But I Thought…Accepting Criticism

You’ve put your baby out there for inspection, your pride and joy. You’ve prepared yourself (you HAVE, haven’t you?) for comment and criticism. Depending on your reader’s relationship to you this can be about anything…your parenting (writing) skills, your ideas, your spelling, grammar…you name it.  But it is your job to wade through it all with a smile and gather the important bits that will make your baby thrive.

Focus on the important stuff. The story itself, the plot, the characters. The grammar and spelling and annoying writer habits will be handled in the succeeding baby steps toward getting your book published. Consider the suggestions with an open mind while still maintaining control of your creation. But do listen.

After you feel you have enough information and can see the flaws, if any, then it is time to go back to the changing table and make improvements. Time for that final edit.

Next step is to find an editor.

Editing by a professional, though it may not be a card-carrying member of some editor association (yes, I know I will get criticized for this statement), is crucial to your baby’s success. Nothing is more exasperating than starting a book, getting into the story and constantly being interrupted by ‘road bumps’. You know, the misspelled words, the grammar snafus, the character’s eyes changing mid story. Or, yes, those annoying writer habits of using the same phrase over and over.

I once read a book that was wonderful…except.  It was so hard to get to the end, going over all those speed bumps, having to go back and reread something just to be sure MY mind wasn’t flawed because something didn’t add up, that I was exhausted. Never to purchase that author’s books again though a story she could tell, for certain. You do not want your readers to be left with that impression. Especially if you plan to write again. You want followers, fans, people waiting for your next bit of escape from reality. My husband just came in. He was reading a book while volunteering at a museum; slow this time of year. “Rubbish.” Luckily I did not pay for that ebook. Road bumps that would risk the condition of your tires. “In need of one of your edits,” he said.

So, where do you find your editor? Google it. You will get lists and lists.  LinkeIn it. Join an editor or writer group and seek suggestions. But research and be knowledgeable. You need to know what editing is, what it should or could cost and even how you can get it.

So let’s talk editing.

Editing is the process of having someone else read your story and fix it, basically. Editing comes in several layers, like a good cake. We will start at the top. Proofreading. This is the icing on the cake, so to speak. It pretties up the great story beneath. It is the final check for anything amiss, that final soothing lotion for your baby’s skin, that final swirl of icing. You will find proofreaders everywhere and not too expensive in the broader pricing scheme. But they are not enough. The most delicious icing cannot hide a badly baked cake. The prettiest dress cannot hide a badly cared for baby.

Copy editing is the correction of spelling and grammar and consistency. This will remove those annoying road bumps in your story. Soothe that baby’s skin with lotion. Your character’s eyes won’t change color mid story (unless they may be a werewolf or something). So is this the filling of the cake or the cake itself? That depends on you actually. If you have crafted a solid story line and seen it through this might be both. If you have rushed and did not get enough feedback to find crucial faults in your book then it may only be one…or the other…but I will call it the cake.

Substantial or structural editing is the filling holding everything together. Keeping each chapter connected to the next in a way that drives the reader forward. This editor is sometimes known as a book doctor. Sometimes, your best friend. This editor can actually teach you to be a better writer in the long run. If you are a new writer, having someone along on the writing ride can be a significant benefit, catching problems in your story early and a small retainer could save you many more dollars later on when you send that problem ridden book to an editor later. Like it to teaching a child to brush their teeth…get it? This editor catches plot flaws, bad story lines, misplaced chapters and guides the writer as they write. Or in some cases later.

As a publisher I often find myself fixing it later. But once an author is under my brand, we move to fixing it as they write.

So you are ready to be edited. The baby looks a pretty as you can manage, after assessing many suggestions. What do you do? What can you do? That depends on your book budget, if you have one. This is the million dollar dilemma. You can find ‘editing’ as cheap as 1 cent per word or likely even less on those budget service sites. But what are you getting? Do they even tell you?  Likely a proofread that may fix some copy editing issues. Your job is to find out. So let’s say you have a 50,000 word novel…$500.  A pretty penny. And things may not even be fixed.  I have had authors come to me with a previously (sometimes several times) edited book with oodles of errors I still bumped over. What a waste of money.

There are options to obtaining editing.This next bit will delve a little into future baby steps to publishing but everything fits together like a puzzle in this process to a degree. You can straight out hire an editor. Which level depends on your obtained criticism from the previous step. If there were story problems mentioned and you could not see it or fix it or understand those comments, get a structural editor. A badly constructed book won’t sell.

If you are eyes wide open confident with that aspect, get a copy editor at a minimum.

Now for the detour. You can get editing through other arrangements. If you plan to pay for publishing services (also known by the old name of vanity publishing, which I feel is an outdated term) or can secure a publisher (a process I will touch upon later), editing can be included in the package or contract. So it becomes something you pay for within the scope of a paid package (cash out once for everything)  or by contracting with a publisher (no cash out-of-pocket, but lessened royalties than those realized by a self-published author). But BEWARE: Some paid publishing packages DO NOT INCLUDE EDITING. Some author service companies will publish your book as they receive it. Many said companies make their money from the sale of the packages, not future sales of the book. Their interest in your book selling or getting positive reviews are squelched by their business model. So keep that in mind and know what you are getting in any package deal.

Time for an advertisement:

WoolysWagon ePublishing offers author services as well as publishing contracts. We do not at this time offer paid publishing packages, but would consider it only for those wanting to self-publish. Said package would need to include all services (complete editing, book design, ebook conversion, book covers) so the files received by the author would be everything the author needs to upload the book/ebook for sale at online retailers.

We offer editing at all levels. We quote a fixed price after reading the submitted book and assessing what is needed to present the book in its best light. Because we know how much time will be needed to present you with a publishing ready quality copy we can keep the price as low as possible. Please note, however, that we do not present revisions in a word document that has tracked changes. You get our edited copy. We do consult if there are structural/substantive issues. We do consult if we discover a writer’s habit that we feel should be addressed.

We offer book shepherding services. We offer book appraisals. (These include a discussion of the readiness of your book, possible issues, and a synopsis of what you will need to proceed to publishing.) We may also discuss providing services along with a quote or possibly a contract proposition.

But the foundation of WoolysWagon ePublishing is the publishing contract. We were started in order to prevent authors being ripped off by author services companies and more importantly helping those deserving authors that don’t have a publishing budget, period. We instituted a 50/50 royalty share contract where you provide the story and we provide the rest (illustrations excluded). Authors are given a fixed royalty per sale upon publication of their book, royalty reports once a month with immediate payment.

Back to the show…

So you can see that editing is a crucial and possible big expense on the road to publishing your book. All the more reason for you to take those baby steps and be sure of your path.

Next: I had NO IDEA what being a parent really…There’s MORE???

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