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The Editing, Opening-the-Kimono Thing Again

Following yesterday’s post, I was having a conversation with someone about the importance of having our work edited and the various reasons why writers remain hesitant to seek input. For me, that hesitation existed in spades years ago, before I grew my sea legs as a writer. That’s when I was still trying to make myself believe that I had somehow been miraculously born with everything I needed to know about writing novels already embedded in the creative side of my brain.

I remember one editor I’d queried directly (at a major New York publishing house, something you could still do in those days), who actually asked to see the entire manuscript of my first novel, The Truth About Cinnamon. I believe there was a dust cloud behind my car as I raced directly to the closest Federal Express office. After spending all that money to overnight the manuscript, I waited a couple of months to hear back from her. Then she called me (!), giving me a valuable few minutes of her time over the phone, a gesture I absolutely did not appreciate as I should have. (I’d be groveling all over the floor if something like that happened today!)

At any rate, during that call, she said something like, “Your first draft of The Truth About Cinnamon isn’t a bad outline for starters.” And then she proceeded to give me a list of things that she thought needed to be changed/added/deleted/thrown into oblivion, if I wanted her to consider taking on the book. She was truly offering me a gift of immeasurable proportions. But, of course, I thought the manuscript was completely finished and ready for a multi-million dollar distribution–and, of course, I thought the editor was nuts, out of touch, off base, and you know the rest of the litany. Ah, the lament! If I had only listened to her, I would have certainly saved myself years of wasted time and effort. And hers is only one example of advice I foolishly turned away in those early days.

Instead of having the effect she’d intended, however, that editor’s input only caused me to pull inward for a long time, avoiding any further possibilities of having someone else tell me that what I’d written wasn’t very good. (Never mind the fact that she never said my work wasn’t good. On the contrary, she was trying to tell me that I might have a shot. But I wasn’t paying attention or hearing her at all.)

Hey! What if I’d let a professional editor into my writing world before I’d even begun queryingespecially before I’d begun querying? Who knows what would have happened, because here’s one unavoidable truth we all need to keep in mind: No matter what we attempt to do in life, we learn how to inprove ourselves and our craft/sport/art/business by playing with people who are better and more accomplished than we are. And no matter how good we become, there will always be people who are better than we are. For aspiring authors, those “people” are editors.

Believe me when I say that I remain fearful to this day of hearing anyone tell me that something I’ve labored to write needs a lot of work. But now the years have instilled in me the confidence that I can actually fix problems, once I’ve given people permission to point issues out to me. That entire process is intended to make the writing/story better, not to make me (or any writer) feel bad.

The person with whom I was speaking yesterday after my post was published said that, in addition to the editing thing, a lot of writers are also fearful of sharing their work because they think their idea(s) might be stolen. That particular reason hadn’t occurred to me, but my conversation with him was freshly on my mind this morning when Jane Friedman of Writer’s Digest posted this link in her “Best Of Tweets for Writers” list from last week: http://jasonlbaptiste.com/startups/they-will-steal-your-idea-they-cannot-steal-what-really-matters/. The article centers more on techical writing and development than on fiction, although the concept is still totally applicable. Aside from the fact that legitimate editors are not in the business of stealing writers’ work, even if they did decide to co-opt an idea for a novel, there’s no way anyone could steal the author’s planned implementation for that novel, the essence of all the characters, the plot twists that exist only in the author’s head, and so forth.

Basically, in the end, there isn’t any legitimate reason for avoiding a professional edit of our workor for releasing our work into the hands of beta readers–and there are plenty of reasons for submitting our work to such scrutiny. Removing all the excuses for not having our work placed under a microscope is the goalmy goal–and hopefully the link and the additional thoughts shared in this post will be further steps in that direction.

We need to believe in ourselves, but not exclusively in ourselves! So let “the people” in. 🙂

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Separation of Faith in Production Phase

Hi! Since my surgery is tomorrow, I thought I’d better post a quick update this morning.

