writer’s block ever a problem for you? It is for me, and I’m an author and book coach. Here are five methods I use for conquering my own writer's block that you can use too.

1. Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic

You know that you are your own worst critic. Sometimes it is good to be reminded of this. The last time you wrote a blog post or similar piece you probably had harsh thoughts of a sentence or paragraph only to find that it was the reader’s favorite point.

When you are writing, and you have these critical thoughts, it creates an immediate stop sign for your brain. Putting a criticism in place freezes your brain in a sense.

In fact, self-criticism creates behavior inhibition in the brain. In turn, this inhibition impacts working towards a goal. It also affects the language processors. In other words, self-criticism impairs your writing progress.

Simply think the writing process as a brainstorming session where every idea has equal merit - where every idea is written down. The ones that don’t will be removed later during the editing. During the writing, let all ideas flow.

Does this sound too hard? Start with writing the first five thoughts that come to your mind. Just write them without thinking or analyzing them.

Now your mind should have worked itself out of its jam.

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2. Do Your Worst

Have you ever told your kids to do their worst on something they are trying? How about yourself? Probably not.

Although you probably do put a lot of pressure on yourself to do your best. You want to be at your peak performance. It’s not often that you try to do your worst. Doing your worst is an excellent method for stopping writer’s block.

Thinking of the worst will release your brain.

Start with the five worst sentences that you can think of about the section of the book (or blog or any piece) you are writing.

For example, if you were writing about writer’s block you could come up with sentences like:

Writer’s block is no fun.

Writer’s block is blah.

If while working on these five, your brain switches tracks and starts thinking of good ones write those down too. If so inclined, you can completely change back to writing good sentences.

While writing the above sentences, it was hard to stick to the bad track and would have been easier to switch to good sentences. You may find the same. Go ahead and write good ones when you are ready.

You have permission to write bad sentences when needed. Do it now.

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3. Clear Your Brain

Are you still looking for more ways to conquer writer’s block?

Clearing your brain can stop writer’s block.

Your brain may just have too much happening. There are several ways to clear your brain by taking a quick break.

1. Take a break and get a drink of water or coffee. This activity will focus your mind on something else for a bit. Clearing your mind and putting the concentration on a simple task for these few moments can be the small difference that you need.

2. Do a few minutes of physical cross-lateral brain exercises. These are exercises that make the left and right side of your brain reconnect. This little spark can open up new possibilities in your brain. These exercises can be as simple as moving your arms back and forth to overlap one another.

If the exercises aren’t for you, there is another type. Simply try doing an everyday task such as writing or eating with your non-dominant hand. Using the non-dominant hand will make your mind think differently.

3. Use breathing techniques. For centuries as part of yoga, people have been using breathing techniques to clear their minds. While most people do breathing exercises for a sense of serenity, you can use it to your advantage for writing. Taking the few minutes to breathe right can make you write well.

4. Take a 30-minute aerobic exercise break. Exercising for this length will release endorphins or feel-good activators. The endorphins help with stress. Writer’s block is certainly stressful, and these endorphins can give you that extra boost you need to write those headlines.

What exercise best helps you clear your brain? Keep that in mind for the next time you face writer's block.

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4. Make Your Masterpiece to Music

Books have the power to impact people. So does music. It is so powerful that it can be used to stop writer’s block.

Music also has a powerful effect on the brain. It can help connect the right and left sides of your brain and provide harmony also known as the Mozart effect.

The next time you are stuck in your writing play classical music. If you really can’t stand classical then try something more to your taste that matches the emotions you want in the piece you are writing. Some authors even create a soundtrack for their book that they listen to while putting the book together.

What would the soundtrack for the book you want to write have on it?

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There are four powerful methods for you to try the next time you have writer's block. Do you have a more specific issue with writer's block? Email me at kathy@wheelerwriting.com, and we will conquer it.

 

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Story Banks: A Must Have Writing Tool

 
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What is a story bank? It’s a free treasure chest of gems for you.

A story bank is a list of stories that you keep to use in your future writing (or speeches). I keep my writing bank in my phone’s note section.

It doesn’t have many details, just enough so that I will remember when I need to pull one out.

Here is an example of the first item in my current story bank.

It says, “Watching the reconnection between a father and kids at the airport.” Simple right?

My heart beats faster just reading that on the phone screen. That could be used in a post about balance or a post about how the simple things in business and life can bring us joy.

Here’s another example.

