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  • Writer's pictureLiz Cartwright

EditorAMA: June

Greetings and welcome to another edition of Editor AMA! A little while ago, I asked my followers on Instagram if they had any questions for me about writing, editing, or publishing. Without further do, let's explore the queries that have sparked your interest.


(Jump to a question by clicking the links below.)


Should I go to conventions as an author?

There's no should in any aspect of being an author. Whether you attend conventions will depend entirely on yourself, your circumstances, and your preferences. But if you're on the fence and need help deciding, let me summarise a few points for you:

Of course, conventions come with their own set of challenges. They can be pricey to attend (let's not forget potential hotel, travel, and food costs) and time consuming too, and the long, busy days can be pretty darn tiring. Results aren't always guaranteed either, and it can be tough to stand out among so many authors.

But with some careful planning and clear goals, conventions can be a really rewarding experience for any author looking to grow their career. Attending conventions as an author is a great way to network with industry pros, connect with fans, and get your work out there. You'll find tons of opportunities to learn from panels and workshops, sell your books directly to readers, and build lasting relationships with other writers. Plus, these events can really boost your visibility and help you keep up with the latest trends in the literary world.


Does my MC have to be likeable?

It depends on what you mean by likeable. Does your MC have to be a good person? No, not at all! Your main character may be an anti-hero, they may have a negative character arc, or they might simply have a flaw that makes them grating.

No, your readers do not have to like your MC, but they do need to care about them. When authors do their job well, it is the readers' connection to the characters that keeps them turning pages. The readers must care about what happens to them, and we achieve that by creating empathy for the characters.

I could write an entire blog post on how to make readers empathise with even the most murderous of characters, but for now, here are some quick tips to prompt empathy for your characters:

  • Show that the character is skilled at their profession.

  • Show that the character is loved or admired by somebody.

  • Have the character show genuine care for animals or children.

  • Make the character funny.

  • Make the character a victim of clear injustice or undeserved misfortune.


What are sensitivity readers?

Sensitivity readers are individuals who review manuscripts to ensure that characters, cultures, and experiences are portrayed accurately and respectfully.

In the context of fiction, they help authors avoid unintentional stereotypes, cultural inaccuracies, and potentially offensive content. By providing feedback from their own lived experiences or specific cultural knowledge, sensitivity readers help authors create more authentic and inclusive stories. This process not only enriches the narrative but also helps prevent alienating or offending readers from the communities being represented.

If you're interested in staying on top of potential ethical issues in your writing, consider joining the Facebook group Writing with Social Awareness for advice from the incredibly helpful community there, or reading The Conscious Style Guide by Karen Yin and subscribing to her Conscious Language Newsletter.


How many drafts should I write before my book is ready for publishing?

The answer to this question will be different for everyone. If you're the kind of writer who can create a near-perfect first draft, you may need no more than three drafts before you're ready to show your manuscript to the world. If writing is more of a process for you, you might find yourself working through more than ten drafts.

There's no correct answer, so I can only advise on the steps you would most benefit from going through before publishing. Those are...

  1. After completing your first draft, allow your manuscript to sit for a while before reading through it again and making notes on what revisions you want to make. Then, complete those revisions.

  2. Work with beta readers. You can pass your manuscript to them one at a time, allowing you time to revise between betas, or you can collect all of their feedback at once. Once you have that feedback, complete your beta-read draft.

  3. If you have the funds, consider at this point working with an editor for more detailed, in-depth feedback on your strengths and areas for further development and refinement. You'll often come away from this process with skills that will inform your future work too.

  4. After working through all feedback, it's time to copyedit your work to clean up any typos, grammatical errors, or consistency issues. You may hire a copyeditor for this, or—if funds are an issue—work closely with a writing app, or send it off to a perceptive friend.

  5. Now, you're ready for publishing!


Why do authors use pseudonyms?

Plenty of reasons! The first, and perhaps most common, is privacy; authors might want to keep their writing separate from their personal lives. In which case, you can expect your editor and publisher to maintain your privacy.

Others use pseudonyms to write in different genres without confusing their readers. For example, an author known for romance novels might use a different name for their science fiction books. Similarly, authors who operate businesses under their names may also write under a pseudyonym. I don't make it a secret that I write as Elsbeth Altair, but I do so in order to keep my two identities (editor and author) distinct.

Pseudonyms can also help if an author wants a fresh start (breaking from their established brand) or if their real name is too common or hard to remember.


 

As an editor, I'm committed to providing you with free, insightful content, and I have no plans to clutter your reading experience with advertisements. If you've enjoyed my work and would like to support the continued creation of these articles, I invite you to consider buying me a coffee.

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