Category Archives: Editor Spotlight

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

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.

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Editor Spotlight – April Michelle Davis

Article by April Michelle Davis

What’s the first thing you notice about a book?

Now imagine yourself in a bookstore. You are looking for a good book. What about a book is going to pique your interest to make you pick it up? Possibly the cover art, the title, or the author? What’s the next thing you might look at?  The opening lines?  You open the book to the first page, and guess what? The opening lines are boring; they don’t grab your attention and make you want to read the book. So you toss the book aside and look for a new one.

Now, image that you sent your manuscript to a publisher. The publisher does not have the cover art to look at and may have a title to read, but the marketing department will probably change the title anyway. So what is the publisher going to look at? Your opening lines. If your first line is a cliché, you will probably receive a rejection. If the publisher gets to your second line, but it is boring, you will probably receive a rejection. And if the publisher gets to your third line, but it does not intrigue, you will probably receive a rejection.

This is why your opening lines are paramount for your manuscript to be published.

So what should the opening pages of a manuscript do? There are four main goals:

1.      Introduce the story-worthy problem

The reader should be quickly introduced to the problem that will encompass much of the story.  This needs to be a problem that is important enough to the main character that it can sustain the entire length of the story. The story will probably include other problems as well that the main character encounters while trying to resolve the larger problem, and these can be introduced when appropriate, but the overall conflict of the story must be introduced quickly or the reader will begin questioning the purpose of the story.

In the Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, the reader quickly learns that the main character, Dorothy, is unhappy with her life. Throughout the entire story, Dorothy is learning how to be happy with what she has and that she does truly love the people who are part of her life. This is a classic man vs. self literary conflict occurring while Dorothy is trying to find her place in the world.

2.      Hook the readers

A suspenseful event should occur in the beginning of the story to hook the reader, and this event should be connected to the overall problem in the story that the main character must overcome.

In the Wizard of Oz, the tornado in the beginning of the story takes Dorothy away from the place where she has not been happy, so she should now be happy, right? Instead, she learns that she is not happier, but actually more unhappy because she now misses her family.

3.      Establish the rules

In the world the author has created, the rules need to be quickly established. They cannot be introduced  conveniently as the story progresses—then, the reader begins to doubt the story and  may even put down the book if it becomes too unbelievable. The rules can be anything the author desires, but they must be consistent. A story cannot begin in one genre and switch to another without the reader questioning the author.  If the author continues to perform unexpected surprises like this, the reader may set the book aside because the reader cannot hold any expectations for the story or the world that has been created.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is upset with her life. She expresses her sadness when she visits the wizard neighbor and other neighbors. In the movie, to further emphasize Dorothy’s sadness, she sings a song. It is a song that a young girl might sing to herself. She is not rapping or singing hip-hop.

4.      Forecast the ending

Many authors write the opening pages of the story last, and one reason for this is that the opening pages should forecast the ending of the story. The reader should not know exactly how the story will end, but the reader should know where the story is heading. Foreshadowing allows the reader to feel that the story has completed a circle If there is no foreshadowing, then the story has simply ended, but it does not necessarily feel complete.

In the Wizard of Oz, after learning that Dorothy is upset, hearing her song in the movie, and experiencing the strength of the tornado, the reader can assume she will find her way, but by then the reader is hooked on Dorothy’s journey.

***

April Michelle Davis

Prior to starting Editorial Inspirations in 2001, April Michelle Davis worked as an assistant editor at the National Society of Professional Engineers and a program assistant for the American Prosecutors Research Institute. Various degrees include a master of professional studies degree in publishing and a bachelor of arts degree in English. In addition, she holds the following certificates: Editing, book publishing, and professional editing.

April frequently attends and speaks at workshops, conferences, book festivals, and writers’ retreats and has been a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association since 2005, a member of the American Society for Indexing since 2009, and a member of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors since 2010.

April is the chapter coordinator for the Virginia chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association, and she is the chair-elect for the Mid- & South-Atlantic chapter for the American Society for Indexing.

