10 Tips for re-reading your novel after publication #indieauthor #amediting

A few weeks ago I re-read The Lost Sentinel (Book One in the Silent Sea Chronicles). I loved the experience of reading my own book in paperback, and I had the brilliant idea to use post-it notes to highlight things as I went along. These may have been facts I wanted to check in book 2, reminders for planning book 3 and the prequel, spelling or grammar niggles, places where the Astral Plane was mentioned etc.


I loved the blue post-its matching the cover, but I soon discovered the disadvantages of this method. I didn’t write on every note exactly what I was supposed to be checking. Going through it afterwards, not all the highlights made sense and I couldn’t find any problems with the text. Having suffered this problem, I thought it would be a good idea to share my top tips…


  1. First decide why you are re-reading and what you want to get out of the experience.
  2. Don’t be scared! If, like me, your book has been read and reviewed you have those reviews to fall back on. Perhaps they have flagged up issues you need to address, or maybe you can just read them as a confidence boost.
  3. You have to let go when you re-read. So you’re suddenly not happy with the placement of a comma, or you think a sentence could be rewritten a little better. Ask yourself is it really that big a deal? I’m never satisfied with my writing, so I decided that I had to overlook some of the little niggles or I’d end up rewriting the whole thing! I did make a couple of changes, but this wasn’t an exercise in making The Lost Sentinel better, I wanted to read the sequel straight after to ensure the books worked as a series. (Thankfully they do.)
  4. Have a notebook handy to jot down any facts that need to be checked, or issues to work through.
  5. Post-it notes are great as they allow you to mark a section you have an issue with and let you get on with reading without breaking the flow. BUT make a note of the point you’re highlighting! It saves time later on.
  6. Colour coding the post-its is a quick and easy shortcut. I went back and did this afterwards. I used different colours to represent book 2, 3 and the prequel. A different colour for the scenes that featured the Astral Plane, and finally any changes that needed working through were transcribed into my notebook to work through later.
  7. Be prepared to love and hate your own writing. I had ups and downs re-reading The Lost Sentinel. When I was feeling down, I looked back over those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s always good to be reminded that others have enjoyed the book and loved your characters.
  8. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement. Publishing a book is amazing. Enjoy holding it, reading it and savour the whole experience.
  9. Once the re-read is done you have to decide what changes are really necessary. Then you’ll need to update the e-book and paperback files before re-submitting them to your chosen platforms, in my case Amazon and Createspace.
  10. Finally, double-check everything you’ve changed is correct once it has been published. It’s worth taking your time and making sure the book is the best you can make it. Then hopefully future re-reads won’t result in more changes.


I will probably go through the above process when I’ve finished writing book 3, and for any future books in the Silent Sea Chronicles. Hopefully next time around it will go more smoothly. And I hope you can take something helpful from this as well.

Have you any tips to share when re-reading your published work?


Silent Sea Chronicles is a heroic fantasy series set on the magical island of Kalaya.

Book 1 – The Lost Sentinel is available now at Amazon.

Book 2 – The Sentinel’s Reign will soon be sent off to my second wave of Beta readers. And then after a final edit and proof read, I will hopefully be ready to publish by May. Closer to the date I will have a cover reveal – I can’t wait to share the amazing cover with you.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will continue you follow my journey as an indie author.


Guest author: Suzanne Rogerson – 5 ways spreadsheets can help writers plan and edit their novels

As promised, here’s the first stop on The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour. Find out why I love spreadsheets as a writing tool.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

I’ve always loved using excel spreadsheets, which probably goes back to my office job days (yawn!). But it was only as I recently plotted and planned the second book in my Silent Sea Chronicles, that I wondered if other writers had considered the benefits of using spreadsheets as a writing tool. Excel is great for;

  1. Planning your novel
  • Plan scenes in brief (or detailed if you prefer)

I do a mixture of both on the spreadsheet. Sometimes I plot out the basic scene, but I might add a few bits of dialogue to help me get into the scene when it comes to actually writing it.

