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Posts Tagged ‘revising’

Self-Pub Success Story!

This Wall Street Journal article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204770404577082303350815824.html) opens by saying that author Darcie Chan’s debut novel, The Mill River Recluse, has sold 400,000 copies and has placed her on the best-seller list “next to writers like Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Kathryn Stockett.” Then the next paragraph goes on to say, “It’s been a success by any measure, save one. Ms. Chan still hasn’t found a publisher.”

Needless to say, a statement like that grabbed my attention (something of an understatement, to tell the truth). And Ms. Chan’s story turned out to be inspirational, as well as instructional–one more light on the horizon for those of us who’ve decided to try a DIY (do-it-yourself) angle or two on our publishing journeys.

If you haven’t read this story yet, I promise that you’ll learn at least one thing you don’t know already about the worlds of self-publishing and e-books. Furthermore, if you’re trying to decide which way to go with your next book, I suspect that you’ll be a little closer to that decision by the time you finish this article. Enjoy!

The Big Reasons Indie Authors Aren’t Taken Seriously

Sometimes we writers have to pull our hands away from our ears and force ourselves to listen to tough words. At least, that’s what we need to do if we’re serious about growing in our craft and eventually finding a wide readership for our work. This article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/indie-authors-struggle_n_1242935.html?ref=books) puts some of those tough words right in our faces!

Still assimilating the wealth of information from the 2012 Writer’s Digest Conference two weeks ago, I was drawn to this article for a number of reasons, the most important of which is the subject of editing. Not only were there dozens of references at the conference to this critical element of the publishing process, especially if you’re opting for a DIY avenue. But there are dozens more such references in the first year or so of this blog, as I was bringing my second novel, Separation of Faith, into life. Having learned the hard way what happens if you don’t invest in a book’s editing, I was determined to produce a novel comparable, or even superior, in editorial quality to anything coming out of the traditional world.

Separation of Faith has now placed in more than a dozen competitions. First Place continues to be elusive. But the novel has earned Runner Up to the grand prize winner several times, in addition to multiple Bronze prizes and a list of highly ranked Honorable Mentions. And most recently, even though there wasn’t an associated placement, the 2012 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards produced the following feedback from one of the judges:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “poor” and 5 meaning “excellent,” please evaluate the following:

  • Plot: 4
  • Grammar: 4.5
  • Character Development: 5
  • Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Judge’s Commentary:

What did you like best about this book?

Congratulations on writing and publishing your novel! The cover design and packaging is very professional. The back cover copy does a good job of maketing the book to potential readers. You have clearly done a great deal of research, which shows in the historical details and description that bring the scenes alive for the reader. You have created some interesting characters and brought them to life with strong dialogue and characterization. Good job balancing action, dialoge and narration. Good job with grammar, proofreading and formatting of the interior of the book.

How can the author improve this book? (Cheri’s Note: I decided to include this part as well, because I learned something, and I thought some of you might as well. And, we do need to strengthen our nerves so we can hear the improvements along with the accolades!)

Watch out for the overuse of italics, as this can be difficult to read, dilutes the emphasis, and makes the pages look a llittle disorganized. (Cheri’s Note: This comment addressed letters and journals written as part of flashbacks, several of which I formatted in italics.) Also, the book’s price seems a little high. These are minor concerns for a book that is quite strong overall.

The winners’ list for this contest will be announced by the end of this month, and I’m anxious to see who beat me. But the main thing I want to point out here is how important formatting and interior quality are with any book, but especially with self-published books! And even though Separation of Faith didn’t win a slot in this particular competition, the novel, as I said earlier, has placed in more than a dozen others. And there’s no doubt in my mind that a primary reason for that success is the quality of editing. (That’s also a main reason why I truly believe this entire endeavor will eventually take off! 🙂 )

Enjoy this important article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/indie-authors-struggle_n_1242935.html?ref=books) — and have a wonderful Super Bowl weekend!

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First, I’m Late …

Hi! My apologies for not being around very much over the past few weeks. This blog’s first anniversary was on November 4, and I had planned to publish this post on that day. However, another unexpected medical situation arose in late September and then accelerated through October. Long story short, I was in surgery again on November 3 and wasn’t able to work for the next several days. During that time, things piled up … and, well, here we are. This new medical “thing” is unrelated to the breast cancer, which is going to be fine. But there will be some sort of further “something” required to totally flatten this new one, and I’m supposed to know what that “something” is by the 19th.

