Tag: edit

Straight Talk from Editor to Author

Editors do important work. In fact, my choice to pursue traditional publishing has as much to do with getting quality editing for my work as it does to the whole avoiding marketing ideal. (Sadly, there is NO way to avoid that irksome task regardless of an author’s path.)

I’ve worked with half a dozen editors. Three of them I chose myself and paid out of my pocket. The others were assigned to me by the publishing house. In my experience, some editors are fantastic and as relentless in their pursuit of a perfect manuscript as I am.

Others? They’re breezing through the manuscript and finding the obvious errors, but they aren’t passionate about polishing the story to the next level.

Recently, I hired Kristen Corrects, Inc for a three-manuscript independent project. She was one of the first editors I interviewed when the first manuscript in this series was an unborn dream. And although I didn’t hire her then, I have experienced her critique skills with a more recent project, MOMMY’S LITTLE MATCHMAKERS.

Welcome, Kristen. You’re an independent editor with a pretty full schedule and a broad range of editing projects, so I know you’ll have insight my fellow authors will want to hear.

What is something authors commonly forget to do before handing over their manuscript to the editor?

KRISTEN: Self-edit their work.

I cannot stress the importance and the difference in quality authors will see if they invest some time in improving their manuscript before sending it off to a professional editor. Unless authors have unlimited money to pay a freelance editor for many, many editing passes (spoiler alert: most don’t!), authors can really improve the quality of their final book simply by self-editing their work.

Me: That’s great advice, but I’m sure some readers are wondering what that entails. What does self-editing mean to you?

KRISTEN: This means recruiting beta readers and implementing their suggestions, and reading your manuscript several times to catch as many errors (continuity, grammar, spelling) as possible. I’ve been a freelance editor since 2012, and one thing I know to be true: the most successful self-publishing authors are those who self-edit their work. Simply handing your raw first draft manuscript to your editor and hoping they’ll make it into gold after one or two editing passes just isn’t realistic.

Me: I can’t even imagine sending my raw first draft to anyone. I even revise and give it a quick edit before I send it to my beta readers.

Let’s face it, there are a TON of editors out there. Not only that, there are several types of editing. How is an author supposed to find a reputable editor?

KRISTEN: Do your homework. Make sure the editor has a contract. Check out their portfolio and look up those books on Amazon (if there are a lot of negative reviews mentioning a story that doesn’t make sense or typos, move on). Read testimonials of the editor’s previous clients.

Most editors will offer a sample edit free of charge, so take advantage of this to see if you like how the edited passage of your book. There are a lot of editors out there, so do your research!

Me: I know that when I first interviewed you, I was hoping to find someone who had experience editing in my genre (historical fiction). In fact (along with price), this is the reason I went with someone else for that first project. Do editors prefer to work in certain genres?

KRISTEN: I’m a fiction book editor, but I haven’t “niched down” yet to a specialty (romance, fantasy, etc.). There’s a robust world in fiction writing, and I enjoy all of it—the variety makes my job so interesting. There’s a big difference between fiction and nonfiction writing, though, which is why I rarely accept the nonfiction project.

Me: At the end of the day, authors don’t have to take your recommendations. Every editor I’ve worked with has reiterated this to me (yes, even the ones with publishing houses). How do you manage issues when the author disagrees with your advice/recommendations?

KRISTEN: The majority of my clients are self-publishing authors, which means after I’m done editing their manuscript, they upload the books to Amazon Kindle or other self-publishing platforms. The book is their baby—it has their name on it, their ideas, and their story. And as such, I always tell my author clients: “You’re the author, so you’re in the driver’s seat!” (It’s kind of become a mantra.)

I’m here as their editor to make the book the best it can be—but if the author disagrees with my recommendations, I’m totally fine with that. That’s the beauty of self-publishing—it’s the author’s story, nobody else’s.

Me: Come back next week and find out if Kristen deals with a client who disagrees with changes she suggested.

For my part, I’ve worked with several editors, and I’ve never had any arguments. There were times I disagreed with my editor and cited the Chicago Manual of Style to them as to WHY I didn’t accept their changes. Amazingly, they thanked me for pointing those errors out to them.

