Editing seminar snapshots – from Writers & Artists self-publishing day

w&alogoimage_00007smlAs you might have seen from various flurries on Facebook and Twitter, last weekend I gave a talk at the Writers & Artists selfpublishing event in London. There are some interesting discussion points I want to share, and some of you will have crawled out of Nanowrimo and won’t be in the mood for a giant reading task, so I’ll be posting them in short bites over the next 6 days.

Editing – many minds make your book better

My task at the event was to explain the various steps of editing and why they were important – developmental editing, copy editing and proof reading (here’s my post on a publishing schedule for indie authors ).

This care with the book content was an absolute gold standard for the day, and was stressed over and again – guided rewriting with expert help, and attention to detail.

JJ Marsh of Triskele Books  in her talk on how their collective works, said that the combined critical talents of her fellow authors had made her books far better than she could have made them on her own. Psychological thriller writer Mark Edwards, women’s fiction author Talli Roland all talked about the people who helped shoulder the responsibility of getting the book to a publishable standard. Jon Fine, director of author and publisher relations at Amazon, cut to the chase by quoting thriller selfpublishing phenomenon Joe Konrath : ‘Don’t publish shit.’ (Next time I’ll just say that.)

Some of the delegates didn’t need to be told anyway. From a show of hands, roughly a fifth of them had already been working with editors, in thriving professional relationships where their limits were being pushed and they were being challenged to raise their game. If there’s one advantage selfpublishing can give us, it’s the control over our destiny and artistic output, and many of these writers were committed to making books they could be proud of.

Eek, the cost!

True, good editing comes at a cost. Jeremy Thompson of the Matador selfpublishing imprint gave grim warnings about companies that advertise editing services for just $99. And it probably seems unjust that a pastime that should be so cheap has such a steep price tag. Writing is free as air, after all. But publishing isn’t. It never has been. No manuscript ever arrived at a publisher and went straight onto the presses. It went through careful stages of professional refinement – which takes time and money.

That said, there are ways to get useful developmental help without breaking the bank – here’s my post on 4 low-cost ways to get writing tuition if you can’t afford an editor.

Thanks for the picture, Henry Hyde

Tomorrow: how long to allow for rewrites
Have you worked with an editor or critique partner who helped you improve your book? Or perhaps the opposite….? Let’s discuss!

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  1. #1 by writeanne on December 1, 2014 - 11:45 am

    I work with an editor, the alchemist of prose, John Hudspith. Investing in his professional services has been more than worth it. I’ve learned an incredible amount. My writing is immeasurably better and fit for publication because of John. I also employ a proofreader, Perry Iles and a cover and book designer, Jane Dixon Smith (she of Triskele and Words With Jam). Writing is my business and yes, it’s loss making at the moment, but any business needs investment and it’s onwards and upwards with the team.

    • #2 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on December 1, 2014 - 12:15 pm

      Hi Anne! ‘The alchemist of prose’ – what a lovely description. That’s what we editors hope is our authors’ response, even though we may push them hard. From my point of view, I like helping a book achieve its potential. And I like the fact that you name your creative crew here – Jane and Perry included. The Triskeles have assembled a good team and it’s nice to see them all getting recognition.

  2. #3 by johnnycrowman on December 1, 2014 - 12:54 pm

    Thank you, Anne. How kind of you to say. JD Smith also brought my covers to life, and I send all my clients her way. As for the inimitable Mr Iles, I also rely on his proficient eye for a final polish. There’s proofreaders and there’s ‘interested’ proofreaders. Perry goes above and beyond, bringing suggestions to the page as well as picking up your rubbish. Remember the graffiti in the bogs at Area 51? That was Perry’s doing. A good team is important if you want to be proud of your finished masterpiece.

  3. #5 by jilljmarsh on December 1, 2014 - 1:38 pm

    Well put, Roz, and thanks for the mention. I’d add that learning from good editors is part of my development as a writer (an ongoing project). They stretch me further than I thought I could go.

    • #6 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on December 1, 2014 - 6:28 pm

      Thanks, Jill! That’s a great point. Each editor I’ve worked with has taught me something I’ve carried into my arsenal. And we never stop developing.

  4. #7 by Catriona Troth on December 1, 2014 - 4:26 pm

    There was some magic in the air five years ago when a group of refugees from a couple of public critique sites set up their own by-invitation-only site in a dusty corner of cyberspace. Somehow that site attracted some of the most talented, committed, insightful and generous writers you could ever hope to meet. We all learn an astonishing amount from one another in terms of writing. Different people brought different expertise to the table – some with an ear for the music of the words, some with an unerring sense for when pace flagged, others with an eagle eye for hair colour that changed mid-flow or a car driving around ten years before the first model left the factory. Out of that creative soup have come distinguished trade published authors, author publishers, Words with Jam, Triskele… the list goes on. I am privileged to have been in the right time and place to have been part of it. If nothing else, it gave me courage to tear apart the book I had thought all-but finished and start again almost from scratch, editing it at the deepest level and raising it to a different level.

    • #8 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on December 1, 2014 - 6:50 pm

      Beautifully put, Catriona. And you highlight here the benefits of working with people who can shed light on your own blind spots. Wish you could have been there on Saturday – Jill and Jane’s story of Triskele was an inspiring example of what can be done when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

      • #9 by Catriona Troth on December 1, 2014 - 6:58 pm

        I wish I could have been too! But one way or another, by this time of year, the coffers were dry 😦

  1. What’s Going On? | jjmarsh
  2. Editing seminar snapshots – how long to allow for rewrites | Nail Your Novel

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