Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ask The Editor Free-For-All Tuesday Today by Morgan Mandel

The weather's cool, the leaves are turning, plus it's football season. What more reminders do you need it's time to buckle down and tackle your work in progress, the one you put off finishing in the off season summer months?

Perhaps an unanswered question is still weaving in and out of your head, blocking your way to the end zone. Where can you find the answer?

Look no further. Our formidable editors are standing by, ready and willing to huddle with you. That's what Ask the Editor Free-For-All is about.

Here's how it works:

Today, and Every First Tuesday of the Month, The Blood-Red Pencil holds our Ask the Editor Free-For-All. We call out for e-group, Facebook, social network friends, and blog followers to rush over onto our field. Our Editors love clearing the way, no matter what your call - submitting a manuscript to an editor or agent, publishing on Kindle, e-books, or self-publishing in other formats.

We're in your corner. The Blood-Red Pencil's pro editors are here to help.

To Submit A Question, Follow These Easy Steps:

Leave a comment below in the comment section. When you do, include your name and blog url or website not only for promo, but so we know you’re legit. (One link only per person, please!)

One or more of our editors will drop by today and answer your question in the comment section. If an editor feels your question needs a more lengthy explanation, you'll get a comment saying more details will follow in a special blog post devoted to the subject at a later date. If that's the case, you'll be fortunate enough to get extra promotion, and perhaps a chance to send in your profile and book cover jpegs and buy link.

It's not a requirement, but it wouldn't hurt to leave your e-mail address with your comment. Because your question may need a follow-up, it's also a good idea to mention somewhere in your comment where you'd heard about our Ask the Editor Free-For-All.

Others will be asking questions, so be sure to stop by later for more answers. Since some of you are on e-group Digests, questions and answers might carry over through Wednesday or Thursday.

Okay, players, come out onto the field, get into position, and comment below.

Morgan Mandel

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  1. My job is a publishing careers question. I recently started working as a proofreader for a pharmaceutical company. Since it has more to do with money than furthering my career, I have been reading writers queries and partials and giving them feedback.

    My question is, when I start applying for publishing jobs again, how do I update my resume? I don't want to take off the job where I was made a supervisor, or either of my internships with a publishing company and an agency. At the same time, I think I should include the proofing, since it is professional paid work, and the volunteering I am doing because it shows initiative. It doesn't fit all on one page and since I am just 15 months out of school I really don't think it should go over. How should I approach it?


    Caitie F
    pubwrites (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. 1) How should an independent writer -- who will direct publish -- select an editor?

    2) Should an editor, after a first read, tell a writer they really shouldn't work together because the editor is not in sync with the work, instead of doing a half-hearted job?

  3. Caitie - you should place all paid work on your resume, and you should also mention number of years you have been editing paid or not.
    @ Mike - an upfront editor will do as I do - take first 30 pgs. or so and make the determination if he or she is going to be in sync with the author, and if you are paying for only that 30 pgs. neither side is out too much time and money. Also get an upfront cost per page rather than by hours. This way you have clear understanding of exact cost of entire MS.
    Good luck with it...

  4. Mike, the writer/editor relationship is crucial to the creation of a polished, marketable manuscript. It is the synergy of the two people that contributes to the WOW! factor. (And remember that "marketable" extends beyond agents and publishers to include the most important of all: your potential readers. For this reason, "marketability" is as applicable to self-publishers as it is to those who go the traditional route.)

    It shouldn't take a full read to determine compatibility. A spot read and in-depth phone conversation(s) should lay the foundation for your working together or the editor's recommending someone better suited to the project.

    Additional thoughts: no professional editor should ever do a half-hearted job. For example, I edit a lot of books I would never choose to buy, but my edits do not reflect that. EVERY professionally edited manuscript should shine when it is completed. Whether fiction or nonfiction, all areas (continuity, flow, hooks, character/plot/topic development, dialogue, verb choices, word usage, etc.) should be addressed with equal effort and capability.

