Jerks & Irks XLVII: Should Readers Hold Indies’ Hands?

A little while ago someone posted a link on Facebook. I clicked on it. It was a blog post in which the blogger ranted his/her frustration with reviews of Indie books always pointing out typos, grammatical errors, etc. S/he went on to say that the reader should instead contact the author directly and alert them to the problems with their book. Then they continued their tirade, paralleling the plight of the Indie author with that of early Indie musicians and filmmakers.

I take issue with all of these points. Major issue. So much issue, that I clicked out of the blog rather quickly, didn’t make a note of it (which is why I don’t have a link here, so if you’re the author of said blog, feel free to defend yourself politely in the comments section), but the points s/he made still managed to fester in my brain for days and has now landed in front of your face in the form of my own blog post.

First and foremost, I think it is the author’s responsibility to research, and hire an editor that has been fully vetted, whose work they would proudly attach to their own. I also think even editors and proofreaders are human. Therefore, it is also the author’s responsibility to proofread their own work once or twice, backwards and forwards if necessary, before hitting that publish button. You can’t honestly expect the reader, who has found your work, purchased it with their hard-earned money, and read it with their precious little time, to then contact you and let you know that there are faults with your work. That’s not fair to the reader, now is it? Now, some readers are sympathetic little lambs and might do all this. Any do you know what might happen to them? They might run into an ignoramus of an author, an all-knowing, prick-on-a-stick (if male) or pot-o-twat (if female), who will not be very gracious to a mere reader pointing out the errors in their genius. Yikes! None of this sounds good to me. So, authors, don’t count on the reader to hold your hand. And, conversely, readers, some authors are like caged beasts. Beware.

Next up, the assumption that just because Indie musicians and Indie filmmakers weren’t taken seriously when they first came on the scene, it makes sense that it’s the same deal with Indie publishing. I would say, yes and no. Indie authors and Indie publishing are making gains every day. In just the space of a year, for example, ThrillerFest went from being all about querying an agent to including the VP of KDP and reps from Createspace. (Kristin Lamb is the bomb-sauce, by the way. If you don’t follow her blog, you should.) But that doesn’t mean authors can ignore the basic properties of the English language. Did those early Indie bands save their shekels, cruise down to the music store, buy the first guitar they could afford, and start recording as soon as they got home? Are you telling me they didn’t at least learn how to play their instruments first? Don’t Indie filmmakers learn how to hold the camera and edit film before they hop a plane to Cannes? So why should authors publish something before fully grasping story-telling and the art of language? And/or hiring someone who can polish it up for them? I just don’t get the comparison in that regard.

S/he also said something about Indie authors using punctuation incorrectly for individual expression or something, but that was around the time I clicked out of the post, so…

Anyway, what do you all think about this? Do you leave reviews that mention if there are typos present in the book? Do you contact the author? Has an author ever bit your ever-lovin’ head off? Please leave a comment below, and keep it clean and free of artistically incorrect punctuation, please!

Jerks & Irks XLII: The Unglamorous Side of Writing

I’m sure you all know by now that the prelude novella to my Blood for Blood Series, Blood in the Past, will be released Wednesday. What you don’t know is why my eye has been twitching for the last nine days. It’s because of the unglamorous side of writing. It’s nothing short of awesome-rockets to create characters, write a plot around them, and see it through to “The End.” But the end is slow going. When I received my final polished copy from Cassie at Red Adept, I thought it would be smooth sailing until release day. It was not.

  • Following the editing process, Blood in the Past was sent to a proofreader. After I received my manuscript back from the proofreader, I didn’t entirely trust their work (equal parts perfectionism, paranoia, and the proofreader herself had made a few errors), so I had to read my story three more times. The reading and re-reading and re-re-reading of your own work is tiresome. That in itself is eye-twitch-worthy.
  • With the novella fully polished, I thought it was a good time to type up the front- and back-matter. Table of Contents. Dedication. Acknowledgments. About the Author. Contact the Author. Copyright. Agh! I bet your eyes are twitching just reading that list. Then I had to read everything over. Again and again. Typos? Spacing? Thanked everyone? Copyright page scary enough? Tres un-glam.
  • Once satisfied with my edited and proofread copy, I copy-and-pasted all the components of the front- and back-matter, then I hired Karen Perkins at LionheART to format the it for Kindle. When she was done–you guessed it–I had to read it through a couple more times, this time from my Kindle. I only found a couple of errors and they might have been my doing. But Karen was very patient with me and we corresponded via email for hours until I was happy.
  • Whoops, I forgot a step. See how scatter-brained I am? Before I sent Blood in the Past to LionheART, I purchased a gaggle of ISBN numbers from Bowker. I know what you’re gonna say: Amazon provides the ISBN for you. And you’re right…if you want the publisher to be listed as Amazon. I registered my own publishing company, remember? (Blood Read Press) Therefore I needed my own ISBNs. Purchasing them was pretty easy. Assigning one to my novella was a pain in the pin-cushion.There are so many QUESTIONS! Agh! A few of which I didn’t even know the answers to. Thankfully, not all the questions required an answer to continue. But seriously, that took me about two hours.

I still have yet to formally apply for a copyright, but I guess that’s for a different post. Tonight, I’ll attempt to upload Blood in the Past to Amazon. Why so early? To ensure I don’t screw it up and have to delay my release date. Duh. Wish me luck guys. I’m gonna need it.

