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January 24, 2010

YourBookBiz -- Editing Essentials and Contacts

Cockpit coiled halyardI 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:

Submit the first 50 pages of your book manuscript or story (Word/DOC or RTF attachment preferred). Large files should be zipped, along with a sample, the following information is required. Ignore questions that do not apply to your project

(01) Word count of complete project (under "Tools" in MS Word): 86,000 words

(02) Put your 100-word synopsis/description here: GATSBY’S LAST RESORT: A Telluride Murder Mystery is new-age detective fiction full of valley cows, sex, mysterious red heads, deceased writers, and a spoiled, decadent, offbeat Rocky Mountain resort community full of edgy characters we love to hate. Wit Thorpe, is a native American father making ends meet by running a peeping tom service for aspiring divorcees looking to profit from their wealthier partner’s infidelity. He is trying desperately to turn his obsession with classic detective fiction into a marketable piece of writing. Wit creates a mysterious red head, full of temptation and sin, and then meets her in the flesh. Murder, deception, dark secrets, and blackmail follow with our detective finding himself in the slammer framed for a hate-crime murder. He probably didn’t do it.

(03) Describe your genre and topic: Detective Fiction in the Resort Town of Telluride sports a whole new Lost Generation.

(04) Deadline date, if any, for return of complete project. (Please be realistic. Remember that professional editors usually have a project in process.): February 21, 2010

(06) Level of editing desired/expected? critique/evaluation, possible basic edit

(10) Do you have a contract with an agent or publisher? No

(11) Do you plan to self-publish? Yes

(12) What is your budget for the services you are requesting? $500-$800

Answer these questions for your own book and keep working to cut the book in size.

Searching For The Right Editor

There are a number of services available with a wide menu of options.

My first choice would be to locate a talented professional editor, knowledgeable in the work, experienced in the Crime Fiction genre, willing to operate within my budget, and lives here in Telluride. Are you here? (If you are, take a look at Chapters 1-10 and Chapters 11-20 to see what we have to work with. Give me a call.)

A second choice is to go to another writer that you respect and ask them if you could hire them to take a good hard look at the manuscript with a pen in hand. You would probably also have to pay a copy editor for their services to catch the full scope of work a real editor will provide. But this might work in the budget and the chances are better that these two services could be provided locally.

A web search for Book Editing Services produced a number of links with sites across the country. All of them seem to be a clearing house front with a stable of free lance editors who will take your project. Most do not have the option for you to choose your own editor. A few I visited and putzed around on were The Iowa Word Wrights, Manuscript Critique, and The Editorial Department. I also enjoyed articles at Foner Books and Alpha Editing.

What we also need to consider are the packaging plans that most of the POD publishers have linked with their own brand of services. In the next post I will explore the major players in this new industry and we will compare the editing services and prices offered. We will open a Box of Pandoras.

Editing is the last chance you have to make major revisions in your book without it costing you a small fortune. Pay attention.


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