Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ask the Editor Free-For-All Tuesday by Morgan Mandel


It's the Dog Days of Summer. Heat is everywhere and The Blood-Red Pencil blogspot is no exception. Our readers are hot on the trail, searching for answers to their questions, and our editors are able and ready to assist. Today, as on every first Tuesday of the month, we bring you our monthly feature called Ask the Editor Free-For-All. You ask and our editors tell. If other editors feel inclined to add words of wisdom, we welcome their participation.
I can't repeat this enough - Don't be shy. No question is too basic or silly.

Here's how it works:
Today, and Every First Tuesday of the Month, The Blood-Red Pencil sponsors the Ask the Editor Free-For-All. I send out e-mail blasts to e-groups, post on Facebook and other hot spots searching for brave souls to admit they don't know everything. Ask your question and get an answer from an editor before you submit your manuscript to a publisher or agent, or perhaps self-publish.

If you're not that far in the grand scheme of things, you still may be grateful to find ways to get over the speed bumps slowing the completion of your manuscript.

The Blood-Red Pencil is here for you. Ask, and our editors will answer.

To Submit A Question, Follow These Easy Steps:

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

One or more of our editors will stop by during the day and answer your question in the comment section. If an editor feels your question needs a more lengthy explanation, you'll get a comment to the effect that an entire post will be devoted to the subject at a later date. If that's the case, you'll be fortunate enough to get added promotion here. You may even be told where to send a jpeg of your book cover and/or yourself and a buy link.

Although it's not a prerequisite, you're welcome to leave your e-mail address with your comment. Because your question may require a follow-up, it's a good idea if you mention someplace in your comment where you heard about our Ask the Editor Free-For-All. That way we can contact you so you don't miss the answer.

Remember to check back here not only for your answer, but also the answers to other people's questions. You never know what may prove helpful later on. Since some of you are on Digest for your e-groups, questions and answers could carry over through Wednesday, and possibly Thursday.

Once again, remember that no question is too dumb. This is a learning and sharing place for all of us.

Here's your chance.  Fire away!


Morgan Mandel

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  1. I'm looking for an editor 'Detective genre' to work with one of my authors here in the UK. If your interested please contact me? Thank you.
    Ellen Dean

  2. Non-English native speaker here. I've heaps of problems with tenses and plurals. Is there a good way to remember the rules?

    Steamy Darcy

  3. I need to know everything - but my biggest dilemma is: who do I send my book to? I've written a children's book. The target age is pre-school to 2nd grade.

    Second question would be: what form is best for submission? Printed, as an attachment in an email, or is there another appropriate method?

    Last for today: should artwork be included?

    Thanks so much!


    Libby's Library News


  4. Ellen, there may be a BRP editor who would fit your needs. I've done a lot of mysteries, but don't specialize in detective stories in particular.

    Helen Ginger

  5. Enid, wow, that's a pretty comprehensive problem that I would say can best be cured by lots of reading and writing (in English, if you want to write in English). That's really pretty sound advice for all writers, really! Wish there were a shortcut.

    Libby, you will likely need an agent unless you publish it yourself. In that case, you need to research agents and find out each one's specific needs for submission format. The Literary market Place is available in your local library and the Internet has many lists of children's-book agents.

    As in most things with writing, there are no one-size-fits-all answer.

    Scott Nicholson

  6. Enid, the English language is notorious for it's quirks and the way it evolves. Take the verb "sneak." Used to be if you used "snuck" as past tense, you were ridiculed. Now, it's pretty acceptable in everyday language.

    I recommend, instead of trying to remember the rules, get a reference book to guide you. Eventually, you'll learn by doing that. A handy reference book and one that's easy to find things is "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" by Mignon Fogarty.


  7. Libby, even though a children's book is relatively short, most agents do not want the manuscript attached. Submit a query letter. You can say in the query that you have artwork. The agent will tell you whether they want to see the art or not.

    Always check with the agent's website before you submit. That will usually tell you what to submit and how. Some agencies do not want attachments. They won't even open them for fear of viruses.


