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Posts Tagged ‘editing’

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.

__________________Hire an Editor Special Report

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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I’d stay up all night chatting with my ideal reader…

Day 21 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge gives participants the opportunity to identify something every author needs to know: his/her ideal reader. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 21 writing prompt:

Describe the market for your book – to the tiniest detail (e.g., childless divorced women past age 50 who want to remarry). Why that demographic? Describe their psychographics. How do you connect with them to market to them?

I am continually amazed, as a book marketing consultant, how many authors fail to consider – or often even have a clue – who the audience for their books is. They just decide they’re going to write a book – and figure they’ll get to the marketing stuff later. Then the book is done, they’ve got a palette of them sitting in their garages, and they wish they’d given some thought to their audiences earlier.

As I have mentioned at considerable length in many prior posts, knowing your reader is crucial to getting your books in his/her hands. This includes really fine-point details:

Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you must know everything you can about your reader. This includes two components: demographics and psychographics. Demographics means measurable things like age, education, and marital/parenting status. Psychographics, on the other hand, are the things that make your reader unique, such as their personality traits, values, and attitudes.

When it comes to reading, here are some interesting statistics to consider:

  • In a 2013 survey of 1,005 people in the U.S. conducted in English and Spanish via landlines and cell phones, some 76 percent of adults ages 18 and older said that they read at least one book in the past year. (I am very skeptical of this statistic.)
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/01/16/a-snapshot-of-reading-in-america-in-2013/
  • Women are more likely than men to have read a book in the previous 12 months, and those with higher levels of income and education are more likely to have done so as well.
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/01/16/a-snapshot-of-reading-in-america-in-2013/
  • The average college freshman reads at a seventh-grade level.
http://campusreform.org/?ID=6174
  • The average reading level for American adults is about seventh to eighth grade.
http://www.clearlanguagegroup.com/readability/
  • The reading skills of American adults are significantly lower than those of adults in most other developed countries, according to a new international survey.
http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-american-adults-have-low-and-declining-reading-proficiency-20131008-story.html
  • There are almost half-a-million words in the English Language – the largest language on earth, incidentally – but one-third of all our writing is made up of only 22 words. (Scary!)
http://www.readfaster.com/education_stats.asp#
  • According to the Literacy Project Foundation, 50 percent of American adults cannot read a book at the eighth-grade level.
http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/community/statistics/

Some of these stats conflict a bit, and overall the news is not good for reading and literacy in America. However, I’m not here to dwell on these issues today. My point is that my reader is not the average American reader.

Meg Cabot

If you’re thinking this image looks familiar, it’s because I used it for my Sept. 24th post, “If ‘Stan’ were nonfiction, it’d still be a travelogue… just drier.

While I don’t think I deliberately set out to do this, looking back on my novel writing process, it seems inevitable that I would write something I wanted to read. I mean, who doesn’t? Children’s authors, maybe. But don’t you think you’d HAVE to write a book that you, personally, would like? Otherwise, it would feel forced and fraudulent.

To that end, my reader is smart – more than likely college educated. He or she likes to travel, or at least enjoys learning about other cultures, and is probably better traveled than Stan, at least at the start of his trip. He or she will tend to lean politically liberal (a Bernie Sanders fan, to be sure) – or will wind up chucking the book across the room at various points in the reading of it. He/she maymillennials or may not have a religious tradition. More than likely, they are exploring and open to various spiritual teachings. I’m surmising this reader is younger – a Millennial or Gen-Xer. I’m having to keep this in mind as I write – to make an effort to be more socially current than I personally may have an interest in. This is one place where I am not exactly my reader.

My reader wants needs to make a difference. He/she is wired and connected to a handful of the most useful social media platforms – which is, in large part, where I will go to meet him or her. He or she reads the news online. Thinks Trevor Noah is doing a better job than they expected. Still likes and shops at bookstores. Loves indie coffee houses. Shops thrift stores. Recycles. Has done volunteer work and attended several Meetups in the last year. He or she is urban, as opposed to suburban or rural. He or she embraces public transportation, has a bicycle and rides unashamedly and unironically. He or she is fairly health conscious, eats organic at least sometimes, is assuredly opposed to Monsanto, and has called/emailed his or her legislator on at least one issue of importance. Is amused by PeopleOfWalmart.com but prefers DailyCurrant.com.

