Full Disclosure – The Saga of the Editor Search

slowgoing

Writing a book is hard. First you slug through a rough draft, then you give it to beta readers, and see what they say. Then you (hopefully) find a writer’s group, and give your New And Improved draft a roll. But now who do you give it to? You’ve reached the end of your resources. And you know the book isn’t the best it can be.

Chances are, if you’re avid about your manuscript becoming a book, you’ve read about editors. You know that you need one, but you’re not sure why. What do editors do? How do they do it? The rest seems shrouded in mystery.

I jumped into the pool, head first, looking penetrate the mystery surrounding editors. I found out that there are multiple kinds of editing, generally from the broad demands of the developmental editor, to the fine detail work of a proofreader. For my purposes, I felt that a full blown developmental edit was what I needed. I’m going to share with you what I experienced.

 

The Backstory

I worked with an editor for Best Served Cold, my first ‘trunk’ novel. I met her through her husband, who was my co-worker. She taught me a lot about how to improve my writing, and we enjoyed a good relationship during the course of the project. However, her specialty for editing was memoirs, which I didn’t think to ask and she didn’t think to mention. She did a great job editing my urban fantasy, but there were things she absolutely did not understand because she wasn’t a fan of the genre. When it came time for me to decide what to do for a developmental editor the next time, I decided I would shop around and find someone who was better suited towards my stories.

 

The Search

My previous editor essentially fell in my lap. I didn’t expect lightning to strike twice, so I had to go out and hunt. Where to look? Lots of people have websites, but that’s definitely a needle in a haystack mentality. My search started with LinkedIn, unexpectedly. I received an email from them about something unrelated, but I thought to myself, “Of course!”

I emailed a developmental editor from San Francisco. Tammy had it all. A website, a great LinkedIn profile, I was excited. I emailed two more editors as well.

Nothing.

Crickets.

I went to another website, the Pacific Northwest Editors Guild. (Which, is a great resource, by the way.) I emailed three people off of that.

Nothing.

I went to a website called Thumbtack, and put in a request. (I do not recommend Thumbtack, and you’ll find out why in a minute.)

And then, Tammy wrote me back! She was professional and well spoken and I liked her immediately. I started talking to her about my book. Which lead to…

The Money and the Manuscript

Tammy and I had a long conversation over email. She wanted to know what I was looking for, and then she dropped the hammer. Edits would cost $3,000!

My heart sank. I think I may have even felt dizzy. I certainly felt overwhelmed. How did other indie authors do it?

I sent Tammy my first chapter. She saw that my book wasn’t in too bad of shape, and worked with me to reduce the cost of her estimate. She was planning to do my book soup-to-nuts, from developmental edit through proofreads. She scaled way back, and kindly offered to do my job for $1000. It was twice as much as I budgeted, but a third of her original offer. I thought we could work a deal.

Meanwhile, I was suddenly inundated with replies! Jordan emailed me back, to tell me his schedule was full until July, and he would charge $1400. Another editor emailed me back to introduce herself and ask for a sample chapter. I discovered the Thumbtack website had offers, all of which routed to an email address I forgot to check. I had five offers from Thumbtack, and the first one began with, “Dear Tona,” which helped me determine the quality of the website. The rates for the editors were posted hourly and $10 cheaper than the other editors I had talked to, but there were obvious reasons why. Another editor said that he sent writers to Hollywood. It was snake oil and smoke. I was not sorry to abandon that attempt.

I asked my ex-editor if she had any references. She told me to try the college. I emailed the college, and Samantha emailed me in response. She told me she edited books for $500, but she was not a genre fiction editor. Privately I had a good cry, but I soldiered on.

..to be continued…

Merry Thing What You Celebrate

To all of the people who read my blog, I wish you a belated Christmas, a late Solstice, and most importantly, respect to who you are and what you believe. I also hope you have a prosperous and happy new year.

