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How to Publish a Short Story: Get Feedback and Edit Your Final Draft

A month ago, I urged you to come on a publication journey with me, one where I walk you through the process of planning, writing, and submitting a short story. This is the third post in the four-part series on how to publish a short story. By the end, you’ll have a story ready to send out to publications!

If you’ve been following along week by week, by now, you have a complete first draft. Just getting started? Look back at part one and part two to find your publication and draft your story. Then, rejoin me here.

This week, we’re going to concentrate on getting feedback and completing your last edit.

NOTE: Throughout this series, DO NOT post your work in the comments. I’m going to ask you to submit to a publisher at the end of this series, and posting it here would be considered publishing it. Our Becoming Writer community is a great place to workshop your story before you submit it.

Almost Done

By now, you should have a second draft. We’re in the homestretch now! Wipe your brow, pat yourself on the back, have a little dance party. Celebrate. A lot of writers don’t make it this far.

Ready to dive back in? Here’s what to do next:

6. Get Feedback

Stephen King has what he calls a “closed door” policy up to this point, meaning he writes his first couple drafts just for himself. Then he opens that door and lets others in to read it.

It’s time for you to open that door!

I know you’re all cringing right now. You mean I actually have to show this to someone? Yes. You do.

Feedback is the most important part of writing. Seriously. There is no substitute for getting someone else’s eyes on your work. You can go over it a hundred times and you’ll still miss things. Trust me. I see it all the time with pieces I post in our Becoming Writer community.

Whether it’s something simple like a missing word or misplaced comma, or something glaring like a character snafu or a world-building misunderstanding, your beta readers will catch it. But they can’t catch it if you don’t show it to them!

I recommend finding people other than family and friends to read your work. People who know you are less likely to give you any real criticism. Mostly you’ll just hear, “Oh, I like it!” and that’s it.

This isn’t only because they’re afraid of upsetting you, but they’re also probably not trained as an active reader. They might like or dislike your story, but can’t find the words to tell you why they feel that way.

If you can’t find a writing group, that’s fine, but make sure you try to push your beta readers to give you useful feedback. If you’re not sure how to ask for useful feedback, try taking a look back at the short story musts and mistakes I listed in the first post to get ideas on what questions to ask your betas. Specificity helps here, so don’t go with something simple like, “Did you like it?”

Pro tip: Don’t watch them while they read. I know it’s tempting (Are they going to laugh at that funny line? Are they going to tear up when that character dies?), but don’t. That’s too much pressure on them, and WAY too nerve-racking for you.

During this stage, just like I suggested between drafts one and two, you need to put your story away. You’ll be tempted to rewrite as your feedback comes in. A quick word change there, a sentence deleted here, and then you feel like you’ve got a whole new draft. Which makes you want to send all your friends your “new” draft.

Don’t.

There is nothing more annoying than having to start reading something from the beginning when you’re in the middle of critiquing. Sharing every little edit is a great way to lose beta readers. Let it lie.

Whether you have a writing community like Becoming Writer or you just have friends and family read your work, you MUST open that door.

7. Edit (Yes, AGAIN)

You’ve lived through the torment of waiting on betas. Congratulations! Now it’s time to take a look at all that feedback.

Your first instinct is going to be to get defensive and do a lot of groaning about how stupid your friends are and how they just “don’t get it.” Get that out of your system. Throw a toddler fit and jump up and down in frustration if you must. Then reread their feedback.

I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear: Your betas are most likely right.

Remember you’re writing for people to read it. That means your readers have to like it. If they don’t, you’ve got a problem.

Reread their feedback with an open mind and apply it as needed. This is often a frustrating and disappointing time for writers, but try not to let it get you down. (Again, your writing does not suck!) You’re learning, and feedback will only make you better in the future.

8. Final Draft: Line Edit

After you’ve implemented all the beta feedback, it really is down to the final stages. Your third (and final!) draft needs to be as clean as possible. An editor will let minor mistakes slide, but the story as a whole needs to be readable.

We’re not all grammar know-it-alls, and in truth, we don’t need to be. But you do need to work on the basics.

Now it’s time to get down to the nitpicky edits. You’re going to look for things like misplaced commas, split infinitives, icky dialogue tags (i.e. too many words that aren’t “said”), -ly words, -ing words, and passive writing. I like to print my stories out at this stage so I can make editing notes and highlight until it looks like a sick and bleeding rainbow. I think it makes this tedious process more fun.