I think the biggest challenge with meeting my readers in person is that I’ll love them and want to hang out with them and chat into the wee hours (at which time they are most definitely up!), which would leave little time for anything else, seeing as meeting interesting new people is probably my most favorite activity in the entire world. A great problem to have, I suppose – meeting too many new people and having to cut conversations short. Ask me again in a year.

Well, that may not be every detail, but it’s a hell of a start. So tell us a bit about who your ideal reader is and how you plan to connect with him/her. Use the Comments section below…

Please be sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll reveal who I’d really, really like to have endorse my book…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

Laura

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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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Self publishing “Stan” for all the right reasons

Day 20 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks participants to discuss their publishing choices. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 20 writing prompt:

Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing, formatting, recording, editing, and distribution? How did you select them?

I think at some point, almost every beginning author fantasizes about a publishing contract with a large house, a fat advance, giant PR budget, and extensive book tour. And while some authors certainly have that fantasy come true, most of us may have one or the other of those things happen, but it’s unlikely that a fairy godmother will turn all of our ragtag dreams into a Cinderella reality.

raven author2market

Anymore, the biggest deal is not making a beautiful, professional book one can proudly display and sell and sign at author events. Even self-published authors with great skills, a solid supporting cast, and/or a decent budget can make one. The biggest deal is finding readers for said beautiful book. While there are many tools at an author’s disposal for marketing said beautiful book, they only work when:

(a) the author has a plan

(b) the author commits to the plan and executes it faithfully

(c) the author stays the course and is consistent about his/her marketing efforts

(d) the author monitors the plan so he/she knows what’s working and what isn’t

(e) the author tweaks the plan accordingly

My plan for Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is to self-publish as a print book, an ebook, and eventually an audiobook. I’m in conversation with an editor right now – preparing to send her a draft so she can see my work and provide a sample edit. As a professional editor, I’ve mentioned that I’m pretty fussy about who touches my work. She’s an excellent writer, though, and a good person with a wonderful sense of humor – so I’m thinking she may be a perfect fit. Mind you, not every good writer is an excellent editor, but I think it almost always happens that a good editor is a pretty decent writer. We met through the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup, where a fair amount of professional services are exchanged.

The print and ebooks are easy. I work with a great local (Phoenix) printer who came highly recommended and has never disappointed. I will likely use several ebook distribution services, including Amazon, at least for the short term. As for the audiobook…

I know, I know, I know that it’s highly discouraged for authors to read their own books, but I really want to try it. I also know it’s super-duper absolutely ultimately highly discouraged not to use a professional studio, but I have access to a couple semi-professional studios, and also may attempt that. What I won’t attempt is the editing. I’ve never done much audio editing, but I’ve rewound and rewound and rewound while doing transcription, so I can only imagine the tedium that accompanies eliminating every um, er, cough, or sniffle, not to mention adding appropriate stops for commas, dashes, periods, and ends of paragraphs. Fortunately, we also have a Stan @ Mt Olympusfantastic audiobook production company in the Valley. So regardless of the level of support I need, I’m sure I can get it reliably.

Other plans include a coloring book – probably initially reserved for a crowdfunding campaign – as well as a cookbook with food and drink recipes from all the places Stan visits. These will almost surely become ancillary products. Depending on the success of my musical venture with my husband, we may put together a CD and/or digital album as another ancillary offering. There will be no sequel to Stan, but the goal is to get my next novel done in less than half the time it’s taken Stan to hit the streets.

Please be sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll be describing who I see as the market for Stan

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

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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Well traveled with an eye for detail?

Perhaps the most important aspect of the publishing process, after the writing, is editing. The  Day 14 prompt for the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge invites us to talk editing. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 14 writing prompt:

Describe your editing process. Who edited/will edit your book? What was your relationship with your editor like? What could each of you have done to improve the process? What might you do differently in the future?

Having begun my business as an editor and honed my skills for years, I find the writing process – particularly for fiction – much more difficult. It’s easy for me to determine where to cut, condense, and reduce the number of words. Another story completely when it comes to enhancing, adding description, painting word pictures that require more – not fewer – words.

