5 Tips for Getting a Book Published in Your 50s, 60s, or Beyond

Publishing contract

Is writing a memoir, novel, or self-help book on your bucket list? Does the thought of writing your story fill you with excitement? Whether you’ve been writing for years or are just beginning to nurture that kernel of creativity, your dream of seeing your name on the cover of a published book can become a reality.

Over 50 and wondering how to get a book published? Check out these 5 tips! Click To Tweet

Today it is easier than ever to make your publishing dream a reality. Whether you self publish or pursue traditional publishing, you need to think about more than just writing your story if you hope to be a successful published author.

Here are five tips for what you can and should do—beginning today—to build a following of loyal readers in the future.

1. Read. A lot.

The more you read, the more you’ll learn about the mechanics of writing, about story structure, about the standard conventions and what makes a compelling read in your genre.

If your heart is set on penning your own story, read some of the amazing memoirs that are currently on the market. Love a good romance novel? This is one of the bestselling genres today, but readers expect certain things to happen and will not be pleased if you don’t follow the “rules.”

If you plan to share your expertise in a subject you know like the back of your hand, your book will need to offer something unique. Read a variety of genres, but become an authority in the type of book you plan to write.

2. Create a Strong Author Platform

Your platform is everything you do as a writer that makes you attractive to a publisher. If you wait until your book is finished to begin building your platform, you’ll be too late. Publishing is a business, and unless your only goal for writing a book is to put it in a drawer when it’s finished, you need to approach your writing as a business too. A publisher wants to see evidence that you have the ability to sell books; a strong author platform is the ammunition you’ll need.

Begin building your platform now, so you’ll have an audience in place when your book is published. Think of platform building as a marathon, and spend a little time every week on platform-building activities in addition to writing your book.

Two surefire ways to jumpstart your author platform are to start a blog and engage in social media.

Blogging is an inexpensive way to connect with potential readers, improve your writing skills, and even test book concepts. Regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, blogging is a powerful way to connect you with potential fans while experimenting with writing styles.

Engage in social media to connect with other writers, readers, and ultimately publishers. Choose the media you’ll actually use and enjoy; you don’t have to master every social media option out there. Remember that the key word is social, so focus on engagement and sharing, not just on self-promotion.

3. Join a Writers’ Group

Writing can be a lonely business, and joining a writers’ group—either in-person or online—is one way to combat isolation. New writers can find inspiration and feedback from more seasoned writers. There’s also a great deal of incentive to write when you’re expected to present each week—sometimes that’s just the push you need to sit down and write when you might not be in the mood.

4. Attend a Writers’ Conference

Writers’ conferences are crucial to your writing and publishing education. Not only will you learn more about the craft of writing, but you may also have a chance to meet and interact with agents, editors, and other publishing professionals, learn about trends in the publishing world, and be inspired by the speakers and workshop leaders who share their knowledge.

You’ll come away with a greater understanding for how to market yourself and your book, and you’ll meet other writers who can potentially become critique partners.

5. Get the Best Professional Help

Writers are often too close to their own work to be objective about what they’ve written; even the most seasoned writers have editors to help them polish their writing. If you want to convey your message in the most powerful way possible, establish a relationship with a professional freelance editor.

Whether helping you organize your ideas (before or during writing), or fine-tuning details such as spelling, punctuation, syntax, and word choice, a good editor will not only help you polish your writing (while preserving your voice) but will also help you strengthen your writing.

A good professional editor will provide a sample edit to show you how he or she can help you, and to see if they’re the right person for you. You might even consider hiring an editor for your blog posts as a way to find one who “gets” you, and establish that professional relationship.

Seeing your name on a book is a thrilling experience! Set yourself up for success by learning all you can about writing and publishing, and I look forward to reading your book one day!

Do you have a book inside you waiting to be written? Which of these five tips do you personally plan to focus on? Which will you put to use right away? Please share your thoughts—and let me know if I can help you achieve your dream!

