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From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
The summer is flying by, but I’m thrilled to report that my little publishing company managed to release not one, but two novels. My first novel Chez Stinky is a romantic comedy that is now available on Amazon Kindle. Even now, the print version should be flowing through the databases to various online booksellers as well. We also released Vaetra Untrained, which is the the second installment of a fantasy series called the Vaetra Chronicles by Daniel R. Marvello.
Working with editors is the topic of this month’s newsletter. Having just published two new books, I can attest that editing is important. You can never have too many people look at your book. I seem to have to relearn that particular truth repeatedly.
When you publish books and put title information on multiple print and ebook distribution sites, you end up doing a lot of copy and paste. I found out the hard way that one tiny typo can really ruin your day. After not noticing a missing "i" in my book description, my husband finally caught the typo, but by then it was wrong everywhere.
Fortunately, fixing it was easy, but it just goes to show you the importance of proofreading. Typos happen. So find an editor and keep her happy. You won’t be sorry!
I read a description of the editor’s job vs. the writer’s job, but sadly, don’t remember who said it. If you know, please e-mail and tell me. It said:
The writer’s job is to tell the story with fire and passion. It’s the editor’s job to clear away the smoke so the reader can see it.
This month the topic is How to Get Your Editor to Love You. There are tips from the editorial staff of a magazine, an editor for e-books, and an editorial entrepreneur.
Pitch ideas. Imagine you are a long-time editor of a magazine. Wouldn’t you run out of fresh takes on old standards or look for new ideas? Pitches also let the editor know you have expertise in this area.
Be on time. If you see you’re going to run late, send a warning e-mail. If you can’t finish an article, call!
Stick with the word count, give or take 100 words or so. Err on the long side. Editors plan an issue based on word count vs. space. If your article runs short, there’s a hole in the magazine. If it runs a bit long, the editor can pick and choose which lines work best for the magazine’s readership. After all, who knows the reader best?
While the editor’s office might not look like those in the old movies where someone yells, “Stop the presses!” and copy boys run from desk to desk as harried writers pull their stories from typewriters, it can be plenty hectic. Make things easy for the editor and your name will pop into her mind when assignment time rolls around.
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
This month we focus on the earning potential of your book through excerpts for magazines. We list nine new magazines and publishers for freelance writers and authors and provide reviewers galore for those of you with books to promote. What is exposure and why is it important? Don’t miss this brief article. As always, this issue of the SPAWN Market Update has something for everyone.
If you have yet to join SPAWN and receive all the benefits, join by going to www.spawn.org and click on Join/Renew.
Ask the Book Doctor:
Ask the Book Doctor: About Point of View and Internal Dialogue or Thoughts
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: I’m about to send a book manuscript to an editor, but I’ve never worked with an editor before. Do I need to do anything special before I send the manuscript?
A: The answer depends upon whether you are sending your manuscript to a concept editor, a line editor, a combination of those two (often called a book doctor), or an acquisitions editor. It’s confusing, so let me explain.
A concept editor, also called a content editor, looks at the big picture. If it’s a novel, the concept editor examines, evaluates, and makes suggestions to improve, if necessary, the plot, dialogue, characters, and other elements related to fiction. If the manuscript is a nonfiction book, the concept editor examines elements such as organization, pace, clarity of information, and such. Some concept editors are happy to work with outlines, proposals, or synopses, even before the book is written, because they can often use skeletal material to spot weak or missing areas while the book is being formulated.
A line editor goes over every word in every line and ensures that the grammar, punctuation, and syntax are correct. He or she also ensures that the punctuation, capitalization, and other things comply with Chicago style. Line editors want your book manuscript or book proposal to be complete and be further along than a first draft. Send at least a second or third draft to a line editor.
A book doctor combines both concept editing and line editing, so you get a full evaluation of your manuscript as well as technical-error corrections. As with line editors, book doctors need a completed book proposal or manuscript as polished as you can get it, and they will polish it the rest of the way, as well as evaluate and give you feedback on the concept and elements.
An acquisitions editor, in contrast to the first three kinds of editors, usually does no editing at all. Acquisitions editors expect all the editing to be completed before you send in the manuscript. Acquisitions editors work at publishing houses and are responsible for acquiring books, not editing them. For the acquisitions editor, you absolutely must submit your highly polished and edited book proposal or manuscript according to their specifications. Some want the first chapter; others want a random chapter. Some ask for the first three chapters. Some want outlines. For nonfiction, most acquisitions editors will want a book proposal, along with one to three sample chapters. Find and follow each acquisitions editor’s guidelines.