Meanwhile, I’m celebrating the first anniversary of this blog in a number of ways. Right off the top, I’ve added a blog roll to the site where I’ve listed the blog/Web site addresses for all of the wonderful acquaintances I’ve made over the last year. Everyone on that list is going after the same dream in one way or another, and re-reading the comments from everyone has been fascinating and heartwarming at the same time. I can’t believe how many lives have intersected with mine over twelve months through this medium, and I’m unbelievably grateful for each one!

Another way that I’m celebrating the blog’s first anniversary is by reflecting on the original mission (established in the November 4, 2009 Blog Launch Posting). There were several goals:

  1. Complete and publish my second novel, Separation of Faith, and that objective was gloriously met in mid September (a little behind the original schedule, but met nonetheless).
  2. Completely re-edit my first novel, The Truth About Cinnamon, and then publish the shiny new Second Edition. We’re about two weeks away from the fulfillment of that objective. All of the edits and reviews are complete, so we’re just waiting for the book to go live everywhere. I’ll let you know the moment that happens.
  3. Share through the blog all of the steps involved to accomplish the first two objectives, including the things that went wrong as well as the things that went smoothly. (And some of those steps where things went wrong turned into full-blown stories themselves, if you have time to check out the posts sequentially.) Throughout the process, the subject of editing and the critical importance of that element emerged as a fourth goal.
  4. Ensure the highest quality possible in terms of both editing and writing, especially for Separation of Faith. After a huge amount of effort and about five additional months that I hadn’t calculated in the plan, that second novel earned the Editor’s Choice designation from my publisher (iUniverse), a level achieved by fewer than 10% of books they publish. The Second Edition of The Truth About Cinnamon wasn’t submitted to as much rigor, but I cut out 20,000 words and tightened things up substantially without changing any of the original story.
  5. Share tips, articles, other bloggers’ posts, and any relevant/interesting information I might come acoss to help fellow writers on the same path. Toward the end of this anniversary post, there will be another list of things to share that I’ve been collecting.

Highlights

As I was reviewing the November 4, 2009 post, several points and passages stood out as being major reasons behind my starting this whole thing in the first place:

  1. I was close to finishing my second novel, but I had no idea which publishing direction I wanted to pursue. Then I attended the first annual Writer’s Digest Conference in September 2009 where the realities of the publishing world today were painted very graphically for us. (All of that is covered in detail in the November 4, 2009 lauch posting.)
  2. In the opening address of the conference, the speaker (Mike Shatzkin) told us that, in today’s publishing environment, our books, no matter how fabulous, are completely irrelevant if we don’t already have a clearly defined platform and a foundational readership/following in place before we ever submit a query letter. In the same address, Shatzkin also let us in on a little secret: The first thing that happens now in the agent’s/editor’s office is that someone (a staffer, most likely) Googles the name of the writer sending the query letter. If nothing shows up that demonstrates some sort of following or platform already in place–one that’s relevant to the author and the book being queried–a rejection letter/postcard is generally sent out immediately, with no further exploration of the writer’s actual writing. WELL … since I was one of those writers who’d been resisting the all-time-consuming entry in the land of social media, the fact that I had a problem was rather obvious–thus the launch of this blog and everything else that’s happened over the last year, all chronicled herein for the perusal of interested parties.

As an aside–and as I mentioned in a posting a couple of weeks ago–the second Writer’s Digest convention is happening in January (21st-23rd). If you’re only going to attend one conference in your life (or if you haven’t been to one in awhile), this is the one. Check out the details at: http://www.writersdigest.com/conferences-events/. If you decide to attend, let me know. I’d love to connect with you while we’re there!

How’s Separation of Faith Doing?

Great, I think (especially since I’ve had two major surgeries in the seven weeks since the novel was released). Amazon rankings go up and down. (I can follow them hourly on my Amazon author site, but that can really drive a person nuts, so I don’t do that anymore.) I won’t know the exact number of books sold for awhile, since all I get at the moment are rankings, and I won’t receive my first royalty statement until the end of this quarter. But the reviews coming in, from both individuals and review sites, are all wonderful. If you haven’t been there yet, I invite you to check those reviews out at http://www.amazon.com/Separation-Faith-Novel-Cheri-Laser/dp/1450232183/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1289665738&sr=1-1.

