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Welcome to Waypoint Author Academy

Waypoint Author Academy is your first step on the journey to becoming a confident writer and savvy business person.

Because whether you’re blazing your own trail in self publishing, or are pursuing the well trodden traditional route, at the end of the day you are still in a business.

Here at Waypoint our goal is blend writing, publishing, and healthy mindset to help you become a powerhouse publishing professional and the author of binge-worthy books your ideal readers can’t get enough of.

Waypoint is the place to be if:

  • you are brand new to writing/publishing and want to be sure to start out on the right foot
  • you have been in the industry for awhile and are overwhelmed by all the options and apps and channels for authors to publish and market
  • you need a quick refresher or reality check to get you out of your head and back into the flow
  • you want quality information from industry professionals who you can trust to guide you with honesty, integrity, and compassion

Waypoint is absolutely not the place to be if:

  • you are looking for a magic bullet or quick-fix to game the system and boost your vanity metrics only
  • you want all the readers and think your books are for everyone
  • you are not ready to implement long-game strategies, and attract only the ideal readers to your books

Campus Tour

Waypoint Author Academy is a virtual learning hub designed specifically to help fiction authors build long lasting and profitable careers.

In the online space non-fiction and fiction authors are often lumped together in articles about publishing and marketing but the frustrating truth is that they are not even close to the same.

Waypoint focuses on marketable genre fiction and authors who want to produce quality books for a voracious audience.

Take a look around and see if Waypoint is a good fit for you!


The Adventure Starts Here…

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5 Pivot Points to Plot Your Novel

The Waypoint Method of plotting aims to get deep under the skin of your story so that you understand more than just what happens to your characters, you understand the WHY.

Once we dig deeper into story, the plot points begin to fall together. Plot points are really just moments when your protagonist’s views or their way forward PIVOTS to something new.

Know what you’re aiming for with your story, always have an idea of where you’re going. Be flexible and be open as you ditch your perfectionist inner critic and let your mind wander through your ideas. Getting it all out on the table in front of you will help you sort through the creative mess and plan a great story route.

Books that stick with us, have characters that stick with us. ENDER’S GAME would not have been the same without Ender. LORD OF THE RINGS needed Frodo and Sam. The HUNGER GAMES was brought to life by Katniss (and the fab supporting cast).

When we take the time to dig deep into character, the plot points within our novel begin to fall together. We’ll know how to map out each of the following pivot points our protagonist takes throughout our story:

  1. Opportunity/Inciting Incident
  2. Commitment/The Step Forward
  3. Double Down/Reflection/Midpoint
  4. Rock Bottom/the true path is HARD
  5. Dig Deep/Climax

When you find the flow from one point to the next, and know your character, setting, and their place within the world, you end up not just with a plot but with a MEMORABLE STORY. Memorable stories are the ones we tell our friends about. And that is the best jumping off point for a fabulous career in fiction.

My fabulous TikTok followers picked the title for this plotter. I love them a little.

You can download the full guide HERE.

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How to Build a Long-Term Working Relationship With an Editor

If you’re an indie author, then you know it’s your responsibility to build a team to help you get your books out into the world. Because we have creative control and control over our production processes, we have the luxury of choosing our editors. Chances are, you’re probably interested in the idea of building a relationship with your editor that goes beyond a basic transactional arrangement.

Any writer can hire an editor for a one-time project, but it takes patience, clarity, and a little magic to connect with an editor you can work with long-term, time and again. Before you pursue a long-term editing engagement, there are a few things you need to know–and some important things to look for. 

The Best Relationships Are Never Forced 

Like any relationship, the best working relationships can’t be forced to work out. You and any prospective editor are two individuals who may or may not be compatible. Just because they offer a service you need, doesn’t mean they’re the right person to provide that service to you. And just because they were a great editor for your friend, doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for you or your current project.

There are many factors that go into working closely with an editor. If you want to go beyond a basic business transaction and make some magic, then you’ll need to know exactly what you’re looking for and be willing to keep looking (or working with different professionals) until you find it. 