Imagine you’re ten years old and tell your best friend this great idea at recess. It’s a new combination of toppings that you want to try at the sundae store. Walking in from recess you hear your friend tell another girl with blond braids about this great idea claiming it’s her own. How do you feel?

That’s a story that most people can relate to in one way or another.

Why use a story? There are so many reasons including it makes you more relatable and engages your audience more.

When you have a funny experience or something catches your heart record it for future use. Especially if it is an experience your ideal client would have.

What are the things in your everyday life that you can tie back to your business?

For example, something about a trip to Target if your ideal client shops there. Some of the most engaging business posts I have seen have had Target stories in them.

Another example is how you handle the frustration of a long line. You could also consider stories about comparing yourself at the beach, your kid having a melt down at the store, or date night with your hubby.

Each of those stories above can be tied back to your business. Take a bit of time to brainstorm and you will see the ties that can be there.

You will engage your audience and make your post more valuable. It adds so much to a book as well.

The Cost to Publish: What Expenses to Expect When You Publish Your Book

 
 

Let’s talk about money. Finances can be a very uncomfortable subject.  It’s also something that people care about. To satisfy your curiosity I am going to share with you some of the investment that goes into a self-published book.

First, you are spending time writing a book. You want it to be a high quality book that will represent your business well. You want the quality of the book to match the quality of your services. Trust me on this! Once I bypassed this essential step and it cost me in the review. It has since been rectified the best way possible, but I wish I had not made that mistake. Learn from my experience! You don’t want to cheap out on the editing.

There are three main components that will cost you money in self-publishing a book (and some in traditional publishing as well) along with one surprising cost you don’t have to incur.

The areas you will spend in are editing, cover design, and possibly interior formatting. The one area you don’t have to pay for anything upfront is the printing of the book.

The true cost is hard to calculate though because you have to consider the benefits you will gain from having a book. It will build your credibility, give you exposure, and if written properly, help you gain clients. Not to mention the amazing feeling you will have. That is priceless.

Book Editing

Editing can make or break a book. It is the most crucial component for the quality of a book. You want to have a good editor and you don’t want to skimp on this.

Have I told you the story of my first book? I knew a bunch of English teachers, people with PhD’s, etc. I knew that I didn’t need to spend money on an editor. I couldn’t have been more wrong. While there were little to no technical errors in the book, there was a lot of developmental editing that could have been done. The book would have been much stronger if certain elements were drawn out.

If you want your book to shine, I recommend having it more than just proofread. You want to hire a professional editor to review it and polish it for you. They know what to look for and how to make things so much better.

Even if you plan on traditionally publishing, I recommend having your book at least copy edited before sending it to agents for review.

When you start writing your book, do it with knowing that you will need to hire an editor.

Book Covers

Don’t judge a book by its cover. That’s a saying, because we all do judge a book by its cover. It’s also why cover design has changed throughout the years along with fashion.

When browsing through the thumbnails on Amazon potential buyers will definitely notice your covers.

Sure, you likely have the tools to design the cover yourself, but unless you are a beautiful designer I highly recommend that you hire someone.

What is the ugliest book cover you’ve seen? You probably don’t remember because you passed it up in Amazon.

Yes, a professional designer for a cover is something that you will need to spend money on!

They have the training and will know how to calculate the spine width, what should be included on the back cover, and how to source the bar code. These are things that you don’t want to deal with as an author and shouldn’t deal with if you want a high quality book.

Print on Demand Book Publishing

FREE. It’s one of the most powerful words in the English language. We all love free stuff. That’s probably why there isn’t one of you in here without a free giveaway on your website. If you don’t have a free giveaway to build your mailing list start thinking about one now!

The good news is that there is something that you don’t have to pay for upfront in self-publishing and that is the printing of the books. It used to be that a self-published author had to order 1,000 or so books up front paying for it out of their pocket. That’s not the case anymore.

Most self-published books are now done using print-on-demand services like CreateSpace (associated with Amazon.com). What that means is that your book can be listed for sale on Amazon without you having to pay anything. When a book is ordered, they deduct the minimal printing costs from your royalties.

Book Coach

As a book coach, it would be faulty of me to leave out this potential service. If you are writing a book and want to be guided through how to make the most impact possible, have someone to bounce your ideas off of, and someone to walk you through the process from idea to book in your hand, you will want to hire a book coach. If you want to know more about that please email me at Kathy@wheelerwriting.com.

Keep all of these expenses in mind as you go about writing your book. A book is a lifelong dream come to fruition and you don’t want to skimp on it.