Monday, August 27, 2018

5 Ways to Know Your Book is Finished

By Lynda R. Young

I recently went through some old manuscripts that had gathered dust. They’d been shoved in the proverbial drawer because of a perceived lack of perfection. I had believed they couldn’t be fixed because they broke the supposed rules, or the characters weren’t interesting enough, or I’d decided the beginnings were terrible or the endings were flat. I had plenty of excuses to hide them away and not enough courage to bring them into the light and try again.

I’ll admit I’m too much of a perfectionist when it comes to writing. But life is short and I’d had enough of silly excuses. There are plenty of popular books out there that are far from perfect yet they have a given a lot of readers thorough enjoyment. And it turned out my stories weren’t as bad as I had first thought. The problem was, they wouldn’t give anyone anything if I didn’t get them out there.

So when do you know your manuscript is ready for publication?

1. Write YOUR story
One of my manuscripts had eleven drafts before I had given up on it. Eleven! With each iteration, I’d made it worse. I’d sent it to countless people to critique and they all had something different to say about it. I kept trying to please everyone rather than listen to the story that wanted to be written. I kept focusing on the negative and believed the story wasn’t good enough and couldn’t be fixed. I ended up going back to an early draft and starting again. It is a thousand times better now and it’s ready.

2. Learn the rules but don’t be ruled by them
Some writers prefer to call them guidelines rather than fixed rules that mustn’t be broken. Whatever you call them, to flout them entirely is a mistake. They will make your writing better if you understand them first before deciding to break them. But do feel free to break them if your story calls for it. So what if your main character isn’t likeable? What does it matter if you use multiple flashbacks to drive your story? You want your story to revolve around a common trope? Find a way to make it work, then go for it!

3. Get valued feedback
Despite what I said in the first point, it is important to get feedback on what you’ve written. Get at least two critiques and then get a professional edit. A lot of what we have in our head doesn’t always translate onto the page. That’s why we need those extra eyes. So make sure the feedback is coming from people who understand your genre and preferably have experience with editing. Everyone has a bias too, so it’s important to also read between their lines.

4. Time is a great editor
Rather than declaring a piece finished and throwing your manuscript out there in a rush, give it some time to percolate. Stepping away from it for a while will give you fresh eyes so you’ll be able to see whether it is as awesome as you first thought or still needs some work. Time will help you trust your gut.

5. Perfect is an impossible goal
My husband coined the perfect phrase for what we should strive for when it comes to a finished manuscript: Happy Perfect—the perfect that’s not perfect, but you’re proud of it anyway and you’re willing and ready to share it with the world. Readers rarely notice the mistakes, the tropes, the broken rules. If they are enjoying your story then you’ve got a winning book.

For me a manuscript is never finished because I could constantly pick at it and tweak here and there. But I want to share my stories with the world which means I need to finish them to send them out there. It does take courage to stand firm in the blaze of other people’s opinions and our own doubts, but using these suggestions might help.

How do you know when your manuscript is finished?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Reedsy Book Editor

The road from book idea to complete manuscript is a long one, full of twists, turns, and challenges. When you finally finish your last revision, it can feel like you’ve reached the mountain peak and the hard work is behind you. Of course, then you double-check your map and realize you’ve still got miles to travel before you reach your destination of being a published author. 

But don’t be daunted! Thankfully, today’s indie publishing community is a supportive one, and Reedsy is here to help escort you to your next milestone: formatting your manuscript to be press-ready.

That’s why we created the Reedsy Book Editor: a free formatting tool that any author can use to ensure that their trade book meets industry standards.

The best part (apart from the $0 price tag) is that you can turn your manuscript into a full-fledged book in just six steps. 

Let’s get started.

Step One: Import your book 
The very first step is to create the chapters or parts of your book. You’ll find the function to do so at the top-left of the Editor, right under the Reedsy logo.

Once you’ve finished setting that up, you can begin importing your manuscript — a fancy term for copying and pasting each chapter or part into the Editor. Any formatting that you’ve already done in Word, Google Docs, or Pages will carry over into the Editor when you copy and paste (including italics, bold words, links, headings, etc). 

Once you’ve finished getting your manuscript settled into the Editor, the fun part starts: formatting!

