When Santa arrives at your house and slides down the chimney, will he …

. . . chuckle? guffaw? snort? Or if Santa isn’t having a good day, will he grumble? complain? mutter?ID-100297775

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!

Happy Writing,

Candace

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 cyjohnson5580@gmail.com, and learn more here.

Competitive Titles: Step 5 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

How to Write a Nonfiction Book ProposalAnyone who’s written a nonfiction book proposal will probably tell you that proposal writing is more difficult than writing the actual manuscript. After all, you’re an expert on the subject you’re writing about, and sharing that knowledge is fun, but putting on your marketing hat to write the proposal often presents some unique challenges for writers, and facing your competition is one of those.

After all, you’re an expert on the subject you’re writing about, and sharing that knowledge is fun, but putting on your marketing hat to write the proposal often presents some unique challenges for writers. Facing your competition is one of those.

Your book proposal needs to convince the literary agents you query, and ultimately acquisition editors (who decide whether or not to bring your proposal forward for consideration through several vetting steps), why this book will stand out in a sea of other books about your subject, and why you are the perfect author to write this book.

This section of the proposal shouldn’t overwhelm you. This is actually another place for you to let your book shine and show your expertise about your subject—you just need to remember a few things.

Things to Do:

  1. Research the competition and understand how your book fits in the market. Your book will be shelved next to other books in the genre; your book will come up in an online search as one of many in the genre. Here is where you discuss the differences between your book and the others. If you’re writing about a subject that has plenty of competition to choose from, list 5−10 books, but if your subject is very niche, think outside the box a little and come up with at least two or three comp titles. Even if your book is truly unique, find and list books that are similar to yours; for example, if you are shopping a book about baking gluten-free treats for goldfish, you probably won’t have a lot of competition, but compare and contrast your book to others about homemade pet food, raising healthy fish, and food allergies in pets. Continue reading “Competitive Titles: Step 5 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”

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!”

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.

Do you want to spend your editing dollars on clerical tasks you can do yourself?

Of course you don’t! 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 project, every quote is based on the number of hours the edit will take. If your novel isn’t broken into chapters, your editor will have to invest several hours 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.

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”

Dream a Dream

to-freelanceIn 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.”

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”

How to (Almost) Instantly Improve Your Writing

ID-10053750If you are serious about your writing, you’ve probably searched for the magic formula that will guarantee publication of your work. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but there is no magic formula.

Writing is hard. Writing well is hard work. Writing well enough to see your work published takes time, dedication, ruthless editing, and yes, a bit of luck.

Luck isn’t something you have much control over . . . but you do have control over time, dedication, and ruthless editing.

Millions of words have been written about finding and making time to write, so you’re probably working on that, and you’re already dedicated to your craft or you wouldn’t be reading Stephen King’s On Writing and searching blogs for ideas on how to make a living in this crazy business.

That leaves ruthless editing as your ticket to instantly improving your writing.

How does that work, exactly?

I’m glad you asked.

The #1 way to become a better writer is to edit someone else’s writing.

In a wonderful post about writing in a way that makes people feel, Guy Bergstrom writes:

You learn to write by editing, and you learn to edit by taking a red pen to what other people write. Where we need to switch it up is how we edit. Not line by line. Don’t worry about pretty sentences. Worry about pretty BONES. The bodywork of the car matters a helluva lot less than the engine that makes it go. Focus on the engine.”

We writers spend a great deal of time crafting a sentence so it says exactly what we want it to say. The tendency to overwrite is a common mistake, especially when we’re first starting out, but it’s something we can overcome with time and a lot of practice.

Ruthless editing, then, means going back and deleting all the fluff; it means breaking the story down and building it back up again; it means returning to writing basics. Need a few ideas on where to begin?

In Creative Writing with the Crimson League, Victoria Gefer writes:

Remember, the most basic rule of editing, on the most basic level, is always this:

Any word that doesn’t need to be in a sentence shouldn’t be.

Remember rule two of editing:

Never distort your writing into something that’s worse than using a common, go-to phrase. Don’t change “weak” style points on principle; change them when you can see a clear way to make your writing better by changing them: a way to be clearer, simpler, and less redundant.”

Once you’ve revised your work, it’s time to get some perspective on it. Remember this:

The #1 way to become a better writer is to edit someone else’s writing.

I edit other people’s work for a living, and I can honestly say that every piece I’ve worked on has been a learning experience in some way. Reading, as we all know, is a wonderful way to learn how other writers write, but I encourage you to edit another writer’s work; there’s nothing like it for learning about your own style and foibles.

One of the best articles I’ve read about peer editing is by Oliver Gray at LiteratureAndLibation.com:

Editing another writer’s work will improve your writing. It gives you a chance to read all kinds of stuff you might not see otherwise, but also gives you a chance to see what mistakes other writers are making. Editing gives you the chance to learn from other people’s lessons, dissect how a writer created an image or a theme or a tone.”