  8. The other day an author said to me that it is easier to find a publisher than a literary agent.

    However, when I visited publisher sites, all of them stated that no unsolicited manuscripts were accepted.

    No publisher without an agent, no agent without a publisher ... who wants to give me some advice?

  9. First, thanks for this opportunity. I have 6 business books published, some by publishers, some through the publisher's printer. I now would like to know the best way to self publish, any specific recommendations, pitfalls, suggestions, etc. fot an online and/or offline book. Thanks so much. Rosanne Dausilio PhD, rosanne@human-technologies.com

  10. This is a basic question that I hope will benefit everyone reading these. I am an advanced writer and have been to multiple conferences and classes through the organization that I belong to. The thing that really drives me nuts is the matter of dialogue tags. I've been told two different things by editors.

    1. Never use a tag, s/he said.
    They are the ones that think having the character's unique habit is enough. I personally disagree with this.

    2. Always, without exception use a tag, s/he said. Even when it is just two character's in the room talking to each other. I also disagree with this. I think once you establish who is in the room you can varying the tags with a descriptive sentence about their reactions or body language.

    How am I doing?
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  11. Conny
    I'm a published author and not an editor (except for the edits I do on my own work. I hope you don't mind me sending you some advice.
    There are lots of publishing companies that accept unagented submissions. I have no agent and My first 2 book are both traditionally published. The key is to do your research before you submit. "The Writer's Market" and other such books and many online siteswill tell you exactly what each publisher is looking for, how they want it submitted, What you need to include in your submission, and who to send it to.
    I must say that I'm very happy with my new publisher. I don't know if I can say their neme here, but they have worked with me and listened to my ideas and suggestions. Their cover artist gave me a fantastic cover and everyone there is open and friendly. They've gone out of their way to make my book the best it could be.
    So Conny do the research and take the time to check out those publishers you wish to submit to. Look at their website and try to contact some of their authors and ask them about their publisher. IMO, they're one of your best sources of info about a publisher and how they operate.
    I hope this helps.
    G W Pickle

  12. Do you recommend establishing a platform for a novel? My newest release (in January 2011) has a storyline that I could use as a platform, but I'm not sure how to establish it exactly.

    Thank you.

    Rebecca Talley

  13. What do you think about overall story structure (i.e. beginning hook, plot point #1, pinch point #1, midpoint, pinch point #2, plot point #2, climax, resolution)?

    Thank you.

    Rebecca Talley

  14. I would like to know if there is a standard, or usual, length for cozy mysteries.

    For determining length of a manuscript, do you recommend counting pages and estimating 250 words per page or using the word count exactly.

    Thanks in advance.

    Kari Wainwright

  15. @ N.R. WIlliams-
    I am an editor AND a publisher. I will tell you this; it will depend on your publisher and the editor who works with you will help you with their standards.

    HOWEVER, please do NOT use dialog tags after every line. It mucks it up, slows it down, gets distracting, and looks like the author doesn't even know who is speaking so they have to keep track. It is one of my huge pet peeves.

    Some publishers don't want a lot of 'she exclaimed', 'she said forcefully', 'she moaned', etc. That is a house preference.

    A good rule to follow is this:
    If it's clear who is talking, don't tag it unnecessarily.

    If you use action phrases before, during or after the dialog, it reads better. 'Clark picked up the gun. "I've got a .38 that says you're coming with me."

    Is that helpful?

    Good luck!

    Heather Bennett
    Executive Editor
    Decadent Publishing
    www .decadentpublishing. com

  16. Here's a grammar question for all of you. I have noticed in all kinds of writing and broadcasting lately, the use of "that" rather than "who" to designate people. Such as, "She is the girl that goes to my school." rather than "She is the girl who goes to my school."

    Has that rule fallen by the wayside or was I taught incorrectly that people are "who" and objects are "that"?

  17. Hi Kari -- Good to see you here. As one of the resident BRP authors, I can tell you much depends on the publisher's preferences. However, cozies tend to run around 75,000 to 80,000 words.


