Category Archives: Editing & Proofreading

Ditching the website, still The Word Shark

Ditching the website

I’ve decided to ditch The Word Shark DOT com (and the cost).

Why?

Because most of my clients come from referrals or my blog, not the website. Most of the traffic on my website comes from “marketing professionals” and “sales professionals” who know the “sure fire way” to turn my site around and make a bigger profit.

Profit margin vs. website cost

Over the last few years, about 95% of the traffic on my website is from scummy, spammy spammers.

100% of my business comes from satisfied customer referrals.

Word of mouth

I don’t need a website. I’ve got a tribe of happy, satisfied clients to plump my pillows at night.

Still Shark

While I won’t be – officially via a website – The Word Shark, I’ll always be YOUR Word Shark.

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12 Comments

Filed under Branding & Platform, Editing & Proofreading, Social Networking

I’m experiencing a little Romance

RU_visitingprofessor

No, not that kind. Had you going there for a second, huh?

Today I have a guest blog as a visiting professor over at Romance University with Editing and Proofreading Tidbits.

I feel rather proud of this one – Romance University was named in the 2013 and 2014 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer’s Digest and in the 2014 100 Best Websites for Writers by The Write Life. 

Come join me over at Romance University!

 

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Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, My Guest Posts

Editor Spotlight with Sarah (Lingley) Williams

editor spotlight alvimannThe Art and Craft of Editing: Preparation, Selection, Satisfaction

Article by Sarah (Lingley) Williams, of Lingley editing services, LLC

I am ecstatic for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you about what I call “The Art and Craft of Editing.” I have been freelance editing for several years now; when people ask what I do for a living, I usually get one of two responses. “Oh, that’s awesome!” or “You do what?”

Often, those who respond with “You do what?” know what editing is, but have never viewed it as fundamental to life as it is. Editing combines the craft of understanding the rules of language, punctuation and grammar with the art of knowing how and when to apply or manipulate these rules for the overall benefit of the document.

I refer to editing as an art and craft because, unlike some things that are perceived as a science, it is based on rules and standards that can be learned and practiced by most everyone. To some, fluency with language and words comes more naturally than it does to others, but the guidelines are there for all to utilize and master.

As a published author, I know the feelings that accompany writing a document and wanting perfection. Our work is our heart and soul; we worry over whether or not every sentence is excellent, whether or not we missed a comma, and whether or not the content flows for the reader with the same fervency it flows for us. Our fear that we overlooked an error is real and tangible. I understand the value of someone else reviewing my work, but am afraid to let this part of me out of my grip.

Maybe you are living this daily struggle as you complete your document, or perhaps you have experienced these feelings in the past. For those of you just starting out, this scenario may be unfamiliar. Wherever each of you are, my hope is that this article calms your fears and gives you the necessary confidence to prepare, select and receive a satisfactorily edited document.

Preparation1546238_705099019514449_1626319815_n[1]

Your work is complete. Perhaps you have a three-page article, a fifty-page thesis, or a 60,000 word manuscript. You’ve read it over and reworked it. But preparing for an editor requires a few more steps:

1)      Let someone else read it; a friend, a colleague, a fellow writer

2)      Reread your work with a fresh perspective; step away for a day, a week

3)      Run a spell check and grammar check; double check formatting

These steps may seem mundane, but they are invaluable. It is embarrassing to receive your edited document and find that you missed simple things; it is time consuming for an editor to correct multiple findings of “adn,” “teh,” and double indents. Remember, time equals money and no one has limitless amounts of either.

Preparing your work for an editor is a crucial step, and one that should never be overlooked. While an editor exists to polish and hone, never should you deliver a sloppy document. As a writer, you should value the plethora of words at your disposal; there is no need to overuse uncreative tag lines like “said” and “thought,” or such lifeless dialogs as:

“Hi,” said Jane.

“Hello,” said John.

“How are you?” said Jane.

“I’m doing well,” said John.

