Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!

I received official notification from WordPress that my blog is now a year old:

Wordpress

Thank you to friends, followers, and everyone in this wonderful writing community for your friendship and support. I love working with writers, and my goal for my blog posts is to provide useful content that will help you whether you write for publication or “just because.” In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’m listing links to some of my most popular articles and guest posts from the last 12 months, and I hope I’ve grouped these in a way that makes searching topics a bit easier for you. Feel free to add a comment on any of them—your comments are always welcome.

Self-Editing

Struggling with Revisions? Try Playing with Paper Dolls

Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part I: Macro Issues Continue reading “Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!”

Ask the Divas: Creative Dialogue Tags – Write Divas | Write Divas

Creative dialogue tags are a topic of some heated discussion among writers. Do you use them? I’d love to know if you agree with Jen Matera of Write Divas, who writes that “Creative dialogue tags can become a crutch for the author, and then they’ll begin to take the place of creative narrative.”

If you’re a fiction writer, you’ll want to read Ask the Divas: Creative Dialogue Tags – Write Divas | Write Divas, and I look forward to your comments below.

Happy Writing,

—Candace

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.

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page at Change It Up Editing and Writing Services, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

Self Editing: Put Your Book on a Diet

self editingWriters often confess their dislike for the revision process. Let’s face it, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write a story feels much more creative than meticulously going through it to add or subtract and rearrange text.

I certainly understand how overwhelming the revision process can be, but breaking it down into manageable bites can make it very doable. And one of the easiest self-editing tasks you can tackle is deleting extraneous words.

In other words, put your manuscript on a diet.

Put your manuscript on a diet, and get rid of those extra words. #writingtip Click To Tweet

As an editor, one of the common things I see is an overweight manuscript.

Overweight? As in too many pages? Well, yes and no. Too many pages can often be the end result, but the real culprit is too many unnecessary words.

We admire gifted writers because they take us to another place—and we don’t even realize it. A well-turned phrase, the perfect adjective, a carefully crafted description—they are the Holy Grail for writers.

As a writer, you know that each word is important, and sometimes the most important words are the ones you don’t use.

The words you don’t use are those you’ve searched out and deleted during your self-editing. Here’s how Writers Relief puts it:

Take a crash course in deleting. Remember that paragraph you worked on yesterday, picking out the best words? Now, cut it down. Get out your red pen and slash away! Be brutal. What is the absolute minimum number of words that you can use to make a point?

Every writer tends to overuse certain words and phrases; check your current work in progress for words like “that,” “in order to,” “began to,” “quickly,” and my personal pet peeve: “it” without a subject noun as an antecedent. The next step is to look at adverbs and adjectives in general, and ask yourself if you can improve your description by removing some of those extra words.

Try this fantastic exercise, courtesy of Write Divas:

We’ve all heard the advice: Paint a picture with your words. Describe the scene. Be creative with your words…

Many first time authors take this advice a little too far and over use adjectives when describing something, because let’s face it–the more descriptive words used, the better the picture, right?

Wrong.

Most of the time one or two adjectives are enough to create an image, but instead of overusing adjectives, authors should strive to use better adjectives. The following is an exercise to help authors practice this skill.

  • Select a scene from something you’ve written.
  • Rewrite it without any adjectives. Remove every last one and list them on a separate paper.
  • Read the scene without the adjectives.
  • Review the list of removed adjectives and replace each one with an adjective not already on the list, using lesser known adjectives or better word choices.
  • Using the new list of adjectives, put back only the adjectives that are necessary for clarity. Nothing more.
  • Read the scene again.
  • Did you need all those adjectives? If the passage needs a few more, add them in but limit yourself to one per noun, two at the most and only occasionally. Never three.
  • Read the scene again.
  • How does it compare to the way it read in the beginning?

The idea here is to give enough description to give your readers’ imaginations flight to create the scene in their head without directing every minute detail. The more ownership a reader has in creating the scenes and characters in their imagination, the more invested in the story they will become.

