Entering into an agreement with a professional editor for your manuscript is a giant step forward in your process to produce a high quality book. The editor agrees to read the work attentively to rules and punctuation, spot typos and usage errors, target trouble spots and awkward sentences. A verbal debriefing on other larger issues is usually in order. The editor is not a miracle worker who will cure all the ills of your manuscript. Only you can do that kind of resurrectional surgery. The author agrees to measure gains from the relationship with a more error free text and swears to not be defensive if some of his cherished wordings are labeled troublesome.
Gatsby’s Last Resort: A Telluride Murder Mystery is now in the hands of a local editor for a workover and I wanted to share what I feel was a very typical first correspondence between us, as the editor assessed the scope of the work ahead:
Bob, I have looked over the manuscript. Actually, I read Chapter One carefully and flipped through the rest of the book. I found the beginning intriguing and want to keep reading.
Based on my academic training, this is what I notice with regard to language.
Your book's presence on the Internet is essential. The world is changing at an embarrassing rate. How we get and use information is driving the bus. The web can produce richer content, better targeted, up to date data, totally interactive, with faster access than the local brick and mortar book store. The fact the information tool fits easily in the palm of your hand is the final trump card in a perfect deck. Doom-sayers for the paper book industry speculate that the bound books of the future will only be purchased as "souvenirs" while our species will turn increasingly to the digital world for their information and entertainment. As authors we must approach the world wide web as a farmer approaches his garden. We want the most production and return for the least amount of hard work. The art is in knowing what are the common sense rules that work and what ones don't.
Your web page is an adventure you need to embrace. Establish your learning curve as a down payment on book publishing success. Planting the seeds for your future garden of writing related enterprises should be a pretty heady experience. As in all of our Community Publishing 101 components we have to insure that we aim for a high quality, user friendly, information rich site that draws customers and other writers back. We must compete at a global scale. As you transition your thinking into the fact that you are a writer and have every reason to expect to earn a living, also think of your website as a place to grow the other opportunities for you to make a buck using the skills you have as a writer: editing, copy editing, design, articles, speaking engagements, mentoring, etc. Your website becomes your one location office for your future earnings.
[click "Play" to hear R. J. Rubadeau describe Wednesday's seminar]
Community Publishing 101 is BACK to take on the basics of book marketing, and the most effective way to establish a web presence for yourself and your book. The second of four, free, one-hour seminars will be held at the Wilkinson Public Library on Wednesday evening, February 3, at 6 p.m. at the Program Room. Nearly fifty local writers and book lovers attended the Kick-Off seminar last month and came away with a much better understanding of what happens to your book once the writing is finished. R. J. Rubadeau, seminar leader and Community Publishing 101 pilot project author, reports that many of our local writers have returned to their works-in-progress with a renewed enthusiasm and with a clear, easily followed, straightforward path in place towards eventual publication.
YourBookBiz/Community Publishing 101 is receiving a growing buzz in the national book industry. Our locally designed partnership, including the public library, the local book store, the writing community, our homegrown webzine, and a local small publisher, is a unique format for success that could be duplicated in many communities across the country. Our effort to preserve regional voices in our country's literarture by promoting and supporting local writers, and by "branding" our community led publication process with high quality, content integrity, and a truly professional finished product. This experiment is attracting attention on blogs and social networks dealing with writers, editors, publishers and the books they produce. Join this Telluride led revolution for better books and a growing, vibrant local writing community connected in a single positive effort.
Community Publishing 101/ Wednesday Feb. 3rd at 6 p.m. /Program Room/ Wilkinson Library /Telluride
Writing is a very lonely endeavor and not designed to comfort your mother. Those not afflicted with this peculiar passion call what we do narcissistic and antisocial. Writers’ explanations on why they write are usually loaded with confusing metaphors, dangling participles, and first-person hooptedoodle. As punishment for our ability to spend so much time happily alone with our thoughts, we are, by the standards of decent hardworking non-writers, expected to do our deeds behind closed doors and to wash our hands afterwards. At the end of the writing, says Joseph Heller, “Success and Failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success comes drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis, and suicide. With failure comes failure.” I guess we have all signed our pact with the devil and opt for the success regardless.
It takes a certain skill set to open a vein onto the page, but very few of those attributes are transferable to the real world. Our book biz marketing strategy begins with you introducing yourself to your customers, making a first impression, so that you can eventually ask their permission to try and sell them your book. This very important effort to blow your own horn with hyperbole and flowery prose I call hooptedoodle. Most of us are committed to keeping the hooptedoodle at a minimum in our writing. Our latent tendency to take flights of literary fancy and use words like “illuminating”, “provocative”, and “soul fulfilling” is rusty. So dust off those rose-colored Lolita shades and get ready to meet the person even your mother would admit had their act together. Hey mom, that's me.
