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Did your editor actually deliver what they promised?

Having  begun my publishing career as a professional editor, I’ve written a number of posts about how important editing is to your success as an author. Whether it’s your first book or your twenty-first, you’ve got to pay for editing if you intend to make the best book you can. I realize that many authors are struggling to budget time and money to get their books published. Sure, 3 cents a word sounds like a LOT of money, especially when you’re talking about a 100,000-word novel. But you get what you pay for – and if you want a book that’s not only error free, but that makes sense, follows a logical story arc, and is eminently readable, you will spend the money.

money with red pen

Editing fees vary wildly, but the pros I know (myself included) run from about 2.5 cents/word to 8 cents/word. And depending on your work, you may need several rounds of editing: content editing (developing the story); line editing (making sure you’re using the right tenses, word choices, syntax); and proofreading (eliminating typos and misspellings). Most authors go with one editor for everything – and this can be a mistake. You need someone other than yourself – even if they’re not a professional – to read the final proof after it has been typeset.

Typesetting means moving the document out of Microsoft Word or Pages into a book design program like InDesign. When the text is pasted into the design program, all formatting is lost and must be re-created. Things like bold, italics, and all caps must be reformatted in the design program. Additionally, the cut-and-paste operation likely happens in pieces, leaving open the possibility for dropped words or phrases. If you’re going to publish a professional book, you will have a proofreader go over the book after it’s been laid out – not while it’s still a Word doc that has many iterations still to go.

So here’s the million dollar question: How do you know you’ve received your money’s worth from your editor/proofreader?

I recently read two books by local authors I know personally. One was a magnificent story told with lyrical writing that literally took my breath away at times. And I was unable to give it a 5-star review because it had enough typos in it that it wasn’t a perfect read. They were small things, like inconsistent use of the Oxford comma (either use it or don’t – just be consistent about it) and occasional use of the nonexistent word alright – things many a reader might have missed or overlooked. Still, it was enough to stop me at times. The other one may be a good story, but it has so many typos, misspellings, omitted words, and wrong words (e.g., sequenced when the word should have been sequined) that it is virtually unreadable. I am unable to get past the mistakes long enough to see the story or care what happens to the characters. I headed to Amazon to see what others thought about the book. There are only two reviews so far, and both are 5-start reviews – which makes me think those reviewers must be friends of the author.

Both authors paid for alleged professional editing. And, I presume, they thought they were getting an even exchange – quality work in exchange for whatever fees they paid. Not knowing how much each paid, I can’t say who took the bigger hit – but I have a guess. One used an editor “who came highly recommended through Bay Area Independent Publishers group.” The other used a local guy who is known for being fast and inexpensive. Surprise that the BAIP-recommended gal didn’t deliver – not so much with the guy who promises to beat anyone else’s prices.

I contacted each author and gave them my feedback – and explained my hesitancy to write reviews of their books as I had read them. I wouldn’t typically have said anything to the authors, but both of them personally asked me to review their books. That means they opened themselves up to my professional advice, so I provided it honestly. I made suggestions to the first author about simple ways to nudge my review of his book from 4 stars to 5. I told the second author I recommended he pay for another professional edit/proofing (with a different editor/proofreader) before sending his book out for any further reviews.

So back to our question: How do you know you’ve received your money’s worth from your editor/proofreader?

This is something of a troubling conundrum. One would expect professional writers to recognize mistakes like tense and subject/verb incongruities, but some don’t. And it’s reading out loudparticularly difficult to see errors in your own work – in large part because you’ve spent so much time with it and are so close to it that it’s easy to read over the mistakes, to add in the missing word and just keep going. So one thing I would advise is that an author read their work out loud, after the final proofreading has occurred. That’s when you notice everything, because you’re reading to speak, not skimming or assuming. So missing words jump off the page at you. Wrong tenses catch your ear. Of course, this won’t help if you don’t already know that the correct spelling is always all right.

Secondly, you’ve paid a professional to edit your work – but now you need to find a trusted friend, track down your high school English teacher, or locate someone in your circle who earned an English degree prior to the turn of the century and have them read your book. If they don’t have the time (or want to be paid for the task) to read the whole book, have them spot-check different chapters and sections. Make sure your editor didn’t go gangbusters at the start, and then rush to finish and do a shoddy job on the last three chapters.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, editing will probably be the most expensive aspect of your publishing process. Make sure you budget well – and then, double-check to be certain the editor/proofreader delivered as promised.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Ideas aren’t magical…

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “Ideas aren’t magical; the only tricky part is holding on to one long enough to get it written down.”

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

 

Make Your Own Luck

Make Your Own Luck

Have you ever noticed how some people just seem lucky? No matter where they go or what they do, opportunity seems to favor them and they’re always getting ahead. They get the guy (or gal). They get the job. They get the client. They get the promotion. They get the raise. They win the door prize. They get the freaking parking spot!