  18. Greetings, Rebecca -- From an author's point of view, your story structure example looks similar to the three-act outline for a thriller (which also works, oddly enough, for mysteries, romance, and most other kinds of fiction including YA novels).

    Are you asking if we need to follow the classic story arc to have a good, publishable novel? I'd say yes. The only exception might be for literary or experimental fiction.


  19. Heather:
    That is exactly what I thought I should do.
    Thank you,
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  20. Finishing up MS but have mixed feelings about loooong contract-may not sign. Love writing, hate publishing LOL.

  21. Conny, more regional presses or presses that specialize in certain genres are open to direct submissions. Try those instead of the big NY houses. But check online first to see what their requirements are.


  22. Rebecca -- Your question about platform for fiction is a good one. Your platform will be your online and in-person persona, representative of you and your work.

    I looked at your website/blog and see you have previously published inspirational fiction based on your LDS background. If the new novel is similar, and you plan to continue writing on that theme, then you've already started building your platform with your website. However, if you plan to branch out and write different types of novels, try not to narrow your platform to just one novel's theme. This may mean an overhaul and update for your website/blog.

    As for expanding the platform you've already started, you need to figure out the audience you wish to reach, post more frequently to an active blog on appropriate topics, and make sure you've established your presence on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

    If you have any follow-ups questions, let us know.


  23. Nancy, go in-between the two. You can use he/she said, but use it sparingly. You can "tag" the dialogue other ways - putting it with the person's action tells you s/he is doing the speaking. You can also make each character so unique that you know who is speaking without being told. You can also tag at the beginning of the conversation then go several lines of dialogue (especially if it's only two people talking) without tagging.


  24. Jackie, unless you're an attorney, it's probably best to have an attorney (I'm assuming you don't have an agent) look at the contract. Try to find an attorney who knows the industry.


  25. Jo, when I was studying writing, I learned that both "who" and "that" can refer to people. "Which," however, never means a person. As a writer/editor, I lean toward "who" (when I'm talking about a person) simply because it immediately relates to a living, breathing being. Hope this adds a bit of clarity to what I agree are murky waters.

  26. Hi Jackie. All I can say is, you have my sympathy. I know you've been published several times and have prior experience with contracts, but times changes and so do contract provisions, even from a publisher you've worked with in the past. Like Helen said, it's probably time to have a lawyer with literary experience take a look and give you some advice.


  27. Hi Patricia,

    So maybe rather than a "platform" (and maybe I have already created that) what I want to do with my next novel is open a dialogue about one of the storylines which is about Down syndrome. I thought I needed to create a platform to open that dialogue. I want to create more awareness of Down syndrome. My book is about a woman who experiences many trials, one of which is having a baby with DS, but DS isn't the main theme. Maybe I need to rethink this.


    My current work-in-progress is completely different than what I've ever written in the past--YA paranormal. Would you recommend I create a different website to reflect a new author persona?

    Thank you!!

  28. Hi Ellen
    I write a series about a homicide detective, and I edit fiction, so I'm definitely interested in working with your author. I'll try to contact you, but you can always reach me at:
    ljsellers.novelist @ gmail.com

  29. Do you expect your authors to defend themselves on a content edit you make? I bow to my editor's greater experience for the most part but at times I have argued with her, and I wonder, as with actor and director where the director is god, should one actually do that?
    Anne Easter Smith

  30. I've written 100 pages of a mystery in first person. The voice is strong and funny, but I worry that first person is too limiting and perhaps not as marketable as 3rd.

    Do you any thoughts on 1st vs. 3rd?

    Thanks for taking the time to share your insights with us.

  31. Hi Kato -- You may find as many opinions on POV as there are editors, authors, and readers here at BRP. Sometimes appropriate POV depends on your main character and how that character fits into your story. There is no right or wrong on 1st person. The question is, does it work?

    My July 28th post on POV and the links I provide may help a little.


