Book Editing

10 May 2015: Money vs. Art

A friend commented Friday about how fast I seem to be plowing through my current book project.  I told her that was probably because this book is just a little over half the length of my past books.   Where as my previous five novels were all part of  series that I wrote mainly for the joy of it (not initially intending to publish) I wasn’t too concerned with the business of writing.

Since I’m now thinking as more of a writer/entrepreneur, I needed to cut down on the length of my writing.  I’ll admit it, I like detailed stories.  Not too much detail that you get lost it, just involved stories that suck you in.  It’s been a challenge to keep my book at its current length of 117,000 words.  All of my other novels were over 200,000 words, but from what I see in the market, shorter books seem to sell and take less time to write.  Still at 117,000, it’s long for a romance type novel, but sorry, it’s the shortest I can do and still produce a decent story worth reading.

I have to be honest and say that part of how I pick a book to buy on my Kindle is based on length.  I mean, I wouldn’t even pay 99 cents for a book that’s only 30 pages long!!  And yes, they’re out there, lots of them.  Sure I could write something like that, but how satisfying is that to a reader?  Not very would be my guess.  I don’t even bother to look at the book blurb if the book is less than 100 pages long in the book description.

So what are your thoughts?  Shorter books/stories to grab the cash, or longer stories that give the writer the chance to write something meaningful?  Is this money vs. art?  And if you want to be a writer for a living, do you have to stoop to the shortest book/story possible to pump out the volume you’d need to make a living?


3 May 2015: Editing the Uneditable

As I’ve mentioned before, my current writing project is a novel based on my real life internet dating experiences.  I’m working in real emails and texts that I exchanged with the scam artist who romanced me then asked for money.  In the process of crafting those emails and texts into a readable book, I’ve been forced to edit Antonio, my scammer.

The question I’ve been struggling with is exactly how much can I edit before I lose his voice?

Antonio Giovanni, my scammer, said he was born in Italy and living in South Dakota.  I believe this was simply a ruse to cover over his imperfect English.  His grammar and use of the proper tense of verbs, adverbs and adjectives was pretty bad at times.   Problem is, that was part of his cover.  I believe he is really in Malaysia.  So if I edit out all of his writing errors, I lose part of his character in my story, the scammer posing as an Italian immigrant in America.

BUT … who wants to read a novel full of grammatical errors?  Ah, not you see my conundrum.

So, I’ve been doing my best to walk a fine line and edit Antonio’s errors down to a minimum while retaining enough to keep the foreign flavor of his character.  Let me tell you, it’s not easy.  I’m having to have the woman being scammed in the book comment every so often on his errors just so the reader of the novel will remember they are in there intentionally.  That’s another issue.  I don’t want my readers to think I MADE THE MISTAKES Antonio did.

So the question is … how do you take an email and make it sound like it’s a man from Malaysia posing as Italian immigrant living in South Dakota as written by a woman from Long Island who lives in Florida?

Yep.  That’s me, always the difficult one.  🙂



28 April 2015: The editor’s eye

I think once you become an editor, as I am of my own novels, you develop the editor’s eye.  Sounds like some disease, doesn’t it.  And maybe it is …

I was at work last week and glanced at a box the UPS man had just dropped off.  Low and behold I spotted an error with my editor’s eye.  Can you spot it???

Box at work

Yep, apparently the B in Bath towels should be capitalized, but the P in Pakistan doesn’t need to be???

So do you ever spot anything with your editor’s eye?  If so, let me know so I can share.




26 April 2015: Finding my inspiration

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to find inspiration, ways to challenge myself as a writer in the oddest of places.   Fortune cookies being one of them.  I love to find ways to work in a little saying or fact into my books in a seamless fashion.

Here are a few good fortunes I’ve collected over the past few weeks:

Wondering how I get so many fortunes???  My coworkers order a LOT of Chinese food for lunch.

