Working with an Editor, Guest Post

.Working with an Editor

Working with an Editor is one of the needed parts of getting your story read to publish.

Today we welcome Adi Alsaid, the author of Somewhere Over the Sun. He has graciously written a guest post for us about his experience working with editors on his novel. For those of you who are afraid to work with an editor or who don’t know what possible benefit an editor can give you in the preparation of your book, read on. :) Don’t forget to visit his website and check out his novel.

While writing my debut novel, Somewhere Over the Sun, I’d send an updated manuscript to my two personal editors every other week and wait for them to tear me apart. I looked forward to their scrutiny, appreciating the straightforwardness of their comments to “cut” and the sentences they highlighted and labeled simply “awk.” They were sometimes brutal, if they needed to be, and we all understood it was for the good of the novel (though I’m sure they had a little more fun on that end than I did). I think if there’s one thing to be thankful for as a writer, it’s the ability to not be offended when an editor writes into your margin, “Eww. Get rid of this.” Of course, those edits are easier to bear when just a few lines later the same editor, someone whose literary opinion I greatly trust, is swooning and demanding of me: “Do not change this part. Ever!”

Working with an Editor

I had the incredible fortune of having two brilliant ladies work with me as editors throughout the writing of my debut novel (one stopped having the time to give me detailed notes about halfway through, although her occasional tweets assured me that she was still reading, still holding me accountable for quality, and that a glass of wine perfectly accompanied my novel). The one who stopped is an old friend, an incredibly talented writer with the education and the knowhow to not only move my commas around and put a leash on my fragments, but someone who had no problems scoffing at my mediocrity or lauding my greatness.

Editor number two was a very new acquaintance at the time, someone whom I trusted with my manuscript because she obviously shared my passion and love for language, had an English degree from a well-respected university, had real-world publishing experience and big-six editorial aspirations, was obviously extremely intelligent and hard-working, and to be perfectly frank, she was someone I simply wanted to be around often, someone whose opinion of my writing, for whatever reason, mattered to me.

I am eternally grateful and indebted to both of them, my dear personal editors, for their insights, dedication, time, genuine care for my work and a billion other ways they helped make my novel better.

I could have just powered through the first draft, then sent it off to them and wait for the notes before continuing on with re-writes. But receiving their notes throughout the writing process helped me improve parts of the novel that had yet to be written. Thanks to them, I was rewriting before my words even showed up on the computer screen, I was holding myself up to a higher standard before even sending them anything to correct. Kurt Vonnegut once made a distinction between two kinds of writers: “Swoopers write a story quickly…then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one.” I was a basher, and they were the safety net of a future that swoopers rely on. If I let something slip that was not good enough, I was confident that the next set of notes from them would include the comment, “tighten” and remind me to not be vague.

The beauty of working with an editor.

After three months, I had completed my first draft. I took a two-day break then I re-wrote for several hours every single day for a month straight, clicking back and forth between editors’ notes and the chapter-by-chapter run down of strengths and weaknesses. I went through every single comment, sometimes being a stubborn artist and ignoring a minor suggestion or three, but more often than not, I placed my trust in their judgment, and there is no doubt in my mind that my novel is better off for it.
Proof of that is the last round of editing my novel received. When asked if a copy edit was not enough and a more thorough revision of the manuscript was required, the freelance editor hired by the self-publishing company I used replied: “…I wanted to keep reading and I was laughing and wrapped up in the storyline instead of noticing any glaring editorial needs.”
I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished in Somewhere Over the Sun and I think that is a testament not necessarily just to my novel, but also to the painstaking, passionate and knowledgeable contributions of my editors, without whom my book would, quite simply, not be as good.

Author Bio

Adi Alsaid graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in Marketing, but spent the majority of his time there reading and writing fiction. Somewhere Over the Sun is his debut novel and was written in Monterey, CA. He was born and raised in Mexico City to Israeli parents whose love and support made this book possible. Adi is usually unsure of how long he will remain at any given address, but chances are he is living somewhere in the northwestern hemisphere. He hopes this book brings his readers even a sentence’s worth of happiness.

About the Novel

The story follows Alan, a spirited young writer with a wandering imagination who has discovered that the stories he writes are suddenly coming to life. At the suggestion of his loving father, Alan embarks on a quixotic journey to visit friends and use his newfound gift to write them all happier lives.

Author website: www.somewhereoverthesun.com
Twitter: twitter.com/adialsaid
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Adi-Alsaid-author-of-Somewhere-Over-the-Sun/117746478273611

Working with an editor should be on the top of your to-do list

They’re, Their, There

They're Their There

They’re, their, there!