Separation of Faith (and I) have completed the copyedit phase with great success. What a learning experience that was! And I’m so appreciative of the iUniverse editorial staff. Their level of knowledge and professionalism is every bit as impressive as any you’d find in a mainstream house, and the standards for the Editor’s Choice award are extremely rigid and uncompromising. So any author who’s willing to go through the process can be assured that a book emerging from the Editor’s Choice process will be able to compete on the same playing field (in terms of writing and editorial quality) with books published through traditional publishers.

And companies such as Barnes & Noble (in partnership with iUniverse) recognize the Editor’s Choice imprint on an iUniverse book and understand what that means. The advantage this will give me in my promotional activities will be enormous and will be a huge boost as I continue trying to prove the point I presented in my blog launch posting on November 4 (https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/). If you’re looking for publishing alternatives, be sure to include www.iUniverse.com in your search.

The “cover copy polish” is now underway. That’s where the publisher’s marketing team will be scrubbing the materials I sent in to them along with the original manuscript. The goal is to make those materials as professional as the book (no small task as I look back over what I sent in to them all those months ago).

Following the cover copy polish, the manuscript will enter the design phase where the actual book formatting will be done and where the cover will be designed. I’m very excited about seeing what they come up with for the cover, although I’ll have the final say regarding the end product. They’ve been right about everything else so far, so I’m probably going to love what they create. I’ll keep you posted as all of that unfolds.

Reduction Edit: The Truth about Cinnamon

Still underway.

My Mini Travels to Sloan-Kettering

As mentioned in several earlier posts, my mini netbook has become a huge asset to my productivity since I started popping it into my purse to fill waiting intervals at doctors’ offices, commute trains, car service appointments, etc. Now we’re going to see how the partnership expands while I’m in the hospital (from tomorrow until Thursday or Friday of this week).

Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in Manhattan is where I’ll be, and they have free wireless. So I’ll post, comment, and tag surf as much as possible from my room there. I’m also planning to finish up my dad’s taxes. Due to the big storm that hit us on the weekend of March 13 (https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/29-northeast-mega-storm-damage-march-15-2010/, twelve counties in northern New Jersey received federal and state filing extensions until May 11. At the time, I didn’t know about this breast cancer thing, so I thought I had plenty of time. Perhaps, with my mini, I still do. 🙂 I guess we’ll find out.

Blog Reading and Tips

I’m a little behind on my reading that uncovers tips and suggestions helpful to all of us. But I’ll try to catch up this week and will share highlights while I’m in the hospital that I think will be helpful to you.

Stats

Hits on this blog: 2327 as of a minute ago (2215 three days ago).

One More Thing I Almost Forgot: The LinkedIn Web Site

Also, I might be the last one on the planet to discover www.LinkedIn.com, but in case I’m not, I recommend that you check out the site. For any author who’s working on, or thinking about working on, book promotion plans, this resource should not be overlooked. Of course, I won’t really know how effective all the connections actually are until Separation of Faith is released and the promotion has begun. But on the surface, at least, this appears to be a key tool in every author’s case.

Next Planned Post

Since my surgery is tomorrow, I probably won’t be coherent enough to even find my mini until Wednesday. But you never know. I’ll say hi as soon as I’m able. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Cheri

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A New Plan within the Journey

The other day, I received a suggestion from http://worddreams.wordpress.com/ (a blogger buddy) who is also preparing to promote her books while she’s working on a new one. She’s a teacher and has proposed a shared-goal summer once she’s through with this school year. What a great idea, right? This sort of takes the learning-as-we-go premise to an entirely new level.

Copied here to officially get this thing going are the comments we’ve shared back and forth over the last few days:

April 27 by Cheri

Hi! You might have already seen the April 26 article in The New Yorker–Publish or Perish by Ken Auletta. But if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_auletta.

It’s long and makes for good reading over lunch or coffee or a glass of wine. But the insights presented about the digital era of publishing are amazing.

Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I’m really impressed with your sales progress thus far, and I hope to be following in your footsteps beginning in June.

