A Good Writing Week on the Road to Self-Publishing

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

 

46 Weeks Until Publication

It’s been a fun writing week. I’ve been busy making major revisions to the first chapter of Queen Henry and minor revisions to the rest of it. It’s been nice being able to work on my favorite manuscript without the stress of waiting on a critique. I think the hardest part of the critiques are behind me now, at least for this novel. The reviews of the published book will come later, but that’s a worry for another day. Right now, I just have to finish this edit, send the manuscript to one more editor for another fresh pair of eyes to point out any grammar or spelling mistakes, and then the manuscript is pretty much done.

All told, I’ve worked on this same story, on and off, for about eight years.

And I’ve never gotten sick of it.

This is not the case for anything else I’ve ever written. By the time, I’m done with a manuscript, I usually don’t want to even think about it for a while. With this one, I love the characters and the story as much now as I did in 2005.

Hopefully, that’s a good sign. Maybe readers will like it, too.

We shall see.

The Verdict is In and This Time I Don’t Suck – The Road to Self-Publishing

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

47 Weeks Until Publication

Okay, so after all my whining and moping and gnashing of teeth, I got the review back from my editor.

It was better than I could have imagined. It really was. Sure, there were some things that needed to be changed, but nothing really major at all.  This was what I was really hoping for, but I’ve been a writer long enough to be realistic when it comes to critiques.

I’m relieved that there shouldn’t be anything major that needs to change. Please understand that this was far from the first draft. It wasn’t the second draft. It wasn’t the ninth draft. It is what is known as the “umpteenth” draft. Seriously, I have no idea how many times QUEEN HENRY has been written and rewritten. Most of these drafts were in screenplay form, but it was the same story. I did several page one rewrites.

SEVERAL. PAGE ONE. REWRITES.

Meaning I literally dumped the entire script in the recycle bin, rewrote it from scratch, screwed up that draft, recycled the pages again, and started over. Though I truly believed I got the story right this time, I was still really scared to get my critique back. I remember all too well the pain I went through during those early drafts of the screenplay when I really thought the story was good and I was very, very wrong. However, I also knew that I’ve come a long way since then. I didn’t give up when the going really got rough and I sure as hell wasn’t going to give up now. If there was still a lot left to be fixed, I would simply get to work because that’s what writers do.

The best thing about my editor’s reaction to QUEEN HENRY was that it was exactly the reaction that I was shooting for with this book. She said she laughed out loud in spots and nearly cried in others. She said she found the main character “loveable”, which is exactly how I see him. That’s how I’ve always seen him, but he didn’t always come across that way. My intention was that his main character flaw is his homophobia, but he’s a great guy otherwise. In the early drafts, he wasn’t so likable and that’s why I needed critique partners to point out what I was doing wrong. In my mind and heart, this was supposed to be a sweet and funny story about love and acceptance. That story was always in there somewhere, but I had to go through a LOT of drafts to find it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – what’s in your mind and in your heart does not necessarily translate to the page. That’s why you must have other people read your work and tell you the truth.

This victory is much, much sweeter because I had to go through so much pain and hard work to get there. The first draft was written in 2005 and it’s been through lots of changes since then. That’s one thing that I think many self-publishers are missing out on – the chance to fail before they publish. So many books are published by brand-new writers who really don’t know what they’re doing. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn to write really well. I started writing in 1994. In MY day we didn’t HAVE self-publishing as a really viable option so we had to work really hard to try to make it in traditional publishing. Back then, it was really the only main option so you really had to push yourself to compete and to be noticed by the big publishers. Nowadays, anybody can publish a book without any training and without learning and trying and screwing up and learning from their mistakes.

You’d be amazed at how drastically your work may need to be changed and you’ll never know unless you seek out the criticism. It’s hard to hear the truth sometimes, but it will make you a much better writer and dramatically increase your chances of success. QUEEN HENRY is about a macho, Major League Baseball player who takes a pill and becomes temporarily gay. In the beginning drafts, he wasn’t a baseball player. He was just a an ordinary guy who was engaged to be married to a woman. My editor said “Who cares? What are the stakes? His life doesn’t change enough so who cares if he’s gay? You’ve got no story here!” He was right. Henry didn’t have anything at stake. Through many many MANY drafts, I made life tougher on Henry. Instead of being engaged, he was big-time womanizer and a pro athlete with a very homophobic father. If he is suspected to be gay, he could lose his job, his family, and life as he knows it. He begins to really believe he is gay and falls very much in love with a wonderful man. He faces a terrible choice – come out as gay and lose his career and family or stay closeted and lose the love of his life. Much more exciting!

