Quick Tips

What to Ask a Freelance Editor

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Ask the Divas, Featured Articles, Quick Tips | 0 comments

What to Ask a Freelance Editor

What to Ask a Freelance Editor… Before You Hire Them Hiring the right editor to work on your book can be daunting. How do you know you’ve hired someone who has experience, shares your vision, and is just the right match? Some authors resort to the trial and error method, but that seems like a cumbersome way to get the job done. Many authors get a recommendation for an editor from a fellow writer because a personal testimony from someone you admire or trust is a great place to start. But just because an editor is a great fit for your friend, doesn’t mean they’ll be a great fit for you, too. So what’s an author to do? While there are no guarantees, you increase you chances by asking potential editors a few questions to find someone who’s a better fit for your project. Are they knowledgeable? How well do they know their stuff? Do they have a blog with writing advice? Do they offer writers tools to improve their craft? Good editors don’t simply correct errors. They can tell you why something is an error, why you should fix it and, for deeper edits, offer suggestions on how to fix those issues. They should know how to explain it and help authors them become better writers. Will they provide referrals? Whether it’s a testimonial page, bragging rights or a list of authors they’ve worked with, editors should be able to provide you with a list of referrals and writers who have worked with that editor before. But not all editors will have a ready list, so give them time to get the permission to hand out the contact information of a few of their clients. If the editor is just starting out, she might not have referrals yet. This doesn’t mean that she’s a bad editor, just new to the game, so this next point is a good alternative for those new editors and a great practice for all. Will they provide you with a sample edit? A sample edit is a wonderful way to determine if a potential editor can, well… edit, and if their editing style is one you like and can work with. You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, so why not ask for a sample edit. One or two pages from you manuscript for a sample edit is the norm and is usually done for free. If you ask for more or would like to have the first chapter or couple of chapters edited, the editor may ask you to pay for the sample edit because this takes time and editors have to earn a paycheck, too. Pay close attention to the editor’s changes and comments and what she says in those comments. Decide if you like her style and her changes. Finding someone you feel is going to help your book go from okay to great is important. So find someone whose editing style you like. Do they use a style guide, and if so, which one? Style guides are like the design specs of editing. The Chicago Manual of Style is one that helps authors and editors produce consistent work by defining rules for different aspects of writing and publishing. Be wary of editors who don’t know what a style guide is or think there isn’t a need for one. Without a style guide, it can be difficult to produce consistent work and remember all the little guidelines. Does the editor offer a style sheet? A style sheet is a road map of your edit. It’s basically a list of words and terms the editor checked in your manuscript and what they changed. It’s also a tool the editor can use to keep track of elements from the book for consistency. It will save you the embarrassment of the ever changing eye color or the car that morphs into a truck by the end of the scene. Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of the completed style sheet, and don’t be alarmed if your editor doesn’t have a style...

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Quick Tips: Ignore The Haters

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Quick Tips | 0 comments

Quick Tips: Ignore The Haters

Quick Tips: Ignore The Haters   I have seen and heard it time and time again: Authors fretting over one bad review. As an editor, seeing one of my authors pull their hair out because of one negative review or comment makes me want to pull my hair out along with them. It’s tough, the world of writing and publishing. An author’s work is out there for the world to see which also means it’s out there for the world to criticize. And believe me, there are readers out there that make it their sole purpose to rip a book to shreds. Unfortunately, it’s all part of the publishing game. Being a writer means having a thick skin and realizing that not every reader is going to be your reader. There is always going to be someone along the way who will find this and that wrong with your book, and that’s okay. Why? Simply put, you can’t grow as an author is you don’t have someone driving you to be better. Think of negative reviews or comments as fuel for your engine. The more fuel, the more you work to make your writing something that no one can complain about. What happens if you received some hate for one of your books? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It doesn’t mean your sales will dwindle or that your book is a pile of crap. It just means it’s another person’s opinion. The best thing to do when this does—and it will—happen to you is to move on, learn from it, and don’t look back. If you don’t, you will remain stagnant as a writer. You also have to weigh the positive and negative reviews you received.  If you have a higher ratio of positive and supportive feedback of your books and only a small percentage of the opposite, then relax and don’t over analyze it when a stray bad apple comes along. Like I said, not every reader is your reader. So when I get frantic texts, emails, and calls from my authors ready to call it quits, I tell them to ignore the haters. It’s not worth their writing time to sulk over negative reviews or jump at the chance to re-write their book because a reader didn’t like a character or plot line.  Writers need to be comfortable in their work to move on and to let go, or risk stifling their creativity. The next time you get a bad review, just click the little X at the top of your browser screen and walk away for a while. Breathe, have a cup of coffee, smoke if you got ’em, but don’t feed the hate, ignore it. Grow from it, and don’t stop writing....

