Nobody Writes Good First Drafts

Nobody Writes Good First Drafts I spend a lot of time working with my clients to edit and revise their proposals and manuscripts. I give notes and suggestions for improvements. Sometimes I take them through draft after draft, until everything seems just right.   I know it’s tiring for them, and sometimes frustrating to be pushed to go over it again and again, especially when they know they’ll go through more edits with their publisher. I admire every writer who does whatever is necessary, who keeps pushing through, who remains dedicated to making the work the best it can be.   This is what it takes to be good. When an editor pushes you to be your best, or when you push yourself, you’re doing exactly what’s necessary to rise above the hordes of regular writers to become a good writer....
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Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor

Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor I just finished reading a self-published book on a topic I’m passionate about, by an author whose blog I occasionally read. As I’ve mentioned before, I regularly read self-pubbed books, and the fact that I work in traditional publishing doesn’t mean I’m biased against them.   It does, however, mean I’m aware of the ways a book could have been better, had the author availed themselves of the best assistance available, whether in design, writing, editing, cover, or even title.   I was excited to read this book—a memoir—and it started out promising. But it quickly devolved into a self-focused, rambling hodgepodge of preaching interspersed with bragging. I did finish the book (luckily it was rather short) but I ended up with strongly negative...
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How to Trick Yourself into Writing, Editing and Marketing

How to Trick Yourself into Writing, Editing and Marketing Guest Blogger: Bryan Cohen (@bryancohenbooks)   Self-motivation is crucial for authors, regardless of which publishing path you choose. Writing a book is difficult enough, but when you add on editing and marketing, it can feel impossible. And I’m crazy enough to have self-published 32 times. How did I do it? I learned a few ways to trick myself into doing work when my brain wants nothing but mindless entertainment.   Tricks for Writing   My inner critic hates it when I write. This voice in my head enjoys pointing out all the faults in my work and howls with laughter when I close up shop early for the day. My most prolific writing periods came after I silenced the inner critic.   I accomplished this in two distinct ways. The first method was writing so early in...
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How to Create a Style Sheet for Your Manuscript

How to Create a Style Sheet for Your Manuscript If you’ve been writing books for long, you may have come across the challenge of keeping the details straight so that you can be consistent throughout the book. If the hero has blue eyes on page 1, he shouldn’t have green eyes on page 50. If your non-fiction book capitalizes “Servant Leadership” in the first half, it shouldn’t be lowercase in the second half. But how do you keep track of these things without having to rely on your memory? You could create an Editorial Style Sheet. This is what editors do when they line-edit or copyedit your book. It’s ultimately their responsibility to see that everything is as correct and consistent as possible throughout your book, so as they’re editing, they write down details; names of people, places, businesses and all...
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My Editor Wants Me to Change What??

My Editor Wants Me to Change What?? Guest blogger: Richard Mabry, M.D. (@RichardMabry) I had delivered my latest manuscript to my publisher, and a few weeks later received my revision notes from the editor. I was, to put it mildly, caught off guard. The notes suggested some pretty big changes. As I read through them, I kept saying, “But that’s not what I had in mind.” I wondered why the editor wanted to rewrite my manuscript. Aren’t I the writer here? Isn’t my name on the book? I wasn’t happy. But after sitting with it a few more days… I noticed that my in-house editor, my substantive editor, and my beta reader (yes, my wife) had all made the same suggestion for the opening. Hmm. I started rewriting, and amazingly enough, it was all coming together.  By the time I’d reached...
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What Does a Book Edit Look Like?

What Does a Book Edit Look Like? Whether you’re working with a traditional publisher or you’re self-publishing your book, the only way to ensure excellence in your final product is to put your work through a rigorous editorial process, consisting of more than one round of editing. Following are the three basic types of editing that your manuscript may go through. Every publisher has their own process, and they may call each step of the process by a different name.   1. The Content Edit (developmental, substantive, or macro edit; sometimes simply called revisions.) This is where the editor gives big-picture notes. Fiction: plot, characterization, scene crafting, POV’s, and all the other elements of your story. Non-fiction: logical flow of ideas, readability, strength of argument, interest level. The...
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What Does the Editing Process Look Like?

