Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rohini Singh Publishes an Amazon #1 Hot New Release

As 2014 draws to a close, I look back to tally up the year's accomplishments and do some personal reckoning. One of the goals I set for myself was this: edit a bestselling or #1-rated book. So how did I do? Very well.

In July, my goal was accomplished by first-time author Allen G. Bagby's Blood & Soul, a truly epic fantasy about mutiny within a royal family during a demonic apocalypse—among other things. In July, Bagby single-handedly catapulted his novel into a #1 Bestseller spot on Amazon, snagging the #1 spot in metaphysical and visionary, #2 in sword and sorcery, #2 in epic, #2 in coming of age, and #27 in women's adventure along the way. Needless to say, I was proud of Allen for his accomplishments and relieved to be able to cross one of my only goals off the year's list. But, as fate would have it, there was more good news in store.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writing Tips & Practice: Rephrasing

crumpled paper

One of the most valuable tools in a writer's kit is revision. Any old master will tell you: Writing is only half the battle.

But what is the process of revision? From the highest level to the lowest, it means revisiting what you've written to ask at every possible point: Is this the right thing to say?

Of course, the first place to look is at the idea itself. Does it mean the right thing? Is it worth saying?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Editing Advice: Idiolect

You're probably familiar with the concept of dialect — differences in language patterns particular to a group of people, often regional or cultural. But have you ever heard of idiolect? Your idiolect is how you speak, specifically. It's defined by all the unique ways a single person uses language.

Great writers obviously develop distinctive voices. That's why we can recognize when someone is parodying Shakespeare or Austen or Hemingway or Poe. Those writers' tones were major influences, defining the styles of their times.

All this is to say: Your readers pay attention to how you write. It may be invisible to you, but the words you use or ignore are defining you as a writer. Do you say very or rather? Is your character thin or wiry? Big or large? Do you frequently invert your syntax like Yoda? Do you go out of your way to avoid ending sentences with prepositions?

No doubt, you'll be hard pressed to recognize these idiosyncrasies in your own writing. It's one of those characteristics that's so deeply personal it often takes an outside perspective to point it out, like your gait — and it is often met with disbelief or dismissal. But there are a few ways to get an objective analysis without sending it off to someone for careful reading.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Video: Inside the Edit

This adorably clever video was definitely made with video editing in mind, but except the for the "hours of raw material" line, the message completely overlaps with text editing. (But let's be fair: We could just replace "hours" with "pages," and we'd be exactly on point.)

I love it. Editors, how does this make you feel? Appreciated? Recognized?

How about the authors out there? Does this ring a bell with the editing you've been through?

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to NaNoWriMo: Four Tips

Editwright NaNoWriMo Discounts

Since 1999, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, has been offering authors and would-be writers an excuse to crank out 50,000 words in thirty days. The restrictions are lax, allowing for any type of novel to be written, as long as the writer considers it to be a novel. Most of the details are left open to the participant, who sets the pace, regularity, time investments, daily or weekly minimums, and goals of the writing. All you have to do to participate is start writing a novel on November 1 and be at least 50,000 words into it at 11:59 pm on November 30. You can even pretend you're in another time zone if you find yourself cramming at the deadline.

The concept is easy, but the execution is often challenging, so here are a few tips to help you writers follow through on your NaNoWriMo commitments this year:

1. It's about quantity, not quality. 

The real goal here is just to write 50,000 words in thirty days. That's just 1,666 and two-thirds words per day. It doesn't have to be great. It doesn't even have to be good. It doesn't have to rhyme or make sense or have a sequel planned. It just has to exist. Yes, technically you can just write "All work and no play makes jack a dull boy" 5,000 times, but come on. That's already been done.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Special Offer for NaNoWriMo

photo credit: Charles Stanford

This year, Editwright is offering discounts to writers participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! The discounts extend to five services:
  1. Planning and preparation: get the tips and tools you'll need to write a book in November.
  2. Coaching and development: personal guidance through the writing process.
  3. Feedback and review: a thorough post-draft critique with recommendations for further action.
  4. Copyediting and proofreading: flawless corrections to make your finished product fit to print.
  5. Book layout and cover design: complete book production services.
NaNoWriMo participants can purchase these services for 5% off, and every additional service adds another 5% off, for up to a total of 25% off the total cost!

This is your chance to work with a professional book editor at significantly lowered rates. Visit our contact page today to send your questions and find out how a professional editor can help you write a book!