So there you have it in a nutshell: editing another writer’s writing will improve your own, because editing forces you to look at writing from a completely different point of view. Whether you join an online critique group like Scribophile or reach out to a fellow writer you met on WordPress, I encourage you to learn about writing in a different way by editing someone else’s writing.

As Oliver Gray wrote to me, “Man, editing and revisions is way harder than actually writing!” And he’s right! Writing is the fun part; editing and revising are what make you a better writer. Almost instantly!

Have you done any peer editing? Have you found your own writing improves after editing someone else’s work? What valuable insights have you gained from the process?

Happy Writing,

Candace

If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing so 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!

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 Image courtesy of  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Ideas_and_Decision_M_g409-Question_Mark_On_Jigsaw_Puzzle_p53750.html

4 Easy Ways Self-Publishing Authors Can Save Money on Professional Editing

ID-100123723Self-publishing can be expensive. Between editing, cover design, formatting, printing, and marketing, you can spend a small fortune if you aren’t careful. Even if you’re a DIY author who controls every aspect of the process, there are many (expensive) costs associated with bringing your work to the world. Finding ways to cut those costs can become an important part of your learning curve as a self-publishing author. (And no, skipping the professional editing isn’t one of those ways.)

Estimates for the whole self-publishing enchilada range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars—and one of the biggest expenses is typically the editing. But professional, quality editing doesn’t have to put a huge hole in your wallet. The best editing money can buy is available at a fraction of the cost many writers pay when you use the B.E.S.T. system.

                                       B is for Beta readers

                                       E is for Editing your own work

                                       S is for Sample edit

                                       T is for Talk to your editor

1. B is for Beta readers who can give your constructive feedback on what is and isn’t working in your manuscript. This is an opportunity to see how others interpret your work—how readers will respond. You get so close to your work that you cannot be as objective as you need to be. Patterns of error, plot holes, undeveloped characters, run-on sentences, subject-verb disagreements, and punctuation gaffes are all fair game for a beta reader or writing workshop buddy. Correct the grammar and punctuation errors, and use the suggestions that make sense to you. Don’t feel compelled to make a change that doesn’t respect your authorial voice or one that doesn’t improve your work.

2. E is for Editing your own work. After you receive feedback from your beta readers, writing workshop partner, or other writers, go back and re-edit one more time. Anything you can fix before turning your manuscript over to an editor will save you time and money in the long run. Self-editing techniques like printing out your work and editing on paper, or reading backward from the end of your manuscript to the beginning, are just two ways scores of writers edit their work and catch mistakes. Check out the related articles below for some other great ideas.

3. S is for Sample edit, which you should get before you decide on an editor. Blindly hiring someone because he’s inexpensive or she knows your mother isn’t a wise business decision. Reviewing a sample edit will give you a huge insight into a particular editor’s knowledge and ability. Every editor has a slightly different approach to editing, and this is a quick way to see if your expectations and his or her style are a good match. “He charged a small fortune but I hated what he did to my work” is something no author should ever have to say.

4. T is for Talk to your editor. The relationship between a writer and his or her editor is based on communication and trust. When editing is a collaborative effort, you learn what works and what doesn’t in your writing, which will allow you to make your own corrections on this manuscript as well as build your writing skills going forward. Make it clear to your editor that you are on a tight budget and want guidance on self-editing; for example, if your sample edit indicates you use commas incorrectly, go back through your manuscript with a style guide or other reference material in hand and correct as many of those commas as possible before turning the manuscript over for editing. One missing or incorrectly placed comma won’t make a difference in your editing bill, but dozens and dozens of them in addition to everything else can really add up in a novel-length manuscript.

When you follow these four points, your manuscript will be in the best shape you are able to make it and your editing dollars will go much farther. Even when you’re on a tight budget, there’s no excuse to publish your book without having it professionally edited and proofread. You have to be smart about how you spend your money; develop a plan and follow the B.E.S.T. points to make sure your manuscript is the best it can be!

What other way have you found to save money on professional editing? Have you traded critiques with another writer, or hired an editor to coach you through a rough spot? Please share your stories, which might even help a fellow writer save a few editing dollars!

Happy Writing,

Candace

If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing so 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’re looking for more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

What a Difference a Year Makes

ID-100126906In May of 2012, I made a decision I’d been contemplating for some time: I hung out my shingle as a full-time freelance editor and writer.

I had been working as a senior editor at a small traditional publisher. I was very excited about how different my working life would be as a freelancer. But giving up that steady paycheck—well, that was a horse of a different color, as they say.

My passion was working with writers and their words, and sadly, the economics of traditional publishing had caused my job to morph into something that left me little time to do that. My days were spent on so many things other than editing, and I grew more and more frustrated.

