Archives for category: Editor

Over the last several years as I’ve been a continuity editor for authors, I’ve created several Style Sheets for authors. Normally, I get the book about the Beta Reader stage, ask the author a few questions (You’ve got three different spellings of Bridget, which do you want to use?), make a quick Style Sheet, and the pass that on to the final editor. Then, for the rest of the books in the series, the final editor and I keep building on the series Style Sheet. This is quick, easy, and painless. It only involves the author and two editors. 

But this summer, I began editing for a website overhaul. My church has a very large website with hundreds of resources, articles, and About pages. We are completely rebuilding it and revamping it. “Putting a new coat of paint on it,” as my pastor said. For such a large site, we’ve split the editing work among a team of editors. But, as the lead editor, it’s my job to codify our style. This is so completely different than Style Sheets that I’ve worked on in the past. Besides the fact that I am the one making the decisions, not the author, I’ve also got to manage several different editors, figuring out their strengths, and assigning tasks according to those. 

Oh, did I mention the editing team is made up exclusively of women in my family and my high school English teachers? It feels a bit odd to be the lead on this, telling my mom and one of the associate pastors of the church what grammar rules we will follow. 
It has definitely been an interesting job. But I’ve been having so much fun; I wouldn’t trade this for the world. 
Picture: what I feel like in the presence of people who taught me grammar. Not that they’ve made me feel this way. This is just how I view myself. That’s my rascally son, Monkey, in church.

No one will be truly shocked to hear me make a blanket statement like, “Life likes to throw curveballs.” We’ve all experienced it to some degree or another. But what are we supposed to do when our carefully laid plans run amok? Make lemonade?

For the last several months, I’ve been taking an inventory of my life with the intent of exploring a more thorough definition of my purpose. I’ve know my personal purpose in life for many years, but I find it necessary that I take an occasional revisitation of my purpose and reevaluation of whether or not my life is accomplishing that. And, as frequently happens, while assessing, many things paused. Editing included. I worked on books that I’d already committed to, but didn’t take on any new ones professionally. I did not advertise for or pursue new customers. 

And, as frequently happens when I do an assessment, I find that a few minor things can go, but the majority of my time and efforts are in line with my life purpose. Or, at least accomplishing a goal in line with it. So, never fear, MrsAWiggins’ Continuity Editing shall continue.

And, as always happens when I take a Life Inventory, something happened that confirmed that I was on the right track. A friend sent me a book to beta read. And I found a continuity issue that was glaring enough I had to inform the author right away. It’s the little conversations like this that constantly remind me that I love and am talented at what I do. Otherwise, this would just be some distraction in my life. But it’s my purpose.  

 

One of the best parts of editing is coming across a reference that I’m not familiar with. I can get lost in a Google research hole for hours. Editing helps me continually learn new things. 

The thing I love most about editing books for authors that aren’t American and aren’t writing about American culture is how much I learn. I learn new phrases. I learn new words. I learn new meanings to words I already knew. I learn about different people and places. And the more I learn, the more enchanted I become with some place I’ve never been.

And, some times, I get that same pleasure just from meeting people online and having conversations with them. Because, who doesn’t want to answer the question, “That phrase you just used? What does it mean?”

It seems I get this question at least once a day. I’ve answer it a variety of ways, but it all comes down to one thing:

When your series is big enough to have fan art and screaming teenage girls falling in love with your characters, will they find a detail that changed somewhere along the line? Because you know they will. 

After all, you wrote half a dozen drafts before you ever sent it to a copy editor. The tattoo may have started out on your protagonist’s shoulder, but then you liked the idea of it being on her wrist. Now, half of the time it’s referenced, it’s on her wrist, and the other half it’s on her shoulder. I’ll help you fix that.

Maybe you continually lose your characters within the room while you’re focusing on the dialogue. He’s sitting down. Now he’s standing by the door. Now he’s leaning the chair back. I’ll help you fix that.

Or maybe the personal biographies of minor characters escapes your memories from one book to the next. After all, you’ve written a book for your other series since the last time you worked on this series. I’ll help you remember that the servant girl was reading in book two, so that you don’t teach her how to read in book four.

As a continuity editor, I keep a personal file on your series, continually adding details as you release books. Then, before the new book goes to the copy editor (what I do is best between Betas and Copy), I’ll make sure that everything lines up with the rest of the cannon.

I can help you avoid awkward questions from rabid fangirls later on. Or, you know, just get your manuscript to agree with itself.

I am a continuity editor and proofreader. I fully recognize that I’m not an adequate copyeditor. I know several of them, and can recommend them to you, but this is not a plug for my business. This is an explanation of why you don’t want to hire me for copyediting. 

