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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why Copy Edit?

Copy editing will improve any manuscript. It improves the writing, it improves the writer’s own understanding of the structure of their book, and it makes it easier to publish the book. I know it is difficult to hand your masterpiece off to someone else and let them have their way with it. Before you go into a panic attack, there are a few things to point out.

A good editor will never just slash at your manuscript willy nilly. Certain changes for grammar, style and spelling may be automatic, but anything structural will be suggested first. Perhaps the editor will query you on a potential change or ask why you set it up in the order that it is in. These suggestions can not only tighten your writing, but improve the entire structure of your story.

What was that about making your story easier to publish? Well, like everyone else in this economy, publishers are being hit hard. They understand the reasoning for a high quality edit of every manuscript they set in print. But with costs being what they are, they may be more inclined to print a manuscript that has already had a lot of the editing done before they get it than one they need to spend a lot of time and money on to get it ready. In fact, many agents won’t even consider a book these days unless it is already polished and ready to go.

Yes, it’s true that writers can do editing themselves… to a point. You can go through it with a fine tooth comb and correct your spelling errors. However, and this is true of all writers, myself included, that after awhile, you just don’t see the errors. This is actually good if you’re a writer. You need to be so involved in your work that it becomes a part of you. But this is also why you need a fresh pair of eyes that are not attached to the material to really do a good edit for you.

So, you’ve decided to hand your manuscript off to Aunt Marge. She was a school librarian… she should be able to edit your book, right? Well, she may catch a few things, but professional editors are skilled in evaluating every sentence; every word. They know how to pay attention to detail as well as understand the structure of a book. They also understand how the publishing world works and how to help your book become more marketable. And finally, the best thing you get from a good editor is someone who can teach you. They won’t lecture you about how this, that and the other thing is all wrong; they will guide you and suggest how you can best improve your book.

Just remember that it is a collaboration. The editor is there to make you the best you can be; you will benefit as much as your book.

Why Do I Edit?

I have been asked why I wanted to be an editor occasionally over the years. The truth is… I can’t help it. I unconsciously edit everything I read. My family will tell you my outrage when I find an error in a book we’ve purchased. I point out errors in signs, handouts and menus. I can’t help it. I’ve always been this way.

I’m nice enough not to point out these errors to the parties involved, but it irks me to no end. When I was in high school, I used to correct the handouts I got from my creative writing teacher and hand them back to him. When I graduated, I gave him a special gift: his own personal spelling dictionary. LOL

So, how could I be anything else than an editor? Yes, I write. Yes, I draw and paint. But deepest down, in my heart of hearts, I am an editor.

So, take the opportunity to have me in your corner. I am happy to work on your manuscripts and get them ship shape.