Fortune - Let reality be reality cookie

Fortune - If you live out Your

Fortune - Read to Live

Fortune - Important Email coming

Another challenge I’m taking on is working in a few Snapple facts.  If you don’t know, most bottles of Snapple Iced Tea have little facts on the bottom of the lid.  I have a friend who is a compulsive Snapple drinker and saves her Snapple caps for me.  Here’s a few good ones I’d like to try to work into a book:

Snapple Cap 2

Snapple Cap 4

Snapple Cap 13

Snapple Cap 6

Sometimes I find inspiration in odd pictures people post on Facebook like this:

Angry Woman

I love this picture.  It’s practically a book in and of itself.  I mean, what happened to piss her off???  I love it!

So where do you find inspiration?


12 Apr 2015: MegaCon in Orlando

I went to MegaCon yesterday at the Convention Center.  It’s a huge SciFi, Anime, Cosplay, etc, show here in Orlando.  Here’s a picture I took walking in:


I went to do a little book promotion and scout for artists whose style might have potential for book covers.  I also heard that the artist section of MegaCon had authors as well, promoting their books.  This turned out to be a little blown out of proportion.  I saw 2 authors and a couple hundred artists.  I’m thinking I’m not getting a booth at MegaCon next year.  I did see one artist I liked, Karen Hallion.  Her design style would be great for book covers.   Here’s a few samples of why I love her work:

Karen 1Karen 2     

I feel my work going forward will mostly be in the romance category, but I don’t like traditional romance book covers.  Hunky guys area great and all, but true or not, their presence tends to say the words inside aren’t a great literary work.  Karen’s work is cartoonish, but in a classical, whimsical way that I think would lend nicely to what I’d like to have on the covers of my books.  I’m not sure her style would work on the book I’m currently finishing up, but for where I’d like to go as an author, I think she might work quite well.  But I’ve always got my eye open for an artist I can partner with, not only one like Karen, but someone to do all my book covers.  I need to redo the covers for my already published series (The Purity of Blood.)  What I have is fine for Ebooks, but I want to really punch them up to do the paperbacks.

Today I’m feeling like I got hit by a mac truck.  Yep, I way over did the walking yesterday.  I seem to easily forget I’m still supposed to be taking it easy after my surgery.


27 Mar 2015: Formatting text and emails into your novels

Been a while since I’ve posted.  Sorry about that.  It’s been hard to get back into the swing of things in the midst of my recovery.  Surgery sucks!!

So my new novel has brought up some new formatting issues for me.  Yes, I had some text messages in my last novel, but they weren’t as prevalent as this new book.  In the ebooks I’ve been reading as of late, I’ve seen dozens of ways to format texts, some good, some not so good.  But the first third of my current book is ALL EMAILS and TEXTS with just a bit of narrative thrown in to push the story along in an interesting way.  That’s a lot of indenting and date/time notations for texts and emails.  How do you format that and have it still be enjoyable to read???  Yes, this is my problem.

For texts, I’m indenting one character’s texts and not indenting the other’s so it kind of looks the way it would on a phone.  I thought this was more visual for a reader.  But I still have to put a date and time on it for it to fall into sequence, which I don’t like visually … but also don’t think I can lose.

For emails, I’ve been italicizing them with no indentation at all to make them stand apart from the regular narrative text of the novel.

But I still have to try and pare down the amount of emails.  My Scam artist was quite prolific in his emails, repetitive too.  I tell you it’s been quite the writing challenge taking the raw material of all our correspondence and attempting to mold and shape it into something a reader would enjoy.  But I guess I love it as well.  After writing my last series of five novels (The Purity of Blood Novels) this is something totally different.  I’m also trying to keep this book short.  Talk about a Challenge!!!  I love the details of a great story so keeping it moving fast is hard for me.

As a writer I think giving yourself challenges is how you grow.   Training yourself to keep the story brief, but interesting at the same time.  Taking on the challenges of formatting so many communication styles into something easily understood and readable is a huge challenge.   It will take time, but I’ll figure it all out and hopefully come out a better writer on the other side of this new novel.




