NEW WEBSITE: ashleyormon.com

Thank you everyone who has subscribed to my website, and follow it also.

My website has grown, but more than that, so has my freelance business. I guess you can say this blog is “all grown up” now and has it’s own domain.

So, please continue gaining tips on writing and wisdom nuggets where I’ll be writing for now on: ashleyormon.com

I can’t wait to see you there and talk about bookish and writerly things.

Self-publishing: The Editing Stage

Lesson One for Self-publishing: your book is not finished after you have written it.

Writing your book was the hardest part, but your manuscript is far from done. The second stage in getting your book published is having it professionally edited. This stage is necessary regardless of how great a writer you are. But, I’ve already talked about why even good writers need editors here.

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What editing is not

Editing is not you reading over your book searching for errors. Yes, you should do this and need to, but it is not enough.

Editing is not having a friend (unless (s)he is a professional editor) read over your book to ensure it looks okay and reads well.

Editing is not using Grammarly, or another similar system, to correct mistakes.

What editing is

There are three major types of editing:

  • Developmental editing: This is normally the first stage of editing. It consists of checking your flow, plot, character development, and ensuring your book progresses in a coherent manner from start to finish.
  • Line editing (manuscript/copyediting): This requires attention to each word, eliminating wordiness and repetition, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, and so forth.
  • Proofreading:  This is the final stage of editing. Proofreading consists of looking for typos, spelling, and simple mistakes. At this stage, the book is practically finished and the editor “polishes it up.”

Beginning the business of publishing

In a previous article I said authors are not only writers, but business people. Once you find an editor, you’ll most likely sign some form of contract (or at least you should) stating what the editor is providing and at what cost.

Ask the editors you speak to questions: what type of genre(s) do you edit? What style book do you use? Do you charge per page, per word, or by the hour?

Request a sample edit before hiring an editor. Most will edit the first five to ten pages of your manuscript. Some charge for this service and others may not. A sample edit is important because it allows you and the editor to see if you two are a good fit for your writing, and permits the editor to see how in-depth an edit your book will demand.

I always recommend a sample edit too because it permits you to see their mannerisms and how she works as a professional. If the editor’s responses are delayed, works unprofessionally and the suggestions given are demeaning or too harsh, this may be an indication to find someone else.

The editing phase can be humbling. An editor is not attached to your book in the way you are. She may suggest omitting a sentence you find yourself “married to,” or make comments you are not ready to hear. You want someone who will not withhold correction, yet encourages you too.

Please trust your editor

As an editor, I can say please know we only want to help you. If a part of your book is confusing to us it will probably be to your readers also. Try looking at our corrections from a reader’s point-of-view, or ask someone close to you what they think if you’re battling keeping an editor’s suggestion.

Your editor is not emotionally attached to your book and has not spent as much time with the manuscript as you have. Seeing a book with fresh eyes helps to fix “rough patches,” those sentences that do not add to your story, but instead subtract from it.

Are you finished yet?

Deadlines are important in any project. Inform the editor you are considering working with of when you’d like your book to be published. Give them a deadline and find out how long it will take them to edit your manuscript in its entirety.

Oh, and coming from this editor, if you give us a deadline and we agree to it please work with us in achieving it. If an editor returns your manuscript with corrections in a timely manner, please return the corrections made in good timing also. Most editors have several books they are working on at a time. Delaying the second pass (when you return your edits to them), can alter your intended deadline.

Remember, an editor is your partner in polishing your book. Partners work together and the more you work with us, the better we can work for you.

Any questions for the editing process? Leave them in a comment below. Looking for an editor? Contact me and let’s see if we’re a good fit for each other.

 

Suggested Reading:

How to Prepare You (and Your Book) to be Edited

Why Even Good Writers Need Editors

How Stephen King and Mark Twain became authors

The Hunger Games, 50 Shades of Grey, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and Mob Dick.  

You know what all of these titles have in common?

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They’re books. Great books — as culture has said — but more than being “great,” they all started the same: a single word written on a blank page.

I guess it takes the glamour out of things. The idea of a writer coming up with this magnificent idea, wanting to be published since his or her childhood. The glorious moment of their manuscript being accepted by a New York publisher, or “hitting it big” as a self-published author.

The reality is before Stephen King had a best-seller, or Mark Twain could be known for his work, they pulled out a blank page and inscribed one word at a time.

And if you want to be an author, your path will not be any different.

Jeff Goins, a national best-selling author, always says “writers write.” It seems like a common sense thing to say, but telling yourself, “I am going to write a book one day,” means nothing until “one today” becomes today.

