Tag Archives: editing

Snow Day (Or: How I Decided to Participate in ROW80 Again)

I’ve been on the fence about participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days this year. It’s a fantastic event-type-thing, and accountability is a great way to stay on-track with goals. It’s fun to meet other writers and read their posts, learn from their frustrations and share in their joy when things are going well.

But.

Well, I do worry about boring blog readers, which is why I only post updates on Wednesdays to go along with WIPpet Wednesdays. There was a time when most of the people following this blog were writer friends, but we’re gaining more and more of my readers (hi, guys! So happy to have you!).

It’s almost like I need a writing blog and an actual website for readers, isn’t it? But this is my home. This is where I stretch out, make myself comfortable, and talk about the things that are important to me. Reading, writing, life, headaches, distractions, moose sightings, cover reveals and other author promos, pretty pictures and fun teasers… there aren’t really any limits.

So everything stays here, for better or worse.

I didn’t make the decision until I realized that today was the first day of round one. See, I was looking forward to getting back to work today, as the kids are back to school.

Or they should have been. But it’s a snow day. So instead of retreating to my office with a coffee, I’m at the kitchen table writing this post.

Funny how things work out.

I’ll probably stick with just posting updates on Wednesdays. Twice a week doesn’t allow much time for change between updates. Wouldn’t want to bore anyone who’s getting e-mail dings every time I post.

 

And guys? This is going to be a big round (ends March 26).

**ROW80 ROUND ONE GOALS (2015)**

 

WRITING

Proof-read Bound: Yes, I did this before publication. Many times. So many times that I still can’t really enjoy reading it. But I’ve re-formatted the e-book in a program that allows me to make it look nicer AND to make corrections without knowing HTML stuff, so I need to go over that.

Also, there’s a big, secret thing happening, and I need this book to put its absolute best foot forward for it. I’ve caught 2 typos. Moved a few commas. Changed a word or two. Tiny fixes. Nothing has changed with story, characters, dialogue, anything. Nooooo revisions. So no worries, dear readers. It’s like dusting the shelves (but hey, hang on to those first-edition paperbacks…).

Goal: Finish by Wednesday, January 7 (currently at 70% finished)

 

Edits on Torn: My editor says he plans to have these back to me by the end of this week.

**WOO, PARTY!!!**

We had some delays in getting started, but I’m ready to work hard to get through this as efficiently as possible. How long it actually takes will depend on the scope of revisions required. My beta readers didn’t tell me to make any big story changes… we’ll see what the editor says. I had to re-write sections of Bound after he got his hands on it (and thank goodness for that!).

Goal: Come what may, finish by the end of January.

 

Other Torn stuff: I need to be super organized on this goal, which includes proof-reading, sending it out to a few readers who have offered to act as true beta testers and error-catchers, formatting, setting up pre-orders, having someone format the paperback, sending paperback info to my cover artist so she can do the wrap-around cover, doing promo stuff for Bound once pre-orders are up for Torn…

And also organizing the cover reveal, the first chapter release, creating teaser pics, pulling my hair out, angst, stomach upset… I’m swamped.

Goal: Varies. Set up pre-orders by mid-February. Other events to follow. Advance review copies (offered to newsletter subscribers first) sent out early March.

 

Release Torn: Yes, before the end of this round. As I’ve said before, I’d rather release late than release something that’s not ready, but I’m confident that we can pull this off, even if I have to turn into an unwashed editing-cave troll to do it.

*grunts, shuffles, squints at sunlight*

I’ll keep you updated on that, and announce an official release date soon.

 

Bound Trilogy Book Three: Obviously I’m going to be busy with Torn through this round. But I need to keep moving forward with book three if I want it out by the end of the year. It’s looking good, but I’ve had a few ideas on how to make it better, smoother, more satisfying, and more epic. Those revisions will take place in March while all of the fiddly, non-writing stuff is happening with Torn (I hope). Then it’s off to my wonderful first readers for a test drive, and then whatever punishments they decide to hand me afterward. FUN.

Seriously, though, I will never understand how some authors get a book from first draft to release in two or three months. Between developmental edits, line edits, two rounds of readers, and corrections, never mind the three drafts I do before any of that happens… not a schedule I can hope to achieve.

