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Friday, April 29, 2011

A Book Within A Book?

What do I look for in a book as a reader? Simple. I look for a great plot. I appreciate beautiful writing, too, but I tend to gravitate toward the story more than anything. That got me thinking about my reading habits. When I read, I do one of two things. I either read from beginning to end or skim through to get to the ending.
I realized that I do that with some of the books because I was interested enough to read it but not enough to read every word of it. To be honest, I just wanted to know what the hell happens in the end. So, why do I do that? I found the answer in one of the agent blogs about writing.
Writers are advised to make each chapter just as exciting as the fist or the last. There has to be a hook in every chapter as there are in the beginning, and the end of the chapter needs to have the cliff hanger that compels the readers to move on to the next chapter. Hmm. I did not know that.
It all makes sense, now that I'm trying to write a book or two. I need to make each chapter like a mini book, so that my readers won't have to skim through any part of it. I need them to want to read every word, every paragraph, every chapter. Make your chapters into a mini book!! 

As always, thank you for visiting my blog to hear me rant, vent, and give some advice. If you're interested in calm, professional editing services, here's my editor website. Happy writing~

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pluck the Repetitious Words Out of Your MS

At the end of the writing process, we all reach the point of final edit or proofreading. That's when we call it done and pat ourselves on the back. But we all know that isn't the end because there are more edits to come. You know... when you come back with the fresh set of eyes? There are difference processes when it comes to this stage. I read aloud for fluidity and proofread for typos and missing words. However, there's one more thing you should do before you get to that final stage.
It's checking for repetitive words. Like all writers, I've always been told to do it, I knew how to do it, but I do need to be reminded to do it once in a while. So do what I did. Use the word-search function and type out the words you think you've overused. You'd be surprised just how many you will find. I was. 

Typically, each writer has their favorite words they use all the time. For me, I found the word "that" over 700 times in my 55,000-word MS, I slapped my forehead. I mean, I do this with my clients' work, so why haven't I applied my own advice to my own MS? That prompted me to go through the list of words and phrases that I often found in my own work and in the work of the other writers. (Some published books, too) Here's the list.
that, this, some, would, then, see/saw, glare, thought/think/wonder, had/have/has, know/knew, felt/feel, could/can, did/do/does, nod, shrug, cringe, quietly, really, very, softly, slowly, carefully, said, sigh, cried, shouted, mutter, whisper, exclaim, growl, bellow, etc.
The list goes on, but you get the idea. We've all been guilty of repeating these words, right? I am not saying that you should avoid those words. No. Use them. The key is to use them sparingly. Even if you're paying close attention while you're writing, they will sneak up on you. And it's a perfect time to use the thesaurus to find new words to use and add to your vocabulary. There has to be due diligence on your part to perform the dirty task of word-find/word-search.
It's a wonderful tool, so use it. Pluck those words out. Happy writing~

If you'd rather have a professional editor do it for you, please check out my website

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guest Post by Author Patti Larsen on Self Publishing

So many aspiring authors ask themselves if the self-publishing is a way to go to start their writing career. While I don't have any opinion or great knowledge on this subject, my friend and author, Patti Larsen, has a little experience with self-publishing because she has been there and done that. So, I asked her to do a guest post and share some of her experience with me and my blog readers. If you want to find more information on Patti or her books, please visit her blog and her books.

The Great Experiment by Patti Larsen

I’ve fumbled around in the publishing world for years, trying to understand the ins and outs of the industry and process. This is the first time I was willing to do my homework and test out all of the options.

So, while I waited on several novels to be picked up, I decided to try self-publishing. I’m the type of person who wants to know how everything works from the inside out and it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to do so. I had two books that made the rounds with agents. I knew despite the rejections that both were well written and had great merit. They presented the prefect opportunity for my experiment.

My experience broke down into the following:

Pros: I got to do it all myself. This was a heck of a great time, I have to say. I used as my POD (print on demand) publisher as well as Smashwords to distribute through as ebooks. Both are fantastic resources if you decide to self-publish. Neither charges fees, unless you decide you want to pay for one of their editing or design packages (Lulu only) and you get to set your own price. They provide ISPN numbers (think barcodes) for your work.You have total control over your content. I designed both covers myself by purchasing (for cheap) stock photos online and using a very simple graphics program to fancy it up. Once everything was ready, I downloaded, checked the copy for format errors and had it for sale all in one day.