April 28 by WordDreams:

Fascinating article. I’ve been following Amazon and their efforts to keep ebooks below $10. Seems they’ll lose, but it’s early in the game. The biggest news is that ebooks open the door to many non-traditionally published books. Mine, unfortunately, have too many tables and pictures for most ebook platforms. Yours though, won’t have that problem. I’m sure you’re looking into it.

Let’s set up a plan in June–inspire each other to make some goals and meet them. I’m done teaching so I’ll have the time. Until then, I’ll be checking your progress on your book!

April 29 by Cheri:

I’d love to set up an inspirational plan with you! Separation of Faith will be coming out in June (not sure of the date yet), and unbelievably, I need to get started on my next novel. Somebody is bound to ask me what’s in the queue while I’m promoting the new novel, and I need to have an answer. So having an inspirational plan that helps both of us sounds like a terrific idea!

April 30 by WordDreams:

I’m with you on both. I have to promote my current books while writing my next. Let’s set some goals, share them with our readers and each other, chat about our progress, see where it goes.

What kinds of goals? Words toward our book, marketing outreaches, what are you thinking? (This sounds fun!)

OK. Back to my novel…

April 30 by Cheri:

This does sound like fun! Thanks for coming up with the idea!

One of my major goals is to sell 5000 copies of Separation of Faith before the end of the year (in the first six months after release). I know that probably doesn’t sound like many copies when compared against the mega-sellers. But 2500-5000 is actually quite huge for the average book, especially for a relatively unknown novelist.

That target sales range is the one that indicates to the publishing world that there’s some sort of buzz circulating around a book–and that will attract the attention I’m seeking (as presented in my blog’s mission in the launch posting on November 4).

That’s why securing the Editor’s Choice designation was so important during the editing process I blogged about during the first few months of this year. I need to be able to present with confidence the fact that Separation of Faith is every bit the quality book coming out of a mainstream publishing house–and now I’m able to do that.

Of course, reaching that goal will reguire a huge amount of legwork to promote the book in my local area (tri-state New York City area–New Jersey, New York, Connecticut), as well as a comprehensive management of social media. The scope is so enormous that I need to take the list and break each item down into small pieces that can be realistically handled in a day. If I look at the whole list at once, I get sort of weak.

My second goal is to have my third novel ready to pitch by the next Writer’s Digest conference in January 2011. That doesn’t mean that even the first draft of the novel will be finished. For me that means the story will be fully outlined; the characters will be developed; and the bulk of my research will be complete.

That three-part effort is a tall drink of water running in tandem with the Separation of Faith goals. But that’s what I’m going to shoot for, and then we’ll see what happens.

Knowing that all of this is on my plate will, I’m hoping, help me move quickly through my surgery next week and the recovery. I’ll need two more surgeries over the next five months, but those will both be outpatient. And barring any complications from this first (and biggest) one, I’m told that I should be feeling well enough to give my next speech on May 18. (Pretty unbelievable, right?) So I’ve left the commitment on my calendar–sitting out there as a magnet to help pull me forward.

All the little goals feeding the big ones will be what’s fun to follow during this intra-blog inspirational publishing duet!

Now I’m excited to hear about what you have in mind on your end. Would you like to stay within the 6-7 month timeframe for this inspirational plan? Or would you prefer to stay within the summer months? I’m good either way since I can figure out where I’d need to be by September in order to be on track for my end-of-year objectives.

Hopefully we’ll get some input from our readers on this too. And I think this endeavor will help me more effectively target my blogging efforts and more efficiently use my social media time. Of course, I will continue to learn as I go, testing the waters to see what works.

Great idea again! I’m going to copy and paste these initial comments of ours into a blog post to officially announce what we’re doing. Can’t wait to get started with you!

Hope you’re having a terrific week!

*******************************

LET THE GAMES BEGIN! 🙂

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COPYEDIT–SEPARATION OF FAITH

My review of the copyedit is complete, and I’ve been communicating with the editorial board at the publisher regarding a few questions (blond versus blonde being one). Now I have a few little things to clean up, and then I’ll submit the final copyedited manuscript back to the publisher, at which point the book will enter the production phase. The plan is for that to happen today! Yay!