That said, I’m extraordinarily particular when it comes to who will give editorial input to my novel. I’m no idiot – so I know it will require at least a once-over from another professional. Who that is – will be – I have no idea, yet.

Here’s a little list excerpted from my special report, “The Fist-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU.”

eye for detail

The Least You Should Expect from a Skilled Professional Editor

  • Listens, hears, and understands the author’s concerns, vision, and intent.
  • Makes suggestions in a way the author can hear and appreciate without being made to feel wrong, criticized, or patronized.
  • Identifies and understands the needs of the reader.
  • Has a very strong sense of structure and excellent organizational skills.
  • Has excellent writing, grammar, and copy editing skills.
  • Has an ear for language (e.g., diction and idiom).
  • Can quickly familiarize himself/herself with virtually any subject.
  • Makes technical passages and complex concepts accessible to the average reader.
  • Keeps the text focused on speaking directly to the reader.
  • Calls attention to unclear writing and/or faulty logic.
  • Checks for consistency throughout the work, in voice, tone, message, and more.
  • Knows when it’s necessary for the author to rewrite and/or add text.
  • Will unabashedly write new text when appropriate.
  • Can emulate the author’s usage, style, and tone when rewriting.
  • Catches “isms” and prejudices without a compulsion to be politically correct.
  • Treats the author’s writing with detachment and objectivity, never inserting or superimposing his/her personal beliefs/positions into the author’s work.
  • Knows how and when to use humor, analogies, examples, and literary devices to maintain and increase reader interest.
  • Can create appropriate chapters, subsections, bullet lists, sidebars, and graphics to improve flow and readability.
  • Is readily available for author questions and consultations.
  • Can determine and explain the appropriate depth of editing.
  • Develops a strong author/editor relationship.
  • Challenges the author to give his or her best.
  • Is compulsive, but not overly.
  • Is flexible, but not overly.
  •  Can spot legal problems with trademarks, citations, etc.
  • Reads, reads, reads, and reads — any and all types of material.
  • Will offer a sample of his/her work to the client at no fee.
  • Expects to be paid a fee commensurate with his/her skills.

Yep – that’s the least you should expect. Any less than that, and you’re not getting your money’s worth. Is it any wonder I’m a little particular about who will edit my work? I am looking for someone with a super-skilled eye for detail. And since Stan does travel all the way around the world, a person who’s been to a few of the countries I’ve never visited wouldn’t hurt.

The way I work with a client is have them submit either the first chapter – OR the chapter that is most representative of their work. (Writers have a tendency to do a lot of work on the first or early chapters, so that part reads very well – but they seldom give quite as much attention to the latter part of the manuscript.) Then I evaluate the writing and degree of editing necessary. Not every writer needs intense developmental editing, as some manuscripts come in quite clean. Others need to be reworked from the ground up. Then I give them a sample edit of four or five pages.

Once we agree to move forward, they send the complete manuscript in a Word document. I work with revision marks – and use the comment feature if the client prefers that. Otherwise, I make my comments within the text in an alternate font and bold/highlight them. Once I’ve finished the manuscript, I send it back. The client looks it over, makes changes based on my suggestions, and returns it to me for a final reading – unless we make other arrangements. This is how I expect the process to work with my novel, as well.Front cover

Visit WriteMarketDesign.com to download a copy of the complete special report.

Please be sure to come back and read my next post, where I’’ll be talking about my book cover design process…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to skilled wordsmiths everywhere!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Is YOUR book newsworthy?

Continuing our PR theme…

Virtually every author thinks his or her book is fantastic. The reality is that most aren’t – especially (and unfortunately) most self-published books. Authors have great intentions, but they often lack skill and fail to recruit others to fill their gaps. Things like poor spelling, ridiculous grammar mistakes, meandering storylines, absent editing, and amateur cover designs are a handful of the most egregious sins that first-time self-publishing authors commit.

Person read newspaper

That’s not the worst part, though. The worst part is that they so often let their egos get in the way, refusing to even ask for input or advice until they’ve spent boatloads of money and effort, only to find they’ve created a mediocre book. I am a publishing consultant by trade, but I make it a practice not to offer advice unless asked. Many a self-published author has proudly given or shown me a book that I would never recommend, let alone purchase.

