Tag Archives: copy edit

Ten things I’ve learned from my copyeditor

Despite being the single highest cost of self-publishing so far, the copyedit will be the one expense I will never regret.

That would have been the list if this article was entitled “A single most important thing I’ve learned”. But it’s not, so there are ten more below. Which I guess makes it eleven…never mind! Anyway, after getting eight quotes and four samples from Australian and American editors, I chose Lu Sexton of A Story to Tell to copyedit Shizzle, Inc and I’m blown away with the results. To be honest, I had a lot of reservations about paying for editing. After all I’ve already had a structural edit; I’ve revised the draft no less than a hundred times myself; I speaka English real good. Handing over cash for a promise of making your draft better is scary, even if that promise comes with a professional reputation and an exceptional sample edit.

In the end it was probably that sample that did it. Lu didn’t just pick up grammatical errors and turns of phrase, she made a few clever suggestions for heightening the drama and comedy without losing my protagonist’s voice. I had the balls to ask if the rest of the manuscript would get a similar treatment and got a polite answer that yes, it would. And it did. I got back not just an improved manuscript, but a lesson in writing, customised just for me. Here’s the list of lessons I promised, in no particular order:

1. Confusing turns of phrase, such as “my destiny was to be discovered”. Isa thinks she is meant to be discovered, but Lu thought it reads as if Isa is about to find out what her destiny is meant to be. I couldn’t agree more.
2. People jump off bridges, not from them. Snakes are venomous, not poisonous.
3. How often my characters “waived” their hands and got their feelings “crushed”.
4. Continuity and circumstances not matching what characters are doing. It’s lunchtime, but Isa is not hungry. Dress is matte in one sentence and shimmery in the next.
5. Explaining things too much. Once the character is in a lobby, you can call it “it” and not have to remind the reader that we are still talking about the lobby. They will get it.
6. Character’s voices not matching their choice of words. The posh evil antagonist slipping into slang, or dim Isa using formal speech.
7. Impossible combinations of actions, such as “I managed to close my mouth and said”.
8. Rhythm. Amazing how cutting a few words or moving sentences around improved the flow. For example, when describing a person, its awkward to move from face to shoes and back to face. Unless of course it suits your character, which in my case it didn’t.
9. Using more contemporary references. It’s hard to pretend to be a girl half your age. Twenty-year olds would compare massive speakers to those that can be found at a Skrillex concert, not Rolling Stones.
10. I have writing tics. Several of them. Everything was “something-looking”. Metaphors are great, but there are more interesting ways to describe them.

Most of the suggestions were not just track changes, they were accompanied by comments explaining the reason for change. Not only that, I got a separate style sheet, to help my proof reader. I didn’t know those existed!

I could go on, but this is starting to get embarrassing. Plus, as we know, numbered lists attract more attention, and what is better than a nice fat top ten? So keep on writing, and start a savings account for the copyedit. You won’t regret it.


Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

When does it pay to pay a pro?

I got some good news and some bad ones. The bad news is that the cover designer completely ignored my specific directions and came up with this revised version:

I hated it on first sight, but just had to check on Twitter. Overwhelmingly, everyone else hated it too. Someone even said the lips and bubble gum look pornographic. Great. I’ve pulled the plug and asked for my money back under the designer’s 100% satisfaction guarantee. Not looking forward to their reply. Not sure yet if I’m gonna get anyone else or do it myself. One thing for sure, if I hire another designer, he or she will need to be local and willing to meet with me to discuss ideas before photoshopping bejeezuz out of stock images.

On other hand, I could not be happier with the copyeditor! I will post a more comprehensive review after I’m done going through literally thousands of her tweaks. Truly a value for the money and a must do exercise.

Next week is all about revisions and setting up a Kindle account. Should be a piece of cake, compared to the cover saga…


Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta…

Well, not a gangsta, but in charge. I got my peeps working on the copy edit and cover, you dig? Got myself a project plan and deadlines, targets and KPIs. (Do gangstas have KPIs? Or target revenue?) In any case, I will be published on Kindle in early August, and after a year of waiting by the inbox it feels damn good.

I also want to give a shout out to my mama, who didn’t buy the whole electronic thing and insisted that I print at lest one book for her to hold and proudly put on the shelf. Turns out you should listen to yo mama, cause this POD (print on demand) thing is bitchin’! I’ve compared a few major ones, like Lulu and Create a Space, and decided to go with Create a Space for now. Please do your own research, there are plenty of bloggers out there with much better attention span, who have posted proper comparisons. For me, the deciding factor was ease, as Create a Space is the affiliate of Amazon. The good news is, you don’t have to pay anything upfront. Personally, I will splurge on the cover design ($150 upgrade from ebook to paper cover) and probably a professional layout. To be honest, I can’t wait to hold my baby myself. I keep having visions of giggling hysterically on the bed, hugging the first edition to my chest. T-minus couple of months for that dream to come true.

Another exciting news is that after two years with Twitter, I have finally discovered Twitter Analytics. Literally, hours of entertainment. For example, it turns out that over the last week I’ve had about a thousand “impressions” per day. (I’ve been very unproductive in my “real” life). That means a thousand people per day have seen my tweets, and the average conversion rate of 11% means just over a hundred people per day clicked on, favourited, or retweeted my Tweets. (Warning: Twitter Analytics is more addictive than Clash of Clans).

Damn, it feels good to be in charge…Can’t wait to see what the draft of the cover looks like or what magic the editor does to my final draft.

T-minus a couple of weeks!

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Filed under Shizzle, Inc.