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

Just What Do We Do?

If you’re new to the book game, you may be wondering just what in the heck we do. As an author, you know that books just don’t write themselves. You must write, rewrite and perfect your story.

Well, once you’ve got your story as good as you can get it, that’s where we come in. In editing, we read the book to get the overall theme and thrust of the story. Then we can take it chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, and line by line to really make it shine. Do you use unnecessary words? Like a particular phrase so much that it is overused? Have problems with spelling, colorful metaphors or anything else? We fix it. I’ll send it to you chapter by chapter if you like, and we can discuss any portions you are having issues with or that you disagree with my suggestions. Yes, you can disagree with me. It’s your book. I am merely putting that shine on. Depending on the level of editing you have chosen, this may be just a light spit and polish for grammar, spelling and proper usage, or it could be an indepth substantive edit with reorganization, rewriting, and coaching along the way. Editing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the amount of work that is needed, what is happening in your life, and the occasional upsets in mine.

For instance, this week, my oldest daughter, our book cover artist, got appendicitis and had to have surgery. While she is recuperating, we won’t be able to do any book covers. Once she feels good enough to sit at her computer again (probably a week or two), she’ll be back to work. She designs covers for both electronic and print books. She can easily put together a nice looking cover from stock photos or with original art. Of course, anything original takes a lot more time than using a photo and manipulating it to fit your book. Plan accordingly if that is what you want for your book. If you are really organized, you can request a book cover while I’m editing, so both phases are being done at the same time. It is imperative for her to have a good understanding of your story and if you have any ideas in mind for the cover.

Formatting. What would a book be without formatting? It would just be a sheaf of pages. We can convert your book for both electronic and print formats. Each version requires its own set up and has its own rules. When we convert a manuscript file to an ebook, for instance, we make a copy of it and then remove all existing formatting. From there, we replace any italics, headings and so forth as necessary, using the guidelines necessary for ereaders to process it. With ebooks, pages are not the same as in print books. Ereaders must be able to reconfigure a “page” according to the standards it is made for. Print conversion from a Word file is done according to the specifications of the size of book you have in mind. All forms of conversion take into account readability, spacing, paragraphs and special text like italics and so on.

Proofreading can be done after the formatting has taken place. We go through your book painstakingly, marking down the errors we may have missed the first time (or second, or third…). No single person is perfect. Luckily, we have several sets of eyes we can put to work for proofing. All errors are corrected before the files are returned to you for publishing or submission.

Of course, we will continue to add services as we improve our tools and skills. We are always learning about better ways to help authors with their books. We do work with several authors at a time, in order to keep our prices low. In this economy, we know many of us are doing the best we can, and here at Unbridled Editor, we want to make it as easy for you as possible to polish and prepare your book.

If you’re still not sure, we are happy to do a sample edit for you. Send us about four or five pages from a section of your book that you feel may still need a little work. We’ll do the sample for you at no cost. It is our goal to be a one stop shop where you can get your book finished off in a professional manner. After all, no matter how good your story is, it still pays to have your book look as good as possible.

Common Errors

Thought I’d post about some of the most common errors I’ve seen while I’ve been editing lately. Keep these in mind when you’re self-editing before you submit your manuscript to an editor, agent or publisher. For those of you who make them, just be aware. I am not making any judgments about these; I just want writers to be aware of them.

Chocked instead of choked
I’ve seen this a lot lately in several different manuscripts by different authors.

Periods before dialogue attributions
Lots of this in many different manuscripts. When you place an attribution, end the dialogue with a comma, a question mark or an exclamation mark, as appropriate.

Hyphens instead of dashes
When you want to use a dash, use one. Don’t substitute a hyphen instead. They are not the same thing. You can make an en dash by pushing the Ctrl button and the minus button at the same time. You can make an em dash by pushing the Ctrl button, the Alt button and the minus button at the same time.

Ellipses only have three dots
Ellipses have three dots, not four, and not a long string of dots. To make an ellipse in Word that acts as a single character so it won’t get split from one line to the next, hold down the Alt button while you put in the numbers 0133.

Ending punctuation
If you’re in the USA, place your periods and commas inside the quotation marks. Don’t leave them dangling.

Shuttered instead of shuddered
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this over the past few months. If your character is creeped out and shuddering, say so. If your character’s house is shuttered up to protect the windows, so be it.

Breath and breathe
Boy, do these two get mixed up a lot! If your character needs to breathe, add the e. If they are taking a breath, leave it off.

Could of, Should of, Would of
Don’t do this. It is could have, should have and would have. If you want the words to sound like of, use could’ve, should’ve or would’ve.

