Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ask the Editor Free-For-All is Today!

Once again, it's the first Tuesday of the month, meaning It's Ask the Editor Free-For-All Time!

The buzz is growing louder as Kindle and other electronic reader sales grow. Many authors are considering whether or not to take the plunge and self-publish. Whatever your decision, be it to tackle the job yourself, or submit your manuscript to an editor or agent at a publishing house, your book will need great editing to get where you want it to go - to your readers.

Today, our editors sit behind their computers, at your disposal, ready to answer your questions, great or small. That's right, even the smallest ones count, so don't be afraid you might seem dumb. If we don't come up with an answer, we'll do our best to refer you to someone who just might solve your dilemma. Let's get that book published right, no matter which avenue you decide to pursue.

How Ask the Editor Free-For-All Works:

Today, and every first Tuesday of the month, The Blood-Red Pencil sponsors our Ask the Editor Free-For-All. I send e-mails to e-groups, Facebook, plus other social networks, blogs, and everywhere else I happen to think of, inviting members to come and ask questions.The feature's goal is to offer valuable tips about writing basics, manuscript submission to publishers or agents, and self-publishing.

To Submit A Question, Follow These Easy Steps:

Leave a comment in the comment section here. Include your name and blog url or website, not only for promo, but also so we all know you're real. (One link only, please!)  Make sure your comment does get added before you leave, since sometimes Blogger does tests on people to make sure they're not robots. You may be required to repeat steps to make it stick.

Our Editors will drop by today and answer questions in the comment section. If your question could use a detailed explanation, one of our Editors might decide to do an entire blog post on that topic. If that happens, you'll get extra promotion, along with the possibility of forwarding jpegs of your profile photo and cover, along with a buy link.

It's not required, but always welcome if you leave an e-mail address along with your comment. Also, if you wish, please let us know where you've heard about our Ask the Editor Free-For-All.

Others will also be asking questions, so you may wish to check back later to read what else might happen to show up. Some of our participants use e-group Digests, which delays their email notifications, so their questions and the answers might carry over through Wednesday or Thursday.

The comment section is open now for your questions. Come on over!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
Killer Career now 99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords

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39 comments :

  1. Morgan, do you treat editing and proofreading as separate disciplines?

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  2. Thanks for this! My question is regarding finding an agent. My first novel is being published by a small press next month. They have a 30-day option on my next work. However, I would like to find an agent asap. I have another completed manuscript I'd like to submit, but I'm not sure how to go about this considering the publisher might want my next work.

    Thank you for your time!

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  3. That's inspiring, thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the visit. :)

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  4. Christopher,
    When I check over my manuscript, I lump the entire process under the category of editing. I consider proofreading a subcategory.

    My editor, Helen Ginger, also does both. She checks to make sure what I've written makes sense motive wise, has correct grammar including no stray letters, spaces, or punctuation marks roaming around.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  5. Thanks for doing this, Morgan.
    My question is specific. What is the best way to have a character say something is OK? OK, okay, O.K.

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  6. Fiction Chick, I'm not sure if you're asking how to find an agent or what to do about the option. If you want an agent, but don't want to lose the option in case you don't find one, you've got to move fast. If you haven't been researching agents before now, get into high gear and start looking. Look for ones who, of course, are looking for the kind of books you write. Check out their bios on the agency website, their blog if they have one and who they represent. If you find some and they have blogs, start following them and leaving comments. In the meantime, start polishing your query letter to send out and your synopsis, since if they don't ask for that upfront and are enticed by your query, they'll probably ask for it. Have it ready to send - and of course make sure the manuscript is polished and ready to send out in the return mail. Thirty days is not a lot of time, but if it comes down to the deadline, you'll have to decide whether to let the option die or to go with the small publisher.

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  7. If someone lives in a non-English-speaking country but writes in English, would that pose a problem? (Assuming the writer is fluent in English)

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  8. Morgan - I've done 2 books through the CreateSpace process, and it seems to me, services of a professional editor are more necessary than ever before (but CreateSpace doesn't tell you that).
    John Klawitter

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  9. Hi Morgan,

    When an editor asks the author to cut the word count, where is a good place to look to trim?

    Thanks,

    Mary Jo Burke

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  10. Christopher, just to add to what Morgan has said. In the editing process I use, I first edit for continuity and story elements. Proofreading is the last step before going to press.