  • It’s easy to copy, cut and move scenes around until you find the right place for them in the story.
  • Keep track of viewpoint characters

This is great when you have a cast of characters. I don’t like to leave too long between…

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Blog update #amediting The Lost Sentinel #fantasy

I am happy to report that I’ve finally finished what I hope is the final draft of The Lost Sentinel – Bloodlines Trilogy Book One.

I’m going to be taking some time out from blogging to read though it before passing it to my first beta readers. I’m hoping it’s all come together in this latest round of edits.

Then it’ll be time to look for book cover ideas and try to perfect my blurb!

Not sure I’ll be on schedule to publish before the end of 2016, but I’m really hoping to stick to my plan of publishing a book a year.


When I return to blogging, I’ll have some tips to share on keeping track of events whilst writing a trilogy or series.

Have a great weekend everyone.

#AtoZChallenge P – Proofreading Top 10 checklist

Proofreading is one of the hardest stages of writing for me. I love drafting and editing, but to read each word and sentence and analyse it’s components is difficult. It’s too scientific for my creative brain, but an important process that needs to be done before considering publication.

Back in August last year, I devised a checklist to tackle the final proofread of Visions of Zarua. My original post was here.

Looking back, I’m quite pleased with it as a ‘how to’ guide. It worked brilliantly for me, but I do have to warn you that a couple of tiny errors still slipped past this stage (slap wrist). Luckily with KDP & Createspace it’s a simple matter of updating the corrected file and within 24 hours the revised book is on sale. However, we should all aim to produce the best book we possibly can from the start and there really is no excuse for letting those errors slip past. My biggest advice is don’t skim at this stage. Focus and stay alert to stop those pesky mistakes from ruining a readers experience.

Proof reading Top 10 Checklist

  1. Use a hard copy – it’s too easy to skip over errors on the computer.
  2. Read aloud – but make sure the neighbours can’t hear you.
  3. Read it slowly, word by word – at reading pace your brain skips over words it expects to see and doesn’t pick up the errors.
  4. Use a ruler or blank page to highlight the line you’re reading – this ensures you don’t get ahead of yourself.
  5. Keep focused and hydrated by drinking lots of water – this helps keep you awake, and the trips to the toilet provide plenty of short breaks.
  6. Use a colourful pen to highlight the error, mark the sentence in the margin and fold the corner of the page over – triple insurance against the error being missed when updating on the computer.
  7. Avoid all distractions – escape from the phone and the internet.
  8. Keep a notebook handy – it’s great to make notes of any last minute niggles you need to sort out.
  9. The main edit should already have been done at this point so focus on errors with grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and spacing.
  10. And finally, there’s no harm in resetting the computer spell checker and giving it one last go.



Used with my Editing Search & Destroy Checklist posted during the E challenge, you should catch most of the errors.

Have you got any proofreading tips to share?

Good luck!


Quality close ups I want to share.

Check out previous a-z posts here

#AtoZChallenge – E for Editing ‘Search and destroy’

If you want your story to fly off the page – then it’s all in the editing.

Once you have a near finished draft, it’s important to go through it and cut any unnecessary words. I use Mircosoft Word ‘Navigation’ – CTL ‘F’ key. It’s brilliant. You type in a word and it will tell you how many times you’ve used it, shows you page numbers and allows you to navigate easily between these sentences to fix them.

I have a list I work through. It started when my Beta readers commented that I used certain words and phrases too often – everyone grinned (mostly inappropriately!), there were lots of smiles flashing and a few too many calming breaths! There are plenty more, but I don’t want to embarrass myself too much.

We all have our own pet words to search for and destroy, but here’s a list of a few that are universal.

ly words – Usually these words are added to weak verbs. It’s better to change the verb in question and delete the ly word. (walked quickly – ran)

ing words – Sometimes we use too many ing words and the prose would be improved by a rewrite.

ALL Variations of said: whisper/shout/mutter/ etc – As my editor pointed out, it should be obvious by the dialogue itself how it is said. If not, rework it. Also if its obvious who is talking you can get rid of the speech tag altogether.

Look / gaze / sat / walk and other weak verbs – replace with stronger ones.

Smile / grin / nod / shrug / cry  / sigh – Any over used actions that slip in during the creating stage.

