Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

kathy-510x510-alex.jpg

 

New Features! New Interviews! New Friends

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Over the coming weeks, I will be changing and expanding the interview and promotional opportunities available here. There will still be great features and some of them will be available at no charge but for the enhanced/expanded features then there may be a small charge. Of course, for that, you get more. More tweets, more choice of features, promoted on my new author interviews promotion page. Of course, if you simply wish to participate in one of the free features – that’s great as well.

There will be a range of the following:

Swift Six – short author or character questions

Book spotlights

Dirty Dozen – author or character interviews

Reader interviews

Editor, cover artist or narrator interviews

Top Tens

Guest posts

‘Weeks With’ a particular author

Days in the life of characters or authors

Zweihanders – double interviews with character lovers or siblings

Good cop/bad cop – heroes and villains going head to head.

Here’s the new Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Erana-Interviews-and-Features-215319805541102/

And there will soon be ‘Friends of Erana’ page listing useful services, contacts and allies of The Library of Erana.

If you’re a blogger and willing to co-host, feature or help or your an author, cover designer, audio book narrator, or of course a reader then do get in touch.

You can either use the ‘contact us’ link in the page menus or drop me an email at libraryoferana@gmail.com

 

 

Editor Interview Number Thirteen – Jamie Burgess

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Please introduce yourself. My name is Jamie Burgess and I am a stay at home mom of 3 girls.  I absolutely love to read and will read just about anything.  I am just getting started in the freelance editing business.

How did you get into this line of work? I chose to start editing due to the vast number of books I was trying to read that had obviously been self-edited, they are often very hard reads.  As I read I am editing in my head to make the stories easier to understand and decided that if I was editing as I read, I could put those skills to use.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love?I prefer not to read erotica, it’s just not my cup of tea.  I love historical romance, young adult, and Christian based books the most.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? I write poetry and lyrics but I have never submitted my work for publishing.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? Self-editing is virtually impossible.  You need that person who can help you see the best wording to convey your thought.  The person not afraid to say this paragraph is not needed or this makes no sense, can we try this instead.  It is hard to find your own mistakes, and second guessing your own work can lead to further mistakes.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? No, I have just now started in the business.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? No, and if they did that would be their choice.  As an editor I am here to correct mistakes and makes suggestions.  Ultimately this is their work and they must do what feels right for them.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? First and foremost editors must remember that they are assisting a writer with producing an easy to read product.  They are NOT the writer of the particular story they are working on and their vision will not always be the same as the writer. Instead of being a constant negative voice, make sure to give your author good feedback when they have done well.  I think building a good relationship with your author is imperative, it helps you to further understand what your author is wanting to say and how you can help them say it.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word manuscript. (Line edit, content edit etc.) Line editing is the final edit ensuring proper punctuation, correct wording, that the best quality of work has been produced.

Content editing is working with the author to change wording and dialogue while ensuring that the vision of the work is being kept. Content editing can be the difference in being an author and being a bestselling author.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Proof-reading is fixing punctuation and spelling mistakes, taking out double use of words.  Editing is ensuring the flow of the story, making suggested changes, and working with your author to ensure their vision is being told.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love it all.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? I love to read and would read from the time I get up until I go to bed if it were possible.  My favourite would be historical romance but it’s becoming more difficult to find “original” story lines, so I read a lot of young adult.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” No, I am definitely editing as I go.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor?Research and marketing in that order.  Look at the average prices free-lance editors are charging and determine where in that range your skills and experience fit.  Decide which type of content you would be most happy reading, if you don’t love reading what you are working on then you will struggle to effectively edit that work.  Then find all the places you can advertise yourself.  Be willing to work for free in the beginning, building a name will help you be prosperous later on.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Self-editing leads to second and third guessing of what you wrote and in doing so often leads to further mistakes.  It is time consuming and that time could be spent working on your next novel. Find a good editor and let them assist you in seeing your vision in all its potential.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a stuffed frog that I can’t sleep without.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor Interview Number Twelve – Nikki Andrews

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Please introduce yourself.  Hi, I’m Nikki Andrews, AKA Kinan Werdski or Runs With Bears. Long stories.

How did you get into this line of work? Several years ago, a bunch of authors were featured in a collection by a very small local publisher. The editing was so poor that I begged to fix at least the punctuation. That led to a standing position at the company, with more responsibility as time went on. By the time the company folded, I had discovered how much I love the work, and sought out possibilities for freelance and contract work.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I don’t accept erotica, porn, or dystopian novels, simply because I don’t like them. I love mysteries, classic sci-fi, and well-written fantasy.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Yes, I am. I self-edit, but also submit to my writing group, and welcome editing by my publisher. If I were self-publishing, I would definitely hire an editor to check my work.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? I think authors short-change themselves by trying to edit their own work. Editing is a different skill from writing, requiring a whole other set of qualifications. Most important of all, an editor is not emotionally attached to a manuscript, and can see where changes need to be made.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? Other than for genres I usually refuse, I rarely turn down work. On occasion I have advised authors that their work needs more than ordinary editing; they may need a writing coach or instructor. In those cases, I’m willing to help, but because the work is much more intense, my fees are accordingly higher.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? In my freelance work, a self-publishing author is, of course, free to do what she wants with my suggestions. However, if an author brings me a new story with exactly the same issues as the ones I corrected in his first manuscript, I gently suggest he refer to our previous work together before I contract the new one.