I’ll keep you posted on each of the production steps as they unfold. The development of the book’s cover will be one of the most important tasks to happen first, I imagine. But I’ll let you know.

BLOND VS BLONDE (WHILE I’M THINKING ABOUT IT)

This issue has been driving me nuts, frankly. So here’s what the publisher’s editorial board said to me:

Regarding “blond” versus “blonde,” Merriam-Webster lists the two terms as variants of both the noun and adjective forms; however, “blond” generally refers to a male and “blonde” to a female. An excerpt from Merriam-Webster is below.
 
 
Main Entry: 1blond
Variant(s): or blonde \ˈbländ\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Anglo-French blunt, blound, masculine, blounde, feminine
Date: 15th century
1 : of a flaxen, golden, light auburn, or pale yellowish-brown color <blond hair>; also : having blond hair <a blond man> —spelled blond when used of a boy or man and often blonde when used of a girl or woman
2 a : of a light color b : of the color blond c : made light-colored by bleaching <blond wood table>
 
Main Entry: 2blond
Variant(s): or blonde
Function: noun
Date: 1822
1 : a person having blond hair —spelled blond when used of a boy or man and usually blonde when used of a girl or woman
2 : a light yellowish brown to dark grayish yellow
 
We recommend following the editor’s changes in all of the items you have listed in your e-mail.

So guess what? Because that Editor’s Choice designation is so critical to what I’m trying to accomplish here, I’ve complied with all but a small handful of the copyeditor’s recommendations. (See my original blog posting on November 4, 2009 for my initial outline of “The Journey” and the inspiration for the path I’ve decided to take.)

And I must tell you that, as I was going through the copyedit, I could actually see the transformation of my manuscript from something I had entered in my computer into a quality edited product typical of what we see coming out of traditional publishing houses. Believe me, this has not only been an immensely educational exercise but one that I’m very grateful I pursued!

TRANSITIONING FROM A FOCUS ON WRITING TO A FOCUS ON PROMOTION

If you’ve been to any/many writers’ conferences, you’ve probably heard some publishing professional (usually an author) say that writing the book is the easy part. And, of course, who would ever believe such a ridiculous comment? Well, I do.

In addition to planning the launch of Separation of Faith through all the social media outlets (and I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to do that yet), here are some of the other things on my “Book Promotion” to do list:

  • Primary Web site updates (including book store)
  • Create new Web site for Separation of Faith that links to my primary site and my book store
  • Keep this blog current and full of things for you to follow and learn along with me
  • Press Release(es)
  • Business cards, posters, flyers, newspaper ads
  • Book Launch Party (which will be at a hotel)
  • Finding willing and credible book reviewers (I already have one committed. Need at least five or six or more.)
  • Creating my video book trailer (I have a great fellow who will be helping me with this. The trailer will be uploaded to virtually every site where I have a presence plus YouTube, etc.)
  • Visiting every chain and independent bookseller in my area to garner interest
  • Schedule bookselling events wherever I can find a willing host.
  • Add information about my public speaking offering to every book promo element.
  • Seek/secure interviews on talk radio, local TV channel, local newspapers

In addition to all of this (and more that keeps popping into my head), I will still need to be involved with elements of the book’s production process–and oh, by the way, I also have to squeeze in my surgery on May 4. So “writing the book is the easy part” doesn’t seem so far-fetched now. Whoo boy. Where’s my nap?

A NOTE ABOUT DOMAIN NAMES 

If you are seriously pursuing this Journey of becoming a published author, securing domain names long before you have a finished book is critical. The first and most important domain name to secure is your own name. I registered for “cherilaser.com” after the pivotal conference last September, amazed that I hadn’t already done so when a speaker mentioned the issue in one of the conference sessions. I was really worried that someone else might have already taken that one (because we’re not the only ones in the world with our same names), but I was lucky.