As writers we all know the benchmark for success. Our dreams are centered on being a Best Selling Author. It is notable that the term is not best writer. The crass fact that we would like to have our addiction to writing produce positive financial returns should not jeopardize the muse. We write because we must and we must eat to write. Believing everyone is going to need your book is essential during the writing, but now you need a cost effective plan to get the product to the best markets.
A marketing plan should provide a realistic pathway for placing the option of buying your book in front of the largest percentages of your identified markets. This plan must operate within a targeted timeframe, where promotional activities are linked together to create a media and sales window of exposure to achieve your goals. No lawful endeavor should be off the table as you go about creating your outreach strategies on a small promotion budget.
I love to varnish my sailboat. The deep gloss finish is a daily joy to behold. I am proud of my work. The trick to great varnish is what you do before you open the paint can. Three-quarters of the effort is sanding, prepping, cleaning up, getting it perfect, because whatever flaws are left on the wood will be mirrored to the surface for the duration. The same is true for your book. Time spent doing the editing stage well is critical to our non-negotiable commitment to the highest quality product for our readers.
To keep on track we must have the manuscript ready for the professional editing process by the middle of February. Peer reading should be going on now. Your own self editing efforts should have lightened the load still to come. Your manuscript should be lean and provocative in its singleminded adherence to its purpose.
You write for yourself; you edit for the reader. Cutting now makes sense before you have to pay to have those marginalized segments removed later. Go through again and get rid of every adverb you can. Take block segments of text and pare the meat off the bone. This cutting should be heart rendering and painful. Good enough is not perfect.
I have researched a number of different options for the next stage in the editing process. It will be necessary to put your book through a set of questions that any editing service provider will need to do their task. Here are the questions and my answers to a questionnaire from Book Editing Associates:
Joseph Conrad once said something about the words getting in the way of what you want to say. It's true. We could all flood a tsunami of verbage around a floating red shoe. The right answer is that we probably shouldn't. Sticking to the spine of the story or the target of your market requires a mean streak. Murdering those "little darlings" of creativity that shine like roses along the roadside takes a firm merciless hand. Your final reading goal in this final stage before we turn the book over to a REAL editor is to take the trimming shears and revisit the hedge for the best cropping you can manage. Have courage.
Kurt Vonnegut, when asked about the secret to great writing, said, "You’ve got to be a good date for the reader." I fretted about that for a while, finally worrying it like a dog with a bone, and began to jot down random thoughts about first meetings, dates, dinners, goodnights, and the ensuing problems that always seem to be working against a happy ending. As you tone and shape your book for the next stage in editing be merciless in shedding flab, sidebar love handles, and keeping the beginning, the middle, and the end as tightly choreographed as a dinner, brandy and a tango.
One of the first tasks on our Tasks and Timelineschart is to start your own book business. Decide on a name. Be conscious that your company’s name will appear in numerous places related to your book. Choose a name that reflects the serious nature or unique quality of your product(s). Think past your first book because you don’t want to change names once you start branding your work and your business.
I chose Sirius Publications because my former business was known as Dog Star Consulting and Sirius is the name of the star, the brightest in the heavens, that carries that nickname. I thought Publications was a better add on descriptor than Books, Press, or Publishing House because of the number of articles and other writing projects I do alongside my books.
Creating a web based business.
DON'T go to Godaddy.com or any other domain name registrar to see if the domain name (Youcompanyname.com) for your new company is available until you are ready to buy the rights.
After reading this post, please take a moment to think about lining up a peer reader for your own project, even if it isn’t finished. Go to the comments section just below this text and enter your name and contact address, the working title, and a three line pitch of the book. It is time to get this part started.
The old friend who called out of the blue and said, “I’ve got a great story to tell you and then you can write the book and we’ll split the profits,” is definitely not the person you should ask to be a peer reader. Anyone who might care if they hurt your feelings might also be excluded. Forget most folks who think Rush Limbaugh is a witty kidder. Relatives and lovers, and friends of lovers. Bookburners. Those who move their lips when they read. You get the picture.
The worst feedback you can get is, “Oh, it’s good.”
What makes the ideal peer reader? Well, it certainly helps if they are an editor at a prestigious New York publishing house with a slot on their spring lists open. Alas, the book biz is not creating too many of those particular sprites these days. The best you can hope for is someone who reads with a firm idea of what they like and what they don’t. It helps if they are also someone who also writes so they know the craft you practice in all its false promise and despair.
As I search for peer readers for The Last Resort: A Telluride Murder Mystery, I want to establish some guidelines up front about the expectations I have for the kind of feedback that would be enormously helpful. Exactly what should we hope a peer reader brings to the table?
Editing your own book is comparable to giving yourself a good spanking. Most of us are not anatomically or emotionally suited to carry out the job.
Our goal is getting the manuscript to the stage that a real editor can concentrate on the professional nuances of their task without getting bogged down, knee deep in our stupid. Obvious mistakes in voice, grammar, tense, and narrative consistency stand out like rat turds in a tapioca pudding. Here are a few suggestions to avoid the most obvious errors we all make.