One of my other successful stories is RAIN ON THE WATER. It was optioned twice by two different movie production companies and nearly landed me a literary agent (I Have A Strong Chance of Being Published.)  RAIN ON THE WATER is the story of two girls who discover an ancient, magic cave and communicate through drawing on the walls with the ghost of Native American boy as they try to figure out why his spirit is trapped in the cave. In the early drafts, there was no Native American ghost. There was just a boring old cave. See? DRASTIC changes. And definitely for the better. These are all changes I wouldn’t have made, wouldn’t have discovered, if I had just published the first, second, third, or even tenth draft. Quality writing takes time and experience. It just does. You can take shortcuts. You’ll publish earlier – you just won’t succeed.

I really don’t know how QUEEN HENRY is going to fare once it’s published, but I can tell you it would have been an absolutely spectacular failure if I had published any of those early drafts.

Take a lesson, writers. Learn from my failures.

– Linda Fausnet

Read This Book! – If It’s A Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls

If It’s Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls – Making Sense of Senseless Controversy is an excellent book. Unfortunately, it’s one of those books that the people who really need to read it probably won’t.  Still, it highlights all the reasons that laws prohibiting LGBT people from enjoying basic freedoms are beyond ridiculous. Jeremy Hooper draws the reader into his personal experiences from realizing he was gay to dealing with his family’s lack of acceptance to finally finding a loving home and a place of peace with his husband, Andrew.

Jeremy has a wonderful attitude in that he doesn’t condemn the people who condemn him. Rather, he focuses on their hateful actions and does his best to approach anti-gay people with a sense of good humor combined with steadfast determination to change the world. He refers to the anti-gay crowd as ‘Mo foes. He also quite often groups straight allies and LGBT people together, which I absolutely loved. I won’t ever know what it’s like to be gay, but I’ve had my share of uncomfortable conversations when standing up for my beliefs. I do put myself out there sometimes when defending the rights of my LGBT brothers and sisters, and it’s nice to be appreciated. In his own words – “It’s noble to care about a cause that directly affects your day-to-day life, but it’s uniquely honorable to realize that any biases against any group of people affect us all as a human collective.”

When people find out that I am a staunch equality ally, the first question I hear is, “Who’s gay?” Meaning, who do I know and love who’s gay that makes me so dedicated to this cause? Ummm, one of the girls I went to high school with is a lesbian and so is a girl I knew at college. One of the boys I used to babysit is gay. However, my activism predates all that. It goes back to 8th grade Catholic school when I heard about the church’s beliefs about homosexuality. I thought their beliefs were nuts. Still do. It pissed me off then and I’ve been mad about it ever since.

Jeremy highlights the importance of straight allies and is always looking for more. So yeah, gays DO recruit others sometimes. They’re recruiting people who believe in equal rights. The author also makes an important point that may people are becoming a bit complacent about the whole issue. Sure, things are MUCH better on the equality fight, but things are far from over. Marriage equality is still a reality in a precious few states. There are places where you can still get fired for being gay! It’s easy to get caught up in a “bubble” as he puts it. It’s so easy to forget how much further we still have to go, both with social acceptance and legal equality.

If you are regular reader of this blog, you know I am preparing to publish my first novel, QUEEN HENRY, on July 14, 2014. It is a story of a macho, homophobic MLB player who learns an important lesson about love when an experimental drug makes him temporarily gay. [Proceeds will be donated to the Harvey Milk Foundation]. Anyway, when I submitted the screenplay version to a producer, he asked if I had a son who was gay. Then he said my story was totally irrelevant because nobody cares if you’re gay anymore. This was 2005.

Talk about living in a bubble.

To say that my story is irrelevant is, unfortunately, ludicrous. Quick, name all the out and proud MLB athletes playing today.

See? Crickets.

I really applaud Jeremy’s approach to seeking equality. Fighting hate with hate never works. His approach is essentially to combine determination and good humor to help change people’s minds and hearts. He makes good arguments for equality and exposes the fallacies of the ‘Mo foes. He also shows how hateful and cruel the opposition can truly be, particularly when their hate is done in the name of God. He exposes the opposition’s use of fear and misinformation to spread lies about people whose only goal is to be permitted to live and love as equal human beings.

“Our driving passion is upwardly mobile. Theirs is regressive. We are standing on a hill, trying to pull everyone up so that we can finally know our collective strength.

Well said.