Know What You Want in an Editor, and Ask for Sample Edits

Working with an editor long-term goes beyond industry experience and genre expertise. Finding compatibility in story goals, personality, and feedback style are also important. There’s no definitive resource for telling you exactly how to find the perfect editor for you, but there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind: 

  • The editor believes in your story and has good instincts for helping you strengthen it
  • They possess knowledge of the genre you’re writing in, including story conventions and tropes
  • They “get” what you’re trying to do with your story, and they support your intent rather than trying to change it
  • Their feedback style is supportive, encouraging, and helps you to expand as a writer
  • You trust them with your story 

Most editors offer a small sample edit so you can get an idea of how they work, so take them up on it. It’s a valuable opportunity to decide whether you want to move forward with the project, or keep looking. Some editors also offer story chats (we do!) that help you get a feel for the way they work and what they bring to the table. 

You Might Not Resonate With Your First Editor -That’s Okay

The first three editors I considered hiring back in 2019 weren’t a fit. I was in a hurry and hoping to find someone fairly quickly, but for various reasons, the professionals I was looking to hire didn’t work out.

It may take time to find an editor you want to work with on multiple projects, such as a book series–and that’s okay. I know it sounds cliche to trust the process, but it’s so important not to attempt to rush this all-important relationship. Keep looking and don’t be afraid to try working with a number of different professionals on this adventure. 

In the end, be open to the fact that you might not end up working with the same one or two editors on multiple projects. It’s possible, but it’s not a guarantee. Particularly if you write cross-genre, you might not find an editor with expertise in every genre you publish in. 

Remember, just like books, every author’s journey is unique. Along the way, you’ll meet and work with a number of talented professionals who bring different perspectives and expertise to the table, and who you will learn from. And as long as we’re learning and growing, that’s what matters most. 

While you’re waiting to find the right editor to work with on a long-term basis, it’s important to control what you can and keep moving forward in your author life. One way you can do this is to gain more traction in your work and your brand. That’s why we created the FREE ​​Author Traction Challenge. If you’re ready to level up in your author career, this resource will help move you in the right direction. You can sign up here. 

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Having a Hard Time Organizing Your Writing Time?

Dreaming is an important part of your writing (both creatively and in business), and we support your biggest, loftiest dreams with everything we have.

But can you sort through your dreams for reality? Are you in control of your writing business? Do you know how take a dream and make it real?

Or do you get lost in the imagining, planning, and wishing that comes with building a career as a fiction author? Have you conceded to the publishing gatekeepers and are just hoping and waiting for someone else to hand you a career?

Maybe the thing standing between you and and your dreams is…you

We want you to have the best chance of reaching even your stretchiest dreams which means you need to take back your power and put yourself in charge of your writing, publishing, and life.

The first step is understanding how to spot a dream, covert it into a series of goals, and pace your tasks to build both momentum and confidence (two very important ingredients to success).

You may not have control over the gatekeepers of publishing (readers, agents, editors, algorithms and the like) but you absolutely can set yourself up on the path to making your dreams a reality!

Are you ready to begin? Download the free guide HERE.

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A Note for Mid-Career Authors

If we want a long-lasting career writing fiction, we have to step back from what we’re doing once in a while and re-evaluate. Both in what we’re writing and how we’re approaching our author platform, branding, and social media.

In the years from 2009 to 2017, I wrote an average of five to nine books a year. I was publishing at a frantic pace, both traditionally and independently under a couple of different pen names. I was running myself into the ground, all the while not fully writing the books that I was dying to write. I had some projects that were a little more paycheck than passion, and some that were a little more passion than paycheck (I’d argue that most books fall somewhere in between). But when I thought about the books of mine that I WANTED to talk about and was EXCITED for people to read…the list was quite small.

So, I took about two-three years off of writing. Well, I wrote, but I wrote purely for the love of experimentation. I wrote a mediocre middle grade, a couple of women’s fiction that would later be borderline horror, and I PLAYED. I played with tense and POV and adding media and genre-mashing.