READING

Still aiming for one novel and one non-fiction book a month. Right now I’m reading UnSouled by Neil Schusterman, and then I think the next one by Jenn Wylie is up. But I also just bought Gone Girl, which I’m told I won’t be able to put down… we’ll see what I’m in the mood for. This might be a two novel month. I’m determined to get through “Writing 21st Century Fiction” even though I’ve been stuck on it for a year because it’s dry as bricks and feels like the author is talking down to me. I’ve never had this problem with Donald Maass’ books before. We’ll see how it goes, I might DNF it and give it away. Fiction Unboxed is also in the non-fiction queue, and I’m more excited about that.

LIFE

Aiming for balance, for working during work time, social media-ing during social media time, making more time for housework and giving my family my full attention during their time.

That last one shouldn’t be difficult, but it really is. I know. I’m a horrible person.

^These are not quantifiable goals in this section, but they’re reportable. We’ll see how it goes.

So there we have it. Wish me luck, and if you’re participating in this round, let me know so I can stop by and cheer you on in your goals post!

More ROW80 goodness here.

 


WIPpet Wednesday: That’s… Disgusting

Yes, kids, I’m back with a REAL WIP snippet this week. And I hope I’ll actually get to comment on everyone’s posts this week, rather than the reading-and-drive-by-likings that were all I had time for last week. Sorry about that. I did read them, though!

Fun as last week’s THE END was, I’m hard at work again. We’re back to Torn, making small-yet-essential changes and cleaning up fun things like over-used words before my wonderful editor gets his hands on this one.

It’s hard work, but interesting.

Actually, that’s a lie. It’s completely tedious, but it has to be done.

One of the things I’ve worked on in recent drafts is adding more depth to the world, specifically in terms of history and mythology. Not big things, but more glimpses of the larger world than we had room for in Bound. This exchange went into the book on my last pass through, and since I just worked on this scene again this week, we’ll take from this section for WIPpet Wednesday.

12 (short) paragraphs for the 12th, from Aren’s POV (plus one to grow on). He and Rowan have been discussing his travel plans. She tends to worry… (**Bound spoilers, if you haven’t read it and plan to**)

“Good.” She picked up an iron poker and nudged the logs in the fireplace. “Could you just stay that way? Aquila would be less conspicuous. As a human, you’re recognizable. Even people who have never met you can’t help seeing that you’re not like other people.”

It still made me smile when she called my eagle form by the name she gave it before she knew who I was. How things had changed since then. “It would make basic survival easier, too. But I can’t. Sorcerers who have animal forms and stay in them too long get strange in the head.”

“How?”

“They take on more animal characteristics, even when they return to their proper bodies. There are stories about Lyloch, a Sorcerer who lived in Luid during my grandmother’s time. He learned to change into a wolf-dog, and by all accounts he used his skill well in the queen’s service, spying for her, travelling through the winter and finding his way into enemies’ homes when compassionate servants let the sweet dog in. They say he would go weeks at a time before changing back. He became mean as a human, began to prefer the company of dogs, snarled at people who got in his way.”

“And what happened to him?”

“They caught him ripping a whore’s throat out with his teeth.”

“You mean—”

“In human form, yes.”

She paled. “Okay, so don’t try that. But I’m still glad you have the option. Will you promise me one more thing?”

“I might.”

“Don’t be afraid to accept help.”

“I’m not afraid.”

Rowan rolled her eyes. “Fine. Don’t be stubborn about it, then.”

 

For more WIPpet Wednesday fun (where we share a snippet from a work in progress that relates in some way to the day’s date), click here to see everyone’s link-ups. Be sure to say hello to our host KL Schwengel, who does a bang-up job of it even when life is crazy.

ROW80 UPDATE

I’m making progress on my editing goals. They’re harder to measure than drafting was, and I have no impressive word counts to share. Still, I think I’ve finished making changes and planting seeds for things that will happen in book three, and I’m on to doing a search for words I tend to over-use to see where they can be left out or replaced.

“Was/were” is the last one I have to do, and I left it for the end because it’s a big one. I don’t think it’s as much of a problem word as some do, but it is a good way to search out passive voice and descriptions that could be a bit more dynamic (“His eyes were green” isn’t passive voice, but it’s also not all that interesting). That means it’s going to take a bit longer to get through this one, but it’s worth doing. Better writing on my part = better reading for my lovely, wonderful, stupendous readers.

I’m hoping to have these edits (and maybe the read-through) done by the end of this week. And then we’ll see about getting something started for NaNoWriMo…

For more ROW80 (a round of words in 80 days), click here.

