Tag Archive | Author

Spare your words, save your money.

Dollars and Sense

Dollars and Sense

Word Count

I see dozens of authors posting their daily word count on Facebook. I understand the sense of accomplishment and I know the precarious perch of self worth on which most authors are balancing. But volume is not necessarily productivity. Quality over quantity.

Editing Budget

Independent authors usually have day jobs. There are mortgage and car payments, daycare, food, utilities…red ink. It is easy to hope you can get by without professional editing, but if you ask a few who have done it and then had to eat crow while pulling their books down and reloading them after an edit, you can grasp the fact that you are much better off to do it right the first time. Which does cost money.

How much?

Please fix this permanently in your mind. Every word you use is a cent you spend. It doesn’t matter if your editor charges by the hour or by the word. Tightening up writing consumes time. If your editor has to do it for you, it will show on the bottom line. I charge a cent per word of your original word count. I just did a 2000 word sample edit in which I deleted over 500 dead-weight words. See what I mean?

Readers become bored quickly. Keep the action moving along. Don’t waste time and space with inner dialogue and musings in your characters. This is not a journal or diary. Don’t get bogged down in flowery descriptions. If it is not critical to the plot the fashion commentary is just so much bilge.  Details about decor are superfluous. Keep it simple.

You work hard for your money.

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Some people do shoot the messenger…

…or would like to. Blaming the editor is common.

Editing is my dream job; there is nothing I would rather do.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is having to deliver bad news. Or ‘much room for improvement’ messages.

The ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ messages are easier by comparison. The manuscript is not ready for a professional edit. End of story. An editor doesn’t invest time in the project.

Can this novel be saved?

The good ones, the ones with the bones of a good story  but with a number of holes or inconsistencies, insufficient or improbable character development, ah, those are painful. The pain is evenly distributed between editor and author, although the author doesn’t understand that.  The news that is excruciating to deliver is unbearable to receive.

We don’t want the author to throw the work out or give up on it.

The very fact that the manuscript is accepted and the edit is done is clear evidence that it is not a lost cause. It may need a major renovation but it can be turned into a solid structure which will stand the test of time and get good reviews.

Reviews

Bad reviews can be the kiss of death, not just for a particular book, but for every book the author has on the market. Bad reviews can stop new readers from giving the author a chance, even if the other books on offer are top-notch.

Reviews are not the only form of negative press that should concern a writer. With social media and the conversations that take place there, thousands more people than the few who may read a review will see a slam against a book or writer.

Editors get paid for the service they provide whether or not a book does well, so we don’t point these weaknesses out to line our own pockets. But consider what it is we are getting paid to do. We want authors to make money, too. You hire us as experts, for our knowledge and experience in getting manuscripts  market-ready.

While personal preferences affect the genres an editor may accept, the comments made on accepted manuscripts are not personal opinions. They are things which will damage your credibility as an author. Be careful about deciding to publish things that are not working based only on the opinions gathered from friends or inexperienced beta readers.

Editors are not executioners. We want you to succeed. To thrive. We are on the same team and you have a lot at stake.

 

Unedited version sent to the printer?

It can and does happen.

It has happened to me. If you ever purchase a book with my name in it, and suspect some gremlins have run amok through the printing-house, please contact me and I can clear things up.

I now have a clause in my editing contract which states:

5. SPECIAL CLAUSES

Other: Author is responsible for insuring that the FINAL EDITED DOCUMENT is the one sent to the printer or publisher and any discrepancy between said document and the final version the editor authorized is the sole responsibility of the author and in no way a reflection of the quality of the editorial work. (Please initial)  ______ 

That little legal escape hatch helps not at all out in book buying land.

Both the author and editor can survive this seeming fiasco. When we receive emails pointing out our ineptitude we respond with good humor. Nasty reviews don’t go down as easily. Sometimes all you can do is say ‘Oh well’.

Never hesitate to ask an author or editor if some unfortunate slip-up has occurred.

Do not just blindly assume that they are incompetent nincompoops. Any self-published author is only too aware of the cost of printing. Trashing the entire print run (“Off with their heads!”) only sounds like a solution to a lottery winner.