Would it surprise you to know that these “lucky” folks probably take a lot of steps that “unlucky” people don’t take? Chances are good that every day, they’re doing something to improve their “luck” – meaning it may just look like luck to those looking in from the outside, rather than what it really is: a particular way of living their lives.

If you’d like to start bringing some more luck your way, here are some things you can do to improve your odds:

  1. Expand your horizons. Be willing to socialize, meet new people, embrace networking instead of dreading it. Remember to also keep in touch with your old friends, colleagues, vendors, and clients. Check in with them once in a while to find out what they’ve been up to lately.
  2. Know what your goal is and see yourself accomplishing it – literally, in your mind, playing out like a movie. Better still if you’re acting it out instead of watching. Give thanks for achieving that goal as if it’s already happened.
  3. Give without expectation – let it be OK if people don’t send thank you notes. Lend a hand where you can. Be a mentor. Sponsor a Little League team. Giving feels great and the rewards come back to us in amazing and often unexpected ways.
  4. Learn to be spontaneous once in a while. If you’re the type who’s got every minute planned, there’s little room in your life for luck to show up. Be open to new things and interested in the world beyond your immediate surroundings. Go out of your way to meet a stranger today!
  5. Look for opportunities. Sometimes good fortune seems to fall into your lap – but just as often, opportunity knocks because you were paying attention. You followed through on that zany idea, made that call, or asked for what you wanted.
  6. Leave your comfort zone once in a while. Luck’s probably not going to fall on you while you’re staying safely hidden away from the world. Read blogs on topics you’d never considered before. Listen to a podcast about a place you’ve never been. Join Toastmasters. Take a Zumba class. See an art film or a documentary.
  7. Work hard. Really – it’s the rare lucky person who hasn’t worked hard to get where they are. The universe will see your efforts and reward you with that “lucky break.”
  8. Don’t underrate optimism. Most lucky people have a wonderfully positive outlook on life. More importantly, they expect good things to happen to them.
  9. Take setbacks in stride. No matter how much effort you put into “being lucky,” life is life and you will invariably experience the occasional obstacle. Are you going to waste time asking, “Why me?” or get right back up, shake it off, and know that tomorrow’s a new day?
  10. Focus on the present moment. This is not to say you shouldn’t make plans, but live in the now. Relish THIS moment and leave worries about the past and concerns about tomorrow for someone other unlucky schmuck.

How lucky do you want to be? You probably have a lot more control over it than you realize.

Oh, and Happy St. Pat’s!

An abbreviated version of this story originally ran in the March issue of my newsletter, The Creative Quill. If you’d like a complimentary one-year subscription, please email SubscribeQuill@writemarketdesign.com with your snail mail address.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

Recap and marketing lessons from TFOB 2017

Although you’d be hard-pressed to prove it just yet, I am striving to post much more regularly this year. Yep – get ready for … well, if not an onslaught, at least a lot more posts than you’ve been seeing over the past 18 months. It’s time – and I’m ready. I’m learning lots every day, and want to share what I’m learning so you can be a be smarter author/marketer.

Toward the learning, I’ve spent the last three weekends in education mode – the first at the Arizona Authors’ Association “Crafting the Written Word” Conference. The following weekend found me in Tucson at the inaugural Tucson Self-Publishing Expo. And this past weekend, I made another jaunt down to Wildcat territory for the Tucson Festival of Books.

I’m starting chronologically backwards in my sharing because I promised some people I’d email them when I got this post up, so I want to get to that first.

I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your phone, but mine is something of a casual friendship. I don’t have it on me 24/7 like a lot of people. I often have the ringer volume low or off. I’m just not as attached to Neari (you know, kind of like Siri) as some people are to their smartphones. Which is, no doubt, how I could get to the rest stop just outside Casa Grande, Ariz. before realizing I had left my phone at home in Phoenix. Ah, it took me back to the good old days when I prayed I would get there without any trouble and that my husband would see my phone on my dresser and not worry when I didn’t call or answer his texts throughout the day. (He didn’t.)

The worst part about not having my phone with me was not knowing the time – so I stopped at a truck stop and bought a very cute watch that I’ll probably never wear again. The second worst thing was being without my camera. Especially at an event like the TFOB, where there were plenty of things I wanted to remember with pictures. Thanks to the kindness of my friend Rita Goldner, award-winning author of ORANGUTAN: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, who lent me her Canon Power Shot camera (remember the days when phones and cameras were two different devices?), I was able to capture images of the many booths and authors featured below.

Although they didn’t have a booth to themselves, Amylynn Bright and her sister Ava Bright (together, The Quill Sisters) had a gorgeous table in the Romance tent.


