Hiring an Editor

How to seek out an EDITOR!

Who knew that those  of us who can tell great stories, share family recipes, or how to garden, or even write a sci – fi could publish ourselves.  What an accomplishment!

We can all pat ourselves on the back can’t we? We wrote a book! Not many can say they did that.  Now the next page in our story of how to self pub begins. You’ve spend countless hours writing, re-writing,  brainstorming… you know what I mean. Now it is time, time to share our baby that we labored over out in the big world. But wait, we have more to do, we need a good editor, and editor who gets you and your story. So that hunt begins with many interviews but in the back of our minds we are saying “I don’t need an editor to make comments, cut my book apart, and worse, tell me my sentence structure of punctuation needs repair…Ok, toss in a typo here and there and what will this cost?” But we do need that criticism and repair to make us better as writers.  It is an investment in ourselves and business.

I spent years writing my first novel and countless hours engrossed with my story. I spent time with my characters, dressing them, naming them, decorating their homes and who they loved and so on. I was happy there with them but  are they going to be accepted by the real world, not my world?  Then I finished it, all 560 pages and turned it into a trilogy since I could not let them go. I had to give birth to generations of the DuBois clan and glad I did.

When I went editor shopping I was determined to find a woman number one. I write about romance and, women issues adding an injection of paranormal. (spiritual)  So no way would a man understand a woman’s heart and how we think. Just like a male writer, he would most likely prefer a man to edit if book was male related. (So I think!) I also searched for an editor I could meet with face to face. No emails or calls. I wanted her to understand me, my character, my voice.

After a few phone interviews I was fortunate enough to be referred to a woman locally who was in journalism for over 20 years freelancing as an editor. After a cordial phone call, we met for coffee. She was so the opposite of me. There she sat quiet and reserved, no make-up, no frills, (Hope she doesn’t read this!) And here I am, bubbly, makeup, emotional and animated. Opposites do attract. She softy asked for 5 pages of the manuscript. I agreed and after our coffee I dashed home to send them off. I think my exuberant energy exhausted her.

The following morning there it was in my In box. I was so excited to see what an editor does.  I hit the key and opened the attachment to find all these red lines running over my sentences and comments to the far right. I was horrified that she did this and what did she do!  After a frantic call she told me she uses Word track changes and how to use it. After a phone tutorial with her I got it. I was blown away when I read it back. She turned those 5 pages of my manuscript into a novel, a book!!  I was in tears and read it at least 8 times out loud.

Dawn now edits all my work (except this blog) She is amazing. When I write I am fast and see it like a movie as many writers do. Dawn can find that missing pro -noun or verb or just that word I could see but not figure out what it was.  I had one scene where I lapsed on research mentioning lavender growing in NC in late summer. She sent me an entire link on lavender pertaining to growing seasons in North Carolina. Boy I felt stupid! So the characters stomped on dried lavender stalks. Besides it’s more pungent dry. 🙂

Here is an example of before and after I wrote this 3 years ago. This is my first attempt at writing.

BEFORE

   Jonathan walked onto the veranda  toward Olivia reaching  for her hand and pulled it up to his lips. With a  kiss, he placed her hand back on her thigh.    “It was pleasure to have met you, Miss Olivia. I will place these lovely flowers here on my desk to remind me of your smile each time I notice their fine, sweet fragrance.”  Olivia batted her eyes as she was stunned.

     “Well, that is a fine idea, Mr… umm, Mr. Taylor was it?.” Olivia said noticing Annabelle in the doorway. She turned back to look upon the river, feeling flushed. 

AFTER this is how I write now.

Slowly, Jonathan walked back on the veranda toward Olivia, who turned her head. He reached for her hand and pulled it up to his lips. With a soft kiss, he placed her hand back on her thigh.    “It was pure pleasure to have met you, Miss Olivia. I will place these lovely flowers here on my desk to remind me of your contagious smile each time I notice their fine, sweet fragrance.” He studied her lips as he spoke. Olivia batted her eyes as she was quite taken aback.

     “Well, that is a fine idea, Mr… umm, Mr. Taylor was it?.” Olivia found herself returning his gaze, but noticed Annabelle in the doorway. She turned back to look upon the river, feeling flushed. “Good day Mr. Taylor, good day now.”

See what I mean? I was so green and new. By the way we cut the book down to 404 pages. Yes, I had alot of repetitive paragraphs and jibber jabber that needed to go.

I have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge for my editor. This was the first book and even Dawn admits on my latest manuscript I write with flow and ease now. I am descriptive and animated. I inject more emotion and movement.  Afterall, this was my first book! Who knew! I also took a writing class and learned to let go of the punctuation, spelling and all those worries.  A writer is to write and editor is to edit.  My instructor gave me permission to WRITE! After that class a trilogy was born.

If you are not a literary major, get yourself a good editor. A second or third set of eyes will only excel and help you to be a better writer. My editor has been a friend, critic and taught me to be a better writer.