Bear and Bare
Yes, they sound alike, but they are two different things! Bear is either a large, wild animal or your character is having to carry a heavy burden. Bare is, well, you know, without clothing. Even worse is a local exercise place that uses bare in their name and a teddy bear in their logo. 😛

Boarder and Border

A border is a line, an edge or barrier. The yard had a border of marigolds. The excited couple gazed over the border into Mexico. A boarder is someone renting a room.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll have more to add in another post on another day.

Editing for Publication – Guest Post

Today we are lucky to be hosting a guest post by author Liz Borino. (Loud applause.) She has two books published now. She also edits and does publicity for other authors. See the links at the bottom of this post to get your hands on her books.

Thank you for having me here today, Toni. I’m a two time author published by Lazy Day, a digital first publishing company. I’m here to impart a little secret on you: the writing life doesn’t get (much) easier once you have that publishing contact. Yes, there’s no more stress about querying. I have to ask, does anyone enjoy doing that, if so, please tell me in the comments. Even without that stress, there’s something you might not have thought of: editing. Now, I expect one of two reactions: a.) “But I’ve already edited! It’s perfect!” or b.) “Isn’t that what editors are for?”

To the former group, your baby isn’t perfect, I’m sorry to tell you. It’s good, it may even be great, but it’s not perfect. You know what’s funny about that? It won’t be perfect even when it’s published. Ask Toni, she’s going over my first book, Expectations, six months after publication. Before it even gets to publication, though, there will be at least two editing stages. Once the publisher acquires your manuscript their editors do ‘revision suggestions.’ These are the ‘big’ things which need to be corrected: character inconsistencies, plot holes, and scenes which can be deleted, to name a few.

Here’s one more, the one I struggled with, point of view. See, Expectations and What Money Can’t Buy are both told in third person omniscient POV. For non-writers, if they’d even be reading this, that means you’re in every character’s head constantly. Lazy Day said it was hard to follow in What Money Can’t Buy. They wanted me to only be in one character’s head in each scene. I’m going to be honest with you, that was hard for me to take. I learned a lot from writing and editing Expectations and I believed, even in my first draft, What Money Can’t Buy showed that. Lazy Day and I ended up coming to a compromise with the POV issue because I couldn’t limit to one character per scene. It just wouldn’t work with the book. A good publisher will listen to you and respect your opinion, if you feel strongly enough. And Lazy Day is great about that. However, it’s just as important for you, the author, to get off the ‘my story is perfect’ stick.

And to the group who chose option b? No. I’d say more, but as an editor, the thought of that group makes me want to reach through the computer let loose with a curling iron.

Expectations Amazon: http://amzn.to/fxC2Tf
B&N: http://bit.ly/e7mwDj
Fan page: http://on.fb.me/cw3IqE

Going Mad?

You have toiled over your manuscript for weeks, months, maybe even years. You’ve written and rewritten more times than you can count. You’ve removed scenes and sentences you’ve loved in the effort to make your book ready to publish. Finally, you’ve sent it off to an editor for polishing. It is rather like sending your baby off to preschool… you stand tearfully at the curb as your child is taken away on the school bus. Away from you. Out of your hands.

Then the editor reads it and sends you suggestions for changes. Again you painstakingly go through your manuscript sentence by sentence, word by word. Is that comma really justified? Should I combine those two sentences to make it flow better?

Finally, you think everything is done. It is formatted for an ebook or print. You see the latest version. Is that a typo?? How did we miss that? How many times have you and your editor read through this labor of love and yet you are still seeing errors?

Are you starting to feel like you want to bang your head against the wall because it would feel better than going through your manuscript yet again? You’re not alone.

Any author who cares about the quality of the book they publish goes through this. Yes, it is maddening. Yes, it makes you want to tear it all up into little bits and flush it down the toilet before you jump off the nearest cliff. Yes, you may reconsider your life’s work and decide it would be better to devote your life to swallowing all the alcohol your system can stand. Could this be why Hemingway killed himself?

Take a deep breath. It may seem endless. It may seem like no matter what you do, you can’t find every single typo or error that managed to creep into the manuscript while everyone was sleeping. This is where it pays to have a good editor, or publisher or agent there to hold your hand, wipe your literary brow and tell you it will be okay. Sometimes I find myself like the birth doula I used to be, except I’m reassuring my authors over email or the phone that it will all be okay. If I could, I’d give them a real hug when they are feeling like it will never end.

Before you decide to commit yourself into the nearest mental health facility and give up writing forever, take a look at that dreaded bit of writing again. You may be tired and weary, but the end is in sight. If you are so sick of the sight of your work that you don’t ever want to see it again, chances are you are so close to your goal that you can’t see the forest for the trees. (Yes, I know that is trite and overused, but it seemed appropriate here.) Deep breath. Cup of tea (or other favorite beverage). It is worth that last close look.

