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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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Visit our website to download your free eBook, The First-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU. If you’d like more information about our editing services, email us or call us today for your complimentary 15-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Recycle your clothes and your ideas – it’s National Thrift Shop Day!

No one would ever accuse me of being a fashionista. I have lots of clothes – but I honestly cannot remember the last item (other than delicates) that I bought new, because I predominantly shop thrift stores and resale shops. It’s not about affording new clothes and other items – although I’ve never been a brand-name shopper – as much as it is the recycling, giving still-usable goods new life, and the thrill of finding something completely unexpected.

thrifting

After we recently moved house, some of the things I came across during my thrift shopping included:

  • Tea kettle – $4
  • 6-bottle wine rack – $5
  • 6 curtains – $12
  • Like-new air popcorn popper – $4
  • Coffee grinder – $5
  • Pair of shorts for my husband & 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle – 54 CENTS!

As it happens, today is National Thrift Shop Day. I don’t know about your community, but thrift stores are popping up everywhere in the Phoenix area.

NARTS, the Association of Resale Professionals, reports that the resale industry in the U.S. has buffalo exchangeannual revenues of about $16 billion, including antique stores. In that same article, NARTS references Buffalo Exchange, a resale clothing store that began in Tucson, Arizona (home of my alma mater, the University of Arizona). The company got its start with a 450-square-foot shop in 1974, and has grown to 45 stores, plus three franchises, in 17 states. It employs more than 700 people and had annual revenues of $81.6 million in 2012. Amazing! I used to live around the corner from the store that was its second home, on Helen Street, near the UA campus.

The thing about Buffalo Exchange is that it really is a place for people who know fashion. If that’s your world, you’ll probably be thrilled to talk shop with the knowledgeable staff and offer your trendy or vintage clothes for consignment. I am not such a person, so trying to sell clothes there has always caused me a bit of trepidation. I did have a great victory back in college, though, when the (snooty?) Buffalo Exchange buyer paid me $6 for a top I had made from a Simplicity pattern on the little Singer I kept in my dorm room.

Founded by an entrepreneurial husband-and-wife team, Kerstin and Spencer Block, Buffalo Exchange was a trendsetter. After Spencer passed away, his wife and daughter compiled some of his writing into an ebook called The Way of the Buffalo, in which they share “the funny, poignant, and always down-to-earth insights of a truly alternative entrepreneur whose values keep Buffalo Exchange the vibrant and ever-changing company it is today.”

Here are just the tip of the iceberg, 10 Basic Beliefs and Values of Buffalo Exchange:

way of buffalo

This is not a perfect book, by any means. But it’s a thoughtful book and a labor of love that preserves the best of the concepts that enabled the tiny acorn of a dream to grow and flourish into a multimillion-dollar business.

It’s certainly not the first time a brand has used a book to further its mission and message:

  • In October 2014, Renaissance Hotels released a coffee table book, The Art of Discovery, in partnership with the Creative Coalition, a social and political advocacy organization for the entertainment industry. The volume features 100 celebrities sharing their personal stories of discovery. The hotel chain’s goal with the book is bring to life its tagline, urging travelers to “Live life to discover.”
  • In April 2011, Pam Gaber published Gabriel’s Angels: The Story of the Dog Who Inspired a Revolution, about the work she and her Weimaraner did to launch the pet therapy field for abused, neglected, and abandoned children.
  • Back in 2009, I met Gary Kadi, the entrepreneurial dentist and author of Million Dollar Dentistry, a book that coaches dentists to transform and grow their practices.

For a business owner or entrepreneur with a success story to share, a book may be one of the very best ways to do that. And it doesn’t have to be long to be effective. It doesn’t even have to be printed to reach the masses, although printing is easier and less expensive than it’s ever been – so it’s probably a good idea to do both an ebook and a printed book.

If you’re ready to explore how easy it really is to write and publish your book, talk to us! We can walk you through the outlining and writing process, editing, cover design, and formatting your book for both print and ebook. And when it comes to marketing, we’ve got the knowhow to get your books into readers’ hands.