– Linda Fausnet

Find the book at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615574548

Follow Jeremy Hooper’s Blog at http://www.goodasyou.org/

Follow him on Twitter at @goodasyou

 

Editors Speak Out on Why You Need an Editor for Your Self-Published Novel

Many thanks to the terrific editors who agreed to share their valuable advice and experience for this piece on the importance of editing in writing, particularly with regard to self-publishing. Please find detailed information on the editors and their editorial services at the end of this article.

WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS TO HIRE AN EDITOR?

Once something with your name on it is published and available to the public, your reputation is on the line. While you may be an exceptional writer, your perspective of the material will always be somewhat jaded. You will always read what you meant to say and you can’t see the material through fresh eyes to be certain just how a reader will receive the material. The moment your writing becomes a product up for sale, you are in business. Readers are your customers and they expect their purchases to meet certain professional standards. You should never disappoint your customers or risk your reputation. – Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Editor

With the plethora of competition that’s out there, it’s important to present the best product you can. Even though we might think we can catch all our mistakes and typos on our own, we can’t because our brains like to play tricks on us. For more extensive editing, sometimes we get so close to a story that we can’t see the plot holes and flaws. It all makes sense to us because we wrote it. A good editor can help fill in these holes, fix the typos and grammatical errors, and help you create a product that will pull your reader in and never trip them up. – Katriena Knights, Notes on Vellum

The need for an editor as an author and writer is multi-fueled. During the process of putting thought to paper, an author’s goal is not to create the perfect sentence structure but to capture his/her readership in the moment at hand. Thus, unavoidable grammatical errors will occur. Rectifying the problem is relatively simple – just reread the work and amend accordingly. However, as the author, your interpretation of your work is biased; your understanding of the story clearer than that of a fresh pair of eyes. Editors don’t just pick up grammatical and spelling errors, they check for flow of content, character contradiction (whereby a character is said to have been or done something that is contradicted later in the tale), story coordination, and so forth. All these points may be addressed more easily with the ‘fresh pair eyes’. – Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

No author-self-published or otherwise-wants the world to see anything less than their very best writing. No matter how good you are, you will make mistakes. An editor can help minimize those. – Susan Hughes, My Independent Editor

Objectivity is the first thing that comes to mind. I am not emotionally invested in your work (although if you touch my heart in some way, I may become so, but that is just a happy benefit!). Someone else needs to see your work before you publish. No one ever saw mine before I posted on kindle, and I spent a lot of nervous time saying, “should I keep it on or pull it off, keep it on or pull it off”-and I actually did pull it off for a while and re-posted finally with a pen name. Distance is the second. I have no problem nitpicking someone’s work if that is what I am hired to do-I can be the writer’s “second pair of eyes” very easily. And time-I am honor-bound to get your work back to you by a certain time that we set together. Your mom and girlfriend are not. – Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules Editing and Consulting Services

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF WRITERS CHOOSE NOT TO HIRE AN EDITOR?

As many authors found they could publish on their own and not be stopped by rejection letters from traditional houses, they leaped with joy to have their words read and potentially be paid for their hard work. They also leaped right over the important step of polishing that must happen between writing and publishing. This is sometimes due to cost, sometimes inexperience, and sometimes a belief that they didn’t need it. Unfortunately, readers were immediately being disappointed and started the chatter that quickly became a hot topic. Very public discussions, including among influential professionals and reader forums, occur every day about why self-publishing indie authors should not be taken seriously.

Think about that. Not all self or indie authors publish without editing, but the perception exists already and has created a bad image for the whole group. I am often contacted by authors that debuted an unedited novel and realized their mistake after bad reviews and poor sales results. The damage is done to that author’s reputation and they have contributed to the overall perception that all self-publishing authors are the same – below standard when compared to a traditionally published author. – Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Editor

The published book won’t be as good as it could be. It might be passable–it might even be really good. But there’s a good chance it won’t reach its full potential. – Katriena Knights, Notes on Vellum

If you embark on editing your own work, then the chances are you will leave yourself open to the most common errors: spellcheck mishaps, poor sentence structure, character contradiction, and misaligned story coordination. This will affect your readership. You will be viewed as unprofessional, amateurish, and your sales will suffer. Harsh but true. – Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

I know authors who have chosen to self-publish without editing. The results aren’t good. They get terrible reviews and often have to pull their work and revamp it. It’s not good for their reputation as a serious writer. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. – Susan Hughes, My Independent Editor

It depends on the writer’s expertise, confidence level, and the writer’s understanding of the basic rules of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and sequencing, as well as plot and character development. Some writers-very few, though-can get away with minimal beta-intervention. I recommend that at least a second party checks your work if you are serious as a writer. – Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules Editing and Consulting Services

What’s the best way for a writer to find an editor who is a good fit for her?

