4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your NaNoWriMo Manuscript

November is history, and so is NaNoWriMo 2016. If you’re like most NaNoWriMo participants, you’re pretty excited about ending November with 50,000 words—maybe you have the first draft of a novel, maybe only a third of a longer manuscript. Nevertheless, you’ve written a bodacious number of words in thirty days, and you’ve accomplished something pretty spectacular.

For thousands of would-be novelists, December means it’s time to start down the path to publishing.

Please don’t be one of those writers who rushes to publication. Instead, try these four ideas: Continue reading “4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your NaNoWriMo Manuscript”

Ask the Divas: Creative Dialogue Tags – Write Divas | Write Divas

Creative dialogue tags are a topic of some heated discussion among writers. Do you use them? I’d love to know if you agree with Jen Matera of Write Divas, who writes that “Creative dialogue tags can become a crutch for the author, and then they’ll begin to take the place of creative narrative.”

If you’re a fiction writer, you’ll want to read Ask the Divas: Creative Dialogue Tags – Write Divas | Write Divas, and I look forward to your comments below.

Happy Writing,

—Candace

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.

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.

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.

Why Writing Well Matters, Even When Your Product Is Free

Writing WellI came across a blog post the other day that I want to share with you precisely because the author is not a novelist, but she is a consumer–the type of consumer who might one day download your e-book.

In this post, Jill P. Viers writes about the overabundance of typos in a free e-book she downloadeda nonfiction book filled with information she says “is valid and fairly useful”yet the book is loaded with errors.

“Why Writing Well Matters, Even When Your Product Is Free” is a post every author should read. Remember: Your book is your resumé; you never get a second chance to make a first impression; save yourself time, money, and anxiety by making sure your book is the best it can be before you publish.

Remember: Your book is your resumé; you never get a second chance to make a first impression. #amediting #editingtip #writers Click To Tweet

*****

I am reading an ebook that I picked up for free when I signed up for someone’s mailing list. The information in the free ebook is valid and fairly useful; however, the free ebook is full of typos and misuses of words. I’m not talking about one or two minor errors. I could get over that. We’re all human. I make mistakes, too.

Notice I keep pointing out that this was a free ebook? There’s a reason, and it’s not an attempt to keyword stuff this post. Some people would ask me, “Why are you complaining about the typos when you got the book for free?”

Here’s the answer: Because I’m still investing my time into reading this ebook. If the author didn’t care enough to proofread, yet this is the author’s “sales pitch” or “can’t miss giveaway” that’s supposed to make me want to hire the author in the future, it’s ultimately a fail for me.”

Read more here.

Happy Writing!

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!

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3 Ideas for Better Writing

From Candace: Here is some great advice about writing from fellow blogger Oliver at Literature and Libation. I hope you’ll check out some of his other posts–you’ll be glad you did!

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Editor! Or Do I?

Your novel/memoir/nonfiction book is complete—congratulations! Now you’re ready to send it off to a literary agent or publisher, right?photo

Whoa, slow down a minute!

Your very first step is to self-edit your work. There are websites and blogs that can help you with a step-by-step plan to go through your work and clean it up, but how you go about this isn’t as important as actually doing it. Read your work out loud, print it out and read it again, be ruthless in deleting unnecessary words, and have a detective’s sensibilities about looking at every word, sentence, and paragraph from every imaginable angle. Check out my blogs about common grammar mistakes for additional help (links are on the right). If you work best with a formal plan, I’ve listed a few links below that have some helpful info. Continue reading “I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Editor! Or Do I?”

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Copyediting

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