In the same tent, Anne Marie Becker also had a beautiful table. Someone taught those romance authors a thing about display design!


Best-selling author Cathy McDavid had a creative marketing idea – a blind date with a book. Anyone who bought one of her many cowboy romances would win a secret book – wrapped in plain tissue paper. Cathy says she can’t take credit for the idea – she borrowed it from someone else. It’s clever nonetheless.


Dr. Deborah Westbury had one of the  most beautiful booth displays I saw at the entire event. She credited her friend (the blonde gal whose left arm is visible in the bottom left quadrant of the picture, behind the woman with her hand on the poster) with the design.


The first thing you saw upon approaching Elaine A. Powers’ booth were the lizard feet.

Known as the “lizard lady,” Powers writes children’s books about lizards and reptiles. Her display was eye-catching, though she did have the benefit of lots of open space next to her.


College pals (Go, Wildcats!) and authors Jay J. Falconer and M.L. Banner caught my attention with their cleverly worded banner title: AUTHORS OF DOOM, GLOOM AND BOOM! They had an excellent display, using the booth well to accommodate both authors’ books.

They also employed an interesting marketing idea, Lexy the sleuthy-looking mannequin, to entice buyers into a free book giveaway.

Lastly, M.L. Banner knows how to work a website. Whether or not you want to download his free books, visit his site to take a look at an excellent free membership enticement every author could learn from.


Fantasy author Jessica C. Feinberg knows her audience: dragon lovers. She designed her booth to capture their attention and imagination with cleverly worded signs and dragons in every corner. Even the dad accompanying these boys was entranced.


Jody Mackey also knows whose attention she’s looking to catch with her pink tulle, flowers, and all things little girls. Her Sally Loves… books are gorgeously designed – as is her fantastic website. I think that must have been the father of a daughter, don’t you?


Another stunning booth was Natalie Wright’s – complete with aliens and celestial-themed decos. She covered every corner of her booth – even making great use of the ceiling space!


Some booths used their exterior and interior wall space creatively to attract attention. The UA College of Behavioral Sciences put up a chalkboard (remember those?) that asked the question, “What would you title your story?” Bet they had a field day with those answers!

The Literacy Connects organization took advantage of the festival’s proximity to March Madness to create their own bracket, this one for iconic authors. Players chose their favorites, who were moved along through the brackets as the Festival continued.

And the Tucson Chapter of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation put a clever twist on things by posting the signatures of famous authors on the exterior wall of their booth. Again, it helps to have an open exterior wall or extra booth space. Those authors/groups with smaller spaces had to become even more imaginative.


A big hit at last year’s LA Times Festival of Books was a “wheel of fortune” giveaway at one of the booths. And I mean BIG hit – every time I walked past that booth, people were waiting 20 deep to spin the wheel and win something – anything, it seemed. Well, the good news is that Tucson Electric Power copied the idea to great success this year at the TFOB. The bad news is that they weren’t the only one employing it, by far. I lost count after seeing a half-dozen different booths offering their own smaller, lesser versions of the WOF. Hint for next year: get a new idea.


Strangely for me, I only bought two books at the TFOB this year.

The first was from author Katherine Rambo, a book titled The World Came to Tucson, about the history of the world-famous Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I got that for my rock-collecting mother-in-law.

The other book I bought was from author and baseball rock star, Ila Jane Borders. Making My Pitch is her memoir about becoming the first woman to play Major League Baseball, a fact that somehow didn’t make as many waves as it should have. Ila now has a baseball school for girls. I bought that one for my friend, Steve, who is both the most voracious reader and biggest baseball fan I know. But I can’t wait to read it first!


There were some bad booths, too. I took pictures, but I won’t share them here. Shaming people publicly never made anyone friends. It was hot this year in Tucson – and those with booths facing directly into the sun were at an unfair disadvantage. Nevertheless, if you commit to an event like a big book festival, make the most of it. Get a hat. Douse yourself in sun screen. Get a spray bottle and offer to wet down people as they walk past – that’ll get ’em to come on over to your booth. What you don’t do is hover in the shady corner like a vampire trying to avoid sunlight.

Get out from behind your table – or at least stand up and put your damned phone away! I wonder how many potential sales are lost at events because the vendor is sitting down or too busy on their phone to notice their booth visitor. You definitely need to find the happy medium between being overly solicitous and ignoring people – but it’s there.

At any rate, that’s my rundown. I’ll have another report at the end of April from the other side of the fence, as I and nine other authors from Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion attempt to woo book-loving Los Angeleans at the 2017 LA Times Festival of Books. On the off chance you’ll be there, we’re in booth #025 in the Cardinal section. Want to join us – or know an author who wants to? We’ve got space for 2 more authors! Email LABookFestival@WriteMarketDesign.com for details.

