Thursday, February 27, 2014

Coffee Chat 8.1 with S.K. Anthony: The Kidnapping of Janie Junebug, Part Two

For those of you who missed last week's excitement, you can find it HERE. Janie Junebug came to my house for a . . . visit, shall we say. Yes. A visit. I'm sure she would have come on her own, had she known how much fun it is to be at my house.

As it stands, she's been enjoying herself so much that she's reached out to hundreds of friends to tell them all about it! Well, actually, she's been asking for coats, hats, mittens and blankets, and my house is now filled with donations, but I'll take it. When she returns to Florida, everything will go to the city mission.

Ahh, so where were we? We were just getting ready to discuss how every writer has trouble areas, and S.K. had just given me permission to share hers.

[Fade to scene in my kitchen . . .]

ER: I will admit, S.K. has some trouble areas, but they have nothing to do with her writing. The woman is a coffee fiend . . . although I can't say that upsets me. And I can't work unless her twins are napping. Hmm . . . that seems to be my trouble area. Let's see what I can come up with . . .

Well, she does like commas. But her comma use is not as bad as she makes it out to be. Really, S.K. is the type of writer I really like. And S.K., I'm not just saying this because you're here and I want you to pour me another cuppa. You rewrite and rewrite until you're satisfied, looking at the manuscript for something different each time you go through it. I like that kind of thoroughness, because it makes my job a lot easier.

I think my own pet peeves stem from those writers who either don't take the time to revise, or who won't listen to good advice when it's given. I have no stake in whether you sell one book or five thousand books. I will get paid for my edits. So why would you think I'd waste my time suggesting something that wouldn't improve a book? (Not you, S.K.—you always listen to me.)

Janie, have you ever had someone reject perfectly sound editing you've done? I don't mean when an author wants to keep his/her "voice." I mean, if someone says, "I don't think I need to capitalize anyone's names. I don't care what The Chicago Manual of Style says. I'm not doing it." Would you have your name omitted in the book's editing credits?

JJ: S.K., you had me at "affect" and "effect." Lynda, my efforts have been rejected or ignored a couple of times. I think it happens to all of us. One writer had a terrible title for a book. I came up with a new title, but the writer had to "improve" on it and insisted that the book not be published without the desired title. A reviewer said that the only thing wrong with the book was the title, and, specifically, the author's change. The author then asked the publisher if it was too late to change the title. Yes, it was.

ER: I would be torn between feeling bad and wanting to say, “I told you so.” It’s the twelve year old in me, I know.

JJ: Some authors have to be the know-it-all. One author attacked me, verbally (we never met in person—thank you, God), and accused me of ruining the book because, supposedly, I had inserted a misspelled word. I never knew what the word was, but I pointed out that I had corrected numerous mistakes, that the author had the opportunity to make changes, and the book would be edited again. When it was published, I planned to present it on my blog and did a brief interview with the writer. The person attacked me again while answering the questions. Needless to say, I've had nothing more to do with that book, but I still love it and think it's one of the best books I've edited.

I have never been in a position to remove my name from a book. I don't know if I would. It would have to be a truly horrific situation for me to say, "I don't want to be associated with this book." Most of the authors with whom I work are very nice people who are eager to take advantage of my help. Sometimes I have to be tough with an author and say, "Look, this is the way it's done. Do you want it right or wrong?" But that doesn't happen a lot. I have very friendly relationships with a number of authors who have sent me gifts, or paid me more than I requested.

Lynda, don't you ever ring for the servants? I still want my frozen mocha peppermint coffee.

While I wait, I'd like to know if you've ever had your name removed from a book, Lynda?

ER: Um, yes. I'll ring for those servants again. [Runs out of the room, hisses to one of the kids that he needs to throw a few scoops of snow into the coffee and bring it to Janie while wearing a butler's outfit.]

I enjoy the authors I'm working with and have a great time when we chat, keeping in touch with them in between jobs. I feel we have a good relationship, and honesty is a big part of it, which makes the trust level pretty high on both sides. I've never had my name removed from a book, although Stephen Fender played a trick on me with his most recent book and purposely misspelled my name, nice and big, in the editing credits on the title page—for only my hardcover. He knew it would make me laugh, and now I have a collector’s edition.

On a serious note, however, I did free evals for someone who didn't want me to change things I knew were wrong. I eventually said no to the job, because I didn't want someone to judge my editing abilities on what that book would end up looking like. I've also wondered, because I mainly do copy/line edits, if someone will "blame the editor" for bad writing even if the technicalities of spelling and punctuation are done correctly.

S.K., what do you think about the advice you've been given? Is it easy to sift the good from the bad?

SKA: Of course it’s easy. If I agree with you, then you’re giving me good advice. Obviously. 

Seriously, though, it depends on what it is. If it has to do with storyline, I have to think it through before making a decision. If I want to keep things as they are, then I have to clear some things up. To my way of thinking, when something is questioned, something must be off somewhere. If it’s grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure I will most likely just agree. I’m working with a professional I trust. Otherwise, why bother working with this person? At the same time, I have to be able to feel comfortable enough to ask questions if I don’t understand the changes. 

