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What makes a book unremarkable? One author/reader’s views – very well stated!

This link came to me from one of the writer’s in the local writer’s group I used to attend, who I believe follows this blog. The author who wrote this article came up with a way to review other author’s books, and what about them makes him lose interest. He has evaluated those reasons for losing interest in this blog post in a very effective manner, which could give any author an opportunity to look at their own work with an eye to seeing if those flaws are present. Not surprising to me, poor editing is in the top three. Show, don’t tell is another – also not a surprise. The lion’s share of the top issue concerns goes to story building, which is also not a surprise. Here is something that should not surprise us either – good beta or alpha readers can help resolve the first two, a good copy editor or developmental editor can also help with the first two, but no one can help you produce a good book if you don’t have a good underlying plot, strong characters, and consistently believable material to begin with!

http://creativityhacker.ca/2014/08/26/the-5-most-common-writing-mistakes-that-break-reader-immersion/

Now – being a scientist, I am aware that you can make statistics tell you just about anything you want it to tell you. Also, being aware of the nature of statistics, I am aware that this fellow is working with a very small data pool and using highly subjective analysis. However, given those limitations I believe that he has been forthright in his presentation and representation of what data he has accumulated thus far, and has limited the subjective nature of his research with multiple checks to the point that the material is extremely valuable. 

It will be interesting to see future results with more data available, or to see if the process could be replicated. Anyone else out there interested in trying this? Or know someone using a review process similar to this so the results can be compared?

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personal stuff

I know that I am not doing a great job of blogging at least once a week as I resolved to do, but things always happen that make it difficult to get everything I wanted to do in a week done. Usually it is work that is eating up my time, but I haven’t really had a lot of work in the last couple months. Which is just as well…

This last couple of months has been actually about four months long, and extremely hectic and tedious.

My adult stepson’s car is dead, dead, dead – so dead it is now a neat little cube on someone’s scrap metal pile – so he is without transportation other than friends. Actually his friends have stepped up and done right by him so he is not asking me for much by way of ‘taxi service’ which is a relief, but there is the occasional run during bad weather. He at least remembers to say thank you!

My adult but disabled daughter has never had a license due to her seizure disorder never being completely controlled, so I have always been driving her all over creation. More so lately as she has had a lot of appointments – some of which I hope will result in her getting transportation assistance to medical appointments at least. But also more running her around because she is spending a lot of time at her boyfriend’s place, and he also does not have a vehicle. He sometimes will ask for a ride to work if I am over there picking her up anyway (it is only a few blocks the wrong way so not a big deal, though he did quit asking me to run over and drop him somewhere after I had a disagreement with him over issues unrelated to transportation).

My youngest is having some medical issues as well, and is not able to drive at night. That means I have to go pick her up and run her to the ER if she is having a problem at night, but she needs it so there it is.

My husband can’t drive for a few months – he had an unexplained seizure-like episode in October and then continued to have seizures up until he quit smoking in late November. Doctor said “No work, no driving until six months after last seizure” so he is stuck with no driving until the day after his birthday. I have almost always done most of the long distance driving (on visits to relatives or if we are going to anything more than thirty miles away), but now that he is not ALLOWED to drive, he is complaining non-stop about my driving (in town or on the highway) and comes up with at least one errand every day that I need to take him on simply because he is bored out of his skull with sitting around the house. This is on top of the fact that he has had a doctor appointment either here in town or over to the VA hospital clinics in Iowa City (seventy-six miles away) at least twice a week since October. I understand his boredom, but I am tired of his complaints, and am just not used to all this running around.

Under normal conditions I would run my daughter to appointments and out on errands a couple of times a week, and not go out much more than that. All of these errands and appointments and just DRIVING people around is really impacting my time management! I spent nine hours just sitting in my car one day, taking one person after another to one place or another – and that was just one day!

Arg!

Oh well – with hubby not driving I finally got him to trade in the older van and the pickup he hated driving (big old Ford F250), and got a smaller car with better mileage. Even brand new it has half the payment that the pickup had on it. It is good for now, and when he can start driving again I have him convinced that we can get a much smaller pickup that won’t cost as much and will be more economical (I hope so anyway). This just goes to prove that every dark cloud has a silver lining – you just have to look for it!

Maybe I will be able to post a real blog soon. Something about reading, writing, or publication!

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Heartland Book Design, HBD

This company is VERY good at book design and I really enjoy working with them. If you are considering self-publishing, you may want to contact them. The website focuses on textbooks, especially mathematics, as they are set up to develop formulaic material better than most design companies – but they really are versatile and can work with most topics as well as with indie authors of novels.

