DO I REALLY NEED AN EDITOR? (Part 2)

GUEST BLOGGER AND EDITOR-LYNN SURUMA returns to explain the different roles of different editors.

So, you know you need an editor but what kind of editor do you need? After reading an excerpt of your manuscript or, sometimes, the entire manuscript, an editor will prescribe the process necessary. That prescription will be based on how close your manuscript is to a finished product. If you have a manuscript you want to submit to a small publishing company or to a potential agent (a necessary step if you’re going to approach a major publishing company), look for an editor who wears more than one hat, someone who does content or substantive editing and copy editing.

What is Content or Substantive Editing?

Fiction or nonfiction, a manuscript must be organized in a way that makes sense to the reader and tells the story you want to tell or delivers the information you want the reader to get. You know what you want to say, you know what you expect the reader to get from your book but, unless it is organized well, your readers can get lost. If they do, not only will they lose interest, but you will lose an opportunity for future readers.

A content editor will flag rough patches during a cursory read of your manuscript and will suggest a reorganization that will make sense to the reader and help your content emerge to its best advantage. This process may require shifting paragraphs around, deleting distracting text and/or writing additional text. Organization can get muddled, and narrative threads can get tangled if not lost altogether, when you’ve written several drafts. Among other potential landmines:

  • Does your narrative proceed logically?
  • Are your fictional characters developed enough to seem real and are distinct enough to the reader to tell one from the other?
  • If you are writing a sequel to an earlier book, did a character you killed off in Book 1 show up again in Book 2?

Editing can get pricey. If you are concerned about cost (and who isn’t!), consider choosing several individuals whom you believe to be your potential audience to read your manuscript before you submit it to an editor. They may not catch everything but, at least, you’ll have an opportunity to address glaring trouble spots before the submission.

What is Copy Editing?

When new writers think of editing, they think of copy editing: spelling, grammar, punctuation, incorrect word usage, consistency, and typos, although the latter is usually considered the purview of proofreading.

  • Do you confuse the meaning of some words, like capital/capitol, peak/peek, eminent/imminent? Are your participles dangling?
  • Did your character ask a question but there is no question mark?
  • Did you capitalize a word on one page but not on some others?
  • You named the main character’s sister named “Deena” at the beginning of your novel, but you changed it in a rewritten later chapter because it sounded too close to the name of another character, “Dinah.” You renamed the sister, “Sara,” but forgot to change the name in the earlier chapters.

Even though the process is not considered “copy editing,” your editor will also make suggestions about changes in style to help you present a clear narrative that flows well and moves forward. This is line editing and addresses issues like redundancy; over-use of a word or phrase; sentences/paragraphs that are too long or are overloaded with difficult vocabulary; and the occurrence of too many clichés.

The editing process at a publishing house is more specialized than what is outlined above but, first, you have to get your foot in the door. The point of all this is for the writer and the manuscript to be presented in the best light to interest an agent and a publisher.


Atlanta-based Lynn W. Suruma, editor and writer, has more than 45 years’ experience editing a wide variety of products, including books, articles newsletters, brochures and pamphlets, theses, proposals and reports. Her published work includes children’s stories, magazine articles, and poetry.  Since 1990, she has worked with Teachable Tech, Inc. as editor and writer of curriculum products for such clients as CNN for CNN Newsroom; The Weather Channel for The Weather Classroom; ABC Inc. for ABC Classroom Connection and ABC NewsConnect; and, for SAMHSA (US Dept. of Health and Human Services), Building Blocks for a Healthy Start.

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DO I REALLY NEED AN EDITOR? (Part 1)

INTRODUCING GUEST BLOGGER AND EDITOR-LYNN SURUMA as she explains why as a writer you need an editor!

You have read and reread your story over and over again. You are certain your piece is perfect ⸺ after all, you’ve practically memorized it word for word! And that’s the problem: You have been “living” with the material for who knows how long and you read what you expect to see, not necessarily what is on the page. Another pair of eyes will be more likely to spot something you missed.

And this is only one reason why another pair of eyes is invaluable.

All writers have their little quirks, those style peculiarities which show up in everything they write. One writer will start off 80% of his sentences in one paragraph exactly the same way. Another will use the same trite phrases over and over. And a third writer, no matter how many times you remind her, still forgets to put her ending quote mark outside the period. Regardless of the type and degree of the error, every writer wants to present the best work possible, not only to interest an agent or a publishing company but, also, to satisfy the reader enough to return to pick up the next book.

You may think you are ready for publication but, surprise, surprise, maybe you aren’t quite ready at all. The question you have to ask yourself is not “Do I need an editor?” but what kind of editor do I need? The answer: it depends on the condition of your manuscript. A prospective editor who requests sample pages to read first will be able to tell you what kind of editing you will need, about how long it may take and how much it will probably cost.

Manuscript editing falls into these two categories, generally: copy editing and content editing, although there are others. See next week’s Blog about the editing process.

