Indie Publishing Done Right

The title of this post caught my attention. Then I saw the cover. Then I had to read the post. And now I must share it.

'We talk about self-published and traditionally published, but I think there’s a third category.' #selfpub… Click To Tweet
Cari Noga’s novel SPARROW MIGRATIONS – indie publishing done right
Cari Noga’s novel SPARROW MIGRATIONS – indie publishing done right

Reblogged from Starlighting Mama (Heather Shumacker):

The number of books published each year is boggling. Last year 200,000 new books were released. And that’s only counting traditional publishers. 400,000 self-published books were launched, too.

We talk about self-published and traditionally published, but I think there’s a third category:

 Self-published Books Done Right.

There’s really only one fault self-publishing has.  It’s too fast and easy.  Too fast and easy simply because writers are impatient and rush their books out into the world without ensuring quality.

That’s not the case with author Cari Noga.  Cari published Sparrow Migrationsa novel centered about the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane crash.  It features a boy named Robby who has autism and becomes obsessed with the birds involved in the accident.  Cari does self-publishing right.

Here’s why Cari’s book deserves to be recognized in a class of its own, along with other quality, independently published books.

She hired editors  Cari hired two editors to read, revise and copyedit her book.  This is the treatment a traditionally published book receives: professional editing and copyediting that boost a book’s quality. (Read more here)

3 Things You Shouldn’t Hire an Editor to Do

3 Things You Shouldn’t Hire an Editor to Do
Don’t waste your money–read this article first!

When authors contact me about editing, they often don’t even know what they need. They know they should hire an editor at some point, but many are confused about terminology like developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. But there is SOOOO much a writer can do before paying an editor for his or her expertise—and I’d like to show you three ways to not only save your money but get the most bang for your editorial buck.

1.    Don’t pay an editor to edit your first draft.

No matter how brilliant your ideas are, or how beautifully you phrase them, do some serious revising before you hire professional help. Learning to revise your work is an important part of becoming a professional writer. Get rid of those extraneous words, the fluff that doesn’t say anything, the character who doesn’t advance the story. Consider every word, every sentence, every paragraph. There is no point in hiring a copyeditor to clean up work you may later delete in a revision.

Don’t pay an editor to edit your first draft. #editingtip #amwriting #selfpublishing Click To Tweet

2.    Don’t expect an editor to provide a service other than the one you’ve contracted for.

Your manuscript may need different types of editing help at different stages of your writing process. When you hire a developmental editor, you hire someone to help you with the big picture, not small details like punctuation. When you hire a proofreader, don’t expect help with your story arc; a proofreader is looking at details (like that pesky punctuation the developmental editor didn’t care about). If you’re uncertain about the type of editing help you need, ask me—I’ll be happy to help you figure it out. I’m here to help you make that book, newspaper article, blog post, advertising flyer—or anything else that strings together those amazing, marvelous things called words—sound as perfect and professional as it can be.

3.    Don’t hire an editor to tell you what you want to hear.

You are the author, and you have the right to disagree with your editor. You always have the right to ignore his or her advice and reject suggested changes. But if you engage intellectually in the editing process, you’ll find your writing improves and your ideas crystallize as a result. Remember that your editor hasn’t lived with your ideas, plot, or character—and that’s one of the reasons why you hired him or her to work with you. It is difficult to be objective about your writing when you are so close to it, so really consider every suggestion—then discuss your ideas and concerns, and make your editor your partner in creating the very best work you are capable of writing.

My love affair with words is the best tool in your arsenal as a published author. You came up with fantastic ideas, and I’ll help you make sure they come across the way you want them to. I love words, and I’d love to play with yours. Email me at cyjohnson5580@gmail.com, and let’s discuss how I can help you.

Happy Writing!

—Candace

 

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Related articles:

Copyediting or Proofreading: 5 Steps to Determine What You Need

copyediting or proofreadingIn the past few weeks I’ve received queries from several writers about my editing services. “How much do you charge to edit a 110,000 word novel?” and “What will it cost to copyedit my nonfiction book. It’s about 300 pages.”