The only goal was to find a way forward that I couldn’t WAIT to talk about.

During those two years, I edited SO MANY BOOKS. Just ask Cassie over at CookieLynn Pub. I learned from each book I edited. Every movie I watched. Every story I read.

What does this have to do with you?

Well, if you’re a commercial fiction author who relies on their fiction income, probably not a lot.

If you want to make sure that your career as a fiction author lasts a long time…keep reading.

Pause once in a while. Find a few words that describe the things/traits that are most important to you NOW. Are you using those in your writing? If not, why not? And if not, is there a way to infuse some of what’s most important to you into your books?

You may NEED more fun in your life, so why not infuse that into your fiction? You want to showcase the ups and downs of serious topics, why not infuse that into your fiction?

If we’re excited about our books, about what we’re writing, it’s going to shine through.

I’m the first to admit that it’s HARD to go from writing on deadlines, selling on proposal, and knowing what the next couple years of publication life is going to be to…nothing. Hard doesn’t quite describe it. Brutal is better. You have to let go of the “should” thoughts and the “woulds” and the “coulds” to really get in tune with YOU.

Allie and I have always been very upfront about being psychology-led authors, editors, and platform specialists. We re-connect with ourselves and that enables us to reconnect with our fiction.

If you’re exhausted, consider giving yourself a couple of weeks, or a couple of years, to re-group. Fall in love with story. Get excited about writing. Examine what’s working (and what isn’t) in both your fiction and your online presence.

If you want to talk it through, just know that it’s my favorite thing. You can find information on that HERE

If you want to go it alone, Allie made both a FREE resource: The Dreams to Goals Guide, and a more in-depth paid resource: 3 Author Foundations. Both are workbooks that I now do twice a year EVERY year to make sure that I’m moving in the direction I want to be moving in.

Happy Writing/re-Organizing Friends,

~ Jo

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Quick Tips to Strengthen the Language of Your Fiction

Three things to note before we jump in:

ONE: there is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL, or no hard and fast ALWAYS rules in strengthening the language of your fiction.

TWO: if your characterization is INCREDIBLE, strong language will most likely come very naturally.

THREE: you have more leeway if you’re writing in first person and within dialogue for voice reasons.

Let’s jump in.

FIRST: THERE WAS and IT WAS

There’s nothing horribly wrong with either of these, but I had an editor once who was a stickler for sentences that started this way. As I began to take these out, I began to see how much more I could say by cutting and adding some specificity. (Also, watch for “it” within your sentences – very often you’re able to say something more poignantly or more specifically when taking “it” out. You want to keep “it” when you’re worried about losing momentum in the story, or worried about repetition)

Example:

Weaker: There was a car in the driveway, and I was going to be late.

Stronger: A car sat in the driveway, right behind mine. Great. I was going to be late.

Let’s really expand: I stood at the edge of the driveway staring at my brother’s dumbass, rusted-out truck parked in the direct center of the driveway and then toward the open garage where my car rested. Trapped.

SECOND: ING verbs

Again, they have their place! But cutting any unnecessary ones will strengthen the language of your novel.

Weaker: He was walking across the room. (You need this if – He was walking across the room as the phone rang)

Stronger: He walked across the room.

Let’s really expand: He stalked across the room, his mouth in the familiar thin line that clearly said I shouldn’t have walked in late. OR He bounced across the room, his eyes crinkling around the edges from his broad smile.

THIRD: QUALIFIERS

There are so many qualifiers that I can’t hope to give them all. Do a nice Google search for them. “Very, every, even, though, although, guess, think, maybe, possibly, must, ought, probably, just…”

If you’re writing in first person, and you need them for voice reasons, just be REASONABLE about the amount you keep in.

Weaker: I’ll possibly love you so much forever and ever and ever.

Stronger: I love you.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’. Your editor will delete it, and everything will be as it should be.”

Mark Twain

This will give you somewhere to start as you work through your manuscript again. I use the FIND option and look for these in turn AFTER I know my story overall is working.

