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[…]

Be a more effective reader.

Be a More Effective Reader: Learn to read like a novelist

If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.—Stephen King Did you hear the one about the songwriter who doesn’t listen to music? She doesn’t want her creativity to be tainted by another musician’s sound. On the rare occasions that she makes an Read more about Be a More Effective Reader: Learn to read like a novelist[…]

Writing a series

Series Writing 101: Resources for planning and writing a series

The very first decision a series author has to make is what type of series to create. Are you telling a single story across many books, or are you writing many books based on common elements? The big-daddy benchmark of series writing is the trilogy. Trilogies have come to be expected in genres like speculative Read more about Series Writing 101: Resources for planning and writing a series[…]

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[…]

Reasons novelists should read

The problem with being a novelist who doesn’t read

Do you know your business? It’s all very romantic to claim that as a novelist, you’re a creative spirit with no head for the mundanities of business and marketing. The truth is that no agent or publisher wants to work with a clueless aspirant, and no self-published title will make it without an understanding of Read more about The problem with being a novelist who doesn’t read[…]

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[…]

author's reading list

Author’s Reading List: Recommended craft titles for fiction writers

Nothing revs my editorial engines higher than a new way of explaining a storytelling or writing technique. My family gets put out with my workaholic ways when they find me curled up on the weekend with my craft book TBR (to be read) pile instead of a “recreational” fiction title. (Shh, don’t tell them I’m Read more about Author’s Reading List: Recommended craft titles for fiction writers[…]

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?[…]

beta reading

The quick and easy guide to using beta readers

Oh, no … You didn’t just ask your spouse, your mom, or your best friend to read your book and tell you what they think, did you? Every author needs test readers—impartial, unbiased test readers. As much as your squad may want to help, beta reading is one area where friends and family don’t qualify. Read more about The quick and easy guide to using beta readers[…]

critique and feedback

How critique and feedback help your book

One of the most insidious ways to hamstring yourself on the way to publishing your first novel is to be overly cautious about sticking your head out of your shell. When you hide your writing until you’re “ready,” nine times out of ten, it means you’re hiding from feedback. Sorry I had to call it Read more about How critique and feedback help your book[…]

find editor

The author’s guide to finding and hiring an editor

The first thing you’ll discover when you’re ready to hire an editor is just how many people offer editorial services. There are editors for your story and editors to catch your typos. There are editors who contract with publishing companies and editors who moonlight. What sort of editor do you need? How can you find Read more about The author’s guide to finding and hiring an editor[…]

Publishing goals

What are your publishing goals?

Can you imagine the extradimensional bliss of watching your book become the next hot thing? While many authors dream of being the next Mark Dawson or Hugh Howey, in our hearts, we all know how rare that kind of success really is. But while the common wisdom tells us to shoot for the top, planning Read more about What are your publishing goals?[…]

Should you credit your editor in print?

Editors have a reputation for wanting to keep their work behind the scenes. Even the freedom of self-publishing authors to generously acknowledge and credit their editors’ contributions hasn’t done much to change that. Why are editors so darn sensitive about being credited in print? You might think an acknowledgment or credit line would be universally Read more about Should you credit your editor in print?[…]

10 kinds of books anyone who writes fiction should be reading right now

Do you know what’s hot in your genre right now? What are fans reading more of? What are they reading less of? Whether or not you consider your book “like” the bestsellers, today’s hot titles are what your book will be competing against. Even if you don’t buy a copy to see what they’re like, Read more about 10 kinds of books anyone who writes fiction should be reading right now[…]

The two things authors should do every day

As an aspiring author, you probably always pictured yourself tucked away somewhere cozy for long stretches of intense writing and then kicking up your heels afterwards in an explosion of creative renewal. What you probably didn’t expect was the everyday routine of reading and writing. Welcome to life as a working author. Writing professionally means Read more about The two things authors should do every day[…]

What is your writing style?

Writing Style: What it is—and what it isn’t

What makes up an author’s writing style? You’d think it would be skillful writing. But all too often, authors are told weak writing habits are excusable—and sometimes even worthy of acclaim—because they represent hallmarks of the author’s individuality and style. Don’t be fooled by such shenanigans. Spare us the tired tales of how This Bestselling Read more about Writing Style: What it is—and what it isn’t[…]

Accepting feedback

How to handle editing and feedback on your novel

No author wants spend time changing a bunch of commas in their manuscript—except when the editor recommends deep changes, at which point changing commas is often all you feel capable of doing. Every writer feels the sting of opening a document file filled with red ink. But when the entire editing process becomes a battle Read more about How to handle editing and feedback on your novel[…]

content vs. copy editing

Developmental editing vs. copyediting—which do you need most?

If you could only afford one round of editing, should you choose developmental editing or copyediting? Developmental (content) editing ensures that your story is strong and vital. Copyediting (or line editing) crosses all the t’s and dots all the i’s. A purchase-worthy book needs both—but whether you’re hoping to be picked up by a publishing Read more about Developmental editing vs. copyediting—which do you need most?[…]