Archive | March 2013

One of the thing discussed in last evening’s local author’s meeting at our library was the necessity of developing a thick skin. Kristen is absolutely right.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Being a writer is great fun. We are storytellers and we love entertaining people. The new paradigm is AWESOME. Suddenly, if you want to publish your work, you can. We no longer have to go the traditional route and self-publishing is certainly an option. Yet, we MUST be careful. Our product should be AS GOOD as anything out of NY. I see a lot of writers who rush to publish when they aren’t ready.

They don’t have a core story problem, or don’t yet properly understand the role of antagonists and how to use them. Many don’t yet grasp narrative structure or POV. There is A LOT that goes into writing a novel a reader will enjoy. Just because we made As in English doesn’t automatically qualify us to create a work of 60,000 or more words that can keep a reader riveted. There is a lot of stuff “behind…

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Editing: Expense or Investment?

Expense or Investment

Expense or Investment?

If you are an Indie Author you are no doubt still working your day job, and you most probably always will be. What you bring in from the job may scarcely cover rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, insurance, groceries, clothes, school, sports…

(Hint: Do not depend on a blockbuster to provide your retirement fund. Your chances of winning the lottery are greater in today’s market.)

Can you afford to pay for editing?

Can you afford not to?

OK, so you don’t want to take out a second mortgage but you are wise enough to realize that if you publish sub-standard work you will be reviewed mercilessly and may forever after have great difficulty selling a book. Credibility can be impossible to re-establish. Readers have long memories. ‘Folks is fickle’.

How much editing do you really need? 

There is no easy answer. You cannot rush to publish if you want to do this well. Slow down. Once your book is ‘out there’ you must live with the fallout.

Every manuscript needs several edits. It is not possible for one person to do each type of edit simultaneously.

I know you cannot afford to pay for seven edits, so let’s look at what you can do to keep costs down without sacrificing too much in quality.

Write, rewrite, edit, condense, revise, and edit again.

Do this yourself.

Delete overly descriptive passages, slash and burn redundancies, don’t bog the action down with staging and scene setting.

Watch for inconsistencies, discrepancies, loose ends that are not tied up, especially if you are writing over long periods of time. You may have forgotten something significant that happened two chapters back.

When you think it is perfect, ask several people to read it.

Choose people who know an adjective from an adverb and who will be honest and frank, not looking to stroke your ego. Take their comments, criticisms and suggestions seriously.  Be aware that even English majors can have bad habits and therefore miss errors.

Adjust and rewrite. Yes. Again.

Have the manuscript as clean and polished as possible.

When it is as sharp as you can make it the time has arrived to shop for an editor.

Contact several. Ask other authors to tell you about their editor. Check editor websites and don’t be shy about contacting an editor’s existing clients.

Rates are not the only thing to consider. Mutual respect is paramount. The two of you must be compatible. Your editor should care about your vision for your work while also being direct about what is not working.

This is where I must  speak only for myself. I don’t know what others do.

We will begin with a sample edit. I look over 2000 words of your work and determine if it is ready for a professional edit and if I think I am a good fit for the project. I have turned manuscripts down.

If we agree to go ahead, I charge a $200 deposit, payable by E-mail money transfer.

We agree on a start date. Sometimes I am booked well in advance, and sometimes you get lucky. Projects can wrap up ahead of the anticipated completion date, or they may unexpectedly become more drawn out. I use the word count to estimate the time required, but there can be other determining factors.

I will go through your work looking for obvious things first. Misused words, improper punctuation, spelling, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure.

This should be a separate edit, but I accept the reality that money is tight.

I therefore also attempt to spot poor plot or character development, things which don’t sound plausible, dropped threads which need to be tightened up. As I said, that should be a totally separate edit. Things can be missed easily. That is reality.

In my pricing structure, at this time, that first in-depth edit is all you pay for, but at $30 per hour you have another reason to do as much in advance as you possibly can. The more time I invest the more money you will pay me.

If there is time I may zip through it a second time before I send it back to you.

You pay your bill, and I send your edited document back.

Now what?

You will then go through all of my notations and changes. Patiently, with purpose.

You are going to have questions and I am happy to answer them. I do not work on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Invest time at this stage. Be scrupulously thorough. Go slowly.

Ironically, you will see things I missed and that neither you nor your beta readers spotted earlier. Are we having fun yet?

Then here is your bonus.

Once you have asked your questions and made the necessary changes, or we have discussed why you don’t agree with a change, you send the document back to me for a final proofread.

The proofread is part of the package. I used to charge for it, but unfortunately many skipped that stage. Mistake. There is more to find. I promise you.

Then you go through it yet again. Yes, I know, but if you won’t invest time in creating a quality product the only person you hurt is yourself.

To recap:

Have that manuscript as clean as it can possibly be, spending the time to alter, modify, clarify, rephrase, trim and tweak it before the professional edit. When you get the edited document back, do it all again.

Then after the proofread, repeat the entire process.

I am available to answer client questions right up until they publish.

Will it go to publication totally devoid of errors?

Not in the real world. (Be cautious if you find an editor who guarantees that.) But invest enough in yourself to give it a fighting chance. You are in for quite a humbling education.

We don’t watch television. I’m serious.



My husband and I gave up cable several years ago. If you work for the cable company please don’t hate me. If you work for a satellite dish company, no, I am not interested, thanks.

Money factored into the decision, admittedly. But so did the realization that if you put an alcoholic in charge of the bar, a thief in charge of security, the outcome is predictable. If television-obsessed people are going to overcome obsession they must first eliminate unbearable temptation.

I am an editor. That is not a secret. It might be considered safe to assume, then, that I enjoy reading books and would be expected to read for pleasure as well as for profit. To a point this is true.

Most people (generalizations are the presumptuous assertions of the author and may or may not be substantiated by relevant scientific data) want to do with their leisure time something as unrelated to their tasks while gainfully employed as is possible to find.  I read, on-screen, on paper, to earn a living. On my own time I don’t read newspapers or magazines.

I was dependent on radio and television for my worldly enlightenment. I popped movies into the VCR or DVD player; I can still do that, of course. We are both reading more and more these days and I have classics on CD as well. Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice and many others.

We have watched every movie we have multiple times. We have been shooting video of family life since 1989 and we have watched every Christmas, anniversary, birthday, fall fair, family gathering, move to a new home, birth or neighborhood event so many times we can now give you a verbatim blow by blow without having to stick a tape into a machine.

Reading occupies more and more of my leisure time now, however.

Eureka! I enjoy it. Oh, yes, I spot the errors; I am tempted to send out emails suggesting some educated editing would not go amiss ( I gained two of my favorite clients that way) but I am enjoying the plots and truly appreciating the gifted phrasing. There is more to reading than making a living. Who knew?