Tag Archives: indie publishing

Editing for (Near) Perfection — Guest Post

Editing for (Near) Perfection

by Carol McClain

Author Carol McClain
Author Carol McClain

Edit.

A four-letter word. And we writers utter it in all its forms: noun, adjective, verb. However, this dirty little word is most vital to our work.

My latest book A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek was heading to IngramSpark. I knew it shone with my authorial brilliance. After all, my two critique partners tore it apart, and I rewrote it according to their suggestions.

I have subscriptions to Grammarly and to my favorite editing software, ProWritingAid. I ran the manuscript through them and dutifully made corrections.

As a final polish, another software program read the work to me.

It wasn’t enough, and I knew it.

The book would be self-published, the reasons would make another blog post. I wanted this book to rise to the top of Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s lists. Millions of other works competed against it. Again and again I read that in order for your book to make it into the ten percent of new releases, a professional editor had to correct its issues.

Breezy. Right?

You read all I did to make this work shine.

My editor, true to my predictions, claimed my work was clean. She found it easy to edit. Then she sent me my edited copy.

Page after page after never-ending page, she marked-up my work like an English teacher on Adderall.

And what did she find? A smattering of examples follow:

  1. MINI Cooper not Mini Cooper
  2. LEGOS not Legos
  3. My ‘ was supposed to go the other way ’ (Can you see the difference? I couldn’t).
  4. I spelled Emmett’s name (a minor character appearing seldom) Emmet on one random page somewhere in the middle of the manuscript.
  5. Kincade not Kincaid
  6. Random single spaces at the end of paragraphs

And I could go on and on and on. Why bore you with my boo-boos?

So many small mistakes all my early editing didn’t catch. So many of my favorite weasel words I never saw. So much.

I almost think I took longer to correct my mistakes than it took to write the story.

However, the result is a professional novel.

I know most of you use traditional publishers and using ProWritingAid sends off a polished manuscript for their editors to critique.

For those who must self-publish, find a trustworthy editor. Check his/her credentials. Send her a few pages for a sample of her work.

How do you find one? Ask your writing groups. Get recommendations from other writers. Mine is a member of ACFW and used to work for the agent Les Stobbe.

Will A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek rise to the top of the NYT Best Seller List? An introductory read of the novel will prove it should.

If it doesn’t, it won’t be because of poor editing.

You can check out more from Carol McClain at CarolMcClain.com.

Check out A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek. You’ll see the above is true.

NOTHING GOOD COMES FROM STINKING CREEK

Alone, again, after the death of her fiancé, abstract artist Kiara Rafferty finds herself on Stinking Creek, Tennessee. She wants out of this hillbilly backwater, where hicks speak an unknown language masquerading as English. Isolated, if she doesn’t count the snakes and termites infesting her cabin, only a one-way ticket home to Manhattan would solve her problems.

Alone in a demanding crowd, Delia Mae McGuffrey lives for God, her husband, her family, and the congregation of her husband’s church. Stifled by rules, this pastor’s wife walks a fine line of perfection, trying to please them all. Now an atheist Yankee, who moved in across the road, needs her, too.

Two women. Two problems. Each holds the key to the other’s freedom.

Author Carol McClain is an eclectic artist and author. Her interests vary as much as the Tennessee weather—running, bassoons, jazz, stained glass and, of course, writing. She’s a transplant from New York who now lives in the hills of East Tennessee with her husband and overactive Springer spaniel.

She is the president of ACFW Knoxville and the secretary of the Authors’ Guild of Tennessee.

The world in East Tennessee intrigues her from the friendly neighbors to the beautiful hiking trails and the myriad wildlife.

Life is good in here.

Highlights from Write Canada 2015

I spent part of last week at Write Canada, an annual conference for Canadian Christians who write and/or edit. This is my happy place, where I gain practical teaching and build friendships, in an atmosphere that renews my spirit.

Write Canada 2015 Canada's largest conference for Christians who write

After many years at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre, the conference moved to a Toronto hotel this year to be more accessible. This was a positive step, although a few logistics need tweaking for 2016.

I missed the restful beauty of the grounds in Guelph, but the open-air market behind the hotel provided fresh Niagara strawberries and there was a lovely little park a few blocks away.

Best thing about this year’s conference, for me?

Janet Sketchley and Matthew Sketchley at Write Canada 2015

One of my sons attended with me. Matthew was a runner-up in the Fresh Ink Contest at the university level. He can write circles around me, and that makes me proud. If you like dark fantasy from a Christian perspective, keep an eye out for him in the next few years.

Other best thing? Early morning and impromptu prayer times with treasured people (you know who you are.)

What did I learn?

From the panel on book launches (I was one of the panelists): One panelist recommended the short ebook, Hosting a Virtual Book Release Party by Shanna Festa. Another reminded me to contact the local cable TV channel with my book news.

From the Titles, Keywords and Blurbs workshop with NJ and Les Lindquist: The homework gave me a decent beginning on the back-cover blurb for Redemption’s Edge #3, and the workshop suggested No Safe Place may not be the best title for this one.

Indie Author/Publisher class with suspense author Linda Hall:

  • Free “simplenote” app for note-taking, syncs from one device to another.
  • Beta Readers: give them a few questions (sequence, believability, characters etc)
  • Android tablet: Google Play Books will read your manuscript aloud in epub format – read along silently with it to see what you catch.
  • If your ebook includes internal graphics, reduce them to 500×700 pixels or less. Link them to full-sized images on your website if necessary.
  • Cover: Can you read the print cover from 10 feet? Can you read the ebook cover in a thumbnail? Keep the title at/near the top so it won’t be lost if print books are stacked in a tier.
  • theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/ is a list of reviewers of indie books.
  • Goodreads for Authors course

Marketing Best Practices with Mark Lefebvre from Kobo:

  • The “3 P’s of Self-Publishing Success: practice, patience, persistence” – to which I add a fourth: prayer.
  • Your “street team” is your secret weapon. Treat them well.
  • Set up an Amazon Central page for the Canadian and international sites, not just the US one.
  • Book signing tip: have a stack of books ten feet away from you, so people can check them out without fear that you’ll “sell at them.”
  • Wattpad can be a great place to find beta readers and reach your target audience, but it needs an investment of time.
  • $1.99 is the worst price for an ebook online.

Going Global: Write Locally, Publish Globally, with Mark Lefebvre from Kobo: In the US, most ebooks sold are for Kindle, but Kobo outsells Kindle in Canada and in the rest of the world (Kobo started in Canada and is now part of the Japanese Rakutan company).

Writing from the Middle with writing teacher and thriller author James Scott Bell: I need to read this book. He made a lot of sense in the one-hour workshop. (No surprise. I’ve learned a lot from his other books on writing.)

The Word Awards Gala (for work published in 2014): My romantic suspense, Secrets and Lies, didn’t win in the suspense category, but to be a finalist is still a positive endorsement of the book’s quality. The suspense winner was Sandra Orchard’s Blind Trust, (Book 2 in an excellent series. I suggest starting with #1, Deadly Devotion.) You can read the full list of winners on The Word Guild site or by clicking the photo below.

Book finalists in The Word Awards, for work published in 2014

Book finalists in The Word Awards, for work published in 2014