  32. Rebecca -- Maintaining a slew of separate blogs and websites can grow into a monster.

    My personal recommendation is to broaden your platform at your existing site to include your whole writing world. If you're not using a pseudonym for any of your work, you can separate your works into categories. Use additional pages on your website/blog to good advantage, even including a page devoted to Down's Syndrome.

    If you post to your blog five days a week, or three days a week, set up a schedule of topics so your readers know what to expect.

    Other writers and editors, any additional suggestions for enhancing Rebecca's platform?


  33. I have written two completely different books. One a comedy/popular culture 85,000 words and the second a hard hitting biography of child abuse.

    I established my persona on FB had enormous response on another writers site, and have been signed by a small independant publisher for the biography.

    I need to focus on the biography for the moment.

    How do I ensure that my comedy doesn't lay dormant and unloved whilst doing the promo for the bio?

    Bio site..http://staceydansonemptychairs.blogspot.com
    Thanks for your time.

  34. How about a brief tutorial on when to use "that" and when to use "which"? Thanks in advance.

  35. <>

    I've been away all day and am so happy to see that most of the questions have been answered, which is a good thing for all the writers who joined us today.

    Virginia, do you see the different use of that and which in the sentence?

    Another example:

    That girl took the donut.
    Which girl took the donut?

    I don't know the exact rule for usage, but you might check Strunk & White Online and Grammar Girl. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/

  36. I hesitate to ask anything as I'm definitely not in the same league as the majority of those asking you questions - I'm not a published author!

    However, I have always enjoyed writing( I do have an outline for a novel I started awhile back) and would be interested in your suggestions/insights on how to find the guidance and help needed when one wants to pursue writing. There seems to be a "catch 22" waiting for every direction one takes when seeking guidance; as mentioned in the comment from Conny.

    Thanks for this great open forum!



  37. Is there an independent group or association that tests and certifies manuscript editors? And is there an accepted publishing industry standard for a “clean” manuscript?

    I ask these questions based on personal experience. When death claimed the person who had served as my long-time editor, I turned to authors I knew who had been published by traditional houses, asked for recommendations, and built a list of names.

    As I went through the first “edit” received from an east coast based editor, two things became apparent. Errors had been overlooked and some corrections were dead wrong. I then went to a second name on the recommended list; a west coast based editor. Editor number two identified “errors,” which were not considered such by either editor number one, or myself.

    It was at this point I began to seek an answer to the questions asked above. One of the things I started asking for, beyond the issue of being independently certified, was a list of published books, which he or she had edited.

    The response was both consistent and mixed. No one claimed any type of independent certification. Some provided a list of published books; some did not. It was after reading three published books, and making note of the number of errors found, that I went back and asked the editors involved what they considered to be an acceptable rate for finding errors and making corrections.

    The one response I received was that a ninety-five percent error correction rate was the acceptable publishing industry standard. The results, to me, were very disturbing when I did the math on a 75,000-word manuscript.

    Hiring a manuscript editor is easy. Finding one that provides an acceptable return on investment is not; or has not proven to be so to date.

  38. Been busy writing today myself so sorry just getting in on the discussion and questions. Let me see if I can offer some general remarks that may be of help. In the area of submitting material to a publisher, you should sit down and write the description you would most pray to find on the completed book- who, what, where, when, why or some combination of the five W's and maybe HOW you pull it off. Use main character names, name of setting, time period and use this as your pitch which has lately become replaced by this loose cannon term of Platform....Platform in my definition is what makes your romance or your detective tale unique and unto itself as in a blind half Asian, half Irish detective with a sixteen year old daughter who dives her crazy.

    I read through all the questions, so am going to touch on the few I might help with. I believe someone was concerned with signing a contract, Jackie -- it helps if you get paid something on signing. Frankly, the BEST money right now, seventy percent of all sales going to you, the author, is in ebooks on Amazon.com Kindle, so this is a tough question....go with a publisher or become your own publisher. For me, of late, I am self publishing and enjoying both the money and the freedom of being responsible for it all, good, bad, ugly and otherwise.