Look at testimonials from their clients, require they complete a free sample on a section of your manuscript, and have discussions so you can interview and get to know them. Not only should they be well versed in the appropriate style guides and have the educational background and work experience, but your personalities should match up. If the editor doesn’t understand your goals or ‘get’ your writing style, she is not the right editor for you. If you base your decision solely on pricing, you can end up working with the wrong editor. – Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Editor

I’d say have a conversation with the editor. Ask if it’s possible to pay for a short sample–say a chapter or the first three chapters–before committing to having the editor do the entire manuscript. If you like the sample, then go for the full monty. See if you can find other writers who’ve worked with the editor and see what they say about him or her. Referrals are always a good thing. – Katriena Knights, Notes on Vellum

The simplest way of finding an editor who is a good fit to an author is by personal recommendation. Failing that, there are many editors offering their services via social media. Check the genres that are being edited by a handful of chosen ones that you like the look of, ensure that you chose one of your own genre, and then go online and assess the quality of the work that they have submitted. (free samples of ebooks etc). Compare prices versus quality before settling on a final editor. -Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

It’s important to do your research and be careful not to select someone just because they’re the least expensive. I’ve had numerous writers come to me after they’ve already paid someone to do what they thought was a complete edit. Then they’re back to square one with their editing budget spent. Do your homework! Check an editor’s website, twitter posts, facebook page, etc. A reputable editor should have these connections and reviews from clients should be posted. Look for membership in professional organizations like the editorial freelancers association. Communicate with the editor. She should be willing to discuss all aspects of the edit with you, whether via email, phone, or chat/messaging. – Susan Hughes, My Independent Editor

I say to look for an editor that is college-degreed and has a track record of editing in your genre. See if there are examples of some of the works the editor has edited on the editor’s site. Some specialty areas, such as regency, science fiction, and of course, nonfiction, require knowledge of the eras, technology, and area of expertise. I also think that the editor for a self-published author should be one that has experience in assisting in self-publishing. – Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules Editing and Consulting Service

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES YOU SEE WRITERS MAKE?

Actually the most common error is spacing between sentences. This is one every writer tends to make at least once. Everyone is subject to the standard misuses of words like your, you’re, they’re, their, there, then, than, etc. Mostly what i see are the telltale signs of how our brains work faster than our fingertips. Words misspelled, missing, transposed. Grammatical errors that are indicative of regional influences or just writing too fast. Jumping point of view without clarity and moving back and forth between present and past tense are both scenarios that are very common and often a writer won’t catch these easily as they tend to read what they meant and not realize how it reads with fresh eyes, so to speak. – Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Editor

Rushing a book out before it’s quite ready. Often self-published books from newer authors could use not only some heavy-duty proofreading, but also work adding layers to the story, to the characters, and to descriptions to really take advantage of all the ways to pull a reader in. I think a lot of writers rush to publish with a second or third draft when the book could really benefit from a fourth and fifth pass. I see this in books submitted to me at publishing houses as well as in books that have been self-published. – Katriena Knights, Notes on Vellum

The most common mistakes self-published authors make that I often see are the cringeworthy points whereby spell check has kicked in and you have ‘weather’ when you should have ‘whether’ and other such nonsense. These errors are easily spotted by the readership and easily glossed over by the author who knew what they meant at the time. Content may become loose and baggy and lack content flow. An editor can either show you where it needs tightening up or amend it on your behalf to assist in keeping your reader gripped. – Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

I think the biggest problem is a tendency to be way too wordy. Writers are often repetitive, saying the same thing over and over, as if having to remind the reader of what should already be known. I also see problems with writing dialogue. There are so many little things involved in writing a quality story. Each author is different and faces her own unique set of hurdles. A good editor adjusts to meet the needs of the individual client.

I also see writers who submit work for editing without ever having done a true self-edit or having used beta readers for assistance and feedback. I suggest going through all these steps, more than once if necessary, before spending your money on editing. It will save you money in the long run. – Susan Hughes, My Independent Editor

Wow, there are quite a few, and I hope that they profit from them as I did as a new writer. One major one is thinking that I am the only stop as an editor and all the mistakes are going to go away. Most of the traditionally published writers have an entire team behind them, so in order to have the best product possible, I recommend, yes, certainly make me your first stop if you are not so certain about your product. I will make it look a whole lot better (most 300-page manuscripts that I receive have many thousands of errors) with basic editing, but then have someone else read through and find the ones I may have missed. Or, use my 3-step process and have me do a more thorough edit for you. I am good, but I will never say I am perfect. After all, editing is a subjective process. And it is an inexact science as well. – Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules editing and consulting service

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WRITERS ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING?

