The most difficult, yet essential, lesson for me to learn about bringing a work to publication was the need for outside assistance. For my first book, those who edited my work were friends who either wrote, taught English, or enjoyed discussing the themes included in my work. They provided guidance and good advice, for which I was and am grateful, but they also knew me well enough to hear my voice and comprehend my messages, whether the words declared these clearly, or not. They also did not proofread with a fine-toothed comb in search of hidden issues.
After attending a writing workshop sponsored by a publication company, I learned that it is best to have outside sources edit our work, especially those who don't know the writers. I found a group, knliterary, to proofread my already published book. They paired me with the perfect editor, one who loved my work, and still attended to every word and picture. Luckily, my book was print on demand, so I revised it with the many recommendations, which proved to be invaluable.
I vowed to never again publish a book without this ever important step.
For my next book, Selvyn Rings the bell, I crafted my story, found an illustrator, and assembled my book. I brought it to writing group, sent it to beta readers who specialized in content for child and young adult fiction, and did more revisions. I then sent it to the professional editors, who corrected errors and recommended additional revisions based on their feedback. I revised, rewrote, and reworked my illustrations. Selvyn was ready for launching, so I uploaded my manuscript, cover, and had author drafts printed. I am so glad that I did this prior to publishing.
This is where I am ever thankful to Land O' Lakes Writers. Their love, nurturing, and truthfulness takes the fear out of sharing our beloved work; I have shared good, bad, and ugly with them, and they honor it all. When I asked for feedback or guidance, they gave it with such a positivity that I left loving my work and my group.
Our group is different than most, and feedback is presented in ways that inspires revisions as opposed to chopping an artist's work to bits. However, it is feedback, and sometimes it creates a lot of work to ensure our work is the best it can be. One of our members has a degree in art from Ringling. She shared what she had learned in her classes in regard to how the story looked on the page. I learned so much from this young, new graduate. After listing her (and other group members') suggestions and ideas, I spent all day revising, and I cannot believe how incredibly improved my book is. Thank you, Land O' Lakes Writers.
I have one more layer to try before this one comes out. It's the scariest part of all, for I am actually sharing it with my target audience: the entire second grade (5 classes) at a local elementary school. Yes, I will be presenting my book as an author with a draft and asking for their feedback. I will revise again based on their ideas, and I hope they enjoy my little book as much as I loved writing and sharing it.