Wednesday, February 18, 2015

THE LIFE-CHALLENGE SERIES: FEAR IS YOUR PRISON

This post is now available at http://honorthespirit.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-life-challenge-series-fear-is-your.html

YOU AND YOUR EDITOR

If you're writing to publish, or for school, then this compact guide is a must-have. You'll come away with a much greater understanding of why it's important to have your work edited by a professional (not your friend, family member, or teacher, unless this is their craft), what that process entails for you and the editor, and what you should do to prepare to search for one. Editing, in all its forms, is a huge "thing," and it's not for the fainthearted. Come learn why.  Click on photo to order.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ARE YOU REALLY PREPARED TO BE AN AUTHOR?

As a mainstream and self-published author who has also been working as a professional editor and literary consultant for the past ten years, I have learned so much about the industry, and even more valuable lessons (some the hard way!) on this awesome journey. The most important info and lesson combined that I've carried with me since the early days is this: just like buying and maintaining a home and car are huge, usually life-long responsibilities, so is publishing—particularly self-publishing. Now that I've had the fortune to be fully immersed in what's on both sides of the fence, I can truly say that my respect, admiration, and understanding for the craft and its process has increased immensely.

My biggest "hard way" lesson was back in 2007, when I was finally able to self-publish my first novel (through a small independent publisher), One Man's Treasure. I was about two years into my editing career, and I had started my editing business the year before. I was so anxious and excited to become a published author that I admit I didn't do the necessary research beforehand about what self-publishing truly meant. Because I had interned for a publisher in 2005, I thought I had a good handle on the ins and outs of the process. And I did, for the most part. But what I wasn't privy to during my interning days were the potential financial challenges that being a published author could (and for me, would) carry. Here's where [this part of] the responsibility of being an author was first introduced to me.

Since I was so "ready" to get the book out there, and I didn't have the cash to use for my publishing venture, I used my brand-new business credit card with a $9,000 balance on it. Just the publishing process alone cost me nearly $5,000, which was a bit of a shock, at first. But when I looked over the fee breakdown of the services and I understood where the money was going, I couldn't really say much else except, "Welp, let's do it."

Because I was already working as an editor and I was well versed in the craft, I skipped having the book copy edited by someone else because I knew I could do it myself. The copy editing on my part wasn't the major mistake I made. I actually made two in the process. First, because I was in a hurry to go to print, and I was trying to stay on the timeline we were working with, I read my manuscript repeatedly—back to back, with no breaks—for three weeks. Bad move. You should never read anything repeatedly if you're checking for errors, particularly a 300-page manuscript, without giving your eyes, mind, and body a break. Mind you, I had already read the thing a zillion times prior to the publishing process, so I was at a big disadvantage because I knew exactly what the book said, basically word for word; so even the typos looked like they belonged there. I was so familiar with the book's content that my mind and eyes weren't capable of catching everything that needed to be corrected, not to mention that I was absolutely exhausted.

So, when the book came out, guess what I saw? Yep, TYPOS. Not that many, and nothing really glaring, but because I had read it so many times and made so many changes and corrections, I wasn't expecting to see any. I just knew I had caught everything. Let me tell you, I was completely destroyed emotionally! I cried for weeks behind the fact that I had not only failed at the flawless editing of my own work, but I had also now released the work and everyone would see these mistakes. I was so embarrassed and ashamed, but it was too late; the book was out, so I had to suck it up and deal with it.

Fortunately, there were no complaints since the book wasn't overrun with errors, but that's not the point. I wasn't happy with that snafu, and that's when I learned that my second mistake was that I didn't pay to have it proofed. That's all it needed, but I didn't do it because I was trying to cut corners and save money, out of fear—fear that adding any more expenses to the process was gonna wipe me out financially. Sadly, some of the mistakes happened during my content editing, when I was revising sentences and switching out words, and I had failed to double and triple check the new content, so there were instances such as words being left out or inadvertently left there during the process. The worst part about it was that two of my professional-editor colleagues, both of whom I had worked with on several projects, were right there and available to do it, and I still refused. (By the way, I didn't make that mistake with the second novel; I had one of them proof it for me!)

Once I had dealt with that drama, another financial lesson came sashaying into the picture. As a self-published author, I wasn't aware that I would be responsible for making sure that my book stayed stocked in bookstores that agreed to sell it. I was naive enough to think that bookstores would be ordering it on their own to put on their shelves, and then I would just kick back and rake in the dough. I soon found out that I would need to shell out more money, and regularly, too, if I wanted to have my books in stores! Not to mention that I'd need to have money to keep books in stock for myself, to sell independently (you know, trunk-of-car, book-festival, and street-corner style). FYI, ordering just 50 books cost nearly $400.

I wasn't thinking about any of these things, so I was totally unprepared for them. I was heartbroken by these rude awakenings that self-publishing threw my way. The only thing I was concerned with was getting the book published. Period. With all of the financial obligations on my plate, my credit card was soon maxed out, and I was sorely disappointed that I didn't do my homework prior to diving into the deep end of publishing.

But I lived and learned, and now I'm here to say this:

Prospective (and current) authors, in the same way you need to be prepared for the financial responsibility of buying and maintaining that home or car, you need to be financially prepared for publishing. If you're new to writing and/or publishing, or if you're working on a type of project that's new for you, then you may need creative guidance before you begin your work, or if you're stuck in the process, so you can have a clear view of your literary journey and be able to move through it with ease. Be prepared to pay a literary consultant to aid you. It's not an unnecessary expense. If you were sure of how to proceed, then you'd have done so already, with confidence.