Next week, I’ll open up the comments at the bottom of the post and ask Kristen to check in and answer any questions you have for her. In the meantime, why not check out her blog and see if she answers them there.

Road to Self-Published – Finding your Perfect Editor – Part 2

everyone-needs-a-good-editor2

This is the second part to a serial post describing my search for a freelance editor. Read part 1 here if you missed it last week.

The first half of the post talked about how I started my search for an editor and the overload of information I needed to sift through before I could contact some editors. Now, what did I ask them? How did I pick one?

What I wish I knew first

Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample edit. Both of the editors I corresponded with happily edited a few pages of my manuscript. It truly gave me insight into their styles and what I might expect when I got the copy back.

Copy editors follow the Chicago Manual of Style. If you don’t know what that is, follow this link to get more information. One of them clung to this more strictly and changed the sentence fragments I used in my writing.

In fiction, fragment have become increasingly accepted. Authors use them to emphasize or make a character’s succinct voice come through more clearly. If this editor intended to correct them all, my manuscript would be a mess of red.

When I asked her about it, she said she would NOT change them if that was my preference. My preference is that they have impact. If they don’t, then they should conform to grammatical rules.

Ask about a time frame. Apparently, many editors are booked as far as three months in advance. I wanted someone to look at my manuscript in 30 days. Luckily, since it is a novella, both of these editors were able to squeeze the estimated 14-hour job into their schedule.

If you’re interested in copy editing, book formatting, proofreading and help writing marketing text, most of the editors I previewed had experience with all these things. Yes, you can get this assistance – for a price.

Both of the editors I worked with offered discounts for bundling copy editing and proofreading. I was amazed at the price for the proofreading service since I figured the manuscript should be squeaky clean after the copy edit.

Apparently, things like spelling and punctuation aren’t priorities during a copy edit. This surprised me. How can you make a sentence grammatically correct and clear without altering faulty punctuation and spelling? That must be the English geek in me that connects these two things.

My Final Criteria

The samples and conversations with both Kristen (Kristen Corrects, Inc.) and Lindsey (Lindsey Alexander Editorial) pleased me. I felt both of them would make my manuscript better – ready to face the public.

Both of them seemed happy to go “the extra mile” with me and answer questions not clearly related to the service I was buying from them. Lindsey even spoke with me for fifteen minutes on the phone before I signed any contract.

In the end, I based the decision on experience. Lindsey had been involved in publishing and editing in a more direct way for several years longer than Kristen. In fact, her freelancing business was seven years older than Kristen’s.

I would highly recommend either of these editors. I hope you’ll take the time to click through to all four of the editorial websites I’ve linked to this post. Research is your best avenue for finding the right editor. Your project might fit more easily with someone other than Lindsey.

It’s true, I haven’t seen more than just a few pages of work from Lindsey Alexander. Her willingness to speak to me on the phone and answer a host of questions that had little to do with copy editing – and much to do with my insecurities about being my own publisher – added a ton of bricks in her favor.

Have you hired an editor? Do you have advice to add? What other information would you like to know on this subject?

Road to Self-Published – Finding your Perfect Editor – Part 1

This blog is meant to attract readers for my published works. You know, people who like young adult fantasy or Biblical fictionalizations, or maybe even a little romance. Yet, here I am discussing my journey to being self-published.

Self-publishing still sounds like a dirty word to some people. However, in the past two years, Amazon and the popularity of eBooks has begun to alter that perception.

It’s a slow thing – change. Especially when people have rock-hard opinions in place. The number of independent (i.e. self-published) authors who manage to make a decent living writing and publishing quality books rises with each survey.

For me, I am seeking the traditional path with my young adult manuscript – for now. The Biblical fictionalization, however, appears in my mind as something that isn’t about profit. Why shouldn’t I self-publish it then?

Earlier, I posted about the necessity of hiring an editor if you’re a beginning writer. (Yes, you might be in your 40s with no publishing credits and still be a beginning writer.) In this post, I speak directly about the process I used to find a copy-editor for the manuscript I intend to independently publish in May.

