Tag Archives: editors


Good morning Scribes and Scribettes. PJ Sharon here, writing from deep in the edit cave. I thought it might be useful to share an Indie’s perspective on the editing process. It’s about seven weeks until the launch of my next book and the pressure is on.

Coming June 24, 2013!
Coming June 24, 2013!

I received my final set of edits from Carol, my super-editor who looks at everything from plot holes, inconsistencies, and characterization, to misplaced modifiers, repetitive sentence structure and comma placement. She is very thorough and brutally honest. She gives me fantastic feedback that at first makes me grumble and sometimes even cry in frustration at my own lameness as a writer. But then I realize that her suggestions are right on the money and that I would do well to listen.

Her best advice in the end for WESTERN DESERT: “Paula, if you can learn to write sentences that do not rely on “this” and “that” but are specific and vivid, your writing will improve enormously!”

You’ve got to love English teachers!

Carol’s straightforward approach makes me continue to grow as a writer and I am eternally grateful for her as a resource and a friend. But everyone’s view point is limited so I am going through another round of edits on my own, employing her suggestions, layering in details that will enrich the story, and developing more deeply, the character arcs. By this point, I’ve also run the entire manuscript through an editing program called Auto-crit which gives me reports about overused words, repetitive phrases, clichés, and much more. I could make myself crazy with it, but I’ve learned to use it to catch those pesky bad habits we all have (55 occurrences of the word “that” in one chapter, please remove about 34 occurrences). Eeek! Using the program helps me to see where stronger verbs and more vivid language are needed.

Next–as in today–I’ll hand the book over to editor #2, Jane. I feel like this round of edits is what fine-tunes the story, bringing it to life on the page and cleaning house on all the picky details like grammar, punctuation, and overall flow. Don’t get me wrong; Jane will also catch me on plot points that need clarifying, missed opportunities to deepen character, and stilted dialogue. She, too, is extremely thorough and honest—two necessary traits for a great editor.

When Carol and Jane are done red-penning my baby to death, and I’ve done my level best to write a compelling and entertaining tale, I’ll send the manuscript to Createspace for print copies.This step takes a week to ten days (usually less), so I use this time to work on marketing and promo plans. Initially, I can only buy four copies since I haven’t approved the final at that point. I give two of these copies to Beta readers (avid readers with a keen eye for what works in a story and what doesn’t), and send the other two copies to reviewers. Most of the big review sites require copies several months in advance of release, but it won’t hurt to send one to Publisher’s Weekly and hope for the best. This is also the time I will send the e-version in PDF format to on-line review sites. I have a yearly subscription to Author EMS, a website that pre-filters a list of reviewers perfect for my book. It’s a lot of work querying and sending out requested material, but I think it’s worthwhile. (I’d love to find an assistant to do these types of tasks for me).

Once I receive all the feedback from my Beta readers, (I usually give them a week or so), I make one more pass, considering their suggestions as I go. I’m usually still adding layers, sharpening dialogue, and looking for ways to weave the underlying themes throughout the story—basically putting the fine brush strokes on the final picture. Then it goes back to Createspace and I get a few more copies. I give one to a Proof reader, and the others I use as review copies. After the final proof read and final corrections, it goes to my husband for formatting. Although I’ve gotten pretty good at it myself, he is much more patient than I am and is meticulous with all of that awful detail and computer savviness. I approve it on Createsapce and order print copies, 30-50 to start, and upload to Amazon, BN, and Smashwords.

Viola! We have a book. The hardest part of this entire process is all of the other work that is supposed to happen simultaneously, such as planning a launch party, marketing the other books, and preparing my social media strategy for getting the word out. Obviously, I need to get back to work!

Any questions? What’s your process like?

Adventures in Query-Land

Hi, there, Scribe fans. Suze here. By now you’ve probably read Sugar’s post from a few days ago about the process she went through over the last year, ultimately culminating in her getting a fab agent and an even fabber three-book deal. (Click here to read it). Since I’m in the same spot she was a year ago, querying and hoping to land an agent and sell my manuscript, I thought I’d give you a run-down on how things are working for me.

Despite the fact that I completed this manuscript a couple of years ago, I was never satisfied with the opening chapters and so I only submitted it a couple of places, and was summarily rejected. After rewriting Chapter One about eight times and tightening up my timeline this past summer, I finally had it where I thought it was marketable. I wrote a query letter and a synopsis, fixed them both with the help of colleagues/friends, and finally began the query process in earnest in September. As one of my favorite rerun detectives, Adrian Monk, might say, here’s what happened.