Self-publishing is sometimes associated with a package service bought from a self-publishing house. That happens because these houses use those keywords to rank high on search engine results for the most common search term authors use when seeking to publish outside of traditional methods. They offer a well-presented plan for authors to sit back and write while they do all the hard and mysterious work of publishing, leveraging our need for convenience and our inexperience with a presentation of one and done services. In this scenario, an author pays a company to publish for them and is not in control of each aspect of the publishing process, gets fewer royalties, and is subjected to a poorer quality of each of the individual services. These self- publishing houses are known as vanity presses. They are big businesses that are designed to sell quantities of packages to as many authors as they can. Their focus is on their profit margin and not the author’s goals – they rely on the package pricing, not the royalties to generate their profit. Also, consider that you need a service provider that specializes in each service (formatting, cover design, editing, etc.) And you should have a relationship with them, be able to discuss your visions and goals for the work they will do for you, and be able to hold them accountable. A freelancer depends on their reputation in their specific field to be successful. A self-publishing press only depends on that ad on the search engine that they keep on the first page and well above the pages of complaints and by spending money on seo and advertising. Instead of going that route, be completely independent so that you are in complete control of each aspect of the publishing process. Either do it all yourself, or hire freelancers to do portions of the work for you, but maintain complete control and be your own publisher. – Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Editor

Do everything you can to produce the best possible product. There’s no point putting out a book that doesn’t reflect the time, pain, sweat, blood, tears, and passion you put into it. – Katriena Knights, Notes on Vellum

Get half a dozen friends to read your work for you. Ask them to note any errors that they can spot. Ask them to look out for character flaws, storyline misdirection and ask for their opinion on flow of content. Alternatively, join a writing circle. Writing circles most commonly edit each other’s work and will be more instinctively aware of what to look out for in order to improve presentation and structure. -Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

Getting your book self-published is the easy part. Anyone can be a published author today. But it takes time and hard work to get noticed out there and turn a profit. If you really want to become a bestselling author, you have to promote your work, do book signings, blog tours, etc.

I’m a huge fan of social media marketing. Writers need to use it if they want to get noticed. Agents and publishers are watching amazon and other sites to see what people are reading. There are millions of self-published authors out there. What will you do to set yourself apart from the rest? When I edit quality work, I like to promote the finished product via twitter, facebook, and my website. If a book I’ve edited attracts attention, that’s a win-win for both me and the author! – Susan Hughes, My Independent Editor

Keep an open mind to criticism and do not feel that you have to follow everyone’s advice unless they have data and results that can be applied to your situation. I also see a lot of jealous people trashing others, or well-meaning people who pump up others. Do not put too much stock in reviews of your work; it’s what you think that is important. The authors i work with don’t listen to me on this one and they stress over every negative comment without looking at the big picture. – Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules Editing and Consulting Services

DO YOU EVER TURN DOWN EDITING JOBS? IF SO, WHY?

Yes, unfortunately. The two main reasons have been material that is just not ready for editing and authors that only want to discuss pricing. By ‘not ready for editing’ I mean, material that was written and not edited and proofread by the author first. The potential for a great book has to be there since it will be a reflection on me, as much as the author, after it’s published. That includes writing skills and the author’s professionalism. – Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Book Editor

If a client requests a surface edit and I really feel they could benefit from substantive editing, and they’re not willing or ready to take that step, I think I would have to decline. I also would have to decline if someone low-balled me on my rates. I have a kid in college, after all… I’ve had authors leave me, as well, after some time together. It’s nothing personal. It’s just a mismatch of styles or personality. If I were working with an author and the relationship just felt really off or difficult or there was a great deal of conflict, I’d have to seriously consider passing that author along to someone she might click better with. You’re not going to produce your best possible product under those circumstances. -Katriena Knights, Notes on Vellum

Yes I do turn down editing jobs. My work is a representation of myself and my company. If an author has written a badly constructed, poorly structured, grammatically inadequate tale that they present to me for editing, I would rather gouge my eyeballs out with a melon scoop first! Setting a precedent whereby you accept poor skill in storytelling will only open the floodgates to yet more. Life is too short for that. -Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

