Category Archives: Lame Advice

Editing – When to get help and how to find a good editor

This week, I thought I would answer one of the most common question I get asked – Can you recommend a good editor?

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My usual answer is – while I edit my own work, I can recommend the services of one of my beta readers. She does a basic editing service that she tries to keep affordable for new authors. You can find her at www.makingmanuscripts.com .

If that’s all you wanted to know, then feel free to stop reading – because I’m about to start rambling, and this could possibly get really boring.

As I stated above, I do edit my own work. I am by no means perfect – no one is – but I feel I do a decent job, and have been complemented on my editing (which is why I get asked about good editors a lot).

So, here is how I edit – first I write my manuscript from start to finish. When I go through it again, I do a quick edit, reading it in my mind and changing things around that stop the flow of my reading. I also flesh out my story this time around (it’s already been beta read) which is when I consider my story ‘finished’.

At this point, I send it back to my beta readers and ask them to please point out any errors they find, or any sentences that just don’t make sense.

While they are busy reading for me again, I start to go through the manuscript myself. I use a program called ‘Whitesmoke’ (if you download this, say ‘no’ to the toolbar – you don’t want it), it’s a grammar and spelling checker that is much better than microsoft word. However, you can’t rely on it to do the editing for you. I find it useful, as it points out words that I’ve used repeatedly, suggests comma and full stop placement and also puts the text into a new window, so you have to look at it outside of your manuscript.

Once I have finished going through the manuscript, I collate all of the errors my beta readers found, and check that I caught all of them. I then spend a couple of days reading other books to get my mind away from my own manuscript, that way, I can look at it again with fresh eyes.

Next, I convert my MS into kindle format and read it on my kindle, making notes as I go along and find errors. Normally, that’s where I’ll leave it, but if I have enough time, I’ll run it through a text to speech program – like coolreader (on android) and listen to it read in a robotic voice. Doing that is a great way to find any errors you might not be seeing, because in cool reader, the voice pauses at commas and fullstops, and you can hear if the text flows or stalls.

I write fairly succinctly the first time around, so this method works well for me. Although, as I am starting to get a lot busier these days, for Too Close, I have enlisted the help of an assistant who helps me with the day to day running of my business and also edits for me. So this time I stopped after my first major edit (the one with my beta readers and Whitesmoke) and then sent it to her – this way I’ll have more time to start working on my next manuscript, I’ll be much more productive this way (I hope!)

Now, this method may work for you if you’re fairly confident in your own ability to edit your work. If you did some sort of literature/ linguistics degree at uni/college, you may feel that you have a fairly good eye. But, if you are reading your work and you can’t wrap your head around all of those grammar rules you’ll find at websites like http://www.grammar-monster.com/ or http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl, then it may be time to find some help.

If you are friends with other writers on Facebook or some of the other social media websites out there, then you may be able to get a recommendation from one of them. Although, if you don’t have any connections yet, a simple Google search, will bring up a bunch of different editing services.

A good editor will be very busy, so be sure to find one early. However, a big question is – how do you know if an editor is any good?

A great way to know, is to read a couple of the books they have worked on – every book you read will have a couple of errors in it, simply because humans work on it, and not one of us is perfect. But, if you can find errors everywhere, then move on – try out someone else.

Also, have a look at the reviews of the books they have worked on – some reviewers LOVE pointing out that there are grammatical errors in a self published book, so you’ll find out if there are any problems that way.

Well, I think that’s it! If you made it this far, you just got all the advice I can come up with on this subject – HOPEFULLY, it has been somewhat informative.

Next week I’ll post a new FAQ. Until then, happy writing (or editing as is most likely the case if you happened upon this post and don’t even know who I am).

Take Care,

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Getting all your ducks in a row – Focusing on timelines

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I have recently had quite a lot of questions about my process. How do I write? What advice can I give? Can I recommend editors/beta readers? etc.

I’m always happy to answer the questions of budding authors, and I thought that perhaps I should answer some of the questions publicly as well – especially for those of you who are like I was in the beginning of my writing journey and feel a little funny asking an author for advice (I used to stalk blogs for info)

Today, I thought I’d talk about focusing on timelines. It’s an easy thing to mess up and one that you really don’t want to (lest you get flamed in a very public way).