Happy Writing!

~ Jo

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7 Reasons You May Need a Publishing Consultation Call

Are you feeling stuck in one or more aspects of your author career? Has the business side of the writing life got you down? A Publishing Consultation Call can help you get focused, and get moving again. 

Here are 7 reasons why some one on one time might be exactly what you need to get back on track.

1. You’re sometimes paralyzed about which publishing avenue is best for you or your current project.

When it comes to publishing options, it can be difficult to choose which avenue works best for a particular book, genre, or author. Do you want to be an independent, traditional, or hybrid author? 

Depending on the (one or more) genre(s) you write in, one or more of the available publishing options may be right for you. If you’re feeling confused as to which route to take, you may need someone to help you sort through your brilliant ideas and map a way forward. 

2. You envy other authors’ Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or other social media feeds. 

The comparison trap: I’ve been here, and I think most of us have been. It’s super demoralizing to feel like other authors “have it all together” while we’re just winging it over here (spoiler alert: they don’t). Ouch, right?

How do other authors find the time to make everything so pretty and streamlined? When do they get a chance to carefully curate such attractive images and quotes? A Career Chat can help you hone in on your platform, what you’re saying to the world, and teach you how to reflect yourself well in your online marketing. 

3. You wish you knew how to better present yourself online to find readers.

This relates peripherally to #2. Do you find yourself wondering how those other authors have so many people gushing about their books online? Wondering how to attract those same kinds of exuberant, enthusiastic readers yourself? It can help you gain perspective to chat with another industry professional about how to attract the right readers–and how to keep them engaged. 

4. Social media options are overwhelming for you.

When it comes to online marketing, there are so many options! Should you just choose one or two platforms, or go all out and post everywhere? How often should you post? How do you know what’s working, and what’s not? At what point are you just spinning your wheels?

A Career Chat can help you narrow down your social media options to the best ones that will be most effective for your online presence. Then, you can get to work focusing in the right places, rather than stressing over all the options. 

5. You’re working on your bio for your website, publisher, or query. 

Your author bio is an important piece of information you’ll share everywhere when it comes to your books. Knowing what to say about yourself–and what to leave out–can be daunting, especially because your bio is often the first thing a new reader reads about you. A Career Chat can help you get clear on the pertinent information you need to reveal through your bio.

6. You want to make your author website spectacular.

Your author website is the main digital hub for your online presence. If you want to make that space spectacular, a Career Chat can help you know what you need on your site, and how to position yourself to draw in more readers.

7. You’re having an impossible time trying to find time to write and create that work-life balance people keep talking about (that doesn’t actually exist). 

Pfffft, balance–what is that, exactly? At Waypoint, we believe “balance” is a myth. Author life is more about focusing our energy where it needs to be, at any given moment. If you need to talk through the idea of moment-to-moment focus and what that might look like in the context of your life, a Career Chat can help.

Do YOU need a Career Chat? 

If you need help taking the next steps in your author career, contact us for a Career Chat. On this call, we can help you level up an important aspect of your author life that needs extra attention. 

A Career Chat is a 60-minute phone call to help get you unstuck from a specific business- or publishing-related issue. Some of these include: 

  • Building your author platform
  • Strengthening your online presence
  • Unifying your author brand
  • Directing your online marketing efforts
  • Planning your next book launch

A Publishing Consultation Call is a great way to get focused on the business side of your author life. We’ll help you take your next steps with confidence. 

Want to get that call on the books? Click HERE

Happy Writing!

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Introduction to Writing LGBT+ Characters

2021 has seen more books featuring LGBT characters hit the bestselling lists than any year prior. These books have come in all genres: memoirs, YA novels, erotica, thrillers, you name it. With this explosion in LGBT-centered stories, many authors have a desire to include an LGBT character in their stories, whether as a main character or a side character. However, this can sometimes be tricky. How do you write about a life experience that actual everyday people have while seeming like you personally understand it?