See April’s website, Editorial Inspirations. Connect with her on Facebook at her personal page or her Editorial Inspirations page. You can also find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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I realize that not every editor/proofreader is perfect for every writer. I present the Editor Spotlight series of blog posts to help all writers find the perfect editor. The Editor Spotlight series will be presented throughout my regular blog posts and special theme weeks. – Karen S. Elliott

Editor Spotlight – Courtney Koschel

Editor Spotlight – Shonell Bacon

Editor Spotlight – Chris Eboch

Editor Spotlight – Heidi Thomas

Editor Spotlight – Shawn MacKenzie

Editor Spotlight – Wendy Reis

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Editor Spotlight – Courtney Koschel

Questions to ask When Hiring an Editor, by Courtney Koschel

You’re finished. The End has been written, and you’ve tweaked to the point that if you look at it one more time you’ll curl up in the fetal position with your hands wrapped tightly around your knees and weep.

After you’ve given it your best, you decide the next thing you want to do is hire an editor. If you Google “freelance editor,” a million searches will overwhelm you, threatening to send you back to the fetal position. Finding someone to work with can be a scary task. There are many editors out there with different areas of expertise. You’ll want to ask different editors about their specialty in order to pick the right one to work with on your project. Be aware that the different editors often use different names for the type of work they do. I’ve included those in this post. Here are some questions to keep in mind during your search.

  • What types of editing do you do? Like I said earlier, different editors have different areas of expertise. There are developmental editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders. Developmental editing (sometimes called content editing) is pretty extensive and comes before copyediting. This is when an editor will look over your work for the overall picture. They’ll analyze the characters, their motivations, the flow of the story, plot holes and inconsistencies, sometimes rewrite and restructure the work, and look for any other major big picture problems. A copyeditor (sometimes called a line editor) focuses more on grammar, style, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. and comes before proofreading. A proofreader is someone who looks for anything a copyeditor would miss. Their skills lie in looking over a piece that’s already pretty polished. They will look for grammar, punctuation, and misspelled words. All of these different types of editors are important, but make sure you choose the right kind for your project.
  • Do you have references? Most experienced editors will have references. Ask to see them. You’ll want to look at what their previous clients said about them, and note their strong points. Ask yourself if they match what you want for your project.
  • Do you edit my genre? Crucial question. You want someone who is familiar with the type of writing you do. Some editors work on multiple genres, and that’s fantastic. But someone who edits primarily adult romance may not be the right pick for your young adult fantasy, and someone who edits mostly children’s picture books may not be the right fit for your adult thriller. You get what I’m saying.
  • Do you offer a sample? A lot of editors offer a sample, even if it’s a small one (and honestly, that’s still generous. It takes me an hour to perform developmental edits and hard copyedits on 4-5 pages). I am highly favorable of this. This gives you the chance to see what type of editing the editor sees for your manuscript, and it gives the editor a chance to preview your work to determine what type of editing they recommend. Both are important. Once you receive your sample, go over it. Is your writing stronger? Were they thorough?
  • What can I expect from you? This is important for a variety of reasons. You’ll want to know what their communication style is like, what is offered with the editing package, how long it will take them, and how they go about giving updates on your work. Everyone has different communication styles. Some people prefer email, and others prefer Skype calls. Find out what your editor likes and decide if it fits with your style. The editing package will vary for every editor. Some will offer a consultation, others may not. Find out what is offered and decide if it’s best for you. It’s important to know how long it will take them because you’ll need to make sure the editor can meet your expectations or deadlines. I’m pretty confident that most editors are aware of how stressful the writing/editing process can be. Most are mindful of this and will give updates to make sure you’re comfortable with how things are going. Ask the editor when can you expect to hear from them. Will they contact you once a week? Will it be the same day every week? What will they provide in an update? Don’t expect them to take a ton of time to go over things they’ve done that week, that’s a waste of your money. Just ask them to check in, and maybe include where they are in the project. Figure out if this works for you.
  • How much will it cost? This one is tricky, and it will definitely vary. Some editors will be more expensive than others. You have to decide what’s best for you. The most expensive editor may not be the right one for your particular project. The cheapest one may be what you need. Just make sure you’re not choosing someone strictly based on price. As long as you’re educated in your decision, you’re probably making the right choice.

Make sure you ask these questions, and you’ll probably think of more. Like I said, the best decision is an educated one. Have you worked with an editor before? What questions did you ask?

Courtney Koschel

Courtney Koschel has been writing since she could hold a crayon, but now she writes fiction for young adults. She has a BA in journalism and a MS in environmental science. In the past seven years she has worked as a journalist, an editor, technical writer, technical editor, and freelance editor. She charges $20 an hour for copyediting and $50 an hour for developmental editing.