There are many ways to save on professional editing, and I’ve listed just a few in How to Save Money on Editing by Preparing Your Manuscript and 3 Things You Shouldn’t Hire an Editor to Do. But my first piece of advice to any writer who wants to get the most bang for his or her editing buck is:

Put your manuscript on a diet, and get rid of those extra words.

Happy Writing!

—Candace

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page at Change It Up Editing and Writing Services, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

Related articles

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.

How to Save Money on Editing by Preparing Your Manuscript

Most writers understand the importance of professional editing. Whether you plan to query agents and editors or self-publish your work, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

You’ve finished revising and self-editing your manuscript, and you’re ready to send it to the copyeditor of your choice. You just attach the file to an email and press send, right?

Oh please, no, don’t do that! You’ll make so much extra work for your editor if you do that—and you’ll spend more money in the process. Allow me to explain.

Your editor estimates the amount of time it will take to edit your manuscript based on the sample you submitted; time equals money, so the more time the editor has to spend making changes, the more money you will spend.

Don't spend your editing dollars on clerical tasks you can do yourself! Click To Tweet

Why spend editing dollars to have someone fix the spacing between paragraphs or remove hyperlinks? Save your hard-earned money for actual editing!

Whether your editor quotes hourly rates, or charges by the word, page, or project, every quote is based on the amount of time the editor will invest. If your manuscript isn’t broken into chapters, your editor will have to invest time formatting it that way. If your nonfiction book doesn’t include in-text citations, your editor will have to spend hours identifying material that should have source information included. In both cases, those extra hours are added to your bill and won’t be available for you to use later for proofreading or help with crafting a great query letter.

Want to save money on your next edit? Follow these tips to prepare your manuscript. Click To Tweet

Here is a basic formatting checklist you can use to prepare your manuscript for copyediting: Continue reading “How to Save Money on Editing by Preparing Your Manuscript”

How to Find Great Writing and Publishing Content

I’m a stalker.

I begin every work day with a cup of coffee and my computer, and I spend the next hour or two stalking other writers for great content to share with my Facebook followers.Find Great Writing and Publishing Content

We all have busy lives, and I understand the many reasons writers might not have the time or a desire to spend hours searching for writing tips. That’s why my Facebook page is filled with articles that offer valuable writing and publishing information.

No one person has time to find and read all the amazing content that is posted every single day, and I’m no exception. But I find some real gems that I want to share, and if you haven’t already done so, I invite you to check out Change It Up Editing on Facebook for easy access to information that I believe writers will find helpful, interesting, and sometimes, just plain hilarious.

Please like Change It Up Editing's Facebook page for publishing industry news. #pubtip #writetip Click To Tweet

Here are just a few of the recent links I’ve posted there:

101 Quick Actions You Can Take Today to Build the Writer Platform of Your Dreams

How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book? Three Budget Breakdowns

Dialogue Tags

Platform vs. Portfolio

Ten Things You Can Do with Short Stories

If you’re looking for a one-stop place to find writing tips, publishing industry news, and the latest happenings in the publishing world, please “like” Change It Up Editing’s Facebook page and comment often, because the content YOU need is the content I’ll post there. Looking for anything in particular? Be sure to let me know and I’ll try to find it for you!

Happy Writing,

Candace

If you enjoyed reading this article, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Manuscript Evaluation

One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is moving forward with a manuscript that isn’t ready for submission or publication. Whether you ID-10098753choose to query agents and publishers or you decide to self-publish your work, remember the old saying:

 “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

How do you know if your book is ready to meet the world? One way is to have a professional manuscript evaluation.

How do you know if your book is ready to meet the world? #amwriting Click To Tweet

You’ve shared your work with family and friends—and they’ve all raved about your storytelling talent. You’ve shared it with your critique group and beta readers, and they’ve offered some useful, constructive criticism. You’ve tweaked this, deleted that, and rewritten entire scenes and characters.

Now is the time for an honest and objective critique of your plot, dialogue, characters and pace, or opinions about structure, coherency, consistency, and organization.