As a writer, your work thrives on imagination, and the life of your work comes from your ability to create engaging worlds in which your readers can get lost. A piece of well written work captures the reader and leaves him or her hungry for more. What better way to hold your readers’ interests than delving into your soul and pulling out a spell-binding collection of words?

img-logo[1]Selection

Everything is as perfect as you can get it. You ask around for a reputable editor, or maybe even run a google search. Of course, you seek services that are timely, cost-effective and thorough, but knowing what you need will help you find what you want. It is important to understand what types of editors exist:

—Developmental Editors assist writers from conception to completion; he or she is there every step of the way, guiding you through the entire process

—Substantive Editors contribute to the whole picture, aiding with the structure and development of the document as a whole

—Copy Editors focus on the finishing touches; he or she finds grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, with attention to the overall flow and development as the author requests

After selecting the type of editor that best suits your needs, there are a few additional things to keep in mind:

1)      Is he or she willing to show you samples of his or her work? Are positive references available to you?

2)      Does he or she allow his or her own voice to over-ride the voice of the author?

3)      Does he or she have credibility? What is his or her education and professional background?

4)      Is his or her blog, website or professional profile typo-free?

Finding an editor is easy. Finding one that meets your needs, however, and delivers a service that reaches above and beyond, will be well worth your research.

Satisfaction

As a published author, I can relate to every step of the journey you are on, including the satisfaction that comes from receiving your perfectly edited document. As an editor, I cannot express the elation that comes from offering constructive feedback so that your document is a winning piece of literature. I take great pride in supplying writers of all skill levels with the guidance needed to reach his or her goals.

You hold a unique position as a writer; my hope for you is that as you pursue the journey of opening new worlds to your readers, you can shine, fly and reach the highest levels of achievement.

 

Sarah LingleySarah Williams is the owner and editor in chief of Lingley Editing Services, LLC. She holds a BA in Communication from Salem College, in Winston-Salem, NC. During college, Sarah volunteered as a tutor at the Student Writing Center, and interned as Assistant Marketing Director and Editor at Press 53. Sarah has been writing and getting published since high school, and has been a freelance editor since 2006. She currently lives with her husband in Arizona, where her home-based business allows her the freedom to enjoy the blue skies and warm sunshine.

Connect with Sarah on her website, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight, Guest Writers & Bloggers

Sinking my Shark teeth into Barbara Forte Abate

Barbara Forte AbateEditing Barbara Forte Abate’s third novel, Painted From Memories, was an extreme pleasure for me. Barbara is an incredible writer.

She took critique and suggestions well, and she also told me where I was off or just plain wrong. We have had a steady stream of correspondence going ever since, both professional and personal.

I now count her among my bestest of best friends.

With no further ado, see what Barbara has to say about getting The Word Shark treatment –

Cleaning up my mess.

Oh, this is fun!

And stay tuned – I’ll be assisting with Barbara’s Painted From Memories release day, Tuesday, June 24.

Barbara Forte Abate PFM

6 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Special Events

What do you expect from an editor?

DSC01710And what do you expect it to cost?

My last several potential clients strung me along for a while, asking questions, getting feedback and critique…

When I finally told them my fee, they all balked.

My fault

This is my fault. I should ask straight up –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

Full stop, wheels screeching

I’m changing my game plan! I’m going to stop wasting my time (sorry, but it’s true) on writers who know nothing about editing, the costs involved, or what they might expect from a really chop-chop-I-am-taking-an-axe-to-your-novel kind of editor.

Subscribers – can you help me? DSC01711

I have a few questions for you –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

No, you’re not having déjà vu – I typed those questions twice.

If you have been edited

What did you get for your hard-earned money?

Were you satisfied?

Was your previous editor not what he/she promised? (Please, don’t mention by name.)

What did he/she miss and when did you discover it?

If this feels icky

If you feel uncomfortable posting comments here on the blog, you can email me – karenrsanderson@midco.net.

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Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, Publishing

Writing is like baseball

DSC02103

Writing has been compared to many things: creating great food from a recipe, a long, arduous journey, a trip to the circus.

I once compared it to Family Court – The writing life is like family court only family court was more fun.

My favorite comparison is Vaughn Roycroft’s What building my house taught me about writing. A must read for every writer!

I was struggling with a short story while watching a baseball game (Go Phillies!). And boing! I realized, “Hey, writing is like baseball!”