The truth is, writing LGBT characters is pretty simple. Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Avoid stereotypes

I could write a whole article on this alone, but here is the rundown: Your character has to have a personality outside of their LGBT identity. No more gay best friend characters whose main personality trait is being flamboyant. The best way to avoid stereotypes is to think about the character’s personality first, and their identity second

Let’s say that your main character has a gay best friend. First of all, think about what that character’s personality is.

Why are they friends with your main character in the first place?

Have they recently figured out their sexuality, or is this old news to them? How exactly are you going to bring their sexuality up in your story, or is it an irrelevant detail only mentioned in passing?

The important thing to remember here is that, while being gay or trans is a part of one’s identity, it is most often secondary to their interests, hobbies, and personality. 

The problem with using stereotypes is that they often take away from your characters rather than adding to them. Plus, most LGBT people don’t fit neatly into stereotypical boxes. A gay man doesn’t have to be super feminine to be gay. A lesbian doesn’t have to be super masculine to be a lesbian. Non-binary people don’t have to be androgynous, and trans people don’t have to fit strictly into gender roles either.

Focus on developing your character’s personality first, then consider how their LGBT identity plays into this. This will make it easier to avoid stereotypes about how LGBT people present and act.

Tip #2: Research, research, research

No, I am not asking you to read a million scholarly articles (yawn), but I am suggesting that you do some searching. There are hundreds of online sources created by LGBT people talking about their life experiences. Read a couple blogs, watch some YouTube videos. Researching the lives of LGBT people does not have to be strenuous, and it will give you a better idea of how to represent your characters in a way that is relatable and respectful. 

Social media can also be a good place to learn more about what it’s like to be LGBT. Whether you’re watching TikToks, scrolling Twitter, or browsing Instagram, there are thousands of LGBT content creators who talk about their lives, both the good parts and the bad. Thanks to the internet, we have more access to this information than ever before, with the ability to read about life experiences different from ours. 

Another good idea is to watch reviews of other books featuring LGBT characters, preferably reviews done by LGBT people. What about the representation did they like or not like? Was there anything in that book that they considered to be written in poor taste? Keep an eye out for books that received a largely-positive response from the LGBT community. All of this can be part of your research process as well. 

Tip #3: Leave out the unnecessary bigotry

You might have read that and scratched your head a little. Never fear, I can explain. 

Sometimes, LGBT characters in the media will be discriminated against in the story for no reason whatsoever. If you have an LGBT character who is learning to accept themself, and someone being rude to them is a relevant moment to the plot, then by all means, keep it in. However, sometimes these scenes only cause distress without furthering the plot at all. Your LGBT readers know very well that LGBT people are discriminated against; they do not want a needless reminder in your story. 

Tip #4: LGBT people are not more inspiring than anyone else

There is a common idea that LGBT people are somehow more brave than others for simply… existing as they are? Sure, it takes bravery if you live in an area where there is wide distrust or discomfort with LGBT people, but at the end of the day, gay and trans individuals are simply living their lives. There isn’t anything particularly heroic about it.

Some authors will try to make their LGBT characters seem brave or heroic for being LGBT, as they believe this is the most correct thing to do. The truth is, it usually contributes to the idea that being LGBT is inherently brave, when really, LGBT people are normal, everyday people. When anywhere from 4-10% of people consider themselves somewhere in the LGBT acronym, being LGBT isn’t terribly special or brave. It just is.

Overall, writing LGBT characters seems far more daunting than it is. The best thing that you can do as a writer is simply tell a good story. If your story happens to feature LGBT people, do them a service by making them fleshed-out characters with their own personalities rather than shallow stereotypes. Listen to LGBT people when they point out flaws in representation. Most importantly, make your characters the best that they can be, as there is no story without them.


Happy Writing!

~ Jesse

http://www.perrysedits.com

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DIY Workbook: 5 Point Story Mapping

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

The 5 Point Story Mapping Method isn’t a plotting device. It’s not a new series of beats or a reworking of classic plot tools. The Waypoint Method aims to get deep under the skin of your story so that you understand more than just what happens to your characters. It’s about setting yourself up to succeed, understanding your own motivations as well as your character’s, and using your time and creative energy in the best possible ways.