Here we are for Tutorial Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

They’re Not Letting Me Play with Their Toys Over There!

As you can see I used them all in the sentence above in their proper sense. Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?

 

They’re, their, there quandary!

Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?

They’re

This is a contraction of ‘they are.’ If you think you need to use this in a sentence, you can test it out by replacing it with ‘they are’ to see if it still works.

They’re looking at me.

They are looking at me.

See? You should be able to interchange them easily and the sentence still makes sense.

Their

This is a possessive. The word tells you that whatever you’re talking about belongs to them. Their toys, their car, their vegetables… see?

Their tomatoes were ripe and juicy.

The tomatoes belonged to them, not me. I would certainly buy those tomatoes from them if they are really that good. :)

There

This word is used to describe placement.

They parked the car over there.

It can also be used with variations of the verb ‘to be’.

There are apples all over the ground.

See? It is paired with ‘are,’ which is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be.’

It really is very simple if you take a moment to think about it when you write. In these types of grammatical cases, it is best to rely on your brain than on spell checkers found in many programs. I often get flags on my writing with these three words in MS Word when I am using them correctly. The program wants me to change it to they’re in most cases, which would not be correct for the sentence I wrote. If ever in doubt, just do this quick little test and you’ll know you used the correct one

Preparing Your Manuscript

preparing your manuscriptYou’ve finally done it… written your novel. It’s complete. All those words down in one place. And you’re no fool. You’ve got an editor all lined up.  But wait.

Is it really ready for the editor yet?

When you say it’s done, is this the best it can be or did you just finish your rough draft? If you just finished typing ‘The End,’ you’ve still got a lot of work to do before you’re ready for the editor. You’ve still got some revisions of your own to do after your rough draft. Maybe this scene isn’t the best it can be. Maybe Sally should have made a different decision after that first plot point, because if she did, the whole second act would have been so much more interesting. Maybe the climax of the story still needs some work because it’s good, but it’s still oh, I don’t know, it’s missing something.

Once you’ve wrestled with all of this and straightened it out, then it’s time for your trusted beta readers, or your mom, or whoever you feel will give you the best feedback. Once you get a copy back all covered in oil stains from your mechanic (because he has true literary insight, even though he messes up your manuscripts) and you hear his critique, you can go back, fix what you truly feel needs to be fixed, and then take one more look at it.  Are you finished preparing your manuscript yet?

When you think you can’t make it any better than it is, run it through spell check. I know it won’t catch everything (like words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly), but it will save a few of the hairs left on your editor’s head. Look at it again. Have you dotted all your i’s? Crossed all your t’s? Do your sentences have punctuation and capital letters? If not, you may need to review some basics. If you know they belong there and just didn’t put them in, put them in. Do you really want to pay your editor extra to put them in for you?

Okay, now you can send your manuscript to your editor. Your editor will appreciate all of your hard work.

You know all those horror stories about editors? About how mean they are? How they’ll tear your manuscript to pieces? A lot of that stems from receiving manuscripts that were really rough drafts. That didn’t have sentences starting with capital letters. That didn’t have punctuation at the end of sentences. That had paragraphs that lasted for pages. Dialogue without meaning that went on and on. Missing plot points, garbled structure, cardboard characters, flip flopping between tenses and points of view, repetitive anything… After awhile, editors develop twitches. And headaches. And then they begin to morph into editing monsters that lash out uncontrollably at anything that passes by that even remotely resembles a manuscript. They can’t help themselves. They hoard red pens compulsively and growl at anyone who dares reach for one. (That’s MY red pen, damn it!)  Please, for the love of God, save an editor today! Prep your manuscript properly or we can’t be responsible for what may happen next! :::eye twitches:::

:::clears throat::: Okay. Sorry about that. But it had to be said. Writers, learn your craft. Hold your head high. Be proud of what you do. Step out and say, “Damn it, I’m a writer.” Own it. Be responsible for what you put on a page. Don’t get sloppy. It’s your name on the cover, not the editor’s.

It’s amazing what a difference it makes to get a manuscript that looks well prepared. Yes, there may be shallow characters, missing plot points, repetition, and flip flopping tenses, but presentation at least shows us that the author cares enough to make it look nice. Presentation can soothe a lot of ruffled editing feathers. Nice editor. There, there.

Once your book is edited, it’s up to you what you want to do with it. You can self-publish. You can submit your story to agents. If an agent accepts it, they will probably suggest their own edits and you’ll comply. Then when they sell your story to a publisher, they’ll also send you through another editing process.

