critique group

Why you need a critique partner or writing group and how to find one

How can it be that the very thing you crave most as a novelist—that other people read your book—feels impossible to allow once you’ve finished the darn thing? There’s always a reason to dissemble: Just one more draft … Just your spouse and no one else … Just the first scenes, just your favorite chapters Read more about Why you need a critique partner or writing group and how to find one[…]

Decide Now, Decide Later: Decisions to Make Before Your Edit

The internet is afloat in advice about the different types of editing your book could use: developmental editing to optimize the story, line editing to polish the writing, copy editing to steer the usage and style, proofreading to catch remaining errors … I’ve got one of those articles on the types of editing on my Read more about Decide Now, Decide Later: Decisions to Make Before Your Edit[…]

Editing

Should you use volunteers to proofread your book?

New authors often wonder why they can’t skip paying for a professional editor and crowdsource their editing instead among volunteer readers. Or what about using that neighbor who’s a retired English teacher? She says she’d only charge $200 to edit your entire book. Couldn’t you save big money with crowdsourced editing? You could—but you wouldn’t be Read more about Should you use volunteers to proofread your book?[…]

Best books on writing fiction

Best Books on Writing Fiction: Recommended books for novelists

The craft books I most enjoy reading are tough tomes with new techniques of breaking down and analyzing recalcitrant manuscripts. But the best books on writing fiction, the ones I keep within reach on the shelf just past my teacup (Earl Grey, hot), are simple, straight-talking introductions to story structure and writing. Like all books, Read more about Best Books on Writing Fiction: Recommended books for novelists[…]

Formatting your manuscript

Formatting your manuscript for editors and agents

Formatting your manuscript to industry standards is a must-do if you’re submitting your novel to an agent. If you’re a self-publisher, you’ll score major points with your editor and formatter by sending a clean file. When you want your work taken seriously, it should look as though it deserves that respect. You want the publishing Read more about Formatting your manuscript for editors and agents[…]

Revise your manuscript

How to Revise your Manuscript: First Draft to Final Draft

Writing a novel is such a minuscule part of writing a novel. People who’ve never written anything longer than a school paper have a hard time imagining that pouring all those words onto the page isn’t the major part of the battle. Experienced authors know better. Writing the manuscript is just a fraction of the Read more about How to Revise your Manuscript: First Draft to Final Draft[…]

File name

File names that show your manuscript revision status

When your whole story lies ahead of you, it’s easy to naively assume you’ll name your manuscript file TheGirlWiththeFuzzyManuscript_Orig, then go to FuzzyGirl_Revised, and maybe finish with TGWTFM_BetaFeedback. What you may not have counted on generating are the two dozen variations of your book now enthusiastically mating inside the directory folder for your novel. You’ve Read more about File names that show your manuscript revision status[…]

Perfectionism

Beating perfectionism and procrastination as a new author

Every writer wants to become that noteworthy debut author who’s the darling of the bestseller charts and book blogs. With that kind of pressure, it’s no wonder so many authors fall prey to perfectionism and procrastination. Editing and publishing feel like a mile-high wall that’s impossible to scale. Maybe you’ve effectively taken yourself out of Read more about Beating perfectionism and procrastination as a new author[…]

Ready for editing

Is your book ready for editing?

Nothing makes an editor sadder than slogging through a manuscript that isn’t ready for editing yet. Let’s not embark upon a journey your manuscript isn’t ready to take. Really. As exciting as it feels to move one step closer to publication, typing “The End” is only the close of the very first step. The majority Read more about Is your book ready for editing?[…]

RAM

Help! My edit is choking my computer!

Bad news: You just got your manuscript back from the editor, and your computer has collapsed in a fit of pique. Every time you open the document, Microsoft Word stalls out. The only thing still moving is your cursor, chasing its tail like an eternal puppy. How can you process your revisions if you can’t Read more about Help! My edit is choking my computer![…]

Invest in yourself

Your editing budget: How much is your creativity worth?

Your daily Starbucks fix: it’s today’s point of comparison for all things reasonably considered “small change.” But did you realize that the bill for a daily cup of joe in the United States—that’s something like $3 a day—adds up to about $1,100 a year? Somehow, that doesn’t sound like small change anymore. Coffee on this Read more about Your editing budget: How much is your creativity worth?[…]

story revision

How to revise the early drafts of your novel

Nobody wants to scale the stony gray wall of revision. Nobody. Not even those crazy Spartan racers. (You go, Spartans.) A novel revision stares you down with the same inscrutable gaze of a blinking cursor on a blank page. How on earth should you begin? You start rereading your manuscript. Something’s misfiring; you can hear Read more about How to revise the early drafts of your novel[…]

querying a novel

Should you query an incomplete novel?