After a decade of publishing, editing, and evaluating what is and isn’t working in fiction, the core of an author’s story can make or break the final product. Underneath the plot and the setting, what is your story saying to the world?

Below hair and eye color, what does your protagonist need? What do they fear? In this guide, we’ll be digging deep into the origins of your story and your character and help you build your plot around that central idea.

This DIY Workbook is best for authors who:

  • Are sitting down to start a new project
  • Want to work through a character-driven approach to story
  • Are plotters looking to dig deep into story before sitting to plot
  • Are discovery writers looking to arm themselves with more tools before writing

You can get your copy HERE. 

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of Developmental Self-Editing

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links.

You’ve completed the first full draft of your shiny new novel, and you’re chomping at the bit to send it off to your developmental editor. I mean, it’s on paper now, right? Isn’t it time to get some help with fleshing it out so you can move on to the next step? 

Not so fast. 

It’s incredibly valuable for authors to run their own round of self-edits before they send their manuscript off to a developmental editor. When we’re in the trenches on a new book, it’s easy to get excited. But we all know that the first draft is never the draft you should kick to the editor, because there are always a ton of problems. That’s just the nature of writing. (I like to say first drafts are terrible, but editing is where the magic happens.) 

“But what if I revised the manuscript as I went?” 

Good try, but…you need a little breathing room to step back, get some distance from the story, then come back to it with fresh eyes to run your own developmental round. It might sound like a drag at first, but self-editing on a developmental level will pay major dividends when it’s time to send the book to professional eyes. 

Dev Self-Edits Help You Catch Low-Hanging Fruit 

When you start your own round of developmental self-editing, you’ll be surprised at how many problems you find yourself. And if you’re anything like me, a lot of those problems amount to glaring plot holes and low-hanging fruit that you can fix on your own. Why is this important? Because (hopefully) you don’t hire an editor to point out a multitude of simple problems that you can easily find and tackle. 

Where you really need the strongest editorial support is in the character arcs, plot, and nuance of the story. It’s going to be harder for an editor to provide those things if you’ve left a horde of distractions on the page. Clear away the surface issues so you can go deeper with your editor. 

Self-Editing Helps Your Editor Do Their Job Better 

If you want to have the best possible working experience with your editor, then developmental self-editing lowers that barrier to entry. Set both of you up for success by running your own edits, then passing the book on. Doing this work on the front end gives your editor the chance to shine when they dive in. Rather than having them come back to you with a list of issues you could have found beforehand, they’ll be able to get into the real meat of the story. In the end, you’ll both be happier, and your book will be better for the work. 

Need Guided Self-Editing Help? 

Waypoint has you covered! We’ve developed our very first full-length e-course, Master Self-Editor: Developmental Edition, for the kind team over at Infostack. It just released today for their annual Black Friday sale, so if you want in on a ton of incredible deals featuring a wide range of authors and experts in the publishing industry, click here to learn more

Featured image by Joanna Kosinska | Unsplash

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Why Working With a Pro Cover Designer Matters for Your Book Marketing and Sales

Readers judge books by their covers. If you’re a self-published author, it’s crucial to hire a pro cover designer to help your book get the attention it deserves.

If you’re a traditionally published author, your publisher will handle all aspects of your publishing, including hiring your cover designer. As a trad author, you may not get a say in this aspect of the creative process. Because of that, this article is primarily aimed at authors who self-publish. 

Let’s jump into the ins and outs of cover design with a pro.

Can’t I Just Create a DIY Book Cover?

There’s no shortage of online design tools you can use to create book covers. Canva, Adobe Spark, Snappa, and similar tools offer optimized templates, images, graphics, and text placement tools for creating covers for eBooks. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, it’s possible to design your own cover in Photoshop.

If you naturally have an eye for design, that’s a plus–and you can definitely try your hand at making a cover. But you might not fully understand the design trends that help books sell in a specific genre or subgenre. 

