From author Ann Warner via Romance University:
Forgoing the traditional imprimatur of agents or editors, authors who self-publish become the ones responsible for judging the quality of their work. The problem is that after passing through the creative maelstrom required to write a novel, the author’s judgment about the quality of their story is likely to be flawed. Rightly or wrongly, the author may be convinced that her story is
A. So wonderful it would make Hemingway weep
B. So dreadful it’s not worth even a penny
C. Probably good enough
A and C are by far the most dangerous choices, because they are likely to result in premature publication.
On the other hand, if the conclusion is B, and the writer overcomes her discouragement, she may then begin to look for ways to improve the story.
I didn’t begin writing fiction until my mid-fifties, when my position as a director of a hospital toxicology laboratory ended abruptly with the closure of the laboratory. While trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I received a surprising nudge from my sub-conscious to try writing a story.
When I finished that story, it was, in my opinion, most definitely an A. Every one of its 125,000 words was perfect. Had self-publishing been a viable option at that time, I would have chosen it. Immediately.
But self-publishing wasn’t yet easy, something that was lucky for me, because the novel was most definitely not an A. I began to recognize its B status after a friend read the book (or perhaps only a few pages) and then brought me flowers and congratulated me profusely on writing it. Only later did I realize she’d said nothing about whether it was any good. I still feel an immense gratitude to her for so gently bumping me back to reality from my first novel infatuation daze.
. . . .
I talked a professor into letting me take a senior writing seminar in the MFA program at the university where I was a faculty member. Not necessarily a path I recommend.
I joined RWA and began attending my local chapter’s meetings and writing workshops.
I searched out other writers to serve as critic partners in person or on the internet.
I began querying agents and publishers and learned to cope with the subsequent deluge of rejection.
Most importantly, I started reading books and articles on writing craft, noting specific suggestions I could begin using as I started working on another novel.
. . . .
I gleaned a number of specific suggestions that I began applying during my revision process and while they may seem simplistic, I discovered they had a dramatic effect on the quality of my writing. They included:
Avoid overuse of names in dialogue: “Yes, Cassandra, I see the whale.” “Oh, I’m glad you do, Jonah.” “Of course, Cassandra, I’ll just move out of the— eughhhh!” Etc, etc.
Avoid dialogue tags like she screamed or he yelled in favor of the simple he said/she said and limit modifying adverbs (e.g. she said coaxingly, angrily etc.). Instead “show” these attributes by writing robust dialogue.
. . . .
Storytelling, you see, is a right brain, creative activity. Whether it can be learned is an open question, but it can certainly be enhanced, and I have a two-fold recommendation to help with that enhancement.
First, teach yourself to pay attention to those flickers of inspiration presented to the conscious mind by the unconscious through dreams, daydreams, or random thoughts. The trick is to catch those quick glints before they fade, and then make a note. Otherwise, they will fade, and you will forget. Guaranteed.
Link to the rest at Romance University
Here’s a link to Ann Warner’s books