Yes, I have opted not to edit some of the manuscripts sent to me. This occurs primarily when the work is just not ready for editing. If I’m basically going to have to rewrite the book to make it ready for publication, then I don’t accept it for editing. It’s hard to do, but it wouldn’t be fair to take someone’s hard-earned money when there’s just too much writing left to do. In such a case, I offer lots of constructive suggestions for ways to improve the writing. Sometimes I suggest that the writer take a class to learn new ways to overcome whatever writing problems keep popping up in the work. I try to deliver the hard news gently, but not all writers are ready for that type of constructive criticism. – Susan Hughes, My Independent Editor

No, never. I didn’t know i could. It is in my nature and work ethic to accept all work. – Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules Editing and Consulting Services

ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

Editors are trained professionals and many are also authors like I am. Having the benefit of wearing both hats, I understand my limitations in both areas. As an editor, I can guide and assist you. I am a guest in your manuscript, a trusted resource to help you polish your manuscript and build your professional reputation as a published author. As an author, I cannot edit my own work and I always work with an editor. A book starts as an idea, a stream of creativity in the mind, and the process of capturing that creativity in writing so that you effectively share your thoughts with readers requires teamwork. Case in point, you may find an error or two in my written responses to this interview. We are all imperfect humans. – Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Editor

I think the people who are taking self-publishing seriously are more likely to produce books of a quality that will attract readers. A shoddy cover or half-assed editing isn’t going to get you any sales–or certainly not as many as you’d get otherwise. Don’t rush your manuscripts for any reason, whether it’s heading off for consideration by a publisher or an agent or into the self-publishing world. – Katriena Knights, Notes on Vellum

Authors and editors have one thing in common. They love unleashing the written. The authors whose immense creativity pours from them onto the page, to the editor who resembles an obsessive/compulsive with their overwhelming need to tidy up and clean around all the sturdy structures of your story. It is a symbiotic relationship. They both want the best for your work and they want your work to be seen by as many as humanly possible. That is the ethos of a good editor. – Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

I want to thank you for the opportunity to participate here. I admire those of you who have the guts to put your words on paper. I get to read so many great stories and have the chance to polish them to perfection. – Susan Hughes, My Independent Editor

Certainly. Please get a good cover. That is really important. Enjoy yourself and keep writing. Remember that after you write, you need to promote… – Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules Editing and Consulting Services

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Debra L. Hartmann, The Pro Book Editor

Services provided:

I personally cover many genres, fiction only, for editing, proofreading, and provide consultation services. I also partner with other freelancers to bring a team of service providers together that all share common goals. We provide professional and expert services in ebook formatting, ebook cover designs, fiction and non-fiction editing and proofreading, and consultation services for a variety of needs, including how to build your author platform, how to make the most of social media marketing, and how to indie publish and avoid the high costs/poor results of self-publishing houses.

Pricing Structure:

For editing and proofreading specifically, many factors have to be considered. Word count, the level of editing required, the amount of time the author will need to complete their approvals/rejections and rewrites during the process, how the author responds in terms of time to discuss and make revisions, etc. For formatting and cover design services, they are a bit simpler and inquiries can be priced a bit more quickly. An inquiry starts with an email, letting me know what service or services they are interested in. I follow up by asking the necessary questions and making a time bound commitment to complete a free sample. Once completed, another email includes the free sample, a detailed assessment of the need (for editing services), and a bid for the work.

Website: http://www.theprobookeditor.com is my business site, where you can see information about the team members, services offered, and find contact information to reach me directly.

Additional website: http://authorshelpingauthors.wordpress.com Staying well informed and drawing on the experience of more seasoned authors is the best way to make important decisions. Knowledge is power! This site is our personal contribution to empowering authors of all skill and experience levels. We are always accepting submissions for new articles that allow you to showcase your writing skills, talk passionately about topics, and help others. We reach over 8,200 people every time we publish a new piece. All articles have a credit line for the writer and they can include up to 3 links to their own sites. This format helps their search engine ranking and sends them traffic directly. Come have an AHA moment with us and enjoy the free library of articles written by authors, for authors.

I host the Talk Radio with NO Radio show on my blog site at http://dlhbookreviews.wordpress.com where I get to interview authors and write fun skits around our interviews that reveal real personal insight about who they are, and often introduce some of their book’s characters.

Katriena Knights from Notes on Vellum

Services provided:

Editing services focus on editing at various levels as well as book packaging (cover art and formatting for publication). I’ve been editing for almost ten years for several small-press publishers on a freelance basis as well as working with individual clients.