This may challenge you a bit, but I’m not willing to sugar-coat things just to make you feel better. That won’t do you any good. Here’s the straight scoop: newsworthy books are good books — usually REALLY good books. Newsworthy books give people — the media, in particular — reasons to talk about them. Newsworthy books won’t sell themselves, but they will lend themselves to word-of-mouth and interviews and retweets.

Here are some questions that may help you discover whether you’ve written a newsworthy book:

NONFICTION BOOKS

  • Is your book the first to point out a trend or raise an issue?
  • Do you have a unique approach for a well-covered subject?
  • Does your book raise thought-provoking questions on an important topic?
  • Does your book offer a behind-the-scenes look at a specific industry, celebrity, organization, or company that would interest the general public?
  • Is your book controversial, extreme, avant-garde, politically incorrect, and/or scandalous?
  • Does your book offer step-by-step instructions to solve a vexing problem?
  • Does your book inspire its readers to make sweeping life changes?
  • Does your book offer commentary on
    and/or a tie-in to an­other popular book/ movie/ TV show?

FICTION BOOKS

  • Is yours just another dog story, or is it about a family of ferrets?
  • Are the main characters rich and powerful, or people everyone can relate to, like a school teacher and a truck driver?
  • Do your characters follow traditional gender roles, or is the school teacher male and the truck driver female?
  • Is your book set in present-day America, or is it set in 1950s Havana, Cuba?
  • Do you write about real places, companies, universities, and religions — or go the safe route and fictionalize everything?
  • Is your book overburdened with lots of explanations, or do you use active verbs and descriptive nouns?
  • Are your characters ones bloggers or journalists will relate to?
  • Does your book inspire its readers to make sweeping life changes?
  • Does your book offer commentary on and/or a tie-in to another popular book/movie/TV show?

If you’re starting to realize that your book is less newsworthy than it could be, maybe it’s time for a rewrite.

Here’s to making your book newsworthy!

Laura (AKA Marcie Brock)

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________COVER

Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Book your complimentary 20-minute consultation (phone or Skype). Or get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

602.518.5376 or phxazlaura on Skype

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How responsive are you to feedback? Psst – it’s an editor’s job to give you some…

I hosted a gathering for some authors the other night as part of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup.

At one point, the conversation turned to editing. One of the authors who attended writes YA fantasy fiction. She described her experience working with her editor: “At one point, he actually made me cry. My book started out at 145,000 words, and wound up being 115,000 words, so he made me cut out a LOT of stuff. But it was so much better after I did that. It was hard to hear, but so important. I can’t imagine people thinking they don’t need an editor.”

reviewer-editing-manuscript

We’ve written before about the importance of an editor to your book marketing efforts. With few exceptions (Fifty Shades of Grey comes to mind), a book that’s not readable due to lack of editing is very challenging to market. Ever succumbed to the dozens – perhaps hundreds – of sites that offer access to free ebooks? I have. And guess what – free books are free for a reason. Most of them are so bad, I’m just glad I didn’t spend even 99¢ on them. The thing is, they don’t have to be bad. More than likely, though, their authors opted to skip the editing step in the publishing process.

I will grant you that good editing is expensive. It’s a specific skill that good editors spend many years developing and honing, and for which they deserve to be well paid. A good editor’s job is to make your work sound like you, but better. If you want your book to succeed, find an editor. Budget for the best editor you can afford! Even if you can’t afford a professional editor, there are things you can do to improve your writing. Barter with a friend. Find a college English major looking to make a few bucks. Head to Craigslist, for crying out loud. But get someone to read it before you publish.

But whether you invest a lot or a little in your editor, the relationship promises to go south unless the following apply to you:

• You want to publish or submit the best manuscript or copy you possibly can.

• You have a strong vision for your book or manuscript and have clearly identified your audience.

You are coachable and can accept advice and/or criticism from a professional who has your best interests at heart. (Ahem … this is the whole point of this post, right?)

While you are coachable, you also are not afraid to push back and tell your editor they are not taking your work in the right direction. (Also incredibly important.)

• You are interested in forming a partnership with a skilled expert who can give you precise advice about strengthening your writing to create a book you will be proud of.