NaNoWriMo Special Offer

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Everyone Publishes

H&M: "sripe botton down shirt"
[photo from Flikr user Sarae]

Because everything is online these days and every company has a story to tell its customers, a lot of text needs to be published as explanation. While some businesses base part of their model directly on publishing, others may only rely on it in more subtle ways: newsletters, blog posts, simple descriptions of services, or even just a single, good paragraph on an "About Us" page. All of these things are publishing, and all of them are vulnerable to the issues of editing. Even if the effects of editing only account for a marginal amount of a company's advertising and representation, that margin should be accounted for in budgeting.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Allen G. Bagby's Blood & Soul

New author Allen G. Bagby has just published his debut novel, the first book in his epic fantasy Creed of Kings saga: Blood & Soul. From the book description:
The bastard prince Ledarrin is caught in the shadows of a dynasty as his brother goes on a murderous rampage to secure his birthright, overthrowing the realm. Ledarrin’s world is shattered. As he goes from the palace to the dungeon, hope for the survival of the realm seems lost. He escapes, only to be hunted by a legendary assassin. Meanwhile, demonic hordes, trapped for ages by a curse in the Underworld, await their release upon the sacrifice of the king—with plans for revenge on humanity. And so begins a heart-pounding adventure into a deadly future: a journey of loss, seduction, and betrayal. Ledarrin is joined by aging warriors and unlikely allies as they race to find the Creed of Kings, the ancient scrolls that can thwart the demons, but when Ledarrin’s true identity is revealed, he must choose between a destiny of blood—or soul.
Sounds exciting, right? Go check out Allen's website and the book's Amazon page, download or order a copy, and leave a review when you're done reading! I really truly love this book. The story is thrilling. The world is immersive. The action is breakneck. The stakes are high. The writing is wonderful. I had a blast reading it, and I enjoyed every second of working with Allen to make it as good as possible.

I'd leave an Amazon review myself if I could, but it's against the rules, so I'm relying on you, dear readers, to take up my slack! Enjoy this great novel and tell your friends!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Great Writers: Upcoming Call for Submissions

by Bravebird Publishing

Great writers are properly invested in their books because they've put the work into it. We look for evidence of this when considering new authors. The great ones have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into their novel, and they've challenged themselves even when inundated with praise and five-star reviews, because that is the price of greatness.

1.  A great writer seeks greatness.

Once you aspire to greatness there are some things you just can't tolerate, like typos and spelling errors every other page or a storyline that doesn't quite hit its mark. Your readers may be willing to overlook these things, but if you're passionate about your craft, then you won't.

2.  A great writer calls a spade a spade.

Sure, you can like a story that's poorly written just like you can hate a story that is well written. Your feelings don't change the state of the writingthat is black and white. Either it's ready or it's not, and you have to be the first judge of this.

3.  A great writer craves substantive criticism and isn't afraid to go back to the drawing board.

When pursuing and grooming authors, we take a simple approach. We view the writer as a partner. We evaluate her before turning our focus to the writing. Traditional publishers are primarily concerned about what they deem as marketable. While we all enjoy money and commercial success, we are not willing to sacrifice our values or integrity to achieve it. This means Bravebird Publishing will never add or drop an author based solely on sales projections. We keep authors for the same reasons that we sign them: we believe in their story and message. So, as long as she is committed to making her work the best that it can be, she will have our full support.

4.  A great writer makes the reader believe in something.

This can not simply be a fantasy world that includes elves, goblins, and witches that worship tress. The writer needs to convince the reader of something intangible, something that can't be imagined, like our protagonist's cause or perspective on morality. Essentially, the story must exist on a higher level that works in tandem with the plot.

We've been fortunate to meet many fabulous writers with great story ideas, but to be a good fit at Bravebird Publishing a writer must be great at her craft and master her message. We do one thingfeminist fiction. We consider all genres, authors of all genders, as long as the protagonist is female and the story is empowering. We want you to tell the story that only you were meant to tell. A story that you believe in with a premise that hits home for you. Is a happy ending necessary? Nope. Think of it like this. Take the best story you've ever seen/heard/read. A character that overcomes insurmountable odds... Shows incredible strength and fortitude... Denzel Washington in John Q. Idris Elba in Mandela. Harrison Ford in The Fugitive. Now make him a woman. Have you ever considered it? What about the character would have to change? Everything? Nothing? What would Star Wars have been if Luke and Leia switched places?

Our readers look to us for stories that make them feel and think. No cliches. No stereotypes. No Prince Charming coming to save the day. Princess So-and-so is just going to have to save herself.

If you think you'd be a great fit at Bravebird Publishing, fine tune your story, because we will begin accepting submissions this summer. In the meantime visit us here:

Bravebird Publishing is a boutique publisher, publishing fiction from a feminist prospective. Our work centers around characters that reflect the diversity and strength of real women. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How Do You Get Published?