In work contracted to a press, I explain in detail why the change needs to be made and offer alternatives. I cite company policies and contracts, which often require edits to be made to company satisfaction. If all else fails–and this has never happened to me–a book might not be published if the author refuses to make satisfactory changes.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? As an author, I understand the feeling. Editors criticize your book, which is like a stranger criticizing your child. But for an editor, it’s never personal; it’s always about improving the work. We may have different ideas on what “improvement” means, even among ourselves, but the goal is always to polish the gem.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. Regardless of length, I start with the big picture, the content. Is the story compelling, the characters well-rounded, the setting realistic within its genre? Does every scene serve a purpose, whether to advance the plot, develop the world, or deepen the emotion? The key question here is, “Do I want to read more?” If not, why not, and what can be done to make it more engaging?

Then (and often simultaneously) I do the line editing, which encompasses finding the right words, clarifying point of view, checking the flow of dialogue and narrative, verifying consistency, rooting out anachronisms, and more. Finally (and again simultaneously) I check grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Good question. Some people are under the impression that editing is making sure commas are in the right place. Nope, that’s proof-reading, which looks for the sort of errors that creep in when you’re writing in the middle of the night: there/they’re/their, or is/are, or !/? Proof-reading is “proving,” in the original sense of “testing,” that the text is exactly what you meant it to be, with all the p’s and q’s correct and every word in the right place. It’s a very painstaking process, but different from editing.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love watching stories and characters come alive, and seeing writing grow stronger and more dynamic. I hate teaching how to punctuate dialogue.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? Housework can wait. Cooking can wait. Visiting relatives can definitely wait. I’d much rather read. I probably read more mysteries than anything else, but I also enjoy science fact and fiction, mainstream fiction, and history.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always “edited” my reads. If a book can make me switch off, I dance.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Get some nuns to teach you basic grammar. Preferably with a ruler across the knuckles. Failing that, and in addition, read some good style guides. Study well-edited books (ask your librarian for suggestions) and figure out what makes them special. Take a course or two or five. Read. Read. Read.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Don’t.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I settle editorial disagreements with hard copies of Roget’s or CMOS at ten paces.

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

www.scrivenersriver.blogspot.com

www.nikkiandrewsbooks.com

2014 – A Year Filled With Words

I can’t believe it will be 2015 in a few hours, where has the year gone?! So what has 2014 brought? Words! Knowledge! Friendship!

It’s too many years for me to confess to since I left university but my thirst for knowledge hasn’t abated. As some of my followers know I love history, especially ancient history. The course https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall Hadrian’s Wall – Life on the Roman Frontier was fascinating. Well presented and interesting this was a good look at life in Roman Britain, and the challenges facing both occupiers and occupied.  There may well be a story from this era…. watch this space.

Next year – January I am hoping to complete another course about Roman Architecture and archeology, and later on the Coursera course about Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I’d planned for Book III of the Chronicles to be out by year end, but for one reason or another this hasn’t occurred. It is, however, done in draft so should appear in the springtime. I’ve not been idle, this year has been a year of short stories, planning and promotion.

My books this year:

Nine Heroes: Tales of Heroic Fantasy. This includes a Tale of Erana not featured anywhere else. Coel is the reluctant hero of this tale of slavery and revenge. Look out for Coel again in 2015

Kiss and Tales – the Romantic Collection (with the Indie Collaboration).

Summer Shorts (with the Indie Collaboration) – this includes some poetry about the British Summer Time, and a short story about the Kitchen Imps.

Spectacular Tales (with the Indie Collaboration) – (free) featuring some poetry and a fairy tale retelling.

Tales from Darker Places (with the Indie Collaboration) (free) – featuring some poetry, a dark and twisted story about Jack the Ripper, and a dark tale about a lonely vampire.

Bellator – I have to say I haven’t had that much fun for ages. It was such a joy to be co-writing with Diana Wicker again.  Perhaps these characters might appear again. This charity anthology is raising money for wounded service personnel, a cause close to my heart. Books for heroes and stories about heroes – what a marvellous combination.

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends – a collection of tales set in Erana featuring errant gods, magic, myth and mayhem – Also in Audio. On the subject of Audio I started running Audio Book Narrator interviews, which were fascinating. For me a whole new world was revealed – a book read aloud is a treasure indeed, it brings forth emotions of joy from memories of parental and grandparental story telling, sitting down at school and being read to, and reading aloud to friends. Story telling is as old as the hills, and is central to our culture.