(This article originally appeared at SixtyandMe.com)


Candace Johnson 11 400dpiCandace 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, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Writing Fiction: #AmEditing Tips From @ChangeItUpEdit

Thanks to paranormal romance author Shonda Brock for sharing a Q&A about editing tips on her website. Please join us there to learn more about editing … and about me!


Please welcome Candace Johnson from Change It Up Editing and Writing Services.

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, and ghostwriter who works with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book publishers in both fiction and nonfiction.

We asked Candace to help us demystify the editing process for new authors. She also shares tips on how to find the right professional editor for your book.

Continue reading “Writing Fiction: #AmEditing Tips From @ChangeItUpEdit”

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”

Manuscript Editing Demystified

I was invited by Shonda Brock, author of the paranormal romance Eternal Traces, to help demystify the editing process for new authors as well as to share some tips on how to edit your book and how to find the right professional editor.

Shonda asked some great questions, including “What are your thoughts on authors using beta readers before sending a manuscript to a professional editor?” and “How much can a writer expect to spend to have an average length novel professionally edited?”, so please read on to learn more, and don’t forget to check out Shonda’s paranormal romance Eternal Traces!

How do you find the right editor for your book? #writers #editing Click To Tweet

1. You love words. What made you choose to be an editor instead of a writer?

Actually, I am both, but I especially love working with people and the words they write. Strong writing skills are important to be an effective editor, but there is also an intangible that a good editor has: the ability to hone in on what makes a piece of writing “tick.” I approach every project I work on as a collaborative effort between writer and editor, and maintaining your distinctive voice while suggesting and making necessary changes is a top priority for me.


2. Can you give us a brief description of your editing process?

With developmental or substantive editing, which is the “big picture” type of editing, I work with the writer to figure out what is and isn’t working with a manuscript. My first step is to read the manuscript all the way through, and I make notes as I do so. Once I have a feel for the writer’s voice and the story she’s crafted, I go back and examine every aspect of the manuscript to see what’s working and what isn’t. Is the story compelling? Do the subplots enhance the main story? Are the characters fully developed? Do the story arcs work effectively to compel the reader to keep reading? If I see issues like plot holes, unnecessary characters, weak or slow passages, or even chapters or characters that aren’t working, I bring these to the author’s attention, and I often suggest possible revisions that might fix that particular problem. There can be quite a bit of brainstorming with this level of editing, and I love the collaborative process of helping a writer improve her work, which ultimately makes the story that much better for the reader.

Copyediting is more detail-oriented, and is often called line editing. At this level of editing, I’m concerned with the mechanics of the writing: spelling, punctuation, and grammar faux pas such as correct and consistent tenses, sentence structure, and word usage. I’ll also point out lapses in logic or sequential errors, but this level of editing assumes that the writer has completed revisions to the work, so the editing is more about the mechanics of the writing than about the ideas in the work.


3. Most new writers don’t know where to begin or how to manage revisions once they’ve completed their story. What’s the secret to keeping focused and organized when editing a large body of work like a novel?

Every writer has to find the system that works best for him or her, but as a rule of thumb, the best thing to do first is put the manuscript away for a period of time; give yourself a chance to gain a little perspective.

Once you’re ready to begin revisions, I suggest running a spell check first and a grammar check second. Not only will you catch many of your mistakes, but you’ll also see some of your patterns of error, which will help you improve your writing in the future. But don’t automatically accept the corrections—software doesn’t know that your character is an uneducated bumpkin who is supposed to say “I’s good with it.”

The next step is to read—just read—through the entire manuscript. Take off your writer hat and become your potential reader. Pay attention to the characters, the flow, the plot holes, and make notes of things you want to come back to, but don’t begin revising yet. Go ahead and fix any glaring errors that jump out at you (like the spelling or punctuation errors that still remain), but try to just keep reading so you’ll have a good sense of what you’ve written. By the time you finish this read-through, you should be able to see what’s working and what isn’t and begin revising.