    To add a word on the question of verb tenses....it helps to realize that present tense to past part. etc is easiest seen as three gears you crank into.... Present tense, simple and easy to get into as in
    I see, We see, They see, Tom Sees, Jack and Jill see. Get into gear simply by putting a noun or pronoun before the verb. Second gear just as easy to crank into by putting a name or pronoun before it. That is to say Jack saw...Jill saw, Jack and Jill saw (no change of S's due to single/plural in second gear. Now to crank into third gear is not so simple as it requires not only a name/pronoun before the verb but a helping verb before the verb to support it. Example going with see/saw/seen is Jack has seen....Jill was seen...he had seen....they have seen...we have seen. Do the same with the verb DO/Did/Done - Jack and Jill do their best, Jack does his best/ Jack did his best, Jack and Jill did their best/ Jack had DONE his best. So it takes a bit more clutch to crank into third gear. Try it with go/goes.

    As to who vs. that....I love the use of WHO for people and reserve that for objects and animals other than people. Which as I recall requires a comma as it is a separate dependent clause not defining or equating to the subject as who and that do.

    Hope these remarks help. I learned by studying closely the works of classic authors from Twain to Dumas and current authors I love from Richard Matheson to Michael Crichton.

    For samples of my work, Free downloads found at my website - www.robertwalkerbooks.com

  39. For the question of that vs. which – a quick way to remember is that “which” is always preceded by a comma, and “that” is never preceded by a comma. Examples: “The hotel that I stayed in was in Manhattan.”; “The hotel, which was really expensive, was in Manhattan.” See Garner’s Modern American Usage, pages 782-783; and Chicago Manual of Style, 5.202, page 230.

  40. Lots of great questions and answers going on here. I hope everyone checks them all out because they may be details you could use later on.

    Morgan Mandel

  41. I have a question and an answer.
    For Jo, an answer. I work as an editor in journalism (and it's NOT that different, folks!), and I have been fighting the war against using "that" when referencing people, too. While it's not technically wrong, I think that it's certainly more thoughtful for a writer to use "who" when referencing a living, breathing human being. Keep using "who" and you are never incorrect.

    My question now for any editor or publisher who would care to jump into this murky pool:
    What is the verdict on using italics for a character's thoughts? I had been using them for years. Then someone in my writers' group started to complain. A few months ago, I received a newsletter that said NO GRADUATE STUDENT would ever try to get italic thoughts past a class discussion of his/her work. Well, this floored me, because I'd been to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival twice and the Northwestern U. summer program once. Both were taught by graduate-level professors and no one batted an eye at italics.

    Will someone please tell me what the current thought is on this? I'm happy to change everything if this is now considered to be hopelessly old-fashioned or just no longer done. But if it's simply not to the taste of certain people (which I think is what is going on here), then I'll stick to my guns. I still read lots of fiction where characters' thoughts are rendered in italics. Are these authors outdated too?
    What is going on?

    I wait for the verdict.
    Lynn Voedisch

  42. I'm reading very useful information today, thank you for that. My question is about word count. I enjoy a fast paced novel and that is how I write, but there doesn't seem to be enough word count. I have two novels published with smaller pressess. My WIP is a paranormal ghost story and only 54,000. I can't even submit to some publishers because it's not 65,000, but I don't want to pad it and slow down the action. Maybe it's not a question, but a frustration.

  43. Libby, since your book is for children, there's a website called JacketFlap which might be of use to you. They have a long list of publishers (http://www.jacketflap.com/alphapub.asp), and details about whether or not they accept unsolicited manuscripts. Some of the information may not be completely up to date, but it's a good starting place. I have also just completed a children's book (for ages 9-12) and am looking for a publisher...a very daunting task! So if anyone has any advice for me, I'd love to hear it!
    Best of luck,
    Katherine Angela Yeboah

  44. Re: the use of italics for thoughts. I have about 20 books on how to write effective fiction, and I've read in several of them (I forget which ones right at the moment) that the accepted font is to use italics (no quotation marks) for direct thoughts (present tense, first person), such as: Omigod! Who the hell does he think I am anyway? and normal font, no quotation marks, for indirect thoughts, such as: She wondered who he thought she was, anyway. Maybe not the best examples, as they're right off the top of my head; and also, I wanted to put quotation marks around them, to make the examples stand out, but didn't, as neither should be encased in quotation marks in fiction writing. (I also didn't know how to do the italics here, for the first example.)