Wyrd Worlds II – this free anthology features another tale of the Kitchen Imps, plus a short fantasy tale of the god-keeper of a small bluish-green world.

Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse – new release. A short story of myth and magic set in the world of Erana.

Blog-wise there have been:

18 character interviews with everyone from William Shakespeare, a horse, a dog, several aliens, a few witches and wizards, a couple of demi gods, a vampire and even Satan himself.

42 author interviews covering fantasy, science fiction, suspense, paranormal, children’s fiction, crime and historical.

3 narrator interviews, including Chris Morris.

6 editor interviews.

5 cover designer interviews.

5 reader interviews.

2 reviewer interviews.

Several blog tours stopped by, plus there’s been advice about audio books, Thunderclap, book reviews, course reviews, giveaways, new releases and much more. It has been a busy year!

So what will 2015 bring?

The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III will appear in the spring.

Plus there will be more short stories, including more from the Kitchen Imps, Coel and the Thiefmaster, and more Tales of Erana. Book IV of the Chronicles is in planning, and I dare say more short stories will spring from that. A murder mystery, plus perhaps some more grimdark.

There may also be an erotica collection, co-written with a friend.

Wow I am busy already and the year hasn’t even started!

There will be several guest posts discussing the influence of fantasy on our culture, plus, of course many more interviews. The first of these is scheduled Jan 2nd 2015 from Joe Bonadonna. If you are interested in participating in an interview, a guest post or blog tour stop-off please contact using the form below or on the Contact Details page.

Editor Interview Number Eleven – N. R Champagne

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

–Thank you so much for inviting me!

 

Please introduce yourself.

–I’m N. R. Champagne, Nina to my friends and clients.

 

How did you get into this line of work?

–Funnily enough, I was first drawn to it when I was going through the beta-reading stage with my first book. I was lucky enough to find some really good beta readers, one of whom was in the process of becoming an editor. I had done word processing and editing earlier in my life. I saw that there was a need for reasonably priced editing, and I decided to offer my own services to other indie authors.

 

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love?

–I wouldn’t refuse any genre, and I do both fiction and nonfiction. My favorites are the ones I write in: fantasy and science fiction (including dystopia/postapocalyptic fiction). But I think I would refuse any manuscript that had themes of hatred, excessive violence, or violent sex.

 

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor?

–Yes, I am a writer. In fact, that’s how I got into editing. My first book, Prodigal Angel, was critiqued, beta-read and proofread by multiple readers, but not outside edited. I won’t make the same mistake with my next book, though.

 

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors?

–I can certainly understand authors wanting to self-edit; the fees for professional editing are quite daunting. It’s not unusual to pay a big editing house $2,000 or more for a 100K-word manuscript. Of course, I charge about a quarter of that; somewhere around $500 for a basic line edit. It’s not because my editing is not as good as theirs–I believe it might be better! It’s just that as a small service, I have no real overheads so I can charge much less. I’ve seen too many books self-published with bad grammar; it’s a real turn-off to readers. Authors need to remember that no matter how good they are, another pair of eyes is essential. After you’ve been over your own work so many times, you tend to miss a lot. Also, an editor can point out problems with your manuscript you were never even aware of.

 

Have you ever refused a manuscript?

–No, but I have gotten some for reviews in the past that I couldn’t go through with because they were so bad. But a manuscript going to an editor should be in better shape by that point; an editor expects the manuscript to have been critiqued, beta read, and revised by then, so that it’s ready for the editing stage.

 

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it?

–I haven’t experienced that exactly, but I tend to work very closely with the author and I’m respectful of their wishes. My approach is, “The author is always right.” It’s their book, after all, not mine, and I am careful not to override their intentions. Often I will check with the author first if I want to change a certain way she does something, and the author can approve or reject any change I make. I have been asked why a certain change is called for, and I explain the reasoning for it. Usually, they accept it, but if they don’t want it, that’s their decision.

 

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this?

–There seem to be two major complaints: First, editors can be rather autocratic, trying to override authors with what they think is correct and pushing their own ideas on them. I’m very careful not to do that; I try to discern the author’s unique voice and protect it. If that voice or style happens to include an ungrammatical way of doing something, so be it. Second, there are apparently some editors who are like building contractors: they’re slow, unreliable, and hard to get hold of! Again, I try to maintain a very close relationship with the author, working one-on-one with them to perfect their creation. I also believe in being professional and having integrity in business. That means keeping to schedule and being available.

 

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. (Line edit, content edit etc.)