People often say to me, “You have a book, cool! I want to write one. What’s the process?”

I get half-smiles and “stop being sarcastic” looks when I respond: “just write.”

Yes, I know. You want the details of publishing, finding an editor, how do you figure out the design, or how much money you may make. Perhaps you’re wondering who the best publisher is, or if you should publish your book on your own.

But here’s a little secret between you and I: (shhhhhhhh! Don’t tell too many people!) None of those questions matter if you haven’t written anything. Planning to write a book won’t make you an author. Planning to drive didn’t make you a driver, did it? Of course not. You had to get behind the wheel and actually drive.

Writing is the same. Let today be that someday your drive puts the words on the paper. Let today be the day you turn the wheels in your mind on to at least write your book ideas and plot summary.

Until then, writing a book will always be the off-distance plane. Great to see overhead in the clouds, but completely unattainable.

Writers are writers because they write. So stop procrastinating, and do that.

 

 

So you want to self-publish?

Sitting at a round-table two seats away from me, a lady lifts her head and thumb from her phone saying, “I could write a book! Everyone has one now.”

“You think so?” I ask interested.

“Of course,” she responds. “It’s easy. You pick a topic, write some words, print it, and there’s your book.”

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I sighed. She made it sound so easy. If only it was that easy.

Well, it can be if you skip the basic stuff; you know, finding an editor to correct all of those grammatical mistakes your reader will notice and how you misspelled a word, and finding a professional designer to make it look good. Easy if you babble on-and-on-and-on-and oh, sorry was I babbling? about a topic instead of developing a coherent story-line.

Writing is hard work. It’s an art to choose words to sound beautiful, look beautiful, and actually have value. Signing up to self-publish means you are responsible for doing all this, and also have to be a marketer, find an editor and designer, figure out how to copyright your book, publish and print it, and put it on Amazon, onto bookshelves, and ultimately into the hands of readers. (That’s just the short list by the way).

I say this not to discourage you. If you have a book inside of you, write it. If you want to publish your own manuscript, go for it! I encourage you to. And if you’re thinking, but how? What are the steps? What do I have to do after the manuscript has been put together, I can help you with that too.

The next few articles I’ll be covering self-publishing. The basics of what you need to know to make it, of course, that easy.

The difference between amateur and professional writers

Art is a discipline. It is a skill. It is a craft. It is something which you must work at regularly, and struggle through the challenges by overcoming one word at a time. Professional writers know this. Amateurs, however, will often say they “write when the muse visits” them.

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You see, the writers we most admire: journalists — who pen words beautifully — are required to write weekly, on a daily basis. When the muse visits, they write. And when the muse has veered to a foreign, hidden place they write.

We see authors publish books yearly. Screenwriters who create new plays often. Professional writing is not something we claim on a sometime basis. It is a full-time job of knowing even when you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

When you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

Stick to a writing schedule

View your time writing as a first date where it’d be horrible to miss, or show up late. I often tell those I coach to set an appointment on their calendar to sit down and write. Once set, treat it as a meeting at work you cannot miss. On Monday morning at 6 am, or Wednesday at 7:30 pm you must show up. No excuses.

(If you want to work full-time as a writer, why not start practicing now?)

Discipline gets things done

When I was writing my book, God in Your Morning, I woke up an hour earlier every morning to write. Within that hour sometimes I was only able to write a paragraph. Other times, I wrote pages upon pages. There were days I stared at a blank screen for 45 minutes and wished I had stayed in bed.

Regardless of how each writing session went, faithfully I woke up early every day to make my writing appointment. The benefits? I completed my book within six months.

My writing friends and those who knew of my book project were impressed with how quickly it took me. The funny thing is I did not do anything impressive in finishing. I simply had discipline, and discipline — applied in large or small amounts — always gets the job done.

Discipline always gets the job done.

Professionals know writing is messy

Putting beautiful words together is ugly. That almost sounds like a funky kind of oxymoron, but it is the truth. I cannot tell you how many rewrites I have seen great news articles undergo. Red ink and cross-outs decorate a writer’s finest work.

I tend to see many beginning writers grow frustrated because they have not gotten it right from the start. It does not read as beautifully as the idea pictured in their head. The commas are out of place. They have not found the correct adverb, adjective, and wonder if that paragraph should be kept.

This is all understandable. I have my frustrations also. We all do. However, professional writers know the most important part of the first draft is getting the idea out of their head and onto the blank page. Once that is done, the first milestone has been crossed.

So keep writing, even when it does not sound beautiful. Even when it means crawling out of bed when you’d prefer to be sleeping, or relaxing with a movie on. Then once you are done, go back and reread it. Make it something remarkable (like a professional).