 

http://www.heartlandbookdesign.com/

 

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Jason Tesar and Awakened series

Posted on Jason Tesar’s thread about his Awakened series, but wanted to post it here as well:

I have read a lot of books, edited a lot of books, and studied a lot of theories, ideas, and books – including religion, humanities, and theology text books. I have read religious books (including, among many others, different versions of the Bible).
I want to say that I have never come across any better description of angels then what Jason Tesar has come up with for this series, and setting it in a sci fi book was just a huge bonus.
It has made me reevaluate my own internal expectations of what an angel ‘should’ be like. Thank you for giving me some food for thought, and a great read at the same time.

Visit jasontesar.com to see more information on this established and simultaneously up and coming series of books that are progressively improving over time as Jason moves to spending more time on honing his writing skills in order to present his vision in a clear and effective way. Kudos Jason Tesar!

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/jasontesarcom/122369167814373

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Why I Love My Job

I am not sure what I like most about my job as a copy editior – being able to help authors improve the quality of the final product they are writing, or getting to read the book before almost anyone else!

Admittedly, what I read for the edit is not usually what actually ends up on the stands. Since there are always changes suggested in the edit process I rarely get to see the book in its finished form unless I am given a copy or go buy it (which I have been known to do), but all the same it is great to get to follow a book through all the drafts and revisions. Seeing a book go from its beginning stages, and following it through with a final editorial read after the majority of edits have been finished – what an adventure it is!

Still, I think that being able to help an author provide a better book excites me more than anything else. I feel great pride in seeing an author improve – not pride in myself, but rather pride in the author who has worked to learn new skills or build on skills they already have; learned to ask the questions that need answered to get to the heart of the issues they recognize they have or have learned they need to explore; or embraced suggestions that help to improve and expand the writing they are doing.

Ever since I was tutoring writers while I was in high school, through college, and now – I have always enjoyed watching that little light bulb flash into existence in the eye of the student when they recognized something new that would improve their skills and writing. I think that because I know I will always be a student (learn something new every day – it will keep your mind young!), and I will always be a teacher (what better way to remember what you have learned?), I will always love my job!

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Steps to Book Publication

I can give you self-publishers and indie authors an idea of the order of how things get done on the industry side, because I do a lot of work for a book design company, although I know that I do not know everything. Since you are doing it all on your own I thought you might like an idea of some of what is involved behind the scenes.

The first parts are for the author to do, the rest is where support personnel come in: beta readers (usually other authors or writing groups), agents (if you are lucky), publication editors, structural editors, copy editors, keyboarders or formatters, interior designers, cover artists, proofreaders, and printers. Some of these don’t apply to everyone, some apply to anyone who wants to produce a quality product, some to only print books, some to eBooks, some to all books, and some may never apply to the indie author who is self-publishing but can give a little bit of insight into the book industry.