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me yammer. I’ll get something more interesting up soon, I promise!

 


Half-Assing #ROW80 (on purpose, this time)

Okay, that was a strange title, so let me explain.

I sort of dropped out of ROW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days) on the last round because I was worried about boring people with my posts, especially those of you who subscribe by e-mail. You don’t want your phone to go BRRRRRRMP or BING! or whatever on a Sunday just to be notified that OMG KATE SPARKES WROTE ANOTHER 5000 WORDS YAY.

I know. And I don’t want to put you through that.

But I do miss the accountability and the community. So what to do?

I think I’m going to just check in once a week, on Wednesdays (see? Half-assing the reporting bit). That way these posts will be combined with WIPpet Wednesdays, which will be the candy I offer you to go with the vegetables that are my goals updates. If you’re interested in how things are progressing with my goals, by all means read through. I live to serve, and if watching my numbers is at all inspiring, encouraging, or exciting, I hope you’ll follow along.

Just don’t feel like you have to.

Round 4 of ROW80 for 2014 runs from October 6 to December 25. That means it’s GOAL-SETTIN’ TIME.

*rolls up sleeves, spits in conveniently-placed spittoon*

GOALS:

BOUND TRILOGY BOOK #3 – I’m currently at about 36,500 words out of a projected 120,000. I want to have this done by mid-November, if possible, to leave time for my other book-related goal (see below). This won’t be a problem if I can focus and stick to my schedule… so it’ll probably be a problem. But here’s what I’m aiming for:

  • 3000 words a day, 4 days a week. This leaves one day for me to go to town and get groceries, because my children continue to insist on me putting food in their faces. COOKED food, even. So demanding. If I can get more words than that in, I will. If I can squeeze in writing time on the weekends, I’ll do that, too. But based on what I’ve been able to accomplish over the past month, this seems like a reasonable base goal, if a challenging one.
  • So doing the math… That would get me done with this messy first draft thing in 28 working days, or on November 20. Hmm. I’ll have to try to get extra words in there, maybe aim for 14,000 words a week somehow. Because my other goal is…

TORN – barring some miraculous cancellation on the part of one of his other clients, my editor will be taking this one on at the beginning of December. I’ve already worked in most of my beta readers’ notes (many thanks to those of you who got through it so quickly, you’re the best!), but there are a few more things that need fixing up. So as soon as Book 3 is drafted, or sooner if need be, I need to get those last few things cleaned up. This is really important, but I don’t want to interrupt this whole first draft thing while I’m on a roll, so I’m putting it off.

Oooooh, dramatic tension, if only in my own mind!

SHORT STORY – It’s a thing I’m working on, which I’d like to have released by Christmas, but it’ll have to get squished in between other BIG, IMPORTANT STUFF. No promises.

OTHER GOALS

  • listen to two writing podcasts a week. I can do this while I’m cooking or out walking the dog, so this should be an easy one to cross off. Right now I like Hide and Create and The Self-Publishing Podcast.
  • Beta reading. I’m doing this for a fellow WIPpeteer this month. I haven’t started yet, but I’m going to get on it soon. There will be notes. SUCH NOTES THERE WILL BE.
  • Other reading – one or two novels a month seems to be all I have time for these days. Reading just feels like homework right now (heartbreaking, I know), but it’s important. Right now I’m reading Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler (so adorable–and I usually don’t like contemporary YA romance) and The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. We’ll see what comes after that. And I’d like to get through at least one writing-related book this round, too.
  • Organize something fun for the Bound audiobook release in November.
  • Also, I’m using the Duolingo app to learn French. Because why not?* I have no concrete goal for this, except to use it for 10 minutes a day.

I guess that’s enough.

Are you participating this round? Link back to your goals post in the comments so I can stop by and say hello!

October. Oooooh, aaaaah!

October. Oooooh, aaaaah!

*Weird story: I’m pretty sure it had me say, “Je mange les femmes” yesterday, meaning “I eat women.” I’m not entirely sure what they’re implying… this could go in a few directions. Of course, they also think “Je suis un homme,” so you know. Whatever.


The Things I Did Wrong

Here’s another post that’s mostly of interest to fellow writers. Several people have asked me about how I launched the book, how I get reviews, how it got noticed by Amazon… often my response is a blank stare, but here’s what I did. Hope it helps! Just remember that you have to do what’s right for YOUR book.