September – Queried seven agents/editors (two of these were requests from a conference). Two requests for partials.

October – Queried three agents. Two requests for fulls. Two form rejections. One rejection on a partial, but a very nice one (bummer! She liked it overall, loved aspects of it, but she just didn’t love it enough).

November – Queried four agents. Felt like I needed to get some energy moving on stagnant requests, so embarked on closet-cleaning and clutter-clearing in an effort to feng shui my writing career. Unfortunately, this did not have the desired results: Received one rejection on a full because she wasn’t representing my genre, but suggested I submit to another agent in the office. Then received one rejection on a partial because she wasn’t representing my genre, but she “loved my voice” and would be interested in a YA or contemporary if I ever wrote one of those. 

December – Queried three digital-first presses. One rejection on a full, but she did have nice things to say. Depressed! I really wanted that one.  One form rejection. Two requests for fulls.

So the three-month tally is:

  • 17 submissions
  • 7 rejections (none of them mean!)
  • 2 partials still out there (not counting the partials that were sent pursuant to agents’ submission guidelines)
  • 2 fulls still out there
  • 6 queries that have not been acted on one way or another

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was reportedly rejected 60 times. Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishing houses. I’m not in the depths of despair yet!

Where are you in your writing journey? Where do you want to be?

An Apple A Day

Happy Thursday, loves. Suze here. Guess what? This is our 500th post! Who knew we all had so much to say? Thanks for joining us here today, loyal Scribelings.

I’ve begun submitting my manuscript in earnest to agents/editors, and I’ve had several nibbles. Everybody seems to want something different in terms of formatting, length of submission, length of synopsis, etc., so I’ve been working hard to do everyone’s bidding, LOL!

So, like a good synopsis (something that still eludes me, but it’s far better than it was thanks to the assistance of some awesome friends/colleagues), today’s post will be short and sweet. How about a recipe?

Image courtesy of Petr Kratochvil http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=3421&picture=apples-and-pears
It’s fall here in New England, and that means it’s apple season, but you can enjoy this all year round. Here’s my recipe for super easy homemade applesauce:


*6 flavorful apples, peeled, cored, roughly chopped, and placed in a saucepan (Empire, Cortland, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Macouns are my favorites, but MacIntoshes will do in a pinch. No Red Delicious, please! The flavor is too bland and the texture is too mealy to work in this recipe). Add the following to the pot:

*1/2 cup of apple cider, apple or orange juice, or plain water

*1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

*a few grates of freshly ground nutmeg (or a pinch of the kind out of a jar — don’t overdo this spice. It’s powerful)

*1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light doesn’t matter)

Bring to a quick boil, then give everything a stir to make sure it isn’t sticking/burning (add more liquid if necessary). Continue to cook until apples are soft, about 20-25 minutes.

For a smooth-textured applesauce, allow the mixture to cool a bit, then whizz it up in a food processor (don’t overprocess, or you’ll end up with baby food). For a chunkier texture, which is how my family likes it, use a potato masher right in the pan until you get the consistency you like. Taste to see if you need to mix in a bit more brown sugar — apples have different degrees of tartness.

Serve warm or at room temperature with pork chops or pork tenderloin, chicken, or pierogies, or as a topping for vanilla ice cream.

**Note: You can also make this with pears! Just use a ripe, juicy, flavorful pear like a Bartlett or Anjou. The recipe is exactly the same.

Now for you. What’s your favorite fall meal? I could use some menu planning suggestions right about now!


Awesomeness of Autocrit

PJ Sharon here on this fine Tuesday. I hope you are all well and writing up a storm. As I’m in the throes of edits and rewrites, I thought I would share an awesome new tool I found. I’ve been hearing about Autocrit for some time, but foolishly I chose to ignore the many recommendations from other writers about its virtues. Boy, have I been missing out!

Autocrit is an on-line service that provides assessment of your writing by way of software that generates a report outlining such helpful observations as overused words, sentence variation, clichés and redundancies, repeated words and phrases, pacing, dialogue, and more. Basically, all the things that a copy editor does, Autocrit does first, and quite thoroughly I might add.