Yes, No, well (in dialogue) – These are often pointless sentence starters.

Just, very, quite, more, really  etc – Filler words don’t add to the prose. The sentence becomes stronger without them.

Sense / feel / felt – These sentences can often be improved by rewriting. If a character felt something, it should be obvious by their actions without the writer spelling it out.

Contractions – Check they are used where appropriate in prose and dialogue.

Then, next – A creative writing teacher told me these are unnecessary (unless in dialogue)as everything in fiction is consecutive.

There was /were – Passive sentences slow the pace.

(I’m sure there are lots more to add to this list, please share yours)

Conclusion – Using Word’s Navigation (search and destroy method)

Lowers your word count.

Ensures your writing is succinct.

Roots out repetition and your pet words and phrases.

Helps you view the sentence in question separate from the whole, so you can pick out the problems and be ruthless fixing them.

You can see what words you use too often and become more conscious of them as you write your next draft.


Now your novel will fly off the page…


(This brilliant pic is off Pixabay.com. It’s the first time I’ve used someone else’s image, but the site said it was free to use.)


Tomorrow I’m up for a bit of Foraging.

Links to my previous A to Z challenge posts

#atozchallenge – B Beta readers

Beta readers are a writers best friend. They helped me turn this:


into this

VOZ print book 3d image flat

I’d never have found the courage to publish without their help and support. They were instrumental in helping the novel develop, pointing out character flaws, plot issues and words and phrases that I have a tendency to overuse.

How to find Beta Readers

I was lucky enough to make friends with writers from the adult education classes I attended a few years ago. Some of us have kept in touch and meet up to critique each others work.

These creative writing classes are a great way to learn the craft and make new friends, and I really recommend new writers try to join one.

There are other options; online courses, peer websites, or you can find beta readers advertising online and on sites like Goodreads. But there is nothing quite like sitting down over a cup of tea, or glass of wine and talking through your book with someone who understands the trials involved in writing.

Be a Beta Reader

You can learn a lot about the process of writing and editing by being a Beta reader yourself. I found it an enriching experience, both to the reader and the writer in me. It’s an honour to read someone’s work, to know that they trust you with their baby and that you’re probably one of the first to read their work as a whole.

Now for a few words from a couple of my lovely beta readers;

Beta-reading by Louise Spiers

‘I had not known I was a beta-reader until I saw the acknowledgements in Visions of Zarua by my friend Suzanne Rogerson. My ignorance of the term did not hinder my becoming one. Beta-reading comes naturally to those of us who as teachers have spent many hours reading and marking essays. I met Suzanne at a creative writing evening class and was impressed by her work and professionalism. After the class finished, a small group of us continued to meet. It was then that I read more of her book. The opportunity to read through the entire fantasy novel was one that I approached with enthusiasm. I enjoyed the process and it was a pleasure to help her. I can thoroughly recommend beta-reading to any writer. It is a privilege to be asked to read and comment on a writer’s work especially when you understand how many hours of hard work it represents. If I am ever in the position of needing a beta-reader, Suzanne will be my first choice. Finally, do go and check out Visions of Zarua. You won’t be disappointed.’


‘Beta readers are vitally important to improving your writing – they catch plot holes and inconstancies that you totally missed, along with providing encouragement when they tell you what worked well!   I’ve also enjoyed being a Beta reader for friends and other writers; it’s a great feeling to know you’ve helped someone else on their path to publication!’   Barbed Words
Barbed Words is also taking part in the A-ZChallenge so check out her blog here.


Has anyone else any Beta reading experiences to share?

The next few blogs will have a more crafty theme. And then I’ll be onto E – its all in the editing. See you next time.

#amediting for the next two weeks!

Last week I finally completed the read through and edit of ‘Search for the Sentinel’. It’s in good shape, though far from ready to self publish. I need to add in a dozen or so scenes and have lots of tell and unnecessary exposition to delete. I also need to work on some of the world-building ideas to make sure they come alive for the reader.

