Monday, November 25, 2019

Quick and Tidy Tips to Streamline Editing

By Gina Ardito

    I’m not only an author; I’m a freelance editor, too. As an editor, I want to give my clients every opportunity to clean up their manuscript before it gets to me. The cleaner your manuscript is when it hits my desk, the less you pay to edit the stuff you missed and the better your chances of catching a publisher’s eye. Let me help you achieve your writing goal with some quick and tidy editing tips.
   Have you just typed The End and can’t wait to dig into the edit process? Stop. Put that manuscript aside for a while before reviewing it. Give your brain time to reboot so when you come back to the story, you’re fresh, and so is the story.
    When you’re finally ready to edit, open the document. Before you do anything else, save it with Edit or Revision added to your original title. This way, you’ll always have your original document, should you need to refer to it at a later date. On your revision version, change the font style and enlarge the font size. With a new style and size, your eye will more easily catch errors you’d normally miss.
    Use a standard pen, not a marker or a gel pen that smears. Choose a color you like to make the work happier. Don’t opt for red unless you truly love it. Go with purple or green—avoid black, which won’t stand out against your type on the printed page.
    Find a comfortable spot, a different site than where you write. Don’t sit at your desk. Just like with your font, different surroundings make it easier for your eyes to see the actual words on the page. Go outside, to another room, or a coffee shop with your printed manuscript. Now, let’s start editing.

    Backstory: Only include information that impacts the scene.
    In Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass advises, “Remember that backstory is, for the most part, more important to you, the author, than to your reader.”
    If you’re unsure if you need particular information in a scene, try reading the scene without the passages detailing that information. Was the scene hindered by its absence? If the answer is “no,” delete the backstory.

    Description: Let’s say your character’s plane is going into a tailspin. Is now a good time to describe the color of her hair and eyes? Do green-eyed redheads crash faster than blue-eyed blondes? Then it’s not important at this juncture. Find another place for such information in the manuscript. Or don’t. If it doesn’t impact the scene, let your readers envision the characters any way they like.

    Adjectives and adverbs: Sprinkled in, adjectives and adverbs add zest. Too much, and you’ve ruined what could have been a masterpiece.
    In The First Five Pages, Noah Lukeman advises writers to cut excess:
    “…(1) where you use more than one adjective or adverb.” For example, “hot, humid, sticky” = “stifling.”
    “…(2) where you’ve used commonplace or cliché adjectives…” For example, “cold as ice” = “icy.”

    Modifiers: Useless words add nothing and should be deleted when possible. Are any of these familiar to your work?
almost
began
even
felt
heard
just
nearly
quite
rather
really
so
suddenly
that
very

    Dangling Participles: Search for sentences that begin with an –ing verb to find dangling participles. A dangling participle occurs when you modify the wrong noun. “Striding across the room, his eyes were drawn to her.” This sentence reads that “his eyes” (the subject) were striding across the room. “Landing at the bottom of the stairs, the pain shot through her bones.” The pain landed at the bottom of the stairs.
    Danglers also happen with words that end in –ed, so be alert! “Whipped into a froth, the chef poured the eggs into the pan.” I think the writer meant the eggs were whipped, not the chef.
    Starting a sentence with an –ing word can also lead to creating two simultaneous actions that can’t happen simultaneously. “Kicking off her shoes, she removed her socks.” You can’t do both at once. Try “After kicking off her shoes, she removed her socks.” Or “She kicked off her shoes and removed her socks.”

Contractions: “Cannot” = “can’t,” “who has” = “who’s,” and so on. Contractions speed up pacing and make your author voice sound more natural to the reader.

Dialogue: Avoid the “As you know…” trap. For example:
    Jenna flounced to the couch and collapsed in a heap of white tulle. “I don’t want to marry Stuart. I wish we’d stayed in New York.”
    “But, Jenna,” her mother said. “We had to move for your father’s health. The soot and grime of the city was too much for his lungs. He has severe asthma, you know.”

    This dialogue doesn’t move the story forward. The reader is probably more interested in Stuart, but the conversation focuses on the father’s backstory, which isn’t pertinent to the scene.
    When using dialogue tags, stick with “said,” “replied,” “exclaimed,” and “asked.” Avoid “responded,” “opined,” and “queried.” Better yet, use an action with the dialogue to convey mood.