Bonus resource: Get your manuscript to the finish line in the first place by developing a rock-solid writing routine.
Step Two: Format your manuscript
If you haven’t already finished formatting your manuscript before transferring it over to the Editor, don’t worry! The Editor’s formatting bar makes it a breeze  — and maybe even a little fun! This is the part where you get to put the finishing touches on your manuscript and see your words start to actually look like a book.

The formatting bar offers two primary functions:

First, it allows you to style your paragraphs. Highlight the appropriate paragraph and select one of these options:
  • A standard serif paragraph: this is the default option for any pasted content.
  • Three types of headings (if applicable): H1, H2, and H3.
  • Two types of lists (if applicable): numbers and bullet points.
  • Quotations: an offset, italic version of the standard serif paragraph. Use this to highlight a paragraph — for instance, if the text is a letter or diary entry.

Second, it allows you to style and customize your fonts. Highlight the appropriate words and select one of these options:
  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Link

You can also format your book with the “Add” function (the plus sign “+” at the top of the Editor). This function allows you to:
  • Add an image
  • Add an endnote/footnote 
  • Add a scene break (which you can see below)

Once you’ve finished formatting your manuscript, it’s time make sure your front and back matter’s t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted.

Bonus resource: Learn more about typesetting and the role a book’s interior plays in getting its message across to readers. 
Step Three: Prepare your front and back matter
Reedsy offers ready-to-go templates for the following front matter components: copyright, dedication, epigraph, table contents, foreword, preface, and acknowledgement.

The back matter consists of your endnotes, about the author page, and “Also by…” page where you can tell readers about other books you’ve published.

Of course, you don’t need to use all of these options. Simply select the ones you want to include.

Bonus resource: Learn more about the different parts of a book, including the front and back matter.
Step Four: Add finishing touches
With the Editor, you can rest assured knowing that your book will meet industry standards. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be standard itself!

The exporting process will give you a few final opportunities to customize, including:

  • The option to add drop caps. 
  • Three themes, including: Standard Reedsy format, Romance, and Classic.

If your book’s interior is ready to rock, it’s time to give it a cover.
Step Five: Upload your book cover
To do so, select “Book settings,” and then “Upload a book cover.” If you’re planning to publish print copies, ensure that the cover you upload has the appropriate dimensions based on the printer you’re planning to use! 

This is an important step to get right because, despite what we’ve been told, people will absolutely judge your book by it’s cover. Here are few resources for you to consider while working on your cover:

And, of course, it’s always worth considering working with a professional cover designer. Check out the average cost of hiring a professional here!

Bonus resource: Learn more about book cover design for indie authors.
Step Six: Export your book
This is your last stop! If you haven’t already, it’s time to decide whether you want to create an ebook, print copies, or both. If you’re just focusing on ebooks, you’ll want to select the “.epub and .mobi conversion” option. If you’re looking to create print copies, ensure you select the “Print on Demand PDF” option.

The epub option will be compatible with all the major online retailers, including Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iBookstore, the Kobo Store, Nook Press, Google Play and NetGalley.

The PDF option will be compatible with all the major POD services, such as IngramSpark, CreateSpace, BookBaby, Lulu, and more.

Once again, if you’re printing copies, don’t forget to ensure that when downloading the file, you choose the trim size that matches the dimensions of your book cover! The available trim sizes are:

  • Pocket 4.25 x 6.87 in (10.80 x 17.45 cm)
  • Reedsy 5 x 8 in (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Digest 5.5 x 8.5 in (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
  • Trade 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)

Bonus resource: Learn more about which ebook format you should choose, or about what the best service for print-on-demand books is for you!
Hey, presto!
Hit “Export” and wait for the Reedsy Book Editor to email you with your ready-to-publish files. You’re one step closer to being a published author! The top of the mountain is getting a little closer, and we hear the view of the other side is pretty darn nice.

Before we go, we’ve got one more bonus resource for you: a short video tutorial that will visually take you through all of the above steps.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Staying Relevant As An Author

For many writers, the day comes when you think, hey, this is more than a hobby. More time goes by and you decide, you know what? This writing thing is serious business.

You put yourself on some kind of schedule and you decide you’re gonna be disciplined if it kills you. You might get close to all out catatonia as you balance work, family and your writing regimen, but you stay the course and begin to release books.

Without a promotion drive, those books will sputter and sales fizzle. Exposure is critical when you’re unknown and trying to build a readership.

The internet provides unlimited research material that helps us to decide what to do and how to find the best deals.

