- Article: “Top Tips on Working with an Editor” by Helen Corner
- Tips for Authors: “Books Are Judged Their Cover: 4 reasons why your cover is crucial” by John Chandler
–Thank you all for the overwhelming response to our Combined Book Exhibit service, showcasing titles at book industry trade shows, including Book Expo America and London Book Fair. There is still time to register your book for display at Book Expo America (deadline 4/18/2011). If you have any questions, please email Kathy Weick at email@example.com or call her at 856-489-8654 x306.
–“9 Novel Ways to Promote Fiction,” the teleseminar in which president Sandy Diaz participated, received wonderful participant response – thank you to all of those who joined! If you were unable to attend the teleseminar in January and are interested in finding out what you missed, you can purchase the audio recording and receive three bonus fiction promotion handouts. To learn more, go to http://www.buildbookbuzz.com/teleseminar/fiction.
–Dan Smith is attending and exhibiting at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) Book Expo March 18 – 19, 2011 at the Red Lion Hotel Denver Central. Please let us know if you’d like to schedule a meeting. For more information about the event, visit: http://www.cipacatalog.com/pages/CIPA-BOOK-EXPO.html.
–Dan Smith and Sandy Diaz are exhibiting at The London Book Fair April 11 – 13, 2011 (Stand R405). If you’re attending and are interested in scheduling a meeting, please let us know. For more information regarding The London Book Fair, please visit: http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/.
–Corinne Liccketto will be participating in the upcoming seminar “How to Write, Publish, & Market Your Book” presented by Open Door Publications on April 16, 2011 at the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal in Princeton, NJ. To register for the event, please visit: http://www.opendoorpublications.com/.
–Dan Smith, Corinne Liccketto, and Marissa Eigenbrood will be exhibiting at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books April 30 – May 1, 2011 (Booth #227) at the University of Southern California. If you’re attending and are interested in scheduling a meeting, please let us know. For more information regarding the book fair, please visit: http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/.
Questions? Contact a representative of the Smith Publicity sales team:
Sandy Diaz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 856.489.8654 x301
Dan Smith, email@example.com, 856.489.8654 x101
Marissa Eigenbrood, firstname.lastname@example.org, 856.489.8654 x314
Dina Barsky, email@example.com, 856.489.8654 x319
Tips on Working with an Editor
by Helen Corner, Director, Cornerstones
You’ve finished the first draft of your book, and it’s now time for feedback. Does it read well? Are there areas that require self-editing to make it even better? And once that’s been done, and you’re going down the mainstream route, could it attract an agent or publisher? This is an exciting moment; a rite-of-passage and often nerve-wracking. But getting an outside opinion – one that you can trust – and learning how to self-edit is a process that is as much a part of being a writer as writing the book in the first place.
Are you ready for feedback?
Receiving feedback before you’re ready, and perhaps still at the creative writing stage, can have a negative impact on your writing confidence, so ask yourself if you are ready to hear what’s working and what’s not. If you feel that you can make no further improvements to your manuscript – or that you can no longer be objective and are going over and over the same sentences – and are excited by the prospect of a second opinion, then you’re at self-editing stage.
Preparing your manuscript for feedback
In terms of formatting, your manuscript you should have a title page (title of book, your name, word count, genre, phone, address and email details); the narrative should be in, Times New Roman, font size 12, double-spaced, page numbered, and with a header or footer of your name and the book title. The first paragraph of each new chapter should be left justified and each subsequent paragraph indented with a tab. Dialogue should be on a new line, indented and without a hard-return.
Before you send it out to an editor, it’s a good idea to print off your manuscript and to read it from a hard copy for one last check (reading it aloud also helps for rhythm and flow of the narrative). This is how editors work, with pencil in hand, and you’ll find that it reads differently from on-screen.
At this stage, you’ll be doing a structural edit (different to a copy-edit, which I touch on further down) and, on a simplistic and instinctive level, you’re looking for anything that stops the flow of reading. Mark in the margin what made you stop reading and question why you think that occurred. It may be that you sensed repetition, too much backstory, character inconsistency, clunky sounding dialogue or exposition, a slowing of pace, a scene that could be more exciting and so on. If you can think of a way to fix these issues then go ahead and revise, but only once you’ve finished reading the whole MS (I’m talking mainly here about fiction and narrative non-fiction but even for business books and academic non-fiction you can check for consistency, structure, repetition and pace etc.).
By doing a final check, this will also give you an opportunity to correct typographical errors and basic grammar. Don’t worry too much if this is a weak area for you as your publisher will copy-edit and proofread your manuscript – the final stages of editing – just before your book gets published. However, it’s important to try and get the narrative as polished as you can (if you can’t do this yourself you can hire an independent copy-editor or proofreader, but there’s no point doing this when you know you’re likely to be making further structural changes).
Once you’re satisfied that you can revise no further it’s time to send it out.
How to source the right editor
I’d recommend not showing your manuscript to friends or family if you wish to remain on speaking terms!
Look for a professional who knows how to deliver constructive feedback, has industry experience – be it an editor, consultant, or writer – and who is aware of market trends.
Author online chat forums such as YouWriteOn, WriteWords, Iwritereadrate, Authonomy, and many others, where writers chat about their experiences and recommend individuals or literary consultancies can be a good indicator.