Links

Website

C. K. Scribes

Facebook

Twitter

***

I realize that not every editor/proofreader is perfect for every writer. This is why I am presenting the series, Editor Spotlight. If you know an editor or proofreader who would like to participate, ask them to contact me at karenselliott AT midco DOT net. The Editor Spotlight series will be presented throughout the next several months in between my regular blog posts and special theme weeks. – Karen S. Elliott

Editor Spotlight – Shonell Bacon

Editor Spotlight – Chris Eboch

Editor Spotlight – Heidi Thomas

Editor Spotlight – Shawn MacKenzie

Editor Spotlight – Wendy Reis

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight

Editor Spotlight – Shonell Bacon

Finding an Editor for Your Literary Baby, by Shonell Bacon

First, I want to thank Karen for allowing me to come here and litter her blog with some of my words! I appreciate it.

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts on finding an editor for your book.

Your book is completed. You’ve read through and revised as much as you can as creator, and you have formatted your manuscript according to traditional specifications (unless you are laying it out for publication).

What’s next?

Well, before you get all gung-ho and start submitting your book to publishers and agents, you should first send it to an editor.

Why?

Because as creator of the project, you are very close to the characters, the storyline, and all other components that make your book – in your mind – sing.

It often takes a second set of eyes – and sometimes a third set (or more) – in order to see spelling and grammatical errors, holes in plot, weak characters, etc.

First thing to ask yourself is “How publication-ready is my manuscript?”

The answer to this will help you discern if your book needs proofreading, copy editing, or substantive editing—to start. Below, I talk a little about each.

If you have just finished your book and are looking to have it edited for the first time, then you will more than likely want someone to conduct substantive editing to your novel. Substantive editing seeks to achieve clarity of subject, logic, and consistency. The development of the STORY is key in this level of editing. An editor will be looking for holes in plot, weak characters, development of beginning and ending, strength in dialogue—essentially those components that make your book a book. It doesn’t make much sense as an editor (or a writer performing self-edits) to dive-in headfirst looking at grammatical and mechanical errors. If the story itself is riddled with problems, a spelling error or a comma out of place means nothing. Once an edit for the soundness of the story is conducted, copy editing then becomes key.

When we look to copy edit, editors tackle the manuscript line by line, paying attention to small (yet oh so important) details like grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, passive voice, word choice, consistency of detail, spelling, and consistency of style. I like to refer to copy editing as the yin to substantive editing’s yang. Every story needs to be checked for development of the story and development of the words and punctuation used to develop that story. Copy and substantive editing provide this.

If your novel has already been edited and has been given thumbs up on story and on details, such as grammar and punctuation, and you have even formatted your book for publication if you’re going the self-publishing route, then proofreading would be your next hurdle before the finish line. Proofreading tends to focus on two things: 1) final check of spelling, punctuation, and serious grammatical errors and 2) problems that arise from layout, such as errors in headers/footers, page numbers, and widows/orphans.

Although there are some editors, like myself, who blur these types (I’m always, first and foremost, looking to develop the story, but I can’t help but to look at the minute details, too); it is important to know that you will probably need more than one edit.

Editing is an important process in getting your manuscript to shine; as a result, you should make sure you have your work edited more than once. In the initial stages, having a strong story is important; hence, you would look at substantive editing. As the “story” is perfected, you would look toward getting your manuscript copy edited, and in the final stage, once the manuscript is in layout form, you would seek someone to proofread your manuscript.

When you find an editor you’re thinking about using, be sure to talk with him or her before agreeing to have the person edit your work.

What kinds of questions could you ask?

1-      Do you have any clients/references that I can contact about your work?

2-      What is your editing philosophy?

3-      What is the process in which you edit and communicate with a client before, during, and after an edit?

4-      Do you provide a free sample edit so that I might see your work before making a decision?

This last thought has more to do with YOU than with the editor.

I have had people in the past come to me for editing, thinking I would have their book done within two weeks and they would be ready to send it out to be printed as soon as the book is in their hot little hands.

NEVER is that the case.

Here’s a drop of wisdom – you may have finished your book, but it’s not perfect…or as perfect as it can reasonably be.