Besides, nothing stops an author from doing her own research, right? The Internet is there. Merriam-Webster's dictionary is available online. Heck, I own my own Chicago Manual of Style. Answers are always close by, if we want to look hard enough. So advice is always welcomed. 

If you ladies could give one advice to your writers, what would it be? To help make your job easier, I mean.

ER: Ooh, I'm going to let Janie take this one first. And then I can say she stole all my good answers.

JJ: Work with me, not against me. I'm not your opponent. Feel free to ask me questions. Suggesting a change doesn't mean I hate your writing. It means that your writing can be better. I'll do great work for you if you are open to another point of view, and I will encourage the hell out of you. I'm on your side.

ER: Oh my goodness. You really did steal everything I would have said.

SKA: Janie . . . I think she’s serious. How could you come into her home and steal her words? Err . . . ignore the fact that you were kidnapped. That’s neither here nor there.

I do like that advice, though. I think both the author and editor owe each other the courtesy of making sure the other one shines in the best light possible. It's a team effort, no ifs or buts about it. We support each other and we must work together. So kudos, Janie . . . and Lynda for the wise words.

JJ: Good! This has been more fun than I thought it would be, but I would like to return to the land of fresh-squeezed orange juice and people who wear winter coats when it gets down to 60 degrees. I love the coffee. Please ask the butler what he added to give it such a special flavor. What gives it the yellowish tinge?

S.K., if you ever want me to visit again, then please ask me first. It doesn't seem very smart to wear Lilly Pulitzer shorts and a tank top when it's snowing, and The Queen of Grammar does not like to look stupid.

But thanks for the kidnapping and conversation! It's been real.


SKA: Well . . . I, hmm . . . I just thought you could use an adventure, that's all. Please tell your therapist I said, "You're welcome." But I will call and place an order ahead of time for our next dose of The Queen of Grammar. I promise.

Thank you, Janie, for being a great victim!

Now that I'm done with this kidnapping, I have to figure out my next mischievous move. While I do that, Lynda and I are opening up the stand to YOU, our readers. 

We thought it might be fun (to us, anyway) to allow you to ask us any burning questions you might have. Want to know who taught Lynda everything she knows? Probably me.

ER: It's true.

SKA: Want to know why I ramble so much? Because I can.

ER: Also true. I have no way of stopping her.

SKA: Any other questions, please ask in the comment section here or email us at Lynda's address (lyndadietz4@gmail.com) and tune in next Thursday for answers.

Janie can be found at http://dumpedfirstwife.blogspot.com/ where she has the loveliest blog, and on Twitter @JanieJunebug. 

As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 

You can find me here. I'm always here.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Taking a Day Off



Yesterday was my birthday, and I had the rare opportunity to spend both Saturday AND Sunday doing whatever I wanted. 

I slept. A lot. 

I ate. Also a lot. 

And most importantly, I spent a lot of quality time with my husband and kiddos.

I regret nothing.

See you all on Thursday for Coffee Chat, and next Monday for Editor's Notes!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Coffee Chat 8.0 with S.K. Anthony: The Kidnapping of Janie Junebug


KNOCK KNOCK

SKA: Open the door, Lynda! Hurry up!

ER: I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying . . .  [NOT hurrying to the door. Spilling coffee is bad.]

SKA: Look, I have her!

ER: Who?

SKA: I kidnapped her from Florida—

ER: Who?

SKA: —and . . . all this snow keeps falling and we needed some sunshine.

ER: WHO?

SKA: Plus, I was getting bored, and thought a new toy would do us good. She is one of your kind, Lynda: an editor!

[Pulls hood off "guest" to reveal a very confused person, dressed in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, shivering like crazy.]

ER: Oh. My. Goodness.

Shivering Stranger with Mouth Duct-Taped Shut: Hrmm mmmm nnnnnnn.

ER: Oh, dear. Well, fast is better in these situations. [Rips tape off efficiently, albeit not painlessly, from the look on the stranger's face.] Have some coffee and warm yourself, poor thing. Or would you like an ice pack for your . . . um . . . lip?

[To SKA] What in the world have you done? You brought me a toy? That's a PERSON! This had better be good. You've got some 'splainin' to do, Lucy.

Stranger: [Screams.] Eeeeeeeeeek! NO, I do not want an ice pack, thank you very much. I'm already so cold it's unbearable. What is that white stuff out there on the ground? Where am I and why am I here?
[Glares at SKA.] And you . . . you . . . I am not a toy. Of whom do you think you speak? 

I [pauses dramatically] am the Queen of Grammar.

SKA: Exactly. Lynda, meet Janie Junebug, the Queen of Grammar toy. She's all adorable and makes me feel warm inside. I think she's a cute bug born in June or something, and that's why she can be our sunshine while it snows.

