Tag Archive for books

Before the Edit

by Virginia Herrick                                         

For authors, editing pays. It pays in getting your message across, in the capacity to capture your readers’ attention, and in efficiency, time, and money. An unedited manuscript is generally something only a mother could love. And, yep, in this case you, Author Dearest, are “Mom.”

So … what is editing? Many writers when they first approach an editor may not be certain about what kind of help they need. Editing is not a monolithic unit of work, like attaching widgets on an assembly line. Write … edit … cover art … SPROING! Out comes a book! Uh … no.

In fact, about the only time you aren’t editing is that first flush of creative outpouring (or jaw-clenching determination, if the muse does not smile). After that, you’re editing. The first edits, of course, are the author’s own. Otherwise known as the “second (or third, or fourth, or …) draft.”

Dos and Don’ts of writing the first draft of your novel

Do … keep writing. Crafting and re-crafting that gorgeous first chapter is well worthwhile … after you’ve finished the first draft of your book.

Don’t … wordsmith a lot. Later, you can fix your grammar and punctuation, or ponder just the right simile. For now, get the story down.

Do … spend time getting to know your characters, even if it means writing something you know doesn’t belong in the book.

Don’t … agonize over that scene that just isn’t working. Skip it. Make a note to yourself about the plot points that need to be accomplished and move on.

In nonfiction, with obvious exceptions, the same applies. Make your outline, sure. But relax if you need to write things as you get the information and interviews, and organize later.

Now, say you’ve finished that first draft … and it’s full of pedestrian writing, disjointed storytelling, head-hopping and stream-of-consciousness reflections on irrelevant background material … Celebrate! A first draft is a massive achievement!

And … welcome to editing. Read over your manuscript, noting problem areas and tweaking language as you go. Fix everything you possibly can before you look for an editor. The better your manuscript, the less expensive the professional edit! Fix that scene you skipped, make sure your character’s motivations and development are coherent, and polish, polish, polish the dialogue. For nonfiction authors, the focus will be organizing your material, improving your narrative voice, and making sure you have all the information you need, no more, and in the right order!

Next step is a beta read. The more volunteers you have, the better. This is the place for your mom, your best friend, that guy down the street who will read anything as long as it’s (Fill In Your Genre Here), members of your writers group who owe you favors, etc. Take their responses, fix the ones that make your book better, ignore the rest, and repeat as needed. NOW you’re ready for The Editor!

 

vhAbout Virginia

Virginia has been making up stories for fun since she was a skinny, shy kid with straight hair down to her waist. She’s now less shy, less skinny, and has shorter hair. However, she still loves fantasy novels, other novels, other books, the beach, the woods, animals, birds of prey, and thinking, writing, and talking about how to make the world better.

Most of her waking hours, Virginia is reading and writing: emails, blog posts, news, social media, magazine articles, book reviews, and – oh, yeah! – stories! Often when she’s reading and writing, she has a dog at her feet and a cat cruising back and forth between her and her monitor and/or book. This is not convenient. It is not efficient. But it is the way she rolls.

She has been a babysitter, secretary, hair stylist, pet groomer, lobbyist, newspaper reporter, and newspaper editor. Now she edits and reviews books and short stories, and writes poems, short stories and as-yet-unpublished novels. (Stay tuned!) Several years ago, Virginia fostered more than fifty cats and kittens over a period of three summers and is very proud that she only kept one! Her two mostly-grown kids help around the house without being asked. It’s weird.

A member of the Bellingham Friends (Quaker) Meeting in Washington state, Virginia lives with her sometime-sailor husband, Mark, cats named Sinbad and Mercury, and a miniature schnauzer named Espy. She would foster more kittens, but Mercury says no. Sinbad and Espy would totally be cool with it.

Full Strength Ahead

Ugh . . . marketing! I knew this day would come and I’m not prepared. Well, maybe a little prepared. After all, I have an MA in Communication and took at least one undergraduate course in Public Relations with my all-time favorite professor, Bob Vivian. He was “Professor of the Year” at California State University, Chico and an ex-public relations sports writer extraordinaire. Okay, it was only one PR class and a long time ago and even the best professor for one semester can’t impart the universe.

I did take one class in self-publishing at Whatcom Community College a couple years back. And . . . I did buy “The Complete Guide to SELF-Publishing” by Marilyn Ross & Sue Collier—Fifth Edition, no less! It says on the cover: “EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to write, publish, promote, and sell your book.” Never mind that I haven’t opened it more than to take a brief overview stroll through the pages. I guess I’d better get off my high hobby horse and start reading. And, I’d better read fast because my book is due out this fall.

Oh, the best I did was a 45-minute phone call with Cami Ostman. From that call I got a crash course in marketing. Thanks Cami, from the bottom of my heart. I at least have a great “to do” list with the essentials and I’m working down my list to get all of my proverbial ducks in a row.

When I set out to write my book I didn’t carefully consider the marketing phase. I probably thought that my book would be so wonderful that one of the big publishing houses would be interested and my only effort would be to get picked up at an airport somewhere for the start of my fabulous book tour. FOFLOL!

Actually, I’m more prepared to write my next two books than to market my soon-to-be-published-by-Village-Books book. It’s likely safe to say that I will never be the Thomas Kincaid of the book marketing world.

My book is a biography of Holocaust survivor Ferdinand J. Fragner. The title, Yishar Koach: Forward with Strength came to me during an interview with Rena Ziegler one of Fred’s good friends. She was talking at the end of the interview about how I had done a great mitzvah—a worthy task—in writing the book. Then, she gave me a blessing and said “Yishar Koach”—literally, “may your strength be firm.”

Well, this was about two plus years into the project and I certainly needed that blessing. As of 2016, I’m in my fifth year of working on the book. But at least now it’s written, edited, with my designer, and out there being reviewed by Chanticleer and Kirkus.

Now, it’s a bit of a waiting game and working with Sam at Village Books to determine a date to do a reading and book signing. I’m also aspiring to do “A book launch and a movie” at the Pickford but I need to first locate a movie that is newly in release and would somehow parallel a theme in Fred’s life.

Oh, by the way, I’ll be doing another blog post on July 31st and will tell you a bit more about my book and marketing progress. In the meantime, I wish to all you aspiring writers “full strength ahead.”

Author’s Bio:

susan sloan

Susan Lynn Sloan is an author and communications specialist who has lived in Maple Falls, Washington since 2004. Susan was born in Chicago and she’s a transplant from northern California. Her interests include family, gardening, snorkeling, books, and film. Her biography of Holocaust survivor, Fred Fragner, is due out this fall. It’s called Yishar Koach: Forward with Strength. Susan is hoping it will inspire readers to understand the importance of persevering even in the midst of the most daunting challenges.