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SUNDAY REBLOG: Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo… And Why You Shouldn’t « terribleminds: Chuck Wendig

Should you do NanoWriMo or not? Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds has some thoughts on the matter.

Source: Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo… And Why You Shouldn’t « terribleminds: chuck wendig

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8 Things to Do Before and After Sending Your Book to Your Editor

So your manuscript is finally done? Or maybe you have written the first few chapters and need some help with the rest? What you need is an editor. When you are ready to contact one, here are some things to consider before (and after) you send your precious “baby” off into the world.

Before You Send Your Manuscript to Your Editor

  1. Get a sample edit. Before you commit to a long-term relationship with your editor, try a short date. Many editors, including myself, offer or even require a small sample edit. Although this step might be skipped for a developmental edit, it is very valuable for a book about to undergo substantive editing or copyediting. This gives both parties a chance to see what they are getting into before jumping in feet first. You’ll see if the editor’s style fits with your style. Your editor will get a better idea of what your manuscript is about and how much work it needs.
  2. Get a quote. Again, know what you are getting into. Are you getting an hourly rate, a per page rate, or a flat project fee? Different editors charge different rates and may even use a different rate scale for each project. It is important to know where you stand before you commit. This way, neither you nor your editor gets a nasty surprise when the bill comes due.
  3. Get it in writing. Your editor will likely send you a contract to sign, and this protects both of you. Read it carefully and discuss any problems with your editor.
  4. Discuss the big questions. Answer any questions your editor has, and don’t be afraid to ask your own. These questions may include ones about the editing process, the editing schedule, and your goals for the book.
  5. Have all of your ducks in a row. Check your files, and make sure everything is complete. Also, make sure you send the latest version of your manuscript in a format that your editor can read.

After Your Manuscript Has Gone to Your Editor

  1. Wait patiently. Do not give into the urge to read and revise your manuscript while your editor is doing the same. Asking your editor to use your new, revised version after she or he has likely spent hours editing your first version is likely to cause confusion at the least and a breach of contract at the worst.
  2. Follow up. If it’s been longer than your editor said it would or if you have questions, feel free to call or send off a polite email. However, contacting your editor frequently before the deadline just to check up will only be a distraction.
  3. Give thanks. If your editor did a great job, let them know! Offer to write a quote of recommendation for their web page. Be sure to tell your friends about your spiffy new friend. Finally, be sure to call said editor for your next project.

Bonus Step from My Editor Friends on Facebook

  1. Read your manuscript or have a friend (or three) read it. Reading your manuscript with fresh eyes, reading it aloud, or having some friends beta read it can be essential! Together, you can catch a lot of glaring errors and get some very valuable feedback.

What other steps do you take on the road to getting your manuscript polished and ready to publish?

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The Process of Copyediting Fiction

I want to take you through the process of copyediting fiction. In the traditional life of a manuscript, this is one of the last types of editing that it will go through. The structure, plot, and characterization of the story at this point should have been finalized. This happens during writing and developmental editing. If there are few problems with overall consistency, your manuscript at this stage might go straight to copyediting instead of to substantive editing.

When I am copyediting fiction, my main goals are to ensure that all errors in grammar, punctuation, capitalization, word use, and style have been corrected. I also check for awkward phrasing and make or suggest edits to correct this. During this time, I also make sure that I don’t make changes that will alter your voice as the author. If I am in doubt, I will query you either directly in the manuscript file or in an email. During this stage, I will also do a little bit of basic formatting. How much depends on where the manuscript is going next. For example, if your agent or the publisher requires a certain format, I will help you ensure that the manuscript meets those requirements. Mostly, I want to make sure that your formatting (capitalization, boldface, etc.) is consistent.

When I begin to go over a manuscript for copyediting, I will look over the file that I receive from you to ensure that I have received everything in complete, working order. I will print a customized fiction copyediting checklist for your story that will help me to ensure that I have covered everything by the time I am done.

Copyediting Fiction; checklis

Once I have checked the files, I usually save the manuscript with a new name so that I always have a copy of the original at my disposal in case there are problems. Before I begin reading the manuscript, I use tools and run searches on certain items and terms. Some of these tools and searches include the following:

  • PerfectIt/Macros: PerfectIt is a Microsoft Word plugin that searches the manuscript file and help to ensure proper usage and consistency (for example, you capitalized Ice Cream Bar in three places and did not capitalize it in another; is this correct?). It does not make automatic changes but instead allows the editor to choose which changes are correct and which are not. I will also use Word macros that I have written myself to catch certain errors and inconsistencies.
  • Hyphenation: I will search for all hyphens throughout your manuscript. Here, I am looking for correct hyphenation (follow up vs. follow-up), consistency, and accuracy. Sometimes a hyphen needs to be deleted or replaced with a space. In other places, it might need to be replaced with an en dash (–) or em dash (—).
  • Spelling: At this point, I will run a spell check. I always check each word or phrase that is highlighted by the spell checker, never using the Replace All feature. I may use the Ignore or Ignore All feature for words (such as proper names or the names of fantastical creatures) that I can double-check as I read. However, the Replace All feature tends to cause problems instead of increasing quality.

Once I’ve gone through these time-saving methods, I will then read your manuscript, page by page, word by word. I will double-check the items above as I read. In addition, some of the things that I will check and correct during this read include the following:

  • Capitalization
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Subject–Verb Agreement
  • Word Usage: For example, did you use affect when you should have used effect?
  • Clarity
  • Flow
  • Point of View (POV): Most of this will have been covered during developmental or substantive editing, but I will check here for jarring shifts in POV or instances of “head hopping,” where the POV switches often and in a confusing manner.

Once I have finished the full read-through and run one more spell check, I will send a copy of the manuscript back to you. The edits will be highlighted by Track Changes and will be easy for you to see. You can then accept the changes as you go through the manuscript and answer or deal with any queries that I have written. During this stage, you can also contact me if you have any questions or are confused about certain changes. Then, you send the manuscript file back to me for one last round of editing.

During this round, I will read the manuscript a final time to check for anything that was missed and for errors that might have been introduced. Yes, editors and authors are human, and this happens, so a second read-through is always a good idea.

Then, I will return the clean and finalized manuscript back to you, all polished up and ready to continue to the next stage on its journey, whether that be an agent, a publisher, or right into print or digital format.

Copyediting is highly detailed work, but the end results are extremely satisfying for both the editor and author. You will have a manuscript that reads well without distracting errors, and I will be happy knowing that I helped to get it to that point!


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