Oh, Janie, I brought you here so I can eat popcorn, or whatever goodies we can find in Lynda's kitchen, while I watch you two discuss correct gra—oh . . . I might not have thought this through. Yikes! I . . . I . . . got myself sandwiched between two grammar police officers, didn't I? Now you two are going to both gang up on me and my grammar. O_O

ER: Janie Junebug! It's so nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you, although I have to admit, I've never entertained the thought of you in my kitchen . . . unwillingly . . .

Oh, well. I'm always one to make the best of a situation. You, dear Janie, just happen to have shown up in my kitchen for Coffee Chat day! And that means coffee. And . . . um . . . chatting. Oooh, and sometimes sticky buns, though I suspect my kiddos eat them while I'm not looking, since there are never as many as I remember setting aside.

[SK gulps and looks around nervously.]

S.K., I think—even though you may have broken a significant number of federal laws—you've done a good thing. We are going to have a great time today!

SKA: Oh . . . I don't know about that now. I think I'm just going to break all the grammar rules I can think of so neither of you can judge when I make a real mistake.

JJ: Break away. We shall judge kindly, but fearlessly.

ER: We should probably say "with kindness" so we're not using too many -ly adverbs.

SKA: I don't verily agree with this. Me thinks kindly that being fiercely knowledgeable in adverbs is . . . errr . . . okayish? I'm trying to say this slowly and gently so as not to be too headachey to yous.

[ER and JJ look at each other in horror, momentarily speechless.]

ER: Oh, dear. This is worse than I thought. We'd best just move right along. Janie, as an editor, do you have any pet peeves when it comes to the way people write?

[A long moment of silence fills the kitchen. JJ has not moved for two solid minutes, nor has she closed her mouth.]

SKA: Janie? Janie? Did I freeze you with my accurately expressed grammar? Your looking into space, and I’z shore your more chattly than this.

JJ: I feel faint. I need coffee. Would you call for a servant, please? I'll take a frozen mocha peppermint with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

[Waits, impatient, tapping toe, and then continues in disgust.] Of course, I dislike the confusion between "your" and "you're." I don't want to lose "lose" through loose usage. I detest the use of "hopefully" to modify a sentence. Disorganization sends my OCD into overdrive. Don't be wordy. Learn to punctuate.

I can't help the way I was raised: I want precision. Everyone must seek the best possible word at all times. And I have to point out that I'm not wearing a Hawaiian shirt and would never wear a Hawaiian shirt. It's Lilly Pulitzer.

But I must walk a fine line between fussiness and people's feelings. I don't want to kill someone's desire to write because his grammar is less than stellar.

S.K., What are some problem areas for you when you're writing? Do you have writing issues?

SKA: Goodness . . . where do I start? I think my major issue is that I’m a comma lover. At this point, I understand comma splices better, but I’m still guilty of them. Commas are just cute and adorable, and cuddly . . . okay, off topic. I’m not a fan of semicolons—ahem, excuse me while I back away from you two.

ER: I love semicolons. [Eyes glaze over.]

SKA: I think I need to get better with descriptions. I prefer to keep it vague so readers can make up their own image, but some readers ask for more. Dialogue tags: I don’t care for them. So I try to address by name, or with action without having too many “he said/she said," but in a group setting I might not have tags as clear as they should be. I would like to blame the readers for not paying attention, but ultimately it’s my job to make it as smooth as possible for them.

ER: I remember you telling me (after we’d watched a Badly Behaving Author meltdown) that if an author has to argue with a reviewer by explaining things the reader didn’t “get,” then the author didn’t write it well enough to begin with.

SKA: I think I know a fair amount of punctuation and grammar rules to get by, but it would never be enough. At the very least I know the difference between "your/you’re," "their/they’re/there," "affect/effect," "could/would/should of" and "could/would/should’ve". So based on that alone, I think you should forgive me for kidnapping you, Janie. :D

[ER nods in agreement, hoping for no police charges.]

SKA: This is just my opinion . . . Lynda can give you the real deal on my trouble areas. [Laughs.] (And Lynda, it’s perfectly fine to share them in public.)


ER: Oh, I'll dish all right. But you'll have to tune in next week to find out the rest, because we're out of coffee, and our . . . ahem . . . butler . . . is off duty now.

Come back next Thursday so we can finally let Janie go home to Florida!

Janie can be found at http://dumpedfirstwife.blogspot.com/ where she has the loveliest blog, and on Twitter @JanieJunebug. But for right now, she can be found right here in my kitchen, mostly because she's not dressed for the outdoors.

As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 

You can find me here. I'm always here.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Editor's Notes #9: Obi-Lorn, the Editor's Editor


Wouldn't it be wonderful if we knew what to do in every circumstance? To be sure-footed and confident in our chosen arena. To march forward without hesitation. To boldly go where no man has gone before.

Unfortunately, it's not always easy to be 100% correct 100% of the time. One might even say—accurately—that it's impossible.