A manuscript evaluation is a big-picture look that tells you what works and what doesn’t. It is not editing: a manuscript critique is an assessment and diagnostic tool that pinpoints specific strengths as well as weaknesses you can fix to improve your manuscript.

As a professional freelance editor, I interact with many writers who struggle when they finish writing and move into the editing phase. Some just throw in the towel and self-publish their books with little or no editing; some work for weeks to self-edit and revise; some search for a freelance editor who will help them “fix” their manuscript.

Don’t struggle alone, hope someone else will fix your problems, or give up. And don’t jump into the publishing pool unprepared. Instead, have your entire manuscript reviewed; if you can’t afford that, at least have your first chapter evaluated.

Whether your readers are literary agents or members of your target audience, you have to catch and keep their attention. As New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap writes:

Something must happen in the first two hundred words. That’s the length of my interest fuse. Billowing clouds, pouring rain and beautiful flowers are not action. Characters interacting with each other or with their environment is action.”

Be sure you choose an evaluator with experience, someone who understands what literary agents and publishers are looking for, and someone with whom you can communicate so you’ll get the most from your critique.

Don’t be shy about discussing your needs and expectations for the evaluations, as well as your preferences for how you receive feedback. As with any editing service, you should feel very comfortable that the editor you hire is someone who can help you meet your goals. As I wrote here and here, be sure you clearly articulate your expectations and make sure your new editing partner is a good communicator.

I just finished evaluating a 75,000 word fiction manuscript; I sent the author a seven-page written critique filled with specific details and examples of the strengths and weaknesses I found in the manuscript. I’m also in the midst of a memoir critique that is part written evaluation and part Skype conference. As you can see, there are different ways for an author to communicate with his or her editor, and you’ll want to work with someone who can give you the evaluation YOU need to improve your work.

Don’t be the author who papers your room with rejection slips or bad reviews because your manuscript needs work! Contact me today for a professional manuscript evaluation and let me help you bring your work to the next level.

Happy Writing!

—Candace

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page at Change It Up Editing and Writing Services, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

 Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Related articles:

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Developmental and Substantive Editing

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Copyediting

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Proofreading

A Thank-You Letter to My Dad on Father’s Day

letter to my dad on father's day
John F. Yardas, EdD and Candace (15 months old)

Dear Dad,

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.

You see, I’m finally pursuing a passion I’ve had for my whole life. Remember when I’d spend hours in my room reading books and writing to pen pals? You and Mom humored me for the most part, but every so often, my bedroom door would fly open and you’d bellow, “It’s time to go outside for some fresh air!”

A Thank-You Letter to My Dad #dads #fathers #parents #dreams Click To Tweet

I hated when you did that, Dad, because invariably I was lost in a world you couldn’t have known. A word where magical things happened to imaginary people—and it didn’t matter to me whether those magical things happened in the books I read or the letters I received. I couldn’t get enough of those worlds beyond my door, and I really have to credit you for that as well.

For as far back as I can remember, your nose was always in a book or magazine. I can close my eyes and see you sitting in your chair in the living room, glasses perched on your nose and a book balanced on your lap; you always had your legs crossed (I wonder if that’s a genetic trait, because I can’t seem to sit without doing the same). I can’t remember the titles of any of the books, but I clearly remember the Look and Life magazines; you and Mom read those cover-to-cover, and I loved looking at the photos, too, until I was old enough to read the words.

Yes, you instilled in me a love for reading, but more than that, you instilled a love for writing. I seldom shared my little stories with you because I feared your disapproval, but I wrote them nonetheless, and even though you didn’t read them, you certainly influenced them. The letters I wrote to pen pals all over the world were a form of creative writing, too, as were the journals I meticulously kept, and later, as I worked on essays and research projects in school, I learned many valuable lessons about writing styles and rules and authors and grammar and . . . the list goes on and on.

