It’s now the new year and this is the first blog I’ve written. Shame on me, but I am full of very good excuses. Happy New Year, my friends. I have just the cliche also, “Better Late than Never,” The nice thing is my well wishes comes straight from the heart.
Now on to the main point of this blog. You were asked if you enjoyed the revision of the books that you wrote or are writing. I can’t say I enjoy it much. I would never make a good editor in my mind. When I’m writing I depend heavily on my writing group at FanStory.com. I can read over a page and I do not see any of the mistakes they find for me. My mind put it down on the paper and it doesn’t let me see everything it should.
There is a article in this months The Writer magazine on Revision. The author, Bernard Malamud believes “Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing”. He also pointed out specific steps to take to help you get through the revision process. Here are his tips, but if you get the chance do read the entire article. It gives you lots of information.
Wait until the first draft is complete before you edit. If you try to edit as you go it could cause problems with your imagination, momentum or maybe your creativity. This is controversial as other writers feel you aren’t writing if you don’t edit as you go. I split it I guess. I revise my chapters as I finish them. It seems to me there are always changes that can be made at anytime. You have to be careful not to get in a long long editing cycle. For some it is hard to be satisfied with their work.
Revise all at once or element by element. That is a decision the writer must make. The way I revise I tend to do element by element. I have to admit that sometimes it can feel as if the job is to big to handle. At those times I get me a cup of tea and sit back from the computer. I have to admit I talk to myself in my head, (Isn’t it called thinking?) about anything other than my book. I might even get up and play with my dogs for a few minutes. Anything to get my mind away from the book.
Revise the whole novel, or section by section. I know this sounds a lot like #2 but in this one he is considering sections as chapter by chapter or dividing the novel into sections. If you edit by this method you have a big opportunity to make a mistake in my view. What if you change an outcome in Chapter 2 that affects the character throughout the book. If the changes aren’t make in every section then confusion can rule.
Fine-tuning versus revising. “Revision is generally distinguished from fine tuning with revision dealing with fiction elements such as character, plot and structure, and even style, and fine tuning dealing with rather minor mechanical issues.
Each of us have our little rules to follow that sometimes can cause problems. When I went to school over 50 years ago we were taught very specific rules on how to write, sentence structure, correct word placement, and on and on. That can lead to rounds and rounds of revision. This is where you need that writing group or a brutally honest friend who can read your work and tell you what you need to do to make it better.
I think Bernard wrapped it up very nicely. “Put simply you write with your heart, and you edit with your head.” Happy editing. Shirley
Hello everyone, I have been away from my blog for what seems like forever and I have missed it and my online friends. Today I want to share with you an article I read by Pete Croatto, on how to get noticed by the editors. If you want an editor it will take some work to get noticed.
Take Initiative: In an ideal world, our talent would be a siren song for editors far and wide. In a world of tight budgets and staff meetings, editors need story ideas and good ones. That means writing a pitch letter that shows you know the publication and what it wants. “What gets me to notice someone is I can notice immediately if they have a familiarity with the magazine,” says Mark Rotella, senior editor at Publishers Weekly. “They might have mentioned an article they had read or a review that they read. Usually, people are pretty specific about what section of the magazine they want to write for. Basically, if they’re pitching me about the magazine, I want to see that they’ve read it.”
Make the job Easier: Sara Benincasa, author of Real Artists Have Day Jobs ( And Other Awesome Things They Don’t Teach You in School), says it’s key to do as much work for the editor as possible without overstepping. “Don’t expect that your editor has a comprehensive knowledge of the television show or trend or book or political issue that you would like to discuss in your writing,” she says. “Provide links, easy explanations. Provide assistance without the legwork to show your editor that your pitch is for a story that will bring in views, and readers attention in a positive way.”
Follow Up: This isn’t tennis. The ball keeps moving only if you keep hitting it. If you haven’t heard back after a week or two, politely inquire so you can either start writing or send your idea elsewhere. Rotella, who has written for the New York Times and American Heritage, says the delay worked or the pitch came at the wrong time.
Try, Try Again: An editor’s disinterest or silence should not be taken as an affront. That even applies to repeat clients. “I follow up and pitch more stuff without being annoying and contacting the editor too much,” Benincasa says. “If they liked my work the first time, they will respond. If they did not like my work they will not respond. I do a pitch, I follow up once and if I don’t hear anything, I move on.” In other words, our confidence in your idea should drive you.