Quick, what’s the fastest way to sabotage your efforts to get an agent for your book? Answer: query your novel before it’s ready. If you’re a novelist, you’re not ready to query until your manuscript is completely written, fully revised, and ready for its close-up. Don’t be misled by advice intended for nonfiction authors, who Read more about Should you query an incomplete novel?[…]

Editing and Revision

The editing and revision process for self-publishers

Whoa, just look at that flowchart! That’s way too many steps! Why, yes. Yes, it very likely is. Few self-published authors can afford all of these editorial production steps. Few would want to even if they could. But the truth is that this does mirror the traditional editorial and revision process. If a publishing company Read more about The editing and revision process for self-publishers[…]

Developing story skills

How to develop your story revision skills

Are you guilty of trying to put lipstick on a pig? As my colleague Jami Gold confided via email, “I’ve seen far too many authors consider themselves ‘edited’ just because someone did a comma check, but my reviews and impressions of a story are almost always about the story itself. We can’t emphasize that enough, Read more about How to develop your story revision skills[…]

Rejection

How to cope when your manuscript query is rejected

Writers have this thing about rejection. It seems edgy or romantic somehow to count rejection notices, to clutch them to your breast like the beads of a diabolical rosary with the power to damn or redeem your creative power for eternity. That’s an awful lot of malign intent to ascribe to an agent who might Read more about How to cope when your manuscript query is rejected[…]

The Author's Survival Guide to Track Changes

Updated: Author’s Survival Guide to Track Changes

If you’ve never used Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature before, the idea of getting your manuscript back from an editor filled with all sorts of lines and squiggles you have to do something to in order to keep your novel from plummeting precipitously through a fiery ring of digital destruction and disappearing into the black Read more about Updated: Author’s Survival Guide to Track Changes[…]

Regional English usage

Mixed Signals: Why you shouldn’t mix British and American English in your novel

Why does your editor keep changing grey to gray in your book? You like the way grey looks. It’s listed in Merriam-Webster as a “variant spelling of GRAY”—that makes it legit, right? Unfortunately, mixing American vs. British English doesn’t work that way. For an everyday Joe, mixing English usage from all parts of the world Read more about Mixed Signals: Why you shouldn’t mix British and American English in your novel[…]

combining edits

Can you combine types of editing to save money?

If only it were practical to hire an editor to “give everything a quick once-over—and let me know if you spot any plot holes along the way.” The problem is that different types of editing zero in on entirely different areas of your book. Asking an editor to combine edits and multitask their way through Read more about Can you combine types of editing to save money?[…]

Improve Your Writing: How a growth mindset changes everything

The gestation period of a nascent novelist is ridiculously lengthy. Turning out enough practice novels to effectively grasp the form demands more time and patience than many aspiring authors are willing to give. What if you could accelerate the learning curve with one-on-one feedback from an editor or writing coach? You can—if you come into Read more about Improve Your Writing: How a growth mindset changes everything[…]

Find a compatible editor.

Find a compatible editor who fits your style

Your editor is more than a nameless someone who “checks your work.” Whether you write as a creative outlet or a tolerable way of making some money, you deserve a compatible editor who connects with what you’re all about. You deserve an editor who gets you, who gets your work, and who lifts up what Read more about Find a compatible editor who fits your style[…]

Progress reports on editing

Progress Reports: What’s happening during your edit?

It’s 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your manuscript is? It’s like being trapped in a replay loop of the old TV public service announcement reminding parents the kids should be home for the evening, safe and sound—only this time, it’s your manuscript you’re worried about. You sent your baby to the editor a week Read more about Progress Reports: What’s happening during your edit?[…]

types of editing

Types of Editing: A Practical Guide

If you clicked on this article hoping to finally figure out the difference between line editing and copyediting, allow me to break it to you: there are no industry-wide definitions of editing types that everyone agrees on. This isn’t just a situation of traditional publishers calling certain editing one thing and self-publishers calling it another. Read more about Types of Editing: A Practical Guide[…]

professional editing

Should you get professional editing before querying agents?

Everyone has an opinion about whether you should get professional editing before querying agents with your manuscript. There’s the story about the agent who turned down the author once he found out someone else had edited the manuscript. There’s the story about the agent who claims she no longer reads sloppy manuscripts because she gets Read more about Should you get professional editing before querying agents?[…]

How long does editing take?

How long does professional editing take?

When you’re eager to see your book in print, it’s tempting to look for an editor who can promise your manuscript back in just weeks or even days. Buyer beware: Do the math. If an editor promises to turn your manuscript around in little more than the time it takes to read your book, you should wonder Read more about How long does professional editing take?[…]