Thursday, July 16, 2015

Editing services, a step in the right direction

As I've said before, like most new Indie authors, I attempted to do everything myself.  I made my own covers, I edited, I proofread, and I formatted.  Of the four short stories I published, two had decent covers, I found errors in all of them post-publication some of them embarrassingly obvious), but they all seemed to be formatted properly. Yay me, right?  When I made the decision to re-release the stories in a collection, entitled 4Play, I knew I needed to up my game.  Finally taking the advice of successful authors I've had the good fortune to meet, I had the cover for my next release created by an experienced cover designer (see June 17 post here).  The next logical step would be to enlist the services of a professional editor.

I know what you're thinking.  How can a newbie afford editing services?  I was certain I couldn't but I had been assuming it was out of my reach without ever actually looking into it.  What I found was a wide range of rates and services available.  Some charge by the page, some by the word, and some that fit within my budget.  How do you choose from a list of unknowns?  You ask other authors and make your questions the right ones.
  • Do you use an editor and if so, who?
  • Would you recommend your editor to others?
  • Do you feel you received the services you paid for?
  • What did you learn during the editing process?

Based upon recommendations, I contacted Red Quill Editing (visit RQE's website).  I spoke with Ekatarina Sayanova at length about my project, and together we determined what services would fit into my budget.  Here's where you need to be practical about the numbers.  Total up the expenses for your book.  Determine an appropriate list price for it, then calculate how many copies you'd need to sell to turn a profit, or at least break even.  In my case, it will be a tough go to make those sales, given I'm a new author and there is more supply than demand in my genre.  However, there will be times you have to invest in yourself.  If you think of your fledgling writing career as a business, most new businesses have to front load costs for the first two years  Worst case scenario is I will end up with a professional product in my catalog of which I can be proud and that makes it worth the money to me.

A funny thing happened as I prepared my manuscript before forwarding it to Red  Quill.  Even though each of the four stories had been reviewed, edited, and proofread multiple times before being published, I found I was looking at them through a different, more critical, lens.  I made a surprisingly large  umber of changes  Some were subtle, some significant, and a few were "oh, my God, what was I thinking?" moments.  I believe knowing my words were about to be seen by professionally knowledgeable eyes made me work harder.  I thought of it like the difference in how you straighten up your house before a friend stops by and how you clean when your mother is coming for a week.  Whatever he reason, my MS was better for it.  I'll be posting more on this topic as 4Play moves through the editing/proofreading pipeline.

A BLURB ABOUT 4PLAY - Coming in September
Can I pick a favorite story in this collection?  No, that would be like choosing a favorite dog among my pack.  I do often favor particular characters in a story or book, and usually not the main character for some unknown reason.  In the story "Second Chances," I am crazy fond of Claudette, the owner of the gentlemen's club where most of the action takes place.  She began life as a minor supporting character named Jessica with only a few lines.  Jessica didn't survive long in my imagination, poor thing, and when I changed her name to Claudette, she came to life fully formed.  I can clearly see her, a strong, proud, African-America woman of style and intelligence  Most importantly, her own life experiences made her supremely qualified to be the catalyst that would alter the destinies of Tracie and Adam.   Tough, demanding, yet graced with a mother's heart and compassion, Claudette rocks "Second Chances."

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