Even so, it all comes back to you. You’re the one writing and preparing your manuscript. Do it with pride.

Editing Before the Editor Gets It

rough draftI just read a terrific post on one of my favorite blogs… Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. It was about the editing (revising) an author must do before the book gets sent for editing. If you don’t do this step, you should. Go read his post now: Laser, Hacksaw, Spanner, Hammer: A Post About Editing. I’ll wait.

I can’t stress enough how important this step is. No one spews forth a perfect rough draft of a novel that needs no revision. No one. Every single novel needs this extra step. Sometimes, heck–who am I kidding–most of the time, this step is actually many steps done over and over and over. And Chuck’s right… this is where the art happens.

Sure, it’s amazing to get all those words out on the page in a rough draft. Not everyone can do that. But to get those words honed and crafted… that’s where the actual skill comes in. Getting the rough draft done takes dedication, but revising that rough piece of writing into a real story is art. That’s what separates the wheat from the chaff.

Then, when you turn in your piece of word art to your editor, they can polish it so you shine like the celestial being you truly are. Now where did I put my sunglasses?

Investing in Your Book

invest in your bookI urge you to invest in your book.

What does that mean? It means a lot of things.

First, you need to invest the time to do it right. Take your time writing and researching your book. Revise it. Get feedback. Are there holes in your plotline? If so, fix them! Are your characters flat? Fill them out! A rough draft isn’t enough.

Get it edited. Allow enough time for a good edit, don’t expect 150,000 words to be done overnight. Give your editor the time to go through it carefully. Rush jobs usually result in something being missed because they were rushed. Can you do your best work when you’re in a rush? Schedule enough time in your production timetable to allow for a proper edit. Then add a little bit more for bumps in the road, like an unplanned for revision, or a family emergency. It’s better to be ready ahead of time than to be squeezed for time at the end.

Proofread it. After you, your editor, and your trusted beta readers have all read it, get someone else to go over it for errors. If you can afford it, pay a professional. Trust me, even after all those others have gone over it, there will still be some errors. No one is perfect enough to catch everything. Could you? If you were given a 50,000 word manuscript, could you catch every single error? Especially if the author wanted it in a week or two? That’s why the more sets of eyes you have go over your book, the better. And spell check doesn’t catch everything, either. It doesn’t know the difference between there, their and they’re. Or to and too. Or rein and reign. Or wait and weight. Or right and write. All it knows is if they’re spelled correctly.

Get a good cover design. If you don’t know the first thing about designing a cover that looks good, find someone who does. It’s worth the money to have one that catches the eye. People do judge a book by its cover, whatever they may say.

Your book represents you. This is your product that you want people to buy. Putting a substandard book out there can create a reputation that will follow you no matter how much work you put into later publications. Today’s readers aren’t shy about complaining in a review about shoddy writing or editing (or lack thereof). If you fix your book later, those reviews are still there. Those readers have already told their friends and the damage has been done.

I know I harp about this repeatedly here, but I can’t emphasize this enough. As an author, your book is you. Do you want to go out in public with a big smudge on your face? Of course not! So why let your book do the same? Yes, editing and a good cover can cost a lot of money, depending on who you hire and the length of your book. But isn’t your book worth some scrimping? Isn’t your reputation as an author worth it? Many editors, like me, offer payment plans. Payment plans, however, don’t work well if you’re on a quick deadline (just another reason to plan well for your production time). We also offer a discount for payment in full, so there are multiple ways to save some money on editing services. So invest in your book, both with time and money if possible.

You want to put your best book forward.

Get Thee to an Editor

get thee to an editorPesky errors got you down? Tired of hearing you’re using ‘reign’ instead of ‘rein’? Does trying to figure out the difference between the two leave your head in a tizzy? Get thee to an editor.

Do you love the word ‘that’? Do you capitalize your dialogue tags and don’t know why? Get thee to an editor.

Got a hole in your plot big enough for a Mac truck? Are your scenes lacking panache? Are your descriptions falling flat? Get thee to an editor.

When you’ve done all you can on your own, it’s time to get some help. Go ahead and send your baby out to your beta readers… they can give you some good advice. They may not all agree, however, and you’ll need to pick and choose what will work and what won’t. Still, when you’re done reworking the story for the tenth or hundredth time… it’s good to have eyes on it that know what to look for.

What can a professional editor do?

  • Help you find the glaring issues in your story
  • Fix timeline problems others may have missed
  • Get rid of the annoying errors readers will be sure to mention in their reviews
  • Tighten your writing
  • Polish that manuscript and make it shine
  • Make you look good

Doesn’t that sound worth it? Especially that last one. Your book is your baby. You’re putting it out there for the world to see. You want it looking all pretty and clean, not all messy, right?

