The Un-Editorial Notepad #4

Posted by Rita Lorraine

Hi Everybody,
Happy Mother’s Day! Coming to you with another un-editorial notepad that has absolutely nothing to do with Mother’s Day; it’s just time to post it.

Five Do’s and Don’ts for the Self-Published Author

1. DO make sure your book is free of typos and grammatical errors BEFORE you print. I know this is a sore point with many authors who self-publish, especially those who would never make such a mistake and feel they’re being talked-down-to. But as a Reviewer, I still run into books riddled with typos, missing words, incomplete sentences, blank pages and horrid grammar.

2. DO make sure your “editor” is a real editor and not just someone who claims to be. Your editor should be an expert speller, grammarian and writer, because if s/he isn’t, you’ve wasted your time and money. And for the record, yes, I’ve received books from writers who say they paid to have their books “edited,” yet the typos on the page were enough to make my eyes cross.

3. DON’T try to lay out your book yourself – unless you’ve had courses on page layout. You run the risk of your book looking amatuerish and, well…”rigged.” I’ve received books that were stapled together–crookedly–so the pages didn’t line up and the illustrations inside were lost in the seams of the pages. Trying to visualize this type of end-product as a “picture book” actually gave me a headache, and I know if I was disappointed and I’m only a Reviewer, an Editor or Publisher would have tossed such a book into the dark abyss. Please don’t do it!

4. PLEASE DON’T LIE ABOUT YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. I’ve had writers list a dozen credentials and send me two dozen links to websites where they’ve “edited” other people’s work. But then when I receive their self-published book, the pages are bent, they don’t line up, the illustrations are blurry, the grammar is wrong, the reading level is off, and…well, you get the point. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to sell yourself, I’m just saying that it’s always good to be able to back up any claims you make.

5. DON’T GET AN ATTITUDE. I absolutely love reviewing Picture Books. (See my site – Picture Book Depot for examples of my reviews). I’m also a children’s book writer, so I know first-hand the blood, sweat and tears that go into writing a book. For this reason, I HATE writing negative reviews, and much prefer postponing the review and notifying the writer that perhaps now’s not the time to seek one. I simply offer to return the book.

I DO THIS AS A COURTESY, so the unassuming writer doesn’t have to wake up to a horrendous review of his/her book. But if I extend this courtesy to you, PLEASE don’t get an attitude. Yes, I’ve had writers get attitudes with me because I wouldn’t give them a sparkling review. But if I find typos, grammatical errors, blank pages, 10-line sentences with no punctuation, distorted illustrations and the like, I’m sorry…I just can’t give you a sparkling review.

I’m not saying you should pledge your eternal love for me after I return your book (on my dime; you forgot to include return postage!), but I am saying that a nice “thank you,” or “I understand,” or “Okay, I hope to contact you at a later date” would be in order.

that’s what’s on my un-editorial notepad today. I truly hope it helps, and again, Happy Mother’s Day!

Rita Lorraine

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