4 March 2015: Editing Antonio

My current project is an odd novel to write.  It’s a strange mix of fantasy and reality.  The reality part of the novel is the first half, where I retell how I was romanced by my Malaysian scam artist.  I certainly wasn’t aware of this until it happened to me, but there are people in this world who deliberately target women on dating sites and romance them for a few months.   Then they have to go out of the country for work.  While out of the country, something will happen, like they get hurt on the job.  Then all of a sudden they have to come up with a large sum of money to pay a doctor bill before the can leave the country they are in and come back to your loving arms.  Many lonely women will send them this money and then strangely never hear from the love of their lives again.

Enter Antonio, my scam artist.  He tried, God bless his soul, but thankfully I was raised never to loan money to strange men no matter what the circumstances.  You should have heard the shock in his voice when he asked me for the money and I replied “Um… No.”  Thankfully Antonio came up with a better story than the broken leg one I read up on later, so I have something more interesting to write about, but I was amazed when I googled internet dating scams to find out how common this kind of scam is.

But what a good story beginning.    The first section of my book is almost completely the actual emails and texts that we exchanged with a little dialog thrown in to help it along.  But here comes the fun part, editing Antonio.  The man (or woman for all I know) knew how to write the kind of emails that make a woman melt, but also had atrocious grammar and punctuation.   The fact that I spend some part of every day fixing his emails and texts for him is a little … disturbing on some level.  I mean these were meant to hood wink me in a big way!  Yet there’s something satisfying in knowing I could have done his job better had I been born a low life like Antonio.  Yet, I can’t subject my readers to his grammar/punctuation errors.  It’s gets a little tiresome after time.

I also laugh a little when I think that a certain portion of my book won’t have been written by me.  But what is he going to do, press charges for copyright violations?  I think not, at least not after I already reported him to the FBI for internet fraud!  Poor Antonio.  😦   I’ll probably dedicate the book to him anyway.  After all, he was my inspiration.   Besides being one hell of a good story, I’m hoping my book will help educate women on the dangers waiting for them out there on internet dating sites like where my incident occurred.



8 Feb 2015: Even Fortune Cookies let you Down Sometimes

As I’ve mentioned before, I love fortune cookies.  Not just because a fresh one tastes great, but I’ve also used the fortunes as a writing challenge.  I have two bowls of fortunes in my house.  One with the not so good ones, and one with the potentials.  The potentials are fortunes I might be able to write into a book.  This has been my challenge on my last three books, find a way to elegantly work in a few of my fortunes.

But then and again you sometimes come across one that’s so bad, so strange, I’m not even sure I want to put it in with the clunkers.  I got one of those yesterday.  Here it is:

Stupid Fortune Cookie

WTF does “You have the exceptional ability to understand the fancies of marketable ideas” mean?  I mean what drunk guy at the fortune cookie factory came up with that one?  I mean it’s so bad, I kinda want to find a way to put it in a book.  I mean, THAT would be a challenge.  I guess I just have to figure out what it means first …. no easy task to be sure.

So does anyone out there have a clue what my fortune means???


1 Feb 2015: Recognizing your Common Speliing Mistakes

It didn’t take long for me to recognize certain unwelcome patterns in my writing when I began to edit my books in earnest.  Some of my mistakes were because when I write, I type so fast when I’m trying to keep up with my mind that my fingers seem to take their own short cuts.  Other errors were that I’d unwittingly been spelling a word wrong all my life.  Take wheelbarrow.  Okay, I’ll admit something embarrassing.  I always thought it was spelled wheel barrel.   In my mind it made sense.  It was like a barrel, with wheels on it.  Duh … I will say in my defense that I don’t think I ever saw it written out growing up, but my father certainly used his wheelbarrow a lot, and where I come from, it’s pronounced barrel, not barrow.

