Introducing Whyte Rose & Violet, Scribes: Ellen Ekstrom on Editing
Ellen Ekstrom is an amazing writer of books like Tallis Third Tune, the newly released Scarborough and my personal top five books of ALL time, Armor of Light. If you haven’t picked up one of her books I suggest you do. Ellen Ekstrom is also an amazing mentor! I met Ellen on LibraryThing when I asked her for help with a media kit, since then she’s been one of my best friends and confidants. Besides being a great friend and writer she’s begun her own editing services! Ellen has helped me grow as an author and helped me to edit Walking for Shadows. If you have read In Between Seasons and Walking in the Shadows you will see what a wonderful job she did in teaching me, helping me and guiding me. I am thrilled that she is going to be offering her services to the public. In a world full of editors I can personally tell you she has what it takes. She’s honest, and she wants her clients to grow and have the best products possible. I’ve asked her to do a guest post on my blog to help other self-published and indie authors–and of course, to help get the word out about her fabulous services.
Without further ado:
You’ve just typed the final sentence of your novel. For the last hour or two, your heart’s been racing as you run towards the finish, putting those last memorable words in your characters’ mouths and setting up the final scene. Another few moments, more keystrokes . . . annnnnd, you’re done!
Congratulations! It’s a book!
Now. Pay attention.
Don’t hit that “send” button yet.
Save the file on the computer or put the 200 pages or so in a file folder and walk away. Give it a day or two. Reward yourself with a walk, a nice dinner, buy yourself something that will remind you of the moment you finished the work.
What, you say? Put it away? But I just wrote this fantastic story and I’m going to sell it on Amazon! People will love it!
That may be – in fact, it will be, but only if you take the time to proofread the work carefully, check your facts, clean up any typographical and/or grammatical errors you may find, and format the document so that it is a polished, professional offering of your time and talent.
With the advent of independent publishing, anyone who can operate word processing programs and use book design software can publish a book. A quick glance at the catalogs at the online bookstores shows that the competition for readers continues to grow. Traditional books aren’t going away; they’re being joined on virtual shelves at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and other retailers with digital books. We know how inexpensive an e-book is to create and buy compared to a traditional book. More people are using e-reader utilities. It doesn’t take two weeks or months to get a book to the printer and back. It’s a matter of minutes and the click of a ‘send’ button. If you want to sell your book and garner honest reviews, build a reputation as a professional author, take as much time to edit your work as it did to write the story.
The major complaint I hear and read from readers (and authors) is that independent authors don’t take the time and care with their work as traditionally-published authors. In defense of ‘Indies,’ I add here that the same can be said of traditionally-published work coming out of New York — it’s becoming apparent that cost-cutting measures have taken over in the editorial departments at the big houses and editing budgets just aren’t what they used to be. The ease and over-use of ‘Spell-check’ functions in word processing programs has taken the place of true editing by one person. My raison d’être in publishing is, “To err is human, to really f____ up, just use Spell-check.”
I’m one of the lucky authors with a small press who has had the same editor work on my last two books. We know each other and my editor knows my strengths and weaknesses. Her excellent work and attention to detail notwithstanding, I still go over my ‘galley’ line by line and either redline it on Word, or with a pen, using editing marks and making comments as I go. Do we catch everything? We try. We’re human – we make mistakes. An occasional comma or period missing, a word out of place is forgivable in my way of thinking and perhaps in yours as well, but when every single chapter and page has three or four errors, when the continuity goes missing and facts seem debatable, I wonder if the author took the time to really look over the work.
Think of your work as a job resume or interview. Your goal is to show that you know the mechanics of the job and you are the perfect candidate. You have the personality, you have creativity. Show your readers this by spending time proofreading and editing. Here I add humility is a virtue. It doesn’t do to think that your work is so good it doesn’t need a second pair of eyes or opinion, a fresh insight. Hearing “this sucks!” doesn’t make for a good day. Hearing “this sucks because the hero is saying, ‘far out – bummer,’ in fourteenth century Italy and they didn’t talk like that!” is helpful, even if it makes you flush with embarrassment.
I have spent more time editing and re-writing a work than the actual creation of the story. Sometimes, I edit as I go. My book, “Tallis’ Third Tune” was written in three months, but I spent nine months editing and re-writing and two weeks working on it with my editor after that. The latest book, “Scarborough,” was a different story (in so many ways!). I spent exactly a year writing it and edited as I went. Even so, when I turned over the book to my publisher in November, we went through several rounds of editing and even on the day of the release, up to the last minute, we made changes.
I’ve made mistakes in my fact checking. In “Tallis’ Third Tune,” I have the name of a college wrong – a reader pointed out the mistake in a review. He said it didn’t take anything away from the storyline or enjoyment in reading, but it jumped out at him and as a result he didn’t give it a higher mark. We took note of that error in the second book in the series, “Scarborough,” and made the necessary changes. Now, imagine if your work is full of things like that.
Readers are intelligent and discriminating – more so than ten or fifteen years ago. The Internet has given us all more education and readily-accessible information, so that the writer must be sure to present a polished, professional work to the public. You can still bring a creative, thoughtful, unique perspective to your story; what will make it even better is how near-perfect it will be. Find a neutral person to read your work – perhaps a friend you know and trust will be honest, a colleague, your high school English teacher – and ask for an honest critique. If you can afford it, find an editorial service. Check out the rates, get reviews on their work. The time you spend will be well worth it.
Finally, consider your choice of cover for the book. Does it tell something about the story – or does it look like every other book on the market? Designing one’s own cover can be expensive, but there are stock photo sites and there are programs such as Photoshop to help you be even more creative with how you present your book to the public. Just as you want your reader to be mesmerized by your writing and want to stay up all night reading your book, you want them to pause when they see the cover and say, “Wow! That looks interesting,” and then click on the product description to read more and buy the book.
It takes time, effort and perhaps a bit more money than you expected, but I tell you from experience, it will be worth every second spent.
May your reading and writing take you on new and interesting journeys.
For a great editor: Learn more about Whyte Rose & Violet, Scribes
I’d also like to introduce you to my new company, Gio Design Studios, Publication Marketing & Photography. Ellen speaks about the need for a great cover that makes you stick out as a unique author and grabs the readers attention–THAT’S where I come in. I am now offering affordable publication marketing materials from covers, to advertisements, blog tour essentials and all the way to book trailers. You can see sample covers and get pricing on the Gio Design Studios website.
For great covers and marketing materials unique to your novel: Learn more about Gio Design Studios
- Whyte Rose & Violet, Scribes – Up and Running! (cgiovanniwrites.wordpress.com)
- What if…Every Story Has Two Sides (cgiovanniwrites.wordpress.com)
- 6 AuthorHouse Proofreading Tips (selfpubbooks.wordpress.com)