 

There’s a lot of advice out there for self-publishers. I’m not going to add to it. I don’t have enough experience to advise anyone on anything, though I’m happy to point you to resources that have helped me (see end of this post).

Actually… according to the advice I’ve read, I’m doing a lot of things wrong. That’s not to say it hasn’t worked out for me. Bound has had a decent run at the top of a few sub-category best-seller lists, and has sold more e-books in its first few months than I projected for its first few years (Don’t be too impressed– I’m a conservative estimator). But according to a lot of people*, I did all of this wrong:

  • I didn’t launch the book at free or 99 cents.
  • I didn’t go exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select. Because of that, my book is not available through Kindle Lending Library or Kindle Universe.
  • I invested a not-small chunk of change in editing my first book, before I knew I had an audience and before I knew I could make the money back.
  • I released at the beginning of the summer sales slump.
  • I didn’t pay for a blog tour, get into the big e-mail newsletters, spam Twitter, do follow-backs to gain followers on Twitter or Facebook, or pay for any advertising outside of a $6 Fussy Librarian spot (which didn’t seem to do anything, but hey. $6 for exposure, right?)
  • I didn’t have several books ready to go all at once.
  • I didn’t contact a lot of book bloggers.

That’s… that’s a lot of stuff I did wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong, but it went against a lot of advice. I followed my gut on these things, and I know that I’m lucky it’s paid off so far. That’s why I’m not saying “DO THIS, DO IT NOW.” Your Mileage May Vary is a HUGE thing. But if you’re curious…

Here’s what I did instead:

  • I started with an intro sale price of $2.99 to thank friends, family, and blog readers who were already supporting me, and also to make it easier for readers to take a chance on an unknown author. This lasted two months, and then the price went up to $4.99. Both prices are great value. That’s not to say I’ll never do a low-price promotion in the future, but I’m glad I started out at 70% royalties with Amazon. The $2.99 price point paid for the next book.
  • I uploaded to Amazon through KDP, and to Kobo, B&N, and iBooks through Draft2Digital (because the Smashwords meatgrinder was intimidating, and D2D is super simple). Sales at the other stores are 1/50 to 1/100 of what they are at Amazon (yes, combined). There have been times when I considered going exclusive, but I know it takes time to gain traction at those other places. And Amazon has been amazing. They have not penalized my book in any way for being non-exclusive. They just want to make money, and even if my sales are a drop in the proverbial bucket for them, they’ve been good to me so far. Select is a fantastic tool, and can be really helpful for gaining visibility, so it’s the preference for many authors when a book first comes out. I just want to point out that it’s not an absolute necessity if you’re as uncomfortable with exclusivity as I am.
  • see here for more on the editing experience. It was amazing, and I have no regrets.
  • I have no idea how the book would have done if I’d waited to release in the autumn, or at Christmas. Maybe it would have done better. Maybe a lot worse. Maybe it would have been competing with bigger releases, or maybe there would have been more people buying when it was topping those little lists, and I would have made more sales. I’m not experienced enough to say. But I’m not complaining about how things have gone, and I hope I gave some people an enjoyable summer read.
  • As to the e-mail lists, they probably would have helped if I’d released at 99 cents, but above that I don’t know that subscribers pay much attention. Keeping this one in the arsenal for later, as I do think they’re a great way to get the word out about sales/promos. And blog tours… well, I didn’t have an official one, but I’ve had some amazing, kind, and helpful fellow writers offer to host me for interviews, and I think that helped get the word out. I am so grateful to everyone who has done that, or who helped out with the cover reveal and release announcements. You’re the best. Also, acquaintances/friends/blog followers who read the book early on and went out of your way to share it with friends… you’re superstars. /end sappiness
  • Oh, and those Twitter follow-backs, yadda yadda… I still don’t see the point of having 10,000 followers if no one is actually interested in what you have to say, and only follwed you to inflate their own numbers. I do try to follow people who follow me on Twitter, but if you’re only posting #promo #promo #buymybook, I’m not going to stick around to keep you as a follower. Sorry. (But hey, if you tweet real, original thoughts, make me think or laugh, or reply to my stuff in a non-promo way, I’ll stick around through whatever occasional promos you put out there. Well done. Let’s be friends!)
  • Book two is coming out sooner than it probably would with a big publisher (8-9 months after book one, probably), but I can’t put out a book every two months like some people can. Is that going to hurt me? Will readers forget about the series before book two comes out, or stop caring? Maybe. Time will tell. But I hope my most passionate readers will get the word out again when the time comes. And they say not to promote your first book because you don’t want to hit it big when you don’t have more to sell to new fans. Well… I didn’t promote, but things have gone pretty well, and I have nothing in the back to offer people right now. We’ll see what happens.
  • I do wish I’d contacted more bloggers for reviews, but I’m shy. I’m also polite, and won’t send form letters or mass e-mails, so researching and writing requests/offers is time-consuming. But I should do it. Book bloggers/reviewers are amazing people who put their personal time and effort into adding value to the reading community, and I want to get to know more of them.