• You want your manuscript to stand out among all the others that prospective agents and/or publishers will be reviewing.

Visit WriteMarketDesign.com to download my free special report, “First-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for You” to learn more about how the editing process works.

Here’s to a great editing experience!

Laura

__________________ Summer Author Event PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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january tip of day

January 8 Book Marketing Tip: Decide how soon to send your manuscript out for review

This is more a question/issue to ponder than a tip, necessarily. It comes out of a real-life conversation with a friend. Beth is a retired adoption case worker. Since retiring, she’s hung out her shingle as a private adoption counselor and is still very much involved in the adoption world – mostly U.S. infant adoptions.

chicken egg

One other thing she does to stay current with adoption is review adoption books and movies on her blog, Bibliotherapy for Adoption. A few weeks ago, she was telling me about a book she’s been asked to review, pre-publication. Her comments spurred this post:

In just the short piece I’ve read, I’ve found three typos. Darn! The editor in me can’t get past that, to read the content. You can add: “Proofread your copy before you send it out for review” to your list of [author] TO-DOs. Since the typos bother me so much, I am tempted to read through and mark it up, then reread for content.

And Beth is absolutely right. Any worthy reader is likely to notice grammar errors and typos in a published book, let alone one that is still in draft form. Here’s the conundrum, as I explained to Beth.

If a self-publishing author waits until their manuscript is fully proofed to send it out for reviews/endorsements, it’s quite often way too late for the reviews to be of much use. Yet no reader worth their salt will allow grammar issues and typos to go unnoticed. I suppose putting UNCORRECTED PROOF on the front might assuage some expectations, however.

Your book timeline has to factor in editing and proofreading, preferably before you begin sending out review copies. This might seem like a no-brainer – of course you get it proofed before you send it out! But some of the more established reviewers (not necessarily book bloggers like Beth) must receive the book 3 to 4 months in advance of your publication date. That means either (a) you wait till it’s proofed, professionally typeset, and in perfect shape for review, postponing your publication date until you know the reviews will be in or (b) you send a relatively polished bound manuscript for review, which you identify as an “uncorrected proof,” and hope your advance readers/reviewers can overlook any small mistakes.

I will keep hammering this point for as long as this blog endures: editing and proofreading matter! Once your prospective reader gets past the cover to open your book, they’re going to read your words. If Beth is just a few pages into this manuscript and is noticing errors, what are the chances she will see errors at p. 97 or p. 133? You want your reader to open at any point in the book and KEEP READING.

If the thought had occurred to you that you’re a good writer, you’ve worked hard on your book, and you don’t really need editing and proofreading, I hope this post has disabused you of that idea. No matter how good you are, you cannot edit/proof your own work!

What are your experiences with the review/proofreading process? Please share them in a private message or in the comment section below!

Happy writing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website to Template 5peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements: Organizing the Parts of Your Book” TODAY!

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A few gifts to say “Thanks for reading!”

OK, gifts may be a bit strong. But here are a few miscellaneous things I thought you might find interesting and/or useful, and I truly am grateful to all of my readers, both old and new.

Reviews

I recently came across a goldmine in the form of this blog post by the folks at Step-by-Step Self Publishing: an index of book review bloggers. The best thing about it? They’re constantly adding new reviewers to the list. They also offer tips about getting your self-published book reviewed (many bloggers won’t accept self-published books for review) and how to approach independent bookstores.

Movies

Would you describe yourself as happy? If you’d like to be happier, you’ll want to make a point to see this film. A few amazing things I learned from it: our happiness is mostly genetic. Fifty percent is attributable to genetics; 10 percent is circumstantial (what’s going on in your life at the time); and 40 percent is up to us, meaning we can do things to increase our happiness, like exercise, hobbies, volunteering, etc. Also, there’s a HUGE happiness differential between people in households earning $5,000 a year and those earning $50,000 a year. But there’s virtually no difference at all in levels of happiness between those earning $50,000 a year and those earning $50 MILLION a year. The movie is subtitled in part and is available via Netflix. See it if you have the chance!

Fonts

For the font junkies in the house, Fonts 101 offers a free font of the day! Sign up to get it emailed directly to your inbox. Granted, I personally don’t have much use for a battleship font and some of the others are best described as odd. But we’ve all got different tastes and needs, and occasionally there’s a gem among their offerings.