In "Four-Minute Response to the Question “How Do You Get Published?,” poet and professor Jason Braun uses some serious economy of words to discuss his 50+ publications, dyslexia, ADD, writing habits, publishing tips, and more.

It only takes a minute to read, but this accomplished writer slings out essential information on what it takes (and doesn't take) to get published (hint: you have to put some effort into it).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Professionalism

I am a very lucky editor to work with the authors and publishers I do. I could count on one hand the number of times my suggestions have been ignored and my queries have been a waste of time. My clients energetically and frequently thank me for pointing out their errors and oversights. The world Rich Adin describes in the winding-down of his October 2013 An American Editor post "Business of Editing: Editing in Isolation" makes the scene seem far gloomier.

That kid isn't learning from a book.
(Untitled painting, likely from Louis Emile Adan, c. 1914.)

Adin points out throughout this post that the new wave of editors—empowered into their place in concert with the rise of digital self-publishing and print on demand—bring with them a lack of professional know-how (although he doesn't actually allude to this being a symptom of ignorance, but rather simply a mishandling of the editorial task) that lowers the quality of publications. He cites excellent examples: minor sentences whose vague messages render the reader's interpretation of the larger meanings in the text impossible to conclude, insufficient or absent style sheets, and shifting character attributes.

Editing is an easy world to enter, just like self-publishing. After all, if you've right-clicked on a squiggly red or green line in Microsoft Word and selected an alternative, you've edited. By the same logic, if you've pressed the windshield wiper fluid button on your car, you've done car maintenance—but far from the richer, more professional job a car mechanic does.

Of all the books on writing and editing I've read, I have yet to find one that I would consider truly comprehensive. There are style books, which typically stick to grammar, punctuation, and text formatting choices. Books on writing tend to focus on a selected category of writing (e.g., novels, memoirs, poetry, instructions) and give advice on structure and practice. Editing handbooks usually blend these two approaches but are mysteriously shorter than either—falling far short of covering enough topics to be considered quintessential.

So where does an editor find out all these things? Well, to play on Adin's choice of words: by not editing in isolation. Adin meant isolation in terms of amateur editors not seeing the forest for the trees, but I mean it here in terms of community and professional network. As you'll hear from anyone who's served an apprenticeship of some sort, there are innumerable techniques that are simply easier to observe and learn from other professionals than to acquire through reading books.

Editing involves knowing the ins and outs of the software you're using, the psychology of making accurate assumptions about what authors mean based on what they say, and being able to understand the topic(s) at hand—maybe even better than the author. None of these things can be taught in an editing, writing, or style book. In fact, I still learn a lot every time I work on a team with other editors. Sometimes I might learn there's a more efficient way to be fixing errors. Other times, I find that the types of notes someone else makes cover aspects I hadn't even considered.

I don't think this means that aspiring editors without experience or connections should shy away from the profession, but it's crucial that those trying to step into the world for the first time understand that working with other editors is the best way to pick up the tools of trade. For this reason, it's equally important that authors realize the role experience should play in the balancing of budget versus quality. For some writers, hiring an editor who will fix the overt typos may be a vital first step, but there are countless more steps in a job well done that can only be taken by a true professional.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

3D Printing Books

There's a new player on the field of publishing: 3D printing. While 3D printing book pages isn't practical yet (although printing with paper yields some amazing results), American culture niche publisher Riverhead Books, a Penguin Group division based in New York, announced in December the world's first 3D printed book slipcover (for Chang-rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea). It's a beautiful, solid piece that gives the text the appearance of sliding, wave-like, toward the book's edge. The covers took around fifteen hours each to print, according to Lily Rothman's Time Entertainment article "Check It Out: The First-Ever 3D-Printed Book Cover," limiting the total number of copies available on the book's January 7 release to just two hundred (and rocketing the price up to $150).

Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (New York: Riverhead Books, 2014) 

While high-end electronic books are embracing the path of interactivity (see my 2013 Critical Margins post "Current and Future States of the Publishing Industry, Part 3: Multimedia Interactivity with Books"), it's unmistakable that high-end print books are veering toward exuberant tactility, as with the $980 accordion-fold book Orihon by Chicago artist Tom Burtonwood.

Burtonwood's Orihon

Where else will 3D printing lead in publishing? I expect immediate applications in Braille, making lettering easily applicable to a much wider range of surfaces. I anticipate textured (and maybe even interactive) covers to become a relatively common sight. And how about interlaced strips of print that form a 3D form that you unravel as you read the story—a single digital design could render such a complicated craft mass produceable.

What do you think 3D printing will bring the world of publishing? Leave your thoughts in the comments.