On top of having your money ready for all that comes after your book is out, I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to take care of business properly before that, and have your work professionally edited prior to publishing; this includes content editing (critiquing). Content editing is set up to ensure that you put the best material in your book, and that the messages you want to convey are all there and are as clear and concise as possible. Both copy editing and content editing are vital steps that should not be skipped if you want to put out a quality product. In fact, if you get a book deal with a mainstream publisher, you can't skip these processes; they're mandatory. To clarify, I don't mean you do them yourself, as someone who is not a professional editor, or that you have someone who isn't versed in the editing craft do it. You see the issues I had with copy editing and proofreading, and I was the professional, albeit a new one.

That said, I'm imploring all of you to seek out someone who specializes in this craft. I know publishing is an exciting endeavor and you can't wait to see your work in print, to have people buying it, praising it (and you), giving it five stars, etc., but if you're finished writing your book and you haven't had it professionally edited, then you're not ready to go to print. Respect your craft and product, and respect your future potential readers' time and money by investing in a high-quality editing service. When people put enough faith in you to support your work by giving you their money and time [to read it], they deserve to receive your best. It should show that you cared enough to give them the quality they expect.

 Also, publishing work riddled with spelling, punctuation, grammar, and even formatting errors (yes, that needs to be in good shape, too) is not only insulting to people's intelligence and a huge distraction, but it also makes you look extremely unprofessional and selfish to those who truly understand the importance of publishing the right way, and your reputation will be at stake. I say selfish because when you publish any work, it's no longer just for you; it's now for the world. Again, your work should show that you cared enough about your audience to make sure things are done as correctly as possible. If you don't make that effort, then I don't believe you're publishing to gratify others, only yourself. Yes, your family and friends will likely eat your product up, no matter what it looks like, because they're so proud of and excited for you; but others won't take you seriously in this field. 

Please stop being in such a hurry to call yourselves published authors that you skip steps in the process. If you're going to publish, then it's highly advised that you do it right from all angles. Cutting corners to save money, not wanting to pay editors what they charge for their time and hard work, and rushing to put out a book because people are waiting for it, or because you can't wait to be published in general, are not signs of respecting the writing and publishing crafts or taking them seriously. 

Also, all of your work deserves the full publishing process, not just the ones you feel are more worthy of it. The same care and effort should go into publishing a small project that it should when publishing something large. Just because your project is 10 pages doesn't mean you should skimp on your commitment to putting out your best work. A poorly presented 10 pages can ruin your credibility just as much as a poorly presented 300 pages.

Lastly, I know we're now in the age of Kindle and Nook, and many of you may not offer hardback or paperback books, so in that regard you'll be escaping some of the financial burdens of publishing by not having to order physical copies. But your digital works deserve the same pride and attention as physical ones.

Later, I'll blog about some other responsibilities that come with publishing. For now, I truly hope this post has helped you understand how important this subject is. Please pass this along to all of your writer/author friends, family, and acquaintances. Please be sure to backtrack on all of the informational links I inserted in the post if you haven't had a chance to check them out.

Thanks for reading, and happy publishing!


Sunday, February 1, 2015

CHEERS ... TO A DECADE IN PUBLISHING

2015 marks ten years that I've been working in the publishing industry professionally. Time has FLOWN! This year also marks the ten-year anniversary of my first editing gig: co-editing Dr. Dre's mother's autobiography, Privileged to Live: A Mother's Story of Survival, with my colleague who lives in Texas.

When I first started out, I was interning at Milligan Books, in Los Angeles, for the wonderful Dr. Rosie Milligan, as a writer, editor, proofreader, and overall publishing assistant. We met in 2003, when I took my just-completed manuscript for my first novel, One Man's Treasure, to her in hopes that she would be my literary agent. She took me on as a client, and from there our relationship blossomed. I spent a lot of time at her store as we shopped my book to mainstream publishing houses, and I soon discovered that I was extremely interested in the editing and publishing process. I started asking her if I could come work for her, but she wouldn't let me at first. In fact, it wasn't until 2005 that she finally realized I was serious (since I pestered her about it regularly), and allowed me to come on board as an intern. Later, she told me she didn't hire me in the beginning because on top of not thinking I was serious, she'd had other interns who didn't last long because they all realized working in the publishing industry is way more work and requires a certain depth of skill and commitment that they weren't up for. But I was.

Shortly thereafter, she started telling me about this really big project she was about to secure, and that she might have me "do some work" on it. It turned out that it was Verna Griffin, Dre's mother, who was coming out with her first book, and Milligan Books would be the publisher. It would be my first full hands-on project, and not only was I honored to be tasked with co-editing, but I also got to write the back-cover summary, interview Verna over the phone so I could write the About the Author; and in June, I was able to attend the book signing, where I was in charge of book sales, and I got to meet and talk with Verna, Dr. Dre, Meagan Good (who all signed my copy of the book), and a host of other great people. It was a fabulous event, and I felt so "privileged" to be part of it all.

In 2006, I started my own literary business after spending 13 months working with Rosie, and also after having interned for several months with the fabulous author, editor, and literary agent Dr. Maxine Thompson as a copy editor, proofreader, and content editor (critiquing). Those were some great times, and I'm so appreciative to both of them for all they allowed me to do with and learn from them.

Here's to many more decades doing what I love: working with words! Check out the pics of my first editing gig!







For more information about my literary business, please visit Charlene E. Green's Literary Services