Editing

I’m giving a presentation today about eBook Basics and was prepping some CDs for giveaway. Included in the mix is an eBook I modeled after a poorly done tri-fold brochure titled “How to Hire an Air Duct Cleaner.” I kid you not! The obviously much-photocopied brochure was referenced in the workbook from a marketing course I took as a great way to self-promote. I was inspired to improve on the idea by creating a 33-page eBook titled, The First-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU! As many of my readers are authors, I think there’s a lot of useful information in this book, but beyond that, you might also learn something from the concept. If you’ve got a business in which you can demonstrate expertise and you want to set yourself apart from the others, an instructional book like this is a great way to do so. Download your copy here.

Music

A year and a half-ago, I was blessed to marry a wonderful man who embodied a characteristic I’d always desired in a partner: he’s a talented musician. He got laid off from his job as a commercial plumber a few weeks ago, and has been taking the extra time to hone his guitar skills. Here’s a short Bach piece he’s been working on for the past few days. I hope you enjoy it.

Wishing you all the best!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to view/download our Timeline of a Book, where you’ll note that marketing your book should start as soon as you begin writing it. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Professional EDITING: It’s essential to your marketing success!

Yep, I’m a professional editor, and as such, I’ve always advocated that authors hire the best editor they can afford. But in this advice, I have more than my own self-interest at heart. Here’s the thing: it’s estimated that a person browsing a brick-and-mortar bookstore (a building where piles of books are available for sale to people who drive there in cars) will spend about 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book they pull off a shelf and 14 seconds on the back cover. Provided the cover is enough to stimulate their interest, what’s the next step? They OPEN the book! And READ the words. So if your words are garbled, your grammar poor, or your text mistake-riddled, that person’s probably going to plop the book back on the shelf and keep browsing.

A good cover will get someone to open the book,
but the words are what sell it.

Now let’s extrapolate to the eBookstore. In ePublishing, the buyer often sees only a thumbnail of the cover before they’re taken straight to the sample chapter. In this case, there’s no 22-second marketing plug from the cover. The entire onus is on the words themselves. And if the words themselves aren’t polished and professional, people will stop reading and won’t buy your book.

What’s worse, they won’t recommend it – and may write a bad review about it.

TRUE STORY

I recently downloaded a free book called Dying to Get Published byJudy Fitzwater. This is the opening paragraph:

The jail cell was cold. Cold and gray and ugly. Jennifer ran her hands through her long, taffy-brown hair and sank wistfully against the wall. The chill reached through her sweater and embraced her shoulders. She shot straight up on the backless bench and shivered. She felt as though something were crawling down her back, something with many legs, but she knew it was her imagination. She prayed it was her imagination.

I’m not kidding – I haven’t altered a word. In her attempt to be descriptive, this author WAY overused the adjectives and adverbs. My first thought was, “Ohhh, nooo. It’s going to be that kind of a book.” Nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance and kept reading for a bit. Then I came to these sentences:

Your dad is a famous astronaut. He’s on the first manned flight to mars and won’t be back for three years.

Seriously. If Ms. Fitzwater couldn’t do me the service of even proofreading her book – let alone editing it – I definitely don’t owe her the service of reading it.

But it’s a FREE book, what do you expect? I can hear the arguments now. So let me ask you a question: What is the entire point of giving away books for free?

Promoting the author’s work, right? The goal, therefore, is to create enough interest so that people will buy their other books, recommend them to friends, and write positive reviews. How is that possible if the author didn’t make the free book as good as one he or she charges for? Dying to Get Published is a terrible book. If it’s in any way autobiographical, I can tell the author right now, a good place to start is with some quality editing!

For most bad books, it might end there; in this author’s case, I happened to have her book on hand to use as an example to you, my author friends.

Point of caution: DON’T DO THIS TO YOUR READERS!

Why does editing matter? Because it can turn a hum-drum manuscript into a book people will not only want to read, but want to recommend. And some of the best marketing for an author is word-of-mouth marketing.