  1. Write the first draft.
  2. Re-write 3 or 5 times.
  3. Get some beta readers (you can join an author’s group online or see if there is a local writer’s group in your area; colleges usually have one and often will welcome non-student writers).
  4. Do another draft.
  5. Before you decide if you want to publish an eBook or send the manuscript to a publication company or agent, you need to ask yourself what is best for you. If you are going to self-publish there are a lot of steps to take before doing the self-publish, if you want to do it right. If you are going to submit to an agent, you might want to get an intro to that agent from another author (another good reason to join a writer’s group). If you are going to submit it to a publishing house, do some research and determine which publishers print the books in your genre, what their guidelines for submission are, what they require for print and format for submissions, and how many copies they expect you to send if it is going to be hard copy – this is usually available on their websites but you may need to enquire. If you are submitting to an agent or publication company, you might want to have a structural editor or copy editor look it over before you submit it. Ask yourself this: How many authors submit books to publishers every year? And will they even bother to read my submission if it is not structurally sound and ‘clean copy’ (meaning minimal typos and mechanical errors)?
  6. Send it to the structural editor for big picture info (unless you have a line or copy editor that can pull double duty and provide that service as well, or the agent is doing that for you).
  7. Do another draft.
  8. Now you need to get a copy editor to find the things that beta readers never notice, since they are usually authors and miss the same things you would. Structural editors focus on the big picture, and don’t really attend to punctuation and grammar unless it smacks them in the forehead. The copy editor will (hopefully, if you get a decent one) catch grammar, mechanics, and even some of the structural issues.
  9. Run through the corrections and decide what to keep and what to toss out. Notice things that are consistent issues so you can work on improving your writing.
  10. Do yet another draft – you are almost done doing drafts!
  11. Get an editorial read done, though this is not always needed. Usually a copy editor can double at this part, doing a follow up of things that have been changed from the original to the current, but it is not a substitute for the copy edit unless you are an exceptionally clean writer (i.e., great grasp of grammar, understand punctuation and other mechanics of writing, and don’t need to rely on spell check or grammar check, etc.). This step can and often does follow the next step.
  12. Now keying, formatting, and proofreading – in that order. Proofreaders are there to catch the things that aren’t keyed right, and if you are using a service to format they should include proofreaders unless you are providing a fully keyed product ready to format. Some authors use formatting programs from different sources and do it themselves. This means you need to compare the finished product to the manuscript you started with and either have a proofreader go through it, or PROOFREAD it yourself, for sections that went missing in the formatting or were added incorrectly; as well as correct word breaks, change things that are not well broken in the page, tweak and twist things into place so the page has improved continuity and flow and visual appeal. Meanwhile watching for the inevitable errors that everyone so far has missed – because they are there. Keep in mind that most professional proofreaders do NOT actually read the book – their job is to make sure that there were no changes made between the manuscript authorized for print and the keying and formatting of the manuscript. They are required to work at such a fast pace that they do not really pay attention to content, although they are stellar at noticing niggly little typographical or mechanical errors in the ‘final’ manuscript. This is why it is that nearly thirty years ago I failed at proofreading, which was my first position in the book industry – I kept reading the manuscript and it slowed me down.
  13. Next, cover design – even if it was really the first thing you conceptualized – but get the blurb checked by your beta readers, copy editor, and maybe even some random folks out there in the world, before doing the cover design. That way you know you can get at least a one-line blurb inset into the front, and the full blurb or else reviews onto the back. This is often done simultaneously with the format and design of the interior, in the event that art needs to be consistent throughout. BUT if you are paying for one thing at a time and working to self-publish, that sometimes is not financially possible. Sometimes a very simple cover is better than a really complicated one – as long as the artwork is original or intriguing.
  14. Publish it! This is assuming you know that you are indeed self-publishing. At this point, having paid for all the steps up until now yourself, you probably better know that you are self-publishing or you just wasted a lot of money, because publishing companies use their own software and will re-format and re-proofread, and maybe even go back and re-edit the whole thing. Then they will determine what cover art will be best able to attract the largest portion of the intended audience, and they will change your pre-conceived cover design to suit the demographics of the audience that THEY think your book is targeting.
  15. Don’t forget to add an insert promoting previous or upcoming books in the front or back, as well as a note that tells us something about you, the author (with links to websites for readers to visit to see about upcoming books or other books already published as well as information on you, how to contact you, and what things you are up to – like book signings or conventions you are going to attend). Knowing something about you makes you real to the reader and they will become fans because you respond to THEM.
  16. So – you next need to find that online publication promoter, or hire a printer to print your book and try to sell hard copy.
  17. NOW start looking for avenues of getting it out there into the internet as a viable piece of reading material if you haven’t been doing that all along. Have a website? Even if it is one of those freebie ones? Post the titles of your work and your upcoming work. Got a blog? Use it. Got Facebook? Start a business page as an author. Don’t know any beta readers? Start a group of your own on, and police it to keep your name out there and visible, even if all you do is post the list of rules once a month. Use your author name on all of these things. You want to interconnect everything as much as you possibly can so you increase the possibility of reaching more people!
  18. Remember – the fans and readers are the ones that pay for the books you slaved over, so make sure that you find a way to let them have a voice! The wide variety of available social networking tools out there will help you reach your target audience if you use good tags on your blog, occasionally promote your site, and you actually respond to the comments where appropriate! Having a running conversation on your page or blog with several fans at the same time keeps you in their email and therefore in their minds. Ideally you have been posting running commentary on how long before the book will hit the market and where it will be available, so you have folks already wanting to buy it before it is even on the shelf/website!

Hopefully that all made sense and will be helpful to someone. Long winded today, aren’t I? I re-did this thing four times before I was totally happy with it, then edited it three times once I posted it…

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L. Jagi Lamplighter

This is a link to a series of writing tips, tricks, and techniques posted by L. Jagi Lamplighter, a published author and I hope a friend. The link is posted with permission.She has a lot of really good advice for writers of fiction.

http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/works/nonfiction/writing-tips/

She touches on things that range from how to bring a character to life, to how to hook a reader and keep them hooked, and more.

The art is the cover for her newest book, not yet in print.

Image

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