Hey, it’s all in baby steps isn’t it? When we first learned to walk did we run a marathon? When we spoke our first words did we read a book? Ah… no. We learned. Writing is a learning process and we are constantly evolving.

Would love to hear about your editing experiences.

Best, Diana Baxter, Dianabaxternovels.com

Next time: Cover design 

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Finding Inspiration

You’re a day dreamer I bet and love to escape into the world you see? Gifted with wild vivid imagination? or an artist seeing a blank canvas turned into art or a creative and writer who puts the escape on paper creating a story. 

Finding inspiration can come quick or it may take awhile. Perhaps it is something you heard, or saw or lyrics in a song. For me my fist novel started when I stumbled upon a vacant gorgeous southern home. Oh I always have been nosy wanting to peek in windows of vacant homes. As a former Interior designer and artist, it is just in my blood.

This home summoned me to come up on the veranda, check it out, peek inside and of course I did. That was the day back in 2008 that changed me. I became a writer and author. For years I was told by many to write stories due to my wild imagination but how? About what? Well there it was, that day the DuBois Manor series was born. Of course I turned this sitting beauty peaceful mansion into a crazy twisted tale of lust, greed and the paranormal! Of course I did, why would it be anything else?? 

So if you stuck having a brain fog wanting to write a new book or more books, look for inspiration. It’s all around you! I used to tell my Interior design clients the same, find inspiration, what makes you say, that’s it and go for it!

Happy writing,

Ok I had to change the original photo into something creepy, after it is a book of a haunted mansion cursed by a voodoo witch from the past!

Diana

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Finding that Book cover designer.

You worked so hard on that book. For years you thought about it then finally sat down and did it. Well then, Congratulations! Once you ‘re done  you go back re-read and make changes here and there.

Finally you interview a few editors and hire the one that does change your voice and gets YOU! Wow you are getting closer to the finish line. All the T’s are crossed, and I’s dotted and grammar is perfect but wait, just one more detail. You know what it is, the Book cover! Yup, the hardest part besides, marketing, synopsis’s and queries, is the book cover. (For most of us)

That colorful, enticing cover that lures a potential reader in like a fat worm on a hook out to catch a school of fish!  The colors, the graphics, the fonts. It tells what is inside and you have to cram that all on one page!  Almost a synopsis in a picture.

As an artist and Interior Designer, I thought “Why, I can do this!” Ah…NO! I tried and tried. I bought programs, I sifted through fonts and photos spending countless hours only to led to frustration. Face it, I am not a graphic designer nor a book cover designer. Who am I kidding? I am a creative person, a writer.

After numerous proof books from Createspace I had enough! It was time to hire someone who can help me. Yes, help me. I scoured the internet looking at designer covers and their work, blogs and websites.  And most of all, pricing. Face it, I am not sitting on a pot of gold here! Editing the first two books in the  DuBois series was costly.

I found a Book cover website and just fell in love with her affordable pre-made covers. She also will build from scratch your E-book, paperback, banners, You-tube trailers, 3-D books for your marketing materials. Melody also makes sure all the photos and or art has permission to be used. Wow, my eyes were glued to her site. This designer does it all and perhaps, just perhaps, she can help me…Please. I admitted to her as an artist and designer I am picky. Once she sent me samples, Ms. Picky here realized she should let a pro in the book cover field do her thing and SHUT UP!

We emailed to and fro and I decided I needed to step outside the closed box I was living in and let Melody do her job. That would be Melody Simmons, http://ebookindiecovers.com/  I have nothing to gain out of mentioning her name. I feel as a fellow artist, when someone does GREAT work and is patient with overzealous new clients, they deserve to be credited.

Onward….I purchased a pre-made cover to start and changed a few things. A few days later I opened my email to find an attachment from her labeled, DuBois Manor cover.  I hit the key and there it was…The cover…my characters in full color! OMG OMG… I jumped around the room. Finally, my cover tells the story of what is inside. She sent me the final JPG after a few adjustments and I sent it over to createspace for my proof book. Let me tell you, I nearly ripped it out of the UPS drivers hands! 7 years in the making of stops and starts and here it was. I ran inside, tore off the packing materials and broke into a smile running my hands over it. (I know, the drama! What can I say, I am dramatic!)

Book 2 in the series we started from scratch and just finished 2 weeks ago. Melody sent me to websites she uses to pick out my characters and so on. She made such great suggestions on the fonts how they need to carry through all books in the series, the color scheme, the position of the characters in each book.

At last, my frustration and worries were over. I was re-inspired to go back and write not wasting time creating a cover. That is not what I do. I am a writer!

If you are going through similar issues with your cover, just check out her website. You will be happy you did. Now I am proud to say these are my books and they are beautiful telling the story before the reader even opens it!

Enjoy!

Diana Baxter   DianaBaxternovels.com

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