If You Can’t Let Go of Your Ego, You Can’t Be A Writer

Today we have Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar as a guest on Amlokiblogs. She is an author of various books, both fiction and non-fiction, with some very important writing advice . Take it away, Mohana!
If you want to write, and for a long time — not as a one hit wonder — you have to let go of ego and ask for help.
That’s exactly why I knew where to go for help: an editor. Finding a good editor is like finding a romantic partner; at times the search feels like a mythical quest. The writer may begin, but does not finish, alone.
If you’re an indie published author, you cannot afford to skip this step. Freelance editors are available aplenty and you’ll need to do your due diligence. Ask for sample work or referrals from clients. Send a few chapters and get their initial feedback before signing up.
Being an indie doesn’t mean that we skimp on quality. If you can’t pay an editor, consider barter or trade a service you’d be able to provide in exchange for an edit. Forgo a birthday or other seasonal gift by asking friends and family to donate towards the services your manuscript needs to be the best you can put out on the market.
Once you receive the final file from the editors, beware that you are not yet finished. You’ll want beta readers, or book lovers, to take your book out for a spin.
I did this recently with my latest release a contemporary romance set in Qatar. I wrote from the perspective of Qatari characters though I am not Muslim or Arab. My beta readers helped me catch a variety of errors from spelling mistakes of traditional Arabic words to cultural inconsistencies. The dynamite combination of editor and reader are how you get your book ready for a release.
Try not to be defensive but see where you are in agreement. After all, you have the same goal in mind: creating an amazing experience for readers. Figure in how long both of these cycles will take and factor it into your marketing and release plans.
Reviewers love books as much or maybe even more than writers do. They won’t hesitate to let you know when they feel let down; they’ll also rave if they’ve found a new favorite. Take the necessary steps to make sure yours makes a good first impression.
For me, the next month means back to the writing table with editor’s notes in hand. 

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace. Most recently, From Dunes to Dior, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Since she joined the e-book revolution, she dreams in plotlines.

Mohana has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation project was published as Haram in the Harem (Peter Lang, 2009) a literary analysis of the works of three Muslim women authors in India, Algeria, and Pakistan. She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology which features essays by Qataris on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010). Her research has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. She was a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. Catch up on her latest via her blog www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

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  1. mohadoha

    Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. It's awesome to know there is a community out there of people writing the hard way.

    Jo: if you review a lot of books, say 100 or more, then you've probably built up the kind of critical reading skills helpful from beta readers.

  2. Elizabeth Rose Murray

    This is a great post – thank you. I work with my agent as editor – she gives invaluable advice, helps clarify loose ends and also puts things in perspective. But seeing as I'm writing for Middle Grade & Young Adult, beta readers are essential.