Almost all editors will want your manuscript in standard manuscript style, so before sending it out (or even better, before you begin writing your book), be sure the manuscript adheres to standard manuscript style.
What constitutes standard manuscript style? The typed manuscript should be in twelve-point Courier or Times New Roman, double-spaced, with no extra spaces between paragraphs except to indicate a scene shift in fiction or a shift in subject matter in a nonfiction book. Every paragraph is indented, not using the tab key, but by using the First-Line Indent function on the ruler in Microsoft Word. Each new chapter begins on a new page by using page breaks, not hard returns. The header on every page but the title page identifies the title, author, and page number. Only one space follows periods and colons, no matter what we learned when we used typewriters.
Come to think of it, the big difference in these editors is that the acquisitions editor will want your manuscript to have been edited before it was submitted, which means to make any of these editors happy, polish your manuscript, set it in the correct format, and get it edited before you submit it for potential publication.
Q: What programs of study must a student complete to become a writer?
A: Writers do not have to take one singular path to reach professional level; the options are many. I took journalism in college because that’s all my university offered, back in the early 1960s. Today up-and-coming writers can take advertising, journalism, corporate communications, technical writing, and other courses that lead to various careers for writers. Some universities even offer an MBA in creative writing, which may be helpful, but I learned the most about creative writing outside of school by reading, going to seminars, and participating in critique circles. Do not think, however, that majoring in English is a path to becoming a writer. It might help, though, if you want to become an editor.
When I was facing college, my father asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I said I wanted to be a writer. His response was, “You’ll never make a living as a writer; you’d better do something else.” He and others probably thought I wanted to be a novelist, which rarely results in sufficient income by itself. I didn’t want to be a novelist, though. I simply wanted to work with words, and by being flexible and continually learning, I have been able to make a living with words. For the first half of my career I made money writing brochure and ad copy, commercials, newspaper and magazine articles, and corporate communications. For the second half of my career, I have concentrated on editing books, all working with the raw material I love: words.
Be flexible, keep learning, and keep believing, and you too can make money with words, no matter what courses or programs you take.
For more questions and answers, order Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing at http://zebraeditor.com/book_ask_the_book_doctor.shtml.
Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
by Patricia Fry
From First Draft to Finished Novel, A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building
by Karen S. Wiesner, Writer’s Digest Books (2008) ISBN: 978-1-58297-551-1
Paperback, size: 9 x 7, 263 pages ($19.99)
For those of you who don’t know Karen Wiesner, she is the author of 56 books produced in the last 10 years, in fiction and nonfiction genres. She writes women’s fiction, romance, mysteries, cozies, suspense, thriller, adventure, children’s books and a few writing-related titles. I’m telling you this so you’ll understand this author’s credibility when it comes to novel-writing. And according to her bio, her work has garnered dozens and dozens of awards.
It’s unusual for a novelist to write a cohesive nonfiction book. Obviously Wiesner is an exception. I found this book to be extremely informative, well laid-out, and easy to follow.
She says that writing a story isn’t much different from building a house and she provides clear instructions along with many relevant and useful examples. She uses examples from authors such as Dan Brown, Sandra Brown, J.K. Rowlings, Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, and many others.
I got a kick out of how she uses the process of building a house throughout her chapters to help writers understand the importance of taking each step in sequence. Works for me!
I especially appreciate her checklists. She provides a story-plan checklist, a cohesion checklist, revision checklist, punch checklist, as well as exercises and worksheets to help the reader put into action the valuable information she offers throughout this book.
Are you having trouble organizing or expanding on your story idea, your plot, the editing, or your submission package? Are you confused about point-of-view, character development or even how to conduct research for your novel? Take a look at this book. It is very well-designed and jam-packed with excellent information and instruction. In fact, it should be required reading for fiction writers.
How to Get Your Editor to Love You
from Magazine Editors
The Natural Awakenings editorial staff had the following tips for a good editor/writer relationship.
- Be easy to work with.
- Produce a quality product every time.
- Meet deadlines.
- Give your editor a brief heads-up/update e-mail when circumstances merit one.
- Don’t make a pest of yourself; submitting solid, fresh ideas/story outlines is the best way to gain new assignments.
- Develop two or three areas in which you have writing experience and/or expertise.
- Keep your rates affordable, based on the specific market.
- Post writing samples on a website for easy access and maintain an updated resume.
- Be enthusiastic and can-do flexible, but be honest about your limits in terms of ability and time.
- Be willing to recommend additional writers you know are good to your client.
How to Get Your Editor to Love You
from E-Editor K. D. Sullivan
An author writes—with skill and a unique style—to tell a story or convey a message to an audience. It’s the editor’s job to help the author succeed in these goals. We all know how valuable an additional, professional perspective can be. And just as an editor supports an author, an author can do a number of things to help the editor.
