Looking for Reviews?

All authors, especially those of us of the independent persuasion, understand the importance of reviews and building one’s platform. Readers are less likely to check out an unknown author whose work has zero reviews and ratings.

While just getting reviews are great, what if you could you could also be a part of an awesome community of authors, who all work to propel each other forward? It’s hard enough, stumbling through figuring out how to build your platform and promote your work.

Rave Reviews Book Club has been nothing but superb. It’s exactly that — a community of authors, all working together. I’ve connected with so many writers on Twitter, and not just as authors, but also making friends.

Definitely check it out! Tell ’em Allison Williford sent you. ūüôā

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Rave Waves Radio Interview 1/10 @ 1PM EST/12PM CST

This Sunday, 1/10, I will be on Rave Waves Radio @ 1PM EST/12 PM CST to chat about my Contemporary Romance novel, Waiting for You. You can tweet your questions with hashtag #RRBCTagTeam2*4*5 and join in on the conversation! And, as always, feel free to tweet me @AlliW_writes!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ravereviewsbookclub

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6 Tips for Editing Your First Draft

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Before you send off your baby…er…manuscript to your editor or beta readers, it’s important to get it in tip-top shape. No beta reader or editor wants to slog through careless typos and errors that could have easily been fixed by the author.

I know what you’re thinking…¬†but Allison! Isn’t that what editors and beta¬†readers are for?!

The answer is no.

From time to time I do some beta reading. I’ve seen some really awesome¬†manuscripts. But I’ve also seen some really horrible ones, too. I don’t mean horrible as in the story was bad; there were just so many typos, silly grammatical errors, or careless plot holes…so many that it just made me absolutely hate the story itself, and made me internally curse the author. It was very apparent that the author had done zero proofreading or editing.

All authors should take the time to edit their work once the first draft is complete (yes, even if you were self-editing along the way). A sloppy manuscript only screams:

“I’m lazy and I don’t care what you think of my writing!”

Okay, maybe not quite like that. But every sloppy manuscript I’ve read made me doubt the author’s ability as a writer. Every careless error detracted more and more from what could have been a really good story, usually to the point of my being totally fed up and wishing I could just stop reading it.

Editors will also appreciate your efforts. It saves them time from having to correct the little, silly errors such as typos, when they could¬†be focusing on the bigger picture of your story — plot and characterization, or the voice and syntax of your writing.

This doesn’t mean you need to have a¬†Ph.D in English. I do suggest picking up a reference book for English grammar. English for Dummies is a good one; it explains grammar rules in simple terms and offers good¬†examples.

Once you’ve brushed up on basic grammar and punctuation, here are some ¬†suggestions for editing your work. I did all of these (pretty much in this order, too) after I finished my first draft of Waiting for You. But do what works for you!

  1. Step away from your story
    Once you’ve finally written those glorious words —¬†The End —¬†take a break from your first draft. After you’ve spent God only knows how many months¬†of¬†grueling over every scene and chapter, it all looks the same. Your brain knows what it’s supposed to say or sound like, so that’s what your eyes see when you proofread. Step away from it for at least a week. A month is great if you have the luxury of time (and not having a deadline). You’ll be able to come back with fresh eyes.
  2. Proofread your manuscript in various mediums
    If possible, read it in different mediums:¬†print out your manuscript or load it onto your e-reader. If you print it out, mark up that bad boy with colored pens and markers (I’m a nut when it comes to colored pens). If you use your e-reader, load it¬†as a .mobi or .epub file, and you should be able to “highlight” any troublesome passages.¬†Also, make note of any phrases or words that you’ve used too much, as well as those pesky adverbs.
  3. Read it aloud
    Seriously, read your work out loud. You’ll be able to hear any clunky clauses or phrases, or dialogue that doesn’t quite sound genuine.
  4. Use your word processor’s handy dandy search bar
    Once you’ve gone through your manuscript a few times, go back into your word processor (or Scrivener, if you’re in the cool club), and use the search function to find any of those phrases or words you made note of. Reread those passages to see if there’s a more appropriate word or description you can use.
  5. Nix was, said*, very, etc.
    Or any other “weak” verb or adjective. I heard the tip some time ago to search for the word “was” — it was actually very eye-opening. I found that I was using the imperfect tense in a lot of places where preterite tense conveyed the action much more crisply. (i.e. “He was trembling.” vs. “He trembled.”)¬†This also goes for the word “very.”