I finally realized that if things were going to change, I would have to be the one to change them.

So I did, and I’ve never looked back. Was it scary? Yes, it was—and it still is. But in hindsight, I only have one regret: I wish I’d done it sooner. Becoming a freelance editor and writer is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Today, I have the freedom to work on projects that I’m excited about. I have the variety of working with writers on their novels, their memoirs, their self-help books, their blog posts, their articles for magazines and websites. I even had the opportunity to write a comedic speech, which was a great challenge but SO much fun! Every day I have the opportunity to work with authors who are among the most dedicated and creative people I’ve ever met. And the best part is that I can now call those people my friends.

It’s been a year since I decided to start Change It Up Editing and Writing Services, and it’s been a fantastic twelve months. Thank you to all the writers who trusted me with their amazing words, and thanks to all of YOU who read this blog. I never dreamed I’d have so much FUN!

—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!

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.

Image courtesy of africa 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.

Turning Life's Lemons into Limoncello

LemonsLimoncelloToday is the official release of Lemons into Limoncello: From Loss to Personal Renaissance with the Zest of Italy by Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner. It’s a guidebook for finding self-acceptance, comfort, courage, and personal renewal on the heels of adversity—Italian style. Here’s what Steve Parillo, CEO of Parillo Tours, has to say:

Perhaps life has knocked you down one too many times. Or maybe you’ve just gone ‘stale.’ Dr. Mautner is part philosopher, part psychologist, part life coach—but entirely Italian. She offers Italian-style therapy: food, family, friends, and fun—a recipe for your own, personal renaissance. What would Freud say if he was Italian? Here’s your answer!”

The challenges we face over the course of a lifetime, especially those that involve major personal loss, can seem devastating, as radio personality and self-help specialist Dr. Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner discovered when her husband suddenly and unexpectedly died of a heart attack. The Italian rituals and lifestyle habits she grew up with—and later began researching—were instrumental in helping her stay grounded, feel comforted, and be gently redirected to a new path of joy and the next level of her own personal transformation.

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience the kind of personal devastation that accompanies something as devastating as the death of a loved one. But the loss of a job, a home, a pet, finances, health, a friendship or even the loss of one’s self-esteem can send us into a tailspin, too.

When in the throes of such challenges, it is hard to believe that we will ever enjoy life again, let alone possibly come away with the courage to live the next phase of our lives with deeper appreciation and clarity. Lemons into Limoncello offers a front-row seat to the Italian ability to arrangiarsi (get by) through elevating ordinary events to the extraordinary, and is the first self-help book to prescribe a traditional Italian cultural approach as a pathway to one’s own personal renaissance at a time when it is most needed.

Lemons were as big as footballs. And twice we ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the editor of this unique self-help book, I assure you that this is a book you’ll refer to many times in your life. And it’s one you’ll want to hand to a friend who is ready to move forward after adversity of any sort. The tone is warm and inclusive, and you’ll feel like you’re sitting at the author’s kitchen table with a cup of espresso and a biscotti (the recipe is in the book) as she shares her thoughts, wisdom, and advice.

You can learn more about the author:

Here’s one more review, this one from a NetGalley reviewer, to whet your appetite for this amazing book:

I truly enjoyed reading Mautner’s book Lemons into Limoncello. Not only did it have recipes, but it also had some wisdom in how to move on after disaster strikes no matter what type. She was able to weave her own story of painful loss of her husband untimely death along with her helpful tips for allowing the healing process to enfold in her life. Read this book, it is amazing. You will get some great recipes and great wisdom from a woman who has had her own journey.”  —Jamie Holloway, NetGalley

Update May 29, 2013: Connecticut Style television interview with the author about the book: http://tinyurl.com/owml57h 

Update June 18, 2013: Slideshow on Beliefnet.com: http://www.beliefnet.com/Health/Find-Happiness-and-Health-the-Italian-Way.aspx

 

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!

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Happy Reading!

—Candace

I Always Wanted to Live in a Third World Country and Now I Don't Have to Move

I just read (and was quite moved by) this post, the first of a new blog started by Profiler Pat Brown, whose book How to Save Your Daughter’s Life: Straight Talk for Parents from America’s Top Criminal Profiler is one I acquired and edited when I worked for a traditional publisher. Pat is not a woman who minces her words, and she is true-to-form in this blog, which I share below.

I Always Wanted to Live in a Third World Country and Now I Don’t Have to Move.

Whether you agree with Pat Brown’s ideas or not, she always has an interesting point of view, and I hope you’ll check out her new blog. I know I’m looking forward to reading her thoughts about this next stage of her life.

–Candace

P.S. Pat has also written other books, including fiction, which you can find here. I recommend Only the Truth!