But in all honesty, it is pretty damn cool to look at your own book on your Kindle. 😉

 

 

What I Learned From My Editor

You knew it was coming. The obligatory “my work has been edited, my editor was invaluable, this is what I learned, you wish you had an editor like mine” post.

Blood in the Past was sent to Red Adept Publishing for a deluxe line edit a couple of weeks ago. Oooh, deluxe! I know, right? That means my lovely editor and I go back and forth like a see-saw until the manuscript is perfect. Then we send it off to a proofreader for good measure.

It didn’t take Cassie (hope she doesn’t mind me using her real name) very long to edit BITP, as it’s a novella, not a full-length novel. I received all of her corrections in Word’s Track Changes in about a week. And with that handy-dandy deluxe package comes a separate document with some general points that the editor noticed about your writing style. So, without further delay, here’s what a learned from the fabulous Cassie:

  • I do things for effect, but I do them too frequently so that the effect is for naught. Such as one-line paragraphs and sentence fragments.
  • I use present tense words like now, these, this, etc even though I write in past tense.
  • I don’t use enough contractions. (I blame my mother for that one. She wasn’t a fan of contractions. She even tried to use Eddie Murphy’s character in Coming to America to prove that the English language is better without them. What can I say? It stuck.)
  • I often segue into sentences like I’m writing a sixth grade paper. Yet, Instead, But, etc.
  • I use began to and started to like it’s my job. Cassie pointed out that it is not, in fact, my job.
  • My timeline was a little jacked up because I underestimated the time it would take to complete an arson investigation. None of my betas caught that, so that was a HUGE gaffe that I’m glad she brought to my attention.
  • And finally (this one cut me deep), I have the tendency to “wax poetic.” ~Le sigh~ Cassie did go on to say that my “technical writing is beautiful,” but I need to remember that my characters aren’t all kooky literary professors whose inner dialogue would be so verbose. Oopsie.

All in all, my time with Cassie will be remembered fondly. We cut things that shouldn’t be there. We added things that should. We compromised on a few points. She let me have my way on a few other points. And we bonded over the movie Bringin’ Down the House.

Wait, what?

Here’s what happened. She made a comment that one of my characters had taken kick-boxing classes and thus would be a worthy adversary for another character. I pointed out that it wasn’t MMA-quality training. It was like in Bringin’ Down the House, when Queen Latifah gets into that fight with the Country Club Chick, who says she takes Tai-bo. Country Club Chick then goes on to get her ass beat. Turns out, Cassie LOVES that movie (capital letters were her own, not mine.) So, for my character, the kick-boxing classes, were just for cardio. Sure, you learn a few general movements, but not enough to ward off a larger woman wielding a chef’s knife. Oh dear, I’ve said too much…

Blood in the Past. Available June 19th on Amazon. Ebook Only for this one. Sorry.

What I Learned From The Editor: Round 1

I received my novella, Blood in the Past, back from the editor weeks ago. I’ve been working on rewrites feverishly since then to add stuff. That’s right. Add. Stuff. I’m the only writer in the history of the world whose editor requested they add stuff. But more on that later. Here’s what I learned during this first round of edits.

  • I’m wordy. Now, as a reader, I hate description overkill. I don’t need a paragraph to explain how green the grass is or a page to show how mangy a stray cat is. I also don’t need to know what everyone is wearing. In fact, details like that pull me from the story. She’s wearing a purple sweater? Hmm, I pictured her wearing a red sweater. I guess that’s because red is my favorite color. I wish I had a red sweater. Wait, I do! Is that clean? Where is that sweater? See what I mean? Anyway, the point is that I tried to avoid that in my own writing. However, I often add sentence fragments of description. For effect. My editor left the ones that actually were effective. But there were many, many redundant ones. Yikes.
  • I don’t tell enough. You know how you’re not supposed to write as though the reader is dumb? Well apparently I take it a step further and write as though the reader is telepathically connected to me. I assume they know things I know and see things I see. Dammit.
  • I tell too much. In contrast to the bullet point above, sometimes I skip having information come out in conversation or thought and just tell the reader stuff. Tsk, tsk.

And this is where the adding of stuff comes in. I’ve been adding extra scenes and dialogue sequences like a mad woman. Still hoping for an end of March release, but we’ll see. Wish me luck.

How Do You Edit?

Image courtesy of schmauss_lab.com

In last week’s post I discussed reaching the halfway point in my novel and preparing to freak out all over the place in the face of everything that comes next. I asked for commentary and suggestions. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of editing until my brain leaked out of my ears, then gather my liquified brain into a turkey baster and squirt it back in so I can edit some more.

Image courtesy of writerunboxed.com

Minus the turkey baster scenario, I was already planning on this. My actual writing process actually includes quite a bit of editing in and of itself. I outline a chapter on the white board. Make changes. I write out a fleshier outline in my notebook. Make changes. I write a bare bones chapter on my netbook. Make changes. The next day I flesh it out. The day after that, what do I do? I MAKE CHANGES. I search for crappy verbs and vague descriptions, repetitive words, etc. I polish up the chapter real nice and pretty damn shiny before moving on.

So my question to you guys is this: How do you edit your manuscript? Do you do anything special? Anything unique that allows you to really get a feel for the flow of the story and any plot holes or characterization flaws? So far I’ve read about printing the manuscript out in landscape mode, in two collumns, to imitate the appearance of a paperback. I’ve also heard (twice now) of downloading text-to-talk software and listening to your manuscript. Anything else I’m missing? Weigh in below!