Where I started

As a member of WANA Tribe, I started there. After all, I had superior luck finding beta readers by posting to those boards.

everyone-needs-a-good-editor2Specifically, I posted on the Christian Authors tribe’s board. I asked for referrals to any editors who had experience with Biblical fictionalizations. In my mind, I felt that the two super editors I know (Jami Gold and Marcy Kennedy) were experts in fantasy and paranormal romance. I wanted someone with a little bit of knowledge about this much different market.

With only a single response from that forum, I headed over to the Editorial Freelance Association website. A search narrowed the pool to 121 members. It took plenty of clicking through to learn the information I wanted, but I found two editors to email for more information.

What I found

The list of members on the ERA site is staggering. It can feel overwhelming at first.

Is my method of reading through the bios and checking out sites scientific? Not hardly. It did lead me to an editor I feel comfortable with, however.

I emailed the first two choices and asked for quotes. It was here I learned that many editors don’t call a line edit a line edit. If an editor offers to copy-edit your manuscript, that’s the same thing (they say, although Marcy Kennedy defines the difference on her site). One of the editors quoted me between 8 and 12 cents per word, based on how clean my manuscript started. The other quoted $45/ per hour.

At the ERA site, there is a list of appropriate prices for services. This is the editorial rates chart from that site: Editorialrates

As you can see, both of these first two quotes are above the specified guidelines. Even though I had corresponded several times with one of these editors, I went back to my search list to see if I could find someone closer to the suggested range.

On my next search, I only emailed one editor. Her rates were clearly listed on her clean and user-friendly website. At 1.4 cents per word, her estimate worked out to a rate that was at the high end of the recommended charges.

Check back next Friday to see how I finally found the editor for my self-published manuscript.

I will be running a series of posts on Fridays for the next two months (give or take) about my progress toward publishing – both the self-published track and the traditional path (since I have manuscripts in both).

That manuscript still isn’t perfect yet? – Part Three of my Manuscript Critique

You might be sick of reading about my numerous critique experiences. I know I’m tired of rewriting the manuscript.

Remember I mentioned rewriting the first pages of this manuscript. That rewrite was for a class given by Kristen Lamb.

If you don’t follow her blog, I suggest you follow this link and sign up. If you need to learn about craft or building an author platform, I suggest her classes and her book, Rise of the Machine-Human Authors in a Digital World.

Having met Kristen’s red pen before, I expected a good ripping from her. Good thing I had that sand-papery experience with Ms. Hughes to toughen my sensitive writer’s psyche, right? And don’t forget my friend Becky lambasting what I considered a polished manuscript.

First of all, Kristen called me on the phone to talk about my initial beginning. “Too much telling. Show me how crappy her life is” was the gist of that conversation.

Immediately, I sat down and cranked out a new beginning. I let it sit overnight and then reread it. Not quite where I wanted it to be, so I tweaked it and completely junked the first sentence. After one more go-through, I sent it off to Jedi Master Lamb.

Her response: “Here you go. Much better but watch the 1) odd sentence construction 2) too much physiology and 3) brain-holding.”

You know what rocked me the most about this short and sweet statement? She mentioned the odd sentence construction which was something Alex Hughes also noted. My. Sentences. Suck.

Epiphany: No matter what you think about your sentences, Shari, they are constructed in a way that obscures your meaning.

Time to stop trying to write with variety and just put the words down on the page. Say what you mean to say, Shari. Nothing more. Nothing less. And certainly nothing fancy.

If you’ve taken many creative writing classes, perhaps you have a voice in your head that says “Another subject-verb-object construction? Boring!” According to the professionals who critiqued my manuscript, I need to duct tape this person’s mouth closed and throw her in the basement with my inner editor.

On to number two. What does she mean about “physiology”? Do I have too much heart-pounding? I know there were a few areas where Alex said “choose one” about physical responses. I think Master Lamb is nailing me for the same thing.

Less heart pounding for the character and more for the reader. Got it.

“Brain-holding” stumped me. Given the context, it is obviously something in my writing style. Is she talking about over-explaining? Or am I spending too much time inside the character’s mind? I don’t know.

What do you think? I know you didn’t get to read the pages, but since she didn’t mark them so I knew where I was doing the “brain-holding” I don’t know if seeing them would help.

What is brain-holding in regards to a manuscript? Do you have problems with any of these three areas? How do you improve going forward when someone has pointed out shortfalls in your writing?