I’ve challenged myself to complete this next stage of editing in two weeks, deadline when the kids breakup for half term. If you could see the scribbled mess of my draft you would know that it’s quite an undertaking. But if I don’t set the challenge I will just drift along without completing anything. Looks like I will have to unplug my Wifi.

The plan will then be to print it and read it again after a break of a week or so. Then I’ll keep repeating the process until I’m happy enough to pass it on for it’s first beta read.

I also need to look into book covers. This time it will need to have a theme that can run through 3 books – and I have no ideas where to start with that. But I shall be heading over to ‘The Cover Collection’ who made the brilliant cover for Visions of Zarua.

In the near future I hope to put together an editing checklist which will incorporate what I’ve learnt from creative writing classes, professional critiques and professional editing. Watch this space.

My editors are getting ready to give me a hand…

See you on the other side of two weeks, if I still have my sanity!


Guest Post by Alison Williams – 10 things new writers should know

I first came across Alison Williams in 2015 when I was looking for a professional editor to give ‘Visions of Zarua’ a final edit before I self published. I had thought the novel was pretty much ready, but Alison suggested many areas of improvement. In all, I cut 10k off the word count!

She has been a huge help to me through the editing and self publishing stages, and here she offers her advice to all new writers. Thank you, Alison…


Ten things new writers should know

  1. Writing a book is hard. It’s a long process. It will take up lots and lots of your time. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can write a 50,000 word novel in a month – NaNoWriMo has its uses but what you write in November is certainly not the finished article.
  2. While you might love writing, when you’re supposed to be writing other things will take on a glamour and an appeal you never knew they had. Even ironing.
  3. Social media can be the best thing ever and the worst thing ever. You will make writer friends, find support, help and empathy. You will also waste hours and hours and hours of valuable writing time.
  4. You need a fresh pair of eyes. However good your spelling and grammar, spellcheck and your own eyes aren’t enough. You WILL miss mistakes.
  5. You need an editor. For the reasons above and then some. Not only can spelling mistakes get missed, but so can plot holes, inconsistencies, issues with characterisation, flow, pace – the list could go on and on. And I’m not saying that because I’m an editor. ALL writers need editors.
  6. You need a professional book cover if you’re self-publishing. Too many good books fail to reach an audience because the cover is awful, or bland, or doesn’t relate to the content. See Rosie Amber’s wonderful Friday Five Challenge if you have any doubt about the importance of your cover.
  7. Promoting your book will take as much time, if not more, than writing it. This is the case whether you self publish or are traditionally published. You will need to promote your work, blog about it, tweet, use Google +, Facebook, engage with other writers and readers, maybe do book signings, readings, conferences. Don’t think writing is all about sitting at a laptop creating worlds. You have to interact in the real world too.
  8. Not everyone will love your book. Some people might even hate it. And if they do they may well tell you so. On Amazon. In detail. Grow a thick skin and be prepared. And be prepared to listen to criticism. Your harshest critics might have a point (or they might not, in which case ignore them – never, ever engage with them).
  9. You won’t make lots of money. At least you probably won’t. You’ll work hard, very, very hard for not much monetary reward. Don’t have expectations of paying off the mortgage, buying a new car or even giving up the day job. It might happen. But it probably won’t.
  10. Writing is hard. Did I say that already? It is though. It’s hard, it’s time consuming, it’s frustrating and thankless and sometimes it’s really, really boring. But you should do it anyway. Because when you publish something you’re proud of, and when someone, a complete stranger, writes a five star review for your book on Amazon, it’s a wonderful feeling. And it makes all that hard work worthwhile.


Alison Williams lives in Hampshire with her husband, two teenage children, and a variety of pets including a mad cocker spaniel, a rescue Labrador, a psychotic cat and two of the most unsociable rabbits in existence. She is an independent novelist, freelance editor and writer. As an editor, Alison works mainly with independent authors and has edited everything from erotica, memoirs and poetry to children’s books and fantasy. When she has any time left at all, she enjoys blogging, reading, going to the gym and listening to music (she has an obsession with Johnny Marr), and watching The Sopranos (again). From 2011-2012 she studied for a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Glasgow. As part of her studies, Alison wrote her first novel ‘The Black Hours’ – available now from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony and the Apple Store. ‘Blackwater’, the prequel to ‘The Black Hours’ is available free as an eBook from all the above outlets. Both can be read as standalones.

