These are some of the things that I’ve learned over the years, a lot of them things that I probably should have known, and that maybe you need to know, too. Some are more important than others, but they aren’t in any particular order. Let’s jump right in!
#1: Don’t Publish Right Away
If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, like Revision & Editing: Not Optional, than you know I can really close to publishing my first draft. Got proof copies and everything. But, you aren’t supposed to publish as soon as you finish your first draft. You need to go through developmental editing, but even after that’s done, and you have your nice, formatted and covered book, you still won’t want to publish right away. You want to give yourself time to order and review proofs, promote and build hype for your book (with ARCs and presale for example), organize your launch, etc.
#2: The I Button In The Top Bar Is For Italics
I’m not kidding, I had no idea about this for four years while I was writing. I thought italics was a font, and I couldn’t find it on my computer, so I wrote with a cursive font in its place. I didn’t realize until my English teacher marked me off for not using italics on an essay, and showed me after I tried to explain that I didn’t have it on my computer (cue embarrassment). So anyway, if somehow you’re in the same boat, you can usually find it right next to the B for bold.
I mentioned this one in my post on word-count, but I really didn’t understand word-count for a long time. I just went by the pages at the bottom of my screen, until I realized they weren’t accurate. After some research I finally understood why writers use word-count, though I wished I’d learned about it sooner.
#4: Proper Dialogue Format
It turned out I had been writing with the wrong dialogue format my entire manuscript, and it was not fun going through the entire thing to correct each line. I capitalized after split quotations where I shouldn’t, and it took forever to correct them, so make sure you save yourself time and go through a style guide.
#5: Adding Two Hyphens
Like the italics, it took me a while to realize that you can put two hyphens together to make the long one; “–” (aka the Em dash). I wasn’t really sure about this one, I thought maybe it was a formatting thing, so I’d just used one. I figured it out when I accidentally put two and they morphed together. It was one of those “Woah. Mind blown” moments. Note: I use a Windows computer, and I don’t think it is the same for Mac.
#6: Filter Words
I took me a while to learn about filter words, and how they can be replaced with more detailed description. Writing things like, “I thought” and “I heard” had seemed find to me, but my editor really helped me to learn about better “showing” the reader and drawing them into the story.
It took me some time to figure out exactly how the royalties work, too. At first, I thought it was only traditionally published authors that dealt with royalties, and that self-published authors kept everything except the cost of production. I was very mistaken. Of course distributors and retailers want a cut. Unless you order the books directly and sell them yourself, you’ll being receiving royalties based on whatever cut each distributor/retailer wants.
#8: Formats Differ
There are different formats you have to put your book in for different websites that will sell it. For example, there is the KDP format used for Amazon, and EPUB for many eReaders, such as iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble’s. I didn’t know this for a while, and you’ll need a separate ISBN for each format.
I mentioned in my post on outlining, but I didn’t know outlining was a thing when I did my first draft. It got messy, that’s for sure. I didn’t realize how much outlining can help a plot, and it has already made things a lot clearer for this book, and my next books.
#10: Typing Is Dangerous
What? I know you’re probably wondering how this one got here. Let’s just say: lesson learned. It turned out I’d been typing incorrectly for ergonomics, and I payed the price for that. I wasn’t able to use my either of my wrists at all for an entire two months, and had had another couple months before where I was alternating between the two, thanks to multiple wrong diagnosis. Finally, we figured out it was tendinitis, and I had to work hard to get back to normal after not using my wrists so long. I can type fine now, though I’m careful to take plenty of breaks, and I’ve definitely learned to type at a desk, with my wrists pointed down, not up. I cost me a lot of writing and other time, and set me back quite a bit with my manuscript. Anyway, moral of the story: type safe. Here’s a link to a quick wikiHow on proper typing: https://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Computer-Keyboard.
In short, writing has been an eventful journey, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop finding things I didn’t know. I hope my sharing these has helped you, or at least given you a good laugh 🙂
Were there any things here you didn’t know? What’s something that took you a while to learn?
I post new advice on Saturdays, so please click “follow” to keep learning more! What would you like me to blog about next? Do you have any questions about writing? Please be sure to let me know in the comments, or contact me via social media! 🙂
With all of this in mind, go out and write your masterpiece!