Line editing and proofreading, substantive editing, developmental editing. Everything from typos to plot structure to making sure your manuscript meets genre expectations.

Pricing Structure:

I use per-word rates on a sliding scale depending upon the complexity/depth of the editing being requested.

Writing Website: katrienaknights.com

Author Blog: katrienaknights.blogspot.com

Editing Services Site: notesonvellum.com

Twitter: @crazywritinfool

Nicky Fitzmaurice, Satin Paperbacks

Services Provided:

Satinpaperbacks services are provided with the utmost integrity. The work is read through carefully and then intensely edited. Careful consideration is given to ensure that the tone and vitality of the author is maintained whilst amending any structural errors. The work is then resubmitted to the author for approval. At request we can format and digitally upload to a recommended digital publishing house of your choice.

Pricing Structure:

You will see all different types of pricing structure that may be confusing. Some Editors like to charge 0.01 pence per word, others by the day, the hour or total project. Pricing can be broken down into: Editing, intensive editing, formatting and uploading.

I like to think I have embraced the best of all worlds by basing my pricing system on the quality of editing: always intensive. Time taken = £3.97 ex VAT per 100 words and format & upload to reputable site £15.00 ex VAT.

Online Book Club Lending Library & Digital Publisher: www.satinpaperbacks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Satinpaperbackscom

Https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samuel-P-Dogsbody-III/365289310237512

Twitter: @satinpaperbacks

Susan Hughes, myindependenteditor

Services Provided:

I offer a wide variety of services, depending on the writer’s needs. It ranges from a simple proofread or copy edit to check for grammatical errors and punctuation problems to a full developmental edit. At that end of the editing spectrum, I provide suggestions about character development, storyline issues, and address anything else the writer indicates as a trouble spot in his/her writing.

Pricing Structure:

I charge an hourly rate. Before offering a contract for services, I ask the author to submit a 750-1000 word sample of the work. There is a link on my website for doing so. I edit this sample free of charge. This gives me a chance to gauge the client’s writing level and determine how long it will take to do a full edit. It also gives the writer a chance to see how I edit and what their manuscript will look like when I’m done with it.

If I feel we would make a good team, I offer the writer a contract for the services requested and we go from there.

Susan can be reached quickly via email or on Twitter. Please visit my website for all the details regarding my rates, requirements, and background.

Website: www.myindependenteditor.com

Twitter: hughesedits4u

Email: myindependenteditor@gmail.com

Dr. Beth Lynne, BZ Hercules of www.bzhercules.com Hercules Editing and Consulting Services.

Services Provided:

As an editor, I look for errors in grammar, sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, and content, and I also will format for e-book and print, as well as upload to the outlets. I have a critiquing service that is quite popular, for authors that want an honest appraisal of their work. I provide promotional tools for authors as well. I transcribe from old print books and voice recordings to create e-books and print books. I am also an academic editor, specializing in dissertation. And, I have a consultation side to my business too, in the field of education.

I believe in developing a partnership with my clients, and it is a give and take, not a “do as I say.”

Pricing Structure:

My clients, who are mainly self-publishers and independent authors, are the ones who have influenced how I set my prices. I keep the prices very low because I know in many cases that they will not make back what they put in so quickly. I charge by the page rather than the word or hour, and run specials constantly to attract new clients and also to honor my regulars (Their success is my success, of course!). I also have a referral program. Oh, and I barter a bit. I edit for Laura, for example, and she provides covers for me. Now, if anyone wants to take me out for lobster dinner or put up my kids for a week in their time-share, we can talk…

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bethlynne1 @bethlynne1 and https://twitter.com/bzhercules @bzhercules

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bz.hercules

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8707887-beth

Website: http://www.bzhercules.com/index.html

 

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On Dealing With Critiques and Reviews – The Road to Self-Publishing

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

49 Weeks Until Publication

It’s never easy dealing with critiques and reviews, but I’ve developed a system for both. And yes, there is a distinction between a critique and a review. A critique is when you actively seek out criticism, either via paid editors or unpaid volunteer beta readers. A critique is supposed to tell you what you need to fix before you publish or submit anywhere. A review is when readers provide a critique of what’s already completed and published.  Both critiques and reviews can be difficult to deal with and each require different coping mechanisms. At least for me they do.

When getting a critique, it’s important to remember that you are the only one who is going to see this review of your work. Unless you blog about it like I am wont to do from time to time…. With a critique, no matter how bad it is, there’s still time to fix what’s wrong with your work. That’s the whole point. Isn’t it better to be told that your slip is showing or you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe BEFORE you make your grand entrance to the party?

