Sunday, June 17, 2012

Now With Extra Sparkle

In the spirit of Word of Mouth, I wanted to mention a recent development. A freelance editor contacted me after reading Fates' Motif, and wanted to help out. I've been interested in picking up an editor outside my circle for some time now. Not that my current, volunteer editors don't do an amazing job (they really do, especially for what I pay them), more that there is wisdom in involving an editor that doesn't know you very well. It's a whole different viewpoint that can really help you make sure your message is clear. Plus, the more eyes the merrier, says I.

In any case, freelance editing is super-expensive for a fledgling author of modest means (me). I write large stories (well over 100k words), and typical freelance rates can be found here. If you do the math, it works out to about a couple of pennies per word. Average. Basic copyediting. For my 150k word Fates' Motif, we're talking over $2,000. I simply don't have that cash.

Mr. John Albers at Prior to Print Proofreading was the editor that contacted me. If you check out his posted rates, they're pretty reasonable. Perhaps a little below the aforementioned average. More importantly to me, however, was the "project" option. He's willing to work with self-published authors. We discussed a myriad of different plans, but what I settled on was this.

First, I gave him The Only Sparkle. It's shorter, so not as much of an investment. It's also not released in print, so easy to update. He turned it around quickly and I just got a chance to review all the edits he made last weekend. The changes were uploaded today, and I think there is a definite improvement. Plus, we seem to be creatively on the same page.

If you have a first edition of TOS and would like a free second edition (with the edits), simply shoot me an email. I'm more than happy to hand out free updates. It'd be really cool if places like Amazon and B&N would auto-update a previous purchase, but I don't think it works like that.

All of the edits are cosmetic. That is, they make the writing smoother, but don't change anything about the story. That was one of my stipulations going into this, and John was on board with it.

Whenever I finish The Binder's Husband, I'm saving my pennies to hopefully be able to afford a full edit prior to publishing. That's goal number two. I may even look into setting up a Kickstarter project to help fund the editing. It would be simple, we'd shoot to cover the costs and free books to everyone who donates. Probably different tiers for things like electronic, print, and perhaps a special mention in the acknowledgements. Seems like a cool idea, but I'm a ways off from finishing the manuscript.

In the mean time, I'm dumping every penny from sales back into the projects. If one of my books takes off, I'll spend that money to give it a quick polish as well. I've contemplated doing it in increments, have John look at, say, the first 10k words and then do 10k chunks until it's done. He was amenable to that, but it's hardly an ideal way to work. Maybe I'll do an earlier Kickstarter campaign, who knows. These are still things I'm noodling, and heaven knows my beginnings can use all the help they can get.

I think both of my released novels are in good shape, better than some commercially published books I've read, but I don't want to settle. My responsibility to my readers is to continue to improve and learn. The biggest benefit from John's work is the lessons I learn about my own writing. John has a strong creative writing and editing background, and that proved out in his modifications for TOS. He was helpful without being heavy-handed. Supportive without being obsequious. It was a great experience.

If you're a self-publisher looking for a solid freelance editor, shoot John an email. He's a reasonable guy also relying on word of mouth. And I'm hardly keeping him busy.

If you're a reader wanting to support my editing efforts (the cleaner we can make these books, the better my chances of selling more and getting rid of the Day Job), sign up for the newsletter. Any future Kickstarter campaigns will be announced there (as well as here, probably). Or, if you're super rich and want to finance the whole she'bang, email me. I'm sure we can work something out :-).


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