As a copy editor, I have knowledge and a slew of guide books at my fingertips. When all that comes up short, however, I have my own editing guru to turn to. I affectionately refer to her as "Obi-Lorn" (shortened from the longer "Obi-Wan, Advisor to the Grammar-Lorn"). In a community online where just about anyone who loves to read will offer to "edit" a book, she offered a test she'd designed for "wannabe" editors, to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Her idea was to see if there were any editors out there she could feel comfortable recommending when people asked. I had just started editing and wanted to see if I had the skills I thought I had, so I contacted her and took the test.

I failed. Big time.


That test was one of the most difficult tests I've ever taken. It was tricky, all right. There were the usual suspects, like misspelled words and misused homophones. There was misplaced punctuation. Not a big deal. I stepped up to the laptop with the confidence of the ignorant . . . and slunk away from it with the humility of the enlightened. Have you ever heard the phrase, "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know"? It's a paraphrase of something Socrates supposedly said long ago, but the basic premise holds true. I had no idea what I was getting into and not only learned new things, but learned a lot about how much I still had to learn.

The test was long, which I'd expected, but it was hard, hard, hard. There were some sentences, of course, that had no errors, so by the time I'd gotten halfway through, I was second-guessing myself all over the place. Only the most obvious rules were cemented in my mind: a period goes at the end of a statement; every sentence starts with a capital letter. Everything other than that was a huge question mark in my mind after a bit, much like trying to find one's way out of a house of mirrors after being sure of the path going in.

The best part about the test was that it didn't crush me. Oh, I was emotionally tender at the results, but realized my reaction was one of embarrassment more than anything. Bruised pride is worse than bruised flesh, in my opinion. Obi didn't gloat at my awful results; she genuinely seemed to feel bad about failing me, and gave me a list of resource books to begin acquiring as well as an offer of help, anytime, if I had questions.


I got those books and I studied them. Through the studies, I came to realize I would have done much better on the test if I'd had the resources available beforehand. Most of the answers were easily found, if only I'd had the right tools for the job and knew how to use them. Studying helps, because I don't have to look up as many things as I used to. Editing more helps, because the rules are fresh in my mind. Every once in awhile, though, I come across something I can't figure out. 

Obi-Lorn to the rescue.


Obi is just an email away when I'm stumped and can't find my answer in the resources I have handy. I trust her years of experience, and not only does she give me answers, she shows me where to find them next time, and why they make sense. She takes every opportunity to teach on the surface level of my immediate question while also taking the instruction deeper, explaining why something works or doesn't, and telling me what to look for in tiny details I might otherwise miss. She's a faithful instructor who genuinely has my best interests at heart. 

Some time ago, Obi contacted me regarding a post I'd made on Goodreads, showing the sentence in question and asking, "Can you tell me what is wrong with this sentence?" After assuring her that some uneducated hack was using my name to post poorly constructed sentences*, I let her know what I thought was wrong with it. Got it on the first try, thank you very much. Well . . . technically on the second try, since my first try was the original post. Some may think that type of email would be insulting and picky—I mean, really! It's just a post on a Goodreads thread. However, she knows I try very hard to make sure my posts are error-free because my credibility as an editor would be damaged if I didn't take the time to look over my own comments. She saw this as an opportunity for gentle instruction (or "whacking" me with a test across the internet, as she calls it) and I was glad for it. Things like that keep me on my toes. I'm supposed to be on my toes; I get paid to notice each word. 


Everyone needs help now and again. I'm glad I have Obi-Lorn to gently keep my grey cells where they belong.


*If you really want to know what I wrote, here it is:

"As self-published authors, there is no deadline but your own and no reason to rush, other than your own excitement over having written a book."

It should have read:

"As self-published authors, you have no deadline but your own . . ."

Subtle? Yes. But the bottom line is the same. One is wrong. The other is not.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Coffee Chat 7.0 with Author S.K. Anthony: I Love You!

[S.K. bangs on E.R.'s door.]

SKA: [Singing.] Wise men saaaaaayyyyyyyyy only fools rush innnnnnnnn—hichic—but I can't help falling in love with—oh, heeeyyyy!

[Takes a sip from a bottle as E.R. opens the door.]

ER: Um, S.K.? Are you all right out there? Wow, have you been here long? I heard an awful noise.

SKA: [Continues to sing.] Shall I staayyyyyyy, would it be a sinnnnnnnnn?

ER: That was the noise.

SKA: [Singing continues, uninterrupted.] If I can't help falling in loooovvvvve with youuuuuu . . . [Stares at coffeepot with glassy eyes.]

ER: What in the world . . .?

SKA: I luurrve coffee . . . I—hic—thinks me needs some naaoowwww. But—hic—I probably need a nap first . . . [Falls facedown.]

[E.R. closes the door, gets a cup of coffee, and leaves S.K. on the floor.]

THREE HOURS LATER . . .

ER: Hey, S.K., you need to get up. You're late for Coffee Chat, man. I already drank the first pot by myself and ended up cleaning the whole first floor of my house just to work off the caffeine jitters. I can't believe you didn't wake up when I accidentally mopped you. Uh, sorry for that, by the way.