The writer is the pitcher

Consider the writer as the pitcher – the dude on the mound. But the pitcher is not the only player on the field.

Long fly ball or an infield out

You pitch the ball and the batter hits it. It’s a long fly ball! The center fielder snags the ball, throws it to the cut-off man, the cut-off man throws it to the plate – runner out!

You pitch the ball. The batter hits it. The shortstop snags it, flips it to the second baseman, the second baseman throws to the first baseman. Double play!

You may have pitched the ball, but you weren’t the only player handling it.

Your pitching coach

Do you have a pitching coach – an expert editor? She/he tells you where the ball was dragging, where it was too high, where you lost control.

Your team DSC01384

Is the pitcher the only player on the field? No! The pitcher has eight other guys on the field with him and a load of other players in the dugout.

Think about all the friends and associates who follow your Fan Page, your beta readers, your blog followers, the people who allow you to guest post. These people are your team.

Looking good on the mound

Let’s not forget the uniform guys. The ones who make you look good when you go out on the field. Imagine what a book cover designer can do for you.

GehrigThe Iron Horse

Lou Gehrig played for the Yankees until his stellar career was cut short by ALS, now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gehrig played from 1925 to 1939 and made it to the field for 2,130 consecutive games. This streak was considered unbreakable until Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Jr., broke Gehrig’s record in 1995. Ripken went on to play 2,632 games.

Moral of the story…writing – and incredible baseball stats – is a long-haul sort of thing.

Don’t be an ass-terisk*

A few players are listed in the baseball record books with an asterisk. Why? They cheated to achieve their monumental goals (remember the writer guy who paid a few thousand people to write awesome reviews for his book?).

Let’s keep it simple – do not cheat.

See you at the Series

No player gets to the World Series by playing just one or two games. You have a long spring training and a long season ahead of you. And sometimes, you might have to wait several seasons to get the recognition you deserve.

So wind up, and keep pitching.

What other activity can you compare to writing?

6 Comments

Filed under Book Cover Design, Editing & Proofreading, Publishing

Editor Spotlight, by Darlene Elizabeth Williams

editor spotlight alvimannTips to Reduce Your Editor’s Fees

Thank you, Karen, for your gracious offer to guest post on your blog. It’s an honor to be part of your Editor Spotlight series.

I work primarily with Indie fiction authors (either self-published or published by small to mid-sized presses). Publishing as an Indie author is a tough row to hoe. Millions of books are uploaded to Amazon and Smashwords annually, with most lost in obscurity the moment they appear.

If Indie authors are to succeed, my philosophy is we cannot merely write novels equal in quality to that of traditionally published books, we must exceed those standards. The stigma of self-publishing is lessening, but it still remains.

An Indie author attempts to wear many hats: author; editor; proofreader; cover designer; formatter and marketer. An author can self-publish a book without engaging an editor, cover designer, and formatter. Likewise, authors don’t have to market if they are uncomfortable with the concept—but don’t expect to sell copies.

Indie authors can learn how to design covers and format their manuscripts for upload onto Amazon or Smashwords. There is a plethora of advice and instructions on the internet. Marketing? Again, there is no limit to the information available on social media for authors.

However, there is one essential category an author cannot effectively do themselves or learn by Google searches: editing.

Many authors assert they are best qualified to copy edit and proofread their work, as they are most familiar with it. In fact, this is the reason an author is least qualified. Writers often fail to catch basic typographical errors, misused word, missing text, incorrect punctuation, and awkward sentences because they are too close to their manuscript.

Editing places Indie authors in a Catch-22 position. If they hire an editor, will they sell enough copies to recoup the expense? If they don’t hire an editor, will readers pitch the book against the nearest wall and leave a one star review lamenting the lack of editing?

At the end of the day, all an Indie author has to hang their hat on is their reputation. That reputation is derived through written words; a fragile hook indeed.

These are three doable tasks Indie authors can undertake to reduce editing costs:

  • Firstly, run a spell check;
  • Secondly, self-edit a minimum of two rounds; and
  • Thirdly, ensure the manuscript is in the English version (US or UK) intended for publication.