Blog: http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alisonwilliamswriting

Twitter: @Alison_WiIliams


My 9 Point Plan to Succeed in 2016

1st Jan 2016 is the perfect day to plan the year ahead. Start with optimism and who knows what can be achieved.

1. Read more and review more (As a new author I am desperate to get reviews, so it only seems right that I should put this into practice myself.)

How to achieve:

– I’ve signed up for the Good Reads 2016 reading challenge. 25 books. Not a big target, but it’s more than I managed last year.

– I have a brand new notebook to record the books I read and my thoughts on them. First book of the year is ‘The Iron Ship’ by K.M.McKinley.


– I’m a member of a local Waterstones Fantasy / Sci-Fi book group. We meet once a month and they encourage me to try new authors. Needing to finish a book to a time scale is good motivation.

2.  Publish my next book – Working title Bloodlines ‘Search for the Sentinel’

How to achieve:

– The minute the kids go back to school, I’m turning off the computer, internet etc. I’m going to focus on the draft I’ve already printed ready and concentrate on pulling it into shape. I’ve worked on it previously, so hopefully it will only take a few months to prepare it for a beta reader – Cue long suffering husband?

3.  Try to blog at least once a week

How to achieve:

– So far I have a couple of half started draft posts to fall back on. I need to build up a list of posts to do. It’s sometimes easier if you already have a title or a starting point.

– If I manage to start reviewing the books in my Goodreads library, that will cover a few blogs (hopefully 25!).

– I hope to blog about the process of editing and publishing my second book, focusing on things like the front cover selection.

– I hope to blog about the successes and failures of marketing my first published book – Visions of Zarua.

VOZ print book 3d image flat

4.  Finish the draft of another WIP – which will be another standalone fantasy currently called Child of Destiny.

How to achieve:

– NaNoWriMo in either April or November. For two years running I worked on Child of Destiny, completing 50k one year and 22k the next. It seems fitting that I finish the first draft during NaNo 2016.

5.  Create new – short stories, flash fiction, new ideas for novels

How to achieve:

– A beautiful new notebook to write in and a lovely new Parker pen. It’s a start, then I just need to add a spark of imagination and I’m away…



6.  Enter competitions

How to achieve:

– I have a handful of stories I need to finish polishing and make changes to after receiving some very helpful critiques during previous competition entries.

7.  Consider publishing a novella

How to achieve:

– Develop my s/s Death Dream and see if the idea can be sustained through a longer word count.

8.  Market Visions of Zarua and get reviews on Amazon and Goodreads

How to achieve:

– I hope to do a blog tour early in 2016 and get to know more bloggers and reviewers. Maybe run a giveaway or two.

Goodreads Giveaway – already in motion and attracting a steady flow of entrants.

– Contact reviewers, I already have a couple lined up and some I’m hoping to approach this year.

9.  I would like to tidy and redesign my website

How to achieve:

– Resist the urge to pull hair out, punch the laptop and swear head off.

– Muddle through as usual.


I’m already thinking 2016 is not going to be long enough for everything I’ve planned, and we’re only on day 1. The next job will be to print this plan and pin it on the wall by my desk where I can look at it and get inspired. It’s always good to have a plan…

Has anyone got any time management tips?

What does it take to write a novel?


7 note books, reams of paper, years of hard work, thousands of hours of writing and rewriting, 4 beta readers, several online courses and professional critiques, and lets not go into the money involved…


Now that Visions of Zarua is published, I decided to use this lazy day between Christmas and New Year to tidy my desk drawers and go through all the old paperwork. I’ve boxed up all the note books that hold the first draft, the pictures of characters and places that helped me create my world, my extensive notes on everything to do with Paltria and its characters, the various critique reports and my notes on rewriting.

Who would have thought that pile of scribbles and half formed plans would turn into this…


Visions of Zarua started way back in 2003 with a tiny idea. I wonder what my younger self would think if she knew the long, long journey ahead.