Why not recycle the ideas that brought you so much joy, satisfaction, and success – and put some extra money in your pocket in the process?

Laura

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SOURCES:
http://www.buffaloexchange.com/about-us

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/13/business/media/renaissance-hotels-lives-up-to-its-brand-name-by-sponsoring-a-book.html?_r=2

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Increase your exposure: Buy your own book on Amazon!

My longest-term client publishes a holistic health newspaper, known online as Natural Healing News. One of the most significant features of the paper, known in print as AZ Networking News, has been its bimonthly publication of book and movie reviews. The books my client receives from authors all over the world run the gamut from very badly self-published editions to gorgeous hardback books from larger players in the traditional publishing world – and everything in between. It was a natural fit for her to create an online bookstore through which to offer links to the books’ Amazon pages.

As we were uploading the articles for the August/September 2015 issue of the newspaper to the website earlier this week – and creating Amazon links for the books and music – I was reminded of a very simple, yet potentially effective marketing idea I learned from my friend and promoter extraordinaire, Raleigh Pinsky.

Q What happens whenever you look at a book – or purchase a book – on Amazon?secrets - new

AYou are shown a string of other titles under the heading: “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.”

Just for demonstration purposes, I searched for one of the best books I’ve ever read, Secrets of Attraction, by Sandra Anne Taylor. As soon as I clicked the title link, I scrolled down a little to reveal the following:

also bought

You’ll likely notice something about the books: they’re all very similar in theme to the book in my original search.

Assuming your book is on Amazon – and I COMPLETELY understand if it is not – next time you purchase a book (or other product) on Amazon, buy a copy of your own book, too. That way, the next time someone even looks at the book you bought, they’ll see your book come up under: Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought. This has the potential to expose your book to people who might not be seeking it, but might have an interest. And depending on your contract with Amazon, if they buy your book you’ll probably get something back on the deal.

Here’s to getting more eyeballs on your book!

Laura

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ANSWERS to Tuesday’s Trivia Questions

In Tuesday’s post, Word Trivia: Which Author Coined Which Word?, I promised to post the answers to the trivia question today. Without further ado, I give you…

1.      William Shakespeare is said to have first written bedazzled in The Taming of trivia answersthe Shrew.

2.      Ernest Hemingway is credited with the first English use of cajones.

3.      John Milton gave us pandemonium, the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost.

4.      Sir Walter Scott first used freelance in Ivanhoe.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Word Trivia: Which Author Coined Which Word?

Some girlfriends and I got together the other night, united in one goal: be the evening’s Masters of Trivia! Out of nine teams competing in Team Trivia at CHARR American Burger Bar, we came in 3rd place. Not bad for a ragtag group of gals. One of our team knew that the father of Krusty the Clown (of Simpsons fame) was a rabbi. Another knew that Ole Evinrude was the inventor of the outboard motor. Through a team effort, we determined that retired U.S. women’s soccer star Mia Hamm is married to retired MLB pitcher, Nomar Garciaparra.

Marcie team trivia

The one that stumped us was the final trivia question. We were tied for 3rd place and were able to wager up to 15 points. As in Final Jeopardy, however, if we wagered and were incorrect, we’d lose all the points we’d bet.

Time, now, for you to test your own knowledge of etymology. I will post our final trivia question, as it was asked. Feel free to make your own stab at the answer in the OneSmartCookieComments section below. Of course, I’m hoping the honor system is still alive and well. One condition of Team Trivia is that Google, phoning a friend, and cell phones in general are disallowed because – duh! – it’s unsportsmanlike. I’ll have no way of knowing whether or not you cheated – but I hope Marcie’s readers are an honorable bunch. No prizes for the right answers – just the satisfaction of knowing you’re one smart cookie. I will post the answers at the end of Thursday’s blog post (8/13/15).