I only have my own experience to go on, so here is what I do  –

I write my entire first draft and simply let the events unfold in front of me. I have my timeline in mind, but I try to simple write instead of worry (that’s kept for later).

Once I’m finished, I grab a piece of paper or I use the writing tool on my phone, and go back to the beginning of my manuscript. There, I work out exactly what time of year it should be and what season it is. I want to make sure my characters are dressed appropriately for the season they’re in. I want to make sure they’re ageing correctly. On top of that, I need to make sure that I’m giving everyone enough time between events and I need to also make sure that when I’m referring to past events, that I reflect the correct about of time passed. 

I then systematically work through my m/s, writing down each event, as well as when and where it occurred, checking that I have ‘all my ducks in a row’.

It all seems very simple, but when you’re writing a book that spans a year, or even a decade – you can very easily get your facts mixed up and leave your reader feeling confused, and very few people enjoy confusion.

Key Points –

Think about exactly when your book starts.

What season is it?

How old is your character at each point?

How much time does your book cover? 

Have you addressed the change in seasons? (this may seem really silly, but as a reader, I’ve often questioned why characters are wearing next to nothing in the middle of winter)

Have you made sure the appropriate amount of time has passed between ‘events’? (Don’t have something life changing happen one day and then have everyone acting ‘normally’ the next day)

I had a quick search on the internet and came across this interactive timeline – perhaps someone will find it helpful  http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/timeline/

I’ll pick another question to answer next week. Although, if you have a specific question you’d like to ask – feel free to leave a comment or contact me via www.lillianaanderson.com

Hope this has helped on some level! I’m possible really crappy at this advice giving jive.

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Don’t get upset over bad reviews.

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I have been on a few different forums lately, talking to other authors about whether or not we read our reviews and then how we react to the bad ones.

Some are fine either way, while other others can’t stand to look at all and a handful only look at the early reviews and then move on.

Me, I read them and while the first poor review I got was disappointing, it was soon squashed down by a whole host of glowing reviews that made me realise that perhaps, as I writer – I didn’t totally suck.

Bad reviews seem to travel in groups. I don’t know what it is, but I notice that whenever I get one poor review on a title, a whole bunch of them come on in to join it. But, for me, as long as overall I have more good than bad, it’s not a big deal.

Let’s have a look at my latest bad review on Amazon for A Beautiful Struggle, it’s actually what prompted me to create this post because it is the complete opposite to what a lot of my other reviews have to say –

1.0 out of 5 stars Corny
Not a big fan of this one. It was very long drawn out and corny. Very predictable ending I am afraid.
Now why shouldn’t I be upset by this? Let me show you why.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Struggle
This was a really great book I highly recommend it to be read. A good love story with twists that you do not see coming. Would love to read the back story.
I suppose I could have found one of those 5 star reviews to show you that rave on about how awesome I am, but I chose this one, because it was short, sweet and to the point. The 1 star thought I was predictable, but the 5 star didn’t see the twists at all – it’s all about perspective really isn’t it?
What is it about the 1star review that makes it more valid than the 5star review? Does the fact that that person could break down my plot and not be surprised at all make her a better judge of my work than the reviewer who fell in love with my characters and was shocked by the turn the plot took?
The answer is each review is valid in it’s own right – it’s simply someone else’s opinion. One reader loved it, the other reader hated it. But you  know what? I didn’t like Pride and Prejudice. I know, I know, I should be drawn and quartered for that, and I’m so so sorry, but I just didn’t enjoy it. I love the premise behind it, but as a page turner – it just didn’t work for me. But me thinking that, doesn’t make it any less of a masterpiece right?
You see what I’m getting at? A bad review (or even 20) doesn’t make your own ‘masterpiece’ any less of one in someone else’s eyes.
Overall, A Beautiful Struggle has a rating of 3.8 out of 5. It was my very first work of fiction and I’m damn proud of it. Someone telling me they thought it was boring or predictable, isn’t going to change my opinion of it. Just like someone telling me it’s fantastic isn’t going to make me think I deserve a Nobel prize. I love my characters and I love the story. More people like it than they do hate it, so that’s a pretty fantastic thing in my mind, and I see very few books out there with a one star rating, so there are readers out there for all of us, who hear our voice and see our vision exactly how it was meant to be – but that 1 or 2 star reviewer, just wasn’t one of them.
So what if someone hates it? I hate grapefruit, but that doesn’t stop the shops from selling it.
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