Another foible of mine, is that I type so fast that I sometimes type all the write letters in a word, but not in the right order.  Becuase is a word I do this to a lot.  I’ll type the word out becuase, switching the a and u around.   I also type that as taht.  Or if I want to type “it was as if it never happened,” I’ll type “it wa sas ifi t never happened.”  Right letters, right order, just wrong spacing.  Honestly, it’s very annoying.

I think my favorite of my weird typos is how I commonly type and extra apostrophe in a contracted word.  Can’t will be can’t’ and didn’t will be didn’t’.    I still do this to this day and it’s super irritating.

But on the upside, I’ve recognized where I go wrong and this is one of the reasons, when my mother was reading my final draft of my latest book, she commented on how few typos I had.

I was thinking a lot about this yesterday when I was reading someone else’s manuscript.  He has his own little errors he’s commonly making.  His aren’t like mine though, which are mistakes of speed, his are mistakes of ignorance.  He just hasn’t studied how to write fiction.  His consistent errors are that he is commonly putting the period after quotation marks.  “I’m going to the store, honey”.  for example.  The period should be inside the end quotation mark, not after.  Sometimes he does it right, sometimes he does it wrong.

His other error is that he isn’t putting a comma at the end of a quote in a sentence.  Example:  “I’m going to the store” Frank said as he walked out the door.  There should be a comma after store.

At least for him, once he’s mastered these little things, he shouldn’t make his mistakes anymore.  With me, it’s a little different.  I have the slightest touch of dyslexia.  Forget numbers, I’m hopeless at numbers, but I have to fight to keep my common typos out of my writing.  But the first step is recognizing what you do on a consistent basis, once you do, you can really improve the quality of that first draft and make your editing process that much easier.


'Hello, Acme signs? This is the Berger & Coles Law Office...'

30 Jan 2015: What’s a Reasonable Amount of Money to Charge for Editing Services

It occurred to me a while back that I should consider taking on some side jobs as an editor.  When I looked into the possibility of hiring an editor for my first novel, I was shocked at the prices they charged.  I was finding prices of between 1.75 cents per word up to 6 cents per word.  Seriously, if I hired old 6 cents to do my most recent novel, it would have cost me over $14,000!  Seriously!!!  Who on earth would pay that much money!

When I first started, I really could have used an editor, but instead I forged on and basically taught myself how to me my own editor.  Not all writers are good at this, but I think I am.  I think the proof of that was when I got notes on the first half of my book in progress from the lady who reads my final drafts (AKA mom) and she only gave me a sheet of paper with 5 or 6 notes on over 100,000 words read.  I asked why so little and she just shrugged her shoulders and said everything else was fine.  I noted that this was a far cry from the notes she gave me on book one over a year ago.  She sort of laughed in reply and said I was much better now and didn’t have half the mistakes I used to make.

Another family member is writing a book, and when he asked me to take a look at what he’d written so far, I took it as a challenge to see what kind of notes I’d give him if he was a client of mine.   He was a beginner and I had extensive notes, and when we met in person I went over them with him.  He isn’t good at taking criticism, but listened while I patiently explained things to him.   I really enjoyed guiding him through some of his issues and seeing him finally getting what I was trying to say.  He’s now given me a copy of his full manuscript to edit for him, which I’ll be starting today.  I’m looking forward to seeing if he’s made any of the changes I suggested.

So again, this got me to thinking, for the outrageous amount of money editors seem to charge, their services or really needed in the independent writing and publishing crowd.   So the question is … what is a reasonable amount of money to charge for editing services?  I’m not one who could say I’d just offer typo checking, I’d have to give notes on everything, I’m just that kind of person.

Anyone have any thoughts on this??  I’d really love to hear what you think is a reasonable amount of money to charge.  An amount that would be affordable to writers who don’t make a lot of money, but make it worthwhile to the person doing the editing?