Forgive my pregnancy analogy here, but I used to be very deeply involved in the childbirth field. Mothers go through pregnancy, getting bigger and clumsier. I know. I’ve been there many times. By the end of pregnancy, all you care about is getting that baby out of your belly and into your arms. It hurts. You feel awkward. Your ankles have disappeared. All of these inconvenient details help a mother prepare her mind for labor and that first initial separation with her baby when he or she leaves her body and becomes a separate person.

Likewise, all this detail-oriented editing and proofing over and over prepares you as the author to let your book go out to the public. Writing a book has often been compared to giving birth, but the analogy holds true. By the time you’ve vetted it so much, you’re ready to hurl the damn thing out the window and let it fall where it may. Having a trusted editor, agent or publisher can help ease this transition for you and make you feel better about the process. You don’t have to go through it alone.

Once your book makes its debut, it will be the better for all of this hard work. It will be crisp, well-written, and as error-free as you can make it. You can feel good that your book, even if you self-publish, is as high quality as it can be.

So, when you feel you are truly losing it and that you’ll be physically sick if you have to look at even one more page of your manuscript again, keep that big picture in mind. As a birth doula, sometimes I had to remind mothers of their goal at the end; that all this pain was going to result in a sweet little baby in their arms. The pain sometimes made them forget. As an editor, I sometimes have to remind my authors that at the end of all this pain, they will get a wonderful book that they will be proud to see on the shelves.

That end result is worth it.

The Dialogue Police

Dialogue. It is a necessary evil if you have characters. They must communicate, after all. Someone has to talk. It is also some of the most challenging writing you’ll do.

Why? Because you need to know your characters enough to speak for them. As them. Use their vocabularies, not yours. Reflect their histories and emotions. Oh, and don’t make them sound stilted unless that is how your character speaks.

Unlike everyday speech that we engage in everyday, you must also focus and compress your written dialogue so it is interesting. Let’s face it; we have a million conversations a day with family, friends, and coworkers that would put anyone to sleep if they read it. In a book, you need to keep that kind of dialogue to a minimum.

So, how can you make your dialogue more effective?

One way to make your dialogue sound more realistic is to use contractions. When most people speak, they don’t say, “I would not do that if I were you.” They say, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” It will also make it sound more natural if you use sentence fragments in places. When we speak, we don’t tend to think of proper sentence structure. Did I remember to put in all the adverbs I wanted to describe the topic I was just talking about with Karen? No, that just doesn’t happen. Take a common topic in our household, tea.

“Want some tea?” Wendy asked.
“Sounds great.”

Neither of these sentences are built in the proper structure, but they reflect how people talk. You can get away with a lot more of this when writing dialogue because it sounds more natural.

You can also help make your dialogue more natural by stringing sentences together using commas. We don’t often stop completely after each thought when we speak; we leap from one to another.

“Yes, I want some eggs, make sure they are sunnyside up, thanks.”

Never opt for the more complicated word unless your character thinks using big words is impressive to someone. Fancy words can make the dialogue sound stilted, unrealistic, and if they are truly big and obscure, make your reader stumble. Try using ‘obligatory’ in a sentence without sounding awkward and unrealistic. Most people would use ‘required’ or even ‘mandatory’ instead when they speak. Courtroom dramas may be a small exception to this when a character is a lawyer speaking during a trial or if you have medical personnel talking about a case amongst themselves. In these cases, you may need to figure out a way for the reader to understand the terminology.

What Do You Need?

I was thinking about how to meet the needs of our clients today, and it occurred to me, I should ask writers what they are looking for in an editing service! So, this is your chance: tell me what you want in an editor. We will try to incorporate as many of your suggestions into our service as is feasible. Please be realistic in your requests… don’t tell me you want free advanced editing for everyone, for example. As much as I would love to do that, I also have a family that really likes having shelter from the weather and food to eat. However, there must be many ways we can meet your needs. I am not averse to offering specials, as you know, and I am open to trying many things. So… what do you need? What do you want? I would like to tailor our services to the needs of writers as much as possible.

Oh, maybe I should offer a prize to the best suggestion! How about a free line edit for the best suggestion? Please leave your suggestions here in the comments. I will announce the winner of the free line edit on March 31.

So, get out there and share this. Tell your writing friends. This is the chance to help create the editorial service of your dreams… and you could win a free edit. :)

WINNER: The winner of our free line edit is Suzie Ivy! :) Congratulations, Suzie! :)

Remember the Details

Stories are built upon their strong skeletons of plot and structure. Each scene should contribute to the story, not wander away from it. Once all of this is in place, however, it is the details that change that plain flat cake with canned frosting on it into a many-tiered masterpiece.

Have you ever read a book where the details were just tossed in? Perhaps the character grabbed a glass from the cupboard in chapter 6, only to be randomly opening the cupboards in search of a glass in chapter 8. Sure, maybe the reader won’t notice, but what if they do? If your character is familiar with the kitchen in an earlier scene, they need to still be familiar with it in a later scene unless there is a good reason for it.