Anyway, critiques and reviews can suck. Sure, they can also be good, but do you really need my advice on how to deal with a good review? Didn’t think so.  Okay. I have a simple three-step  process for dealing with critiques. A critique is something that you actually asked for, so you’re at least somewhat prepared because you know its coming. The first step is to read the review as quickly as possible. The first time I read it is always the scariest. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. For me, it’s an awful moment when I see that the critique has popped up in my inbox. It’s that heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping moment of pure liquid fear. It’s the “Hi, this is your doctor calling and I have your test results back” moment. Even if it’s good news, it’s gonna take a while for that initial terror to dissipate. I skim the critique as fast as humanly possible. This is the “Okay, how bad is it?” read.

My initial response is usually defensiveness. No way! That’s not right! That’s not what I was saying! She doesn’t get me at all!

Guess what? If your editor or beta guru doesn’t get it, your readers probably won’t either. This is what you paid an editor and/or harassed your writer friend to do. You wanted them to tell the truth.

After my breathing calms down a bit, then I read the review again. This second step is known as the “Okay, what is this review really saying?” step. The critique is usually not as bad as I feared it would be. On the second read, I can start to get the gist of what the reviewer is really saying about what’s right and wrong with the work. What are the major flaws and how bad are they really?

The three read is actually kind of fun. By the third time, I’ve chilled out considerably. By that read, my mind is already spinning with ideas on how to fix what’s wrong with the manuscript. For me, writing is hard work but it’s also fun. Once I start putting a plan into action on how to incorporate these changes, I feel better. I’m back in my comfort zone. I’m a writer. I got this.

I usually do the three reads all at once. I mean, like immediately. BAM-BAM-BAM. It always reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer believes he’s dying and goes through the stages of coping in rapid succession, from anger to fear to bargaining to acceptance. He starts by yelling at the doctor and ends up reasoning that we all have to go sometimes. It takes about fifteen seconds.

This whole coping-with-critique deal probably takes about 10-15 minutes, but it’s an awfully stressful quarter of an hour. As I write this, I’m still waiting on the critique for my manuscript. It stresses me out just thinking about it, but I have to remind myself that, unlike a Few Good Men, I CAN handle the truth. I WANT the truth. I NEED the truth. This is not a game to me. I’m really going to publish this book and I need it to be the best it can possibly be. This is my favorite story that I’ve ever written. First as a screenplay and then as a novel that I tried to get traditionally published, the rejections for QUEEN HENRY always hurt more than for anything else I’ve ever written.  I waited a week to send QUEEN HENRY to the editors after my last edit because I knew I was way too close to the story to handle a critique right away. I had just read through the whole book making minor edits myself. I’m so close to these characters that I swear I feel like I’ve experienced everything they went through. Right after reading it, I am at my most vulnerable and least objective. I told myself not to listen to any of the usual songs I listen to while working on this novel while I waited for the critique. I needed to give myself some emotional space, some distance from it, before it gets torn apart by the critique.

But I didn’t follow my own advice and I’ve still been listening to my own personal QUEEN HENRY soundtrack as usual when I’m out for my daily walk. There’s really no protecting my heart when it comes to this story. My heart’s been broken by critiques of it before and I suppose it might be again.

But I know that it’s worth it. When you love something so much, it’s called passion. Great passion brings both incredible joy and intense sorrow. That whole better-than-not-having-loved-at-all kind of deal. I know the risks and I know they’re worth taking.

So that’s my philosophy on dealing with critiques.

Reviews can hurt just as much but the process for dealing with them is less complicated. Reviews come after the project is a done deal. The book is already published or the movie has already been released. It’s too late for changes and hindsight is always crystal clear. My plan for dealing with reviews after publication is as follows: for the good ones, I will print them out and save them in a binder. I’ll probably read them so often that I’ll be able to quote them verbatim. As for the bad ones, I’ll read them once for the “how bad is it?” read and then I’ll read it a second time to see what they’re really saying. I don’t want to totally ignore them altogether because there could be something I could learn for future use. For bad reviews, two times is enough. If it’s especially nasty, one time is enough. The truth is, some people are just jerks. It’s never worth dwelling on the negative, even if you can learn something. Learn, then move on as much as you can.

I guess passion in writing is kind of like passion in marriage. You really do have to take it for better or for worse.

It really is better than no passion at all.

Wish me luck. The critique is coming any day.

– Linda Fausnet