Writing magazines such as Writing Magazine, Writers’ Forum and Mslexia, feature articles and advertisements for editors and consultants.
Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and industry trade books often have a section on editors.
Once you’ve identified an editor or a literary consultancy, check out their website, biography, testimonials, what books they’ve worked on, how long they’ve been operating, what services they offer and at what cost, which authors they’ve launched and who’s published them. You’re looking for a hands-on, personal interest in you and your book and an initial phone call or email will usually suffice. It’s a good idea to test the waters with a first chapter and synopsis – this should be at no charge as you’re just shopping around at the moment – to see what feedback they may give. After all, they need to know if they can be of real help to you and that you’re at self-editing stage before taking on your book. And you need to know that you can trust their feedback and that you’re in good hands.
The importance of understanding editor gobbledygook and getting in touch with your inner editor
You can’t assume that the publisher/editor/agent will have the time to take you through these self-editing stages so it’s up to you to teach yourself; and by receiving professional feedback you’re already on the road to arming yourself with self-editing jargon and techniques. For instance, if an editor says: ‘the mid-section falls flat and the structure is unbalanced’, would you know what that means and how to fix it?
Self-editing can be taught, unlike talent, and a good independent editor will explain the technical issues at hand and brainstorm some solutions on how to fix them; what may sound confusing at first will soon become familiar.
Then it’s a question of applying this advice and revising your manuscript. It may need one draft or several redrafts – and while you’re learning how to self-edit this can feel like a frustrating process. With experience, though, you’ll begin to self-edit on your own and may not even need an independent editor’s opinion as you’ll instinctively know what’s working and what’s not, and how to fix it (although a second opinion is always helpful; even Stephen King has six editors who give him feedback before he makes final revisions).
Once you’re more familiar with self-editing you’ll be able to speak the same language as your in-house publisher or editor and they’ll love you for it.
The different stages of editing your book:
1) Structural editing: ironing out structural issues to ensure that your story reads in the best way.
2) Copy-editing: checking for grammar, syntax and consistency of facts.
3) Proofreading: crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s.
I hope this offers an insight into the craft of self-editing and how to find the right editor to help you along the way. Good luck and enjoy the process.
Cornerstones, established in 1998, is the UK’s leading literary consultancy. They’re passionate about writing, editing and launching new authors, and they scout for literary agents. All their (60) editors have been chosen for their agenting, publishing or writing experience; specialising in a range of fiction, non-fiction and children’s writing. They use their working knowledge of the UK market to show you what is and isn’t working in your manuscript and how to fix it, with an eye on what agents and publishers are looking for. Write a Blockbuster and Get it Published by Lee Weatherly and Helen Corner, Hodder, is based on their workshop teaching techniques. For more information about Cornerstones and their workshop, visit: www.cornerstones.co.uk.
Books Are Judged By Their Cover…4 reasons why your cover is crucial
by John Chandler, Chandler Book Design UK
Like it or not books are initially judged by what they look like. Most readers will not experience the wonders to be found in even the most brilliant of books if the cover does not invite them in. And really, this is how it has to be if you think about it. Imagine if all books had the same plain cover – how would you ever know which book to pick up from the thousands in your local bookshop?
Every author needs to think seriously about what their book looks like. And here are four reasons why:
1) Covers are packaging: On your weekly trip to the supermarket you know what to expect of the well-known household brands, but you are also enticed to try a new product by its packaging. In a bookshop a customer looking for a new read will look out for books by authors they know or have been recommended, but they may also have their attention grabbed by a well-designed cover. A cover has a purpose and that purpose is to generate sales.
2) Covers create expectations: In a single glance a shopper expects to learn what a book is about. A romance novel will have an illustration of two people in a passionate embrace, a book on golf will have a photo of a person playing golf on it. If you want to defy expectations, go right ahead, but understand why you are doing it, what you hope to achieve and that there is a real risk to doing so. Often even a small variation from the usual can make a big difference – for better or for worse.
3) Audience matters – templates and bespoke covers: Book covers can be created by using template layouts, which are relatively easy to do, or they can be professionally created from scratch by a designer. If your book has been written for a small number of family and friends, say a family history, a standard template cover will be fine. It does not need to sell the book at all. If your book is a local history book that will be sold in a limited area with limited competition a little extra effort will suffice. However, if your book is aimed at a wide audience and is intended to be seen on the same bookshop shelves as those produced by the large publishers, you need to invest in a bespoke professional design.
4) A cover is an opportunity, not an afterthought: Your book costs money to produce – either yours or a publisher’s. Failing to give your cover proper consideration could well undermine all of the effort and resources that have gone into it. But more positively, the inverse is also true – a cover is an opportunity, a great leveller, something that can make your book sing. Your cover can potentially be better than the competition from the large publishing houses. Put effort into your cover, think about it, spend a bit of money if it needs it and consider it an investment rather than a burden.
Chandler Book Design will create a book for you that is totally unique. They are experienced graphic designers so their designs are totally bespoke. They offer cover design and page layout for paperback novels to full colour illustrated coffee table books. Chandler Book Design can guarantee that your final book will look and feel as professional as any published book on the shelf. For more information about their services, please visit: www.chandlerbookdesign.co.uk.
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