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

Why This Writer Loves Editors

Today we have a wonderful guest post by Heidi Turner. She has put into words my feelings exactly; it bothers me to no end when I buy a book and find errors. Help us all make books as error-free as possible! Enjoy Heidi’s wonderful post and be sure to visit her sites listed at the bottom in her bio. Thank you, Heidi, for sharing your opinion with us!

Why This Writer Loves Editors
by Heidi Turner

I’m not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m a good writer, but I know mistakes happen. That’s why I think it’s vital to have a good editor look over my work. It’s not an insult and it’s not a sign that I don’t know how to write. It’s a sign that sometimes, even with the best writers, mistakes happen.

One of the worst things for me, as a reader and as a writer, is when errors occur in books. Errors, be they spelling, grammar or continuity errors, confuse the reader. They stop her dead in her tracks, forcing her to reread the sentence (or paragraph) and wonder exactly what the writer meant. They interrupt the flow of the book.

The best-case scenario with an error in a book is that the reader won’t notice. But some readers will, and it will bother them. It makes them wonder about how professional the writer really is. When there are multiple errors in the book, it makes readers wonder if they should continue reading or if they should bother buying more books by the same author.

I’m currently reading a book that was highly promoted in Canada (where I live). I won’t give away the name of the book or the author, but I will say that on one page, the author uses the word “serious” where he meant to use the word “series.” I might be picky, but I’m certain I’m not the only person who noticed the error. And even if it only stopped me for a minute, that’s a minute too long.

A big source of errors, I find, are self-published books. It’s too bad, because a lot of self-published writers have something to say. The problem is that some either refuse to pay for an editor or they have too much confidence in their own editing skills. Either way, the result is a book that I might start to read but I quickly put aside because I can’t handle the errors. Usually when this happens, I make a mental note not to buy more books by the same author.

It bothers me when writers refuse to pay for editors. After all, as a profession we don’t like to hear about non-writers taking jobs from writers. We don’t like to hear people say, “If I can pass high school English, I can be a writer, too.” So why should we assume that just because we can write, we can also edit? Editing is a specialized skill, one that takes dedication, training and an eye for details.

I’m of the firm belief that it’s impossible for even the best writers to edit their own work. We’re often too close to the work to be objective about it. Furthermore, our eyes often see what we think is there, not what is actually there. So we mistake a “me” for “my” or a “serious” for “series.” They’re just close enough that a quick glance might not uncover the error—but once they’re in print, they’re that way forever.

Editors catch the errors that writers miss. They ensure consistency in spelling and tense. They question ideas that don’t make sense. They take a writer’s words and ensure those words are clear, coherent and correct. They are the final step to ensuring that a work is as professional as possible.

For my money, editors are worth their weight in gold. Because as a writer, I want my readers focused on my words and ideas, not on my misplaced apostrophes and dangling participles.

Heidi Turner is a freelance writer. Her website is www.heiditurner.ca. Her blog, full of advice for freelance writers, is thehappyfreelancer.com.

Building Your Platform

So, you have written a book. Or you are writing a book. Or you have a great book idea. It is never too early to start building your platform. I’m not talking about something you need plywood and nails for; you need to build a following. By starting now, you can have readers salivating for your book by the time it is published.

This is important no matter what publishing route you choose. Of course, if you are self-publishing to an ebook or print, you need that audience so you can sell your book. If you plan on going the traditional route of finding an agent to sell your book to a big publisher, having a strong platform can help make your book more attractive.

So, how do you do this?

Social media is a wonderful tool. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and many others exist to help people connect. Look for other writers on these sites. This is a great place to start. Writers are usually very good about helping each other promote their books. Get your friends to talk about it online. Participate in the many Twitter chats for writers. You can learn a lot about getting an agent, working in your genre, self publishing and more. Chats are done on Twitter by including a hashtag in each post. This is an example of a hashtag: #litchat. Hashtags like this enable people who want to follow the discussion run a search for that term and all the posts will appear.

Facebook lets you make a business page for your book. Promote it on Twitter and Facebook to get people to like it. Everyone who likes your page will get the updates you post there. Keep everyone updated on how the writing is going, put up a few sentences periodically, and generally hype your book.

Start a blog. Dedicate it to your book(s). If you write paranormal romance, for instance, really make the most of this genre on your blog. You can host giveaways on your blog. If your book is ready, promote a giveaway of a copy or two to people who comment or follow a simple set of instructions you set up. If your book is not ready, offer writers in that genre that you’ve met on Facebook or Twitter the chance to promote their book by hosting a giveaway for them. Let them write a post or interview them. This will help you generate traffic and interest in your own books.

Join blog tours. If your book is ready, join them as an author and visit many different blogs to talk about your book. Be prepared to give copies away to lucky winners at each blog stop. If your book is not ready, offer other authors to host them on their blog tour. Again, this is all about bringing you traffic who will help you build your platform.

By the time your book is ready, you should have a ready audience who will be eager to snap up your book. Promotion is an author’s best tool to compete in the marketplace. Using these sources, it costs very little; lots of time and a few copies of the book for prizes.