Here’s how I might have rewritten the opening paragraph of Dying to Get Published:

Jennifer slumped against the wall of the ugly, gray jail cell. The chill reached through her sweater, embracing her shoulders as she combed her hands through her hair. Suddenly, she felt the shivery sensation of a many-legged critter crawling down her back. Jennifer bolted upright, knowing the bug was just her imagination – praying it was her imagination.

Notice we went from 72 words to 57 words – that’s a conservation of 15 words, and it’s much more fluid and easier to read.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • What’s the point of repeating the word cold? Unless the coldness is important to the story (it’s not), this is utterly unnecessary.
  • Next – it’s the first paragraph; we have plenty of time to get to the long, taffy-brown description of the hair. Is it germane to the meaning of the opening paragraph? If not, lose it.
  • The backless bench? It’s a jail cell – most people have an idea of what a jail cell looks like. Unless this one’s special, no need to oversell the austerity of the scene.
  • Save the bulk of the words for the interesting aspect of the opening: the perhaps imaginary bugs crawling down Jennifer’s back.

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction – you’ll do your readers AND your sales a favor by spending what you can afford on a professional editor.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to view/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 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

 

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Who does a professional editor hire to edit her book?

For the next 18 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.

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Day 11 writing prompt:

Describe your editing process. Who edited your book? What was your relationship with your editor like? What could each of you have done to improve it? What might you do differently in the future?

This one is by far the easiest – and the most challenging – of all the questions to answer. As a professional editor, my ego almost got in the way when it came to having my own book edited. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it needed editing (actually, it needed less editing than proofreading); it was more a matter of who would be good enough to work on my book?

I didn’t know all that many people in the Phoenix area at the time, so I asked around and was referred to Vickie Mullins of Mullins Creative. Their business has morphed more into graphic design, branding, marketing, and book consulting these days – but at the time, editing and proofing were a core component of what they did. And they did a kickass job!

The funny thing is, even if you read the introduction my book with its full disclaimer to that some of the questions might make you squirm, it’s not until you actually read the some of the questions that you understand exactly why or how squirmy things might get. However, Vickie and I had a great conversation about the fact that the book could be a great title for Christian women’s groups, as it would give them an outlet to talk about all the stuff “proper ladies” never discuss. Would have been the furthest thing from my target audience, but I still think she might be right about that.

I read one comment from an Author Blog Challenge participant about fearing that an editor would mangle and twist her words so much so that her writing might become unrecognizable as her own. Here’s the thing I (a) always reassure my clients, (b) expect from any editor I hire to do contract work for me, and (c) expect from any editor I hire: an editor’s most essential job is to make the author’s words sound like them, only better. As editors, our goal – first and foremost – is to preserve the author’s voice. I know there are a LOT of editors out there who don’t do that. They bring their own spin, lens, and opinions into their editing – and it’s problematic, to be sure. I would say perhaps a third of my business comes from authors who’ve been disappointed by the first editor they hired.

My best suggestion is to get some references first. Then have a conversation to understand exactly what you can expect from your editor. Be clear about how much rewriting you are comfortable with. Do you want them to use the revision marks function in MS Word? While it might seem like a difficult conversation to have up front, it’s the best way to be sure you will get exactly what you want and expect from your editor.

Be aware that good editing is going to cost you some money, but it will be one of the best investments you can make in your book business.

I wrote an e-book about this that I send to prospective clients. You’re welcome to download your own copy of The First-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU to learn more about my perspective on what I believe is the second most important component to any published book – after completing the manuscript itself.

Happy editing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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How to “GET LUCKY” with your book marketing

This post originally ran on my other blog on Wednesday, March 17, 2010.

As we’ve discussed before, book marketing is not rocket science. And it isn’t really a matter of luck, either. It’s about creating strong, lasting relationships with people who will either become your readers and fans, or who will refer fans and readers to you. How do you do this?

Here are 10 steps you probably already know, but may not be implementing for one reason for another:

  1. Get out there and meet people. Attend as many events as you can where your readers congregate.
  2. Look for opportunities to be a connector. Rather than always wondering what’s in it for you or how you can sell more books, become known for introducing smart people to each other.
  3. Use social media to build relationships – NOT to spam or sell.
  4. Be a resource for people. Willingly share information from your area of expertise without any expectations of gaining anything.
  5. Blog regularly. Offer quality content on a consistent basis.
  6. Make your website, blog, or Facebook page EASY for people to navigate.
  7. Thank people who recommend you or write reviews for your book immediately.
  8. FOLLOW UP!!!!
  9. Use video. It’s a bit more work, but worth the effort. Ask my good friend Joey Sampaga!
  10. Enjoy yourself. People are immensely attracted to others who are happy, upbeat, smiling, and look like they love what they do.