So there it is. I didn’t do it all wrong, of course. I did some things right:

  • I used keywords to get the book into relevant sub-categories on Amazon so that it would come up on Best Sellers and Hot New Release lists sooner than it would in the big ones.
  • I put a (polite, no-pressure) note in the back of the book saying how important reviews and recommendations are to a new book/author, and asked those who loved the book to share it.
  • I sent out Advance Reading/Review Copies (ARCs). Not as many as most people do, I think, but they went out, and most people followed through with reviews.
  • I wrote the story I wanted to read, not the one I thought the market wanted. Actually… this would be considered wrong by some, but it was the right thing for me. And I made it a good book with the help of incredible beta readers and a good editor. It’s not a perfect book. There is no perfect book. But it’s the one I set out to write, and it delivers good value to readers, and that knowledge helps me shrug off bad reviews from people who find it’s not their cup of tea.
  • I paid for good cover art from an artist who knows what looks good and what sells. I listened to her advice when it went against my personal preferences, and it worked out beautifully. She let me help (cover model selection, font choice out of a few she liked), but I let her lead based on the book info I’d sent. I really need to to a post on that some day. There are beautiful, high-quality pre-made covers out there, but none of them fit my book. This does, and I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said they gave Bound a chance because of the cover.
  • I ripped my hair out for two weeks over writing a blurb (sales copy) that seems to be fairly effective, and I made sure the Amazon sample was both good AND representative of the entire book.

If you’re looking for indie publishing resources, I’ll list a few of the ones that helped me below**. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope this has been helpful for someone. Just remember: I am not qualified to give advice. This is just what worked for me. I’m not an expert. A book does not a career make, yadda yadda. ‘kay? Good.

*Yes, according to some people I did these things right, too. Conflicting advice is conflicting. It’s just a fun way to frame the discussion of something people keep asking about. 🙂

**Please note that though none of these authors pay me for promotion, I am using Amazon affiliate links and receive an itty-bitty bit of money if you buy through them. Well… I will if I set it up right.  It costs you nothing extra, but does help me out. 🙂


The Things I’m Learning: Working With an Editor

In this series of posts, I’m sharing a few of the things that surprised me about publishing a book, as well as things I wish I’d known before I started. This is all personal experience and personal opinion, shared in case it helps someone. Your mileage may vary.

This is going to be a long post, and not of interest to everyone. Feel free to skip this one and join the party next week, or skip to the TL;DR version at the bottom. And again, this is about my choices and experiences. My way is not the only way. You can do it your way, and I respect that. We all cool?

I get a lot of questions about my editor: why I chose to use one, how I decided who to work with, how much it cost, what the process was like, and whether the decision has paid off. I think it was one of the best decisions I made for my book, so I thought I’d answer some of those questions today.

…And then I really need to get back to my real work, which means getting Torn ready for beta readers, who look at it before my editor does (more on that later).

So. Once I made the decision to publish independently*, I knew I wasn’t going to put out anything that was less than the best, most professional work I could produce. I know there’s a popular school of thought that says do your best, publish and move on, and then pay for editing later if there’s enough interest in the book. I can’t do that. My perfectionism will not allow do-overs, so it had to be right the first time.

In my case, that meant hiring an editor.

I had done my research already. I knew I wanted developmental editing, because though the story was as good as I could make it, and my beta readers were AMAZING, I knew it still had weak spots. I knew it needed line edits, because no one can catch all of his/her own errors. Also, the number one criticism I see on indie/self-pub books in reviews is “this could have used an editor,” and I didn’t want to put my readers through that.

(For anyone wondering, developmental editing = critiquing the story, finding plot holes/character inconsistencies, pointing out missed opportunities for kicking things up a notch… whatever. This can be done any time from the planning phase through edits. Line editing is fixing grammatical errors, changing sentence structure to be clearer or flow better, probably changing that string of three consecutive “ing” words up there, noting confusing sentences/blocking, etc. Some people call this copy editing, and define line editing differently, but this is what I was looking for.)