Domain names are very inexpensive (like somewhere around $10 a year), and you don’t have to create Web sites to go with them until/unless you’re ready. But if you don’t secure the domains, creating the most effective Web sites down the road will become a challenge. In addition to “cherilaser.com,” I have also secured:

  • SeparationOfFaith.com
  • TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com (I have a Web site for this one that links into my primary Web site and book store.)
  • BeauBetweenTheLines.com (title for a potential book)
  • WhoMovedTheMeridian.com (title for a potential book)
  • ReinventingYourPossibilities.com
  • MakingYourWordsWork.com
  • ReinventingYourselfAtAnyAge.com

The last three of those relate to my editing business and to my speaking engagement plans (referenced in other posts on this blog). And when I come up with a title for my third novel, the first thing I’ll do is reserve that name.

There are lots of sites where you can secure domain names, but I’m using GoDaddy (www.godaddy.com).

AND SPEAKING OF MY 3RD NOVEL …

For the past month or so, I’ve been worrying about the next book. Why, you ask, when I’m still so wrapped up in the second one?

Well, what if someone who pops up as a result of all that promotional work asks me what my next project is? Being stuck for an answer would not be very comfortable.

There is one project I’m considering–a memoir that I started a few years ago that I’m thinking about fictionalizing. And then there’s the possibility of a sequel to Separation of Faith. But whatever I’m going to do needs to take shape pretty quickly. I can’t dilly dally around and take any more six-year segments of time to write a book. I need to get this process down to a book every year (or maybe between one and two years, she said, trying to imagine the improbable 🙂 ).

A couple of things need to happen in order for me to finish book #3 in somewhere around a year:

  • The story needs to arrive in my head already in outline form, for the most part.
  • The setting needs to be here in the New York City area so I don’t need to travel beyond a normal commute distance to accomplish my research.

The two ideas I mentioned earlier didn’t meet either one of these criterion. So every trip I’ve made into Manhattan recently for this health/surgery situation has found me studying every person and situation crossing my path for a potential storyline. (I keep waiting for someone on the subway to say to me, “So what are you staring at?”) And I guess my subconscious must have been working on this more than I realized because last night I had a dream where I met my new protagonist (a man). He was so real and vivid that I remember everything about him, and I’m rarely able to remember details about my dreams. Then this morning the “outline form” of the story started showing up in my mind.

So I just finished taking an unscheduled hour to capture everything I was thinking into a new file on my computer. I had decided that I was ready to try a novel that included some sort of crime, but I didn’t want to do a murder. So this story has an interesting twist that feels comfortable to me. And I think this one could come together pretty quickly. I’ll post the story’s tag line as soon as I figure out what that is  … 🙂

That’s all for now. Have a fun and productive day! I hope I’ll run into you while tag surfing (planned for tomorrow morning).

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Checking In

Hi! Although I’ve been commenting on other blogs and doing a little tag surfing, I haven’t published a new post since a week ago yesterday. But I have been doing a huge amount of reading, and there are a number of things I want to share with you today. First, though …

Copyedit Update–Separation of Faith

On Monday (the 12th), I received the copyedited manuscript (returned to me electronically, with the edit done using Word’s edit tracking) and a letter from the editor. This edit is a lot easier to manage since the issues highlighted are no longer addressing structural issues in the novel, or point of view, or any other storytelling elements. Instead, the editor went line by line to ensure the manuscript’s adherence to publishing standards printed in key references such as The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the primary source of correctness for publishing professionals.

My own (and seemingly endless) editing of the manuscript had produced a fairly clean copy. But my specialty is developmental editing rather than copyediting. I wouldn’t even pretend to have anywhere near the level of knowledge and recall as this copyeditor with respect to what’s inside the nearly 1000 pages of the CMS. So I’m finding the review of her edit to be extremely valuable in terms of this novel’s quality. My future writing will also benefit from the new information I’m picking up.

In addition to CMS issues, the copyeditor rearranged my words in a few places to either meet a standard or provide clarity. And in her letter to me, she pointed out a small but important plot “hole” that can easily be filled by my adding a few sentences.

She’s the first one who’s noticed that little plot blip, and I’m very grateful that she did. Some voracious fiction reader (or perhaps a lot of them) would certainly have noticed the issue as well, but that would have been after the book was printed, and nothing could have been done at that point to fix the problem. Just one more reason why we need to submit our work to an experienced, professional editor before we start sending things out through queries or moving into the final production stage of a self-publishing process.

