Writing as Therapy: Sci-Fi Romance TICEES (Book 2 of RIBUS 7) Now Available

Ribus Shae MillsI shared my excitement last fall over a sci-fi/romance manuscript I was lucky enough to proofread. RIBUS 7 by Shae Mills was a dream project from an editor’s point of view—a compelling story that had been revised and professionally edited, revised again, edited again, and was ready for proofreading before publication.

You can imagine my excitement when Shae wrote to tell me Book 2, TICEES, would soon be ready for proofreading. Like the rest of Shae’s fans, I was dying to know what happened next to Chelan and her alien men!

RIBUS 7 and TICEES were originally one huge manuscript (written to stave off postpartum depression; more on that below), so TICEES picks up right where RIBUS 7 left off. It continues with Chelan pitted against the Iceanean culture—her values and desires versus theirs. Where RIBUS 7 explored Chelan’s internal struggles and touched subtly on such topics as abuse, PTSD, and Stockholm syndrome,  Continue reading “Writing as Therapy: Sci-Fi Romance TICEES (Book 2 of RIBUS 7) Now Available”

Writing Through Postpartum Depression: Interview with Shae Mills, Author of Sci-Fi/Romance RIBUS 7

Shae Mills Writing through postpartum depressionIn my last post, I shared my excitement over a sci-fi/romance manuscript I was lucky enough to proofread a few months ago. RIBUS 7 by Shae Mills was a dream project from an editor’s point of view—a compelling story that has been revised and professionally edited, revised again, edited again, and was ready for proofreading before publication.

(Learn more about RIBUS 7 here)

In her first email to me, the author explained that she’d been working on her story for many years. That got me to thinking about everything a writer goes through to turn the spark of an idea into a concept for a book series, which got me to wondering about Shae Mills in particular: where did the idea for RIBUS 7 come from? How did she create the world her characters inhabit? Is her main character, Chelan, autobiographical in any way?

I decided to ask Shae Mills some of those questions; her answers may surprise you.

 *****

Candace: Thank you for agreeing to share some behind-the-scenes info with us, Shae. Where did the idea for this book and the series come from?

Shae: I have no idea to this day. I was an only child raised in remote locations, so I only had myself for company. I therefore developed a fertile imagination from a very young age.

Fast forward to my late twenties when my life was changed drastically by the birth of my first son. At some point as I mentioned above, I was sucked into the depths of crippling postpartum depression, and I had no idea what was happening to me. All I knew was that the world I had built for myself was crumpling around me, and I was powerless. But I told no one of my mental decline. I didn’t want to appear weak. No one had any idea of the distress I was in.

When my days began to revolve around planning a permanent way out, I knew I needed help. I finally confided in a dear friend and university colleague that I was losing it. He shocked me by admitting to also having issues with depression, and he told me that I should try writing. At that suggestion, I laughed for the first time in nearly a year. I had almost failed my first year English course—why would I write? Continue reading “Writing Through Postpartum Depression: Interview with Shae Mills, Author of Sci-Fi/Romance RIBUS 7”

Join Me at "Her Headache" for a Guest Post About Becoming a Freelance Editor

Becoming a Freelance EditorI recently met author Kerry Kijewski when she visited my Facebook page, and she was kind enough to invite me to guest blog at Her Headache. I invite you to join me there to learn a few never-before-shared tidbits about becoming a freelance editor and my personal philosophies. You’ll read about my involvement with the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise, how I began working in the editing field, why I left traditional publishing, and how I’ve dealt with, er, “difficult” authors.

How I began working in the editing field and why I left traditional publishing. #editing… Click To Tweet

Here’s a preview:


Most of the posts on my own blog are for writers about the writing and publishing, so I was pleasantly surprised when Kerry invited me to guest blog and answer some personal questions. While I’ve written about myself in terms of my work as a professional editor (as in this post), I haven’t written too much about my background or my personal philosophies. Kerry asked some great questions, so here goes:  

“I read something on your website about your involvement with the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I used to love those when I was a kid and always dreamed of writing something and having it published in those. What was your role?”

Like most people, I’d heard of the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise, so when I applied for an internship with their book publisher, I looked forward to learning more about anthologies in general and those books in particular. You can imagine my thrill when I was invited by to try my hand at writing back cover copy and catalog copy for several of the books in production that season—and my greater thrill when most of my copy was used!

During my internship, I tried my hand at many publishing tasks and found I was a pretty good proofreader. At first, I only did second proofs; a more experienced proofreader did the first proof pass, and I was the “clean-up” proofreader. After I finished my internship and graduated, I continued to work as a freelance proofreader for a year before I was offered a position with the same publisher as assistant to the managing editor. Over the course of those several seasons, I proofread several more Chicken Soup books as well as many others.

Several years later, the franchise was sold, and the publisher I worked for was no longer involved, but the editorial director recognized the popularity of anthologies (A Cup of Comfort was a popular, competing series) and lobbied for creating a series to replace Chicken Soup. That series became the Ultimate Books, and I was tapped to be the project manager for one of the first titles in the series, The Ultimate Teacher. Working on that first project was the epitome of trial by fire; I learned so much from putting that anthology together.

I continued to build on those skills over the next few years as I worked on several more titles in the Ultimate series and later began acquiring my own nonfiction list. The variety of jobs I handled and the skills I learned is quite varied, so I’ll save that discussion for another post, but suffice it to say I had quite an in-depth education.

“When did you start your own editing business and what made you want to try going out on your own?”

My passion has always been working with writers and their words, and sadly, the economics of traditional publishing caused my job to morph into something that left me little time to do that. My days were spent on 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. 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.

Finish reading the full interview here.


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!

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. Learn more here.

 

 

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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5 Reasons Why You MUST Hire a Proofreader

5 Reasons Why You MUST Hire a Proofreader There is an ongoing debate in the world of independent publishing about the need (or not) to hire a professional proofreader before approving your book for print. Some authors wouldn’t consider pushing “send” without first hiring at least one set of professional eyes, but it seems like many more still have a difficult time justifying the expense. I’m going to show you five reasons why the second group is wrong.

Continue reading “5 Reasons Why You MUST Hire a Proofreader”