–The process starts the same way whether it’s a basic line edit or a deeper content edit. Using Word’s Track Changes, I’ll go through the manuscript thoroughly to catch any errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. If it’s a deeper edit, I’ll make or suggest changes to improve the clarity and flow of the prose. This means different word choices and/or arrangements. If I’m doing a developmental, I will take notes as I go along so I can make constructive suggestions regarding the plot, characters, voice, etc. After I’ve gone through the whole thing, I’ll do another pass to check for anything I may have missed. Once it’s done, the author will be able to keep or reject any changes I’ve incorporated, and they can rewrite parts (or not) based on the content suggestions I’ve made. Lastly, I’ll do the developmental write-up, if that was desired.

 

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing?

–I’m really glad you asked me that, because I’ve noticed that the word “proofreading” is being misused by many freelance editors. They’re using it to mean a basic line edit. That’s not correct. Editing is done first to correct errors and improve a manuscript; proofreading is done in the very last stage before printing, on an already edited manuscript, to catch anything that might have been missed up until then. It’s a final once-over.

 

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t?

–I actually enjoy everything about it. It’s fun and interesting to get to read all these different, creative stories, to get to know the authors, and there’s a lot of satisfaction in helping to make their books better!

 

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most?

–I do read a lot, and I most enjoy reading in the genres in which I write: fantasy, science fiction, dystopian and paranormal. I have a blog post I think you’ll find interesting, about why we need fantasy and science fiction. You can read it here: http://nrchampagne.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/why-do-we-need-fantasy-and-science.html

 

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?”

–Unfortunately, I am finding more and more that I can’t “switch off” when I’m reading. I just started the second in Anne Rice’s werewolf series: The Wolves of Midwinter. I’d never before noticed her quirky, ungrammatical approach to punctuation, but now it’s driving me crazy!

 

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor?

–I think it’s essential to get some kind of training–there are plenty of courses out there–and to familiarize yourself with the Chicago Manual of Style. Like many occupations, it’s possible to be good at it just by learning; unfortunately, however, you can’t be really excellent without an inherent talent. It might be a good idea to have that natural bent for it.

 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit?

–Don’t do it–call me! *laughs*

 

Tell us a silly fact about yourself.

–I’ve developed the rather disturbing habit of talking to myself out loud when I’m shopping. It helps me stay focused and not forget anything! I do get strange looks occasionally…

 

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

Editor website: www.champagne-editing.com

Author website: www.nrchampagnebooks.com

Blog: http://nrchampagne.blogspot.com

Facebook: N.R. Champagne

Twitter: @NRChampagne1

Amazon Prodigal Angel page: http://amzn.to/1koeXXu

 

 

 

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Editor Interview Number Ten – Mia Darien

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Please introduce yourself. I’m Mia Darien. I’m a self-published author, as well as an editor, cover artist and book formatter. I also work for a book blog tour company. Outside of the literary world, I’m a New England Yankee living in Alabama, a wife and a mother, a geek, and general lunatic.

How did you get into this line of work? As I got into the publishing world, I became interested in helping other authors. I’ve experience in areas that helped me edit, so I edited. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t give away all this time for free, and it became a profession.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I don’t accept or refuse based on genre, but non-fiction is rare. I always love fantasy, though.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? I’m also a writer. Presently, I self-edit, but I apply the same standards, which means I go over every book twice.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? Honestly, if you can avoid it, you should. I don’t have a lot of choice presently, but most authors don’t have the editorial background to be able to edit their own work. So I would always recommend finding an editor if you can.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? No. The closest was one book where I did my first “pass” on it (I always do two), but there were elements that disturbed me and I cut my fee in half and didn’t do the second pass. That’s very rare, however. In fact, it’s only happened once.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? Typically, I return the edited manuscript and then let them do as they will. I’m sure that most authors don’t take all my changes. I’m fine with that. My edits are suggestions, not laws. The author is the end word on any story.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? Honestly, I can’t say I’ve heard much press about editors one way or the other. Every group gets bad press at some time or another. Just have to keep working and keep doing the best job you can.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. I don’t do full content editing, but I do offer notes about any large problems I see or inconsistencies. Otherwise, I edit. Every book is read over twice to make sure I catch as much as possible. I don’t always catch everything, but I get most of it. (No one can catch 100%, really.)

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? To me, proof-reading is the very basics: punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Editing, which is what I do, will fix awkward passages and word choices, make sure that the reading flow of the story is the best it can be.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? It’s very tedious work, if I’m being honest. But I love to work with other authors, be able to delve into their worlds for a while and help make them shine.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? Oh, of course. I love all kinds of genres, but epic fantasy always has a strong place in my heart.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” There is no switching off once you’ve done it for long enough. I can step away from a given project for a time, but the brain is always in Edit Mode. I find myself editing everything. Family’s facebook posts, closed captioning, traditionally published novels, my own text messages…

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Be thorough, be cautious, and be kind. You’re handling someone’s hard work, so even if there are lots of problems, don’t be nasty. Be thorough and cautious. Educate yourself about the process.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Educate yourself. Try to put time between the writing and the editing. If you edit immediately, you’ll be too familiar with the words and won’t catch things. Go slow.