Here are several examples of the comments she made in the manuscript margins using Word’s edit-tracking:

  • CMS 8.21: Civil, military, religious, and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus used as part of the name (usually replacing the title holder’s first name). Titles are normally lowercased when following a name or used in place of a name.
  • Switched [these words] around to avoid passive construction.
  • A word, abbreviation, phrase, or clause that is in apposition to a noun is set off by commas if it is nonrestrictive—that is, omittable, containing supplementary rather than essential information. If it is restrictive—essential to the noun it belongs to—no commas should appear. CMS 6.43 My older sister, Betty, taught me the alphabet. but My sister Enid lets me hold her doll. (I have two sisters.)
  • CMS 7.63: Individual letters and combinations of letters of the Latin alphabet are usually italicized. I need a word with two e’s and three s’s. He signed the document with an X.

Traditional publishers (who will be taking a look at this book if this Journey is successful) put every single one of their titles through this sort of meticulous copyediting. Consequently, they not only understand the importance, but they recognize the quality level of the editing the moment they see it.  So we need to do everything in our power to make sure that our manuscripts (if we’re trying to pursue the traditional route) or our printed books (if we’re taking an alternate path) measure up to the standards expected in the traditional publishing arena.

Once Separation of Faith is in the final stage of production, I realize now that I will also need to use a professional proofreader prior to signing off on the end product. Traditional publishers put their titles through several rounds of proofreading before the book is printed–and as we all know through our own reading, there are still typos and other mistakes that manage to show up in books by even the most prolific and highly paid authors.

As I’ve been saying since I began blogging about the steps of this Journey last November 4, the first priority for all of us is to create the highest quality book possible, regardless of what that takes.

Writing Competition

Entering our work in competitions is a great way to collect feedback, grow in our writing craft, get noticed, and add to our following. And there are boatloads of competitions out there. But Writer’s Digest sponsors several that have a high level of legitimacy. They have one that includes a wide variety of writing categories, and the deadline for that competition is May 14. Here’s the link that will also show you WD‘s other contest:  http://www.writersdigest.com/competitions. Hope you find something that inspires you. (See later in this post for more on Inspiration.)

Building a Following/Web Presence before You Have a Book

There is so much more being written on this subject every day that keeping up with everything is tough. But here are a couple of links to articles/blogs that I found of particular interest while reading the past week:

  • http://robinmizell.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/awp-panel-discussions-and-lesprit-descalier/ I found this comment by Ms. Mizell to be especially interesting: “In considering whether to work with authors, I prefer to see they’re already capable of handling themselves in what can be contentious online conversations. Without an existing Web presence to examine, I can’t rapidly assess how a writer will behave publicly, online, or in an interview, particularly in the heat of the moment. My clients need to be better at it than I am!”
  • http://www.calebjross.com/awpblog/2010/04/08/320/ At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Convention earlier this week, a panel of agents and editors answered questions about the importance of an author platform. This link takes you to a summary of that panel.

A Few Other Highlights

These are links to articles that touch on other issues we’ve discussed through this blog:

Journey Update

Separation of Faith: As soon as I go through the copyedit and accept/reject each of the changes/notations, the manuscript will finally enter the production phase. I’ll let you know when that long-awaited moment arrives. (You’ll probably be able to hear the cork pop!)

The Truth About Cinnamon: News flash! I’m still working on the reduction edit. Target for completion now: late May. 

Stats: This blog–1947 (last posting 1796)

Diagnosis Update

My surgery will be on May 4, and I’ll be in the hospital overnight. I sense a new use for my mini coming on … 🙂

Seriously, this has been found very early, and even though the next couple of months will be a bit bumpy, the prognosis is extremely positive, taking me way out into my 80’s. Hopefully, I will have found my way out of publishing obscurity by then …

Have a great weekend! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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Editing Our Work–And Getting Carried Away

Good morning! Late yesterday afternoon I finished editing a manuscript for the 12-year-old girl I mentioned in an earlier post this week. (I think it was this week. Maybe last week.) Anyway, her father has hired me as his editor on five of his books (four of which are published and one in-process). So when his precocious daughter wrote her first lengthy piece of fiction, I was honored to be called last August for that edit as well.