In my 30 years in the editorial field, I’ve learned some key strategies to help both authors and editors deliver a better story…and still be happy with each other along the way.
It’s helpful for an author to know what to expect in the way of editorial help:
A proofreader will ensure accuracy in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and consistency, but isn’t responsible for suggesting improved wording or writing.
A copy editor provides proofreading tasks and also improves phrasing and organization to make the writing more effective.
A substantive or developmental editor can apply a greater level of re-writing and re-organization, and even offer suggestions for new approaches and ideas.
When I teach editing, I offer this guideline:
When the reader is confused or misses the author’s meaning, the editor needs to recommend a change. On the other hand, when the author’s voice becomes the editor’s voice, the editor has done too much. If the words an author has chosen communicate clearly and well, the editor should let them stand, even if he or she would have chosen different ones.
The Four Cs
Effective writing begins with the Four Cs—ensuring your work is Correct, Consistent, Clear, and Compelling. Though the editor is there to help the author ensure all of these, the author can create—in fact is responsible for creating—the best work possible to begin with. It takes a little extra time, but excellence can’t be rushed.
Is It Correct?
Correct means free of both mechanical and factual errors.
Mechanical correctness means that all conventions of proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation are followed. The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary are the standard publishing references.
Writing standards exist for the same reason we have rules of the road: so everyone reads the signs and symbols the same way, and no one collides with a comma on the way to clear understanding.
Factual correctness means not only verifiable information, but also no conflicts with facts stated elsewhere in the piece.
Is It Consistent?
Ensuring consistency requires staying alert to details. For example, if your style is to have all thoughts in italics (standard convention), then be consistent in that style. If you want Ma’am vs. ma’am, be consistent.
Easier said than done? Because no one can remember all the minute details that can vary in a document, the best way to ensure consistency is to keep, add to, and refer to a style sheet—a list of anything an author and editor need to remember and keep consistent—spellings, capitalizations, abbreviations, punctuation, number and formatting conventions, and other details that crop up repeatedly.
Bonus tip: Though they don’t need to go on a style sheet, if you have complicated plot lines or characters with multiple names or complex relationships, consider keeping a character and plot-line list as you write. And do feel free to share this with the proofreader or editor.
Is It Clear and Compelling?
Is your writing presented as well as it might be? Does it communicate as effectively as it can? Those are highly subjective judgments, but ask yourself:
- Is the level of writing appropriate for its audience?
- Does the piece have an effective beginning, middle, and end?
- Is the language overly complex or wordy?
- Is the tone respectful and free of bias?
- Do conclusions flow logically from the stated facts?
- Are common words and expressions used idiomatically?
- Are transitions clear, graceful, and well placed?
- Does the writing contain clear, strong images and active constructions?
- Is the writing ambiguous?
- Does the writing contain redundancy or repetition?
- Do sentences vary in length and structure?
- Does the writing have too many or too few paragraph breaks?
- Is any humor appropriate and tasteful?
You’ve written a masterpiece. Together let’s make sure it’s framed in its best light. With author and editor working as a team to make the writing the most effective it can be, we achieve the ultimate goal—a satisfying and enriching experience…for the author and the reader!
K.D. Sullivan is CEO of Untreed Reads, an industry-leading e-book-first publisher that publishes and distributes fiction and nonfiction titles through their over 200 online retail and distribution sales outlets worldwide, as well as to thousands of global library purchasers. K.D. knows publishing well—from both sides of the process. She is an eight-time published author, (Go Ahead…Proof It!, A Cure for the Common Word and the upcoming In the Driver’s Seat: A Roadmap for Independent Professionals. She is co-author of A Cure for the Common Word (Taiwan edition); The Art of Styling Sentences, 4th and 5th Editions; The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Spanish for Health Care Professionals; The Gremlins of Grammar; and The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Writers, Editors, and Proofreaders book and CD).
How to Make Your Editor Love You
by Editorial Entrepreneur Tammy Ditmore
Hiring an editor to help you eliminate embarrassing mistakes and smooth away rough spots in your manuscript can be a big investment of money, time, and emotional energy. The best way for authors to maximize that investment is to create a good working relationship with their editor. Based on my experience and ideas from a number of colleagues, I’ve assembled a top-10 list of how authors can make editors want to go the extra mile. These tips apply for all types of editors, from developmental and content editors who help shape a manuscript to copyeditors and proofreaders who fine-tune it.