 …otherwise, don’t do it unless you have to.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I still like “Sailor Moon” and even made up my own Sailor Scout for Halloween once when I was a teenager.

 

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

http://www.miadarien.com

Editor Interview Number Nine – Laurie Boris

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today. Hi! Thanks for the lovely welcome, and thank you for supporting so many authors and editors.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your editing experience. I’m Laurie, but you probably already know that. I’ve been copyediting, proofreading, and doing light developmental editing for about twenty years, back in the days of red pens and stuff. My educational and early professional background is in journalism, advertising, and marketing. I edited and proofed novels on the side, at first informally, for writing colleagues and my own work. About seven years ago, I moved into it professionally. Now, nearly all the authors I edit are indies.

How did you get into this line of work? It’s been an odd, slow climb. My mother went back to school when I was a kid, and by the time I was in junior high, she had me proofreading her papers. Taking advantage of my knack for finding errors, I guess. In college, I studied journalism and advertising—more editing there. Wherever I worked, it seemed, I became the person everyone went to before any writing went out the door. It feels like I evolved into editing and writing on parallel paths, gathering more training as I went along.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Apologies to the zombie fans, but I don’t need the nightmares.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Yes, I’m the author of four novels and one novella, and my work has been published in several anthologies. I self-edit to the best of my ability, but like so many other writers, I reach a point of saturation and need fresh eyes. After getting input from beta readers, I do hire an editor. It’s so hard to edit your own work thoroughly.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? I’ve never been in that position, although I might if it looked like the author needed to take another spin through the manuscript before editing – either because the story wasn’t well-developed enough or needed so many basic changes that it wouldn’t be cost-effective for the author to pay for several rounds of edits.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? Authors ultimately own their stories and can accept or refuse my suggestions. Some have declined, either on grounds of style or artistic license. I’m okay with that. In some cases, I’ve tried to make an argument for accepting a change, but you can’t force someone’s hand, particularly in areas that are subjective. The proper use of a semicolon, yes. Grammar constructs that leave a sentence vague, yes. Using a fragment when appropriate, I’m not going to argue. Breaking a “rule” if it works with the rhythm and tone of your book, ditto. If an author is dinged for grammatical or spelling errors in a review, then perhaps he or she should have taken my suggestions. Or at least have hired a proofreader to look at it before publication.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? I’ve seen two major arguments in the community. The first, I think, is when authors equate “editor” with “an enemy against creativity who will screw up my book,” either by sterilizing the author’s voice or creating a cookie-cutter story. Ugh. It fills me with such despair to hear those memes. And often it’s because the author is envisioning the type of editor who acquires manuscripts in big publishing houses. Most editors who work with indie authors do not do that. I wouldn’t dream of rewriting someone’s work or tinkering with an author’s voice. If an author is still developing his or her voice, I might make suggestions that a different sentence structure or breaking some habits could make the work stronger. But I’m not out to murder your creativity. The other argument I’ve heard comes from authors who have been burned by editors—either because the communication was poor or the editor didn’t provide what the author needed. Or both.

What is the difference between proofreading and editing? Proofreading used to mean just that – reading the proofed galleys for typos and formatting errors before a book went to press. As it stands today, it’s the last step before publishing – generally a good looking-through to find errors in spelling, punctuation, spacing, homophone choices, and other irritants that might not have been caught in earlier editing. That’s the fine-tuning. Editing can come in a number of levels: developmental editing looks at the big picture, the story arc, and the character development. Depending on who is defining it, line editing or copyediting really gets into the trenches with a story and looks at sentence structure and flow, grammar, consistency, tenses, word choice, rhythm, repetition, and all those small, silly things that keep your work from reading smoothly.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love the first read-through of a manuscript, especially when I get a ripping good story from an experienced author. I don’t particularly like giving an author—especially a beginning author who has never been edited before—a marked-up manuscript so full of comments the Word file keeps crashing. I know it’s part of the process, but I empathize with how the author might feel seeing all those suggestions. Especially if it could involve cutting large sections or plot points going awry.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? I adore reading. It’s a daily habit. I like to read a little bit of everything, but I really love to dive into some thick, tasty prose: general fiction, literary fiction, historical…in fact, most genres, as long as they’re well written with good character development.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” If I’m reading for pleasure, I have to consciously switch off or else I’ll be bothering myself about semicolon usage and word choices.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Just as I’d tell a beginning writer, reading and understanding the craft of the English language is your base. Each genre has its own flavor; for instance, if you only read romance, you might not serve a mystery author as well as an editor who knows what a red herring is. Get some training. Buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style or subscribe online. If you’re just starting out, offer to do a few jobs for free to build up references and experience. Starting with proofreading jobs can give you a great foundation and experience—proofreaders often move into copyediting. If you’re freelancing, learn about the business side: good communication skills go a long way.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? It’s in an author’s best interest to do as much self-editing as possible before submitting a manuscript to a publisher. These days, agents and publishers expect a more polished submission. If you’re publishing independently, a good self-edit can save you time and money when and if you choose to hire a professional editor. Some authors can self-edit well enough to publish without an editor, although I would recommend one. There are a lot of tricks to help with the self-editing, but it’s tough to get perspective when you’ve read the same manuscript seventeen times.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. Okay, this is weird, but I collect nineteenth-century etiquette books. Sometimes I can find them in small antique or used bookstores. They’re not that expensive—the last one I found was seven bucks—and they’re amusing, from a cultural perspective. One of my favorite passages involves how to help a lady down from a horse.

