How to Find Readers

Some authors know where readers are, or rather, where their readers are. Some do not, especially those just starting out or those who’ve been unsuccessful at building their audiences. Nevertheless, if you don’t know for sure where they are you need ideas to find them.

Some of those ideas will come from yourself and include blog posts, social media posts, social group creation, and friend/author collaboration. Some ideas will involve hiring professionals for videos or booking stalls with event organisers. Some ideas will have to come from other people, likely authors in your genre who you read or follow or even a virtual assistant who may know the publishing landscape.

Although, it’s recommended you do your research and find inspirational people, I’d only recommend digesting as much as you can on a daily basis or a weekly basis and then following or engaging with those authors or writers whose goals match yours or who make you feel inspired. Otherwise, you’ll end up following authors and emulating what they do only to find out it wasn’t what you wanted in the first place. For example, are you a business-minded or entrepreneurial author? What would you do to make your book a success? What will you be able to manage – time and energy – to make your book a success? Are you prepared to spend a lot speculatively? Are you prepared to change your cover and blurb repeatedly to make the bulk of your fans happy, knowing it may cost money and time to do so?

The above are some of the considerations to think about; they’re some of the questions you need to ask yourself or even just be aware of as you continue on your writing and publishing path.

What will get your book out there? Reader magnets and newsletter subscribers? Social media research and advertising? Real events for genre readers? Literary events, reading, and book signings? Website blog posts and SEO? Referral from some friends or readers? You may no be certain you know at this stage and if this is the case I recommend limiting spending and trying a few strategies to see where they take you, monitor progress, and see how you felt about using the strategies.


How to Get a Book Published

Instinct can come into this question, alongside your writing and publishing goals i.e. the instinct to take advantage of an existing market or to otherwise act on the availability of certain outlets.

For example, when I learnt that there were ways I could DIY publish my own books without going through the rigmarole of sending submissions, following all these guidelines, and waiting for the right answer, I knew I was onto something that made more sense to me and which I felt was empowering and fair. There were real-life outlets for making my book available and accessible to readers both on Amazon and Leeds Steampunk Market who were kind enough to let me book a stall.

Your personal values may come into how you decide to publish. Are you a person who likes to do things yourself, with freedom and control? Consider self-publishing. Are you someone who is looking for someone else to take the reins: consider traditional publishing – open-submission periods and literary agent submission. If you’re looking for a publisher to bounce ideas with and promote your book among other authors who publish similar books then consider small press.

But if you’re happy with your end product/final draft, barring some writing or editorial improvements you’d like to see, consider hiring a professional editor who’s suitable for your book. How you publish after hiring someone is up to you. Editorial professionals can help with both self-publishing and submission requirements. If you know what you’re looking for beforehand.

Where is my Target Audience?

It’s difficult to know what promotion is working when you’re an author, or an editor. Sometimes you feel as if you’re posting too much about one thing. With the tone, you can be too ‘salesy’, or too informal, or post about topics your fans are not expecting, or are uncomfortable with.

You can spend too much money, and get little in return, leading to loss, and utter disappointment! You can spend nothing and realise you don’t have the help to spread the word about your products or services.

Getting led astray is a problem, in my case, seeing what others are doing, apparently successfully, and attempting to emulate it using their formula, and then realising that the strategy was either better suited to them rather than you or that they may have just been boasting.

There is an element of follow the sheep that makes it up the hill, and this works for some people, but strangely, not everyone. It turns out that not everyone wants the same thing in business, exactly, even if people can get distracted into thinking that they do want something close to what others want.

These days, there is a technological element to nearly everything we do. Your audience is in one place for a few years, and then, after the market is saturated, your audience or the potential for finding it and growing, moves to another app, platform, website, etc. It’s hard to stay on top of the incessant movement of trends. You can learn some new skills and be satisfied that you’ve figured out how to do something, and then they can become obsolete, or you decide some strategy isn’t working anymore.

In other words, trying to find or grow an audience can feel like a pick-up and go affair and knowing how to spend your time and focus your attention can be difficult to judge. Personal experience and analysis can help you gauge how much time you spent and how much fulfilment or return you got from a strategy.

But to know where the next avenue for audience growth is, or which skills need to be learned next, to make the best use of your time may require more than hindsight.

The Writing Resources Section of my Website Has Been Revamped

The Writing Resources section of my website has been revamped – the original resources have been repurposed for a future collection. It’s a revamp inspired by some of my communications with clients and some of the experiences I’ve had applying for proofreading and editing roles. It’s both informed me what writers like to know before hiring someone and it’s affirmed my beliefs in the editing services and approaches I prefer to offer.

If you don’t have time to look at it now I’ll share some of the resources later in the month.

Q: Have any applications or experiences informed you what to post about or affirmed your approach in how you offer your business?

Editing Company

The home page has been updated. End of post. No … now it’s time for me to roll towards my proofreading and editing hat role: it’s important when you’re running a freelance business to adapt and learn from your mistakes, successes, and from feedback in general. Mistakes are obvious things to watch out for, and to learn from feedback requires an open mind and a touch of imagination to see how it can be implemented. But learning from successes was something I’d not initially foreseen as a factor towards adapting and improving the way I do things.