OLD IRISH BLESSING

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back,
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

— Author Unknown

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Advice-giving can be a dangerous business

If you propose to speak, always ask yourself:
Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
— Buddha
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A friend used to tease that my instincts as an editor must make life challenging for me because I see the errors or problems in so many situations. While that’s not an utterly inaccurate assessment, I prefer to view it as often seeing ways to improve things.

However, since I’m neither omniscient nor infallible, my way to improve things is usually just my opinion and/or suggestion. Unless, of course, it is a case of noticing something that is just flat-out incorrect.

Such is the situation with the current Infinity commercial, in which the announcer says, “If everyone accepted the status quo, the world would still be flat.” Actually, no. The world was never flat, so it could not still be flat. Even following the analogy they seemed to be attempting to its logical conclusion, chances are, by this date in 2012, someone other than Aristotle (384-322 BC; argued in his writings that the earth was spherical) or Columbus (1451-1506; reached India by sailing west from Spain because he knew the planet was round) would have long since proven the orbed nature of the earth.

Other frequent observations I make include people’s self-talk. Things like, “I’m always so broke,” or “You just watch. I’m sure I’m going to get fired.” This also goes for our blogs, Facebook posts, and the ways we interact with people. Since we empower the thoughts we give the most attention, why do we so often focus on the things we don’t want? Want to get in shape, publish your book, or find true love? It’s probably not going to happen if you focus on how fat you are, how much you don’t know about publishing, or how all the guys out there are jerks. (For more on this, I recommend two excellent books: Mike Dooley’s Infinite Possibilities and Sandra Anne Taylor’s Secrets of Attraction.)

Perhaps the most obvious observation comes with books: I can tell within a paragraph or two whether or not an author has had his or her work professionally edited. The worst thing is when the author is someone I know, and the subject matter is good but the book itself is terrible because they didn’t bother to hire an editor.

My challenge is: What, if anything, should I do about it?

Think about a little thing like having a grain of pepper stuck in your teeth or forgetting to zip your fly. Would you prefer to have someone tell you, or would your pride make that kind of comment too embarrassing to hear? Then amplify that a hundred-fold. Having someone tell you, “Your book really isn’t very good” is probably a lot like hearing “Your baby is ugly,” except in the case of the book, things can be done to improve it.

Quite a number of years ago, I was in a lousy relationship and bought a self-help program called Light His Fire, by Ellen Kreidman. She offered a money-back guarantee if the program didn’t help salvage your relationship, no matter how bad it was. Though my relationship turned out to be unsalvageable, I didn’t request a refund because I learned so many other important things from her program. One of those was a lesson that applies to this topic of advice. Kreidman’s suggestion: Unless someone specifically asks your opinion or advice, keep your mouth shut. And by and large, I think she is correct. We don’t do people favors by going around offering unsolicited advice or making them wrong. When they want your advice, Kreidman suggests, they will ask for it.

Hmmm… That still doesn’t really address my challenge. If I hear or see something I know could be vastly improved, what, if anything, should I do about it? Should I go my merry way, knowing a blogger is self-sabotaging her success or that an author is unlikely to find the publisher they’re seeking, given the current state of their book?

One suggestion from coaching circles is to ask, “Are you open to some feedback?” I think this works in certain situations — but it also can create an awkward impasse. What if the person really isn’t open to feedback but feels pressured to say they are? And what is the motivation behind my need to give the feedback in the first place? Is it really altruistic, or is it in some way intended to build myself up? In my situation as an editor, I would never want the person to think I’m ginning for business by insulting them, which is why I will probably never tell someone who doesn’t ask that their book really needs editing.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this! Have you ever offered unsolicited advice? Do you appreciate when others tell you, “You know what you should do…”? Would you want someone who had an expert opinion to give it to you if you didn’t ask for it? Tell us what you think in the comment section below…

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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