Atlanta-based Lynn W. Suruma, editor and writer, has more than 45 years’ experience editing a wide variety of products, including books, articles newsletters, brochures and pamphlets, theses, proposals and reports. Her published work includes children’s stories, magazine articles, and poetry.  Since 1990, she has worked with Teachable Tech, Inc. as editor and writer of curriculum products for such clients as CNN for CNN Newsroom; The Weather Channel for The Weather Classroom; ABC Inc. for ABC Classroom Connection and ABC NewsConnect; and, for SAMHSA (US Dept. of Health and Human Services), Building Blocks for a Healthy Start.

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Build a Book, Build Your Business

Why would writing a book help build your business? People prefer to do business with an expert. If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your business specialty, you should consider writing a book. You may have already thought about it and dismissed it, considering the number of books and experts already available to your client.  Or, maybe you don’t know where to start. My advice, start. What will you have to lose? Writing a book to teach or reach others doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple and direct, and informative enough to be beneficial to your potential reader or client. If you are wondering who will publish it, don’t sweat it. Publish it yourself. Or not. You have the option to choose how you will release it.

Writers Work - Get Paid to Write

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knows? You may have expertise that a traditional publisher will want right away. Can you share your knowledge uniquely and entertainingly? Think about it. Either way, don’t discount the advantages of self-publishing of your book. Your ability to remain in control and to reap most of the benefits with one less middleman should be your determining factor of how to get it published. The other essential element in making that decision is your targeted audience. Your target audience may not be the same audience that will put you on the New York Times’ Bestseller’s list, but it could be an audience that generates earnings excelling that of most best-sellers or even well-sellers. For instance, if your book is about team building or is process driven, or any topic that helps employees in a large corporation, those corporations may buy more books than you could dream of selling anywhere. For instance, a company with 10,000 employees could potentially buy 10,000 books. Multiply that by your profit per book. $$$$. You can breathe now. But, take your book a step further. Create a seminar or speaking platform based on your book or your expertise in creating income streams in addition to your book sales. Think about it. Just thought I would give you something to think about today.

Dilsa Saunders Bailey is an independent author who has not only self-published three novels and a non-fiction book; she has spent most of her medical services career writing policies, bylaws, operations manuals, and more over the last 27 years. Dilsa is now coaching writers through the self-publishing journey and helping them to set up their businesses using their books as a marketing tool to build their platforms. If you want to learn more about how she can help you, contact her at dilsa@simplydilsa.com or join her blog below to keep up to date with her books and seminars.

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The Increased Value of Networking

Global Business - Chadive Raja ReddyHave you heard the adage about networking? It goes something like this, “your network equals your net worth.” A friend of mine, the great speaker, Richard Hardon, can easily motivate you to reach out to others to help you succeed to greater heights using that phrase. Without a doubt, he is right about that. But, I get something else from what he teaches, too. I understand that networking is something even more valuable than your net worth or its ability to open doors to increase your income. I get that networking is important because it allows you to connect in so many ways. For instance, during networking, you realize more intimately that you are not alone in your endeavors or your struggles.
For instance, a few months ago I was asked to share some self-publishing advice with a writers’ group in South Atlanta. If you are on the southside and want to join this vibrant group, they are called The Turtle Queen Author’s Club. The Turtle Queen is Pauline Mansfield who has written several books, two of which on how she survived domestic abuse. Ms. Pauline is a very charming woman whose heart is the source of her network. She hasn’t met a person that doesn’t instantly fall in love with her. Many of the writers in her group had been published traditionally and self-published, and many were seeking insight on the mechanics of writing and publishing. But, it was a sharing event that increased the value of their minds and spirits. Mine, too.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I attended a book club in midtown. I found it on Meetup and since it was sponsored by the Black Lit Society, a very active organization founded by author Tamika Newhouse, I thought I would check it out. Tamika is a young powerhouse. Having authored and published 19 books, she owns a publishing house, a production company, a book club and book review website, and is the founder the African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) Awards held every year to highlight the achievements of African Americans in the literary world. Tamika attended this event and shared her life’s successes and failures along the way during her exciting career. Again, in attendance were not just readers but writers and aspiring writers looking for that small crumb of motivation to keep at it, not giving up on becoming a writer. Ms. Newhouse was very easy to chat with, very open, and relaxed. I don’t think anyone walked away without some form of encouragement. What I walked away with though was something more than the networking value of hearing and seeing someone else’s success, but in comparison where I had not succeeded. I won’t use the word failure, because that I did not do that overall, fail. But, I didn’t succeed in moving forward with my writing and publishing as she did. And, that had been my dream as it had hers. You see, the lesson I walked away with from her networking event, was not to quit this time. She and I had attended our first ever book conferences in Houston, Texas years ago, exact event. At the time, we both had only one book. Yet, for me after spending hard-earn dollars on several book conferences later, I no longer believed that I was going to make it in the business, so I quit. She didn’t. She kept trying until she got it right. I stayed in my career and kept earning a paycheck. She worked for herself and built her empire.
Yes, networking with the right people will put you in the right position and afford you the right mindset to uplift your income, your net worth. But, overall, it’s those networking eye openers that uplift the soul as well and that net worth is priceless. So writers, get up from your computer, walk into the sunshine, and get into your car. Go meet someone new. Maybe they will increase your value to the Universe.
Dilsa Saunders Bailey, the author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to write out loud. The third novel in The Sperling ChroniclesNo Tears for Dead Men, is now available in Print and on Kindle.