These seem like perfectly reasonable questions, don’t they? The problem for me, as an editor, is that they are too vague. Editing is a very broad term that covers every function from development through line editing to proofreading—soup to nuts in editorial services, so to speak.

When you’re on a budget (and really, who isn’t?), it’s important to plan for your upcoming expenses. Your editorial budget should not be an exception! All writers who publish—traditionally or through self-publishing—are going to have to buy some level of editorial services. When you plan to seek an agent or query publishers directly, you should use at least one professional editor before you submit. In the case of self-publishing, the responsibility for editing falls entirely on your shoulders, and you may want to seriously consider a wider range of editorial services before your work goes live. You might need several different types of editing (at various stages of the project) before a final proofread. The hard part is knowing what editing service to ask for. Continue reading “Copyediting or Proofreading: 5 Steps to Determine What You Need”

Beware of Snake-Oil Salesmen in the Editing Biz

In the past week I came across two websites that offer unusual editing services. Unusual isn’t bad, but in these particular cases, unusual is definitely NOT good for authors.snake-oil

One of these companies is 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 chances of having a professional edit your work are 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. And it is no substitute for professional editing or proofreading.

“Oh, come ON, Candace,” I can hear you say, “I’ll still get editing, plus I can save hundreds of dollars on editing costs.” Continue reading “Beware of Snake-Oil Salesmen in the Editing Biz”

Meet Two Winning Bloggers!

ID-10099757As I mentioned in my post announcing the drawing for FREE EDITING, I love to start each day by reading other bloggers’ posts and anything related to writing and publishing. I usually find at least one gem to post on my Facebook page, and I love sharing with all of you.

I wanted to encourage more people to “like” my Facebook page, and I also wanted to thank those who are already followers, so I decided to give away FREE EDITING to someone from each group.

And now, I’m excited to announce the winners of both drawings! Continue reading “Meet Two Winning Bloggers!”

When Your Character Is “Reaping Havoc,” You NEED an Editor!

I have a client who self-published her book last fall. Three months later, she pulled it from sale. Why in the world would someone do that? Well, frankly, because she made a huge mistake: she published without editing.copyedit photo

This writer spent four years crafting her memoir. She’s an educated, articulate woman. Here’s what happened when she thought she was ready to publish:

A year ago, I subscribed to an editorial service and found myself having to work twice as hard un-doing what they had done—mostly because the foreign words were consistently converted by spell-check. I decided to abandon the project, and then spent hundreds of hours editing and re-editing this manuscript before publishing it.  While I received copious compliments about my writing, I was reminded that no one should ever publish a book without an editor. There were some punctuation errors and spelling mistakes; e.g., “weak” when I meant “week,” etc. That was when I decided to have someone proofread the manuscript.”

That’s when she found a professional freelance editor—me. Over the course of several e-mails, several phone calls, and several days, we discussed what she thought she needed, what I thought she needed, and how we each imagined the process might proceed. I offered to do a sample edit of several pages to show her what I believed would improve her book.

Here are just a few of the things I found in those sample pages: one of her characters was “reaping havoc,” her lover “raptured me in ecstasy,” and something important happened “eventually, in less than a few days.” Virtually every voice tag was “said,” she used semicolons like commas, and there are very few paragraphs that don’t include multiple (and incorrect) ellipses.

If she had hired a professional copyeditor, or even a professional proofreader before she published, this author would have saved herself a great deal of time, anxiety, and money.

A few days ago, I read a very informative Huffington Post guest blog by Mark Coker, the founder of e-book distributor Smashwords. Titled “21 Book Publishing Predictions for 2013: Indy Ebook Authors Take Charge,” it is a thoughtful examination of how Coker views the near future of the publishing—traditional, independent, self, print, and e-book. There is a lot of material covered in his blog, which you can read here in its entirety.

Prediction #14 is the one that really caught my eye:

 In the self-publishing gold rush, more money will be made in author services than in book sales.