Please add any links to your blog/website etc. Thank you for letting me visit. I’d love to hear from you.

Website: 
http://laurieboris.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.author

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LaurieBoris

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon/author/laurieboris

 

 

 

 

Editor Interview Number Eight – Scott Sandridge

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

A pleasure to be here, and thanks for having me.

Please introduce yourself. My name is Scott M. Sandridge. I’m both a writer and an editor, and sometimes a reviewer. I have close to thirty short stories published and over sixty reviews. I was a slush reader for Ray Gun Revival from 2006-2007 and then the managing editor of Fear and Tembling Magazine from 2007-2011. I currently edit freelance.

I also recently edited three anthologies for Seventh Star Press: the two-volume A Chimerical World anthologies (Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court) and Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions.

How did you get into this line of work? I kinda got sucked into it. After publishing a couple of my short stories, the Overlords at Ray Gun Revival asked me if I’d like to be a slush reader for them. And I’ve always had a hard time saying no to anything. Later, when Fear and Tembling Magazine was launched by Double-Edged Publishing, the same company RGR was under, I was asked to do some slush reading for F&T. A couple months after launch, the managing editor had to step down, so I took up the reins (which I originally had planned to be only temporary until a new editor was found).

I still consider F&T to be one of the major highlights of my editing career, due to me (at that time an untested managing editor) and a ragtag bunch of very talented slush readers and assistants (all of us volunteers) managed to take an online zine seemingly destined to die at infancy and transformed it into a zine so awesome that it ended up being part of a featured article in Rue Morgue.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I love anything involving Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. I’m also okay with the occasional Mystery or Thriller. I’ve never yet been asked to edit a Romance. *shrugs*

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? I self-edit because I’m one of the rare writers who actually can edit my own work. Although, when not pressed by deadlines, I’ll go through beta readers and such.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? If you can, do it. If you can’t, don’t. But if you do, make damn sure you can.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? Only once. I expect manuscripts to be in standard manuscript formatting. While I’m forgiving of minor variances, one time I had to say no simply because the whole entire manuscript was such a complete and utter mess that it would have taken me twice as long to format it before I could even start to edit.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? A few times. Most authors are very professional about it, even when they refuse. And yes, while it’s the author’s right to refuse an editor’s suggestions, there is a right way and a thousand wrong ways to go about doing so. Only twice have I encountered a writer who was a total jerk about it. I’ve never bothered to work with those two since.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? Whatever you’ve heard about us, we’re a million times more evil. MWAHAHAHAAAA!!!

Nah! Editors are people too, unlike corporations….

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. Similar to editing shorter works, but takes longer and is much more involved. The first thing I’ll do is read a few pages in order to get a good grasp of the author’s voice, so as to avoid ruining his/her voice in the later stages. Next I’ll go through and edit for content (what scenes work, what scenes don’t, which characters need more development or just plain suck and need removing), paying extra attention to the beginning and end. As I edit for content, I’ll note any typos etc. I come across. Once the content editing is done, I then concentrate on proofreading (remember the notes I took on typos? Helps the proofreading part go faster when you’ve already tackled half of them). After that, I’ll do a final skimming once-over before sending it back to the author.

When doing the work for a publisher, I’ll also format the manuscript so that it’ll be ready for publishing as soon as the author approves the proofs. Whether or not I insert page numbers, etc., depends entirely on how the publisher wants it done (and that often depends on the technology/software being used to publish the book).

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Proofreading is when your main concern is spelling and grammar. It often involves minor corrections and, rarely, a reworking of phrases or entire sentences. Editing is where you do full content editing, and is often a process you do with the author. After all, when you need whole paragraphs removed or the entire first chapter changed, it’s best to make those as suggestions to the author than to just do them yourself. A good writer will take your suggestions and come up with something even better than what you had originally suggested.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I always enjoy seeing the finished product. J

But the process itself often leaves me feeling like, “Blaaah! Why is this taking me so loooooong!??” But then, if I didn’t feel that way at some point during the process, I’d start to worry that I’m doing something wrong. Lol!