    Narrative arc. Every story must have these key components:
    1. Opening hook
    2. Introduction of conflicts
    3. Initial success
    4. Stumbling Blocks
    5. Sub-plot, downfall, or introduction of new conflicts
    6. Ease of some issues, but original problem still looming
    7. Ticking clock/conflicts turn against protagonist
    8. Black Moment
    9. Climax
   10. Denouement

A few other common errors to look for:

    Character names. Make sure you use the same name and spell it the same way throughout.
    Character traits. Give each character a unique tic or reaction to emotional upheaval and a distinctive way of speaking, with phrases used only by them.
    Loose ends. All tied up?
    Continuity. If the villain has a gun in Chapter 3, he shouldn’t use a knife in Chapter 4.

    While editing, remember: Love the story, not the words. Be ready to kill your darlings if they don’t work. Best of luck!


Gina Ardito is the award-winning author of contemporary, historical, and paranormal romance, currently published by Montlake Romance and independently. In 2012, she launched her freelance editing business, Excellence in Editing, and now has a stable of award-winning clients, as well.
She’s hosted workshops around the world for writing conferences, author organization chapter meetings, and library events. To her everlasting shame, despite all her accomplishments, she’ll never be more famous than her dog, who starred in commercials for 2015’s Puppy Bowl.
Her newest release, MEMORIES IN DECEMBER, is available now. For more information on Gina and all her books, visit her website.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Boost Your Launch By Getting Reader Reviews


Pixabay.com


Boost Your Launch By Getting Reader Reviews
Services that help authors get seen.

What do I know?

I feel like a fake.   Like I know nothing about writing, despite that, I joined in partnership with another writer, Vanessa Wells, to create themed anthologies.  We formed Stormdance Publications.  It has been a bit scary.  It has been challenging, overwhelming, and rewarding. 

What have I learned?  Here is what comes to mind because it is my current focus.  Getting our books in front of readers and getting reviews, which is important for authors who want their books to keep selling.

One thing I did was to learn how to create arcs in Mobi, ePub, and PDF, from Vanessa’s Word Doc she uses to upload our books to Amazon, using Scrivener. 

Pixabay.com
That done we now need a way to distribute our ARC’s and get them out to a larger audience if possible, but how?  We have two websites Writer’s Gambit and Stormdance, but that is not enough.  There are Facebook and Twitter, still not enough.  Not ready for Instagram.

No, we have not tried book review sites or podcasts, but that idea is on the table for the future.   We have not even scheduled a blog tour yet.  It's coming.   Our focus right now is "just do".  Do something, try something, experiment, and figure out the process that works best for us as a team.

We are hoping to get 20 reviews on each Grumpy Old Gods volume.  As the reviews build, we plan to experiment a little with paid ads and giveaways, as we can afford it.  We are learning about Amazon’s keywords, categories, and algorithms. 

We are sitting on 15 reviews for Grumpy 1.  We have had more reviews, but Amazon keeps removing them for no good reason, or we would have already hit twenty with the first volume.  Like volume one, Grumpy 2 has had more reviews then what shows.  

Grumpy 3 has two reviews, so far.  We are still working on that one as it just released October 30th.  I admit I have dropped the ball a little with Grumpy 3.  We are currently working to release Grumpy 4 by the end of November 2019. 

In our pursuit to get reviews, we have tried:  


For Grumpy 1 we tried Booksprout.  The first 20 downloads are free.  There is no integration of email such as MailerLite, MailChimp, so although it does tell you how many times it has been downloaded up to 20, you cannot connect to your email provider to know who is downloading it or recontact.

I also received two or three emails from people who had problems downloading from Booksprout.  Booksprout was good to let me know about those who contacted about problems and forward their email so I could email them directly. 

I also offered the ARC for review on the Booksprout site because you can do that.  We had one or two takers that way.  I had about 15 downloads on the account I set up and Vanessa had 10 on hers.

