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.
My editing life has been busy lately, and my apologies for the infrequent blogging in recent weeks. Hugs to everyone who has written to make sure I’m okay—and yes, I’m fantastic! Working as a freelance editor isn’t without its challenges, but it has some real perks, too.
Freelance editing has its pros and cons, but the biggest pro for me is the ability to work wherever I choose. As many of you know, I live in South Florida, which is a paradise in the winter . . . but in the summer? Not so much. But lucky me—I am in the Pacific Northwest as I write this, and until the middle of August, I can pretend I don’t know anything about hurricanes! I guess the best label for my time away from home is “working vacation,” with an emphasis on the “working” part. And I’ve had a wonderful time editing many different projects in the last several months! Before I get to those, Continue reading “3 Perks of Editing, Or What I’m Doing on My Summer Working-Vacation”
“Should I or shouldn’t I?” That’s the question most writers ask themselves about commas, and Eric Baker wrote one of the best explanations I’ve read to help you decide. Wish I’d written one that was half this much fun!
Do you have any idea how hard it is to think up an enticing blog post title when your topic is sentence clauses? That’s about as unsexy a thing as can be discussed. My other options were Full Frontal Commas and When Punctuation Marks Hook Up, but I ultimately decided “sentences clauses” and “comma” both belonged because the union of those two language elements is what we’re talking about today.
I’m willing to bet that when writers express worry about their punctuation skills, their chief grief is commas. Like, when to use one and where to put it (by the way, if you block out the rest of this post, you have to admit what I just wrote could be sexy). Today I shall discuss one aspect of comma use: when they are required to separate sentence clauses and when they are not.
The guidelines are pretty simple. If you have a dependent clause, you don’t need a comma, and if you have an independent clause, you do need a comma. Important note: Dependent and independent clauses are typically separated by “and” or “but.”
But sometimes, to even the most experienced writer, grammar talk sounds like bleeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhh grldlugnk fzzznuh. Therefore, I shall provide examples.
Anyone who writes appreciates how much work it is—in fact, the better the writing, the more likely that writer has spent many hundreds—even thousands—of hours working to hone his or her skills. Yet, no matter how experienced the writer, one skill in particular that must be honed (but is often undervalued) is the ability to learn from constructive criticism. Unless your writing is hidden away under lock and key, you need a thick skin: as a writer, you need to learn how to deal with feedback.
Writing requires a set of skills that took you years to perfect. Many skills I use in my work as a freelance editor are skills I have honed over the years, too. In Part I of this series, I discussed Research, Observation, and Brevity as they relate to the editing work I do for authors. Today I’ll like to talk about Accuracy and Honesty, two personal attributes that I consider important skills when writing and editing.
Many people don’t realize how much background work is involved in bringing a manuscript to publication. Copyediting (sometimes called line editing) includes fact checking, which can be a time-consuming process, especially for nonfiction work. Even works of fiction require fact checking; for example, if one of your characters plays basketball, I’ll check the spelling of terminology—three pointer or three-pointer? Consistency matters, too: If that character was 6’1” in one chapter and 5’11’ in a later chapter, I’ll bring that to your attention. As a freelance editor, I work diligently to be sure my client doesn’t publish inaccurate or inconsistent information, and that includes everything from the spelling of a corporate name (Wal-Mart or Walmart?) to correct citations (Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source for citations, by the way).
Fitting hand-in-glove with accuracy is honesty. Sadly, sometimes writers don’t understand their obligation to cite an idea that came from somewhere else, and instead they write as though a concept is their own, original idea, or worse, they copy a phrase or paragraph and change a few words here and there to “make it their own.” If you don’t know how to properly present someone else’s words or ideas, I can help you do so.
Unless you have a young child who is learning to read, you probably don’t give much thought to your ability to read . . . but that skill took years of training and practice to develop. Writing requires another set of skills that took years to perfect—first printing, then learning cursive, and finally for most of us, learning to type.
I also find that many skill sets I use in my work as an editor are skills I have honed over many years of writing and working not just publishing, but in every career I’ve had. I’d like to talk about three of those skills in relation to the editing I do for authors, and I think you’ll agree they are basic skills for every writer, too.
Confession time: I still miss library card catalogs. (I know you’re laughing at me, but I really do!) There was something so satisfying about flipping through those cards, finding just the right connection to the information you were looking for, and zeroing in on the book or encyclopedia or microfiche that promised to hold the secret treasure.
I have to agree with what you said about how writers can’t afford to NOT use a professional editor. Which is why I’d like to know about your services, procedures and prices for editing a full-length novel. . . . My book, The Man of Nightstone, clocks in at over 110,000 words. I really want to make my novel the best that it can be . . . hopefully at a reasonable price.”
After a few email exchanges, we decided to have a telephone conversation. Like most first-time authors who seek professional editing, Devon had many questions about what an editor can and cannot do as well as what an author should and should not expect. Devon had many concerns because he’d previously hired an “editor” and had been burned by broken promises, poor results, and money out the window.
If you’ve searched the Internet looking for an editor for your book, you’ve probably come across a few of the more unusual editing “services” available. Unusual isn’t bad, but in some cases, unusual is definitely NOT good for authors.