There are a plethora of software programs available to help writers stay focused and organized while they write and edit. The best advice I have is: stay organized and focused while you write and edit. Back everything up. Delete nothing (save it all in a separate folder—you never know when that minor character you decided to delete might make a great protagonist in another story). Whatever system you use, use a system so you aren’t overwhelmed with jumping around nilly-willy, which creates a whole new set of problems, especially with consistency throughout the novel.


4. What do you find are the most common mistakes writers make?

Most writers fall into a pattern of error that they aren’t even aware of. When we don’t know we are doing something incorrectly, we just keep repeating the same mistake. If you have a tendency to use dangling modifiers, for example, you probably use them quite frequently. The same can be said for comma splices, run-on sentences, and of course, punctuation, which is almost everyone’s Achilles heel. I was the queen of semicolons before I learned how to use them correctly!


5. Especially in this frenzy of self-publication, why is it important for a writer to hire a professional editor to polish their his or her manuscript?

There’s an old saying that “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is especially true in publishing. Professional, 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? At the very least, make sure you have your work professionally proofread before it is published.

When 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.


6. What are your thoughts on authors using beta readers before sending a manuscript to a professional editor?

I think it’s a very wise decision. Quality professional editing isn’t cheap, and any mistakes you fix or revisions you complete before you involve a professional editor will save you time and money in the long run. Beta readers can point out those patterns of error, those plot holes, those undeveloped characters, and by the time you begin working with an editor, you’ll be icing the cake instead of searching for raw ingredients to put into the bowl.

One word of caution, though: beta readers, your best friend, your high school English teacher—and even your editor—may have differing opinions about changes you should make. “Too many cooks spoil the soup” is a truism when you begin revisions on your WIP. Consider the suggestions that make sense to you, the ideas that respect your authorial voice, and don’t feel compelled to make a change that doesn’t improve your work. In the end, this is your story.


7. How does a writer determine whether an editor is right for their his or her book?

The writer/editor relationship is a lot like a marriage: communication and trust are vital to success. I encourage writers to do three things when shopping for an editor:

  1. Ask for references from other authors who have worked with that editor. You wouldn’t let just any mechanic fix your car; don’t let just any editor fix your words. Check the websites of editors you’re considering; I read one website for a “professional editor” that was filled with grammar errors and misspellings. Ah . . . no. And don’t be afraid to conduct an interview—you’re spending your hard-earned money, and you deserve the best!
  2. Discuss your needs and expectations with the editor you are considering. If you don’t know what you want or need from an editor, you might not end up with the editing you thought you were getting. You don’t even need to know the correct terminology—a professional editor can help you figure that out. The more specific you can be about what you want from an edit, the more you’ll get for your editing dollars.
  3. Ask for a sample edit. Each editor has a slightly different approach to editing, and one of the best ways to see if that approach works for you is through a sample edit. Blindly hiring an editor 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, so don’t hesitate to ask for one before making this important financial and professional decision.

When you hire an editor at any stage from development to proofreading, be sure you know what you want and need. For example, if you just want a professional opinion on a section that doesn’t seem to work after you’ve revised it several times, don’t pay to have the entire manuscript copyedited.


8. What credentials should a writer look for when seeking a professional editor?

First, in my experience, a good editor is intellectually curious, well-read, a good writer, and is compelled to edit.

Most editors don’t hold a formal degree in publishing or editing; while many have an English degree, that alone does not make a good editor. (I do have an English degree. )
Many editors (myself included) learned from working with editor-mentors, and then from hands-on experience. I have a page of testimonials on my website from authors I’ve worked with—not to pat myself on the back, but to let potential clients know that I’ve worked with authors who recommend my work.


