Happy Saturday! I can’t believe another week has passed and we’ve arrived at the weekend again. Is it just me, or are all the days blurring into one long squidgy day, broken only by fragments of sleep and punctuated by nothing more than meals and snacks? I don’t even have Emmerdale to keep me focused. Now it’s only on three nights a week I’m completely lost. I have never checked my calendar so often in my life. Usually I get one every Christmas and it hangs on the wall pretty much unnoticed. Now, every morning I’m scanning to see what day we’re at. It’s all very confusing.
So, enough of me and my tiny brain. We’re up to the letter P in our A to Z Challenge. P is for:
Pinterest is another social media site which, like Instagram, is image-focused. However, rather than upload your own photographs to the site, with Pinterest you tend to share from other pages and “pin” images from the web. You have your own account and page, and you create “boards” on which to pin your pictures. Many authors use Pinterest to create mood boards or ideas boards for their novels.
The good thing is, you can make those boards “secret”, so you can be happily pinning images of people you’ve cast as your main characters, home interiors, pretty settings, anything that you think is pertinent to your story. You can also pin web pages, so you have information to hand that you may need as your book progresses. When your book is published, you can go through your board, deciding whether to delete some images, or add any final ones to it, and then change the setting from secret to public, in order to share it with your book’s readers.
Pinterest isn’t just for writers. Lots of creative people – artists, designers, photographers, bakers, decorators etc use it. There is Pinterest for Business, so clearly it’s a useful tool. Be warned, though, it is quite addictive. I use it in spurts. I can go weeks or even months not looking at it all, then I’ll spend all day searching and pinning to my heart’s content.
You don’t have to use it solely for work purposes either. A lot of my boards are just for fun. For example, I have boards called “Pony Books”, “Floral” and “Enid Blyton”. I have a lot more boards that are secret – mainly because they’re so disorganised and messy, with duplicate pins that I haven’t got around to deleting. Try it for yourself. It can be a lot of fun and a good way to pass time during this lockdown. You can find my page here.
Opinion is divided with authors as to whether pre-orders are worth doing or not. Here is a blog post which states why you should do it. And here is a more balanced overview of the pros and cons. I’ve tried both options. Generally, my shorter books have been published as soon as they were ready, but my longer books have been put up for pre-order. In the early days, I don’t think it made much difference.
Having said that, my pre-order periods were usually fairly short – often two weeks or so. What I have found is that, the more books I have out, the higher pre-order sales I’ve had. And the longer pre-order period the better. The downside to that is, of course, that I often put my book up for pre-order well before it’s finished, and that means a strict deadline! You have to have nerves of steel to do this, and be sure that you’re going to sit down and get that book ready by the deadline, otherwise you’re in trouble and there’ll be a lot of readers out there who will feel a bit annoyed that you haven’t kept your side of the bargain. Not to mention you’ll be banned from putting any books up for pre-order again by Amazon for at least a year. So, think carefully!
This is something most authors are familiar with. You have a book to write or edit and time is ticking on that deadline. So what do you do? Go out for the day. Faff around on Facebook (or Pinterest! Don’t say I didn’t warn you …) or bake a cake, or horror of horrors, do some housework! Anything, in fact, to avoid staring at that screen and getting on with the work. It’s so common that we make jokes about it and share memes on the subject. Well, it’s something to do to pass the time, isn’t it?
Thing is, when you’re self-employed and you know you should be writing, the guilt kicks in and you don’t really enjoy whatever it is you’re doing anyway. You may just as well plonk your sorry backside in the chair and open up that document. You have to have a lot of self-discipline because if you don’t force yourself to work, who will? Well, I made myself a meme to make sure I got on with it. I’ll do whatever The Doctor tells me, but then I would, wouldn’t I? Make your own meme and make sure it’s someone whose opinion counts. Only, don’t get so absorbed in making memes that you put off the writing. Trust me, it can happen …
Proofreading is one of those things that you absolutely cannot and must not skip! And, I’ll be honest, even when you’ve had about six or seven people scanning your manuscript for errors and typos, when you’ve had a paid professional checking it over, when you’ve run it through ProWritingAid or Grammarly, and when you’ve read it so many times yourself – on your computer screen, on paper, on your Kindle – you will probably still discover an error when it’s finally published. Such is life. If you don’t see it yourself some other kind soul will spot it and flag it up. The good thing about being an indie writer is you can correct the mistake and upload a new version, but oh the horror when you first find it!
It can be tricky, finding a good proofreader who works in a way you feel comfortable with. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, and mistakes can be costly. I’ve had a proofreader who corrected my voice so much it no longer sounded like me at all. She had my characters speaking in the most formal, unnatural dialogue, and I ended up rejecting most of her changes and reflecting on what a waste of money it had all been. Another proofreader worked on an entire – and very lengthy – novel and found only a handful of mistakes. I knew it couldn’t be right. I sent copies to a couple of my beta readers and, together, we worked through the whole thing again. We found loads of typos and errors the proofreader had missed. Another expensive lesson.
If you want to avoid making my mistakes, check out this blog post which is all about the steps you should take to find a reliable proofreader, copy editor and developmental editor. Whatever you do, don’t skip the proofreading stage. The more people you have checking it over the better. Also, try to read it in different ways. Many writers swear that printing it out helps them to spot more errors. You could also switch on the text-to-speech facility in Word, so your manuscript is read aloud to you. I always upload my document to my Kindle so I can see how it will look, more or less, when it’s published. I find reading it that way soon alerts me to errors. However you choose to do it, please do it!
Or, as I like to call them … uniform. 🙂 They are the best invention ever. I have work pyjamas. Seriously. They’re the most comfortable things to wear when you’re sitting for long hours at a desk. When I had the day job I had a uniform, so why not when I’m writing? And since I get to choose my own uniform now, I choose pyjamas. I bought myself two pairs in different colours, and the rule is they can only be worn for writing.
It does make things a bit awkward when a delivery man knocks on the door or something. I have been known to put on an “I’m full of cold” voice so they’ll assume I’m ill and not just lazy! I can hardly say, “It’s okay, I’m working and this is my uniform?” can I? Or can I? Anyway, I know it wouldn’t work for everyone, but I also know it works for many, many authors. So, pyjamas rule as far as I’m concerned!
And on that note I’ll bid you a fond farewell until Monday, when I’ll be trying – and probably failing – to think of words beginning with Q!