And what does the editor get out of it? The satisfaction of helping an author and some money to pay the bills. Do we like it when we’re mentioned in the acknowledgements? Sure. We appreciate your thanks. Do we demand it? No. We’re happy even if you don’t mention us in public. We’re happy because we were able to help you get your book ready for the public. That’s what makes us tick. What makes us get up in the morning. We don’t necessarily need the accolades. We just like what we do.

So if we like it so much, why don’t we do it for free?

Well, sometimes we do. Most of the time, however, we need to pay bills. We need to feed the kids, just like you. Editors understand that it’s hard to spread the money around sometimes. We have the same problems. It comes down to what’s important. If someone wants to go on a vacation, they’ll save up for it. If they want Prada shoes, they’ll save up for them. If they want a 125 gallon fish tank, they’ll save up for it. If they want editing, they’ll save up for it (or take advantage of a payment plan). Whatever becomes important, we find the means to do. Is your book important? Then you should do what you can to present it in the best way possible. This includes good editing and a good cover.  Can just anyone edit or do a cover? No. Some do not possess the skills to do these things. Some are not the right fit for each author. But when you find that fit, it’s worth the price.

OMG–I Can’t Stress This Enough

I’ve written on the topic of the importance of editing before, but OMG guys, it really is.

I love indie authors, I really do. Heck, I’m one myself. Some of my best online friends are, too. Some of what I’m hearing from indie authors is alarming. I’m hearing that editing is a luxury, an expense they can do without. Yes, it can be expensive. I’m sorry about that, but if you tell me that How to Train Your Catfish in Three Easy Lessons is 175,000 words long–well, I know you want to hear it’s only going to cost you $50, but any manuscript that long is going to cost you some bucks. Editing carefully, I can average about 1,250 words an hour, assuming I’m not spending that hour answering your emails asking why I haven’t finished your book yet or what did I think of the chapter on earning your catfish’s trust. I’m not saying you can’t ask questions… I encourage you to do so. This is a working partnership on your book. But back to our make believe scenario. So your 175,000 word manuscript on training catfish is going to take about 140 hours of my time. I wish I could do it for free (if I were rich, I would… I enjoy it that much!).  So why should you pay this *luxury tax*?

Case in point: Step into my time machine and we’re going to travel back several years. At this point in time I was doing reviews of birth-related books. (Cue spooky time travel music.) Ah. Here’s one. Take a look at this. Not only is the text so riddled with errors that it gets in the way of their wonderful message, but their formatting for the book was way off. The title page was actually on the left side! It made me wonder if they’d ever even seen a book before. Needless to say, all the money they spent printing all those copies was wasted. I couldn’t review it… there was nothing good I could say about the book. I contacted the author privately and suggested nicely that she get an editor to go through the book and then a book designer to set it up properly. I never heard back from her so I don’t know if she did or not.

As I said at the beginning, I love indie authors. I want them to succeed. However, it’s getting to the point that I hesitate to buy ebooks unless I’m already familiar with the author. I don’t want to waste my hard-earned cash on a book that may be full of errors. Before I push that Buy button, I wonder if they had the book edited. Will it be full of errors? I read books full of errors for a living… I don’t want to do it in my pleasure reading. If I find the first chapter full of mistakes, I don’t read the rest of the book, no matter how good the story was. I know I’m not alone in this.

A lot of readers are returning their ebooks for errors or complaining to Amazon, who then reports the errors to the authors for fixing. Amazon will report a few of them, then recommend to the author to check for more. If you get an email like this from Amazon, will you follow up and fix them? Will you look for more? Do you even know what to look for since you let them go through the first time? This means spending time going through your book again and then re-publishing.

Some of those readers will go so far as to write a review criticizing your editing errors for all the world to see and giving you a low rating for them. This brings down your overall rating. Even if you do find every error and fix them later, those reviews will still be there for other potential readers to see. I’m currently editing a book that had this problem. Yes, the errors will be fixed, but the old reviews will still color the perception of the improved book once it’s done.

Others will request their money back, and Amazon cheerfully refunds it, taking it out of your royalties each time a reader does this for the life of your book. Still think skipping the editing was a good idea?

Do it right the first time and hire an editor. Most of us are willing to work with our clients. I offer a payment plan… I’m sure many other editors do as well. I even offer a discount to those who can pay in full. I love books. I always have, ever since I learned that when letters are put together to form words they could tell a story. I got into this business to help authors make their books the best they could be. When the spotlight is on you, I want you to shine.