9. How much can a writer expect to spend to have an average length novel professionally edited?

The industry standard word count for a page is a firm 250 words, so a 75,000 word novel would be 300 editing pages. (This may not be the page count of the printed book, which varies based on typeface, layout, and other factors.) According to the Editorial Freelancer Association (EFA), an experienced freelance editor can complete a basic copyedit at 5 to 10 pages per hour; a heavy copyedit is 2 to 5 pages per hour. That comes to somewhere between 30 and 150 hours for those 300 pages, depending on the amount of editing needed. That’s quite a range, I know, so let’s base our estimate on an average of 5 pages per hour, or 60 hours. The EFA’s suggested rates are $30 to $40 per hour for a basic copyedit and $40 to $50 per hour for a heavy edit, so depending on the amount of work necessary, that 75,000 word novel will cost between $1,800 and $3,000 to edit. You’ll usually pay more for developmental editing and less for proofreading.

Before you swear you can never afford to spend that kind of money, please remember these are price ranges. I base my fees on each individual project because every project is unique.


10. What advice can you give writers that will make the editing process less painful?

In my experience, the number one reason writers avoid using a professional freelance editor is cost. Shelling out money with no guarantee of a return on your investment is something that’s easy to talk yourself out of doing. So spend your money wisely. Don’t waste it by handing over a first draft and expecting an editor to “just fix it.”

The pain of editing only goes away when you work with an editor you trust. Invest the time to find the right editor, be sure you share expectations for what the edit will accomplish, and verify with a sample edit that the editor is a good partner for you. Establish a relationship built on solid communication and you’ll not only enjoy your editing experience, but you’ll learn invaluable skills you’ll bring to your future writing.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!

—Candace

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Can You Hear Me Now? Finding a Freelance Editor Who Listens

Whether you hope to interest a traditional publisher or you’re publishing independently, you know you need professional editing before you submit yourFinding a Freelance Editor Who Listens manuscript.

But how do you know if the editor you found is a good fit for you?

In my last post (read it here), I discussed how a sample edit can do three things:

  1. It show you a particular editor’s knowledge and ability,
  2. It helps the editor determine the amount of work your manuscript needs to make it as professional as possible, and
  3. It gives you the opportunity to see how that editor believes he or she can improve your book.

Erik John Baker (be sure to check out his blog here) left this comment:

I think it’s also important to find an editor who listens, both [to] the writer and to the writer’s voice.”

Bingo! We all expect an editor to be good with the written word, but it is equally important that someone who is part of your team is a good listener and honors your authorial voice. Let’s discuss the “good listener” part.

How do you know if the editor you found is a good fit for you? #editing #indieauthors… Click To Tweet

Continue reading “Can You Hear Me Now? Finding a Freelance Editor Who Listens”

10 Reasons You Need an Editor for Indie Publishing

There are many reasons why you should invest in professional editing when you are self-publishing; here are ten of them:copyedit photo

When Michael Jordan was asked how he became the best basketball player in the world, his answer was “I had great coaches.” And in the same way, great writers have good editors behind them. A good editor can help make the difference between a book that should be used as fireplace kindling and one that rivals any traditionally published bestseller.

Editing is a specialized skill set; just because someone can find typos doesn’t mean he or she is a good editor. When you are considering independent publishing, it’s important to gather a professional team that helps you raise the bar on your work and create a final product that is something you can be proud of.

Great writers have good editors behind them. #editingtip #writers #selfpub Click To Tweet

Here are 10 reasons why you need an editor if you plan to self-publish:

1. You are new to the publishing business.
The publishing world is in a transition, and whether you hope to self-publish and catch the eye of a literary agent or publisher or you just want to maintain more control over your product and your income, you should partner with professionals who know the publishing world and can guide you through unfamiliar details, such as the legalities of using song lyrics or how many words are “standard” in your genre.

2. You have a great idea but don’t know how to organize it into a book.
Experts in psychology or medicine, food, local history, and other unique fields often use a professional editor to help them shape their ideas into a salable manuscript that will appeal to lay readers. Memoirists often struggle to move their work past the point of sounding like diary entries; a professional editor can help focus your writing to create a compelling memoir that readers will devour like a novel. Fiction writers can partner with an editor to flesh out details and elements such as plot, characterization, dialogue, and setting.

