Creating an original voice, going against the grain of convention, has little to do with the spark we are often told about. Rather, it is a conscious effort to know the rules and when to innovate.
As I sat at my laptop describing the events my imagination had concocted, I noticed an unfortunate problem. I was a mediocre writer. My prose suffered from several bad writing habits. After climbing out of the pit of despair with a renewed sense of determination, I decided to break them.
We all know the success of a book depends largely on its social media presence. There isn’t a debate. That’s how it is now. As society and cultures evolve and morph, so do the marketing methods. The younger generations raised in these new marketing methods learn them like they learn language. It’s second nature to craft a tweet, edit, post aesthetically-pleasing pictures, and know when they’re posting too much or too little. But older generations haven’t had the luxury of growing up in this world. It really is as difficult as learning a completely new language—and not everyone has the ability to take the time to learn it.
While I’ve read and continue to read numerous books on the art of editing and writing, I find myself most frequently leaning on an editing tip that was thrown at me way back in high school. Read it out loud.
Unlike copyediting, which focuses purely on the text, proofreaders engage with the book after the interior has been designed and laid out. That means that in addition to keeping an eye out for egregious grammar errors and typos, the proofreader is focused on aesthetics: eliminating typographic gaffes such as widows, orphans, and runts; marking bad breaks and word stacks; and ensuring design elements such as subheads and running heads are handled consistently.
Remember that a manuscript is the result of a writer’s blood, sweat, and tears. Unless they’re lucky to be full-time writers, authors are usually people working a nine-to-five job and have to write during their lunch breaks or stay up late into the night writing after their children have gone to bed. They’ve sacrificed their energy, time, and social life to write a book, and if a query is not handled well, they could see it as an attack on them and not as constructive feedback.