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Which of the authors listed below [all men, I noted] created the adjacent words. Please note, there are 5 authors and 4 words – meaning you won’t use one of the authors for your answer. In order for your answer to be “correct,” you must accurately identify the creators of all 4 words.

1. Charles Dickens a. freelance
2. Ernest Hemingway b. pandemonium
3. William Shakespeare c. cojones
4. Sir Walter Scott d. bedazzled
5. John Milton

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In case you’re wondering, we got one author/word pairing correct – meaning we lost 3rd placethe 2 points we’d wagered. We wound up taking 3rd place, which we considered a victory!

Outside the competitive nature of Team Trivia, those with a trivia fascination might want to check out TriviaCafe.com, where you can sign up to receive a daily trivia question via email. Additionally, my friend Kebba Buckley Button recently introduced me to WordSpy.com, which claims to be “The Word Lover’s Guide to New Words.” And if you ever want to know what the kids are thinking or what that crazy term you heard on the subway means, check out Urban Dictionary. Beware, however; certain entries in UD are not for the faint of heart.

Here’s to continued learning!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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A Dog by Any Other Name

In my last post, I mentioned the idea of reading one’s work out loud at an open-mic 3d coverstyle event. I recently read the first chapter of my novel – still in the works after nearly 11 years – aloud at a reading event hosted by the Arizona Authors Association. Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is about a guy who packs up his dog, his car, and too many belongings to set off on a trip around the world. It depicts the life of a Wall Street investment banker and his female friend, a New York City artist, and also deals with social issues like homelessness and international poverty.

This was the first time I’d ever read it out loud, and boy was it a stumblefest! I highly recommend the process to every writer, whether you will ever actually schedule a formal reading of your book or not – because in the process of reading aloud, you catch things you just don’t see or hear when you’re reading to yourself.

One audience member at the reading asked a question I’d never even considered.

Stan and Isis in Bangor, Maine

Stan and Isis in Bangor, Maine

“Did you write this before all the stuff started up in the Middle East? Because I couldn’t really get past it as I was listening to you read.” Stan, the main character, has a Jack Russell terrier by the name of Isis. Yep – same name as the Egyptian goddess AND the jihadist/terror group. There’s a whole segment in the novel about how the little dog got her name – and even though I’ve done a considerable amount of work on the book in the last year, I never gave even one thought to the fact that the dog’s name is the same as a group of terrorist radicals. The book is set in the very recent past – beginning in the spring of 2011 and ending in the fall of 2012 – before ISIS had become a household word. So mentioning the shared name in the text of the book would be anachronistic.

As far as I understand it, the idea of giving a reading such as the one in which I participated is to elicit constructive feedback from the audience. While Toastmasters has a built-in mechanism for delivering and receiving such feedback, audience members at this reading event were much more forgiving – most of them heaping praise, even on (in my opinion) undeserving work. I was the only reader who received any negative feedback at all – and it wasn’t so much intended as negative as it was one woman simply raising an issue I had not considered. Another woman in the audience commented that she’d not thought about ISIS, the terror group, at all – she had gone immediately to picturing Isis, the Egyptian goddess.

Nevertheless, this one woman’s question and strong, visceral reaction have caused me to question whether I should change the dog’s name or leave it as it is. At present, I am leaning very much toward leaving Isis’ name as it is. If you have any sort of feedback on this issue, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Controversy can sell … so maybe the question has already answered itself. In the meantime, the marketing ideas continue to percolate. Blog posts upcoming, contests unfurling, crowdfunding unfolding. And, of course, social media strategies applied to all.

 rose by any other name

Here’s to naming your characters well!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Use – or create – a style guide for a professional finish

You may remember it: the woman athlete running with a giant sledgehammer in hand. The unnamed heroine hurls the implement at a giant screen, saving humanity from “conformity” and thereby introducing the Macintosh apple-1984-runnercomputer to the world during a break in the third quarter of the 1984 Super Bowl. While I sincerely doubt my father ever saw this ad (he was not a sports fan and seldom watched anything on TV besides the news and PBS), he was on the cutting edge, as he bought my sister and me the very first Mac Classic to aid in our studies. This was pre-pre-pre-Internet. Today we regularly send email attachments larger than the 4 mg memory of the entire Mac Classic.