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? When not reading as an editor, I’m usually reading as a reviewer, so I rarely read just for pleasure anymore. And even then, it’s hard to shut down Editor Brain in order to do so. There’s even been days when I’ve forgotten what pleasure reading can even feel like.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” Sometimes I can switch off. Most of the time, though, I can’t. And all it takes to switch it back on is just one glaring typo….

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Develop a thick skin, ‘cause haters are gonna’ hate.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? You can’t go wrong with Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. Read it. Religiously.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I’m a Gemini, which means that everything I said above I am in support of and in complete disagreement with all at the same time. No I’m not! Yes I am!

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

 

A Work in Progress/SpecMusicMuse blog: http://smsand.wordpress.com

FB Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/smsandwrites

Twitter: @scottmsandridge

I’m at a few other places, but the above three are where I’m at most often.

Oh, and you can find me on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Scott-M.-Sandridge/e/B00JPSIV3Q/

 

 

Editor Interview Number Seven – Jillian Leigh

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Thanks for having me!

Please introduce yourself.

I’m Jillian Leigh. Like Batman, I have two identities: one is as an author of historical romance, the other is as an editor. Unlike Batman, I don’t wear a tight-fitting suit to fight crime. Instead, I get to fight word crimes in my pyjamas (sorry, bad joke, I know). I work with several publishers as a content and copy editor, as well as providing freelance editing and formatting services for indie authors.

Perhaps I should point out that I don’t actually work in my pyjamas—though I could if I wanted to. That’s the beauty of this job!

How did you get into this line of work?

Going through the process of being edited myself—and seeing editors at work—served as a catalyst for getting me started. I’m also an ex-English teacher and I’ve been writing, critiquing and judging contests for a long (long!) time. I’d always been interested in editing, but once upon a time, opportunities to have a career in publishing were rather limited. Fortunately, changes in the industry over the last decade have opened up things for editors as well as writers. I’ve been lucky enough to slide in sideways, so to speak.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love?

I never say never. If I turned something down, it would most likely be because of graphic physical or sexual violence, or because I found the content offensively discriminatory in some way. Thankfully, that situation hasn’t arisen yet. While I’m open to all genres, I do have my favorites, of course. I particularly enjoy all sub-genres of romance as well as erotica, women’s fiction, historical fiction, New Adult and Young Adult fiction. I think my understanding of romance makes me better suited to that genre as well.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor?

Yes, I’ve been writing for quite a while. My work goes through a publisher, but if I were to self-publish, I would definitely hire a freelance editor. Everyone needs another set of eyes on their work, because even the most careful and talented of writers still has ‘blind spots’—problem areas they don’t even know are a problem.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors?

Every writer has to do some editing—i.e. revising and redrafting in order to make the book stronger. It’s a pretty rare author who can whip up a first draft and call it a day. But I know you’re talking about authors who publish their books without having them professionally edited. I believe that authors who choose to do this are missing out on some major benefits:

  • Professional editing can save the author from embarrassing bloopers or needless typos (and the harsh reviews that often result from either);
  • It makes the book (and by extension, the author) look more professional;
  • It’s a valuable learning experience for any writer, new or experienced.

I understand that sometimes authors are reluctant to seek out an editor. One reason often cited for this is the cost involved. But I would argue that in this competitive environment, editing is more affordable than ever before, and there are ways to find funding for this purpose if money is tight. Another reason some writers forgo professional editing is that they’re afraid the editor will butcher their book. This is why getting a sample edit is so important. Authors should also remember that, whilst they are paying for the editor’s advice, they aren’t obliged to take it if they feel it interferes with their voice or style. Look at the issue behind the advice, and see if there’s another way to fix it—one that you feel comfortable with.

Have you ever refused a manuscript?

On a couple of occasions, I’ve turned down a copy editing job because I felt the manuscript needed more structural work first.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it?

Not that I’m aware of. But, as I said above, ultimately, it’s up to the author to decide what’s best for the book. I always tell authors that I’m happy to discuss the reasoning behind my suggestions. An author is more likely to agree with my suggestions if s/he understands the rationale behind them, agrees that there is an issue to fix and figures out the best way to fix it (whether that’s the way I suggest, or something even better).

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this?

Yes, I’ve noticed this. We do get accused a fair bit of being frustrated writers on a power trip! I have to say, though, sometimes this distrust of editors is merited. I think we’ve all heard horror stories about the editor from hell who rewrote the book the way she wanted it, or who apparently couldn’t find one thing she didn’t want to change.

On the other hand, sometimes that distrust is founded on ignorance or inexperience. Some authors are surprised by the extent and scope of their edits, particularly if they’ve never been through the editing process before (e.g. through traditional publishing), they haven’t been exposed to intensive critique by others, and they haven’t yet learned to separate their product from themselves. (I don’t mean that to sound patronizing; it’s hard for any of us to separate our ego from our work. However, professional writers must do it to a certain extent if they’re going to survive in a harsh industry.) Receiving a lengthy editorial letter or mark-up on every page can be an uncomfortable, humbling experience for even the most confident of us, and especially if the author isn’t accustomed to receiving impartial feedback.