When you send a book to an editor, prepare to have it returned with revisions (sometimes major) to be done. Editors do not write your books to make it better; that’s a ghostwriter, and s/he is paid a lot more money to write your book than we do to edit it.

Editors, and I’m speaking from my own experience, clean up errors and make a lot of suggestions. If I see a hole in the plot, I state where I see it and make suggestions on how to fix it. If I see weak dialogue, I explain why it’s weak and offer suggestions on how to fix it. If I see an underdeveloped main character, I point this out, explain why I think the character is underdeveloped, and offer suggestions (or ask questions) that can help the writer develop the character further.

The editor’s job is to fine tune, but most importantly (and specifically) the job is to help YOU make your book the best book it can be. We offer you the advice, suggestions, and tweaks that YOU – as creator of the work – can go back and develop to make your literary work shine.

Be prepared to put in the work needed in revising and don’t be in such a rush to have a book in between covers.

You’ll thank me later.

Shonell Bacon

About Shonell

Shonell Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, educator–everywoman. She has published both creatively and academically–novels, short stories, essays, and textbooks. In addition to her love of writing, she is also an editor (12+ years in the trenches) who loves helping writers hone their literary craft. She is an educator, having taught English and mass communication courses in addition to fiction writing. Shonell also finds the time to pursue her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

Links

Website

CLG Entertainment ~ editorial and workshop/coaching services

Facebook

Twitter

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I realize that not every editor/proofreader is perfect for every writer. This is why I am presenting the series, Editor Spotlight. If you know an editor or proofreader who would like to participate, ask them to contact me at karenselliott AT midco DOT net. The Editor Spotlight series will be presented throughout the next several months in between my regular blog posts and special theme weeks. – Karen S. Elliott

Editor Spotlight – Chris Eboch

Editor Spotlight – Heidi Thomas

Editor Spotlight – Shawn MacKenzie

Editor Spotlight – Wendy Reis

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight

Editor Spotlight – Chris Eboch

By Chris Eboch

If you’ve been in many critique groups, you might recognize the following characters.

  • The Grammarian. She doesn’t have a lot to say about the content of your work, but she’ll circle every typo in red pen and may insist you follow strict grammar rules that have long since gone out of date.
  • The Mouse. You can’t tell whether or not she likes your work, because she never voices an opinion, preferring to hide behind the excuse that she’s not experienced enough to offer feedback.
  • The Perpetual Beginner. This person truly isn’t experienced enough to offer feedback, and never seems to improve. This type can be divided into The Rut, who brings in the same manuscript over and over without ever making substantial changes (despite all your thoughtful advice) and The Hummingbird, who throws away a manuscript as soon as it’s gotten one negative comment, preferring to work on something else.
  • Father Knows Best. He always has an opinion, which he voices clearly and often. He prefers to discuss how he would write the story if it were his own, not the author’s vision.
  • The Bully. She or he (other characters are typically one gender or the other, but this one and the next can go either way) enjoys tearing apart your manuscript. No suggestions, just criticisms bordering on insults.
  • The Cheerleader. She or he loves everything you do! This is gratifying, especially when you are doubting your talent, but not particularly helpful in identifying weak spots.

All these characters have one thing in common. They don’t really help you improve your work.

Critique groups can be great. At their best, they are both a source of emotional support and a way to get thoughtful, detailed suggestions about your writing. If you have one of those groups, remember to say thank you (perhaps with hugs and chocolates). But most writers aren’t that lucky. Beginners in particular may find it hard to join a serious, experienced critique group, as often the best writers want to work with other professionals, not spend their time teaching beginners for free.

This is when hiring an editor can help. You can work with an experienced professional who will prioritize your work because it’s a job. If someone is paying me $400 to critique a novel, I’m going to devote my time to getting it done well and quickly. I’ll dig deep and be as tough – but helpful – as I can be. For example, I’ve critiqued a couple of picture book manuscripts that seemed excellent on the first read. But because I was getting paid, I settled down for a second and third close read, analyzed the structure of the material, and came up with several suggestions that I – and the authors – thought would make the manuscripts even better.

My novel critique letters typically run five or six single-spaced pages, with comments broken down into categories such as Characters, Setting, Plot (Beginning, Middle, and End), Theme, and Style. As much as I love my critique group members, I don’t have that kind of time to spend on them.