This means writers must invest time and talent in their books, and if outside talent is required, it usually costs money. With this burgeoning demand for professional publishing services, thousands of service providers will open up virtual author services shops in 2013. The challenge for writers is to procure the highest quality services at the lowest cost. Plenty of scamsters and over-priced service providers will be standing by to help.”

So how do authors protect themselves from “service providers” who charge exorbitant fees for “editing services”? Coker’s suggestion:

Work directly with the individual providing your service. When you hire professionals (cover artist, editor, proofreader, marketing pro), hire the professional directly, so your money goes straight to them, and not to some author services firm who will farm the job out to someone then mark up the fee several-fold.”

Don’t be like my client and pay for editing that isn’t editing at all. There are many talented professional freelancers out there—do yourself a favor before you push “send” and:

  • Ask other authors for references. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to find a service provider, and finding an editor is no exception. Don’t trust just any service you find on the web. Check out websites, do a phone interview with prospective editors, and ask for both references and a sample edit. The relationship between an author and an editor is like a marriage: it can only be successful if there is good communication. You put your soul into your writing, and you deserve an editor who respects that.
  • Discuss the mechanics of the editing or proofreading process. Every editor works a little differently and, as the author, you have to be comfortable with the process, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, and speak up if something doesn’t sit right with you. If an editor is too busy for your questions, you probably won’t find the level of support you need and deserve with that person.
  • Remember that as the author, you are the boss. I find many writers fear a heavy-handed editor will change everything so they err on the side of doing nothing. Your mom or your best friends are not going to be totally honest with you, but a professional editor is. Consider every suggestion carefully, and again, don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation.

If Mark Coker is correct in his predictions, your work-in-progress will be ready for publication during a time that is publishing-friendly. Whether your goal is to get a publishing contract or to self-publish, make it your mission to find the perfect partner—a freelance editor—who is familiar with your genre, has impeccable references, and with whom you connect on a personal level. Chat on the phone, get a sample edit, correspond with his or her references, and then make a decision that will propel your writing to the next level.

Happy Writing!

—Candace

Related articles:

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Copyediting

Image courtesy of acclaimclipart.com

This is the second installment of an occasional series about freelance editing services. I wrote previously about developmental editing; this time I’ll share some thoughts on copyediting (sometimes spelled copy editing), the second of three vital steps in the editing process.

So what is a copyeditor, and why do you need one? An article on About.com puts it succinctly: “Copy editors are the grammatical gatekeepers, so to speak, of the media world. They read over stories—or, as the content is called in industry terms, ‘copy’—and check for everything from typos to errant commas.”

Copyediting is more than just checking to be sure a writer follows grammar rules. The copyeditor’s task is to finesse a writer’s prose so that it observes all the conventions of good writing, and also verifies proper syntax, word choice, spelling, punctuation, adherence to the publisher’s style guide or outside guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. In addition, the copyeditor checks to be sure the text flows and is accurate and clear, checks basic facts, flags potential legal issues, and as another blogger writes, “copyediting is like pulling out your magnifying glass to look at the small details of the writing. Copyeditors look at each paragraph, each sentence in that paragraph and further still, each word in the sentence.”

(For those of you paying attention, the quote above has an error that should have been caught by the copyeditor—if you see it, please leave the answer in “Comments”—and no peeking at other people’s answers! I’ll post the correct answer in my next blog.)

As the book packaging professionals at The Book Couple (http://www.thebookcouple.com) put it, “A good copyeditor brings a renewed sense of objectivity to the project, which is important for pinpointing any remaining issues that the author and [project] editor are too close to see.” In the first step of the editing process, the developmental editor looked at “big picture” issues, but the copyeditor is more concerned with line-by-line details. Here are a few examples of issues a copyeditor will flag:

“His belligerence would express itself if the child hesitated or resisted in any way.”

(The problem: belligerence doesn’t express itself, belligerence is something that is expressed by someone. This is an example of passive writing, and is a common error a copyeditor will note and correct.)

“I had a lady who was a teacher and she was profoundly ill.”