Having a father who is a perfectionist and a schoolteacher is difficult for a child, but I suspect having that father is the reason I was constantly proofreading cereal boxes, street signs, and letters from those pen pals on the other side of the world, and why I was always drawn to helping others with their writing. When it came time for college, practicality won out and I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough, that I could never make a living as a writer, so I went a different direction and never looked back.

Until a few years ago when my midlife-crisis-self decided it was time to follow my heart for a change. (Thank goodness that crazy lady finally spoke up!) My love of writing and grammar and teaching and helping others all came together, and today I have a wonderful career as a freelance editor and writer. Pat yourself on the back, Dad, because your example is what led me down that path:

  • the example you set as a teacher who expected the best from every student you taught showed me that everyone has the ability to find just a little bit more inside himself or herself;
  • the example you set as a parent who expected nothing less than perfection made me into a perfectionist, which is a noble quality for a proofreader (although less so for a writer, I’m afraid—anxiety tends to kick in when perfectionism rears its ugly head);
  • the example you set as a reader taught me that words are a precious commodity to be respected and revered, whether one is reading The Little Engine That Could or The Godfather or an algebra text (that last one took a few extra years to appreciate, by the way);
  • the example you set as a parent helped me pass my own love of reading and writing to my children and grandchildren; I can’t express the joy I felt when my eighteen-month-old granddaughter pulled me into her room to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom—a book I gave her!

So on this Father’s Day, Dad, I just want to say thank you for sharing your love of words with that little girl who loved to crawl up into your lap and listen to you read aloud. You gave me a gift that has continued to shower me with happiness for all these years, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Now please, Dad, won’t you consider putting aside your fear of technology and just consider an e-reader? You’d make gift-giving so much easier!

Love, Candace

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog, and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

 

Dream a Dream: Life of a Freelance Editor

life of a freelance editorIn a previous post, I shared some of the reasons that went into my decision to become a full-time freelance editor a little over a year ago. I had a dream that I could make a living by editing for authors I truly cared about, and I’ve turned that dream into a reality. When I posted that blog, I received numerous comments, including this one that inspired the post you’re now reading:

“Have you ever turned down an editing assignment? What parameters do you set for yourself in considering assignments? For a brief time when I considered going full time freelance, the fear of having to take any and all assignments always brought me up short. Currently I have a day job that I’m happy with, but I’ve always wondered how freelancers manage their workload. Personally, I know that if I were totally reliant on freelance work, I would find it impossible to say “no” to anything.”

Do freelance editors turn down assignments? Yes, and here's why. #writetip Click To Tweet

So here goes:

“Have you ever turned down an editing assignment?”

Yes, I have. I always offer a sample edit to authors who are looking for line editing or proofreading; occasionally, a writer who swears his manuscript needs nothing more than a spell check sends a sample that is clearly in need of more substantial editing.

If a manuscript is so full of major flaws that it reads more like a first draft, I won’t take the job. Correcting grammar or misspelled words won’t help a manuscript that is in need of major revision, and I would rather lose the work than take someone’s money when I know I am not really helping him or her. Continue reading “Dream a Dream: Life of a Freelance Editor”

Can You Be Objective About Your Own Writing?

Can You Be Objective About Your Own WritingCongratulations! A fantastic story now resides on your hard drive. You put it aside for a while (as all the writing gurus suggest) and then you come back to it for your first round of edits. Days/weeks/months later, you complete that massive task, and wow! An even more fantastic story is ready for introduction to the world.

You share it with your family and friends—and they all rave about your storytelling talent. You share it with your critique group and beta readers, and they offer some useful constructive criticism that sends you back to your computer with a renewed vision for your WIP. You toil for many more hours, tweaking this, deleting that, rewriting entire scenes and characters, and finally—thankfully—you finish.

Sorry, you aren’t quite ready to publish that masterpiece yet. In the course of all that planning, writing, and revising, you’ve lost your objectivity about your work. But never fear, because I’m here to help you!