I had a list of a few editors to check out. There are a some whose blogs I follow who seem fantastic, and who are on my list for future projects, but I had one more item on my list: I wanted someone with experience in Fantasy. That narrowed the list down. While I would trust many professional, experienced editors to do line edits, I needed someone who knew world-building and magic systems.

Enter editor Joshua Essoe.

I’d been listening to the Hide and Create podcast for a few months, and knew that he knew his stuff. I liked what he said about those issues I mentioned above. I liked how he described his approach to editing. People seemed pleased with his work. I went to his website, looked things over, and decided to send my sample pages in and get an estimate.

I was so nervous. I hate sending my work out for critique, and this was the real thing. Someone was going to tell me how my work sucked so I could pay him money to tell me MORE about how my work sucked. Sweet deal, right?

Anyway, it was fine. He actually thought the first five pages were pretty good, but he made some line edits. I changed things, read it through, and knew I’d found my guy. He didn’t mess with my character’s voice, just made things smoother and clearer, and asked questions that helped me make the setting and character movements clearer.

The next question, of course, was money. I don’t like to talk about money. Monsieur Joshua Essoe charges an hourly rate (posted on his site if you’re THAT curious), and gives an estimate based on the sample and how long he thinks it will take to edit the full book. The estimate is subject to change, of course. If a mechanic gives you an estimate on changing your oil, then opens the hood to find the engine plastered in cat crap and roadkill (not to mention the parts that are falling off), your price is going to go up. Likewise for an editor who charges by the hour.** My estimate came in at something just north of 50 hours.

So yeah, it was a big decision. I had to talk it over with AJ, and explain that there was a good chance that this book wouldn’t earn that money back. Most books, especially first ones, don’t “earn out,” and any profits would need to go toward the next book’s production costs***. We’d have to think of it as an educational expense; I wanted an editor more than I wanted to take a few courses or try to go to a convention. More than just getting this one story fixed, I wanted to know where my writing needed to improve, and I knew I’d get that. It was an investment in me and my business, and (may all the gods of Tyrea bless him forever), AJ voted that I should go ahead with it.

I was shaking when I hit “send.” I may have barfed. Wait, maybe that was when I published. In any case, for the two weeks My Editor (yes, it’s fun to say that) had the book I was tense, jumpy, nervous… a joy to be around in all respects. He sent an updated estimate half-way through (not much change, but considerate of him nonetheless).

Was I nervous that I was wasting my our money? You bet. Terrified, in fact. What if it wasn’t worth it? What if Señor Joshua Essoe thought it was horrible and told me to change everything? What if he didn’t get what I was trying to do, and wanted to make the tone less modern and more TRADITIONAL, MEDIEVAL FANTASY? Ick. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not what I like to read or write. What if it turned out my work was so horrible that I couldn’t publish, and had to give up writing, and had wasted our tax refund, and…

Sometimes having an over-active imagination sucks.

So then, on an evening in April, my phone binged its e-mail notification as I was getting ready for bed. By that point I was jumping to the ceiling every time that happened.

And there it was: Bound Edit Complete! And an attachment!

Nausea. Excitement. It was like Christmas morning, if we’d had the turkey the night before and it gave me salmonella.**** Obviously I wasn’t going to wait until morning to peek. AJ was working, the kids were in bed. Screw sleep, I had reading to do!

The editorial critique letter came in around 20 pages. This was the developmental editing, the big picture stuff, the things that would lead to revisions and scene re-writes.

And it was FANTASTIC.

That’s not to say it was all positive. Nooooooo sir.

The first paragraph was kind and wonderful. He said I was a good writer, that my characters were well-drawn and engaging, that he enjoyed the story right through.

The second paragraph said this: “If you feel like throwing things as you continue to go through the edit, come back and read that first paragraph again.”

Cue my nerves.

It was a fair warning, actually.

  • He critiqued my magic system, which seemed too broad and open, and allowed problems to be solved too easily. It wasn’t well-defined enough; that was my fault, as I’d accidentally edited much of the explain-y stuff out when I was trying to get the word-count down to trad-pub acceptable levels.
  • He reminded me that I had the ability to time-travel, to go back and set up important details early in the story so that they didn’t seem a little too convenient when they showed up later, or slow pacing when I had to explain them during exciting moments.
  • There were big issues with Aren’s character and motivation. Not surprising, given that he wasn’t even supposed to be a viewpoint character when I first came up with the concept for the story, or through most of the first draft.
  • The climax needed to be re-written, as it was too melodramatic.
  • He thought I should change the ending, and **SPOILER** suggested I not let certain aspects of the romantic storyline reach a conclusion until the next book.