    Nancy, it is always safe to go with "okay" Some publishers do not like using the shortened versions.

    Anonymous, not sure exactly what the problem is you are asking about, but there are writers who write in English even if that is not their first language. I am working with a client now who has English as a second language, and one of the things I am doing is helping with word usage that is not right because of the differences in language.

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  11. My comment seems to have disappeared but thanks for the answer, althouh I meant to ask if publishers directly assume a manuscript from say Finland or Germany is badly written.

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  12. Morgan,

    Thank you for this opportunity. I administer a blog entitled Self-Publishing Central which is located at http://selfpublishingcentral.blogspot.com. The blog chronicles my experiences as I live the ins and outs of the self-publishing journey.

    My question:

    Given the millions of self- and indie-published books on the virtual shelves at Amazon, B&N Online and elsewhere, how can a self-published author distinguish his/her work from the multitude?

    For purposes of this question, please assume that the author has already made their work the best it can be in terms of editing, writing quality, cover design, etc. So it's not the book itself that is the issue. My readers already know the importance of a quality book.

    Thank you for your time.

    John L. Betcher
    betcherjl@q.com

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  13. Thank you for your time today!

    I'm working on a bokk of short stories that I'll be self-publishing (not for great fortune, simply to share my stories). At the same time, I'm also working on a novel that I'll be querying to agents. Two questions (if you'll be so kind):

    1.) What are the biggest formatting errors you come across in self-published works?

    2.) If someone self-publishes one project and queries another, does it hurt the second project' chances of being picked-up by an agent?

    Thank you so much for your valuable time!

    Paige

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  14. I lump the categories into three: developmental editing which includes character development and story arc; revision which tweaks for plot holes and consistent voice and those sorts of issues; and proofreading which checks for things like all the curly quotes pointing in the proper direction. Some editors lump the second two together and call it line editing. I handle the first two as an editor, and leave the last for detail-oriented folks with great eyesight! It's, in my opinion, the most difficult edit.

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  15. John,
    Create Space takes care of the mechanics of getting a book done. Also Amazon does a lot of promotion, but usually once your book is showing promise by lots of sales.
    Unless you're super terrific at editing, I highly recommend an editor. In fact, many editors use editors themselves, because you need some distance from your own work. The mind fills in too many blanks to make the manuscript look how the author envisions it.

    There are many great editors right here that can help anyone who needs one. I'm not an editor myself.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  16. I think the best way to stand out from the pack is to write the best story you can in your authentic voice. Start with a solid and compelling story. Then polish it with all the other components you mention. But first... did I already say this? Write a story that makes your reader follow you, sentence after sentence, no matter what the topic. If you don't know what I'm talking about, find books that exemplify this. Maybe we should write a blog post about it here.

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  17. Mary Jo,
    I usually have the opposite problem. I'm always looking for ways to get my word count up!

    To reduce your work count, eliminate as many adverbs as possible. Use action verbs instead.

    Then go after the adjectives, especially double ones. Then tackle the tags. Use them only when a reader can't figure out who's talking. Can you substitute action instead?

    What about redundancy? Do you say the same thing in lots of different ways? Pick the best and get rid of the rest.

    Hopes this helps you.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  18. Cutting word count: take a hard look at every sentence that doesn't truly move your story. Look first at narrative and then inner dialogue if you use it. If the protagonist says in italics "what a self-serving jerk", does the reader really need to know that? Can't we discern that in other ways? Only a few words, but these kinds of crutches add up over 300 pages. And kill those darlings! You know - those fantastic flowery paragraphs you slaved over, or that bit of research you just have to use in some way. Slash!

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  19. I have to add this about editors: even if you're a great editor yourself, at least get a few first readers and a proofreader for your own writing. You're just too close to it to be a good editor on your own book. Curiously, it's usually the folks who don't think they need an editor who have weak stories - stories with great potential, but with serious flaws they just couldn't see. I see this in fiction as well as non-fiction.

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  20. John Betcher -
    You have a great start already in that you have a blog.

    If you're on Amazon, be sure to make use of their multitude of forums and that you've filled in everything you can on your Author Central pages, including the feed to your blog, profile photo, reviews, anything you can think of.

    On the page for your book, make sure you have tags, and encourage others to click and agree with our tags.

