1. Read. Read a lot. Better yet, read everything.
Reading the work of others is the best way to improve your own writing skills. Most authors are voracious lifetime readers. You learn the subtleties and nuances of plot, story and timelines, and characterization. Reading exposes you to different types of sentence and dialogue structure and can help you determine what genre you want to focus on. A committed reader is often able to write with less errors simply because they have absorbed the mechanics of punctuation, grammar, and structure. High volume reading also translates into a vast and diverse written vocabulary.
There are a plethora of words we use in everyday language. A small percentage, however, we use far more than others. Part of creating engaging, interesting, and intelligent text is developing the habit of varying our writing “vocabulary” and replacing and eliminating commonly overused words.
The world of self-publishing can be daunting. One of the best friends an author can have is an experienced freelance editor. Every manuscript, whether written by a best-selling author or a complete newbie, requires another set of eyes to find those errors and rough spots that we can’t see in our own work.