What Editing Does For the Writer

.What Editing Does For the Writer

What Editing Does For the Writer… So, you’re a writer. You slave over your masterpiece. It is a part of you. It is part of your heart and soul. Why would you want to hand it over to some editor to cut to ribbons?

I don’t want to cut your masterpiece to ribbons. I want to hone it to a fine polish to make you look the very best you can look. Think of it as taking you out of your ragged blue jeans with the paint splotches on them and the torn tshirt and putting you into a nice outfit that shows off all of your best attributes. When we’re finished, your hair is done perfectly and you feel like a million bucks. You’re ready to take on the world. That is what I try to do to your manuscript.

I fix all the spelling errors (even spellcheck doesn’t get them all!). I fix the grammar and punctuation (except where it needs to remain awkward to make a point). I suggest ways to make the writing tighter and smoother. As the author, you always retain the right to dismiss any of my suggestions, but I hope you’ll be open enough to consider them.

I’m not a drill sergeant, living for the moment when I can scream orders at you. I have a gentle voice. One filled with nurturing suggestions. First, I read through your manuscript so I get the whole picture from beginning to end. Then, I slowly and carefully begin my work. I don’t want to supplant your voice with my own. I am happy to remain in the background. I may make suggestions on phrasing or different words you could try, but the ultimate rewriting should come from you. The manuscript is your baby, after all.

We can work together to make your book the best it can be. Doesn’t it bug you when you buy a book and it is full of sloppy errors? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read that would have made a much better impression if they had been edited before they were published. No matter how good the story is, it is hard to get past those errors. I want your book to be as perfect as possible, so you don’t have to have readers write to you and point out simple errors. And they will. It is worth the extra effort to fact check anything technical. For example, I recently read a passage about a woman having an amniocentesis and finding out the sex of the baby. Unfortunately, in the book, they scheduled it at 13 weeks gestation, when in reality, amnios are only done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. How would it have changed the story to move it ahead two weeks so it was accurate? Try as I might, I had a very hard time getting past this wrong timing. Now, perhaps only a few readers would be bothered by that, but I’ve spent years studying childbirth, so it really bothered me. Too bad, too… the story was good and well written.

If it isn’t childbirth, it will be something else. Maybe what kind of flowers bloom in June in Massachusetts, or perhaps when the storms hit on the Firth of Forth. Somewhere, someone will notice your inaccuracy. As an editor, it is my job to help you make your book so good that there are no errors for people to pick up. You want your readers to be so engrossed in your story that they can’t put it down; finding errors will wake them out of their thrall with your book. It can ruin the experience for them. Take the time and work with an editor. It is worth the effort and the cost

Are You a Professional Author?

Are you a professional author? Are you self-published? Are you a professional if you self-publish? Some people seem to think that if you self-publish, you are not a professional. I beg to differ. With the big publishing houses taking fewer chances on new writers, the chances of being picked up and published is smaller than ever. What is a writer to do? They could wait it out, forever revising and resubmitting their book. Or, they could self-publish. While self-publishing used to have a stigma, this is changing.

I was thinking about all of this the other day when I read an interesting blog post today at The Self Publishing Revolution that got me to thinking. The author brought up an excellent question: Are all self-published authors amateurs?

I agree with the author of the blog post; I don’t think you’re an amateur just because you self-published. However, I have a caveat on this. To be considered a professional, you must present your material in a professional manner. This means the book must be put together properly with all the appropriate front matter in the right order. The text of the book must be set up in a standard format making it easy to read. The book must be edited properly to eliminate misspellings and grammatical problems. Since you are self-published, all of this falls on you, the author.

When I buy a book by one of the big publishers and see errors in them (and I do see this… we’re currently reading one out loud to the kids and there are errors that should have been caught before publication), I get rather irate. In that case, it isn’t the author’s fault because the publisher takes responsibility to edit and produce the book.

In almost every industry, professionals are expected to present themselves and their work in a professional manner, and I don’t think that self-publishing is any different. I admit that I have bought self-published books that seriously needed the attention of an editor. In each case, the author hemmed and hawed about the errors and insisted that they were getting these problems fixed. Since I’m not going to pay for another copy, I don’t know if they ever fixed them or not.

If you are putting yourself on the line, make the effort worth it. Hire an editor to polish your work before you publish.

Guest Post at the Word Whisperer

I went visiting today over to the Word Whisperer and dropped off a nice blurb on character description. Do you believe your readers need to know everything about a character including their shoe size? Unless it is pertinent to the story, who cares? Take a walk over to Shakirah’s site and learn how to fit the description into the context of your story. :) Then pop back over here and read about how to set the scene.

Setting the Scene

No matter what kind of story you’re writing, you need to set the scene. Have you ever read a book and felt like you were really there alongside the characters? That author set the scene so it became real to you. This is what you want to do, no matter if you are writing a fantasy, a horror novel or a romance.