Your bank account and editor will thank you.

After working with a number of Indie authors, I compiled a list of tips to reduce editing costs. I discovered these pointers are applicable across the board; every author—whether novice or experienced—has writing idiosyncrasies.

Word Over-Usage

A great online thesaurus resource is Wordsmyth.com. I keep it open while I write or edit. The following words and phrases are amongst the worst offenders for over-usage:

  • kid
  • with a smile, smiling, smiled
  • grin, grinned, grinning
  • small
  • large
  • old, old house, old book, etc.
  • young, young woman, young man, etc.
  • quickly
  • grabbed
  • peer, peered, peering

The kid quickly grabbed the small candy out of the large container in the old country-style corner market. The young woman behind the counter peered at him. He grinned and ran out the door. He sucked on the candy as he walked home with a smile.

That “that” May Not Be Necessary

Read sentences that include the word “that”. Reread the sentence without including the “that”. Does it make sense? Great. Delete “that”.

Modifiers

Modifiers create passive language and dilute prose sophistication. In rare circumstances they are necessary; otherwise, eradicate modifiers ruthlessly.

A list of commonly used follows:

  • very
  • quite
  • rather
  • somewhat
  • more
  • most
  • lessDSC02458
  • too
  • so
  • just
  • enough
  • indeed
  • still
  • almost
  • fairly
  • really
  • pretty
  • even
  • a bit
  • a little
  • a lot
  • a good deal
  • a great deal
  • kind of
  • sort of

“and” Conjunctions

The conjunction “and” is used ad nauseam. Reread your sentences with this conjunction to decide whether the “and” can be replaced with a period separating the two phrases into complete sentences or a semicolon.

Your writing becomes active and engages the reader. There will be instances where this conjunction is impossible to avoid.

Eliminating “and” conjunctions effectively removes a frequently over-used word: then.

I ate lunch with a dear author friend today, and then inspiration struck for the topic of this post while we talked about writing.

Punctuation

Exclamation marks are not substitutes for periods. The excitement denoted by an exclamation mark can be exhibited by the character’s choice of words or actions.

“This is the last time you pull this stunt on me.” Melanie slammed and locked the door. Thank heavens Jerry didn’t know about her move tomorrow.

If possible, avoid exclamation marks or, at least, insert them sparingly.

Dialogue

Our everyday conversations are filled with extraneous comments which, if included in a manuscript, bore the reader. As examples:

“Hey,” said the boy.

“Hey,” Tom replied.

“I’m Harry.”

“I’m Tom.”

—    or —

“Good morning, Susan,” said the Duchess

“Good morning, Your Grace,” said Susan.

“How are you today, Susan?” asked the Duchess

“I’m well, Ma’am. How is Your Grace today?”

“Well thank you, Susan.”

Are you asleep yet?

The colloquialisms below are littered throughout manuscripts—sometimes numbering in the hundreds. Unless this is in sync with your character’s background and/or current lifestyle, they irritate the reader:

  • Ah…
  • Hmmm…
  • Humph.
  • So,…—or—I am so excited….
  • Oh,—or—Oh…
  • Okay,…—or—…, okay?
  • yea (or yeah)
  • You know, or …., you know?
  • eh?
  • huh?
  • Well,…

Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags should be invisible to the reader. Punctuation is always within the quotations marks. The examples in the Dialogue subsection illustrate how to punctuate dialogue.

Studies show the reader’s eye skips over the word “said” to the name of the speaker. If there is a question mark in the dialogue, this alerts readers and they once again skip over “asked”.

This keeps the reader in the story, whereas using “called, replied, yelled, screamed, exclaimed, loudly, etc.” pulls the reader out of the story world. Characters’ words and actions best demonstrate emotion.

***

These tips are meant to assist authors with self-edits which, in turn, reduce editing costs. They are not intended as a substitution for an editor.

If you have spent months or years writing a novel, honor your work by ensuring it earns the recognition it deserves. Hire an editor that understands your genre and your vision.

Darlene Elizabeth WilliamsDarlene’s website is Darlene Elizabeth Williams. Drop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

26 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight, Guest Writers & Bloggers