Tag Archives: editing

Getting Grammatical: What's the Big Deal with the Passive Voice?

An author I work with recently asked me, “What’s the big deal with the passive voice?” My first instinct was to answer, “Well, would that question have made as much sense as ‘The big deal with the passive voice is about what?'” Three things stopped me:

  1. First of all, that’s a very New York Jewish sentence construction and so I didn’t want to dis my forebearers
  2. Second of all, it was snarky, which isn’t a great way to communicate anything
  3. Third, she’s a bright, articulate, and talented writer who deserves a better answer.

So I thought I’d give it here. Continue reading Getting Grammatical: What's the Big Deal with the Passive Voice?

Advice for the Self-Publisher

Last week, I gave an interview to Inkspokes, a website dedicated to independent authors and their readers.  The interviewer, Nelson Suit, who is one of the editors at Inkspokes, asked me a number of questions about my own experiences as an author who published his own work, but then asked me — as both a writer and a publisher of others’ writing — what would be my advice for folks who were looking at self-publishing. Well, a lot of people who are smarter than I am have given thought to that subject, but after considering the question for a bit, here’s what I came up with:

DK: My two biggest pieces of advice will both seem a bit heretical.

The first is that self-publishing doesn’t mean that you have do everything yourself — or that you should. The chairman of Penguin/Random House doesn’t copyedit every book, nor does he try to design his own covers. He’s your competition. Budget in the time and (if you can) the money to outsource the parts of the work of publishing that you really can’t (or as I said shouldn’t) handle yourself.

The places where you will really serve yourself best by finding someone else to help out? Highly technical processes like print layout and cover design. It’s possible to create your own ebooks if your work is narrative and doesn’t include much in the way of complicated formatting or images.

stillpoint-shlomo

You should absolutely have editors at each of the three stages of editing — development (before the “final” draft is finished); copyediting (after you’re done developing the book but before you’ve had it laid out); and proofreading (after layout/conversion and just before publication). Do you have to hire professionals? I’m not unbiased, I recognize, but I highly recommend it.

Continue reading Advice for the Self-Publisher

The Journey to Goddesses

Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine by Joseph CampbellIt may surprise you to know that Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) has come out with a new book: Goddesses — Mysteries of the Feminine Divine. The story of how this book came to be is a testament both to the enduring power of the late American scholar’s work and of the power of the subject itself.

In 1980, Campbell and his editor, Robert Walter, were in the process of creating Campbell’s magnum opus: The Historical Atlas of World Mythology (a work Campbell sadly never completed). The book would be published by a new company that they were setting up for the purpose; Alfred van der Marck, the publisher with whom they were working, pointed out that you couldn’t have a publishing company with just one book, and so Campbell and Walter sat down and drew up a list of books that they felt should be part of this new venture.

The first book on the list was a book on a subject that Campbell’s friend and colleague Marija Gimbutas had brought to the academic fore: the study of the feminine divine in all of its historical and cultural forms. Continue reading The Journey to Goddesses

Of Ebooks and Audio and Editing

Revising, reworking, removing by mpclemons/flickr.com. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Self-publishing doesn’t mean having to do everything by yourself!

Stillpoint Digital Press is proud to serve not only as a publisher of fine ebook, audiobook, and print editions, but also as a provider of quick, affordable, and professional ebook conversion and design, audiobook production, and editorial services.

We have helped small presses, agencies, and self-publishers to produce the books they want to create, and we’d love to work with you!

Contact us for an estimate today. For more information about our services, read on: Continue reading Of Ebooks and Audio and Editing

Spreadsheets to Galleys: How to Budget Your Self-Published Book

New Year, New Spreadsheets by SaraE

After I wrote recently about why self-publishers need to use professional editors, a number of folks emailed and commented, asking just how much such an endeavor would cost. It was a tough question to answer — I know what I would charge for many services, but it’s difficult to say what the market cost might be, especially for services that I myself don’t regularly provide. Understandably, some correspondents were anxious, wondering if they should jump in, not knowing what the whole process might cost.

This week on PBS.org, Miral Sattar, CEO of the publishing-services marketplace site BiblioCrunch, posted what I found to be a quite thorough rundown of what it might cost to put a self-published book through as professional as possible a publishing process.

She posited a fairly typical book, weighing in at around 70,000 words. She made no further stipulations — fiction vs. non-fiction, for example, or thoroughly workshopped, researched, and rewritten vs. hastely pulled together. The style, genre, and initial quality of the prose do make a huge difference in terms of the kind and amount of editorial work that needs to be done, obviously. Ms. Sattar was trying to explore a median case.

She based her standards and pricing on the Editorial Freelancers Association’s posted rate sheet, which is as close to an industry standard as exists.