Pro Cover Designers Understand the Design Factors That Help Books Sell

There’s an art to creating book covers that sell within their genres and subgenres. For example, a cover that might sell an historical romance novel won’t sell urban shifter fantasy. Even text and graphical elements can detract from reader interest if the design doesn’t fit well with books on a virtual (or literal) shelf.

Your pro designer serves more than one purpose. Not only should they be able to create beautiful covers for your books; they should also know the publishing industry well enough to guide you through the design process. You’ll want to interview designers who have experience working in your genre. 

Establishing Trust With Your Cover Designer

A huge factor in your relationship with your cover designer is the trust you establish from the beginning. Yes, as a self-published author, you have the final say on your covers. But you’re hiring a designer to help you navigate concepts that fit your genre, in addition to actually creating the covers.

Consider hiring a designer who isn’t necessarily a “yes person”, but who will gently push back if your design concept doesn’t go over well in your genre. As the author, you can choose not to take their advice, but it’s important to consider their industry experience. 

Finally, if you don’t trust the cover designer you’ve hired, part ways with them. This process isn’t set in stone. If you aren’t happy with how your cover is shaping up, move on until you find the right person for the job.

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The Freefall: Letting Go Of Perfectionism During Drafting

Sending an imperfect (or even *gasp* incomplete) first draft to your editor feels a little bit like getting pushed out of an airplane before you’ve psyched yourself up for the jump. 

I know this because I recently turned an incomplete first draft in to MY editor, Allie (in case you haven’t already seen or heard me mention this, Allie and Jo are my editors on the fantasy series I’m working on). 

As a writer, my track record has been “spend four years writing one book, then revise it at least three times before sending it for the first round of developmental edits”. But I’m a series author now, and I have a publication schedule to stick to. So endless revisions are no longer a luxury I can afford. 

Drat.

But let’s keep going with this skydiving metaphor, yes? 

Perfectionism feels like your parachute. (Spoiler alert: it’s not!)

By subjecting my works-in-progress to revision after relentless revision, I create an illusion that I’m making my own parachute. After all, if I turn in the perfect manuscript to my editor, that means I’ll have a much softer landing and I won’t need to revise as much afterward…right? 

Not exactly. 

When you write your first draft, you’re largely in an echo chamber of your own making. Sure, you may have friends who look over bits and pieces of your rough draft (I do, and it keeps the creation process fun for me). You might even do a Story Mapping Call with your editor or coach to round out your ideas (I do that, too). But at the end of the day, writing your first draft is a lot of you, alone in your own head, with no one but your characters. 

Revising over and over just gets you stuck in a loop, thinking you’re going to write your own way out of needing to make major edits later. Is that possible? Yes, but it’s not probable, and you shouldn’t drag your creation process out because you’re banking on that outcome. 

Your real parachute is the editor’s feedback. 

Your editor’s notes, and the actual revision process, make up the real parachute that floats you safely back to earth after the jump. When you’ve spent so much time in your head creating this amazing story, you need someone to gently take it out of your hands and look at it with an objective eye. 

It’s going to feel really weird to let that book go sooner than you feel comfortable with passing it on. There’s no way around that. 

When I gave my book to Allie, incomplete (can you imagine, a first draft being incomplete? pfft), I wasn’t expecting to have a visceral reaction. But I literally felt like I was falling. It felt even stranger to agree to NOT touch it again until after she’d finished with the editorial notes. 

But here we are. And I’m still alive. 

So before you take your own leap, there are three important things you need to remember. 

1. You can’t make a first draft perfect. Period. 

I know it’s every author’s dream to turn around a perfect first draft that only needs minimal edits. That would be amazing. BUT, it’s not likely to happen. Should you do your best on draft one? Heck yeah. But you should also allow it to be imperfect. 

Any writer who has been in the trenches will tell you that all first drafts are just rough. No matter how many punches you try to pull, that’s just the truth. So embrace it and find an editor who accepts an imperfect first draft without judgment, and with wholehearted dedication to helping you make the story the best it can be in its final form. 