Add a dose of reality. Sure, your fantasy world may have purple flying unicorns, but even the unicorn has to eat. Creating places in your story that your readers can identify with and then tweaking them to become fantastic, horrific or romantic will go a long way to making your world come alive. Describe the field, garden or house where the action is taking place and use words to make it out of the ordinary.

Take a look at the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. In the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone outside of the U. S.), Harry and Ron take on the twelve foot tall mountain troll inside a girls’ bathroom. We can all picture that easily; the row of stalls, the line of ceramic sinks and the metal pipes going into the wall. This scene uses a very common, utilitarian setting for a very unusual situation. How many mountain trolls have you met in the girls’ bathroom? Yet, it seems very believable to the reader.

J. K. Rowling didn’t spend several paragraphs describing the bathroom in minute detail, either. Small details appear throughout the action, like “The troll was advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the wall as it went.” That’s really all we need to know to picture the usual row of sinks in a public bathroom. The detail becomes a part of the action as the troll knocks the sinks off the wall.

Of course, there are times when it pays to spend time with a full description, but this is only appropriate when you are showing your readers the scene unfolding before your character’s eyes. In a later chapter, Harry, Hermione and Ron are trying to solve the puzzles to get to the stone. When they get to one of the puzzles, J. K. Rowling describes the scene that meets their eyes:

They reached the end of the passageway and saw before them a brilliantly lit chamber, its ceiling arching high above them. It was full of small, jewel-bright birds, fluttering and tumbling all around the room. On the opposite side of the chamber was a heavy wooden door.

In three sentences, the reader gets a vivid picture painted for them. Nice, tight writing gives the information required and no more. Don’t be afraid to jot down everything in your first draft; tighten it during your rewrites. Set the scene, but don’t let it control the scene.

8 Tired Words & How to Retire Them

This is my first guest post by my terrific Twitter buddy, Taqiyyah Shakirah Dawud. Enjoy her words of wisdom and take them to heart. :) Be sure and check out her site: Word Whisperer

8 Tired Words & How to Retire Them

by Taqiyyah Shakirah Dawud

Here’s a list of words we use a lot without thinking. And that’s the problem. Given a little thought and respect for the usage of these words, our writing (and speech) can gain vocabulary, clarity, and an expressiveness uniquely our own.

Great is a lofty little word that has lost so much of its significance. Something great used to be treated with honor. Now it’s a trite thank-you add-on at best, and the grown-up version of “cool” at worst. Try mixing up positive exclamations to include “wonderful,” “incredible,” “thought-provoking,” and more as appropriate.

Very is an empty filler word, like the air-pouches used in shipping. Comparing a big dog to a very big dog doesn’t convey the same sense of scale as a tiny bug to a microscopic parasite. But we can’t get enough of it, so go ahead and write it in. Just be sure to remove or replace it before publishing. Plenty of unemployed adjectives do a leaner job.

Cool is a cheap, thoughtless word that says nothing about the attached noun. “Cool book!” could refer to amazing literary attributes and creative genius or stand in place of “I read it, already, get off my back!” It’s a positive word, but that’s all it’s got going for it. Dig deeper for an adjective that will convey a truer impression of the noun.

Really is a filler word, too. Actually, it often fills in for another filler word: very. A “really big deal” had better be, but I’d have to see it to believe it, and I’d rather stay home. Better to use language that’ll make me stand up and take notice, something like “It was a historic deal.”

Issue is a word that describes things we don’t want to go into too many details about… at the moment, anyway. The plumbing issue. The war issue. My personal issues. Don’t be afraid. Call it what it is: the backed-up toilet, the international disaster, the cranky editor. No hard feelings.

May and might are wishy-washy. We as readers of the modern age are increasingly intolerant of wishy-washy language. It keeps humble opinions humble and your preliminary conclusions backstage. Maybe they needn’t have been mentioned at all.

Pretty is an adjective that means pleasant-looking, usually in the feminine sense. It’s also borderline wishy-washy and often sarcastic. Try using “rather” instead when about to say someone is “pretty” harsh.

Like is a word we all love to hate, but we can’t seem to keep it in the correct place in our lexicons. But remember, it does have a full-time job as a verb and doesn’t have time to fill in when we can’t, like, find the right words—not even say, “um” or “uh.”

A senior customer I used to attend years ago would come, pick up his items, and then say, “Have a sparkling day.” I always felt sparkly after that exchange, and appreciated his replacing the “good” or “great” day for something that made me feel so special. And that thoughtful expression made him special, too.

Is Alright All Right?

This one is a personal pet peeve of mine. I see people use alright all the time. Technically, it is not a word. It is a misspelling of all right. Every time I see it I want to scratch it out and write it correctly.

For language geeks like me, it is with great trepidation that I learned that alright is mildly acceptable in British English along the fringes. Eeek. Thank you to Grammar Girl for enlightening me on this one. According to her site, the American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style says it is unacceptable in one place, yet in another states that it means satisfactory. Huh? Looks like we’re in for a gradual change here in America, too… though I don’t have to like it.