Category Archives: Publishing

Are developmental edits worth it?

Source: prolixme and the Enlight app
One of the most common questions we ask as writers is – how much editing should I do?

We know first drafts are hardly ever (I don’t want to say never, but really, pretty much never) fit for publication.  But how do you know when your work is ready (or even simply good enough)?

I’ve heard other authors say that your work is ready when you put back in a “the” that you previously took out (in other words obsessing over the little things).  But that’s not necessarily true.  I’ve asked an agent at a writer’s conference and was told that you should get a piece “as polished as possible” before you submit it…but what does that really mean?

Pay editing services – should you or shouldn’t you?  The struggle is real…

For a long time, I struggled with if I should pay for editing services.  My editing method of choice?  Annoying friends and family to read my work and essentially proofread my novel and give me general feedback.  And btw – thank you to all of the friends and family who did read my novel (some several times), you are wonderful. ūüôā

 

But after sending my novel out to two agents and getting rejected, I decided to take a second look at paid editing services.  First, let me say that in the book business, you are going to get more than one or two rejections.  But, because I’m an over-thinker (and because I know that you shouldn’t query the same agent/house twice with the same novel), I decided to get some professional help before the rejection letters really started stacking up.

How to find editors?

Ah, this part is oh-so tricky.  As writers, we’re protective of our work and we don’t want it stolen or butchered by shysters.  As a result, we’re a little tentative about who we give our darlings to for tending.  I can’t say with absolute authority who you should pick for an editor.  There are a lot of good ones out there. But I’d say (and this is only my opinion), for developmental edits:

  1. Use a well-known, legitimate source to find them or use a well-known giant in the industry, at least for the first time so you know where to set the bar in the future.  I went with Writer’s Digest 2nd Draft Service and was pleased.
  2. Find someone through word-of-mouth, from someone you trust, who knows what they’re doing.

Either way, you need someone who knows what they’re doing and has experience with developmental editing for novels (or whatever you’re trying to get published).  If you can find one specifically for your genre, excellent.  If not, try to find someone who at least has some industry experience.  Why?  I’m getting to that…

How much should you pay?

Oh, we starving artists.  I’m sad to say that developmental edits are pricy and for a long time, that was a sticking point for me.  But, after having one done, I can say that it was worth it for me.

Does that mean I’ll do a second developmental edit for fun, after I make some of the suggested changes to my novel?  Prob not, this girl has to eat too (and clad my feet in pretty shoes).  BUT, I will do it after I write my next novel, without a doubt.

What is a developmental edit anyway?

Fear not, friends.  Until recently I didn’t know what a developmental edit was either.  But I’ve recently gotten one done and as a result can speak with some knowledge on the situation.  Here’s what you’ll get with a developmental edit:

  • Logline (single sentence that summarizes your work, think mini-elevator pitch)
  • Synopsis of your novel (handy because it proves that someone took the time to read it).
  • Overall analysis (and kind of a grading) on your novel elements (plot, writing, etc.)
  • Detailed level of analysis:  Takes your novel elements (plot, writing, characters, etc.) and delves into a greater detail of analysis.  Here is where the editor will give you comments on what you’ve done well, where you need improvements, and sometimes even ideas on what you can do to make things better.  Also, sometimes developmental editors will point out some basic grammatical/proofreading areas for you to look at as well (which is super handy).

Do I really need a developmental edit?

My answer is – it depends.  If you’ve been submitting to agents and haven’t been accepted as a client, if publishers have rejected your work, or if your self published work isn’t doing as well as you’ve hoped – you might want to take a look at it.  Granted, a lot of the book industry is based on preferences and there is a chance that you haven’t found the right agent or audience for your book yet.  So, really take a look at why your book isn’t doing as well as you hoped (or think about why you don’t have an agent yet, like me) and do some soul searching.

For me – the answer is yes. I found the developmental edit extremely helpful and plan on implementing a majority of the suggested changes.  Why not all of them?  Because it’s my art and I can do with it what I want.  After all, some amount of editing comes down to preference and as the author, you hold the final say over your work.