Look Beyond Big Names: Chances are you’re not going to make it into The New Yorker and not every profile will land in GQ. (But don’t be afraid to try.) Get published, get paid and use the clips as a down payment for more desirable venues. Write Always. That’s the only way you get better and pay your bills.
Proofread A Lot: Once you get an assignment, it’s easy to get noticed for the wrong reasons. Rotella has an aversion to writers who can’t meet deadlines or follow directions, but says, “Nothing is worse, for me than if I have to spend too much time editing because of sloppiness. That is a real discouragement.” Be professional. Proofread, fact-check and make yourself available to address any concerns your editor has.
Play Nice with Others: Veteran freelance journalist Jen A. Miller got a big assignment from a new publication when a fact-checker there remembered Miller’s work at another publication. “Sometimes that can be an incredibly tedious process,” she says. “You’re already done with a story, you don’t want to deal with it anymore, you don’t want to deal with the fact-checker, but you don’t know where that fact-checker is going to end up.”
Finally, Be Easy to Find: That comes courtesy Miller, author of Running: A Love Story and a regular contributor to The New York times and Runner’s World. She believes every writer must have a website. “It sets you up as a professional,” she says.
I do hope this article was helpful and it gave you some incite on what you need to do to snag that elusive editor. Have a blessed week.
The following blog is from BubbleCow which I received this morning. Because of my editing on Princess Adele’s Dragon, I seem to be paying a lot more attention when I see these helpful tips. I wanted to share it. Have a blessed day. Shirley
I’m talking about that dirty word: grammar.
But more than that, I’m also talking about formatting, which is kind of like grammar for the computer-age. Bold statements aside, if you want to be taken seriously by publishers, editors, and readers, then you’ve got to get your head around formatting conventions on word processors. I often joke that you wouldn’t start playing a sport without first reading the rules. It is the same for writing. You need to be getting the basics correct; there’s no excuse. As a writer, you simply need to know this stuff.
I’m a big fan of writing software in general and favour a whole host of different word processors. However, Microsoft Word is still the industry standard, so I’ll be using that as a reference point. These rules will still apply whether you’re using Scrivener, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, or whatever your software of choice is.
OK, so with all that said, here’s the six grammar/formatting issues that drive us mad:
Ellipses – yep. They showed up last week and they’re back again. A few of you seemed unclear as to the nature of an ellipsis. Well, an ellipsis is the three dots writers use to denote an omission or to show a pause in speech. Here at BubbleCow, we often receive manuscripts where the writer has thrown in a few ellipses but with variable numbers of dots. In fact, some writers seem to think that the more dots they add, the more mysterious and tantalising their cliff-hanger becomes. “I was never there…………………… OR WAS I?” Oh dear. Ellipses only ever have three dots. No more, no fewer.
Two other things to say about ellipses. The correct way to write an ellipsis is . . . – that’s dot space dot space dot. The problem is that this plays havoc with some eBook conversion tools. Therefore, our house style is to alter them to … (three dots with no spaces). This will be picked up in the conversion process and handled correctly.
What about when an ellipsis is used at the end of the sentence? What happens to that extra full stop? Should it be three dots (…) or three and a full stop (… .). The answer is a little confusing. There’s no set rule on this, with different style guides opting for different options. At BubbleCow, our house style ignores that last full stop. Just the three dots for us, please.
Writing numbers – this, confusingly, is not another case of consistency. Now, we get hundreds of manuscripts where the writers rather sensibly choose to either use either purely numeric or purely written numbers for the entirety of their manuscripts. Then we get those who arbitrarily use a mixture of the two. Strangely, both parties are wrong in this case. Our house style (based on the Chicago Manual of Style) is as follows: numbers up to 100 must be written in words – so: one, seventeen, ninety-four. After that this becomes a little time consuming, so we allow these larger numbers to be written in digits: 1003, 784, 100,000. All you have to remember is that 100 is the magic number.
Spaces – now I know what you’re thinking. How can anyone mess up a space? Do we receive manuscripts that are just spaceless walls of interlinked words? The answer is no.
I’m talking about making sure that you’re only using one space between words. Now I know how it is – you’re writing passages, deleting them later on, shuffling around paragraphs – things get messy. But I recently ran a find-and-replace on a manuscript and it found 384 instances where two spaces had snuck in instead of one.