 

How to Prepare You (and Your Book) to be Edited

Congratulations. You have written your manuscript (or article) and have found an editor. This is an exciting process as you become closer to having your work in the hands of readers. However, let us keep first things first. Here’s a quick list of how to prepare for this next stage in your writing journey.

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Make sure you’ve proofread your writing at least once

Now before you tell me I am contradicting myself, because I warned against being your own editor, hear me out. Before sending your rough draft to any editor make sure you have read it at least once thoroughly and checked for errors. While we can never catch all the mistakes in our writing, there are typos we can correct on our own.

This will show your editor you care about your work more when she (or he) does not have to correct simple errors they know you could have caught on your own. (And yes, we always know if you have proofread or not.)

Secondly, it may save you money. If you are paying your editor by the hour, not having them correct mistakes you could have done yourself saves them time in editing — which for you — means more money in your wallet.

Let your editor be your editor

You hired the person to edit your work. Allow them to do their job. A good editor will not only correct your punctuation and grammar, but suggest to you how to make your manuscript read better. She may move around sentences, or take out a complete paragraph that does not add to your piece. He may even help you rework your lede, or recommend you change it altogether.

Remember, your editor is here to make your work read its best. While it is your writing, your editor cares just as much about your piece as you do. It’s also a reflection of them and they are here to help you. It can be tough seeing all the red cross-outs. You may have been attached to a certain line or word in a sentence. However, if it does not make sense to your editor chances are it won’t make sense to your readers. Be flexible during the editorial process and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the end result.

Your editor is not your co-author

While your editor will rewrite a sentence and correct what is wrong or missing, he is not responsible for rewriting chapters, or even portions of chapters of your book. An editor is here to correct your writing, not be the author of it.

Don’t get upset when your editor returns your manuscript with “homework” for you to do. It is their responsibility to correct what is wrong, but it is your obligation to make the changes necessary.

Editing is an art of patience

You did not write your manuscript in a day so be understanding that editing takes time. While you have provided your editor with the “bones” and they are only improving upon the foundation you have already laid, it still takes long hours do.

Have patience with your editor and do not become frustrated when they don’t have your work edited at a snap of a finger. However, if they take too long or lack in communication you may need to address your concerns accordingly.

You have the final say so

Regardless of what an editor may recommend you change or delete, your manuscript will always be yours. If you aren’t happy with a revision they have provided you do not have to keep it. While an editor usually knows what is best for your future publication, it will forever be a product of what you envisioned. Don’t be afraid to tell your editor, “thanks, but no thanks” if you truly desire to keep something the way it is. Yet, I do recommend first discussing this with your editor and perhaps the two of you can work together in producing what suits you two best.

 

Happy editing!

 

Why Even Good Writers Need Editors

You can be a writer and an editor. You just can’t be both for yourself.

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It’s hard to catch your own mistakes. You know how your work is supposed to sound, read, and what emotions you want it to capture. So when you go to edit yourself you still have all these things in mind. You’re too attached to your work and aren’t able to look at it with a different set of eyes.

Who could use an editor?

Everyone: bloggers, journalists, students, authors — both those traditionally published and self-published — technical writers, and the like.

Newspapers and magazines have editors for their writers, and so do all major publishing houses.

Editors save you the embarrassment.

No one likes to make mistakes especially when there are a lot of people looking. If you’re seeking to get your manuscript into the hands of thousands, or even just a few hundreds of readers having an editor will benefit you. Your editor will catch all those grammar mistakes you didn’t realize you made because you were too focused on writing a great plot, and check for clarity to ensure your message is understood well. A good editor will suggest to you how you can strengthen a sentence by omitting a word, and even assist you in using all of your punctuation correctly.

The worse feeling an author can have is to finally have their book in front of readers and realize they made errors in their writing after its too late to fix them. I am sure your readers will appreciate having a writer who not only cares to tell a good story, but also takes time to ensure it’s delivered correctly.

I’ve read way too many reviews on Amazon.com from readers who have bought self-published books only to say the message was good, but the writer should have invested in a proofreader.

Personally, poor writing and a lack of editing will discourage me from further purchasing an author’s books. If a writer could not invest in their book to present it correctly, why should I invest in it and read through the errors?

With all of this in mind, I encourage you to have someone edit your work. It’ll help you become a better writer as you learn to correct your “writing slip-ups,” and gain respect from your future readers.

As a side note: if you are in need of an editor, or proofreader, please contact me via my contact tab. I am accepting submissions.