You are your own worst enemy when it comes to editing. There’s a psychological term for this that escapes me right now, but it boils down to mind games. Your brain will look at errors and automatically correct them or fill in the blanks.
Can You Read This? by Chris McCarthy (Study@ecenglish.com)
I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
Whether you are self-publishing or signing with a publisher, you want the best editor you can get. Constructive criticism is hard to take these days. It’s not intended to beat you down. An editor is the invisible person behind you who honestly has your best interest at heart. An editor can shape your manuscript from the ordinary to the best product possible. Yes, it can be frustrating and take a while, month and years.
But, there are options there, too. If you don’t like your editor for some reason, ask for another. You can always go out on your own, but remember good editing is expensive. Yes, your first-grade teacher or next door neighbor, friend, or spouse can always look at it, but is that in your own best interest?
How to I start?
Typically, you pitch an idea or send a query letter before you write an entire manuscript that may or may not be accepted. Don’t pitch to a company that doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Don’t pitch a romance to a company that specializes in mystery or a children’s book to a company that specializes in adult literature. Do your homework. Check websites or get access to the Writer’s Market.
Do I send everything?
Never write or submit more than an idea or several chapters It’s unrealistic to expect one or more people to drop a current project and read your 50,000 words overnight.
What about a contract?
Never work without a contract. Contracts vary from company to company. Again, unless you are Stephen King, Lady Gaga, or a Real Housewife, don’t expect millions in signing bonuses. Traditional publishing houses are not going to extend any offer until you have proven yourself profitable. Small publishing houses don’t make those kinds of offers.
How long before I publish my book?
Just because you have finished writing, or assume you have a final product, that is not true. You are now in the hands of several editors and the editing process. And unless you are Ernest Hemingway, you need those editors. (See my blog about the publishing process and what does an editor do.)
You want the best for your “baby.” There are short cuts, but that doesn’t guarantee your baby will be healthy and thrive.
You might start out with a plan, but after you write a while, your writing can take on a life of its own and lead you down another path. Don’t despair. “[T]hat’s the great thing about fiction. We use it for entertainment, and we also use it to explain and understand our lives. We only make sense of what has happened to us when we can tell it as a story. I’ve used my fiction to deal with 9/11, the War on Terror, aging, death, wealth, poverty and a host of other issues. I just happened to include the undead and werewolves and spies while I did it.
Five books in, this is the one lesson I can say I’ve learned, the one thing I can tell any aspiring writer: Write what you want. Even if it includes lizard people or Atlantis. If people don’t like what you like, write it again, and make it better until they do. But never be ashamed of your enthusiasms.”
Read more of “I dreamed of being Hemingway and ended up a pulp fiction writer” at http://nypost.com/2016/08/14/i-dreamed-of-being-hemingway%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b-but-ended-up-a-pulp-fiction-writer/
Jodie Archer had always been puzzled by the success of The Da Vinci Code. She’d worked for Penguin UK in the mid-2000s, when Dan Brown’s thriller had become a massive hit, and knew there was no way marketing alone would have led to 80 million copies sold. So what was it, then? Something magical about the words that Brown had strung together? Dumb luck? The questions stuck with her even after she left Penguin in 2007 to get a PhD in English at Stanford. There she met Matthew L. Jockers, a cofounder of the Stanford Literary Lab, whose work in text analysis had convinced him that computers could peer into books in a way that people never could.
Soon the two of them went to work on the “bestseller” problem: How could you know which books would be blockbusters and which would flop, and why? Over four years, Archer and Jockers fed 5,000 fiction titles published over the last 30 years into computers and trained them to “read”—to determine where sentences begin and end, to identify parts of speech, to map out plots. They then used so-called machine classification algorithms to isolate the features most common in bestsellers.
The result of their work—detailed in The Bestseller Code, out this month—is an algorithm built to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which novels will become mega-bestsellers. What does it like? Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No sex, just “human closeness.” Frequent use of the verb “need.” Lots of contractions. Not a lot of exclamation marks. Dogs, yes; cats, meh. In all, the “bestseller-ometer” has identified 2,799 features strongly associated with bestsellers.
If you’d like to read more, this article is available at https://www.wired.com/2016/09/bestseller-code/
If you have written a manuscript wherein you created original characters, plot development, and theme, that manuscript belongs to you and should be cited in a book by the copyright symbol. Should you require more protection, you can register that copyright.
However, in most circles, copyright is respected. Even an editor cannot significantly change the nature of your manuscript without written permission. An editor DOESN’T rewrite material. If you are thinking of turning your first draft into a publishing company, let me stop you in your tracks. You should turn in your BEST draft, knowing that there is still work to be done.
Poetry gets very tricky. Every word, every punctuation mark is crucial and fragile. To present anything but your best is to turn it over to a subjective microscope whereby your true meaning may or may not be expressed. If you are writing poetry without knowledge of rhyme or rhythm, Dr. Seuss is a great way to get started. Poetry for children should follow the rules; adults can function with more abstract language.
An editor should honor your style and try to maintain your syntax, but sometimes there are alternative ways to accomplish the same goal. Keep your eyes wide open.
Where is your book? The most honest answer involves a tidy arrangement of piles and piles of manuscripts. You’re in there somewhere! So how do you move to the top?
- The top of the pile often depends on genre. If I’m looking for diversification in my catalogue, I’m looking for something different. Are you different? How so?
- The top of the pile often depends on the rules. Did you read our website? Are you turning in a manuscript that meets our minimum requirements? Unreadable manuscripts are often tossed–they don’t make it to the top of the pile.
- Moving to the top involves a series of rewrites according to an editor’s direction. Even an editor gets tired of fixing the same old comma splice over and over again, so to speed up the editing process, make sure your copy is as clean as it can be.
- Editors get busy. One novel can preoccupy months of the writing process. Be prepared for delays along the way.
- If you have spent two years writing a children’s book, don’t expect an illustrator to produce visuals overnight. Technically, if it took you two years, give the illustrator two years. Most illustrators work faster than that, but remember they are trying to make a living. Perhaps they have more than one job in the works. The final tweaking can be complicated.
- Layout and typesetting also take time. It’s easy for a book to get caught up in production and design. Remember, all you started with was a manuscript, and all you wish for is a book.
Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The featured image says it all.
Publishing Infographic: How A Book is Born
by Madeleine Crum
Yes, that says 2018, and the list keeps growing. We welcome all ideas and manuscripts. Unfortunately, we cannot publish them all at once, but we do think ahead for the next year. #crystalpubs2014
Currently, we are looking for children’s books that explore and celebrate diversity; YA books on current topics; adult fiction and non-fiction. Children’s historical non-fiction is gaining popularity, so if you have an idea, pitch it to us.
If you are thinking of writing a novel or have one underway, please check our style guide posted on our website crystalpublishingllc.com. The cleaner the original copy the faster we can process and publish. Our style guide is supplemented by the OCC Style Guide which more closely represents what we are looking for in the editing process.