If you go to their website http://www.autocrit.com, you can submit a four hundred word document (about a page or two) of your work in progress (WIP) for free, and in seconds, they will generate a report, not only telling you what overused words that appear in that section, but how many you should eliminate to meet acceptable standards. Your submission appears on the page with the offending overused words highlighted in red. You can even get a combination report showing overused words in red, repeated phrases in blue, and repeated words in green with underline.

You can try out the service for free, but if you want to use it on a regular basis, you can sign up for various levels of use. The $47/year package allows you to submit up to 1,000 words per day. This might be enough for an unpublished writer who is working at a slow and steady pace who wants access to editing help for small projects, flash fiction, or blogging. The Platinum package costs $77/year and allows you to submit up to 8,000 words/day. For serious writers who need the flexibility of having large sections edited and who want to work off-line, they offer the Professional package for $117/year. They allow for up to 100,000 words with unlimited submissions. I chose this package since I’m planning for multiple full length manuscripts and short stories over the next year. This will save me (and my editors) a lot of work on the back end. No more twenty pages of revisions to do before your work is publish ready. A worthy investment in my opinion.

The best part for me is that it showed me patterns I tend to follow and the common words and phrases that I repeat without being aware. Over time, I can see this being a great learning tool that will make me a much better writer. I hope to use it to make my job and my editor’s job that much easier, and to produce the cleanest copy possible.

Not that this word counting program could ever replace the watchful eye of a good editor, but there is no way human beings are going to be able to painstakingly weed through 70,000 words and tell me that I’ve used the words have and that twenty times each in chapter one and that I need to remove about thirteen of them. They might catch some of these infractions, but they won’t catch them all. Unless of course, they use Autocrit.

Have you discovered any on-line writing tools or software that has made your job easier? I’d love for you to share them with our readers.

I Was A Freelance Manuscript Reader

Thea Devine here, with a true confession:  Long ago in a publishing landscape far away (and over the course of the next twenty-five years),  I read manuscripts for several mass market publishing houses, back before electronic transmissions, back when we were writing 500 pp. books on real paper.

I read historical and contemporary romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, mysteries, sagas, fiction for reprint, and non-fiction, agented and slush.  And I assure you every proposal was looked at, no matter what form it arrived in — single spaced, cursive font, unchaptered, block paragraphs, handwritten, buried in popcorn. strangled in rubber bands.

And there were always manuscripts;  just the number of conferences across the country on a weekly basis assured that.  But after National — the deluge.

During those years, I never had an editor tell me what to look for, what they didn’t want to see.  Nothing was culled before it landed on the reader’s shelf.

But really — it was always about the story.  Those grab and go opening pages still grab editors..  And they really do know it when they see it..

But what the editor told me when she hired me was, don’t be afraid to be wrong.

Think about that.   Don’t be afraid to be wrong.  Because what if you passed up another Gone With The Wind or DaVInci Code?  What if the manuscript you loved was shot down and rejected by the editor and then became a best-seller for another publisher? (It happened).  What  if … in the fragile world of publishing as it was then, and is now, so dependent on the subjective opinion of reader and editor.

Don’t be afraid of rejection.  Because the editor could be wrong.  And if the editor could be wrong, then a rejection doesn’t t mean you wrote the worst book ever.  It just means this book didn’t move the editor or it didn’t fit into a particular marketing slot.

That still holds true.  The market itself will judge a book, in this new publishing milieu, if not an editor in a publishing house.   All you can do is write.

Some writing secrets from the reader:

It’s the story. It’s always been the story.  It’s how you get into the story.  Get your characters moving.  Make sure the inciting incident is critical, grabs the reader, and requires your characters to do something.

Conflict.   Your protagonists can’t want the same things (his family stole her family’s business;  she wants to get it back; he wants to give it back), even though they can want the same thing (an object of desire — like the Grail in Indy 3).

Pile it on.  The more obstructions, obstacles and problems you present your protagonists, the harder it will be for an editor — or reader — to put your manuscript down.

Grammar counts.  Sorry.  No dangling participles.  Subject and verb must agree.  A line edit takes forever on a manuscript that needs a lot of work.

Motivation.  Why exactly did your heroine go into the burning mine when everyone specifically cautioned her not to?  There are always reasons why your characters do what they do. Make sure your reader buys into it.

Make sure the ending holds up after all the build up.

Have you ever been rejected?  How did you handle it?  Do you think a publisher using readers is a good thing or bad?