As many of you may already know, I’m about to launch a digital course called “How to Write a Novel.” I’ve been working hard behind the scenes for months on the lessons I’ll share with you throughout the course, and I’ve even picked the brains of some of you to ensure I’m covering every possible issue authors struggle with when writing a novel. This book is NOT just for beginners, folks. I’m going to take all the tips, tricks, and advice I’ve learned and gathered over the years and show you all not only how to write a book, but the steps to take before and after you write it. It’s going to be a “start to finish” guide that will hopefully answer all the questions the average writer struggles with before they even start writing, as they’re writing, and even once they’ve finished. This course will cover topics including:
- How to decide on a story to write.
- Determining your audience and genre.
- Choosing POV and past vs. present narrative styles
- Creating unique, well-developed characters
- Figuring out which subplots to use
- How to write dialogue properly
- How to write your back cover blurb
- And much, much more.
But you might be wondering who I am to be teaching such a course. Well, not only am I an award-winning author, but I’ve been an editor for 10 years. I spent 2 years working for a literary agent and I’ve worked for a couple of different publishing houses writing blurbs and taglines, etc. I teach writing courses at Carnegie Center, and I edit for and coach authors every single day through my business, Top Shelf Editing.
But still, that’s just a bunch of generic accolades. I thought it might be helpful to tell you about just one of my clients out of many who have gone from newbie author to highly successful author after working with me. Now, the credit belongs to the authors because they are the ones putting in the hard work, but I’d like to think I had a small role in their growth and improvement.
One client who has improved significantly since we first met years ago is DL Blade. I don’t think she would mind me telling you that, when she first came to me with her first book, she needed some help. Not because her writing was bad, or she didn’t know how to tell a story. Not at all. In fact, she’s been a masterful storyteller since I met her. But sometimes, authors who are just starting their first book don’t really know all the rules of writing. And I’m not just talking about rules pertaining to grammar and punctuation, although these are common issues for many authors. I’m talking about all those other rules, like “show, don’t tell,” and “kill your darlings,” as well as how to keep proper pacing, how to create and maintain a unique voice for each character, etc. As a newbie author, Blade still had to learn some of those intricate and troublesome rules. Her writing was beautiful. And her paranormal romance was one of the most well-thought-out stories I’d read in years. But she just needed some guidance when it came to all those pesky little nuances that come with writing properly.
Like many brand-new authors, Blade struggled with some of the more complex writing rules such avoiding head-hopping and not switching between past and present tenses. She, like most newbies, used adverbs and adjectives to explain how things were said and done rather than using supporting narrative to SHOW the reader how things were said and done. Another common pitfall she kept dealing with was recognizing when to use past-perfect tense and when to stick with past-simple. I remember vividly working on her first book back in 2017 when I was on vacation with my family. I didn’t do her edits during vacation just because I had to stick to my schedule but because her story was so compelling, I was determined to help her nail each issue and write her best book.
But the reason Blade is one I refer to as a “star client” is not just because she’s stuck with me through all her books, which means a lot to me. It’s also because, unlike some clients, she actually wanted to learn her craft and to be the best writer she could possibly be. I’ll be honest. I’ve had all kinds of clients over the years. Many do just want me to fix their mistakes and move on to the next, showing no real desire to improve by the next book. But Blade was one of my first authors in years who showed true determination to let her true talent shine through and learn everything she could about the craft of writing. So, when she sent me book 2 in her series, I could see a marked difference in her writing and a major improvement. Sure, she still fell back on some old, pesky habits from time to time, but I could see the effort she put into the second book after listening to my advice and implementing everything I taught her. By book 3, I spent about half the time on her edits as I did book 1. She truly has grown as an author in a matter of a couple years, and this is why she’s one of my favorite clients. She listens to my advice, and when she has questions, even while writing, she’ll shoot me a text or email and ask me how something should be written rather than just falling back on the fact that I’ll catch it in edits.
But don’t take my word for it. The first book in her Chosen Coven series, The Dark Awakening, was nominated for the 2019 Author Academy Awards as a Top 10 Finalist for Young Adult Fiction! Her books are selling very well, and she’s carved out a spot for herself as a well-known indie author. I’m impressed and so proud of her and how far she’s come since the day a somewhat shy, apprehensive newbie author emailed me her first manuscript. Now, here we are three years later, and her books are not only popular in the paranormal romance genre, but readers and fellow authors alike look to Blade for amazing stories they can get lost in.
Another example of Blade’s determination to learn, grow, and be successful is the fact that she recently revamped the cover of all three books in her Chosen Coven Trilogy. Why? Because she sought the advice of a prolific and successful author who’d written and successfully marketed over 30 books. This author gave Blade some tough but honest feedback on her covers (though it should be noted that her original covers were already beautiful and striking) and told her how she could make them fit her stories better. So, Blade swallowed her pride and listened, once again, to the advice of a professional and she had her designer (a wonderful lady from Redbird Designs named Ashley Byland) re-do her covers to increase their marketability.
Again, DL Blade’s success is almost entirely due to her own hard work. I can’t take any real credit for that. Besides, no matter how thoroughly I edited her book, it was always up to her to implement my suggested changes, which she did without hesitation. But I would like to think I played even a small role in her successful journey, not just because I edited her books, but because of the advice I’ve given her over the years. Advice which SHE chose to listen to, take to heart, and implement.
So, hopefully, DL Blade can serve as just one shining example of how I can help authors better their craft and write their best book. And she’s living proof that, if you are willing to make the time and financial investment needed to work with a professional editor BEFORE you self-publish your novel, not only will you see a return on your investment and then some, but you can learn a lot more that way and actually improve your writing skills.
That’s precisely why I’ve developed the Write Your Best Book Academy. Sadly, I’m limited in time when it comes to working with authors one on one anymore, though I do still take on at least one client per month. But I decided that I could reach many more authors if I created this online course and authors can take each lesson at their own leisure and pace and implement everything I teach them, not just for whatever book they are currently writing, but for all future books, as well.
I do hope you’ll keep your eyes open for my pre-sale, which should launch in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be offering a major discount to anyone who signs up prior to the actual launch date. But I’m ONLY offering the pre-sale discount to my email subscribers. So if you haven’t already, please visit my website’s contact page and sign up now for our spam-free newsletter. I promise not to try to sell you services constantly. Instead, I send emails about once or twice a week offering more free tips, tricks, and advice on how you can write your best book. Again, only subscribers will receive the discounted rate and pre-sale code, as well as TWO free lessons, which should be sent out by the end of February.
In the meantime, be sure to follow us on social media for tons of other free tips, tricks, and advice as well as announcements about the upcoming course called, “How to Write a Novel.” Our social media links are listed here:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/topshelfeditingllc/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/topshelfedits
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/topshelfediting/
Also, please do me a favor and check out DL Blade’s Chosen Coven series, starting with her award-nominated book, The Dark Awakening. The direct link to purchase her book in print, ebook, or KU is here:
And you can connect with DL Blade via her website, which is here:
She also had an awesome newsletter, which I highly recommend you sign up to receive.
That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks.
Talk soon, and in the meantime, go write your best book!
Top Shelf Editing