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Writers! Having a Hard Time Staying Focused? You Are Not Alone!

pexels-photo-93405Too many times when I mention that I am a writer, the individuals I am speaking to tell me they want to write a book. And when I ask them why haven’t they, I hear the same excuses. You know the ones, not enough time, don’t know what to write, experiencing writer’s block, don’t know if they can, and on and on and on and on. I understand precisely how that individual feels because I have used the same excuses over and over when I am not writing.
You see, it’s taken me years to write four books, literally. When I left Philadelphia over 20 years ago, I trashed boxes of manuscripts. Looking back, I regret that wholeheartedly. I had written on hard copy pages using typewriters and word processors to generate thousands of pages of the written word. But, on my move, I decided to give up the writing dream and follow the career path that was taking me somewhere. An organization had recruited me in Atlanta, and I was happy. But, what I didn’t expect was to realize that the dream of becoming a writer would never fade. It would haunt me until nine years ago as I was searching for something in my basement in a box that had nothing to do with writing when I found a manuscript that hadn’t gotten tossed. It had survived, and it was a tale of a young southern girl facing the trials and tribulations of adapting to life in the City of Brotherly Love. I sat down on another box and started reading it. The fire in me reignited. I had to finish this book. And I did. That was my first attempt at becoming a writer and an independent author, though I wouldn’t have called myself that then. I stumbled through the journey and gave up again.
But, the writing bug kept biting me. So, three years later, I released number two in the series. Then dropped off the radar again. After that, I wrote a non-fiction book. Out of sight, out of mind is the term that comes to mind as I dropped off the writing radar again. Are you getting the drift here? One minute I wanted to write, and the next minute I was giving the hard work to my career. Why?  I told myself I had to make a living. I needed to earn money. Can’t earn money writing books. Right? So I lost focus, once again.
That bug was still biting though, so I wrote number three in the novel series and recently released it with an entirely new perspective. Over the years, I learned so much about the publishing world, and now I feel more focused. You see after all these years, that life’s purpose that I tried to ignore kept popping up anyway. My desire to be a writer had become an integral part of my jobs, writing policies and operations manuals, even newsletters, so I was writing anyway. It was just that type of writing wasn’t what I wanted to do. With that said, I hope, if you have the same struggles, staying focused on your life’s purpose, especially writing and publishing, that you stick around and see what we can learn from each other. Maybe we can encourage each other to STAY Focused. That’s my goal. All I want to do now is WRITE OUT LOUDER AND LOUDER. How about you?
Dilsa Saunders Bailey, the author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to write out loud. The third novel in The Sperling Chronicles, No Tears for Dead Men, is now available in Print and on Kindle.

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Creative Con Spiked My Creative Juices

MaryBMorrisonTamikaNewhouseAs I weaved through traffic or should I say as cars weaved around me on my way to attend Creative Con at Atlanta’s Auburn Research Library, I kept asking myself what value will this provide. Shortly after I arrived, I began to network naturally with other attendees patiently waiting to be let into the event. The first person I met was there to learn how to get published and the second person was like me, already self-published and aware of the mechanics of how to get a book written and into production. As soon as the event began, I realized many of us were there for the same reason, looking for the details on how to sell your books and the mechanics of reaching your target audience. Some of us already had a foothold, an audience, but also a desire to spread our voices wider. So as Tamika Newhouse, the founder, and creator of this conference, gave us a glimpse into her world and her vision to share her successes, we sat eagerly at the edge of our seats for the nitty gritty about the writing life. Soon after the event began, the answer to my question about the day’s value was answered. I walked out of Creative Con with three pages of notes. That may not seem like much to some, but the value in those almost illegible scribbles and some fuzzy pictures of PowerPoint are all there as I ponder putting them into action.
What did I learn? The first thing I learned was that I was not off base in my efforts to introduce everyone to The Sperling Chronicles. The second thing I learned was that there are many voices just waiting to be heard by the masses and the statistics of those thousands of self-published books had faces behind them. The feeling that our faces teetering on the edge of a cult, a society of those who need to be heard, to teach, to entertain, and to share had this universal, spiritual pull rising in the rooms. But, most of all I learned that networking with other writers, picking up tips from each other was as valuable as what the speakers taught us. One of the speakers, Mary B. Morrison, author of 26 books who is signed with Kensington Publishing, gave us hope that we, too, can become full-time writers. Other speakers gave us insights on social media, branding, marketing, and even the personal style and image we need to present to the world. All of it was worth my Thursday. There is more to come this weekend, but unfortunately, I can’t be there. You should check it out if you can! Remember, whether you make it to any of the Black Writers Weekend events or not, and no matter who you are, “don’t quit.” WRITE ON! WRITE ON!
Dilsa Saunders Bailey, author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to write out loud and share her journeys in the self-publishing world. The third novel in The Sperling Chronicles, No Tears for Dead Men, is now available in Print and on Kindle.