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Sue Archer

Wordsmith | Editor

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self-publishing

Coming Full Circle

I haven’t posted here for a while. At first, it was because I was taking on a lot of editing work—which was a wonderful reason not to have time to write! It’s been such an incredible experience collaborating with my indie clients to help them craft their stories, whether through the big-picture view of manuscript assessments or the nuts and bolts of stylistic and copy editing. I also had the opportunity to work on multiple series, and it was so much fun celebrating along with my authors whenever each new book was published.

Then something happened. As I experienced my authors’ passions for writing tales about kick-butt swords-for-hire or snarky urban sorceresses or courageous vampires or assassins with a fear of blood, it rekindled something in me—my desire to write my own urban fantasy novel. But I knew I was never going to get around to it if I didn’t even have the time to write blog posts!

So I made a conscious decision to only take on manuscript assessments going forward, and I set to work at seriously writing a draft of my own first novel after many years of starts and stops.

The indie authors I work with are the most generous people I have ever met. Now that I am the one jumping into the fray, they have been so supportive, offering advice and cheering me on. I have been so inspired by them, and I am thrilled to be working towards self-publishing my own story.

In Ottawa at the Byward Market with the talented Krista Walsh! (That's Krista on the left and me on the right.)
In Ottawa at the Byward Market with the talented Krista Walsh! (That’s Krista on the left and me on the right.)

Recently, I saw a Twitter post from an editor who was advertising her services by calling herself “100% editor”—someone who wasn’t a writer, and therefore would be a better choice as an editor because she was solely focusing on her clients.

As you might guess, I am viewing things a different way. I feel that by coming full circle, through experiencing the same challenges that my clients have faced in trying to bring their best stories to their readers, it can only make me a better editor.

I’m continuing to enjoy doing manuscript assessments, since I love working with structure and looking at how all of the aspects of a story can be reassembled to make it even stronger.

At the same time, I am writing, and I am so pleased to be able to say I have completed a full draft of my novel, which I am hoping to publish in May 2020!

I’m also going to do my best to write the occasional blog post again and share my thoughts on editing, writing, and self-publishing as I go through this new challenge.

Thank you to everyone reading this. I hope to post again soon! (Or at least, sooner than before!)

All the best,

Sue

 

 

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How Can I Afford Professional Editing?

Today I have a guest post on Andrew Knighton’s wonderful writing blog. I am sharing some tips on how to minimize the costs of professional editing. If you’re thinking about publishing a book but have been daunted by the thought of overwhelming editing expenses, I encourage you to take a look!

Editing
Picture by Joanna Penn via Flickr Creative Commons

Why You Should Try a Style Sheet

A style sheet is a critical tool that an editor uses to maintain consistency throughout a manuscript. Style sheets are not just for editors, though — writers also benefit from using them, both during the self-editing stage and when collaborating with a professional editor.

What exactly is a style sheet?

A style sheet is a place for capturing stylistic decisions on items such as spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. A style sheet is used by an editor to confirm that the appropriate style is being applied consistently throughout the entire work. The editor refers to it constantly, checking for accurate spelling and capitalization on all key terms and validating all stylistic decisions.

A style sheet is typically in the form of a simple text document. It consists of three main pieces:

  • An overview, which describes the work being edited and any style guides or dictionaries that will be used while editing.
  • Details on decisions relating to capitalization, punctuation, and other stylistic concerns (such as the use of abbreviations and italics).
  • A list of important words, including all proper names and unusual terms.

Why should I use a style sheet?

Supporting Quality and Consistency

By using a style sheet as part of your self-editing process, you can catch errors in the names of characters and places and smooth out any consistency issues that may jar your readers.

Style sheets are particularly valuable for authors who are writing a series. Once a style sheet is established for the first book, it can then be applied to future works.

Maintaining Control

With a traditionally published book, it’s the publisher who decides what style should be used in the manuscript, and the resulting rules are applied to the style sheet. Self-publishing authors, in contrast, have the freedom to decide how they want their writing to look. That’s not to say that their editors can’t provide stylistic advice — they definitely should — but the author has the final say.

When you provide your work to an editor without a style sheet and don’t make your preferences clear from the beginning, it will be harder for you to maintain stylistic control. Your editor has to guess at your stylistic preferences based on what he or she finds in the manuscript.

Preventing Issues

Your editor may have different ideas about style than you do. When you get your manuscript back, you don’t want to find out that some of your carefully capitalized words have been painstakingly lower-cased or that American spelling has been applied when most of your readers are in the UK. This will mean extra work for both you and your editor, which could result in higher fees. It pays to think up front about any preferences you may have, and call them out.

American quilt
A style sheet is like a quilt pattern — it pulls everything together into a coherent whole.

So how do I get started?

You may not have specific preferences about all the stylistic elements that an editor deals with. However, there are some common elements that you should probably think about (and write down on that style sheet). Please feel free to use my Style Sheet Template to capture your thoughts.

Overall Style Preference

Do you want your editor to use a specific style guide? The Chicago Manual of Style, for example, is a popular style guide for trade books.

Should American, British, Canadian, or another spelling style be applied?

Style Details

Are there words that need to be capitalized even though they are usually in lower case?

When should italics be used?

Do you have any preferences for the use of commas in certain situations (such as whether to use the serial comma)?

Do you have any preferences about the formatting of other punctuation marks, such as dashes or ellipses?

Word List

Have you noted all the following in an alphabetical word list?

  • People / character names
  • Place names
  • Words that have unusual treatment (such as capitalization or abbreviation)
  • Rare or difficult words
  • Invented words

With these questions answered, you have the makings of a good style sheet. Now it’s time to chat with your editor and make sure you are both on the same page.

***

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

If you have used a style sheet, did you find it helpful?

If you haven’t, do you plan to use one? I encourage you to take a look at my Style Sheet Template to help get you started.

I’m happy to answer any of your questions about style sheets – just leave a comment below.

The Many Ps of Book Marketing

The following is a post about book marketing from my Doorway Between Worlds blog that I thought I should share here. I hope you find it useful!

Doorway Between Worlds

I love learning, and the Editing Goes Global conference was a great opportunity to pick up all sorts of useful knowledge. Last week, I shared some tips from editor Arlene Prunkl on how to write good comments. Today, I want to pass along some nuggets of wisdom I learned from Beth Kallman Werner in her session “The Many Ps of Book Marketing.”

Ms. Werner has worked as the Director of Sales and Marketing at Kirkus and is the founder of Author Connections. She has over twenty years of experience in editing and marketing, and it definitely showed in her presentation. I was scribbling notes like mad. I couldn’t possibly include all of her thoughts here, but I thought I’d share some of the highlights.

Her session focused on the four Ps of marketing (product, position, price, and promotion) and how they relate specifically to book marketing.

Product

Werner…

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