What Does the Editing Process Look Like? Several of you have been curious about editing inside a publishing house. Every publisher has their own process, and they may call each step by a different name. It’s basically three steps, and they’re usually done sequentially, although there is overlap and not every publisher does all three of these steps. The edits might be done by one person, or two or three people. 1. The Macro Edit (developmental, substantive, or content edit; often simply called revisions.) This is where the editor gives big-picture notes on plot, characterization, scene crafting, POV’s, and all the other elements of your story. They don’t actually edit your work, they simply give you a set of notes and send you back to work on your revisions. 2. The Line Edit. The editor works directly in...
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How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear

How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear Strategies for Writers, part 3 of 3 Is your book too long? Does it feel a bit wordy, perhaps slightly bloated? Or . . . does it feel perfect but it’s a little high in word count? There comes a time in every writer’s life when they need to reduce their word count. Ack! Not my precious words! Even if your word count is fine, most writers would benefit from tightening up their manuscripts before submission. (I, for one, would appreciate it.) But how do you do this? Most writers can significantly shorten their manuscript simply by eliminating extraneous adverbs, adjectives, gerunds, and passive verbs, i.e. things you don’t need anyway. If you cut 10 words per page in a 350-page manuscript, you’ve already shortened it by 3,500 (unnecessary) words. So how do we do this?...
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Writing and Rewriting

Writing and Rewriting “More than half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.”                                                 ~John Irving   How much do you enjoy the revision process? How much effort do you put into revising? Percentage-wise, how much of your life as a writer is rewriting? Be Sociable, Share! ...
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The Editorial Letter

The Editorial Letter We’ve discussed editing before, and it can be confusing that the word “edit” can mean so many different things. In publishing, there are three basic types of edit that a book might go through (although the lines can be blurry): The copyedit: Detailed editing including the nitty gritty of grammar, punctuation, typos, word choice, even fact-checking. The line edit: More concerned with the clear expression of your ideas; internal consistency; word choices; believable dialogue; and other mechanics of the craft. The substantive edit: Sometimes known as the content edit, the developmental edit, or the macro edit, it deals with big-picture issues of story crafting, plot, and character development. For non-fiction, it’s concerned with the clear and logical flow of your ideas, your...
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The Joy of Revisions

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/8ecad25e33cac322250dbe09c45832d9.jpg Guest Blogger: Colleen Coble(Bestselling author of over 40 books) Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard you complaining about having to change your novel. I remember feeling the way you do once upon a time. But that was before I realized what a blessing it is to have another person devote such focus to my work. That was before I realized we authors are too close to our books to see them clearly. I’ve come to enjoy the revision stage, and I wanted to share some thoughts on how you might enjoy it, too. Revision letter arrives. 1. Dance! Shout out whoohoo! Do whatever it takes before you open it to have a great attitude. If you’re determined to make this a good experience, it will be much easier. Tell yourself there will be great things in there to make your book...
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What the Fiction Editor Looks For – Part 2

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N4cgEfY03dM/TZFc73UMsUI/AAAAAAAAEcA/y_qgN0eOnQQ/s1600/Red-pen-dripping-ink-300x218.jpg Yesterday we focused on the characters in your novel. Here are a few more things editors look for when reading your novel, this time, about the story itself. The premise needs to be strong enough (as well as interesting enough) to support the entire book. Every book needs suspense…the page-turning factor…a burning story question that the reader wants answered. An identifiable conflict. Believability is key. Make sure everything in your story fits into the reality you’ve created in your story. Don’t stretch the reader’s ability or desire to believe. Incorporate a strong sense of place, culture or environment, and treat it as an important character. Firmly establish setting and time period. Use sights, sounds, textures, and smells to evoke the feel of the fictional...
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What the Fiction Editor Looks For

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eETOSyTHPWU/TY_7vqbGeBI/AAAAAAAAEb8/hpsGR437oYs/s200/red_pen%255B1%255D.jpg Part 1 For the next couple of days I’m going to point out some of the things an editor looks for when reading a manuscript. When you get a content edit (or “developmental edit”) on your novel, you may find these kinds of things pointed out for improvement. Today I’m going to focus on your novel’s characters. Here are some things an editor looks at. A protagonist needs a goal or desire; something keeping them from reaching it; and something serious at stake if they don’t reach it. The protagonist’s dilemma must be compelling enough to carry an entire book. Protagonists must be active in the story, not passive. Protagonists must have both internal and external motivation, stakes, and conflict. Avoid cartoonish characters - those that are flat,...
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The Revision Decision

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/a3c26c1752ce327bdae033fd979be940.jpg Guest Blogger: Keli Gwyn Many of us expect that one day we’ll receive edits on our manuscript from an editor at our publishing house, but the idea of getting edits from our agent can come as a shock. It brings up a lot of questions in a new writer’s mind. When I received my first-ever set of revision notes from my agent, these are the questions I asked myself. Did my agent have the right to request revisions? Technically, an agent is employed by an author. They agree to represent us, but they’re selling a product—our work. However, they put their reputation on the line along with ours each time they send out a submission. Therefore, I believe they have the right to request revisions and so I accepted this part of the process. Did I want to work with an agent who offered...
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