So I grew up a Mac user. And it was in the book The Mac Is Not a Typewriter that I was first introduced to the idea that with desktop publishing applications, it was no longer necessary to use two spaces after a period. The reason for this is that the letters on typewriters were all uniformly spaced, meaning that a lowercase “i” or “l” took up the same amount of space in a line of type as a “w” or “m” even though the latter two are significantly wider. If you want to see this at work, check out the Courier typeface example below.

courier

In modern typography, letters take up only their actual width, so the shape of a word contributes to its readability. In documents created on traditional typewriters, every letter took up the same amount of space, so the extra space between sentences was necessary to indicate the end of a sentence for the reader. I never took a formal typing class, so I’ll admit that this was not an enormous adjustment for me to make. However, I’ve recently been doing lots of editing for a group blog by authors for authors, and I’m noticing that many, many of our authors still use two spaces after a period. I’m guessing they didn’t get the memo.

So what, right? Sort of. The thing is, since I coordinate and edit this group blog, I get to decide on the styles we use. What does that mean? It means using H2 style for every subheading. One space after periods. OK, as opposed to okay. Putting all resource boxes in italics. En dashes ( – ) with one space on either side, as opposed to em dashes with no space (—). No http:// to start web addresses. Using periods to break the segments of a phone number. You get the idea.

The particular styles matter less than consistency in applying them. If you haven’t adopted a professional style guide for your books/writing, you may want to think about creating one of your own – particularly if you write fantasy or use a language, symbols, or terminology of your own creation. IntelligentEditing.com offers an excellent post with tips for creating your own style guide.

While there’s no rule that says you must use a style guide, adopting or creating one will give your editor some standards to follow and give all of your writing a more finished, professional look.

Here’s to consistency in your work!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

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december tip of day

December 6 Book Marketing Tip: Watch your words!

I attended a networking event today where an interesting thing happened. Within the space of three introductions, two different people used words in a way that caused me to sit up and take notice. The first is a retired school teacher, who stumbled as she said, “I used to teach learning abled … I mean disabled … kids.” I thought to myself, Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we changed our language to reflect this woman’s seeming error? What if, rather than referring to people as learning disabled, we instead began to think of them as learning abled? Yes, it’s a far-fetched idea, but it delighted me enough to write it down.

Another intro passed without incident, and then the third woman spoke. She works in real estate, and I have no doubt that she meant the word REALTOR when she introduced herself as a “re-luh-tor.” But then I started to dismantle that word and realized that she’s probably more correct than she realizes – because doesn’t every successful REALTOR need to be a relater?

impossible

Sherry Anshara is a Phoenix-area author, medical intuitive, and energy healer who frequently dissects words in this way. She refers to the practice as “wordology.” If you’ve never stopped to think about your words, I encourage you to take some time out to do so. And not just as they relate to marketing your book, but as they relate to the totality of your life, your book, your business, your relationships.

Here are a few  simple word messages we can deconstruct:

The disease we experience in our bodies comes from being in dis-ease.

Change IMPOSSIBLE to I’M POSSIBLE.

Change NOWHERE to NOW HERE.

If you want to explore this concept a bit on your own, you can use WordPlays.com (or many other similar sites) to plug in a word or phrase and see what kinds of smaller words it contains. Just for fun, I put in my name – LAURA ORSINI – and it returned 287 words. My favorites? SAUNA and AURORA.

The more you pay attention, the more you’ll begin to see the words within the words, and how quickly the message – and your perception – can change when you alter your perspective just a bit.

Happy wording!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Getting ready to launch your book? Be sure to visit our website to download our complimentary special report, “Anatomy of Book Launch TODAY!” Even if you’re not a novice and have a book launch or two behind you, this report will give you the timeline to help you experience even more success.

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