(First problem: “I had a lady” is nonsensical. This should be rephrased as “I had a female patient.” Second problem: there are two independent clauses in this sentence that should be separated by a comma: “I had a lady who was a teacher” comma “and she was profoundly ill.” Or better yet, “I had a female patient who was profoundly ill,” which is a more sophisticated way of stating these facts and more in line with the overall professional tone of this manuscript.)

Please subscribe to this blog for weekly examples of common errors and how to correct them. You’ll learn a lot, I promise!

There are numerous ways a writer can and should self-edit; when an article, manuscript, or web content is submitted for publication, the writer should always try to have it as free from error as possible. But none of us can be experts are everything, and no matter how well written a manuscript is, it often needs more help than what another writer or a friend can offer. Writers are often amazed at the amount of help a good editor offers; published authors who have already been through the process understand how valuable an editor is to the success of their work.

If you have a great idea but don’t know how to organize it into a book or article, or if you’ve written a draft and want to be sure it is well-ordered and doesn’t drift off somewhere it shouldn’t, or you have a web post due and you’re a little rusty about all those grammar rules, consider hiring a professional freelance editor. A professional editor has an objective viewpoint and will be honest with you about the many ways you can improve your manuscript—yes, even when you think it’s perfect, you’ll be surprised at the things an editor will suggest that never occurred to you.

And the best advice of all: find an editor who will work as your partner to help you say it the way you mean it.

—Candace

 

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

Image courtesy of acclaimclipart.com

Writers are often too close to their own writing to be objective. After spending hours trying to get a concept or dialogue “just right,” it is difficult to know what should stay and what should be cut. Even after you’ve self-edited, had your friends critique your work, and perhaps even asked a friend who is an English teacher to take a look, an objective and professional opinion from a professional freelance editor is the best way to identify what is and isn’t working.

No matter how well written a manuscript is, it needs more than what another writer or a friend can offer. Writers are often amazed at the amount of help a good editor offers; published authors who have already been through the process understand how valuable an editor is to the success of their work.

If you have a great idea but don’t know how to organize it into a book or article, or if you’ve written a draft and want to be sure it is well-ordered and doesn’t drift off somewhere it shouldn’t, consider hiring a professional freelance editor. A professional editor has an objective viewpoint and will be honest with you about the many ways you can improve your manuscript—yes, even when you think it’s perfect, you’ll be surprised at the things an editor will suggest that never occurred to you.

Scott Norton, an editor at the University of California Press and author of the first full-length handbook ever published on the subject of developmental editing, writes: “For our purposes, developmental editing denotes significant structuring or restructuring of a manuscript’s discourse. The DE’s role can manifest in a number of ways. Some “big picture” editors provide broad direction by helping the author to form a vision for the book, then coaching the author chapter by chapter to ensure that the vision is successfully executed. Others get their hands dirty with the prose itself, suggesting rewrites at the chapter, section, paragraph, and sentence levels. This hands-on approach is sometimes called substantive editing or line editing.

This important function is not meant to replace self editing; whether you engage an editor before or after you begin writing, developmental editing is synonymous with The Big Picture. Norton goes on to say:

“From this perspective, stylistic intervention alone is not ‘developmental.’ To be sure, there are cases in which a manuscript’s organization is sound but the tone so pervasively wrong that virtually every sentence must be recast. Severe as these problems of tone may be, they can usually be handled by a high-powered copyeditor—and those that can’t are beyond the reach of editing, requiring instead the hand of a ghostwriter or coauthor. Nevertheless, most manuscripts with structural problems have stylistic lapses as well, and DEs are often asked to fix both kinds of problems. . . .”

Developmental editing (also called substantive editing, heavy line editing, structural editing, or book doctoring) is the first step for many authors on their way to having their work published. If you are a first-time author, don’t make the expensive mistakes by hoping an agent or publisher will share your vision, even if your manuscript isn’t in top shape. Do your research and find an editor who will work as your partner to help you say it the way you mean it.

—Candace