The thing is, if something works, then do more of it or make it obvious to other potential clients or readers or audiences that you provide that thing. In my case it has meant spelling things out on my website and in my email correspondence, working towards a business model that I feel is fair towards my clients and readers.

I utilise a step-by-step approach to booking a client in, though in some cases when I’m dealing with a small project I have decided a ‘jump in’ approach was best. No one size fits all, they say, after reading a proofreading or editing sample. And it’s something that chimes with my experience of client handling. Yet, there are editors and author services companies that offer exactly that who are doing well by their audience and likely getting business from it.

Recent experience with this conflict between whole service packages and employers who seek proofreaders and editors who offer it has definitely encouraged me to take another look at what I offer writers and why it’s different, in the hope the right people can better find me and know exactly what they’d get if they hired me.

Have your successes, failures, or client/employer experiences taught you anything about what you can offer clients?

Which Edit Do I Need?

Incomplete story/project/manuscript: critique/structural edit

Complete story/project/manuscript to be ready for publishing/target audience: copy edit

Complete story/project/manuscript to be ready for publishing/target audience with language, voice and style to be given a lift/improved: line edit (Alex James Novels does not offer line edits)

Final check for sense and error: proofread

Which Editor Do I Choose?

No-one can tell you which editor is right for your book, though people and professionals can advise you. Ultimately, you have to decide that for yourself, which isn’t always easy, especially when there are a number of editors who provide different services with similar-sounding names.

Some editors offer:

  • Copy edits and line edits
  • Copy edits only
  • Line edits only
  • Copy edits and proofreads
  • Proofreads only
  • Developmental/structural/critique edits and copy/line edits/proofreads
  • Developmental/structural/critique edits only

And then, to complicate things, there are things called proof-edits, which sound like a combination of proofreading and editing.

Alex James Novels offers developmental/structural/critique edits and copy edits and proofreads, but will not offer line edits, and unless the crossover requirements are minimal will not wish to offer more than one service at the same time i.e. a copy edit and a line edit or a developmental edit and a copy edit.

Difference Between Proofreading and Copy Editing

There is a difference between copy editing and proofreading. Copy editing’s focus is on making the manuscript suitable for its target audience, by focusing on sentence-level editing of the language, but copy editors check for many aspects beyond spelling, punctuation, and grammar to ensure a manuscript is consistent, logical, and structurally complete (not to be confused with editing the structure of a manuscript).

Copy editing comes before proofreading in the publishing process.

The proofreading job was to ensure everything was accurately reflected on the proof and that no new errors were introduced by the publishing process and the team that has so far worked on it (copy editor, typesetter, author, etc.). Proofreaders check for consistency in presentation, errors of omission (what’s missing), and errors of commission (errors introduced by someone). Where language was concerned they’d focus on spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sense, sometimes reading once for error and once for sense, before tackling anything else inconsistent or that required querying.

In conclusion, editing and proofreading used to be seen as different, and many writers, editors, and publishers still believe that they are, but sometimes there are trends that suggest otherwise for a variety of reasons when:

  • Writers don’t understand the difference between the skills.
  • Writers or publishers seek a cost-effective solution to publishing, thereby cutting out some editing stages/skills or seeking a do-it-all editor as part of a whole package.
  • There is a project that is initially required for a proofread but the proofreader notices more intervention is required at the editing stage, and the skill/service becomes a ‘proof-edit’.

The Origins of Copy Editing and Proofreading

Copy editing and proofreading as skills, have their origin in publishing houses. The proofreader would basically have two sheets of paper and if they were right handed they would compare the double-spaced copy (left side on their desk) with the single-spaced proof (right side on their desk) to ensure that amendments made on the copy had been transferred smoothly and that no new errors were introduced by the publishing team’s process – a process that included, among others, a copy editor, typesetter, and author.

These practices were from days and times when typewriters were used, and a typesetter would rekey the entire manuscript with the copy editor’s and author’s amendments, but these days most people do their writing on PCs, other computers, or using online applications and there is therefore less need for a typesetter to rekey the entire material.

In practice a proofreader would look left and right a lot, as you could imagine. When a proofreader was asked to look at a single sheet it was called a ‘blind proofread’, which meant there was no copy. Most proofreading nowadays is a blind proofread!

Traditional book publishers wouldn’t have a single ‘go to’ person to sort out the manuscript, as we sometimes have nowadays when hiring freelances, and although over time publishers have hired out freelances to cut costs, they would still follow a rigorous quality control process. They’d do it in stages to prepare the manuscript for publishing and to help catch errors before it was too late.

How to Proofread

I’ve read today that one proofreader learnt copy editing while working for a publisher, comparing the copy editor’s notes with the author’s, giving them insight into the sort of things to look out for and how to do the job. I found this fascinating.

There probably isn’t a single way you can go about it. Some readers are particularly apt at spotting errors – or new angles of thought – in the books they read. Some, like myself, got started by helping author friends prepare for publishing. There are those who want the freedom that comes with running your own business, or for other reasons find working from home suitable.

Professional courses, colleague advice, and membership of professional organisations can help alongside experience. My view is that if you’re a writer getting your own writing edited or proofread it can help you see the value of the processes in action rather than just taking it for granted.