  • Say you need book covers? Fiverr has a host of cover artists that provide service starting at – you guessed it – five dollars. Be warned, that you're hardly likely to get anything for that price, so be prepared to spend more. 
  • Need a blog tour host? Google is your go-to unit and if you want to get close and personal, Facebook is a great place to find people who provide this kind of service. Type in book promotion or cover art and potential sellers will pop up.
  • Looking for someone to run your promotions or host a book release party? Use any search engine or Facebook. Your writing buddies are also a source for checking out service providers. 
  • Want to find book clubs to expand your base of readers? Facebook is a good source as well. 
  • Have people who like reading your books? Start a group on whatever platform you like best and encourage them to share your work and add others to the team.
  • Include a free book as a gift for joining your mailing list.
  • Last, but by no means least, this website is a powerhouse of materials on every aspect of the publishing world, so make use of it.

Gone are the days when we can afford to keep our nose to the grindstone and ignore the reading public until we have a new book for sale. It’s not necessarily the best writers who have repeat readers, but those who find a way to keep themselves relevant and in front of those who are buying books.

Have you made the decision to take your publishing efforts to the next level? Are doing enough marketing? What has worked well for you in selling books?

Don't forget the IWSG Anthology Contest is coming up. Here are the details:
Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

Theme: Masquerade
A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Writing Together With #WEP and #IWSG

Those of us passionate about writing, regularly read craft books with the aim of polishing our work, don’t we? But no craft book can appeal to every writer. It’s hit and miss to find a book that is exactly what you need. Sure, we can learn bits and pieces, but I’ve found an excellent way to improve my writing right here in the blogosphere.

What better place to learn the writing craft? Amongst supportive friends.

As a relative beginner writer when I started blogging in 2007, nowhere could I find what I was looking for - an online writing community that not only challenged my writing, but one where I could ask for instant feedback. I dabbled in #Fridayflash and other occasional online writing challenges, but nothing fulfilled my need.

You know what they say…if it’s not available, invent it. So, I took the plunge. Knowing I’d need a partner, I emailed a favorite blogger friend, Francine Howarth, and RomanticFridayWriters (RFW) was born in 2010. We started weekly #flashfiction challenges with a word limit of 400, then after groans and grumbles, we upped it to 1,000 words (the upper limit for #flashfiction). Francine eventually moved on to take the Regency Romance world by storm, so Donna Hole stepped into the breach.

RFW segued into WEP (Write…Edit…Publish), opening up to more genres – added to flash fiction, we included non-fiction, poetry, photography, art and playscripts. But flash fiction remains the most popular genre by far. By now I was operating without a co-host which was no fun, so I asked one of WEP’s most enthusiastic participants, Yolanda Renee, to become my new partner. Good choice. Yolanda was full of enthusiasm to see WEP take its place in the vibrant writing community, offering its unique blend of camaraderie, critique and challenge.

WEP is a close-knit team, so here’s my current co-host, Yolanda, explaining what joining WEP has meant to her: “When I discovered the RFW website (now WEP) in 2012, I joined without hesitation. The opportunity to work on writing a short story and receive immediate feedback was exciting. I posted my first flash fiction and requested a full critique. I not only got the critique, but my every question answered. This was ideal, and the opportunity to learn came not only through my writing but also by reading the work of others. I was hooked. Posting from WIPs is a popular way to test writing ideas, and I’ve used the work created for the challenges in my books, and I’ve re-written pieces after critique as contest entries. The opportunities are endless and inspiring. This online community is a success story — many participants have gone on to publish multiple novels.”

And the success story will continue through the partnership with the IWSG. WEP itself includes the founder, Denise Covey, co-host Yolanda Renee, along with Nilanjana Bose and Olga Godim. We are thrilled to join with the talented IWSG admin, most particularly at this stage, Pat Hatt and C. Lee McKenzie. Here is a joint badge created by our very talented Olga Godim. We'd love it if you'd share on your blog.

As current team member, the multi-published poet and prose writer Nilanjana Bose says, “My first entry for WEP, which was then RFW, goes back to August 2012 and I’ve not missed a prompt since, even when traveling...WEP has pushed, stretched, rewarded and comforted me even as it has grown me out of my comfort zone. It has improved my writing skill set, fine-tuned them both as a poet and a story-teller. The rigorous discipline of writing to prompts, set word counts and deadlines is invaluable for writers at any stage of growth.  I cannot imagine my writing/blogging life without it.”