One blogger I found by accident runs a membership site that proposes to save authors money on professional editing by trading editing with other members; in other words, you and another writer edit each other’s books, thereby eliminating the cost of having your manuscript professionally edited.
What’s wrong with that? Nothing, as long as you understand that the chance of getting a professional edit of your work that way is slim to none. In reality, this service is a beta-reader service, which is very useful in its own right—but let’s call it what it is. I’ve written about my enthusiasm for beta readers here, and I personally encourage my clients to use them before they hire me or any other professional editor for their WIP.
But beta readers are no substitute for professional editors or proofreader.
“Oh, come ON, Candace,” I can hear you say, “I’ll still get editing, plus I will save hundreds of dollars on editing costs.”
No, you won’t. You won’t get editing; you’ll get critiquing. Maybe even really good critiquing, if the writer assigned to your manuscript is good at it. But what if that writer’s comments are more in line with what your teenager’s best friend would say about your writing: “Really, really good story. I like the part where the werewolf turns into an alien and falls in love with the librarian. But I got confused about who was talking, so you should put ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ after every sentence of dialogue.” Oh yes, that is helpful editing. Not.
And you won’t save money in the long run. Remember the old adage, “It takes money to make money”? If you skimp on editing, you’ll spend more time and money in the end—you can read about one of my clients who did that here.
“Snake-oil salesman” is a term that has come to refer to someone who sells a product that has a questionable benefit. As a professional editor, I believe this particular company is run by a snake-oil salesman, one who hopes to get your money by promising you a product that just isn’t available. And in the end, you are the one who pays the price—in lost sales, a tarnished reputation as an author, and poor reviews. Continue reading “Need Your Book Edited? Don’t Fall for a Snake-Oil Salesman”
One of my new favorite authors is Eva Lesko Natiello. I had the privilege of editing Eva’s debut novel, The Memory Box, and let me tell you, it’s quite a story! I’m so excited for everyone to read it that I have to share the back cover blurb Eva’s been working on:
Caroline Thompson doesn’t engage in the pettiness that fuels the gossipmonger moms of affluent Farhaven. She pays no mind to their latest pastime: Googling everyone in town to dig up dirt for their lively Bunco babble. When Caroline’s told that her name appears only three times, she’s actually relieved. Then a pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—a name none of them know. The hits cascade like a tsunami. But there’s a problem. What she reads can’t possibly be true. Every mention is shocking, horrifying even. Worse yet, they contradict everything she remembers. Divulging this to anyone could be disastrous. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her happy family life—as she seeks to prove the allegations false before someone discovers them.
Be careful what you search for.
I had so much fun working with Eva that I’ve invited her to guest blog several times in anticipation of her book’s publication; you can read the first two guest posts here and here. If you’ve enjoyed those, you are in for a real treat, because Eva’s sharing her version of what happens to a writer when the novel is finished.
It’s time we admit that Writer Separation Anxiety is a bona fide disorder. I’m not ashamed to say I have it; maybe others will come forward. Remember, there is strength in numbers. It may not afflict the majority of writers, but that doesn’t make us freaks.
Why do you think there are so many sequel writers?
It’s true that most writers are ecstatic to finish a manuscript. However, when I wrote The End of my novel, I was bereft.
What would become of Caroline, Andy, Lilly, all my characters? We’d been together for so long. I spent more time with them than with my real family. What would I do now?
That first morning after The End was the hardest. Time to get reacquainted with my LBTB (Life Before the Book). During the manuscript’s third edit our kitchen became depleted of anything edible. Grocery shopping was now long overdue. A chore would be good. It would keep me busy. No time to pine.
At the store, I strolled down the cookie aisle. Bad idea. There were Oreos everywhere. You can’t dodge a cookie with 17 varieties. I told myself to stop thinking about Andy; he’s not real. Oreos were his crutch food. The night he and Caroline got into a chandelier-trembling argument (Chapter 6) he ate 2 sleeves of Oreos with a quart of milk. Any other guy would’ve gone out and gotten bombed with his buddies. Not Andy; he plopped on the couch (which he’d later sleep on) and ate 28 cookies. I hated that night. I hated when they fought. A friend of mine accused me of being secretly in love with Andy. Which is complete hogwash. I’m married! Continue reading “Writer Separation Anxiety: Guest Post by Eva Lesko Natiello”
I belong to a listserve of freelance editors, and I find the topics of conversation interesting and often thought-provoking. One recent topic that elicited many comments was about pricing the work we do.
The initial post was by an established and well-respected editor who wrote, “I recently was asked about my rates by someone at a local company who was looking for writing and editing help. She balked at my quote . . . Her response: < … we can find English majors for $10 to $15 [per hour] and many of them are quite good. >”
I get it; no one wants to spend more than necessary for anything—goods or services. I mean, if I can buy a knock-off designer widget that looks just like the brand-name widget, isn’t that a better value than buying the real thing just for the brand name? If I can get my next-door neighbor’s artistic son to design my book cover, isn’t that a better value than hiring an expensive professional cover artist?