There were other things, but I won’t list them all here. The letter concluded with another lovely paragraph about the book. More importantly, the body of the letter gave suggestions about how to fix the problems. *insert choirs of angels singing* And not only that, he had respected the story that I wanted to tell and the way I wanted to tell it.

So yeah, it was hard to hear there was so much room for improvement, but it made me sure I’d made the right decision in hiring my editor. I fell asleep that night with a huge grin on my face. It was going to take a lot of work, but this thing was going to be goooooood.

I read through the line notes the next day. These were done using Track Changes in Word– not my favourite program, but effective for this. There were changes to wording that I would accept or reject later. SO many of those. But more importantly, there were notes EVERYWHERE. Why would he do this? This statement doesn’t make sense. That concept needs to be explained sooner. Redundant. She wouldn’t be this comfortable with him yet. Cut. These characters are too stereotypical. There were also little notes that indicated personal reactions to the story, and those made it easier to get through the tough stuff: **cool!  **nice **this is awesome

My personal favourite correction.

My personal favourite correction.

Maybe it’s silly that I needed them, but those little bits of encouragement really made the whole thing a lot more pleasant. Yes, there were times when I made faces at the screen. Yes, in my sleep-deprived immaturity I may have giggled at the phrase “needs deeper penetration.” Yes, I did occasionally want to throw things.

In fact, what came next was the hardest work I’ve ever done on anything. I took the advice. I planned changes. I accepted most suggestions, and rejected a few (see aforementioned romantic conclusion and ending– truth is, I hate cliffhangers and unresolved romance as a reader, and I didn’t want to use them in this book. Not bad advice, just a personal decision. This is one of the reasons I went indie, after all). And at the end, I had a book I was truly proud of.

Was there anything I would change about the experience? I guess doing developmental and line edits separately would have been nice, though it would have been a LOT more expensive to have him take the time to do two passes. It would have allowed me to make the big changes and address major issues before he fixed up the smaller things. But keeping costs down was important at the time, too. And Joshua was great with follow-up stuff. I asked for clarification on a few points, bounced a few ideas off of him in e-mails, was probably a little annoying, and he was great about answering everything. He offered a wrap-up phone call, but I don’t really do phone stuff. E-mail it was. And he took a quick look at by cover copy and corrected a couple of grammatical/punctuation errors there, too.

Was it easy? No. My skin’s not as thick as it should be, though it’s getting tougher. But it was absolutely worth every dollar and every minute.

Is it for everyone? Probably not. I know I was lucky to be able to afford to do this (see aforementioned tax refund), and not everyone can. Many authors get by just fine without developmental editing, and line edits are usually cheaper. Some writers don’t work with editors at all. I’m sure people will read this and tell me I spent too much. That’s fine, if that’s your opinion. But my book came out of that editing so much stronger than it went in. It’s not a perfect book, but I’m confident that it’s the best I could make it.

Okay, there’s one typo. I need to fix that.

And yes, it has paid for itself already. I don’t like to talk money, but my fears about that were unfounded.

Before anyone asks, yes, Mr Essoe has agreed to work on Torn. If Bound hadn’t made enough money, I’d have had to find a cheaper route, but we’re good for now, and I’m thrilled about that. When my lovely, wonderful, and honest beta readers are done ripping it apart critiquing it, I’ll fix the problems they identify, and then send it off. Fewer problems = less for mister editor to fix = less expensive for me. I highly recommend doing it this way if you’re using an editor.

TL;DR VERSION

Why I decided to use an editor: The book was good, but I needed professional help if I wanted it to kick ass.

How I found mine: Heard him on a podcast, was blown away by the sample edit.

How much it cost: More than my first car, less than my current one.

Holy crap, really?: Yes.  This is a good post on what they do, and average rates. There’s another FANTASTIC post out there on why they charge as much as they do (taxes, business expenses, non-billable hours, etc), but I can’t find it. If anyone knows the one I’m talking about, please drop a link in the comments!

What the process was like: Amazing. Humbling. Uplifting. Inspiring. Confidence-boosting. Challenging. Grey-hair inducing. SWELL.