SKA: Itskayyy . . . I needed a shower anyway. Man, my head hurts. Did you at least make me more coffee?

ER: Duh. Have some. [Pours into the special 24-ounce mug reserved for emergencies.] 

SKA: . . . drinking the whole pot . . . wossamotta with you?

ER: It was looking at me. I couldn't just ignore it, so I had a cup. Then I had a second cup, and you still didn't wake up, and before I knew it, the last cup was empty and I had a mop in my hand and . . . I'd rather not talk about it.

So . . . dare I ask what has you so out of sorts?

SKA: Oh, my boyfriend left me for another girl.

ER: [Coughs.] Um, you're married.

SKA: My book boyfriend, I mean. Kevin, the main character from Static—he just broke my heart . . . and Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Sigh . . .

[E.R. is trying hard at this point to not roll eyes. Looks at S.K. and then quickly looks away.]

SKA: Don't look at me like that! I realize I'm the one who wrote it, and that he isn't real. It still hurts, though. He's such a cutie. I figured I'll drink it off today so I can spend tomorrow in a happy mood. I don't think my honey—

ER: [Interrupts.] Your real live husband-person honey—

SKA: Yeah—would appreciate me being sad over a fictional character—that I made up in my head—on Valentine's Day. What are your plans for tomorrow?

ER: Well, first, I'll wake up super-early so I can bake heart-shaped scones for my sweetheart. While they bake, I'll brew the coffee so that when it's all done, I can carry a tray of yummy stuff up to him while serenading him with a love song I wrote myself. It's called "I Love You More Than Chocolate Even When You and Chocolate Are Standing Beside Each Other in the Same Room." Oh, and I'll be sizzling up a special dozen of bacon roses so he knows how much I love him. 


SKA: You wrote a song for him? Gosh, I . . . I . . . hmmmm.

ER: Okay, so maybe that's not exactly the reality. The reality is more like the alarm will go off and I'll hit the snooze a couple times. By the time I get up, my sweetie will have gotten up, headed downstairs, gone outside to feed the animals, and come back upstairs to bring coffee to me. I still might sing the chocolate song, though, 'cause I have a good feeling about that one.

SKA: Oh, good! I don't feel too bad now. I'm making some chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. And by "making," I mean I'll call hubby to pick some up for me us. We'll have dinner with the kids as usual, pig out on our fruits, and then complain about how tired we both are. Luckily, neither one of us is into celebrating or going all out for these holiday things. We just like to chill; no material gifts needed in this household. Nope. Sleep is what's most appreciated. Just sleep. Can you tell we're the parents of teeny little ones?

ER: I have to admit, we don't do the "Hallmark Holidays" either. I'm happy with a husband who treats me great 365 days a year (366 on leap years), so a card isn't going to make or break the marriage. Chocolate doesn't hurt, but he knows me well enough to keep a secret stash for emergencies. I got a Valentine card from him once, and I told him he never had to get me another, because it was so spectacular, he'd never top it. He still gets me cards on occasion, but we never feel forced because the calendar tells us we have to.

SKA: Oooh, emergency chocolate stash . . . yes, that's all that stayed with me. Your guy is sweet, my guy is sweet . . . but chocolate! We're almost the same here, too. But on leap years, that's the one day I give the guy a break and I'm the super sweet one. We take turns; it's only fair.

ER: We met on April Fool's Day, if you can believe that, so by our very first Valentine's Day, we'd been dating almost ten months. Because I hadn't really said anything, I guess he panicked and thought he'd better hurry on out to the store and get a card . . . maybe he thought my silence was a test or something. The only place still open was the apothecary down the street, and apparently, there was only one card left. When the time was right, he looked deep into my eyes, handed me the card, and I opened . . . this. 


It was the best Valentine's Day card a gal could possibly ask for.

Sigh . . . that's all the time we have for coffee today. S.K. is headed home to her real, live husband and will hopefully have a great day. Don't forget, our Share the Love giveaway ends tonight at midnight EST, so make sure you get your entries in! We can't wait to give prizes to YOU!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find everyone in the following places:
S.K. Anthony: www.skanthony.com
Easy Reader Editing: you are here. :)
Raymond Esposito: writinginadeadworld.com
Stephen Fender: www.stephenfender.com
Debra Ann Miller: debraamiller.blogspot.com
Sisters Baking Company: www.sistersbaking.com
Sarah YourBetaReader: yourbetareader.blogspot.com

Monday, February 10, 2014

Editor's Notes #8: Is This Editor a Good One? Part 2


Last week, I posted the first half of "Is This Editor a Good One?" It seems that although an editor may not be hard to locate, finding a good one is an entirely different matter. If you missed the first part, you can read it here, and find out why pricing isn't always an obvious choice of "cheap v. expensive;" why asking around is a good start; why it's a good idea to look at samples of the editor's work; and why it's essential to contact the authors an editor has worked with.