Run the story through Grammarly and Hemingway. Don’t just change everything these programs tell you to, though. Think about what they want you to change and then decide if the suggestion is right for your story.

For example, Hemingway loves to point out sentences that are hard to read. Those sentences aren’t necessarily wrong, though. You have to decide if you want to simplify the wording or leave it as-is.

Read your story aloud. Read it backward. (My editor sister swears by this one.)

Reading aloud can help you pick out missed words, weird wording, and where commas (a.k.a. pauses) should go. Reading it word-by-word backward is something I admit I don’t do, but my sister says it helps her take the words out of context so her brain doesn’t get tricky and fill in things that aren’t there while she’s reading.

Try it backward if you want to, but definitely read it aloud forward.

Finis!

You’re finished writing! Now it’s time for another celebration! I prefer dancing maniacally (read: badly) to overloud 90s music, but you do you.

Your story is now ready for publication. Two weeks from this posting you’re going to send that baby out! (I expect most of you have been waiting with bated breath for that post on how to publish a short story.) I’ll take you through all the crazy formalities of the submission process next time, so spend the next two weeks getting that manuscript to shine!

Do you have a writing group? Will this be the first time sharing your work? Let me know in the comments.

By Sarah Gribble
Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Publish a Short Story: Write Your First and Second Drafts

Two weeks ago, I urged you to come on a publication journey with me, one where I walk you through the process of planning, writing, and submitting a short story. This is the second post in the four-part series on how to publish a short story. By the end, you’ll have a story ready to send out to publications!

If you’re a little late to the party, never fear! You can still participate. Look back at the first two steps and then join me back here.

This week, we’re going to concentrate on writing and the first edit.

NOTE: Throughout this series, DO NOT post your work in the comments. I’m going to ask you to submit to a publisher at the end of this series, and posting it here would be considered publishing it. Our Becoming Writer community is a great place to workshop your story before you submit it.

Writing Your Story

By now, you should have a publication in mind and have the answers to a couple basic questions. Maybe you brainstormed or did a full outline. Bonus points if you’ve got a draft! (But don’t worry if you don’t.)

Now pick up the pen and write the thing!

This series is focused on how to submit stories and isn’t meant to be a masterclass in short story writing, but I’ve tried to include as many basics as I can. For further information on writing shorts, check this out.

If you’ve got a draft already, this post will still be useful to you, so don’t skip reading it!

3. First Draft: Write in One Sitting

Smile. This is the fun part.

Short stories are meant to be consumed in a single sitting, so it makes sense to write them in one. This isn’t as daunting as it seems. You’ll find your enthusiasm will drive you to the end and the story will flow much better.

Sit down and write. Write quickly. Write badly. Just write.

This is not the time to worry about your word count. Wait, what? I know. I told you to pick out a publication and they’ve given you a word count to stick to. Ignore that for the moment.

Right now, your job is to tell your story. The story will let you know when it’s finished. Overwriting is fine, and actually encouraged, at this stage. On the opposite end, if you’re lacking in words, that’s okay, too. You can always fill in more description later.

For now, just let it flow.

But do remember the four questions I gave you the last time and keep them in mind as a roadmap for going forward. Don’t worry if you get a little lost or off-track. Sometimes stories insist on a life of their own. Don’t panic. That’s normal.

4. Break Time

When you’ve written the last word and are riding that rush of excitement, I need you to do something vitally important: TAKE A BREAK! This is so important, I’ve included it as one of the steps instead of simply mentioning it in passing.

Put the story away and out of your mind. I recommend a three-day hiatus at this stage. That’s just enough for you to forget what you wrote and why you wrote it that way, but not enough time to lose interest in the story.

Don’t look at it. Don’t edit it. Don’t even think about it.

Read a book, get some sleep, or work on another story. Fight the urge to edit right away!

5. Second Draft: Get Critical

This is the less fun but crucial part. Your first draft is not perfect.

Say it with me now: MY FIRST DRAFT IS NOT PERFECT!

You’ve had a break and hopefully you’ve forgotten why you loved this specific turn of phrase or that overlong description. Now you’re going to get brutal. You’re going to cut, add, and rearrange with all the mercy of a general on a battlefield.