    Get on Facebook, Twitter, the two main social networks, and make sure you go there often and amass followers as well.

    Join egroups if you haven't already.

    Go on a blog book tour if you haven't already.

    Some say the more books you have out there, the better. Also, articles are said to help.

    These are some ways, but it's all a cumulative effort. There's no saying when it will all click in, because people need to be reminded you're there.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  21. Is there a specific word count one should strive for a novel? When does it stop being a short story and become a novel? I'm worried about not having enough words in the end...

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  22. Farrah,
    Word count depends on where you're submitting the manuscripts. Different publishers have different guidelines.
    If you're self-publishing, you have more leeway and choices. Amazon has word count specifics so you can get it under the right classification, such as Amazon Singles, which are shorter.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  23. Paige, the biggest problem I have seen in formatting have to do with hidden code that Word may insert, as well as writers who are still relying on manual indents instead of setting up a page using styles. With digital printing and publishing the standards for the basic page set up are much different than they were for paper submissions.

    As to your second question, self-pubbing one project should not hurt your chances of getting an agent to represent another work. Just make sure that the quality of the self-pubbed project is the best it can be. You don't want something that is hastily written and not edited out there as a representation of what you do.

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  24. Please discuss when to use "which" and when to use "that." I though "that" was for objects and "which" for people . . . wrong? Help!

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  25. Hello everyone. It's been a little while since I've been here.

    My question is in regards to my MG historical. I used the term straw tick and a person in my critique group didn't know what that was. What's the best way to handle terms a young reader might be unfamiliar with?

    Thanks.

    Cheryl

    http://ccmalandrinos.com

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  26. Cheryl:
    All you need to do is create enough context so the reader can intuit the meaning. Kids are particularly adept at this, as is evidenced when they try to use a word in a sentence that they don't know how to pronounce-- they know the word only from reading it.

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  27. Mary Jo:
    Just wanted to say what a great question this is! I see you already have many good suggestions here, but there are so many answers—answers that reveal a lot about the craft of writing—I'm going to make this a topic of a future post!

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  28. I recently published a novel entitled Little Mountain using CreateSpace. Despite my best efforts, a couple of tiny errors showed up--after publication, of course. I'd like to fix them but I'm afraid CreateSpace will make my book unavailable for a while, because if I send a correction they will send out a second proof. Do any of you have any experience with this? It isn't critical, but I'd like to get it right.

    Bob Sanchez
    http://bobsanchez1.blogspot.com where I'm blogging about the book.

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  30. (Oops! Made a typo so deleted my post and am reposting it here)

    Virginia,

    Re: When to use "which" and when to use "that": The Chicago Manual of Style has a lengthy explanation, but the short answer is "which" almost always needs to be preceded by a comma, whereas "that" is almost never preceded by a comma.

    Here's an example: "The hotel that we stayed in was expensive." vs. "The hotel, which was in Manhattan, was expensive."

    And by the way, the Brits use "which" where it's considered incorrect in North American usage.

    For more detailed explanations on that vs. which, see Garner’s Modern American Usage, pages 782-783; and Chicago Manual of Style, 5.202, page 230.

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  31. Bob,
    If it makes you feel good, no matter what, it seems it's a miracle if no error appears in a book. That includes traditional publishers!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  32. I can tell already we need more research and posts about CreateSpace. If you know writers adept at using it, let us know! They can guest post.

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  33. Don't use expressions from your own youth like "none of your beeswax." So totally lame. That's probably passe, too.

    Also, when it comes to YA, be sure you check phrases at http://www.urbandictionary.com

    Because. Just because. :)

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  34. Thanks Kathyrn. I appreciate the help.

    Cheryl

    http://ccmalandrinos.com

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  35. Adding to Morgan's response to Bob: Typos are a fact of life ... I'm pretty sure my tombstone will read RIQ.

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  36. My brother pointed out that my hero gets a cup of tea from his wife and then in the next paragraph finishes his coffee. Later in the book, said hero takes his wife to the bedroom, then does it again two pages later. Well, I guess a guy can't do that too often!

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  37. Re types of editing: I usually lump it together, line-editing (punctuation, grammar, typos) along with story flow, character development, etc. If there is a lot of work to be done in rewrite, then another proofreading pass may be necessary.

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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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