If you've done all the above steps, you should have a narrowed-down list of editors who may fit into your budget, are recommended by their authors, and whose work looks good. 

The next move?


GET A HANDFUL OF EVALUATIONS
If you're considering a specific editor, he should be able to give you an evaluation or sample edit of roughly 2000-2500 words of your manuscript. This will show you whether your editor is eagle-eyed, unobservant, pushy, uninformed, or well-versed in the rules of grammar and punctuation.

I suggest getting at least three to five evaluations and comparing them. It's good to note the similarities, because they may be pointing out things that will help you to improve as a writer overall. It's also good to notice the differences. Why did this editor use a comma here, and another used a semicolon? Are both variations of "correct" or is one of them wrong? Why did this editor say "jutting out" is redundant phrasing? Why does he keep removing the "of" when I say "off of," and why did the other editor leave it in? Which one is correct?

PERSONALITY COUNTS
I'm a firm believer in this. I have to feel comfortable with the person I'm working with. I need to be able to say what needs said in a way that doesn't mince words, but is still kind and encouraging—genuine encouragement, which means I need to be wholeheartedly supportive of the story. I want the author to realize that too, so when I write a margin note like, I suggest changing this word, because a high school boy is not "debonair." If you continue to write about him when he's 60 years old, he can be debonair then and I won't take it out, I know the author will laugh with me instead of being insulted. Or when I write, Did you write this [double entendre] on purpose? Because I don't know whether to laugh or make you change it, and the author says, "No. No. NO. Oh my gosh, I can't believe you caught that," and we have a good chuckle.

Personality compatibility helps with trust, also. The author should know that whatever I have to offer is in the best interests of his book. If I change something, trust that I know the rules regarding that change. If I strongly suggest something, either obey me (with or without the gift of chocolates) or look it up and ask around to find out why I think it's so important. I can't force anyone to make the changes I suggest (that's the beauty of self-publishing), but if you don't want to accept any of them, then I can't in good conscience put my name in your book as the editor. And if I can't have my name listed, then it feels grossly unethical to take your money.

Part of an editor's personality should include the ability to admit when he or she doesn't have an answer. I have my own editing guru I contact when my knowledge and shelf of books yields no solid results, but I'll tell you about her in a future post. In the meantime . . .

DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS
You shouldn't feel awkward asking a potential editor some basic questions. For example, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition is the standard style guide for the publishing industry in the US. Chicago recommends Merriam-Webster as THE dictionary for reference. An editor of fiction and non-fiction books should know that and use it. If a potential editor doesn't know what a style guide is, or doesn't know which one he uses, move along. Nothing to see there.

Ask how long an editor has been in business. Ask if he has repeat clients. Ask if she specializes in editing for UK or US clients. Ask what genres he feels most comfortable with, and if he's familiar with your specific genre. Ask what type of editing she's best at: substantive/content, line edits, or proofreading. Ask what kind of turnaround time to expect—some editors work part-time, some full-time, and some only on weekends as a second job. Ask if a contract is required (and if the editor doesn't require one and you do, he should agree to one). Ask if payment is required in advance, at the end prior to receiving the edited manuscript back, or in portions throughout the work. Ask if discounts are available. Pay attention to whether or not she's answered your emails promptly.

Hopefully, these steps will help you in the search for a good editor. Remember, if you feel unsure at any point in the search, you are not obligated to hire that person. There should be no hard feelings on either end. It's a business transaction, and if you choose not to do business with that person, it's no different than if you obtained several estimates from contractors before deciding who gets to remodel your bathroom. The more thorough the search, the more successful the venture.

GOOD LUCK!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Coffee Chat 6.0 with Author S.K. Anthony: Blogging from A to Z

"A" you're adorable, "B" you're so beautiful, "C" you're a cutie full of charms . . .
"D" you're a darling and "E" you're exciting and . . . um . . . [Stops, counts on fingers.]
A, B, C, D, E, F, G . . . Oh, yeah.
"F" you're a feather in my arms . . .
"G" you look good to me, "H" you're so heavenly—

Oh, hey, everyone! You're probably wondering why I'm singing the Alphabet Song. Or maybe you're wondering why I can't remember which letter comes next. I'm actually practicing the opening song for the upcoming Loudermilks concert. Not gonna lie, we're doing all the classics.

Mornin', S.K.! How's it going? Have some coffee to jump-start your day.

SKA: [singing] C is for coffee, that's good enough for me. Oh, coffee, coffee, coffee starts with C!

Oh, hey! Good morning! Are we done singing, then?

ER: Do you happen to know the Alphabet Song? 'Cause I know the Alphabet Song. All the way to the end, even. [Mutters.] . . . with a little pause here and there . . .

SKA: Yes, yes I do. I don't even have to read and cheat to sing it—from A to Z, I know them all! I can even write them down backward if you want. Look, Z, Y, X, W—

ER: I know them all too . . . except I have to take off my shoes and socks to I can point to my toes once I run out of fingers to keep my place. I call in one of the kids after I reach the 20th letter.