Here in brief is Sattar’s rundown (each entry has a low and a high end estimate):

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In Which David Is Transported….

Dutch Flag

to Holland, and to Poetry-land, wherever that may be!

First, in a very new experience for me, I found that my article on editing, which went a bit viral on Huffington Post, has been translated into Dutch.

Wow.

Go, internet!

Second, in another first, Uvi Poznansky, who wrote the recently-released Stillpoint audiobook A Favorite Son (and whose audiobook for Apart from Love I’ve just finished editing — woohoo!) wrote a… um… poem about me.

Now, my mom’s a poet (and I’ll have more to say on that subject another time), so I’ve shown up in poems before before. Still. None (so far as I know) about me. This was incredibly touching. Here’s the poem, if you’d like to read it:

Ode to the Great Kudler

Seven Deadly Myths and Three Inspired Truths About Book Editing

Reworking, rewriting, removing by mpclemons, used through a Creative Commons license

I originally wrote this as a guest post for Joel Friedlander’s wonderful self-publishing resource site TheBookDesigner.com; it sparked a lot of great conversation and feedback, and it occurred to me that the information might be of interest to a more general readership. If you’ve ever groaned at typos, continuity errors, plot holes or just plain bad writing in a book or blog post, here’s my prescription:

I’ve edited lots of books — children’s books, fantasy, memoirs, self-help, textbooks, and especially books about myths. Myths? I like myths. Heck, I love myths — if we’re talking about myths as “great poems, [that] point infallibly through things and events to the ubiquity of a presence or eternity that is whole and entire in each.”*

If we’re talking about myths in the more negative sense of “untruths,” however, I like them less — especially if they’re myths about my profession and vocation.

Myths and Misinformation about Book Editing

There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about editors and what they do. Here are seven of those myths that I’d like to clear up:

Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.

In these days of self-publication and “service” publishers — who take a percentage of sales for letting the author do all of the work — you hear this a lot. “I’ve slaved over this manuscript for years. I checked it through a hundred times. Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar comes up clean. It’s ready for publication.”

Want an example of a professional book from a world-class author who convinced her publishers to put out the book as-is, without a deep developmental edit (see #3 below)? Look at J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Pretty good book, and it’s sold millions of copies, absolutely — but it’s at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be. There’s needless repetition, uneven pacing, and side-plots that go nowhere. You’ll notice that the previous and subsequent books in the bestselling series were much shorter and much tighter. Rowling worked more closely with her editors.

Here’s the fact: if you want your book to be strong, clean, professional, and appealing, for it to affect the readers as you want it to affect them, you need to have it professionally edited. There’s never been a text written that didn’t need editing. By the time you’ve spent weeks, months, or years on a project, you can’t see the words any more. You can see the ideas — the concepts, arguments, plot, and characters — but not every word that’s on the page, or that isn’t, or where there are gaping holes in logic or jumps in style. An editor will. It’s what they’re paid to do. Continue reading Seven Deadly Myths and Three Inspired Truths About Book Editing

Publishing Snake Oil

My guest post over at thebookdesigner.com has sparked quite a lot of good conversation, which is great. Good thoughts, good questions, good suggestions — the perfect blogging storm.

That post also connected with another blogger, Candace Johnson, who used my post as a jumping off point to discuss some of the shadier corners of the publishing marketplace, Snake Oil Salesmen in the Editing Biz. In particular, she’s discussing two kinds of questionable “services” that are offered to writers: first, a site that charges authors to become part of a mutual editing group; second, sites that offer to read and review your work for a fee. She discusses each of these in depth.

For what it’s worth, here is my response: Continue reading Publishing Snake Oil

Editor! Editor!

So I’ve had this experience a number of times in the past few weeks: someone starts talking about this wonderful Joseph Campbell book they’ve read, Pathways to Bliss

And I find myself feeling very shy.

Here’s the thing. Part of me is tickled pink—I spent two years of my life on the bloody book, and so it’s gratifying to hear that it had a profound affect on someone. Part of me is a bit astonished, because all I see when I open it are the typos. (I haven’t found a new one in a while—it’s been out seven years—but I know they’re in there somewhere, mocking me.)

And part of me bristles. Joseph Campbell book? Yeah, yeah, he’s the author and all of that, but who do think pulled the gorram thing together???

See, editors don’t do readings. We don’t do book tours. We don’t do radio interviews. And so we aren’t confronted with the affect our work has on readers on quite as immediate a level.

We also don’t get to toot our own horns. At least, not very loudly.

And yet there’s a part of me that definitely wants to say, “Hey! I’m listed on the title page too! My blood, sweat, and cerebral matter are splattered across every page of that book!”

Which is silly. But interesting.

Just thought I’d share that.