3. You’ve self-edited your work and are ready to move forward.
Your friends, your relatives, and your former English teacher will all give you wonderful support and advice, but they’re not going to approach your manuscript with the eye for detail that an editor brings to your work. A professional editor’s primary connection to the book is through the manuscript itself, not through you personally. A good editor represents the eye and ear of the reader and brings a viewpoint that is often more nuanced than that of your supportive friends and family. Each time you return to your manuscript, you see it a little differently. Self-editing multiple drafts is something every writer should do, but returning to a work with notes from a professional is a way to maximize your efforts.

4. You have poured your heart and soul into your work, and it is difficult to be objective about it.
Even after you’ve self-edited, there may 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 or flat? Is your story slow to start, or does it move too quickly? You want your book to be strong, clean, professional, appealing, and affect your readers, and an editor can point out the strengths and weaknesses in your manuscript.

5. Your mind sees what it wants to see.
Your brain has a hard time realizing that “weak” is wrong when you meant “week,” or that you’ve received a “compliment,” not a “complement.” An editor will catch these details and find errors that go beyond spelling and word choices. Every writer has a personal pattern of error, such as using the same word too frequently or misusing semicolons, and those are errors you won’t even notice—but an editor will.

6. Grammar isn’t everyone’s strong suit . . . and even if you’re good at it, grammar isn’t the only thing that can trip you up.
If you unknowingly overuse pet words, or if your writing is wordy or repetitive, an editor will point out those errors. Spell-check and grammar-check software can actually make things worse instead of better. While these features are a good place to start, they are not nearly as accurate or as skillful as a good editor. And editing goes beyond grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. You want to be sure that no questions go unanswered, all necessary information is included, and, of course, that no libelous or inaccurate material is published.

7. You want to create a final product that is something you can really be proud of.
An editor can help you raise the bar on your work by giving you critical feedback that often will improve your work beyond what you might have been able to do on your own. This can lead to more positive reviews and help you gain credibility as a professional writer and expert in your field.

8. You’ll become a better writer through the learning opportunity of working with a professional editor.
Self-editing is an essential part of a writer’s craft. Working with an editor is a chance to hone and improve your own self-editing skills. Even when your friends point out mistakes, it’s not unusual to add additional errors when making corrections. An editor will point out inconsistencies, fallacies, prose that is too flowery, or areas of text that could be rewritten to improve flow, all of which help you become a better writer.

9. A professional editor will respect your style and voice while guiding you toward a final manuscript that’s even more “you.”
Authors are often worried that editing will destroy their unique voice; a professional editor not only respects your voice while improving the flow, syntax, and narrative of your work, but suggests ways to make small changes that will help you create an even more polished version of your work.

10. Your book and your professional reputation ride on the professionalism of your editing team.
An author who relies only on self-editing is like a physician who tries to operate on himself. And you wouldn’t dream of interviewing for a job without taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and making sure your socks match; how could you contemplate creating your legacy as a writing professional without hiring someone to edit your manuscript for errors, omissions, and weak writing? 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 find.

One of the best investments you can make in your career as a writer is to pay for at least one level of professional editing. Whether you choose to work with a developmental editor, a copy editor, a proofreader, or any combination of the three, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do this on your own. Skipping the step of working with a professional editor will compromise the quality of your work.

Originally published on Share Your Articles.

 

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.

 

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.

The Happiness of Working with an Editor

You write for many reasons, but whether writing is your passion, your vocation, or something you are just beginning to do, I’m willing to bet that you write because it makes you happy.

I love my editor!
I love my editor!

Think about the way you feel when you know you’ve nailed a page of dialogue . . . or your article is accepted for publication in a national magazine . . . or you’re offered representation from a literary agent.

H-A-P-P-Y!

These are the moments a writer lives for, aren’t they? Continue reading “The Happiness of Working with an Editor”

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