At first, the hard cover was outselling the paperback, and then that reversed. So far, the best ranking has been 60,963 for the paperback at 2:00 pm on October 31. And to show you how fast the numbers can change, the hard cover had crept up to 1,707,759 on the morning of November 9. But at 3:30 that afternoon when I checked again, the hard cover was at 152,959. I don’t know yet how many books that represented, but the change was stunning (and very exciting).

One of the things I’ve learned in the last seven weeks of promotion is that if I don’t prime the pump every single day through some combination of activities–blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, tag surfing, etc.–absolutely nothing–zip, zero, nada–happens. And since we’re all responsible these days for the promotion of our books, regardless of whether we publish traditionally or otherwise, building that sales record is a huge challenge.

There is supposedly a point–if we’re putting a great story out there that’s meticulously edited, and if we’re promoting that book in some fashion seven days a week–where the momentum will become somewhat self-propelling, at least for awhile. But everything I’ve read and heard from the experts says that a minimum of six to eight months of concerted effort (and probably longer) is required before any sort of buzz can become self-sustaining for any period of time.

So, we march forward! Things like this posting by Glenda Bixler (a reviewer) on Facebook today can be incredibly uplifting when you start thinking that you’re never going to get “there”: http://gabixlerreviews-bookreadersheaven.blogspot.com/2010/11/cheri-lases-latest-is-separation-of.html.

When I look back through all the postings on this blog over the last year, though, I realize that an enormous amount has been accomplished, and I’m very grateful to be where I am (which is a millenium further than I was when I walked into that 2009 Writer’s Digest conference).

Some Information to Share with You

I’ve been accumulating these links for a few months now. Because, in addition to promoting Separation of Faith, bringing out a new edition of The Truth About Cinnamon, and being stuck in a surgical revolving door, I’m also trying to get started on my third novel, I’m drawn more to articles about writing now than I am to those about publishing and promoting, for the moment anyway. And I realized that I’d unknowingly been collecting lists, which I’m putting in numerical order for you, just for fun. Hopefully, one, some, or all of these links will prove useful to you as well:

  1. Five questions to ask yourself before you start revising: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/2010/08/questions-to-ask-yourself-before-you.html.
  2. Six personality types who will succeed as writers: http://victoriamixon.com/2010/07/13/6-personality-types-who-will-succeed-as-writers/.
  3. The ten commandments of fiction writing: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/The_10_Commandments_of_Fiction_Writing/.
  4. Janet Fitch’s 10 rules for writers: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/07/janet-fitchs-10-rules-for-writers.html.
  5. 11 plot pitfalls and how to rescue your story from them: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/rescue-your-story-from-plot-pitfalls/.
  6. 12 dos and don’ts for making the first page of your novel more compelling: http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2010/08/act-first-explain-later.html.
  7. Secret emotional triggers for your writing: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/07/18/SecretEmotionalTriggersForYourWritingCapitolCityWritersRecap.aspx.
  8. You can learn as much from writing friends as writing experts: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/08/24/YouCanLearnAsMuchFromWritingFriendsAsWritingExperts.aspx.
  9. How to write the ending of your novel: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/08/09/how-to-write-the-ending/.

Then, because the editing of our books is so unbelievably important (poor or inadequate editing will eliminate a book from contests and consideration by agents/editors, and will cause readers to put the book down, just to name a few things that will happen), I’m including a couple of links to articles about editing:

  1. The myth of the evil editor: http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/07/myth-of-evil-editor.html.
  2. A 4th of July lesson in the value of editors: http://writingfordigital.com/2010/07/04/a-fourth-of-july-lesson-in-the-value-of-editors/.

And lastly, for those of us intent on pursuing the traditional publishing path through agents and editors, here are two enlightening links:

  1. What writers wish they’d known before pitching: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/07/29/WhatWritersWishTheydKnownBeforePitching.aspx.
  2. How to ensure 75% of agents will request your material:  http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/08/16/HowToEnsure75OfAgentsWillRequestYourMaterial.aspx.

Hopefully, you’ll find these tips as interesting and useful as I did/do/will.

In Closing

As I wrap up this first anniversary blog posting, I want to thank everyone I’ve encountered over the last year for the wealth of information and the generosity of spirit I’ve come to know in the writing community. As significant as this year has been, I have great hope that the next year will be even better for each of us. And I’d like to close with the last passage from my November 4, 2009 blog launch posting:

“I believe very strongly that there’s enough room in this dream for all of us, but we need to get our arms around the realities of the publishing world and then take control of our own destinies. Here’s to the journey!”

Have a great weekend. I’ll look forward to talking with you soon.

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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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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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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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