A full developmental edit was conducted on her “novel” at that time. Her word count is 13,000, which isn’t really a novel. (Needs to be 40,000-50,000 words at a minimum to officially be a novel.) But I’m sure for a 12-year-old, her book feels like Gone with the Wind to her. And rightly so. I cannot believe the tenacity of this kid–and her writing is unbelievably well-developed.

Following the edit last fall, she went back to work and began her revision/self-editing process, and then I received the updated manuscript a short while ago. What I discovered during the editing process was something I wanted to share with you.

As she began looking at her words and the input from her edit, she started to second-guess herself. And suddenly, a whole bunch of terrific writing, character development, and fabulous dialogue from the original manuscript was eliminated. As I was reading along, I found myself saying, “Hey, I remember a lot of other stuff being in here that was really good.” And every time that happened, I went back to my copy of the original edit and found passages that were brilliant (and had been labeled as such in the edit) that had, for some reason, been taken out of the new version. And the holes left in the story were dramatic as a result.

So I pulled a lot of those passages back into the manuscript, creating the necessary linkage between her new writing and the original section(s). The combination of the new things she’d written and the old parts pulled back in resulted in a balanced and enjoyable kids’ spy story (the first of three in a series … 🙂 …)

After a few of those sequences, I began thinking about the edit of Separation of Faith that followed my beta readers’ input. I had been so concerned about word count, that I was taking shortcuts to my storytelling instead of letting the strengths of my writing flow. Those dipping points in the novel were so noticeable that there was almost a “what were you thinking?” tone to the beta input (and to my own thoughts once those issues were brought to my attention). And I found myself saying the same thing as I was editing the manuscript of my young, blossoming client.

The message to be shared here is: Go with your initial gut instinct, and don’t get too scissor-happy. Sort of like that old advice we’ve all received with respect to test-taking: Always stick with your first answer, and don’t start erasing things.

Naturally, editing and cutting are essential skills that we need to hone. But there needs to also be another instinct at work–knowing the difference between what’s really amazing about what we’ve written and what’s not so great. Second-guessing ourselves to the point where brilliant sections are replaced by sub-standard revisions only sets us back.

So, whenever you receive input from anyone–a friend, a professional editor, a beta reader, etc.–where something has been marked as really terrific, have some faith in yourself, believe that input, and don’t change those parts!

Hope your day is beautiful and productive!

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A Writer’s Conference Changed My Direction

Hi! Since a conference last September (2009) changed everything about the approach I was taking with my second novel, I wanted to pop in here and post information I just received this morning on upcoming conferences.

Writer’s Digest sponsored the September conference, and that particular publication seems to always go the extra mile to actually help authors find, refine, and/or change their direction and/or their writing. Even though the publication is a business looking to earn a profit, I do appreciate the honesty and ethics of Jane Friedman, the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief.

Also, since I’ve had conversations with several of you about attending these conferences, I wanted you to know about a few that are upcoming. There is expense involved, but that expense can often be written off on your taxes. (Check with your accountant.) And if you’ve never been to a conference, your view of the publishing world might be a little too unexposed, inhibiting you from being able to balance reality with your writing dreams and goals.

So I highly recommend that you attend something. I put attendance at one conference per year on my New Year’s Resolutions every January 1 now.

The conferences in this link are held at various points around the country, so there’s a good chance that one might be close to you.

If you explore this link, go into each conference detail and look at the agenda as well as the list of agents, editors, authors, and publishing professionals on the program. You’ll see that all the conferences are similar in some ways, but each one has a different slant that might fit in with what you’re trying to do and where you are in that process.

Hope you find something helpful in here: http://links.mkt230.com/servlet/MailView?ms=NDM5NTIzNwS2&r=OTc1NTAyMzA0S0&j=MTU1MDczMjE3S0&mt=1&rt=0.

Cheri

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