Don’t be your own worst enemy by losing your objectivity about your writing. #writetip #editing #selfpub Click To Tweet

Let’s examine two reasons you aren’t objective about your own writing and why you need to hire a copyeditor if you are serious about publishing your work:

1.  You are too close to your own writing.

You’ve poured your heart and soul into your work. As a serious writer, you are invested in honing your craft. Even after you self-edit, there might be issues you haven’t addressed because you aren’t aware of them. Are there holes in your arguments? Are your introduction and conclusion as strong as they can be? Are your characters three-dimensional? Is your story slow to start, or does it move too quickly? An editor will help you by identifying issues that turn a flat story into one that everyone talks about.

Author Elizabeth Hein addresses this in “Questions”:

In the process of bringing a story to fruition, the author can lose sight of what the reader needs to know when. We are inside the story trying to push it forward. The reader experiences the story one page at a time. They need to understand what is happening at that point.”

In “Editing—Why Not Do It Yourself,” author Gerald Rice points out,

Writers have a tendency to be too close to their manuscript, falling in love with their words and keeping words, sentences, and entire sections that take away from the overall story.”

Don’t be your own worst enemy by losing your objectivity about your writing—add a professional editor to your team. You wouldn’t dream of interviewing for a job without taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and making sure your socks match; why would you consider creating your legacy as a writing professional without hiring someone to edit your manuscript for errors, omissions, and weak writing?

2.  Your mind sees what it wants to see.

Your brain has trouble realizing that “weak” is wrong when you meant “week,” or that you’ve received a “compliment,” not a “complement.” Every writer has a personal pattern of error, such as using the same word too frequently or beginning sentences with dangling modifiers, and those are errors you won’t even notice—but an editor will.

Author Alison Neale puts it this way in “Professional Editing?”:

There are thousands of self-published books out there and you want to stand out from the crowd. Editing may be an expense you don’t feel you can justify – but when it makes the difference between a handful of sales and a best seller, it’s an expense you shouldn’t avoid.”

I won’t sugarcoat this: editing isn’t cheap. Or let me rephrase that: quality editing isn’t cheap. But how much will it cost you to publish a poorly constructed story full of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors? Ask other authors for references. Check out websites, interview prospective editors on the telephone, and ask for a sample edit.

So a professional writer (that would be YOU) needs a professional freelance editor (that would be ME) to navigate those too-close-for-objectivity minefields in writing. Your expertise is writing; let me show you how my editorial expertise can help you take your writing to the next level. Contact me at cyjohnson5580@gmail.com for a no-obligation quote and sample edit today.

Happy Writing!

—Candace

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Related articles:

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Editor. Or Do I? (changeitupediting.com)

A Little Editing Makes a BIG Difference (changeitupediting.com)

Join Me on the Air

ID-10033526Through the magic of the Internet, you can hear yours truly chatting about writing and editing on Monday, April 1.

I’ll be the guest of author, personal development speaker, and radio host Raeleen Mautner, PhD, who has invited me to be her guest on The Art of Living Well. I had the privilege of editing Raeleen’s latest book, Lemons into Limoncello, which will be out on May 7 and is available now for preorder herehere, and wherever books are sold.LemonsLimoncello

The Art of Living Well is a fantastic show, and Raeleen is a seasoned professional. I, on the other hand, am more comfortable behind the scenes, so the idea of an hour-long radio interview is making me a little nervous—but I’ll do my best not to let that show. At least I don’t have to give a speech in front of a crowd . . . where I’d have to imagine the audience in their underwear (remember that old trick to overcome stage fright?).

Come to think of it, those of you on the East Coast of the US might actually be in your underwear at that time!

Seriously, we’ll be discussing aspects of writing and the editing process, so I hope you’ll tune in and listen. You can listen to a live stream from anywhere in the world. If you’re in Australia, I’ll help you go to sleep, since that will be 11pm your time. In the UK? Join me on your noon lunch hour. And if you’re anywhere else in the world, here’s a link to a time conversion site: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.

I hope you’ll join Raeleen and me for what promises to be an entertaining and enlightening hour. See you there!

—Candace

“On Air” image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net