Just how important is editing for a new author?
This is one of the questions we posed to S.G. Blaise, a new author who’s made an amazing entrance into the world of literature with her debut novel The Last Lumenian. S.G. has won multiple awards for her fantasy, including the prestigious Best Romance Book at the 2020 New York Book Festival and Best Science Fiction Book at the 2020 San Francisco Book Festival. Respected book review magazine, Kirkus Reviews, praised The Last Lumenian as “a terrifically entertaining, complex, and original fantasy.”
What a great way to begin one’s career as an author!
What can fellow new authors glean from S.G.’s example?
We interviewed S.G. about her experience in writing and editing. Below, she shares how she works and offers relevant advice that every first-time author can relate to and follow. Let’s jump in.
Push past your doubts and just start writing
Do you sometimes feel like an imposter? It happens to us all. Whether you’re working on your first book or your 50th, you’ll never be fully free of that nagging feeling of self-doubt. But the magic happens when you push past that and write anyway.
In S.G.’s experience, fear paralyzed her for an entire year but she was able to move beyond it. She shares, “I was scared to start writing, to be honest, in the beginning. So I hesitated for a whole year! And then my husband’s very inspiring words prompted me to start writing when he said, ‘Just stop talking and start writing.’ It was very motivating in more ways than one. It was like a flood-gate opening up at that point. For a whole month, I didn’t even get up from the computer.”
It’s really that simple. But it’s also difficult. It’s never easy to leap out and do something you’ve never done before, such as publish a book. But the only way to make it happen (and quiet your fear) is to sit down and start writing.
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Get involved with a small writing group
“Writing is a lonely and hermit-like lifestyle,” S.G. shares. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for her (and every writer) to engage with others. You’re building entire worlds in your head, and sometimes that can cause you to get a little stir crazy.
In addition to the much-needed social interaction with your peers, a major benefit of joining a writing group is that you can get feedback on your own writing. S.G. joined a reading critique group called San Diego Writers Inc. where she learned the craft of writing, shortly after she began working on her novel.
“I realized that I didn’t know anything about craft or how to write a book in English. I didn’t even know how to use the quotation marks for dialogue because, in European books, we use the dash. We don’t use the quotation marks.”
Getting exposed to others’ writing and getting feedback on her own helped her to improve and build confidence.
Read everything you can get your hands on
Writers must be voracious readers. After all, the more you’re exposed to the written word and the rich ways that it can be twisted, stretched, and woven, the better your own writing will be as a result.
S.G. agrees. “I read books constantly. I try to read my genre and others that are not related to fantasy to force myself to broaden my horizon.”
Reading from multiple genres is key for multiple reasons. First, if you’re a new writer, you should explore different genres to find where you fit. You may think you’re a when you’re actually b. Also, reading other genres shows you what’s distinct and captivating about your chosen genre. Check out the importance of reading other genres here.
Use writing prompts to fuel your creativity
Do you ever look at a blank page and don’t know where to begin? Obviously! You’re a writer. While you may be a natural-born writer, you may not always have a solid idea of what to write. Some call this writer’s block, but I prefer to call this writer’s blank when you’re open to ideas, but not sure where to start.
Writing prompts also keep you in the creative zone, even when you’re not actively writing your story. Prompts may even inspire a new story, as is the case with S.G.
“When I’m not writing [a novel], I do writing prompts. These are random prompts that may have nothing to do with fantasy, but writing two of these prompts gave me the beginning of book four and the ending of book four.”
Turn it into a business
Writing can be a hobby that you just do for fun or it can become a business that sustains you. If you're serious about turning writing into a business, you need to establish a presence online.
Follow S.G.’s example—in addition to maintaining a blog on her own author site, she's also created a dedicated website for her novel where she shares a sample of the book and makes it easy for those interested to buy it. But that's not all. S.G. is active on social media. In the three months since starting her Instagram channel, she's amassed over 1,500 followers.
Every person you reach online is a potential reader, and also someone who may share your book with others. The goal is non-stop exposure.
Find your voice
Finding your writer’s voice is probably the most important thing you can ever do. No pressure. Your writer’s voice encompasses your style, tone, and perspective.
While finding your writer’s voice is a must, it won’t happen overnight. Just ask S.G.
“I wrote five or six versions from blank in six years, and that helped to develop the author voice that I could call my own.”
From blank? In other words, did S.G. literally start from scratch each time?
“Technically, I wrote five 500-page books,” she says with a laugh. “Yeah, I always complicate things, if I can.”
But writing from scratch was obviously useful. Here’s what S.G. learned:
“Even though it was the same story, it constantly evolved and changed into something new, so it was still interesting for me to keep exploring where the story would go.