I work with a couple of different authors on series that they’re currently writing and publishing. Often, as I’m editing a later work, they’re doing the finishing touches on an earlier work. But because part of what I do is compare the current work with all the “officially published” earlier works, I often ask for a mobi version of a not-yet-published work. 

The author whose book I’m working on this week sent me the mobi version of book one as part of my work on book two. She is an incredible author who is superb at plot structure, characterization, and dialogue. But she frequently skips over details when writing. Which is why she hires editors. Within moments of opening the mobi version, I was messaging her. This one wasn’t copy edited by your normal copyeditor, was it? (This is not the first series I’ve worked on with her.) No, she’d used someone else recommended to her, but hadn’t been super confident in what was returned to her. And there was a reason why. 

Within the first chapter, I found close to fifty typos that I had seen earlier in the process, but I had left for the copyeditor to deal with. But they hadn’t been fixed. “The second and third chapters are okay, but the first is so bad, it looks like you’re trying to chase readers away.” Which no author truly wants. The author and I discussed what she wanted to do to move forward. This was the book she was going to release to the public within the next couple of weeks. It was supposed to be done. But the copyeditor hadn’t done due diligence. 

When you are ready to hire a copyeditor, I highly suggest you speak with several. Have each of them give you a sample edit along with their normal terms and conditions. Then, you’ll be able to spot which editor will be the best fit for you, and which one will actually complete the job to your satisfaction. Then, repeat the process with each book. If your preferred editor isn’t available when you need them for a particular book (as often happens with great copyeditors), then you have a couple back-up copyeditors. And then, double check their work when they send you the edited version. Don’t saddle yourself with an editor who can’t bother to correct “were” to “we’re” when necessary. Because that just adds more work to your plate, or gets your excellent book sent out in shoddy form.

I’ll be adding proofreading to my work this week, but I’m only doing so because I’m confident in this author’s writing. She doesn’t need an editor who will analyse every word, like great copyeditors do. She just needs someone to point out that the wrong “your” was used. That I can do. But if her sentence structure needed reworking for every single sentence, I would definitely not be the one to do that. If her dialogue were stilted and unnatural, I would not be the one to do that either. I’m great at telling her, “The flight attendant’s name was Laura, not Laurel” or “In book two, this character was reading Shakespeare, but in book four you’ve got her learning how to read…” 

Writers of series need both kinds of editors: continuity and copyediting. But what no author needs is a copyeditor that isn’t sure if “allusion” or “illusion” is correct.

If you’re a Google Plus member, come join us this coming Sunday, March 15th, at 19:00 GMT. The Novopulp Anthology is releasing its second book. The authors, editors, and other contributors to the Anthology will be chatting in a Hangout On Air about the making of this volume.

The link to view the HOA live is: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/107781032288819724254/events/ci6e4f62ltm5nivgr48fdmfeh8o

To watch later, view on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD7oHlBb6t0

I’ve been reading a book (not by an author I know), and there hasn’t been much conflict. So, in the midst of yet another romantic scene, I find myself thinking, “Something bad needs to happen soon, or I might quit reading this.” Luckily, it did the very next chapter. But, authors, if you don’t have conflict in your story, it fails to hold interest. And then even stubborn readers like me consider quitting. 

There comes a point in a book that a statement of truth is made. And it rings through your soul. Ah! It hits you! That’s what you’ve been missing. That’s where you kept mis-stepping. And now you see the light. Now you know what to change. You have learned something and you will never be the same. Your very essence has shifted.
And you look up to share your excitement with your people, and none of them have changed in the last second. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they see how the world has been transformed? Don’t they know that you can see so much more now? Oh, wait, they haven’t read it yet. And even if they do, they probably won’t understand why it’s so important.
I read for lightening moments.

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NPR has an excellent article about Dorothy Dunnett. I haven’t read any Dorothy Dunnett, but I shall soon be correcting that mistake. There was one sentence from the article that really caught my attention:

“It really taught me that finely wrought emotional pain can be an exquisite joy for readers, even if they claim it hurts!”

This makes me think that my favorite authors really are readers of Dunnett. Because my favorite authors are masters of exquisite pain. They’re the authors that I’ll read in all-night marathons for days or weeks on end even though I cry through every book. Even though they keep beating the main hero. Even though they keep laying the heroine bare. Even though death is always an option. I keep reading them over and over again. Devouring page after page, like I have no idea what the outcome will be, even though I’ve read the entire series dozens or hundreds of times. Exquisite pain.

I am one of the people that uses books to escape the reality of every day life. Because life is hard and painful and unfair and cold. So why would I chose to escape into a world where life is harder, more painful, more unfair, and even colder? Because the chapter is not finished until the hero wins. Because the book is not closed until the heroine conquers all. Because the series is not over until love has vanquished death. And, sometimes, that simple reassurance that all will be made right in the end…that’s exactly what I need to make it through the hard, painful, unfair, cold days.

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