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Hi, I'm Jamie. I'm a writer, reader, and huge TV junkie. I just might post about all three here on this blog. Have a look around. And if you want, drop me an email and tell me what you think. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I bought my own book!...or, what I learned during revisions

I know that title is probably a tad confusing, so allow me to explain. The whole "I bought my own book" thing simply means that, well, I bought my own book (haha!). Sorry. Ahem. What I mean is that I decided to put my "book" on one of those fancy-schmancy book-printing websites and create a cover and format all my pages to their standards and pay a tiny bit of money and wait anxiously by the mailbox and grab my book from said mailbox and rip open the box and ogle the finished product. author's note: I promise I don't write run-on sentences like this in real life.

"What does that mean?" I hear you all asking. Which leads to the second part of the title, "or, what I learned during revisions". After I completed the first draft of my MS, I shelved it for a few days before opening it back up and printing out a copy to tackle revisions. To say that the entire idea of revising what I had spent so much time writing was a bit overwhelming is a major understatement. Was I seriously going to delete words or paragraphs or *gulp* pages from my story? I couldn't imagine doing it. No way.

But, I knew it had to be done, so I dove in and revised. And after that first round of revisions, I of course felt that the story was better. Not perfect by any means, but better. So I shelved it again and let the original ideas marinate with the revised ideas to see what I could come up with to change next. What?!! More revisions? NO!! Absolutely not!

I'm sure we all know what comes next, right? Yep. More revisions. So, I printed out yet another copy of my MS (my apologies to the trees harmed during my revision process) and started doing what I could. author's note: I'm horrible at revisions, so "doing what I could" isn't really that much. After making a second pass, I once again put the story away for a little while, mainly so my over-worked brain could have a break. Once again, though, that pesky Revision Bug started gnawing at me, and this time I didn't even bother to protest. I gave in and opened my document, ready to print out yet another copy.

But this time, an idea struck me.

I said, "Hey, what about printing an actual book copy of your MS?"
"You mean, like a real book?" I asked myself.
"Yep. Like a real book."

And so, I hopped on the internet to see where I could buy a nice, bound copy of my MS. It didn't take long to find several websites offering this service, so I picked one and went from there. And that website was Lulu.com. And the result was rewarding in so many ways.

Not only did I get an actual book with my name on it and my hard work inside (okay, I know it's not technically a book since it wasn't technically published, but I can dream), but I also got what I think is one of the best tools for revising out there: your work, in book form, for you to read...like a real book!

Sounds simple, right? We all love to read (if you don't, then what are you doing here?), and we all know how easy it is to get lost in a book and not come up for air until we turn that last page. So what better way to find out how good your own writing is than to read it like a book?

I had thought when I printed my MS on my own printer (on those large, garish, white pages) that it would make revising much easier than staring at the computer screen. And it did. But trying to read them that way wasn't so easy. And since nothing beats reading a book I thought maybe nothing would beat revising a book that way, too.

So when I opened to the first page of my "book" and started reading, the entire story played out in my head, just like it does when I read any book. It was amazing. I could see my characters come to life and I could hear their dialogue and I could feel what my MC was feeling...I loved it! And, just like I had suspected, I could see where my story needed work.

Big and loud and slapping me in the face, the problems in my MS -- from misspelled words I thought I had fixed to lagging plot points and flat dialogue -- were so much clearer. But now I have a much better grasp on which areas need work and which ones are golden. So all I have to do is open up my word document and get to work. And if I run into a problem that I can't figure out, I can always go back and re-read my book!

Tell me what you guys think about having your MS in book form. Think it would help you in revising? No? Discuss!


  1. Whoa, what a GREAT idea! I'll definitely try this for my next WIP--thanks!! :)

  2. I tell you, Pam, not until I read my work in book form did it truly feel like a real story to me...everyone should try this!

  3. Ohmigod! This is so awesome. I think I want to try this, too. B/c I do everything that you and Pam do anyway ;) REALLY neat idea, though Jamie. I want to look into doing it 4realz.

  4. Quita, you really should. Like I told Pam, the flow is so great as you read you get lost and forget you're reading your own book!

  5. Interesting use for Lulu. I am not a writer, so I really don't know if getting a printed MS would help or not. But as a freelance editor, I will tell you you can make revisions easily on a computer without wasting trees. MS Word has a handy set of review functions that will make all your changes in red while leaving the original in black (but crossed out) so you can go through it again before accepting or rejecting the revisions.

  6. Jamie, I think you should send that "book" over to Texas & let me have a peak ;-)

  7. Ricki - I agree, and up until now that's what I've always done. But something just wasn't feeling right with this story, so I printed it out for my own benefit...and it helped so much!

    G - Hmm...I might have to just do that! :)

  8. That's a really good too I think for helping the revision process. If I ever get around to finishing my novel, that's what I plan on doing to help me with story.

    I'm so glad that this helped you in many ways with your book. :)


  9. Thanks, Amateur, and I'm glad to hear you're gonna give it a shot. It really does help!

  10. I love this idea! ANd lets be honest who doesn't love the idea of seeing his/her own manuscript as a book?! I think it would be very helpful for those who feel like getting published is too much! What do you think of ePublishing?

  11. I heard someone suggest formatting the MS to read like a book on the screen for editing but I never thought about actually printing the MS as a book. I think that's an amazing idea too. Might have to give it a try as well.

  12. Mflick1 - I'm all for ePub...any form of a book for someone to read is fine with me!

    Patricia - I formatted my book on screen the same way and it works fine. But once I did this, I'll always print out my "book" from now on--it's so great!

  13. This is such a great idea! I would never have thought about it, but I could see for plotting, flow, etc this would work so much better! Filed away for future use!

  14. I always print out a few copies from Lulu for my beta-readers. They definitely appreciate getting an actual book in hand and it makes it easier for them to get lost in the story. Plus, I like seeing my work in book form whether it's self-pub'd or through more traditional routes. Why spend thousands when you can spend tens for similar results?
    Good luck with your revisions!

  15. At a conference I attended last year, editor Cheryl Klein (Scholastic) recommended printing out your MS in a different font when you revise (same concept as reading it in book form, makes you look at the whole thing differently).

    Also, revise big to small. It's easy to go after little typo's and sentence structure over and over and over again. But you should start with the major (plot arc, character issues) and then move to the micro once the big stuff is in place. Saves time. :)

  16. I am using Create Space for the first time (my second book) and I ordered my author's proof copy for only $5. It has been a tremendous help with editing. It allows me to see and feel the story as a reader and gives me an opportunity to write in the proof copy, correcting minor erros, but also working on content, flow, etc. It also keeps me motivated to finish. Big fan of the proof.

  17. My crit partner was just telling me about this, and it does seem like a great idea!