(And remember: an editor who expects a good first draft and judges the author is a terrible editor. Fire them immediately.) 

2. You need practice letting go of your projects. 

It’s good practice to stick to deadlines. A solid deadline forces your hand and makes you move on to the next step of the storytelling process, whether you believe you’re ready for it or not. (You’ll never feel like you are.) 

When you let go of a project “early”, you’ll feel (very) out of control, but that’s the point. Trying to control too much about your process will backfire, because perfection isn’t possible. Which brings me to #3…

3. Perfectionism is self-sabotage. 

I’ve used every excuse in the book to hold onto perfectionistic behaviors. See if these sound familiar: 

  • I just want my story to be the best it can be! 
  • I have high standards–I’m just sticking to them.
  • My story has to be [XYZ] before I can send it off.
  • I can save the editor some work if I run through this again.
  • If I just revise again, I can go straight to an ARC release! 

Don’t analyze each excuse too closely. They all feel valid when you’re using them. Instead, ask yourself this question: what is the end result of each excuse to practice perfectionism? 

The end result is a delay in your process. Which translates to self-sabotage. 

Self-sabotage feels like comfort when you’re doing it. Sure, it feels really good to revise that book again (either that, or I’m just weird because I like revising). But what’s it going to feel like when you end up moving your release date because you waited so long for the first editorial round? 

Keep your endgame in mind, and it’ll be a bit easier to leave that comfort zone and pass your draft on for editing. Even after all is said and done and your book is on the shelves, you’ll always circle back to your completed story with things you wish you’d done differently. 

Need help letting go of your draft? 

We’ve got you covered. Schedule a chat to learn more about Waypoint’s coaching and editing services. 

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How Layering Your Edits Can Make the Revision Process Smoother

When it comes to editing your book, there’s more than one approach to the revision process. Some writers work through their manuscript from beginning to end, in chronological order. Others might work backward, one chapter at a time. Another efficient way to conduct revisions is by layering your edits.

Let’s consider what layering your edits might look like.

How to Determine Your Editing Layers 

When you work with a developmental editor, you’ll often get an editorial letter and/or detailed notes at the end of the developmental process. These notes will likely detail several areas throughout your story that need extra attention. That’s going to look different for every writer, but some of these issues could include:

  • Story threads that need to be present throughout the manuscript
  • Character interactions that need to be more consistent
  • Hints or foreshadowing you need to add
  • Actions, responses, and interactions that should be more in-character
  • Plot points that need to be tightened 

When it’s time to start revising, use your editor’s notes to make a master list of issues you need to address in your manuscript. Then, use it as a map that guides you through each layer of the revision process.

Layering Edits Allows You to Focus on One Story Thread at a Time

Correcting one story thread at a time is an effective way to move through your editorial process quickly. If you’re working through revisions after your developmental edit, it’s critical that you consider layering edits to maintain consistency throughout the process.

What I mean by consistency is that if you’re threading a particular theme through the story, you want to follow that through from beginning to end. Layering can help you focus on one thread at a time so you don’t get lost in other details along the way.

Layering Edits Can Prevent Unnecessary Rewrites

Just like getting lost in details, it’s a little too easy to get caught up in unnecessary rewrites (guilty…very guilty). If you layer your revision process and make a clear plan for the parts of your novel you plan to edit, it might help keep you on track to meet your deadlines.

This method is particularly useful if you’re writing long books with vast worlds. Making a seemingly small adjustment in one chapter could result in many, bigger changes as you go along. If you have a map to guide the process, you might be able to avoid a major detour.

Layering Edits Helps You Stay Focused on the Big Picture

As you move through revisions, you want to keep your focus on the big picture: completing your novel. It’s easy to get tangled in a web of extensive rewrites when you’re really supposed to be refining your existing story, so use your list of edit layers to keep yourself on track. 

Most importantly, remember that there are no hard and fast rules for how to approach the editing process. The most important thing is to finish your book.

If you need to talk through how to layer your edits, Allie and Jo can help. Get in touch with us here.