I almost forgot.  The first tier plan $20 you get automatic reminders, ebook distribution, unlimited pen names, unlimited arc reviewers, access to reviewer community, private arcs, strong arc freeloader protection, blocks all known pirates, identify & block pirates.  This one is in the running still.  


I looked at Book Funnel, but other sites beat their offer in their free plan and their first-tier plans.  I do like Book Funnel.  It is not as economical for what you get for the money as others if money is a huge issue for you.   It’s a nice site.

PROLIFIC WORKS (The old InstaFreebie)

For Grumpy 2 we tried Prolific Works.  I love the revamp and name change.   The free version, Basic, you get unlimited giveaways and distribution (downloads) but no email provider integration.  The next tier of the plan is $20 a month plan.  You get everything in Basic. 

PLUS: You can add subscribers to a mailing list, optional MailerLite or MailChimp integration, Prolific Works acceleration to the right readers, fully customizable giveaways, track giveaway success.   All plans include: Ability to set limits and expiration dates for giveaways, optional DRM, eligible for additional promotions to readers on Prolific Works

As a reader, I like Prolific Works over Book Funnel because they keep track of all the books you have downloaded.  You can see the past books you have downloaded in a bookshelf through their services your account as reader or author.    

I had fewer downloads on this site, about 8, but I was late getting the link out too.  


With Grumpy 3 I found StoryOrigins.  StoryOrigins is in open beta since it is a new platform, so all features are free to everyone for now, including email integration.   I am working on getting our links now, so do not have any numbers to share. 

Yes, I canceled my Prolific Works subscription and went back to their Basic plan for now. 

StoryOrigins offers group promos, newsletter swaps, collect reader email addresses, integrate email service providers, get reviewer history & completion rate, automate review tracking & follow-up, distribute & track audiobook promo codes, unlimited file delivery, tech support for readers, schedule newsletter content, Facebook tracking pixel, and Amazon affiliate tags.  That is quite a bit all free for now.

We are using StoryOrigins for our coming releases.  We have a call for submission out for Grumpy 5, deadline December 1st with publication in January 2020.  We will post submission calls for Grumpy 6-Love gods and Grumpy 7-Trickster gods at the end of this month November 2019 with the release of Grumpy 4. 

I may also use Booksprout again as well, as we did get several downloads there. Another site I learned about but I have not tried is BookSirens.com similar to Booksprout. 

Getting reviews and getting seen are problems we all face.  Using sites like these make some things easier and gives you exposure to avenues such as newsletter swaps and cross promos with other authors on the site. 

I am not ready for the swaps and cross promos, yet, but I am working my way there. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

How to Evaluate Your WIP and Figure Out Your Next Steps


Welcome, Mary Kole

As a literary agent and now a freelance editor, I’m heavily involved in a writer’s “What’s next?” question. This is a question I get over and over from writers. Whether they’ve just typed “The End” on a manuscript for the first time, or they worry that they’ve reached the end of querying a project. Whether they’re deciding how to submit, or wondering if it’s time to put it in the desk drawer.

The two most important crossroads that writers face are, “Is my project ready to submit?” And, “This project hasn’t succeeded as hoped. Is it time to give up?” Let’s attempt to unpack both of them here.

To me, there are three considerations that determine your next steps in either scenario. The first is your own opinion of the project. Try to step back and consider it with clear eyes. Is it solid work? Are you proud of it? Do you have any deep-down-secret worries about it? Are you scared, basically, or are you stoked? Your own opinion of the project can never be objective, of course, but your gut as a writer is still something to consider. Very often, writers discount their own assessments because they feel insecure. (Shout out to all of you Insecure Writers!) 

But too often, I work with clients who have been steered away from their own instincts by well-meaning critique partners or professionals. Outside feedback is very important—see the next point—but your own understanding of your project is crucial, too. Ask yourself point blank: Do you like it? Do you see any potential flaws?

If you have not submitted yet and are wary because you see opportunity for growth, the project is not yet ready to submit. You want to put your best foot forward. Address any glaring or niggling issues before you move forward. The same thing if you’ve already submitted, but without success. If you know what the issue is, then deal with it sooner rather than later. Make sure you satisfy yourself first. Many mistakes can be prevented with this simple advice.