It’s tempting to stick with trading manuscripts for free, and you may get some excellent feedback that way. But there comes a time when you need professional help. You might ask a friend to help you bandage a scraped knee, but if you have a bone sticking out of your leg, you’re going to the hospital. When it’s serious, professional experience counts, so if you are serious about your writing, find professional editors.

When is it time to hire a professional editor? First, keep in mind that most successful authors do a minimum of five major rewrites, and many say they do up to 20 revisions. Assuming you don’t want to hire an editor for each draft, do what you can on your own first. Use some of the many tools available for analyzing your work. I developed my Plot Outline Exercise to help authors analyze their work for everything from conflict to character arc to subplot balance. The Plot Outline Exercise is available on my Kris Bock website as a free download, and it’s also in my book Advanced Plotting with more explanation and resources.

Other options are the Complications Worksheet or the Goal, Motivation, Confict, Tension tips on the Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing blog, and books such as Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon, and Novel Metamorphosis, by Darcy Pattison. Once you’ve dealt with the big picture and want to improve your style, I love Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

You can also get feedback from family and friends at this point. Don’t take their comments too seriously (family and friends can fall into the same categories as the critique group members mentioned above), but ask them to mark any place they were bored, confused, or disbelieving. Then if you have a critique group, let them tackle the work.

Your manuscript should have improved a lot, but still, consider getting a professional review before you send your work to editors or agents so you make the best possible impression. If you aren’t convinced you really need professional help, do a trial run, sending a half dozen queries out to see what kind of response you get. I’ve had several clients come to me after querying, getting requests for partial manuscripts, and then not having the editor or agent request the full. This is a good indicator that the idea may be strong, but the writing isn’t there yet.

And if you’re planning to self publish, hire an editor long before you start worrying about cover art and distribution. Start with a content editor who can help you shape the story. Finish up with a copy editor or proofreader who can make sure your work won’t annoy those readers who notice every misplaced comma. Indie publishing is great (I’ve explored it myself with my romantic suspense), but you’re on your own, so give yourself the same advantage that traditionally published authors have – get an editor.

If you’d like to know more about my editing work, stop by my website. I provide content editing for fiction and nonfiction for all ages. Novels are $1.50 per page, minimum $100. I write a 4-6 page editorial letter with advice on plot/character/flow/style, plus comments on the manuscript. Picture books, short stories or articles under 1200 words are $40.

Chris Eboch

Chris Eboch’s book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots and is available in print or e-book on Amazon or B&N. Learn about Chris’s children’s books at www.chriseboch.com or visit her Amazon page or B&N page. Check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog. Chris also writes romantic suspense for adults under the name Kris Bock. Visit her website or see Kris Bock’s books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.

Websites: www.krisbock.com or http://www.chriseboch.com for children’s books

Facebook: Kris Bock Author Page

Twitter: @Kris_Bock

Blog focused on the craft of writing: Write Like a Pro!

Chris Eboch’s profile photo by Sonia Sones.

***

I realize that not every editor/proofreader is perfect for every writer. This is why I am presenting the series, Editor Spotlight. If you know an editor or proofreader who would like to participate, ask them to contact me at karenselliott AT midco DOT net. The Editor Spotlight series will be presented throughout the next several months in between my regular blog posts and special theme weeks. – Karen S. Elliott

Editor Spotlight – Heidi Thomas

Editor Spotlight – Shawn MacKenzie

Editor Spotlight – Wendy Reis

22 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight

Editor Spotlight – Heidi Thomas

Hunting Down the ‘Pesky Pleonasm’ by Heidi Thomas

I learned a new term not long ago: Pleonasm.

Is it a murder suspect? A graffiti artist? A practical joker?

Turns out, it’s nothing quite so mysterious. A pleonasm is a word or phrase, which can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning. For example, John walked to the chair and sat down. “Down” is a pleonasm and can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Although I was not familiar with the term, I did know them when I saw them. In fact, part of my editing advice revolves around deleting extraneous words. Words such as “that,” “very,” “both,” and “there was.” Others might include “began,” “started,” or “continued.”

Here’s another phrase that nearly everyone is guilty of: “The sky held a myriad of stars.” Myriad means “countless.” So the correct use is “The sky held myriad stars.” (Simply substitute the word countless for myriad.) That eliminates two extraneous words.