10. Submit the cleanest copy possible. Yes, you are paying to have your work edited, but you do yourself no favors if you send your editor a manuscript full of misspelled words, sentence fragments, and nonsensical plot twists. If your editor spends hours wading through such blatant errors, she won’t have time or energy to deal with issues that can transform an adequate book into a good one—or a good one into a great one.
9. Learn Microsoft Word’s ‘Track Changes.’ Most editors prefer to show corrections or suggest revisions through the ‘Track Changes’ tools. They aren’t difficult to master but can be a little intimidating. Learn how to use them so you can work seamlessly with your editor.
8. Stick to your agreement. Don’t submit your work late or turn in a manuscript that is thousands of words longer than your editor expects.
7. No surprises! If you have scattered French dialogue throughout your novel and want your editor to check all the accent marks or need her to format 245 footnotes, say so up-front.
6. Be reasonable and polite. Don’t call your editor at odd hours. Don’t expect her to work every weekend or to answer all your e-mails immediately. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and make requests rather than demands.
5. Communicate clearly and fully. If you want a particular ungrammatical phrase in your book, tell your editor before she spends hours correcting it. When your editor asks you questions, respond promptly.
4. Trust your editor. An editor’s job is to make you look better. Don’t question every suggestion or battle over every comma or word choice. And if your editor doesn’t understand a passage, don’t immediately assume he’s the only one who could misread it. If your editor is puzzled, it’s likely readers will be, too.
3. Say ‘thank you.’ If you’re happy with your editor’s work, offer to write a blurb for her website or Linkedin profile, recommend her to friends and colleagues, mention her on your website.
2. Respect your editor as a professional. Good editors study their craft; they read books, participate in discussion groups, and attend conferences and classes on writing, editing, and publishing. When you hire an editor, you’re not paying just for the hours she spends reading your manuscript—you’re buying those years of study and experience. When you look at it that way, your editor’s fee will seem like a bargain!
1. Treat your editor as a team member. Editors work hardest for the writers who view them as trusted consultants, not human spell-checkers. Look for ways to let your editor know you value her input and opinion. Let her know when the work is published and provide a copy of the finished product. These little steps can make an editor eager to work with you—and to work with you again. You don’t need anyone’s help to be a writer; you can do that all on your own. But you need a team to become an author. Teaming up with a great editor will not only help you become an author; it can also help you become a better writer.
Susan Daffron released her first novel, Chez Stinky, a romantic comedy about a tech writer who inherits a house with malodorous issues and a number of quirky dogs and cats. It’s now available in eformats such as Kindle and Nook for $2.99 and soon will be available in print as well. If you’re looking for a fun "beach read" this summer, visit the book web site for more info: ChezStinky.com
Roger Ellerton (www.renewal.ca ) recently published two e-books: NLP and Personal Growth Thoughts: A Series of Articles by Roger Ellerton, Volumes 1 and 2. All of his books are available through Amazon.com, Apple’s iTunes, and other online retailers.
Steven Lesk (Stephan Morsk) recently published an article on Yahoo Voices on the Zimmerman trial, a semi-fictionalized op-ed. Title: Bouillabaisse. http://voices.yahoo.com/bouillabaisse-12234612.html
Tammy Ditmore of eDitmore Editorial Services (www.editmore.com) was one of four editors who spoke at the July meeting of the Ventura County Writers Club on various aspects of editing. Tammy presented a version of the tips included in this month’s newsletter on How to Make Your Editor Love You. The panel also answered questions from the audience; an audio file of the session can be found at http://www.vcwcpodcasts.com/july-2013.html.
Sandra Beckwith has teamed with Marcia Layton Turner, founder of the Association of Ghostwriters (http://www.associationofghostwriters.org ), to create the new Information Products for Writers website at http://www.informationproductsforwriters.com.
The site is designed to help writers learn how to turn what they’ve already written or know into useful, profitable, information products that people want and need. It offers writers a free report: 10 Steps to Creating Your First Information Product, and a list of resources needed for creating and selling information products online.
Beckwith and Turner are currently leading an online group of nearly a dozen writers working to create their first information products over the course of 10 weeks. For more information, please visit http://www.informationproductsforwriters.com.
Dallas Woodburn recently had short stories accepted for upcoming issues of Louisiana Literature and the Arroyo Literary Review. This fall, she will be a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. Contact her at http://dallaswoodburnpr.com and www.writeonbooks.org.
Patricia Fry had a great time speaking at the Public Safety Writers Association Conference in Las Vegas last month. While many members are current or retired police officers, FBI agents, etc., others simply write about crime and mystery. They belong to this organization in order to learn more about police procedures and so forth. It was a great conference. Learn more about this organization at www.policewriters.org.
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