As a professional freelance editor, I encourage every writer I work with to use beta readers. Most fiction writers know this is an important step, but did you know it is equally important when you write nonfiction? You’ll do yourself a huge favor by gathering your posse early in the process to learn what works and what doesn’t in your manuscript.
Author Chandi Wyant, who is working on a travel memoir about her solo forty-day pilgrimage in Italy, offers another important reason to seek that valuable input.
A beta reader is a not a professional editor, but rather, a volunteer who reads your manuscript to provide feedback before you publish it, or before you submit it to agents or publishers.
I recommend seeking beta readers who are familiar with your genre and who are not close friends or family members.
Why a Memoirist Needs Beta Readers
Utilizing beta readers is an excellent idea for all genres. I’m going to focus here on why they’re essential for memoir.
Many authors in this genre write about traumatic things in their lives, and this is very challenging to do without sounding whiny.
This is where a beta reader can step in and save you from embarrassment. All authors are too close to their manuscripts and need an outsider’s perspective—and a memoirist is particularly entwined with her manuscript because it’s a piece of her life.
. . . chuckle? guffaw? snort? Or if Santa isn’t having a good day, will he grumble? complain? mutter?
I wonder if Santa, like writers everywhere, struggles to find just the right word to describe his adventures. I hope he remembers to check the archives here at Change It Up Editing for great writing tips!
Like Santa and his helpers, I’ve been busy this week with holiday preparations, but I want to wish all the authors I’ve had the privilege of working with and all my blog followers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Festivus, Happy Day Off Work! I am grateful for all of you, and thank you for your continued support.
Have a happy, peaceful, and safe holiday!
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and learn more here.
I remind myself every day of just how grateful I am to have a job I love. When I was growing up, my parents encouraged me to do something I felt passionate about. That’s exactly what I get to do every single day as a freelance editor.
Since I began my freelance career, I’ve met some of the most amazing writers and have had the privilege to work on so many fascinating books, articles, and blogs. (Check those out here and here.) The old saying “Variety is the spice of life” is true for me, and the mix of working on both fiction and nonfiction projects helps keep me interested and interesting.
My job title is freelance editor, but I’m also a cheerleader for the authors I work with. My great joy is the feeling of “making a difference.” Whether I’m editing a short blog post for a traditionally published author or a novel for a first-time author, I’m one of those lucky people who gets to help someone realize his or her dream. It doesn’t get much better than that!
So today, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., I just want to let you know I am thankful for YOU—each and every one of you.
Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.
Today’s guest blogger, Andrew Hiller, is a reporter, radio host, editor, producer, playwright, and novelist. I had the pleasure of working with him on his urban fantasy novel, A Halo of Mushrooms, which will publish on December 1 and is now available for preorder. Read a preview here.
If you’re a writer, you know the self-doubt connected with publishing a book. (Now imagine seeing your words brought to life on the stage in front of a live audience—oh my!)
That self-doubt can keep even the best writers from sending their work out into the world, but Andrew has some advice for anyone who fears they aren’t good enough:
Long before the curtain rose, I felt the jitters begin. The stage remained dark, the chairs empty, and the carpet felt hard. I arrived four hours early. I needed to experience every moment of this first night . . . my first play on Broadway (okay, 78th and Broadway)!
Can you imagine it? First, the custodial staff came in and I worried about them . . . if my play flops, what happens to them? Then, the stage crew arrived, and I felt my hands shake. I knew each by name. We worked together. They quizzed me. They dreamed with me. I saw the director and producer arrive. They smiled. I think I manage one. Then, it was the actors’ turn, and some of them looked nervous while others exuded excitement. By the time the audience arrived, I was a mess. Continue reading “Remember to Live in Your Moment: Guest post by Andrew Hiller”
Are you breaking rules in writing? I am delighted to introduce you to debut author Cheryl Fassett. Our editing work together ended months ago, but since then Cheryl has been hard at work preparing her middle-grade fantasy novel, Far Away and Ever After, for publication. Now that this enchanting book is available for everyone to enjoy (and I was enchanted by it), Cheryl agreed to share some thoughts about her journey and The Rules that surround being an writer.
We are given rules in every area of our lives. From the time we are toddlers, we are guided by the don’ts, the dos, the nevers. Sometimes these rules are in our best interest: don’t touch a hot stove, never run with a sharp knife, always chew your food. But sometimes rules are constricting and limiting.
Many rules in writing are as arbitrary as being told not to wear white after Labor Day. One person’s helpful suggestion is the next young writer’s block.
Have you ever been engrossed in a great story and suddenly stopped short to ask yourself what the writer is referring to when “it” appears? Here’s an example:
“Sue and Mary found six dresses to try. It fit and was in her price range.”
What is “it,” exactly? In the context of the sentence above, “it” is used as a pronoun, and illustrates a common (and avoidable) writer mistake:
A quick grammar review: Pronouns are a useful part of speech that give writers greater flexibility in naming schemes. Instead of using and reusing a noun, the substitution of a pronoun allows for a type of shorthand. For example, instead of writing, “The moment John walk into the store, John realized John had forgotten John’s wallet at home” (pretty clunky, huh?), this sentence becomes, “The moment John walked into the store, he realized he had forgotten his wallet at home.”
Personal pronouns are fairly straightforward. Most of us use I, he, she, they, him, her, them, his, hers, and theirs properly . . . but “it” often present unique problems for writers.
As you might know, subsidiary rights (which include merchandising and audio rights) are an important part of a traditional publishing contract. Yet most authors are so focused on the advance and other financial details that they forget about those other rights (audiobooks, foreign sales, merchandise, etc.).
This is a wonderful opportunity for me as a writer, and I’d like to invite you to read and share this article with your own network. And if you’re so inclined, I’d be grateful if you’d become my “fan” on Huffington Post by clicking the link “Become a Fan.” After doing so, you will automatically get an email letting you know when I’ve published something.
Thank you again for your support; I’m grateful.
Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.
Last night, as I was happily texting with a good friend, another text came in, this one from my daughter:
I watched the bouncing bubble that told me my daughter was still typing, and then this:
I gasped. I burst into tears. And through my tears, I speed dialed my daughter.
The heartbreak in her voice sent me over the edge. We sobbed together for a long time as we tried to comprehend the reality that this beautiful young woman, her dear friend and personal cheerleader who was only 27, was gone forever.
This Father’s Day is a difficult one for me. My 88-year-old father passed away six weeks ago, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea.
Like all parents do, my dad influenced me in many ways, including some I couldn’t appreciate until later in my life. I wrote this letter to him two years ago (and sent him a printed version); he told me how much he enjoyed reading it.
Although my dad never embraced electronic books (see the end of my letter), he was a voracious reader his entire life and always had a book with him. I’ll always be grateful to my dad for the examples he set. Wherever he is, I hope he’s enjoying a great book.
Because you’re a self-declared technophobe, you won’t read this today, but I’ll send you a printed copy via snail mail. I may be using all my techie toys (laptop, printer, and my WordPress blog) to write this, but the message is very old school: without you, I would never be following my dream today.