That being said, prepare yourself when you get the developmental edit back.  Chances are, there will be a lot of good things that the editor has to say, but there will most likely be areas of improvement as well (and as a writer, I know how hard that is to take).  But think of it this way: if there were no items to fix, you wouldn’t be able to utilize the service to make things better.

Know that this isn’t your last edit.

lol.  I wish…and you probably do too.  But the fact of the matter is that after the developmental edit, there is at least one more round of editing/proofreading.  And, if you go the traditional publishing route, you may end up working with another editor to polish your work even more.  Don’t fear though…it’s just another step on the road to getting published and maybe one glorious day, seeing your book on a lovely shelf at Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon.

So chin up, it can happen…you might just need a little extra help getting there.

Agent Queries…

I did it.  I participated in the pitch slam this summer and got good feedback Рincluding requests for the first 50 pages of my novel and a request for the whole thing.

<Gasp!>

I, of course, freaked out and spent the last month re-ediitng…but hey, that’s how we writers work, isn’t it?

But tonight….tonight, after several weeks of craziness at my job, starting grad school classes,¬†and second guessing every sentence, I submitted my work to agents. ¬†I don’t know what will happen, but I can’t help thinking….

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lol. ¬†Okay, I am seriously nervous. ¬†Right now, I’m just hoping my email doesn’t go into their spam folders. :p

Wish me luck! ¬†ūüôā ¬†And good luck to every one else out there, who is trying to make their dreams come true.

Writing with Strangers

Writing with Strangers

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†…also known as Alicia’s adventures with writer’s groups and Meetup

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It’s advice that you’ve no doubt heard before – in order to successfully write, you need¬†to commit to writing on a regular basis. ¬†Sounds simple enough. ¬†Though any writer will tell you that scheduling (and maintaining a schedule) for writing time is anything but simple.

For years, I would schedule writing time. ¬†It would be easy to keep at first – yay! look at me, sitting at the table and writing like a real writer. ¬†I’d get my headphones and notebook, and I’d sit and write, so pleased with myself. ¬†Then life’s little dramas would rear their ugly heads…and my writing would inevitably suffer.

And then the writer in me got incredibly lucky – I discovered the power (and consistency) in writing groups. ¬†My first real experience with a writing group was during NaNoWriMo a few years ago, when a friend I met in a local writing class invited me to a NaNoWriMo write-in. ¬†Random writers came and went throughout the month, but a core group of writers continued to show up for the write-ins. ¬†At the end of the month, we decided (though many of us didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo), we’d gotten too much work done to stop meeting. ¬†So, we continued to meet on a weekly basis…and though the group has changed somewhat, I can credit the schedule (guess that bit of advice was¬†accurate) and a¬†kind of positive peer pressure to show¬†up to helping me to finish 2 novels. yay!

Last year, while going through the early stages of the divorce process, I promised myself that I would get out and try new things. ¬†It felt like so much of my adult non-work life (up to this point) consisted of sitting at home alone, reading and writing (aaaaaand watching a lot of tv/movies), and essentially waiting for life to happen. ¬†So, because I wanted to try new things and because my writing partner had positive experiences with other meetup¬†groups, we decided to open up our tight-knit group to a meetup group…

Now, I can’t say it’s been all smooth sailing ¬†– writers, by definition, tend to be a little solitary and shy – so, I had to push through my own nervousness of meeting new people. ¬†And, as with all things in life, there were people who didn’t quite understand the idea of meeting up just to talk and write (we don’t give each other writing prompts/assignments or do in-depth critiques).

But, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the whole process. ¬†Do I meet some weird people? ¬†Sure, but then again, I AM WEIRD. ūüôā ¬†What I have found through the meetup group has been ¬†– new and interesting writers, some kindred spirits, some who make us better by challenging our own ideas, and some who (like me) blossom through the benefits of the writing group. ¬†And then again, some Sundays, I find myself chatting with interesting people about all kinds of things and ending the session without doing any writing at all. ¬†But that’s okay too. ¬†Because, at the end of the day, I’m not just sitting on my couch wishing to meet writers like me…I’m actually meeting them and they’re making me a better writer. ūüôā

Have you tried writing or other artistic groups?  Do you like them?