The second consideration is outside feedback. Before you decide to submit, or decide to give up on a project, make sure you get at least one outside perspective on your manuscript, whether it’s a critique partner or freelance editor. Many writers shy away from this because they don’t know where to find a good critique partner, or they don’t want to pay for an editor. The former concern is exactly why I’m launching Crit Collective this month, it’s a free forum dedicated to critique partner matchmaking. Check it out! 

Because writers can never be truly objective about their own work, having outside perspective is crucial. Make sure you check this box before you decide to submit, or decide to give up. Even if your project has already been through several rewrites, new eyes on it will potentially inspire one last revision—one that might make all the difference. Make sure that you get someone you can trust, and who has experience either editing or reading widely in your category. They will provide you with data that you can’t possibly give yourself, so don’t skimp on this step.

The third consideration when you’re deciding what to do with your WIP is completely external: the market. I often tell writers not to fixate on trends or the market when they’re writing. Trends come and go. But when it’s time to either submit or quit (at least on a particular manuscript, for the moment), the market becomes important. What’s going on in the industry? Are people sick of your particular category? Are there larger forces at work that make your project either more or less marketable right now?

This is the time to pay attention. If you’re considering submitting for the first time, some market research will help you position your pitch intelligently. (You can take a ten-hour self-guided course from me on the topic of the research and submission process, the Manuscript Submission Blueprint.) If you’re deciding whether or not to give up on a project, check the market again. Something may have shifted. For example, a few years ago, the female scientists market was a bit of a bit of a backwater. Now it’s a red hot segment! 

Maybe some new opportunities have opened up since you last researched your place in the current publishing world. If you’ve been on submission with a project a few times, you have probably spent at least months waiting. Maybe the market is now worse for your idea. But it could also be better.

Putting it all together, I recommend three gut checks. First, how do you feel about the project? Whether you’ve just finished it and have some qualms, or whether you’ve been submitting for five years but you still feel some hope. Next, how do qualified others feel about it? Have you gone back for one more round of feedback? If there are still things you want to do with the project in terms of revision, I’d say you should make the final attempt. You never know. Finally, how’s the market temperature for your ideas? Things change over time, so it doesn’t hurt to check in with the industry.

Sometimes, an idea is past or ahead of its time. This can potentially be fixed by waiting for the market to change. Sometimes, the current execution of your idea isn’t working. This can be fixed by listening to yourself and others. Sometimes, it really is time to let go of a project, at least for now. This can only be fixed one way: Starting the exciting creative process on your next idea!


Bio:

Former literary agent Mary Kole provides consulting and developmental editing services to writers of all categories and genres, working on children’s book projects from picture book to young adult, and all kinds of trade market literature, including fantasy, sci-fi, romance and memoir. 

She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Movable Type Management. She has been blogging at Kidlit.com since 2009. Her book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, a writing reference guide for middle grade and young adult writers, is available from Writer's Digest Books.
Links:

Editorial Services Website: https://marykole.com
Company: https://goodstorycompany.com
Children’s Writing Blog: https://kidlit.com


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

#IWSG - Novermber's Insecure Writer's Support Group Posting Day!!!


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Twitter hashtag is #IWSG.

Goodreads Book Club: http://bit.ly/2mWvhZ0

IWSG Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bM8oHL

IWSG Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheIWSG

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theiwsg/


November 6 optional question - What's the strangest thing you've ever Googled in researching a story?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie! 

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I'm convinced that I'm on an FBI watchlist. Okay, maybe I just really hope that if the FBI has been following my crazy Google searches they're fully aware that I'm a writer and not a serial killer.

Honest.

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So, what are you Googling?
 

I thought we could use a few funnies!

Make sure you visit a bunch of blogs to make someone's day!
Image result for writer meme google search
Image result for writer meme search history

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Image result for writer meme fbi



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#IWSG SWAG makes a great gift for the writers in your life!

              

Check out all the awesome merchandise we have for sale HERE and get some stocking stuffers for yourself and your friends today!!!



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NOTE:
The first Wednesday of January 2020 falls on New Year’s Day, so we will post for the #IWSG on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.









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The next #IWSGPit  will be in January 15, 2020
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 15, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents. 


Click HERE for all the details!