We’ve talked about single and double spacing before and it kicked up a bit of a storm. You see back in the olden days of typewriters and typesetting, double-spacing was standard. Those days are over! Double spaces are a nightmare for those unlucky publishers who’re in charge of creating eBooks. They mess up the formatting, resulting in unattractive, oddly-spaced electronic books that inevitably have to scrapped and redone. Our advice? Stick to one space.
Page breaks – this one is easy. The reason I’ve listed it here is because eBook conversions rely on page breaks between chapters. They will see the page break and understand that they need to do something special. If you’ve just pressed Enter a load of time to move the text to the next page you are in trouble. Not only will the conversion process potentially miss the chapter break but you’ll also lose the positioning if you then add or remove text in the chapter.
The bottom line is that you should always use a page break to go to the next page before starting a new chapter. This makes for a clean and presentable eBook, and will also help the printers if you’re going to print copies.
Paragraph breaks versus line breaks – these two phenomena might need explaining as they’re both pretty similar. Indeed, Microsoft Word didn’t start distinguishing between them until about 2003 (don’t quote me on this), but in modern word processing, the difference is very important.
OK, if you open up Word, type “BubbleCow is great,” and then press Enter, you’ll notice that the cursor jumps down to the line below, leaving some space between the previous line and the new one. This is a paragraph break. This is the one you want.
If, however, you were to hold Shift and then press Enter, the resulting new line would be right up beneath “BubbleCow is great,” with no space between them.
A great way of checking this is to use the Show/Hide Nonprinting Characters button, found on the Home tab in Word (it’s the odd black backwards P symbol). A paragraph break will show up as one of these backward-Ps, whereas a line break will be a cornering arrow. You want the P.
Line breaks are a nightmare for those in charge of formatting your masterwork – it groups all the text together, which means that text becomes harder to arrange on the page and stubborn in its disobedience. Using line breaks to create space (at the end of a chapter, for example, so you can get that page break in) can create nightmares for eBook conversions. Paragraph breaks all the way. One of the first things I do with a new manuscript is to find and replace all line breaks with paragraph breaks.
Indentation – those pesky line breaks also have a habit of messing up any system of indentation you might (should) have going. Indents only trigger on paragraph breaks, so there’s an extra reason always to paragraph break! But indents are important in their right.
Here at BubbleCow, we want the first paragraph of each chapter to be a straight flush, with the first sentence in line with the following sentences. After that, though, every paragraph needs its first line to be indented using the Tab key (not spaces! These tend to be messier and can disappear during the eBook conversion process). Again, this is one of the first things we add when we receive a new manuscript, as it helps your manuscript appear clean, streamlined, and readable. It also makes eBook versions far more attractive and is necessary for the conversion process.
This posting is strictly a copy, but I thought it was cute. It will give you a chuckle for the day. A friend of mine sent this to me so I thought I would share it. Enjoy
Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn’t you say?Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and DaughterThis one I caught in the Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day.
I just couldn’t help but send this along. Too funny.Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert SaysNo kidding, really? Ya think?—————————————————————————- Police Begin Campaign to Run Down JaywalkersNow that’s taking things a bit far! ———————————————————–Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes OverWhat a guy!————————————————————— Miners Refuse to Work after DeathNo-good-for-nothing’ lazy so-and-so’s!—————————————————— Juvenile Court to Try Shooting DefendantSee if that works any better than a fair trial!———————————————————- War Dims Hope for PeaceI can see where it might have that effect!—————————————————————- If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last a WhileYa think?!———————————————————————– Cold Wave Linked to TemperaturesWho would have thought!—————————————————————- Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect HomicideThey may be on to something!———————————————————————— Red Tape Holds Up New BridgesYou mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?———————————————————- Man Up for Battery Struck by LightningGuilty as Charged?———————————————- New Study of Obesity Looks for LargerTest GroupWeren’t they fat enough?!———————————————– Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft That’s what he gets for eating those beans!—————- ——————————— Kids Make Nutritious SnacksDo they taste like chicken?**************************************** Local High SchoolDropouts Cut in HalfChainsaw Massacre all over again!
That’ll teach’m to be dropouts!*************************************************** Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!
******************************************* And the winner is….Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds DeadDid I read that right?***************************************************
Now that you’ve smiled at least once, it’s your turn to spread the stupidity. We all need a good laugh, at least once a day!