And, as if that isn’t enough, the relationship is further complicated by the fact that, except in rare circumstances, pretty much all communication is conducted long-distance. Take away body language and tone of voice, and what sounds matter-of-fact to one person might sound harsh to another. There’s an art to writing comments that are neither too long-winded nor too curt. I don’t know that any of us manage that 100% of the time.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript.

If I’m doing substantive (aka content) editing, the first thing I do is read the entire book a couple of times. At this point, I don’t do anything with the manuscript. I’ll jot down notes, but basically my role is that of a reader. After I’m familiar with the story, I’ll consider where, in my opinion, the book could be made stronger. Usually I’ll write a summary for the author with specific examples, and provide suggestions or alternatives to assist in fixing the issues I’ve raised. If the author agrees with my assessment, s/he goes ahead and revises as needed. After we’re both happy that the basic structure of the book is solid, I’ll look at things line by line—the logic of cause and effect/stimulus and response, sentence construction, word choice, POV violations, showing vs. telling, and whatever else crops up. All changes are tracked so that the author can accept or reject changes and see the comments I’ve made.

When I’m copy editing, I’ll read a portion of the manuscript to get a feel for how the author writes, but then I basically start at the beginning and go through it line by line. I make sure that the basics (spelling, punctuation, grammar) are correct, but I also check for clunky, overly long or repetitive sentences, I make sure that the right word is being used in the right place, and I do some basic fact-checking as well.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing?

Proofreading, whilst its meaning has become more generalized over time, is essentially about checking for errors. Editing goes beyond that, to look at clarity, conciseness, and matters of style and technique.

Do you have a part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t?

I must say this is the most enjoyable work I’ve ever done. Some manuscripts are harder work than others, but even the toughest one is still a lot easier to whip into shape than a hormonal teenager who hates writing essays!

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most?

I read a lot. I can’t imagine an editor (at least a fiction editor) not enjoying reading, not loving language and books and stories that take you out of yourself and into another world. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I particularly enjoy romance (contemporary, historical, erotic, NA). On the other hand, I also love an interesting biography, and I enjoy true crime, history and historical fiction as well.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?”

It really depends on how much there is to edit J. A few typos here and there don’t worry me too much. I’m more likely to be pulled out of the story by the constant misuse of words. When an author—who is a wordsmith by trade—can’t be bothered to choose the most exact word, or even one that makes sense, I have to wonder what they think writing is about! I must admit I also find it difficult sometimes to finish a book that is obviously someone’s first effort at writing and isn’t ready to be out there yet. That’s when I really wish the author had received some helpful feedback and advice, if not from a professional, then from a writing group or critique partner.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor?

Be patient and start slowly. Don’t be disheartened if the world doesn’t come knocking on your door right away. As with authors, discoverability is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face. Try to find some opportunities to get your name out there. Do your best work.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit?

Don’t.

OK, I realize that may not have been the most persuasive argument, and not particularly helpful advice. So, for anyone who wants to go it alone, here are some things you can do to prepare your book for publication:

 

  • After you’ve written the first draft, set it aside for a time and work on something else. Then come back to the manuscript, preferably after a month or more (you’ll have achieved a bit of mental and emotional distance from the book by this stage), and read it through. You’ll be amazed at how many things you see that need fixing.
  • Look at the book scene by scene. Is every scene pulling its weight? Does the book begin and end strongly? Is there rising tension? Are your characters’ goals significant enough? Are the conflicts, whether internal or external, serious and complex enough to sustain the plot? Could you eliminate or consolidate sub-plots/characters/scenes? Have you used the most effective point of view in each scene? Does the pacing vary throughout the book—quicker in scenes of action or tension, and slower in love scenes or moments of introspection? Have you ‘shown’ the story rather than ‘told’ it? Is your writing vivid, with strong verbs and specific adjectives?
  • Invest in one or both of these books: Getting the Words Right by Theodore Cheney and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. Both are well worth buying for their in-depth advice.
  • Find some beta readers who enjoy your genre. Rather than inviting them to give their general impressions, ask them to answer specific questions about your book. Then use the information they give you to make further improvements.
  • Use some of the free online editing tools available. You can find some of them at http://editminion.com, https://www.autocrit.com, and  http://prowritingaid.com. They’re not infallible, and they do limit how much text you can have analysed at one time, but they will help you to see where you’ve overused words or used clichés.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself.

I have no spatial awareness or map-reading skills whatsoever. I can turn the map 360° and it still doesn’t help. My husband would actually rather ask for directions than rely on my navigation!

 

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

Thanks for having me! If anyone is interested in getting touch with me, please visit http://firstlookforauthors.com or email me at info@firstlookforauthors.com.