Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to Find the Right Editor

One of the major steps of self-publishing is Editing. 
Let's banish all the secrets today.
It's no secret! You must use an editor before you publish.

It's a big no-no to publish a book without proper editing. What is proper editing? It is the processing of making your book as clean as it possibly can be and I'm not only talking about grammar and punctuation. It also includes making sure you have great story arcs, character arcs and other essentials.

The first step is to get into an effective critique group. These groups will catch a lot of the story problems you might have. This is a group that touches your story at the very basic of levels. It includes things like character likability, story flaws, writing that is easy to understand, showing versus telling and initial grammar and punctuation.

The next step is to have a few people (3-4) read through your critiqued manuscript. Give them specific instructions on what to look for, but don't give them such a long list that they can't see the whole picture. Make sure they jot down general impressions and if note if there are any lingering story flaws. Correct anything you feel has merit.

Find the right readers to look for story problems.
The third part of editing is getting your manuscript to an editor. Keep in mind that good editors are busy and you need to schedule in advance. For some, this means six months in advance. Think of it this way, it will keep you to a schedule. You should have a content edit and a copy edit done. You can use the same editor for both or switch to a second editor for the copy edit. The content edit is all about story. The copy edit is all about grammar and punctuation and is done after all content issues are resolved.

The question becomes, who do I hire? Most editors will allow you to send ten pages or a full chapter for a free critique. This does two things.
It's important to have a  good relationship with your editor

Number one, it lets the editor see what kind of work you do and how much time it would take them to
do a full edit. This helps them determine price. Crappy work takes longer to edit and therefore will cost you more to get the edit.

Number two, it lets you check the editor out and see if you like her style. Editing is not an exact science. There are different styles editors have. When you get the edit back, ask yourself how it makes you feel. Do you love what they've done/suggested? Do you want to go cry in your room because their words hit you wrong (now, I'm not saying that the editor should pretend there are no problems, but he should not make you feel terrible, either). You have to trust your editor is doing the right thing for you. Make sure the editor doesn't destroy your voice. That is not the editor's job. Finding the right editor has a lot to do with how you feel about him.

Make sure you can work with her without wanting to kill her. LOL.

Your editor needs 2-4 weeks for the content edit and another 1-2 weeks for the copy edit.  And, remember, you need to have time to fix the content errors before the copy edit. And, you need to fix the copy edits before you get your book formatted and published.

Happy editing! 

What questions do you have about editing? 
If you've worked with an editor, what did you like and what did you dislike?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Are You Afraid?

I talk all the time with authors who are afraid of what the future might hold for them as they branch out into this wonderful, crazy thing called writing. They're worried that no one will like their book, that they won't sell anything, that they'll get terrible reviews, that they'll look foolish on a large scale. Some are afraid of success and all the positives and negatives that can go along with that. There's a lot to fear when you're an author.

But did you ever get what you wanted without risk?

Did you ever accomplish something new by continuing to do the same things you've always done?

Have you ever been given a huge prize for staying home in bed?

I agree with you - writing is scary. Sending your stuff out there for all the world to see is scary. Hearing what others have to say about your book is scary. But it's a good kind of scary - the kind that tells you you're still alive and that your heart is still beating.

Don't let your fears hold you back. Your fears will keep you from finding out what it truly means to live. And it would be a shame to go for an entire lifetime without knowing what you were here to do.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hooking Your Reader

by Donna K. Weaver

We hear all the time about how we should open our books with a hook, but what the heck is a hook anyway? Well, here is an interesting little tidbit from Wikipedia (the underlining is mine).
A narrative hook is a literary technique in the opening of a story that "hooks" the reader's attention so that he or she will keep on reading. The "opening" may consist of several paragraphs for a short story, or several pages for a novel, but ideally it is the opening sentence.
The key is to keep the readers reading. If they like the first sentence, they will also read the first paragraph, and if they like the first paragraph, they may read the whole page, and if they enjoy that they may read the first chapter and then finish the book.

I pulled some random books from my bookcase and posted the first sentence from each below. Now, bear in mind that hooks can vary according to genre. For example, if you're reading a suspense or thriller you would expect something to grip you right away.
Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, wore white on the day he was to kill a king.  --The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (epic fantasy)
I plastered myself flat against the wall, straining to distinguish footsteps from heart palpitations.  --Strength by Carrie Butler (NA urban fantasy)
I don't do catsuits.  --I, Spy by Jordan McCollum  (romantic suspense)
Daddy said, "Let mom go first."  --Across the Universe by Beth Revis (YA SciFi)
Jori was getting really tired of people pointing guns at him.  --Torn Canvas by Donna K. Weaver (adventure romance)
Mrs. Anderson was dead.  --I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells  (horror)
The kidnapper looking down at Naomi held a book of poetry to his chest. --The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle (psychological thriller)
You would think I'd never jumped off a cliff before, based on how long I stood there. --Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (MG Dystopian)
There's an interesting blog post here with ten types of literary hooks.

So, what kinds of things hook you as a reader? How much time do you give them before you look at a different book?