First things first: Make sure your story is a story! This might sound obvious, but sometimes it’s not.

When I first started writing shorts, it was all nonsense. Halfway decent prose, but utter nonsense. There was no point. There was no character development. There was no climax. It took a long time for me to realize I was getting rejected because I hadn’t written a story.

A short is different from a novel. You don’t have time to ramble. But a short story is still a story and needs to read like one. It must contain all the elements I mentioned mine lacked. And it must have a beginning, middle, and end.

Here are a few short story fundamentals to achieve that goal:

Elements of a Short Story: What Should Be

  1. Start with action: No overly complicated scene setting or a ton of character inner musings needed. Get the story moving.
  2. Show, don’t tell: Telling seems like a good way to get to the point, right? Nope. A short story is still a story, not a sequence of events spat out in synopsis form by a robot. This happens, then this happens, and finally this happens, is an outline, not a narrative.
  3. Good pacing: Good shorts don’t spend too much time on description and rush through the action. They flow well from one scene to the next and none of those scenes are unnecessary.
  4. Climax and efficient build up to it: Every single word in a short story needs to drive the reader to the climax. Move toward that climax efficiently. If there’s something that doesn’t serve this purpose, chop it. And make sure your climax is in there!
  5. Satisfying resolution: Your ending must wrap up your story. It needs to be clear, there can be a twist or surprise (but make sure that surprise isn’t coming out of nowhere), and there needs to be a change from the way things were in the beginning.

Common Short Story Mistakes: What Shouldn’t Be

  1. Overcomplicated plot: Again, keep it simple. Shorts revolve around one central theme, action, upheaval, or event. If you’ve got a bunch of B plots, your story probably isn’t suited for the structure of a short.
  2. Too much backstory and world-building: Only tell us what we need to know, when we need to know it. You can know every little detail about your character’s third-grade experience or the ecosystem of your fictional planet, but is it necessary for your reader to know? This is a general rule when writing, but especially so for shorts. You don’t have the space to tell us everything. Stick to the point.
  3. Bad dialogue: This is one of the things I see the most with short stories. One way to fix this is to read your dialogue aloud, preferably with a partner. If it sounds funny coming out of your mouth, it’s not right. Remember, people rarely use another person’s name when talking to them and contractions are your friend.
  4. Head hopping: Stay in one point of view. There’s not enough time or space in a short to skip around.
  5. Abrupt ending: Make sure you haven’t just cut off your story to stay in the word count. (The climax is not the ending!) Take us all the way through.

Write, Write, Write!

For the next two weeks, concentrate on getting through the first and second drafts using the tips above. This might get frustrating at points. You may want to give up. Don’t. You’ll get through it.

And most importantly: Your writing DOES NOT suck! (We all need that little reminder now and then.)

Still wondering how to publish a short story? Don’t worry. In the next post, I’ll go over getting feedback and the nitpicky edits of the third draft. Soon, your story will be publication ready!

Which short story elements do you think you do the best? Which do you think you need to work on? Let me know in the comments.

By Sarah Gribble
Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Publisher Sues Authors #FED_ebooks #author #indieauthor

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Publisher Sues for Return of Book Advances

An article for TheSmokingGun.com this week explained how New York-based publisher Penguin is suing a number of authors in order to get back the hefty advances those writers were paid. The advance is the money stipulated in the contract that the author will receive against the sale of the actual books; anything sold past the amount of the original advance then is shared with the author according to the contract details. The flipside of an advance is that the book may never sell enough to even come close to what the author was already paid, in which case the publisher takes a loss on the advance.

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Penguin Books sues authors

But in the case of these authors, apparently they never got around to actually writing the books.

That would be interesting publishing news by itself, but what actually created the food for thought in that article were the comments from writers, agents, and publishers.

One point of contention in the comments’ section was that the article did not clarify whether the authors actually did not write the manuscripts or, as some commenters claim, the authors did submit manuscripts that the publisher then decided were not worthy of publication. While that distinction has not been made clear, there were several supporters for either the authors or the publishers based on that point alone.

Additionally, one literary agent from Trident Media Group made the best argument for having a literary agent that has been made in quite some time, stating that this is exactly why serious authors still need agents when working with a publisher, implying that any of Trident’s authors who were treated this way would be fully supported by the agency. He went on to state that no future manuscripts of his agency’s clients would be submitted to a publisher who treated its authors in this fashion.