My blog today is going back to the subject of writing and publishing. It was brought to the forefront in my mind today that you can never be sure that your book will come out from the publisher like it was sent to them. My problem only came to my attention because of a cancelled book tour. I was told my book was not ready to be toured. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I had gone over my book with a fine tooth comb and couldn’t find a problem.
When I received my galley from the publisher they were fine, and I signed off on them and sent them for printing. I received my author books and they looked great. That took place about a month ago. Since that time I have actively been advertising my book and a sold a few ebooks.
Yesterday after my book tour had been cancelled I went back over my book and could find nothing wrong. It dawned on me that I’d never looked at my ebook, so I downloaded me a copy to my Kindle. I looked at the first page and it immediately jumped out at me that something was missing. In fact it was absent throughout the book. What had been left out was the italicized print for the characters inner thoughts. It made it look like I was changing tense in the middle of paragraphs. When your writing that is a big NO, NO.
I immediately got on the phone with my publisher and told them of the problem. It took awhile for me to convince them they caused the problem. I finally got through to the ebook department after explaining the situation to at least three people. I was then told sometimes the code messes up in the ebooks and it makes an error in printing.
It makes me want to jump up and down screaming at the top of my lungs that I did everything right and it still came out messed up. So the moral of this story is check your ebooks to make sure they are correct. I made the mistake of assuming because my hard copies were correct my ebook would be also. Learn from my mistake.
I certainly learned a big lesson when I self- published my book “The Tower” last November. I was so excited I’d actually wrote myself and the world a book. How cool is that? My family and I patted myself on the back until we all needed our shoulders fixed. What a magical time and it did feel good.
Now it is June of 2011 and I have pulled the book from sale. Bottom line is I was in such a hurry I didn’t think I needed to follow the long tedious process that’s been proven to be successful.
I wrote a very good story, but when I read it again after six months. I knew I couldn’t leave it out in the world.
I can say I’ve leared a great deal over the last six months, I didn’t know when I wrote the book. I looked at it and my brain screamed, How could you make those kind of mistakes. For me it was lack of knowledge at the time.
I know I’ve not been the only one who made this error of getting in such a hurry, I failed to produce a quality book. I’m now in the process of correcting the errors I made and hope to have the book back on the market in a couple of months.
Pay attention to what fellow writers say. Always put your writing away for awhile and then go back and critique it. You might be surprised at what you find. I learned the lesson the hard way so I wanted to share with you, so just maybe you might be smarter than I was.
Edit until you can’t edit anymore
After you put it away, pull it out and edit again.
The video today is a fast talking young woman on How To Publish.
Since I began in the writing world last year, I have learned a great deal, but not enough. When I published my book, “The Tower,” I was as naive as I could be. I went with Xlibris Publishing because they promised me the world (so to speak), if I let them publish my book. Getting the world did not happen.
Since I am now working on my second book “The Dobyns Chroncles,” I have been looking around for another publisher to use. I have contacted at least two and get the same answers to the questions I ask. I always ask what kind of access do I have to find out the amount of books I have sold. The answer, quarterly, that is when the reports come in from the outside sources, such as Amazon.com. I also ask what type of help I get as an author who does not know everything I should about writing and publishing a book. The answer: All the help you need. We are here to assist you in any way we can.
My problem with those answers are this: If I am spending my hard-earned money on marketing my book, how do I know the marketing is working, if I can only get information quarterly. With Exlibris, I did not have access to the Amazon account because it’s in Xlibris name. I asked Xliblis about access and the answer was, “I can understand your concern,” and wasn’t given any information about the account. I can’t accuse anyone of doing anything dishonest because i just don’t know if I sold 10,000 books or ten. Does every Independent Publisher do the same thing?
As far as the question about helping, I feel like I was taken down a rosy path with Exlibris. I was supposed to receive help with the cover. That didn’t happen, I was asked to produce a picture for the cover. That was my responsiblity. I wanted someone to help me determine what type of cover I should have that would compliment the book, as well as create interest. I also wanted a publisher who would tell me what I needed to do to improve my writing. That didn’t happen either. I found out line editing (a term I didn’t understand) was not enough.
I wrote a good mystery, but in hind sight it was not technically perfect. I can write a good story, but getting all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed is not my strong point. Is there an Indie publisher who really helps their clients, or are they all after the money? That’s my two-cents for today.