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Efficiency 101 – Recognizing Patterns in Your Life

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Quick Tips | 0 comments

Efficiency 101 – Recognizing Patterns in Your Life

Recognizing the Patterns in Your Life   Time. We all need more of it, don’t we? It’s like the old saying goes: There’s just not enough hours in the day. And while that is true, there is no need to just give up the fight to find a bit more time to write or revise or promote. I just think you have to be savvy about it. I think of time as a budget. In an effort to maximize my household budget, I am aware of when certain items go on sale, the times of year we will need to have extra spending money on hand, the times of year when my bills are the highest and the lowest, etc. By recognizing these patterns in our habits and spending, I am able not only to save money, but also to minimize my stress and time expenditures. I’ve learned over time, that I can take these same skills that I use to manage my household and apply them to business and my hobbies—and you can as well. I think the first steps to creating an efficient environment in your life is recognizing and tracking patterns and cycles in your personality and personal life. So what does this have to do with writing? A lot more than you’d think because you have to create an environment conducive to writing. That requires not only blocks of time to get your muse on, but also a mind that is focused and free from clutter and stress. Efficiency isn’t always about making the most of every moment. It’s about allowing yourself the space you need to succeed. I’m a planner. If I know what’s coming, I can (and will) prepare for it. For instance, I am a chameleon. An introvert on the inside and an extrovert on the outside. Being around people exhausts me, but my job requires me to go out and be friendly…in big crowds of people. Over the years I’ve noticed a pattern. I can go to conferences and schmooze with the best of them, but I need recovery time. Because of this, I work my schedule out in such a way that I have some free time to be by myself and recharge after going to conferences and events. It may sound like a waste to take this time off, but I find that afterward I work harder and more efficiently. So know yourself and make allowances. Do you always underestimate the time you will need for, I don’t know, everything? If so, start padding your schedule. Are you late everywhere you go? Then plan to be there early—that way you’ll arrive right on time. It’s the simple things that can lessen your stress and make you more efficient. Next, know your life schedule. Are there certain times of year that you are less busy than others? Schedule your promotional and conference-going times during the times of year when going to them won’t wreck your life. Get out your calendar and make note of birthdays, holidays, vacations, and recurrent family events. If you know your summer is going to be consumed with softball and soccer, don’t plan the editing and revision of your manuscript during this time. If you know your work is always heinously busy during specific times of year, block those times out in your calendar so you don’t overextend yourself. A little effort in recognizing the patterns in your life can make a huge difference and can lower your stress levels. Start setting yourself up to succeed. It will give you positive energy that will help you achieve even more. Frustration, failure, discouragement, exhaustion—all of it can strip the muse right out of you. Don’t work harder; work wiser. Small efforts in the right places will mean big results. Now back to writing....

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Quick Tips: Stop Smiling!

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Quick Tips | 0 comments

Quick Tips: Stop Smiling!

Quick Tips: Stop Smiling!   Stop smiling! Or, more aptly, stop having your character smile all the time. He smiled. She smiled. I smiled. They smiled. I read it everywhere.  It’s the easiest way to show your character is happy. But are you really showing anything? There are variations on the theme, of course—mentions of lips turning up and grins breaking across faces, but it all boils down to the same basic thing. A smile. What are you really trying to show your reader? Is there a better way to show it than to say your protagonist flashed his teeth every minute or three? Think about how a puppy acts when he’s excited. He wags his tail, he weaves in and out of your legs, he may yip and bark and pant, and he may have a hard time keeping from leaping at you and licking your face off. But just from those rather bland descriptions, it’s clear as day that this is one very excited puppy. Imagine if I’d gotten creative! It’s the same with people. You can convey happiness, sadness, joy, displeasure, jealousy, hatred—you name it—with these same kinds of descriptions. You simply have to take the time to watch people to be able to describe their emotions. Do you want to show sorrow? Describe the hunching of a woman’s shoulders as her posture slips and she ducks her head and casts her eyes toward the ground. If you want to show anxiety, focus on a child who appears stoic yet worries at a cuticle with his fingernail with no regard to the blood he’s drawing. If you’re looking for joy, think about that puppy. Joy lifts you up and inflates you; it gives you a glow from within. Happy people stand tall and proud, their eyes are bright, and their faces are open and friendly. They laugh. And yes… they smile. Okay, so maybe don’t stop all the smiling. Just give it a little more description. Eyes crinkle up when you smile. Some people get an adorable little wrinkle on their noses. Others have cheeks so full you just want to squeeze them. Show the smile, don’t just tell us there was one. Happy writing!...