SKA: Um . . . X, W, V—

ER: Wait, hold up a minute. [Pulls socks back on.]

SKA: Why are you stopping me? Don't tell me you have some other alphabet challenge in mind. Or do you?

ER: I'm not going to ditch the original singing idea, because I know you've been practicing pretty faithfully for the concert and all. And I won't make you say the alphabet backward while standing beside your car, touching your nose with your index finger. But I heard about something cool and wanted to run it by you to see if it's legit. It's called the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Know it?

SKA: I sure do! I was a chicken last year and didn't join, but this time I went ahead and signed up as soon as I saw the first post about it on Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. For anyone who doesn't know about this, it's (and keep in mind, I'm taking this directly from their site): 
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior). And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter "A." April 2 is "B," April 3 is "C," and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random—just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.
How fun is that? I'm so excited to be a part of it this year and I'm already thinking of what I'm going to blog about. I'm hoping to get the posts set up before March comes around so I don't run around like a mad woman . . . at least not more than usual. 

ER: Well, there's no point running around like a not-mad woman. It's exhausting. So April's the month, eh?

SKA: April will be an awesome month, I can feel it. I'm even happier that I have a couple friends facing the challenge with me—you included, Lynda.

ER: I've got to admit, I'm psyched about it, too, and just a little bit terrified. I've started thinking of my A to Z topics, but—well, you may not have noticed this, but I tend to go on a bit long in my blog posts. What if I can't keep them short enough? Do you have any advice for me? And do you have a theme for yours yet?

SKA: Based on the little I know about it, but also based on time and how busy everyone will be, I would suggest not going over 250 words. 

ER: But—but—I'm ITALIAN!

SKA: I know, I know . . . that's a challenge in itself for you, but imagine how quickly you'll be done with your posts. My advice is to write one of your regular ones, split it in three . . .

ER: . . . or eight . . .

SKA: . . . and then fix it up to match the day and letter it corresponds to and you'll be done in no time. 

As for my posts, I think, and I'm not sure yet, that I'm going with words and expressions I've made up. I do call myself "an official make-stuff-up-er" on my blog, so I thought I'd give an insight as to what that's all about. Apart from making up whole books, that is. 

If that doesn't work, I might just choose desserts and goodies I'm currently staying away from, and salivate all over my blog. What do you have in mind for a theme?

ER: Mmmm . . . desserts . . .  

Ahem. For my posts, I think this first time out, I'll stick with what I know and give some tips for writers from an editor's viewpoint. I might suspend my Editor's Notes for the Mondays in April, since there will be posts going up every day that relate to editing, anyway. 

Who knows? If this works out well this year, I'll look forward to something more creative next year! Bucket list, places I've never been, favorite foods that could kill me if I ate them often enough . . .

SKA: That is awesome! Editor tips work for me. We haven't completed this challenge yet and I'm already looking forward to next year's. The creator of this is a genius! Now I wonder who else is joining us, and if they have their themes set up.

If you're reading this (and I think you are), share your A to Z plans if you're participating. We'd love to support you throughout the challenge and cheer you along. Well . . . if we're not too tired and too full from all the dessert-eating . . .

ER: Desserts . . .

SKA: Before we go, we'd like to remind you that our Share the Love Giveaway ends next week. If you haven't entered yet, what are you waiting for? Do it. Don't be scared; we don't bite. David Hasselhoff might, though. We're not sure. Still, be a daredevil. Enter and share! Also, be on the lookout for another Facebook Flash Giveaway on Sunday!


You can find everyone in the following places:
S.K. Anthony: www.skanthony.com
Easy Reader Editing: you are here. :)
Raymond Esposito: writinginadeadworld.com
Stephen Fender: www.stephenfender.com
Debra Ann Miller: debraamiller.blogspot.com
Sisters Baking Company: www.sistersbaking.com
Sarah YourBetaReader: yourbetareader.blogspot.com

Monday, February 3, 2014

Editor's Notes #7: Is This Editor a Good One? Part 1

How do you know if an editor is any good?

After pouring yourself into the writing of a book, revising it, showing it to your critique partners, revising it, sending it out to beta readers, revising it again, reading it aloud and revising yet again, you are finally at the stage where you need a copy editor. But how do you decide which editor is best for you and your book?


PRICING
Many writers go no further than cost. "I need my book edited, but I don't have any money for it." "I need an editor, but I'm a poor writer/college student/unemployed." "Editors are so expensive! I just can't afford one."


I've heard many of the better self-published authors say they certainly aren't in it for the money. Let's not confuse that with whether they want to make money or not. Of course they do. But the authors who are determined to excel at their craft realize there's a good chance they may never recoup the money or hours they've put into a book—and yet, they still want to produce the best product possible, from writing to editing to cover choice.


Let's talk cost, then. Does cost always equal quality? Not always, although I've looked through the blogs of the "nothing over $60" types and have found them lacking more often than not. Let's face it, when someone advertises editing/proofreading services, the copy on their own blog should be error-free. If their home page says, "YOUR GOING TO LOVE US! WERE BETTER THEN THE REST!" then you should run the other way. Run hard and run fast.