    Suggestions: Ask questions of editors you are considering. Listen carefully to the answers. Discuss your goals and your audience. Request references. Ask for a short sample edit and talk together in detail about suggested changes. A great writer/editor relationship creates a powerful book. Take the time to find the right person—the one who listens to you, respects your work and your goals, and has the necessary skills to take your book to where you envision its going.

  5. Caitie: I had a desktop publishing business for eight years and wrote a slew of resumes. List all relevant job experience, paid or not, on your resume. Get it on one page somehow, someway, even if you have to consolidate categories: maybe you can put two sets of dates with two different jobs but only one description if the jobs were similar; or if you have expertise in a variety of areas you could list them under a functional heading such as "Editing/proofreading."

    The cover letter is where you have the leeway to exert your creativity. The resume is like a bright white theater light and radiates the facts; the cover letter is the gel that colors it. Show them that the experience you've accumulated is a strength, not a detour, and they will see exactly why you belong in the publishing profession!

  6. Caitie, another option is to build your own business. Since publishers are getting rid of writers and staff, it seems like you're going upstream through a stampede. However, there is a growing need for independent freelance editors and proofreaders (and ghostwriters, copy editors, etc).

    The people who make it in this industry now are inventive, creating their own paths, because the old paths are crumbling. Good luck.

  7. I just wanted to thank you guys for this wonderful blog. I'm in the process of proofreading my newest novel. I was lucky to find a wonderful editor for my last novel, Scott Nicholson, who is listed on your blog. I have experienced first-hand how important and gratifying a good author/editor relationship is.
    Christa Polkinhorn
    Author Love of a Stonemason

  8. My book is published by a very small publishing house, and there is absolutely no help with the marketing of this book. Additionally, because of the large copies on hand requirements of the major book chains, my book cannot be found in any bookstores other than private bookstores to whom I must personally pitch. They have rights for three years.

    How feasible is it for me to wait those three years, and then come up with an ebook format for e-readers? Also, I would very much like to format this book in ebook form now. I have not queried my publisher about this.

    So, print book now, ebook later? What about marketing and promoting an ebook? Are there "traditional" venues for marketing an ebook?

  9. Oops, forgot to leave my information: http://katiehines.blogspot.com

    Thanks for the response!

  10. I have a 4,000 word early reader chapter book. Agents have no interest in it, I assume because there's no money in it.

    What do I do with it? Should I shop it at small publishing houses, or did I write something that's unsellable?

  11. Sorry ... my blog http://coreyjpopp.blogspot.com

  12. Katie: Thanks for your question! I'm hoping someone will still pop on here who has experience with e-books, but maybe the fact that no one has answered you is the point: the field is so new there is not yet an accepted strategy for when to e-publish. You should definitely discuss the issue with your publisher so you're clear about your contractual obligations.

    Your reality is the reality for most books published these days. I have a friend who has the opposite problem: e-published by a small publishing house and he's knocking himself dead trying to sell enough so his publisher will put him in print. He put various e-versions on a CD and is peddling them at book fairs himself just so he can better influence sales--he finds this easier than trying to drive traffic toward your little book swimming in a sea of e-titles at amazon.com. However it works out, good luck!

  13. Corey: Define "agents have no interest in it." Did you receive only form rejections, or did you receive any personalized rejections with feedback? How many years have you tried, how many agents? Have you had it professionally edited? For an informed answer to this question we'll need that info.

    But in general, you are right: if an agent does not see how s/he can make money from a project, that is not the right agent for you.

    I do not write early readers, but if I did, and I had exhausted all the options implied by the above questions, I would research what publishers accept unagented mss and query them. I would also seek out conferences that attract editors from houses such as Scholastic that might hear pitches from unagented authors at the conference. I would also network through organizations such as SCBWI that could create valuable contacts. If you apply and are accepted to the Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference you are paired with a published author who can mentor you in this process.

  14. Katie, stay tuned. The editors at the BRP are moodling an ebook week (or two) in November. It's a galloping market that has everyone milling in circles right now. We hope to get some insights from editors like LJ Sellers who have some experience in that arena.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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