Likewise, if you have your character leave the house barefoot, they shouldn’t suddenly have shoes on without either returning to the house and getting their shoes, or someone gives them shoes for some reason.

It is a lot of work writing a good story. On top of all the characterizations, dialogue and scene structure you are saddled with all these details. It can be really tempting to just let that one detail slide… or perhaps you think you wrote down one thing, but you can’t remember what page it was on. No one will notice anyway, right?

This is what all that proofreading and editing is all about. If you don’t catch it yourself in your own proofing and editing sessions, it should be caught by an editor. This is one of the reasons why you need to proof and edit, proof and edit, proof and edit. As William Feather said, “Beware of the man who won’t be bothered with details.”

You can have the best story around, but if you muck up the details, the story won’t ring true. It won’t become that living, breathing experience that readers want. Would Doctor Who be as popular after all these years if they didn’t pay attention to the details? We recently watched the last season with the 11th Doctor. They had a theme throughout the entire season of a crack in time. By the time we got to the final episode, all those tiny details that we hadn’t even thought important throughout the season all came into play. It was a wonderful crafting that brought them all together in the end.

Whether you like that show or not is unimportant. The point is, you need to pay attention to the details. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a short story, a novella, or a full length novel. The details make the difference.

Guest Post: The Inevitable Comma

This was written by a client of mine, Morgan Gallagher. Despite our differences (she lives in the UK and I’m in the States), we have managed to form a wonderful relationship while working on her first book, Changeling. I had asked her to write a short blurb for my Client Testimonial page if she liked my work. In response, I got this wonderful article about her experience working with an editor…me. Thank you, Morgan…you made my year.

The Inevitable Comma

by Morgan Gallagher

Using an editor is a scary business. Having spent much of my adult life rubbing shoulders with writers in the bar at SF conventions, I’ve heard a lot of comments about editors. Very little of it positive. I’ve listened to Harlan Ellison rant about editors changing his work when they weren’t qualified to… well, do check out Harlan’s thoughts on the matter for yourself! I’ve talked to James White, at length, about editors, and whilst he did have an excellent editor at Tor that he both admired and was fond of, he always told me that the trick to being published was to do the editing work yourself. We once spoke about rejection letters, and how he’d never had one, and the secret, he said, was to do all the work yourself. So there was little to reject… or edit… once you had submitted. Wield your own blue pencil. This was, basically, Harlan’s stance too – the writer could do the work and craft the words themselves. The epic depths of the stupidity of the editor, is always plumbed by mention of what was once done by a hapless editor to Damon Knight. His short, ‘Eripmav,’ featured a vegetable sucking vampire from another planet. The entire short was a shaggy dog story, leading to the terrible dénouement, that the veggie vampire was finally killed by a steak to the heart. Said hapless editor thought he’d spotted a mistake that no one else had, and changed it to ‘stake’ just before print, thus killing the story with his very own stake to the heart.

Another editor anecdote comes via a very well known children’s author, whom I cannot name for reasons about to become clear. Whilst staying with her we chatted about editors. I asked how she coped with hers, and she confided she ignored most things. She showed me the next day, that when her typewritten manuscript was returned for correction, she instructed her secretary to retype the same sentence, cut it out onto a strip, and staple it over the marked-for-change original. It was then sent back to the editor, who would then allow the correction through. She showed me one such ‘edit’ and the written comment beside it saying “So much better!” and sure enough, when you lifted the flap of stapled down addition, the exact same sentence was written underneath….
Eek!

Therefore, it was with great trepidation, I sent my final manuscript of my first novel, Changeling, off to a professional editor. I’d always taken on board the words of the writers I admired, both as people and writers, and worked hard to do most of the content editing for myself. “Murder Your Innocents” is a dictum I take seriously. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I needed an editor, I was just worried about all the bad editor rap I’d been in contact with. And the ego thing, of course. When my publisher suggested I get the final manuscript edited, and suggested a friend of hers who was very good on spotting mistakes on grammar, I bristled and said “Mistakes!” in true Lady Newbury style (“A handbag.”) My work wouldn’t have mistakes, I edited as I went along!

When the manuscript finally returned, it took me a couple of days to set aside the courage to open it. Just In Case. I didn’t peek once: I left it until I was actually going to sit and methodically work through my version of the manuscript, with Toni’s version. It felt like going to the dentist… something you had to do, but dreaded, nonetheless.

Imagine my shock, when not only did I immediately find her comments and corrections invaluable, I was actually enjoying the process within the hour. I posted on Twitter, within two hours of starting the match by match edit that a good editor was worth their weight in gold.

Finish reading the rest of her marvelous article here.