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.
Whether or not you are part of the Apple world, you’re probably aware by now of the new iOS app called Grammar Snob. Articles about it abound; for a mere $0.99 you can correct errors in your friends’ iMessages like a boss.
When I read the first reports about the app, I had mixed feelings: on one hand, anything that might help writers learn the difference between there, their, and they’re has to be a good thing, right? But on the other hand, Continue reading “Grammar Shaming for Just $0.99”
If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, you’ve received this notification:
In my case, it’s been four years since I began sharing on WordPress. Like many bloggers, I had great intentions and planned to blog frequently … and those great intentions often went out the window when life got in the way. For some people, blogging slows down because they run out of things to write about. Anyone who has worked with me and has received one of my epistles will tell you that finding something to write about isn’t usually a problem for me. 😉 Continue reading “Four Years of Putting Myself Out There in Cyberspace: Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me!”
Most writers and editors live on their computers, tablets, and smartphones. Even those who prefer to write or edit longhand often transfer their work to an electronic medium at some point in the process. When things go wrong with electronics, we writers and editors are not happy campers.
As a freelance editor, I probably do 95 percent of my work on screen. It’s faster than editing longhand, and it has the added bonus of saving a tree (printing out a full-length book requires 300–400 pieces of paper). There’s also the instant gratification of working via tracked changes, which allows both the writer and the editor to see suggested edits and then decide which to accept and which to reject. (For more about tracked changes, check out The Shock: How to Survive Your First Round of Editing.)
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.
Have you ever been engrossed in a great story and suddenly stopped short to ask yourself what the writer is referring to when “it” appears? Here’s an example:
“Sue and Mary found six dresses to try. It fit and was in her price range.”
What is “it,” exactly? In the context of the sentence above, “it” is used as a pronoun, and illustrates a common (and avoidable) writer mistake:
A quick grammar review: Pronouns are a useful part of speech that give writers greater flexibility in naming schemes. Instead of using and reusing a noun, the substitution of a pronoun allows for a type of shorthand. For example, instead of writing, “The moment John walk into the store, John realized John had forgotten John’s wallet at home” (pretty clunky, huh?), this sentence becomes, “The moment John walked into the store, he realized he had forgotten his wallet at home.”
Personal pronouns are fairly straightforward. Most of us use I, he, she, they, him, her, them, his, hers, and theirs properly . . . but “it” often present unique problems for writers.
When I invited author Kristen Otte to share her experience of working with her editor (that would be me—*waves*), she graciously accepted. I’ve been lucky enough to edit three of Kristen’s books: The Adventures of Zelda: The Second Saga, The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach (coming soon), and The Photograph, which releases today.
As an editor I’m used to being invisible in the final product, but as Kristen writes, I am anything but when a manuscript comes to me for editing and I get my red pen out. Kristen is a dream author from an editor’s point of view: she is receptive to suggestions, thoughtful in her approach to edits, and eager to put what she learns into practice. At this rate, I may be out of a job in another book or two! 😉
Here is Kristen’s take on working with me . . . and a few comments from my side of the table:
It was nerve-wracking when I sent my first manuscript to an editor. I knew my novel was far from perfect, and I needed an editor to clean up the flaws. But it still wasn’t easy to send the manuscript away. It took me over a year to write and revise my first novel. I poured my heart and soul into the project, and the editor was one of the first people to read the entire novel. [ED: I’m a writer, too, and I understand just how difficult it is to send your “baby” out into the world.] The good news is that even though the editing process was nerve-wracking, I survived my first edit. From my experience, I compiled a few tips to help you survive your first edit.
Anyone who writes knows how much work it is—in fact, the better the writing, the more likely that writer has spent many hundreds—even thousands—of hours working to hone his or her skills. Yet, no matter how experienced the writer, one skill in particular that must be honed (but is often undervalued) is the ability to learn from constructive criticism. Unless your writing is hidden away under lock and key, you need a thick skin: as a writer, you need to learn how to deal with feedback.
Writing requires a set of skills that took you years to perfect. Many skills I use in my work as a freelance editor are skills I have honed over the years, too. In Part I of this series, I discussed Research, Observation, and Brevity as they relate to the editing work I do for authors. Today I’ll like to talk about Accuracy and Honesty, two personal attributes that I consider important skills when writing and editing.
Many people don’t realize how much background work is involved in bringing a manuscript to publication. Copyediting (sometimes called line editing) includes fact checking, which can be a time-consuming process, especially for nonfiction work. Even works of fiction require fact checking; for example, if one of your characters plays basketball, I’ll check the spelling of terminology—three pointer or three-pointer? Consistency matters, too: If that character was 6’1” in one chapter and 5’11’ in a later chapter, I’ll bring that to your attention. As a freelance editor, I work diligently to be sure my client doesn’t publish inaccurate or inconsistent information, and that includes everything from the spelling of a corporate name (Wal-Mart or Walmart?) to correct citations (Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source for citations, by the way).
Fitting hand-in-glove with accuracy is honesty. Sadly, sometimes writers don’t understand their obligation to cite an idea that came from somewhere else, and instead they write as though a concept is their own, original idea, or worse, they copy a phrase or paragraph and change a few words here and there to “make it their own.” If you don’t know how to properly present someone else’s words or ideas, I can help you do so.
I’ve been blogging tips for writing a nonfiction book proposal, and here we are at the last step. As we’ve been discussing, the purpose of a nonfiction proposal is to sell an agent or editor on the concept of your book. Writing a nonfiction book proposal is all about marketing yourself, your writing, and your idea. Each section of your proposal answers the questions, “Why will this book stand out in a sea of other books about this subject?” and “Why are you are the perfect author to write this book?”