And then there is the word “unique.” We are inundated with varying degrees of “uniqueness” every day: “That was a rather unique movie.” “Your story is very unique.” What’s next—uniquely unique? Unique means “the only one of its kind.” Unique is unique. It doesn’t need any modifiers.

I also caution to watch use of “ly” words. These words are often used to prop up weak verbs. For example: “She walked quickly” can be stronger if written “She strode” (or bounded or rushed). Likewise with the “to be” verbs (was, were, had been, etc.) especially when used with an “ing” verb. “She was walking” is better as “She walked.”

Some authors like to use taglines (he said, she said) plus an action: “…she said, taking a sip of coffee.” The simple action is sufficient: “She took a sip of coffee.” You also don’t need to describe two actions at once: She nodded and smiled. He puffed himself up and took a swig…

A writer friend of mine is looking at every sentence in her manuscript and challenging herself to remove at least one word from each. She has cut 14,000 words from a 400-page manuscript.

I challenge you to go one step farther: see if you can delete an entire phrase from a sentence, an entire sentence from a paragraph, a paragraph from a scene.

Hunt down and exterminate those “Pesky Pleonasms.”

Here is a handy checklist from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This is a book I recommend to my editing clients and something I like to look at for my own work every so often.

  • How many ing and as phrases do you write? Remember, the only ones that count are the ones that place a bit of action in a subordinate clause.
  • How about ly adverbs. Both tied to your dialogue and within your descriptions and narration.
  • Do you have a lot of short sentences, both within your dialogue and within your description and narration?
  • Do you use a lot of italics? We mean a lot of italics. And you don’t use many exclamation points, do you?!!
  • Are there any metaphors or flowery phrases you’re particularly proud of. Do they come at key times during your plot? If so, think about getting rid of them.
  • How much time have you spent moving your characters around? Do you cut from location to location, or do you fill in all the space in between?
  • How much detail have you included in describing our character’s action? Try cutting some of the detail and see if the actions are still clear.
  • Take a look at your flashbacks. How often are you interrupting the forward flow of your story? Do you have flashbacks at more than one level—that is, flashbacks from flashbacks? It you spend nearly as much time in the past as in the present, take a look at each flashback individually. If it were cut, would the present story be hard to follow?
  • Keep in mind what you’re trying to do with each paragraph—what character point you’re trying to establish, what sort of mood you’re trying to create, what background you’re trying to suggest. In how many different ways are you accomplishing each of these?
  • If more than one way, try reading the passage without the weakest approach and see if it isn’t more effective.
  • Do you have more than one chapter that accomplishes the same thing?
  • Is there a plot device or stylistic effect you are particularly pleased with? How often do you use it?
  • Keep a lookout for unintentional word repeats. The more striking a word or phrase is, the more jarring it will be if you repeat it.

Heidi Thomas

Bio
Heidi M. Thomas grew up with a love for books. She received a journalism
degree from the University of Montana and has had two award-winning novels
published, Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream. Heidi is a freelance editor
and member of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild and The Blood Red Pencil editors’ blog.

Rate
My rate varies with each project. I normally charge from $1.50-$3+ per page.
I like to do a sample edit of 5-30 pages to see what kind of work needs to
be done and then I can give an estimate for the project. That also gives the
client an idea of what kind of editing I do and if he/she wants to go ahead
with the project.

My strong suit
I edit both fiction and non-fiction. Genres don’t matter, but I don’t do
erotica or manuscripts with a lot of profanity. (Some is OK.)

Type of proofreading and editing I do

I do a little of everything for most projects, depending on what the needs
are. I don’t do as much developmental consulting as the story is being
written, but will make suggestions if the plot needs more work or characters
more development, etc.

Samples for prospective clients?
Yes. Five pages free, 30 pages for $50.

Heidi’s Links
Website
Blog
Facebook Author Page

Twitter

***

I realize that not every editor/proofreader is perfect for every writer. This is why I am presenting the series, Editor Spotlight. If you know an editor or proofreader who would like to participate, ask them to contact me at karenselliott AT midco DOT net. The Editor Spotlight series will be presented throughout the next several months in between my regular blog posts and special theme weeks. – Karen S. Elliott

Editor Spotlight – Shawn MacKenzie

Editor Spotlight – Wendy Reis

19 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight