January 7, 2012

What Does an Editor Do?

Editing is Important.
When you send your manuscript to an editor, what should you expect in return? Before you send material to be critiqued /edited make sure that you have thoroughly spell-checked first. Make your grammar is as perfect as you can. There are varying levels of editing/critiquing. Here are some basic types of editing and what they entail.

Content editing -- what you could say or how to reword material so that it comes across more clearly. 
[The example below is used with permission, from the work in progress of author friend Jerry Race.]

Example: [His bike's tires screeched to a halt at the sight of three motorcycles being driven toward him.] What's wrong with this sentence? 
1. His bike's tires didn't screech to a halt. They can't act on their own. Better - He screeched his bike to a halt.
2. His bike's tires didn't see the motorcyles. He did.
3. Reaction before action is incorrect. (He stops his bike and then sees the motorcyles.) Action should always come first.
4. "Being driven toward him" is a passive phrase. We get the impression the motorcycles are simply traffic on the road, so why would he screech to a halt? There is nothing to indicate why the rider would stop his bike.
The content editor might suggest the following possible rewrite:
[At the sight of three motorcycles bearing down on him, he screeched his bike to halt.]
Next level of rewrite:
[Three bikers in leather, with chains wrapped across their chests, and rifles strapped to their backs gunned their Harleys and headed straight for him. He screeched his bike to a halt.]

Now we have a reason why he's stopping -- and a good one.

Content editing can also change the tone of a piece. You can see that above. In non-fiction, what an author feels strongly about can come across in text as more than facts and concern. It can come across as anger, frustration, and disgust. (Think talk radio hosts gone bad.) A content editor can help rein in the author's tone and help turn a piece back into calm, clear, calls to action.

Line editing -- the actual words used and what they mean.

Do we say the the king wore a torc or a torque? Both are pronounced the same, but one is a neck-worn piece of jewelry, and the other is a measure of twisting force. In certain circumstances, a torque can be a necklace as well, but the accepted spelling for that is torc. According to the Chicago Manual of Style (also known as CMOS) torc is the preferred spelling. Depending on where you publish, you might want to use torque. Your editor should have an idea of what is the correct usage, and where you should use the different words.

Proofreading -- what you thought you said and what you meant is not what you wrote.

"There are twelve ways to read read this sentence. Only won of of them is correct, and the other three are wrong."
Can you spot the errors in the above sentences? There are four. (scroll to the bottom to see them)

Style editing -- how the manuscript appears in its final form.
Below are questions handled by the style editor. Checking the submissions page of your publisher will answer most of these, and the style editor of a publishing house will appreciate you doing so.
My manuscript is a Celtic Romance. Should I use a curly font?
My manuscript is non-fiction. Should I use a sans serif font?
What point size do I need?
How big should the margins be? Is it okay to make the bottom margin a little smaller so I can fit more on a page?
What is meant by "good use of white space?"
I write non fiction. Is it bad to have long paragraphs?
Do I need illustrations?
What kind of forward do I use?
Will I need a preface?
What form do I use for my bibliography (MLA, APA, Chicago)? Do I need one? (for fiction - no; for non-fiction - yes)
Some of these questions will also be addressed by a content editor in non-fiction.

How much does an editor charge?
Here's a good place to get the "straight skinny" on that.
http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php These are rates many professionals use. Some services use this site as a basis for their fees. You can find people who charge less, and of course, those who'd charge you a lot more. It pays to shop around. There are some editors who provide all these services in one sitting. They are worth their weight in gold.
What's the difference between a critique partner, a beta reader, and an editor?
A critique partner is someone who (hopefully) writes in your genre and knows the ropes as well as the audience, and can give feedback on your writing. A beta reader is someone with experience reading (and writing if possible) who will read your story and pick apart the inconsistencies and then point out what needs tweaking. An editor is a professional who stakes his/her reputation on what is written about changes you need to make. Take the advice of each and use them to your advantage. Weigh the advice of each according to your own value system. I have beta readers whose opinions weigh heavily in any decisions I make. Mine know my world and characters and can tell me if I've written them "wrong." They are also sometimes too close to the story (as am I) to see an issue, and that is where an editor's value shines.