In the meantime, keep doing great stuff! And watch for my avalanche, er plethora … OK, maybe increase, yes, an increase in posts in the coming weeks!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Better to write for yourself…

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Want to experience the West Coast, sell & sign books, and make some great new friendships? Join us for Great 2017 West Coast Book Tour – July 22-August 12. We’ll visit San Diego, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Space is limited to 6 authors. Reserve your spot today! Details here.

Scott Adams exemplifies WYTAYBA: What You Think About Your Bring About

I once heard a story about Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip. First published in dilbert131989, the comic strip gained a quick following. But Adams wanted more. He wanted to be THE most famous cartoonist in the world. According to the story I heard (mind you, now, I’ve never done the research to back this up), he saw as his nemeses three cartoonists of immense fame and wide regard: Berke Breathed, who drew Bloom County; Gary Larson, of Far Side fame; and Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes. Adams felt that if he was ever going to make it to THE top, each of these three comic-drawing gods was going to have to put the cap on his pen and call it quits.

In the meantime, Adams was leaving nothing to chance. He started writing affirmations and repeating mantras to himself. He cut up strips of paper on which was written “I am the most famous cartoonist in the world,” and pasted them everywhere: bathroom mirror, refrigerator, computer, phone, car sun visor. Anywhere he looked, this affirmation was there to inspire him.

And then, unbelievably, one by one Breathed, Larson, and Watterson decided to end their strips, leaving the road clear for Adams to ascend to greatness.

I’m not sure he was ever the most popular cartoonist in the world – or even in the United States – but no one can argue with his success. The Dilbert comic strip was the progenitor of several movies, an animated TV series, a video game, and hundreds of pieces of merchandise. Adams received the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award and the Newspaper Comic Strip Award in 1997. And his lovable misfit and entourage appear in 2,000 newspapers around the world across 65 countries, translated into 25 languages.

A post by Brendon Callagher on Complex.com titled “The 25 Best Sunday Comic Strips of All Time” placed Dilbert at #13. And my Google search for “most popular comic strip” shows Adams in the fourth position.

dilbert

What does this all have to do with you and marketing your book? Everything. First of all, have you ever answered the question: What is your #1 goal? Is it:

  • To publish your book?
  • To sell 10,000 copies of your book?
  • To make The New York Times bestseller list?
  • To go on a world tour with your book?
  • To have your book made into a movie?

Before you can achieve it, you have to know WHAT your goal is. And regardless of how distant and unachievable they might seem, none of these is out of the realm of possibility for any author. When it comes to achieving your goal, however, the deeper questions are: How much do you want it? And what are you willing to do to get it?

Adams probably did a lot more than just write, post, and say affirmations all day. But he was certain he had to embrace the success mindset he wanted to achieve. This is an essential part of the Law of Attraction. There’s a made-up word, wytayba, pronounced WHY-TAY-BA, (an acronym,  actually, that stands for “what you think about, you bring about”), that most Law of Attraction practitioners focus on daily. Where are your thoughts? What is your focus? What do you spend the most time concentrating on? If it’s not your number stan-wytabaone goal, you either need to change your goal or learn to refocus your thoughts.

I was recently gifted with an idea from the Arizona Marketing Association – a group of like-minded entrepreneurs and businesspeople who gather monthly to discuss marketing ideas, tips, and tools.

Think about a simple device you probably have in your hands for hours at a time daily – your smart phone. Would you believe that the average person checks their device – that means looks at and/or unlocks their home screen – between 85 and 110 times a day?

What if you were to leverage that seemingly innocuous task to your benefit by having it help you focus on your goal? It’s easy enough to do. Write your goal on a piece of paper – clearly so you can read it. Then take a picture of that goal and make that image the lock screen for your phone. (If you don’t know how to do this, find the closest sixth-grader and ask them.) Going forward, every time you go to unlock your phone, you have an added imprint of your goal – a reminder of what you intend to accomplish next in life. (This image is my new lock screen.)

I’ll tell you, I’m sure a lot more focused on publishing my novel by April 22nd (the day before the L.A. Times Festival of Books begins) than I was before I added this simple, elegant reminder to my phone.

Here’s to accomplishing your goal and living WYTAYBA!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Want to experience the West Coast, sell & sign books, and make some great new friendships? Join us for Great 2017 West Coast Book Tour – July 22-August 12. We’ll visit San Diego, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Space is limited to 6 authors. Reserve your spot today! Details here.

SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: … my initial concern is to get a hearing

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, “I amgoing to produce a work of art.” I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.

george-orwell

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Want to experience the West Coast, sell & sign books, and make some great new friendships? Join us for Great 2017 West Coast Book Tour – July 22-August 12. We’ll visit San Diego, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Space is limited to 6 authors. Reserve your spot today! Details here.

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