Cons: I had to do it all myself. It’s a lot of prep. I highly recommend you have your work professionally edited (which costs money) to assure you’re putting out the best possible product. And the formatting for some of the readers (Kindle, Nook, iPad) is tricky and needs a great deal of patience. If you’re not creative artistically you may want to have someone do your cover and interior design. Plus, you’re on your own for marketing. Mind you, not many publishers are able to afford much marketing anyway, but you are just another pretty face in a vast ocean of pretty faces (there are about 175,000 books published EVERY YEAR), without only your name behind you.

Since my experiment, I’ve sold two books to traditional publishers—one a small press and the other a digital press focused on ebooks. In my experience, I prefer the traditional publishing model. I enjoyed my foray into self-publishing and learned a great deal, but I found I was spending more time designing, formatting, marketing and networking than I was writing. And while I know I’ll still be doing some of the above no matter what, having a publisher to edit and package my work takes some of the pressure off.

Will I ever self-publish again? Of course I will. But for now, I’m enjoying this new experience of having some of the work done for me.

Although I have so many questions about self-publishing, I didn't want to get in too deep here. There are great websites and forums out there that are very informative and educational. I just wanted to hear someone's actual experience with it and their opinions on the subject. I hope you found this post did just that. Patti's a great writer and mentor. You can follow her on twitter.

Check out my editor website for professional editing services.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Social Media for Writers

Social Media. Platform. Marketing. Those are what rest on the shoulders of published authors and yet-to-be-published writers these days. It isn't just about about getting published, we have to worry about selling our books. So these publishers tell us that we need to build a platform, find our readers, use the social media to market our books.

But does that really work? I'm not sure. Although I agree that publishers shouldn't be the only ones "advertising" our books. But most of the time, writers follow each other's blogs and websites. It seems like writers, publishers and the agents are the only ones reading our books. The pool we have created is just for ourselves.

Sure there are real readers out there that have nothing to with our world, but how many times does that happen? I don't want to be a pessimist, but there's a little part of me that makes wonder. That is all.

P.S. I'm doing a guest blog post here tomorrow on Auto-correctors. Don't worry; it's not as depressing as this one.

And here's my editor website. Thanks for visiting~

Monday, April 18, 2011

Should Writers Feel Bad For Agents?

Months of writing, querying, and waiting can add up to years. Writers wait and wait and wait some more. Sometimes, our frustration turn into anger and bitterness toward Agents who can't recognize our genius and the subjective business of publishing world. Some people go as far as hating literary agents and think of them as writers' enemies. Have you felt that? I'm sure a little part of us have felt that once or twice.

So, I wondered, what do agents do? Do they deserve the hatred?
My answer was a surprising "No." While I can't claim to know everything about agents, I did get a glimpse of their daily routines through their blogs and tweets. And believe me, these busy people are not leading the fashionable lives as I have imagined. Just like I know that a writer's life is not as fancy as I dreamed it would be.

Agents spend hours handling their business duties for the agency and their clients. Then they have to dig through the slush pile and email queries in the hopes of finding something they love to represent. Then they have to try to sell it. Sounds easy? No. I doubt it.

I used to think that these agents had it easy. All they have to do is pick a book they like, send it off to be edited, and sell it to a publisher over a cocktail. Wow, was I ignorant. Do writers don't get a brilliant story over night, sit for a few weeks writing it out, send it to a publisher, and have it published? Nope. It doesn't work that way.

When they finally do find that gem that they want to represent, they work through revisions, phone calls, and emails until it's DONE. Now it's time for them to sell it. This part, I didn't really understand. It's someone else's baby, someone else's pride, and someone else's career on the line. They're not invested in this. They have other things to sell; they move on. Wrong, again.

Agents representation of their clients is almost the same as representation of their work. They will be judge, advised, and turned down. They go through the same nail-bitting process as they wait for the ONE to say yes. It is their baby, their pride, and their career, too. It's business; it's not personal. But everyone takes it personally whether they admit it or not. They are vulnerable just as much as we, writers, are.

So what's the point of me blogging about this? Not much. I just thought that agents do get some bad rep. sometimes just because of nature of the business. I feel for the frustrate writers out there, but I think it'll be better that our time is spent on making our books salable. Because, in the end, these people will be your next step to becoming published. They might even love your work more than you. Who knows? Maybe they'll be your next BFF. So, cheer up. Keep writing. And if you need my professional editing services, please visit