Editing on Slush Heap

I just had a great time appearing on Slushheap.com’s Google Hangout On Air. It was loads of fun. The host, Rudi Fischer, ran the show wonderfully with a little help from my hubby John, who was filling in for their regular co-host Darcie Duranceau, who was out sick. I hope I get to go back sometime so I can meet her. The other guests were Jim Ault, who specializes in marketing, and Katie Hayoz, a YA author from Switzerland, who told us all about the writing group she uses to help critique her stories as part of her editing process.

The hour was full of great information and fun. I encourage anyone writing a book to listen in. Slush Heap does a weekly show specializing in matters facing writers, so you might want to check out their backlist of shows as well.

What Makes the Editor Tick

Sherlock the betta

Last Thursday, I was interviewed at Luscious Literaries. It was a fun interview, and I hope you pop over and take a look. Kassanna was a gracious host. :) It will help you learn a bit about me, you’ll see my cluttered desk, and get a peek into my crazy head. It’s good to get to know more about someone, isn’t it?

So, what makes the editor tick? Could it be the sound of bubbles popping at the surface of one of my aquariums? Really, it sounds like a fish store in here. If you ever went to a fish store in the 1970s (my mom was into fish at the time), they all sounded like bubbles. Back in the day, most of them ran in-the-tank filters that ran bubbles to the surface. It was a wet, plopping sound that I find soothing to this day.

Could my Chinese astrological sign of the water rabbit have something to do with how I tick? Maybe that’s why I like the sound of water? Hmmmm. I used to raise rabbits, but I don’t anymore. Now I chase literary rabbits in the form of commas hiding where they oughtn’t.

Could it be the excitement of helping to birth a book, to midwife it into being? I studied midwifery for years and birthed eight of my own children, who are the joys of my life. I never became a midwife, mostly because it was difficult to become an apprentice and attend the births necessary when we only had one car and my own children needed me. I could midwife a book while still attending to the needs of my children, half of whom are grown or mostly there. I did attend a few births as a doula… it was amazing. :)

Could it be my own inherent obsession with correct spelling and grammar? That’s probably a big part of it. I’ve been correcting things ever since I can remember. I have lots of fun stories from English class. In first grade, I got in trouble for refusing to read the word ‘darn’ out loud because my grandmother had taught me it was a bad word and I wasn’t to say it. But there it was in my reading book. What was a little girl to do? Then there was the class when I had the teacher in stitches because we were to write words on the chalkboard beginning with the letters ‘er’ and ‘ir.’ I wrote ‘erp’ and ‘irk.’ She questioned erp (which in my mind was another word for vomit) but she thought me imaginative, nonetheless. When I graduated high school, I gave my creative writing teacher a spelling dictionary so he could make it through the next year without me. I always corrected his handouts and gave them back to him. Helped me win the departmental award upon graduation, however. :) So, words and I go way back. I think this is mostly why I like to edit.

Words are meaningful. They can be silly. They can be powerful. They can be tender. They can tear someone apart or build them up. Words are amazing. While I can draw and paint a little and can be in awe over the feelings I get from looking at an amazing piece of art, words can take root in my soul. So, that’s what really makes this editor tick. I can’t speak for all the others out there, but deep down, I’d guess it’s something similar.

That’s why I write so much about learning the craft and words being a tool to use fully… they can do so many marvelous things if you know how to use them. They can become more than just letters arranged on a page. Just as a painter can make magic with color, so too can a writer make magic with words. I want to see magic on the page.

Awesome

Today’s post is by a client of mine, Hally Willmott. Hally is the author of Awakenings, soon to be published by Limitless Publishing. I thank her profusely for her praise… it’s very good for my ego. :)

 

As a newly signed author for Limitless Publishing, I can say that my road to being signed wasn’t an easy one.  What I found easy was writing—creating and reading. What I found hard and sometimes frustrating was editing! I’ve referred to editing as my new four letter word—originally not in the good sense of a four letter word either.

Once Limitless set me up with Toni, and I was given the opportunity to see how a true professional works with an author, my thoughts and opinions on editing have changed drastically.

It’s like she’s in my head—she has an uncanny ability to edit my writing the way I would have written it originally—that is if my grammar and punctuation weren’t horrendous. I always feared and loathed doing edits because I found them to be a pain in the butt. But, with Toni—she is concise, thorough, and bang on. She makes it easy for me.

Her services have made it so I look forward to the edited pages she sends. She is professional, accurate and most of all, she tightens up my work so the flow is amazing. She is awesome!

 

To find out more about Hally, check out the following links:

http://www.limitlesspublishing.com