  45. I am looking for publishers interested in publishing multicultural books written in English/French/Spanish . Any suggestions?
    Nicole weaver

  46. Victoria Roder said...
    I'm reading very useful information today, thank you for that. My question is about word count. I enjoy a fast paced novel and that is how I write, but there doesn't seem to be enough word count. I have two novels published with smaller pressess. My WIP is a paranormal ghost story and only 54,000. I can't even submit to some publishers because it's not 65,000, but I don't want to pad it and slow down the action. Maybe it's not a question, but a frustration.

    My latest release is a paranormal romance and I found a great publisher who publishes novels of different lengths. Please Email me at cberrypickle AT aol.com and I'll tell you about this great publisher.
    G W Pickle

  47. Is it better to edit as I write or edit all at once after I finish putting words to paper? Thanks!

  48. Hi Peppy, I didn't see an answer to your question, so let me jump right in from an author's point of view.

    I highly recommend writers' conferences, so look around and see if there's one in your part of the country. Most conf. are 3-5 days long, many over weekends, and they provide great opportunities to learn writing skills and network with other beginners. One of the best sources of info on this topic is Shaw Guides

    A lot of information is available in books at your library and on writing blogs. If you check the archives or use the search option here at The Blood-Red Pencil, you'll find posts on various topics (including examples of writing conferences).

    If you can find a writers' group/organization or a critique group in your area, that will help. Try asking your favorite librarian and using Google searches for "writers' groups" or "organizations for writers" and similar searches. Include your city and state to narrow the search.

    Magazines such as Writer's Digest and The Writer are very helpful. Check out older issues from your library.

    Is there a university, junior college, senior center, or recreation department in your city? Check them out because any or all may offer writing classes.

    I hope that gets you started. Feel free to drop by my blog and check out my blogrolls. I have some good writing blogs and a few writing site links listed there.


  49. Patti M -- There are authors who can't leave a page until they think it's perfect, but for most of us, it's better to charge on through and get that first draft down on paper.

    The revision and self-editing phase is not a one-step process. Several passes at the manuscript are needed, and then it pays to let the story or novel rest a bit before you go back and read it again.

    You might want to check out my series for authors on Self-editing One Step at a Time here at The Blood-Red Pencil.


  50. I'm late to the party but I didn't see an answer to Libby's third question: Whether artwork should be included when submitting a children's book to a publisher. The answer (usually) is "No". In almost all cases publishers have their own illustrators they work with and will hire to illustrate your book if it is optioned. If you are intent on your own artwork it might be something you can discuss after the publisher has declared their interest, but it might be a deal-breaker for them, so bear that in mind. A good idea to go through an agent on that one.

    There are always exceptions, of course.

    Word 4 Writers on HearWriteNow
    Blood-Red Pencil

  51. Depending on what you write, you can join local chapters for Romance Writers of America or Mystery Writers of America or other genre organizations.
    If that's not an option, there are often groups at libraries or even bookstores.
    If you can't get out to meetings, many have online chapters also.
    It's best to get feedback from people who know your genre and it's very helpful if they're also published authors.

    Morgan Mandel

  52. Bo Parker - You can't go wrong picking one of our editors!
    I'd don't know if there's an industry standard as far as mistakes missed. It seems that some always
    crop up.
    People are human. There are perfectly edited books out there, but I haven't noticed too many.
    I usually find one or two errors is a norm. If I saw more, I would wonder if the book was edited.