Editing is vital. Get it from people you trust, and don't take it as a personal affront if there are suggestions made or rewrites requested. The final goal should be to produce quality writing. Focus on that and move forward. Your readers will thank you.

Answers to "what's wrong with these sentences":
(read is there twice, of is there twice, the word won should be one, and if there were twelve ways and one is this way -- how can there be only three other ways?)
About the Author
Kayelle Allen is the founder of The Author's Secret, a company that coaches authors in building their brand names and helps them learn how to promote their work. She is also an award-winning, multi-published author who writes immortal characters, and is the creator of the Kin -- warriors who purr. Kayelle is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion. You can find her on the web in these places:
Homeworld http://kayelleallen.com
Facebook http://facebook.com/kayelleallen.author
Twitter http://twitter.com/kayelleallen
Blog http://romancelivesforever.blogspot.com
Romance Lives Forever - Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancelivesforever
The Edge of Peril - World of the Immortals http://groups.yahoo.com/group/edgeofperil/
img credit: photoxpress.com

January 5, 2012

A New Year, A New Start @XandraJames #RLFblog #romance

It's the same, every single year, right? The clock changes, the bells ring and it's a brand spanking new year. There's no expectations and nothing will hold you back. You dream big. You promise to lose weight, quit smoking, save money, join a gym, write that book...
How long do those New Year resolutions last? A few days, a few weeks? Maybe you manage to make it through to Easter before the call of the chocolate egg screams too loud in your ear (okay, so that may have been me. Shhh!!)
Don't get me wrong, resolutions are great for some people. A few of us have enough focus to carry on going regardless. They flick a switch on the first day of the year and never look back. They want something so badly that nothing will stand in their way.
Yeah, that isn't me. I've done the resolution thing before and failed, miserably. Oh, there's always a GREAT excuse as to why, of course. And I justify it to myself as to why I failed. It wasn't my fault - If I only had...*****...I would have succeeded. (Fill in the blank with whatever fits – chocolate, willpower, money, Hugh Jackman.)
So how can we make positive changes that last? We can make long-term goals. Three month goals, one, three or five year goals etc. And how do we get there? With baby steps. Rome wasn't built in a day and Hugh Jackman won't just turn up on my doorstep and declare his undying love. You have to work at it a little bit every day. And stalking is a great start for stealing Hugh. Sorry, just saying.
How do we start?
-          Plan ahead. It's rarely works when you start on January 1st having made a resolution the night before, whilst doing the Macarena, after drinking too much fizz! And if it isn't possible to start on the 1st, start on the 2nd or the 15th or February. Make a deal with yourself that you'll start when it works for you, not when you're supposed to. Just don't slack off and give yourself an excuse.
-          Make a lifestyle change. Many people who succeed will change their life completely to fit in with their new goals. I WILL make time to go to the gym. I WILL turn off the tv and read more or write down that idea. I WILL agree that chocolate and caffeine aren't food groups... *cough*
-          Write those goals down and put them on display. Put them somewhere you can read them easily when you're feeling a little low or you've had a setback. And occasionally, you also need to be able to see where you need to change things up. By allowing the goals to almost have a mind of their own and grow, as you do, you're giving them life. Who says that having a picture of Hugh Jackman on your bedside table is obsessing? He's keeping you focused. And I am sticking to that one!!
For me personally, many of my goals seem to revolve around my writing career. I know that if I plan ahead, I have a better chance of making my dreams happen. If you don't know where you're heading, how can you get there? For instance a writing career will not chase you, you need to chase it. Like anything in life, if you want it badly enough, you have to fight for it. And don't worry, I'm done with the clich├ęs. For now.
I'm lucky in that I've somehow managed to surround myself with writers who are dedicated to their craft (I'm not sure how I managed it, right place at the right time? Bribery?). But they inspire me, constantly, to be a better writer, and to demand a high standard as a reader.
Late last year I managed to fulfil a personal goal of mine to be published. My first book, Reluctant Revenge came out in December. Then, on the third of January, I managed to become a multi-published author with Shadow Justice. (I love hearing that, by the way. It almost confirms that it wasn't sheer dumb luck on my part in getting published the first time! lol). Now that I've managed to get over that first hurdle, I'm moving onwards and upwards to the next goal I've set myself. First and foremost, I want to complete books two and three in the Moon Magic series (Shadow Justice is the first), so completing the series is a big goal for me.
I would love to achieve everything I'm working towards this year. But if it doesn't happen? It isn't the end of the world. I just need to adjust accordingly and not beat myself up. Resolutions are good for one thing, to spur you on and make that change. Goals are even better to become the person you've always wanted to be and live the life you've always wanted.
I hope 2012 is a great one for you and that you're able to make it an amazing year!
Have you got any goals you're working towards this year? And, just because I'm nosey, do you write them down and look at them often?
Shadow Justice