“Because I kept writing and writing, it helped me to develop my style and my author voice. It was a phenomenal process. I would not change anything, even knowing how many years and how much work goes into it, because I firmly believe this is what made me a good writer. If I must say so. Knock on wood!”
This is why it’s crucial to write a lot. Most of what you write probably won’t see the light of day, but every discarded word matters. The more you write, the more obvious your writer’s voice will become.
Use a professional editing service
S.G. shares her best advice to a new author. “Find the right editing company to work with because they give you more confidence and an appreciation that you can turn back into your own work. I probably should have sent my manuscript to NY Book Editors sooner because having a manuscript evaluation is absolutely priceless.”
Why is a manuscript evaluation important for new authors?
“[When writing a book,] the hard part is to know, Is this the idea that’s going to work? This is something you’ll spend months, if not years, working on, so it better be the best idea you can have. Having an editor evaluate your manuscript can give you the best start.”
But don’t just go with any editor. S.G. took this process so seriously that her hands were shaking when she submitted her manuscript to us. Here’s why:
“It was a big decision. It’s your life’s work. You put your heart and soul into a manuscript and then you release it to someone you may never meet. It’s a huge leap of trust.”
S.G. did a lot of research to find the right editing service. Ultimately, she chose to work with NY Book Editors.
“[The NY Book Editors team] takes it very seriously—the way they choose their editors to the way they interact with clients,” she shares. “Both Dan [director of operations] and Natasa [the company’s founder] were a tremendous help in this process because I felt we had transparency. We had open communication. They were very good at matching the editors to the writer clients.
“The more I interacted with [the team], the more I felt confirmation that I picked the right company, and this is the best thing that happened to me.”
Prepare for multiple editing passes
Many people think that editing is a one-time job. However, there are three types of edits and every manuscript can benefit from going through each type of edit.
The three types of editing are:
1. A big-picture edit, known as a manuscript critique - This edit takes a look at your story and its characters as a whole, focusing on the structure, voice, and thematics. Editors look for inconsistencies and help you clarify the heart of your story.
2. A line edit, known as a comprehensive edit - This is the most detailed edit available. Because the line edit happens after the manuscript critique, editors go line by line looking for opportunities to tighten up your prose and pacing. In addition to big-picture feedback, the editor will delete passages, rearrange them, and suggest new ones.
3. A copyedit - This is the final stage of editing. It should always be done after both the critique and the comprehensive edit. Copyediting focuses on grammar, such as spelling errors, punctuation problems, and inconsistencies. It's also concerned with plot, character, and setting continuity. The copyedit is your book's last edit before publication and will catch any rogue typo.
However, your manuscript may need to pass through the same type of edit more than once.
Before it became an award-winning novel, The Last Lumenian went through multiple editing passes. While it may sound daunting, S.G. shares that editing was “a fantastic experience.”
“First, Julie did a manuscript evaluation for me to make sure that the level of editing that I selected matched the level of manuscript. Then she did line editing with content editing where she would point out the plot gaps. We did two rounds with Julie.”
After her manuscript was ready for the next stage, Julie passed the baton William, our copyeditor. Not only did S.G. do two passes with Jule, she also did two passes with William.
“William had to copyedit twice because I think something clicked when I was reading all these rounds of editing. And so I went back and I did my own editing after he did the copyedit and then I had to send the manuscript back to him to make sure that I didn’t create too much of an issue with all of the changes.”
Good editing made S.G. a better and more intentional writer. “I spent weeks reading through the manuscript from page one, checking out every edit that they recommended, and did not just hit ‘accept all.’ I think reading what they did and seeing the example and application helped my brain to process how editing really works.”
Of her overall experience in writing and editing her first novel, she shares, “It was a phenomenal journey, to wrap it up in a nutshell. The six years were one twist after another of learning the writing, learning who I am as a person. It was therapeutic in many aspects.”
But S.G. is just getting started. “I love working with NY Book Editors, and I have 12 more books in the works, so I hope you’re ready.”
Don’t let being new stop you from being great. Learn from S.G.’s example. Push past your fear and write the story that you can’t shake. The one that’s haunting your dreams. And don’t forget to get a good editor. Not only will editing shape your manuscript, but it will also make you a stronger writer because you will grow from the feedback.
Congratulations to S.G. on her explosive success! We’re so happy to see the results of her hard work. Be sure to grab a copy of S.G.’s book, The Last Lumenian, right here.
Did You Know?
Did you know that working with NY Book Editors makes an impact in the community? We've partnered with Book Trust, a nonprofit organization that donates books to school-age children across the United States. By working with NY Book Editors, your edit equals three to four gifted books. Learn more about this incredible program here.
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