    Morgan Mandel

  53. Nicole, my novel that was just released is bilingual up to a point. It's Spanish-speaking characters do speak in their native tongue when the context allows an English-speaking-only reader to discern the meaning and maintain the flow of the story. Also, My company has published 2 books of poetry in French and English, and I even had the privilege of working on the English "translations," which, of course, were not literal. So the question you raise is of particular interest to me.

    A team of poets in Grand Junction, Colorado, has published a totally bilingual (English and Spanish) book for children, but I don't know how well it has sold. Also, I have heard about a distributor (?) who is looking for works in Spanish because, I'm told, there is a huge demand for them among the Spanish speakers in our country. I'll do some research on this and contact you.

  54. Thanks a lot, dear editors! Good to read some of the writing and publishing questions and answers.

    Steamy Darcy

  55. Hi Linda,

    Thanks a mil for answering my question. I look forward to hearing from you. I do write all of books in English/French and Spanish. As a foreign language teacher I think it is very important to expose young children to a second language early on.
    Nicole Weaver

  56. Anne Easter Smith:
    If you are asking about defending yourself to a developmental editor, the main thing for you to understand is that we give the feedback we do for a valid reason. I try to give all those reasons, but if one of your characters is coming off as ditzy and you want her to be a revered professor, you are doing something wrong. It is not the editor's fault for not "getting" your book, for she is providing honest and therefore valid feedback. There may be a complicated confluence of factors at play of which you are not aware. That's the beauty of a paid critique—the honesty.

    On your pages and in our evaluations we editors give you the sum of our experience. It's what you paid for. But after all is said and done, it's your name going on the cover. The final decision is yours. If you have questions about why we marked what we did, ask away, so that you can better make up your mind. But if you are already sure you are right, what's the point in arguing?

    An editing discrepancy here or there will not make or break a decision by an agent or publishing house. Those sorts of things might be changed by house rules in the end game anyway. The structural integrity of the story, and the concision and appropriateness of your language choices, are of greater concern.

    (However, for the purpose of this forum, please feel free to rebut--haha!)

  57. Enid, I echo other comments--read a LOT. And the Grammar Girl is excellent.

    Libby: google children's publishers, check Writers Market, also Jeff Herman's Guide to Literary Agents & Publishers is excellent. Publishers generally provide their own artist, unless it's your own work & then they might consider it. Check guidelines.

    Conny, I have a small press traditional publisher who doesn't require an agent & I'm happy with our arrangement. Many smaller publishers will work directly with the author. Again, google, check Writers Market etc.

    Re taglines: don't overuse. It's OK to use "said" occasionally, don't try to replace that common word with something too "out there" like "opined" and also you can't smile words. But, as someone else said, if you have an action with the dialogue, you don't need a tag.

    Re that/who--I don't care what the common usage is, I always recommend who for people and that for inanimates & animals. Also, I HATE the word "snuck!" LOL

    Rebecca: the marketing gurus are advising establishing a platform even before your book comes out--short stories, essays, blog posts, speaking opps, etc.

    Anne, if you feel strongly about something you've written & the editor wants to change, you are certainly within your bounds to explain it. I would advise to pick your battles carefully, though. Don't argue about every little comma etc, but if it's a major story point or cutting an entire character, etc. you might want to have a dialogue.

    Kato, First person can be limiting, but I certainly see many mysteries (especially with humor) done that way. No right or wrong way to do it--what you are comfortable with and does it give you the leeway you need. You could try writing a chapter in 3rd and see what difference it makes.

    Peppy, Look in your community for critique groups and/or writing classes. That helps immensely, gives you feedback and provides a "deadline" to produce each week. There are on-line classes you can take too and writers conferences that offer great workshops. Also many great "how-to" books.

    Bastet: re italics: use for SHORT, immediate thoughts in first person, present tense. I think that is normally accepted, if it isn't too much. I have heard that a few agents/publishers don't like any italics, though, so check their guidelines.

    Great questions and answers!

    Heidi M. Thomas

  58. Typo!! http://www.heidimthomas.com

    As an editor, I should know to proofread even my website address! LOL


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