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Quick Tips: Because and Since

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Quick Tips | 2 comments

Quick Tips: Because and Since

Because and Since   You’re probably wondering why I’m writing an article about two words that can be used interchangeably most of the time. Well, that’s because it’s most of the time and not all of the time. There are some instances where these two beauties cannot be swapped one for the other and it simply has to do with the use. When because and since are used as conjunctions, their purposes are different. Because shows cause and effect, and since shows a relationship or time. This deserves a closer look. Let’s start with since. When used as a conjunction to connect a dependent clause, since is used to show a relationship or time. The example below shows relationship. Since there was cake, I ate a piece. There was cake and I ate a piece, but the cake was not the reason I ate it. I ate it because I was hungry. If I hadn’t been hungry, I wouldn’t have eaten a piece of cake. Yes, there is a relationship here, but not a cause and effect, so the correct word is since. Let’s look at the next example that shows time. It’s been two months since we’ve talked. I certainly can’t use because in place of since in this sentence. It simply would not make sense because since is used to indicate time, not cause and effect. Now let’s look at because as a conjunction. It is used to show cause and effect and introduce a dependent clause by answering question why. In other words, it identifies for the reader the motive or reason for the main clause. We went to the school play because our daughter had a starring role. The question Why did we go to the school play? is answered by the dependent clause because our daughter had a starring role.  Would we have gone to the school play if our daughter hadn’t be in it? No. It is the reason we went. A few notes on using because to show purpose. Avoid using because when it comes after a negative as it may cause ambiguities. Avoid using the reason… is because verbiage. It is redundant and is the same as saying the reason… is for the reason that. Use the reason… is that verbiage in its place to avoid the redundancy. Avoid using wordy substitutions for because, such as for the reason that, on account of being, due to the circumstances that and the fact that, to name a few. I hope this helps you understand more when to use because versus since. What words have you struggled with in the past? Let the Divas know in the comments below. If we like your suggestion, we’ll write an article about it. Now… go write something!...

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Quick Tips: Writing Achilles’ Heel

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Quick Tips | 2 comments

Quick Tips: Writing Achilles’ Heel

Quick Tips: Writing Achilles’ Heel   Most of the articles the Divas write draw from personal experience, and this one is not any different. I’ve been struggling with my first novel for a while now. Really, I’ve been struggling with many first novels. I have about four or five WIPs that can’t seem to get past chapter four. My intentions are great when I start them. I have this brilliant idea, and I’m so fired up that the words pour out of my fingers line after magnificent line. I feel pretty good about myself and even pat my back with an attagirl. These are the best times for me as an author. The creativity, the inspiration, the want and need to write. It’s a thrilling feeling or a writing drug, if you will. I get high off the new story and the new idea.  But when I’m done for the day, like any “addict,” I crash and come down off the high. I have officially found my writing Achilles’ heel, and my brilliant story has fizzled by day two. Why is that? Well, I know that in my case I let my life priorities get in the way, and I make excuses. I can’t write today because I have to clean house. Or, there isn’t any time for writing because I have to shuttle kids to soccer, make dinner, do bath time, bedtime, and then catch up on my hundreds of hours of backlogged shows on my DVR (which isn’t a priority but I make it one and that’s not very good for a future writing career). When I do go back to my brilliant story, I ended up reading it over again and again (not writing, mind you) and ripping it to pieces because it’s a big pile of crap (even though it’s the first draft, but whatever). I’m then left spinning my wheels and my novel hasn’t gotten past chapter four. Again. Ugh! So how do you make writing a priority and not your Achilles’ heel? Heck if I know. I wouldn’t be in this writing pit if I did. But what I do know is that I can’t give up. In all honesty, it’s about balance and not beating yourself up. It’s a mantra that I remind myself of all the time. Don’t give up. You’re a good writer. You have it in you to be great. This is the same tip I’m giving all of you that are struggling like me. Your writing Achilles’ heel doesn’t have to be permanent. All you have to do is remind yourself why you started writing in the first place—because you love it. Writing is in your soul. To stop writing is the same as breathing underwater. We have all felt that suffocation. But that doesn’t have to be that way forever. This tip is really a pep talk because I know I need it some days and I know you need it too. Life happens and it gets in the way of what we love to do the most, but it’s not a roadblock. It’s only a detour. All you have to do is find your way again. And that thrill of the first four chapters will come back. I’m on my mission to find it again. I will finish my novel this year. It’s a need, not a want, and I’m determined. If you are in the same situation, let’s encourage each other. Share your writing Achilles’ heel with us. Together we can overcome our own barriers and become better writers. Now stop whatever you’re doing and write!...

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