Shadow Justice
Luka was a bounty hunter who just wanted to do his job and get paid. Being a banished Shadow, he'd learnt the bitter lesson long ago that he was alone, after he was expelled from his home world by his own blood. Now, he needed to understand why he was wanted dead whilst his desire for the fiery haired witch erupted, out of control.   
As a rare moon-witch, all she'd ever known was a life of misery under the oppressive Fae-Guard. Nine years ago Cerys escaped the Meta-World after regretting the forced banishment of a Shadow. Now, she leads a normal life without her abilities and all she wants is to blend in. When a bounty hunter wants to take her back for a crime she didn't commit, she's willing to take a chance on her future by trusting the man who had no idea she'd wronged him years before.
Buy it now at Bookstrand. Amazon and other online retailers!

About Xandra:
Xandra James has always wanted to write romance books. Even when she was sneaking peaks at the hot bits, too young to fully appreciate them, she dreamt of writing her own.
Now, older and wiser, she's got the opportunity to project her slightly dark and wacky, British sense of humour onto others, whilst still writing the hot bits - bonus!
When not writing, Xandra is thinking of excuses as to why she shouldn't be doing the housework, looking after a husband and cats that refuse to pick up after themselves and climbing the mountain in her house that's affectionately called her tbr pile.
She currently holds the crown for Queen Procrastinator – something she's very proud of – so you can usually find her online, somewhere, when she really should be writing.
Find her here:

January 2, 2012

Will Your Book Make Money?

Time is Money
Now and then I hear writers say they don't care if they make money. They have to write. It's in their blood. Some want to share the knowledge they have and are eager to get the book out there and into the ethernet where it can be shared. Others dream of making it big and retiring.

No matter which of these concepts fits you, if you are a writer, this article will help.

If you count the number of hours you put into writing, tally up the amount you get back in sales, and take away the amount you spent promoting, you might have made more money by not starting in the first place. ;)

Truth is, for writers, that's not an acceptable answer. We are driven to write. We want to share our stories and ideas. Some of us would like to make a living doing it.

It doesn't matter whether you're in it to make money. Every writer still has to do the same things. Youl have to write and then edit your book. You have to find a publisher and/or agent. If you decide to self-publish, you need to get a decent cover, format it as an ebook, and all of us have to market our books. Creating the book to be successful -- whether as a giveaway or a $39.99 book -- takes the same amount of work. If the book is badly written, improperly formatted, and not promoted well, it will fail -- whether free or for sale. You owe it to your readers to give it the best you can.

I've been writing for publication since 2004, and have six books out and one audiobook. I've spent thousands of hours promoting, writing, teaching, and learning. If I was doing it for the money, I'd have given up long ago.
If you've been saying that you don't care if you make money, or that you just want to write because you have to, stop now. Not stop writing -- stop saying that. Words are the seeds of prosperity or doom. We decide which by what we say.
I take pride in my work. If I continually tell myself I don't expect to make money, I am sowing the seeds of failure. Instead, I tell myself I expect to entertain people with this book. I leave money out of the equation. I focus on what I want to accomplish, not what I don't expect to happen.

It's been my experience that attitude will sell my book when nothing else will. I never tell people "I don't expect to make a lot of money writing" because guess what? No one expects to give me a lot of money, either. Instead, I say "I expect to __________" whatever it is I decide to accomplish.

What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to entertain? Educate? Change minds? Illustrate an idea? Open the world to a child? Set right a wrong?
Speak the things you expect to happen. Let the money deal with itself. Focus on what you want to get across to people, and the sales will follow. If they don't, it won't matter. You will have done your best. You will have pride in your work, and you will have accomplished your goal. It doesn't get any better than that. 
img credit: photoxpress.com