But the most interesting discussions led back to how the publishing industry itself may be broken, a long-held stance that many people have taken in the advent of digital and self-publishing. Several independent authors weighed in on the discussion, some pointing fingers at the traditional publishing industry and how its business practices lead to situations like this, while others were slightly more supportive of the publishers, acknowledging that situations like this one won’t arise in self-publishing because an author can’t pay himself a $50,000 advance.

Source: Goodereader.com By: Mercy Pilkington — September 26, 2012

What are your thoughts?

About First Edition Design Publishing:

Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional Firsteditiondesignpublishing.com published book market First Edition Design Publishing is the world’s largest eBook and POD (Print On Demand) book distributor. Ranked first in the industry, First Edition Design Publishing converts and formats manuscripts for every type of platform (e-reader). They submit Fiction, Non-Fiction, Academic and Children’s Books to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, and over 100,000 additional on-line locations including retailers, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company’s POD division creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. First Edition Design Publishing is a licensed and approved Aggregator and holds licenses with Apple and Microsoft.

Visit: www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com

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First Edition Design Publishing Places First In Study of #eBook and POD Publishers #FED_ebooks #author

First Edition Design Publishing

First Edition Design Publishing Received First Place Honors In Study of eBook and POD Publishers

World’s largest eBook distributor racked up highest marks in every category including customer satisfaction, royalty rates, technical ability, services and overall recommendation.

First Edition Design Publishing scored the highest in a comparative survey of ten top POD (Print On Demand) and eBook publishers. The independent study, using subjective and objective methods,  analyzed:  pricing, royalty pay-out rates, publisher’s websites, length of time in business, help available to authors, response time to inquiries, the ability to reach someone by phone, marketing services, customer base, turn-around time,  file submission requirements, range of distribution, and other areas.

“News of the report came to us during the week of Book Expo America in New York,” said Tom Gahan, Marketing Director  for First Edition Design Publishing. “The timing is curious. We’re not sure if the survey was done to coincide with Book Expo (America). Nonetheless, we’ve checked their findings. The facts are  spot on.”

The study, posted on-line at www.publisherrank.com , was researched and compiled by the PMG Associates, an independent research firm.

First Edition Design Publishing’s CEO, Deborah E. Gordon said in response to the news of the publisherrank.com  study, “To provide our clients with the best service possible. To offer choices, listen to our client’s needs, and offer solutions that work–that is the principle the company was founded on and it is something we take very seriously. I believe that is what keeps us at the forefront of the game. I am very proud to say that our entire organization takes those words to heart and acts upon them accordingly.”

First Edition Design PublishingFirst Edition Design Publishing, based in Sarasota, Florida, USA leads the industry in eBook distribution. They convert, format and submit eBooks to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, scores of additional on-line retailers and libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company also has a POD (Print On Demand) division, which creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. The Company is a licensed Apple Developer and a Microsoft Solution Provider.

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To Then and Back Again by J Bryson McMillan available in eBook and print book #author #ebooks #publishing #PrintOnDemand

To Then and Back Again by J Bryson McMillan has been released in eBook and print book formats by First Edition Design Publishing.

To Then and Back Again is a book for those who enjoy the trials and First Edition Design eBook & Print On Demand Publishingtribulations of real life people and feel they can, or would like to, relate to those whom they are reading about. It’s a memoir about only those richest, most interesting details concerning the author’s life. It was written to convey those sometimes simple, sometimes complex, but many times emotionally charged experiences of his life.

To Then and Back Again by J Bryson McMillan is now on sale at all major online retailers.  ISBN 9781937520656 (eBook),  ISBN 9781937520663 (Print); Key Words – Memoir, Molested, UFO, Suicide, Alien, Fire, Murder, Independence, Revenge, Fragile.

First Edition Design Publishing based in Sarasota, Florida, USA leads the industry in eBook distribution.  They convert, format and submit eBooks to Amazon,Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Android, EBSCO,  Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, scores of additional on-line retailers and libraries, schools, colleges and universities. Their reach is to over 100,000 distribution points in more than 100 countries.  The company also has a POD (Print On Demand) division, which creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network.

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