Has it paid off: In my case, absolutely. Your mileage may vary. This is all personal experience.

So I hope that helps someone, and now I have a post I can refer people to when they ask. WIN-WIN, guys.

*No, I don’t like the term self-published, because it has a stigma attached to it and because I don’t do it all myself. I operate like a micro-press that works with freelance editors, cover artists, and formatters. It just happens to only represent one author.

**Many do charge by word-count. I consider them brave souls!

*** General advice is to expect to release 3-5 books before you’re making much money, so that’s how I planned it.

****Sorry for that visual.


WIPpet Wednesday: The Triumphant and Climactic Return

So, SOMEONE said I needed to get my ass back to WIPpet Wednesdays. And because this SOMEONE commands a fleet of flying monkeys, here I am.

But the thing is, edits are still going really well, so I don’t have time for anything complicated. I was having climax issues (heh), but I think I’ve got it sorted. Things have changed, melodrama has shifted to a lower-burning but still toasty conflict (I hope) that explodes into a lengthier scene than I’d had before.

I still don’t feel entirely comfortable adding words, but hey, I have permission. Yeah, the story’s long, but this is one advantage of independent publishing. I can give readers the whole story without worrying about being rejected because I went over 100,000 words to tell it properly, and I don’t have to charge $12.99 for an e-book to let people enjoy it. VALUE, PEOPLE!*

Oh, and if you offered to read an ARC and would like one a tiny bit early so you can notify me of typos/ minor flubs I may have added in the editing process , let me know. I have this idea where ARC readers who notice mistakes get entered for a chance to win a cameo appearance in the last book of the trilogy. 🙂

Here’s 14+14+5=33 words from the climactic scene itself. No context, because I don’t want to give anything away.

 

Aren wiped the blood from his chin. “I’m not going to stop fighting until you let her go.”
“I thought so.” Severn  tilted his head to one side. “You know you can’t win.”
“I’ll try.”

Hmm… I feel like that won’t quite satisfy our host KL Schwengel’s thirst for blood.

Oh, well. *evil grin*

For anyone who’s new to the blog (hi there!), WIPpet Wendnesday is the day when a bunch of us post a snippet from a work in progress that somehow relates to the day’s date. In my case, the math was simple (14th day, 5th month, [20]14), but it can get crazy. Page number, holiday references, algebra… you name it, we’ve done it. Feel free to join in by posting on your own blog, then link back here, and be sure to stop by and say hello to everyone else! We’re a friendly bunch, I promise.

Quickie ROW80 Update

It’s good. Seriously. I’ve gotta go. Still might be done edits by then end of this week. Then another read-through, minor tweaking (not twerking), and then formatting HOLY CARP.

Signing off… back to work.

 

*The paperback might cost you, though 😉


Sunday ROW80 Update– 3/4 Edition

I know. Late again. Absent again.

No, I didn’t exactly fall off the blogging wagon. I just don’t have time to write here right now, because EDITING. Yep, I’m actually doing it, getting through this thing one chapter at a time. One tiny change, one major scene overhaul, one “just go back and add this earlier and explain that other thing better” at a time.

Chapter 28 is up tonight, and it needs work.

It’s also kind of a big deal. Can’t screw it up.

What this means is that I’m 3/4 of the way through, and could very well be done these edits by the end of the week. The kids are both in school every morning this month, and I’m taking advantage of every hour they give me (and some they don’t, too).

Guys. I know this is only scary for me, and those of you who already have books out are laughing quietly to yourselves, but I’m really getting nervouscited.

Much as I’ve wanted to kick some chapters (and characters) right in the Timbits, I’m excited about this story. It’s so close to being ready.

EDITING:

On chapter 28 of 35. So close I can taste it.

READING:

Completed beta read of a FANTASTIC book that you’ll hear all about closer to release time. SO GOOD.

OTHER STUFF:

I didn’t really have many other goals for this round, but I’ve got a few other quick projects done. I don’t have time or space to break out the paints, but I gave two old My Little Pony girls new life with fresh hair in brand new colours. I think they look happy. 🙂

 

20140512-195722.jpg

Applejack (had ratty yellow hair)

20140512-195734.jpg

Dancing Butterflies (had slightly less-ratty yellow hair. But just slightly)

 

So, how about you? What have I missed while I’ve been holed up in the editing cave? What’s happening on your blog and/or in your neck of the woods?


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