Cost is a relative term. I know people who shudder at paying more than $10 for a meal, and others who think $40 for a decent entrée is no big deal. Is a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes worth the $600-1300 asking price? I'd probably be afraid to wear them outside my house. And yet there are celebrities who own several pairs. It all boils down to your priorities. A friend of mine who is a notorious penny-saver will plunk down big bucks for a good book without batting an eye. Her reasoning? "It's a book," she says, as if that explains everything


Back to the editing angle of it: I've had people tell me I charge half the cost per word they were paying elsewhere. I've had others look at those same prices and tell me they'd never anticipated it would cost "so much" to have their manuscript edited. Part of it is perspective—sticker shock, if you will—in not looking around and comparing prices well in advance of finishing the writing. Part of it is in direct correlation to their own work: if your manuscript needs more work, your cost will be higher. For "basic" copy editing, the Editorial Freelancers Association suggests $30-40 per hour (assuming 5-10 ms pages/up to 2500 words per hour). Assuming those figures, it would take me 20 hours to lightly edit a 50k-word novel, and that should earn me $600-800 for just the first run-through. I can tell you right now, I'm not making $30-40 per hour.


And those people who are offering edits (any number of words, light edit, heavy edit, or complete overhaul to the point of ghostwriting) for under $100 . . . they've got to be making under $3 per hour or they're skipping every other page to finish faster. If the price sounds too good to be true, you're probably going to end up with exactly what you pay for.


ASK OTHERS

A simple way to find an editor is to ask around. If an author is happy with his editor, he'll let you know. A service provider will always paint himself in the best light possible. Who wouldn't? We want to sell ourselves so you hire us. The real test is to ask others who they recommend. There are a lot of freelancers out there, and a lot of agencies. Gems and clunkers abound in both arenas, but there is someone out there for every writer. Someone might like his editor because she gives helpful suggestions. Another person might not appreciate the suggestions and wishes the editor would simply do her job and fix the typos.

Think of what you're looking for. If you know you need a lot of help, seek out an editor who gives a lot of help. I recently saw a post on Goodreads where the writer was looking for an editor specifically to help with verb tense. Another was looking for someone who deals with UK writing, rather than US. Another needed someone who grasped Aussie slang and dialogue style. Not every editor can fit those needs.


REFERENCES AND SAMPLES

Any editor you're considering should be able to show you what he or she has done. This has been made easy with the current availability of ebooks and sample chapters. In my "Links" tab here on my blog, I list the authors I've worked with and the books I've edited for them. I encourage potential clients to contact those authors to ask about me. I don't want to know which ones they contact, and I won't warn the authors ahead of time (or give them a script of wonderful things to say about me), because I want honesty in their answers.

A word of warning: this is an essential step. Don't skip it. It costs you nothing to contact people, and it costs you nothing to download a free sample of an ebook, to use the "look inside" feature, or to ask the author for a sample. I stress this for a very good reason. One of the authors I've worked with hired me to re-edit books that were done by an "editor" who did a horrible job, actually making the novel worse, not better. This so-called editor continues to list that author's books on her website as her editing credentials, and yet her name is no longer anywhere on the books, due to extensive rewrites. If someone were thinking of hiring this person, there would be no reason for him to assume she didn't do the final edits of the books, and would only find out the truth if he checked a sample (which would have my name) and contacted the author (who would be quick to tell him the truth about the other editor's lack of skills).


I have worked with every author I have in my links. I've edited the books listed and am doing edits for their soon-to-be-released works. Having repeat clients should speak for itself. But as LeVar Burton used to say at the end of each episode of Reading Rainbow, "But you don't have to take my word for it." And you shouldn't. This is the Internet. I can tell you anything I want to about myself, whether it's true or not.


WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO?

Shopping for prices, asking others, getting references and seeing samples all add up to a good start when looking for an editor. Next post, I'll go into detail about the other things to look for and why they're important, including personality.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Release: Born Hunter by Dave Rudden

I recently had the pleasure of editing Dave Rudden's Born Hunter, one of the novellas in his Age of Humanity series.

We started working together when Dave decided to rewrite his books, and I was really impressed with his attitude. He pulled Born Hunter from the shelves, almost completely gutted it, and came through with a story that was better than the original. 

The book's description:
There are things in this world that we choose to ignore. Witches, vampires and werewolves prowl in the shadows and wait to strike. They hide in our nightmares, bringing fear to our children.
Drew Singer was born to hunt the creatures and keep them confined to our dreams.
What scares a man who hunts nightmares for a living? Drew is about to find out.
You can grab Born Hunter from Amazon for only 99 cents on Kindle, and read all about Drew Singer and his family, direct descendants in a line of hunters . . . hunters of vampires, werewolves, and other magical things.

Be on the lookout for the other four books in the Age of Humanity series over the upcoming months, too!