    *A note on dialogue tags: Tread carefully when it comes to¬†your dialogue tags. If you find yourself having to replace a ton of dialogue tags for stronger verbs, or find yourself using¬†a lot of adverbs, you may need to rework the¬†dialogue itself. While using strong verbs for tags can be great in small sprinklings, your dialogue and your character’s action before/between/after should convey their¬†emotion strongly¬†enough that it doesn’t necessarily require a different tag.

  6. Those-Which-Must-Not-Be-Mentioned… That’s right. Adverbs.
    A lot of writers will cringe and hiss at you if you even utter the word “adverbs.” While it’s true that too many adverbs are a red flag that you should find stronger verbs and descriptions, I’m of the mindset that a few minor adverbs here and there are OK. You can’t seek and destroy every adverb in your story; you’ll end up with choppy passages and forced, awkward writing. If you find yourself scouring a thesaurus, just stick with your adverb. In a lot of instances, it’s extremely apparent when a writer had to look up a word.

Check out 9 Resources for Showing, Not Telling!

Take your time with edits and revisions. There’s no need to rush through them. Once you’re ready to work with beta readers and editors, be sure to keep an open mind to their input. You might find that all your betas have the same suggestions on a certain character or scene. Be receptive and respectful of critique, but also be sure to give your betas feedback as well.

You can also check out my post on Beta Reader Courtesy.

 

What other steps do you take to get your manuscript ready for beta readers and editors? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

 

Book Release!

I’m excited to announce that on 9/19, I will be releasing Waiting for You for¬†ebook and paperback.

What’s even more exciting?

From 9/19-10/19, I will be donating 50% of my profits to the Susan G Komen Foundation for breast cancer!

You can also like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/allisonwilliford1 and follow me on Twitter: @AlliW_writes

Beta Reader Courtesy

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When it comes to beta reading, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve done beta reading for others, and others have beta read for me.

It’s happened to me twice now, times I’ve offered to beta for people. Their work wasn’t actually ready for readers. The last time it happened, I waited two weeks. She kept sending out emails that she was making some changes, she was waiting on the editor, waiting on this, waiting on that. After two weeks, I was going back to work from my medical leave. I sent her a polite email explaining that when I had offered to beta, I was home from work and had time, and that I would no longer have time to give her book the attention it deserved as I was going back to work. She never emailed me back, never said, “Thank you for offering!” No, she deleted me from the Facebook group she made me join with the other betas and never spoke to me again. And yes, my email actually was polite. There was nothing nasty about it. Was I annoyed, however? YES.

Is it just me or is it common courtesy that when you ask for beta readers, that implies you’re READY for beta readers?

So, a few things if you’re looking for beta readers/are offering to beta for someone:

  1. Be considerate of the other person’s time. This goes for writers AND beta readers. Authors are eager to get feedback on their work and betas don’t want to have to wait around forever to get said work.
  2. Which brings me to my next point: authors, be patient. Don’t expect a beta to finish your book in just a few days. They have lives, too.
  3. Authors, be clear on what kind of feedback you’re looking for. If you don’t want feedback on grammatical/spelling errors, specify that.
  4. Beta readers, respect what the author is asking for.

What else would you add to this list?

Waiting for You: Meet the Characters (Post # 3)

Today I’d like to introduce one of my secondary characters — Kylie Lewis’s best friend, Cat.

Be sure to check out the profiles for Kylie and Adam!

Full Name:¬†Catalina Gabriela Gomez, nickname “Cat”
DOB: February 24, 1991
Height: 5’3″
Weight: 130 lbs.
Eye color: Brown
Ethnicity: Mexican
Hair color: Brunette
Family:¬†Mother ‚Äď In√©s Gomez; Father ‚Äď Felipe Gomez; also has two younger brothers, Carlos and Mart√≠n
Occupation: Ticket seller at the Coliseum (Charleston Performing Arts Center)
Hobbies: Surfing at Folly Beach, dancing,
Hometown: Born and raised in Charleston, SC
Current residence: Downtown Charleston
Friends: Kylie Lewis
Education: High School
Religion: Catholic
Personality: Extroverted, outgoing, bubbly, loud
Favorite Food: 
Mexican, seafood
Favorite Music: Pop, Pop-Rock

Here’s your link to the actress (singer, in this case…who also happens to be one of my idols for all her mental health advocacy work!)