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Looking Through The Draft

Step one, before I even thought about paying anyone to do anything or calling in any favours, was to look over the document myself. It's a short book at 35000 words but that's still quite a chunk of text.

For writing, I use a program called Manuskript (free and open-source). I'm a Linux user and this is available natively on my OS. Manuskript allows you to write with basic formatting into individual documents. These are available simultaneously and can be reordered, placed into folders/subfolders and edited. There are also some neat features like word counts and fiction writing tools. It's well worth a look if you haven't seen it before.

Awesome as Manuskript is, it is dreadful for a full readthrough. One of its main charms is to save you from the massive text-wall. This time I needed the wall.

In the end, I stuck it in LibreOffice, an open-source alternative to Word. This was a bad idea in retrospect because I started playing around with formatting immediately. Word processors are great bits of software, but their main function is to replace a typewriter for producing day-to-day office bits and bobs. They are not desktop publishing programs (more on them later).

So after wasting time formatting, there I was. Staring at my wall of text. Along with the pointless formatting, I also started deciding where I needed illustrations. thankfully I had the good sense not to start on them straight away and instead defaulted to my old habit of writing 'PLATE' in the places where I needed an illustration.

I made a few changes as I went along but nothing substantial, just the odd grammar error or mispspelling. I have a habit of eternally rewriting things to the point where I rarely finish anything. I was so keen to get a finished product out of this that I was able to force myself not to engage in this... I don't know, is it procrastination of a sort? Unfortunately, it did mean I failed to change things which probably needed changing. I think this has taught me something about the value of getting a third party to edit things for me. I can deliver a draft product but the balance of editing errors thoroughly and actually producing a product in a reasonable timescale is best handled by someone without vested interests. Plus, of course, a third party is always better at spotting errors and information gaps that you won't because as the author you will always know what the text is meant to say.

An undeniable triumph was coming out with my list of required illustrations and I think getting this nailed down rapidly has helped me move along much faster than I otherwise would.

Anyway, the read-through left me staring down even more work. I knew I needed illustrations, proofreading, editing, beta-reading and decided to start looking into lead times. It’s all very well saying I don’t need illustrations until after the text is finalised but what if I left illustrations until last and then found there was a month lead time to get them done? It was time to head off and find freelancers. The place I ended up was Fiverr and the next couple of posts will go over everything you need to know about the World’s #1 extreme-budget freelance marketplace.

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