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)

What Can a Traditionally Published Author Learn About Promotion from Self-Published Authors?

I have an editing client whose book will be traditionally published. Her publisher took care of promotion with her earlier books, but she’s discovering that having a traditional publishing contract in today’s world means she needs to learn about book promotion—FAST!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici @freedigitalphotos.com
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici @freedigitalphotos.com

This got me to thinking about how similar her dilemma is to those faced by self-publishing authors: ultimately, she will be responsible for the lion’s share of promoting her newest book. True, she has some support from her publisher, but nothing like “the good ol’ days” of having a team assigned to help her. Her (small) publisher has limited staff, limited resources, and limited ideas. As the publication date draws near, she’s beginning to realize that the world of traditional publishing has changed. Continue reading “What Can a Traditionally Published Author Learn About Promotion from Self-Published Authors?”

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:

Top Ten Lists – Merriam-Webster Online

Looking for some fun words to add to your writing? Check out  these funny-sounding and interesting words:

Top Ten Lists – Merriam-Webster Online.

Here’s the first one:

#1: Bumfuzzle

Definition:

confuse; perplex; fluster

Example:

“Irish can bumfuzzle any team” – headline about the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” football team,Chicago Tribune, October 27, 2002

About the Word:

Bumfuzzle may have begun asdumfound, which was then altered first into dumfoozle and then into bumfoozleDumfound (or dumbfound) remains a common word today, but bumfuzzle unfortunately is extremely rare.


Read more at http://www.merriam-webster.com/top-ten-lists/top-10-funny-sounding-and-interesting-words/bumfuzzle.html#vYx8Hr1GF9tUJB1V.99 

What are your favorite words? Come on, don’t be shy, you know you have a few that you love to use when you can!

Happy Writing!

Candace

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Proofreading

proofreading
Image courtesy of acclaimclipart.com

This is the third installment of an occasional series about freelance editing services. I wrote previously about developmental editing and copyediting; this time I’ll share some thoughts on proofreading, the last of three vital steps in your editing process.

You’ve written your manuscript, you’ve self-edited, you’ve even hired a professional freelance editor to be sure everything is perfect. So if it’s perfect, why do you need to hire a proofreader?

As the author, you’ll receive a copy of the final page proofs (also called a galley) and are expected to review it for final corrections. If you are under contract with a traditional publisher, a professional proofreader is usually hired to check for errors in layout, grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, inconsistencies in style, cross-referencing of page numbers and other details in the manuscript, and to note any glaring errors. If you are self-publishing, you want to hire your own proofreader. Trust me, even if you were an A student in your college composition class, you want to hire a professional proofreader. Why?

None of us can be experts at everything, and no matter how well written a manuscript is, we all make mistakes—even professional editors and proofreaders do! Heck, I’ll admit that I’ve sent out e-mails I’ve checked and rechecked, and when the reply came back, sure enough, I noticed I’d typed “your” instead of “you.” It happens. Consequently, I have every blog proofread before I post it, because I’m just like you—I want my work to be as professional as possible.

As The Proofreading Girl puts it, “Arguably, the best reason to hire a professional proofreader is that typos, grammar gaffes and spelling errors, once printed or published, are immortal. Would you want a proofreading fiasco like one of these real-world examples to be your legacy?” Her examples include: “McDonald’s Drive Thru” and “Boy’s Department,” obvious mistakes that a professional proofreader would have caught.

Don’t let mistakes like these be your calling card! #writetip #proofreading #amediting Click To Tweet

Don’t let mistakes like these be your calling card! Even if you’re on a tight budget, hire a professional editor and a professional proofreader if you are serious about your writing. If there’s a will, there’s a way—don’t just depend on your software’s spell and grammar checkers and think “that’s good enough,” because it isn’t. Again, from The Proofreading Girl: “Realistically, it’s common for even good writers to struggle with pesky pronouns (who or whom?), apostrophes (its or it’s?), homophones (principle or principal?), and hyphens (well deserved or well-deserved?). It doesn’t help that programs like Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar Check can actually make things worse rather than better. While these features are helpful in certain capacities, they are not nearly as accurate or as skillful as a good proofreader. So, if the document is important, chances are that you should hire one.”

A professional proofreader is your last line of defense before your book, blog, magazine article, or proposal greets the world, so invest in yourself and your professional reputation by hiring one before you say “Print!”

–Candace

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