Flash fiction is an addiction, and this bi-monthly 1000-word challenge is the icing on the cake. If you’re considering taking the plunge, please do. You’ll be surprised by the quality of the writing, the variety of genres, the supportive feedback, and the networking opportunities made possible simply by participating in WEP.

How about you? We’d love you to take up the challenge of writing to WEP prompts. Your writing will improve through the challenges and feedback. Even if you consider your writing flawless, sharing with others and offering valuable feedback to beginners will help the community grow and you will reap new readers for your published, or soon-to-be-published works.

We have the complete list of challenges on our website. On the Challenges 2018 Page you will find helpful hints for each challenge, but it’s up to you and your creativity how you approach each prompt.

We've had so much fun this year - with IN TOO DEEP, ROAD LESS TRAVELED and UNRAVELED YARN. So much creativity in the entries. Now it's your turn. You love the idea, don't you? What’s next?

WEP challenges are free and open to all. The current prompt is for August, CHANGE OF HEART. Submissions are already open. CLICK on this link and you're there!! We encourage you to post the badge in your sidebar with a link to WEP (

Follow this process if you wish to participate:

  • The InLinkz sign up is on the WEP blog on the first of the month, or you may see it on other blogs who've copied the code. Add your intention to post here.
  • We post entries on the third Wednesday of the month or according to the badge. Post your entry onto your website or facebook page. (The TimeZone clock is on the WEP site - follow this timezone as we're from all over the world). Please add 'WEP' to your TITLE so we can easily pick it up.
  • Leave a comment on the WEP website when you post, so we can add your Direct Link (DL) to the list. This way you retain your position.
  • We ask that you do the rounds, leaving comments and feedback as requested.

You can post flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, an artwork with an explanation, photo essay or a playscript. 1,000-word limit. Any more, and reading becomes a challenge in itself!

There is a $10 Amazon Gift Card for first prize. Who decides who wins? A shortlist is compiled by the WEP team, sent to the judge (Nick Wilford) and he places them into first, second and third. Second and third receive a winners’ badge for their website or facebook page. And there is a Commenter Badge for participants who read most/all entries.

And please subscribe to our mailing list at WEP! (Any problem with MailChimp, email me and I'll add you manually).

We'll see you in August!


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest and A IWSG/WEP Collaboration

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!
Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are: Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!
August 01 Question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group has entered into a new partnership with the Write...Edit...Publish Challenge (aka WEP) which is the brainchild of Denise Covey, a long-standing IWSG member, who runs this challenge with her wonderful team.
WEP is a free online writing/creative community.


  1. SUBMIT your name to the Inlinkz list that will be provided on the WEP blog. The list opens 01 August which is TODAY!
    2. CREATE your entry for the August challenge - CHANGE OF HEART
    3. EDIT your entry
    4. POST your entry on your blog/face book page on August 15 - state feedback preferences
    5. READ other entries, giving feed back
    ALL GENRES WELCOME except erotica - 1,000 words maximum.
    Visit the WEP site for more information.

The IWSG Goodreads Book Club

We're almost at 300 book club members!
Our book selection for August/September is:

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

This one is for our memoir writers and anyone who has ever thought of writing a memoir. The discussion will start September 19th and will go to the end of the month, but it will be up indefinitely, so you can hop in whenever you're able. Join Us On Goodreads.


Facebook Shake Up
The Facebook  members can look forward to some new activities. Starting in August, the line-up will be as follows:
Sunday – New Member Shout Out
First Monday – Member Services Offered
The remaining Mondays – Informational Monday
First Wednesday – IWSG Day
Second Wednesday – Ask For Help
Third Wednesday will be shared with WEP
The WEP challenge is on the third Wednesday of August, October and
December, which is every alternate month
On the non-WEP third Wednesdays – Wordsmith Tales
Fourth Wednesday – Hot Topic/Industry News
Fifth Wednesday – WOW It’s Wednesday
Friday – News & Promo

We look forward to engaging in stimulating conversation and exciting discussions/debates on a variety of topics. JOIN US ON FACEBOOK.

Which one of the above activities are you interested in? Will you be preparing a YA story based on Masquerade? Or do you prefer the theme Change Of Heart? Would a memoir discussion over at the Goodreads Book Club suit you? Or one of our Hot Topics coming up as part of the new Facebook line-up? 
There is plenty to choose from! Happy IWSG Day!