My new year is shaping up quite well, after a few false starts. I will be finishing Bento Box to a point where I’m going to shop it around to agents and publishers. *gasp!* The indie girl is going straight? That’s a legitimate question. The truth is that despite having one book out, I am still learning new things about the publishing world every day. I’ve decided that I want to try my hand at going “legit,” and trying my hand at a few different publishing methods. Not every type of publishing is right for every type of project. This is my chance to research and find out what works best for me.

And, if I should fall on my face in a pile of rejection letters, at least I can slink back to known ground and get my book out that way.

A short story of mine, “The Gaijin and the Butterfly,” will be making its way onto Amazon very soon. I am being published through a game designer who wanted some stories written to fire up readers imaginations about how the game could be played. (Read: fluff piece.) I’m happy with it though, and I learned a lot while working on the piece.

Another short story of mine, “Nitpix,” is due to be published next year as a part of an anthology written to sell for a charity cause. The book is a YA saga of many different teenagers finding themselves the outcasts, and dealing with it. The anthology doesn’t have a title yet.

I have other projects brewing, but I’m so focused on these different paths that I’m not focused on the story as much. A necessary evil of becoming an author, I suppose.

I am also considering revamping my blog. I seem to do all right posting my writing and my ruminations on writing, but I don’t have a goal with my blog and I’m not giving it as much attention these days. I love the community that I have garnered, but I’m not sure what I like about this blog and want to keep. I’m figuring that I will be writing a lot about the processes I’m learning about in the upcoming year.

So, again, to all those who read this blog, thank you for coming along for the ride!

Where’d the microfiction go?

patience

Currently, I’m working on several projects. Projects are lovely, because they allow you to be creative in many ways at once. They are also soul-sucking, energy-draining anxiety machines, and the worst part is you know that accepting them was your idea.

Here’s my current project list –

Whatcom Writes – I am writing a short story of approx. 5000 words for a book that will celebrate local authors. All proceeds will go to Northwest Youth, a charity dedicated to helping at risk youth. The piece I’m writing is called “Nitpix,” and it’s an urban fantasy about three teenagers on their way to a huge summer concert and getting into a car accident in the middle of nowhere.

Tokyo Yakuza – This project is a Kickstarter project, and I’m a contributing author. The year is 2020, Tokyo is hosting the Olympics, and in an alternate history, the Yakuza are an authority to themselves. My piece is called “The Gaijin and the Butterfly,” and is about a half-Japanese, half white soldier whose daughter has been kidnapped by the Yakuza, and he intends to get her back.

Bento Box – A novel about identity that brings gender confusion to a whole new height. Set in Seattle in the year 2291, a young con artist is forced to use her skills at identity theft to bring in a vigilante who has targeted her boss. She never expected that she’d have to take the vigilante’s place!

I’m still working on the synopsis, but I’m still working on the story so they’re both in development. I’m editing my work, and I have an editor that I will pass the story off to, with luck in January. Writing a book is slow work since I have a full time day job, but I’m enjoying the hell out of this story and can’t wait to share it with people!

Bastions of Earth – A working title for a story still in pre-production. It’s written in the same universe as Bento, but this is the story of a colony world learning how to manage with old prejudices and new soil.

The Adventures of Locke Kiger – a serial adventure set in the same world as The Corsican. This will consist of swashbucklin’ adventures in space.

The Guide to a Happier LifeWherein Tina tries her hand at editing a novel. Probably not before January 2015.

 

So, if anyone’s been wondering where I got off to or why I don’t post little microfictions anymore, it’s due to my prodigious workload. I’m not going anywhere, I just haven’t had the chance to show my blog any love lately.

The Gaijin and the Butterfly

I’m working on a short story for a project. In an alternate history Tokyo, Yakuza first in power, and largely unchecked. A gaijin’s daughter is kidnapped from her private school, and he is in search of her. I present my excerpt:

He made it to the darkened storefront of Jimmy Fong’s Authentic Chinese Emporium. The glass of the storefront barely contained the gaudy baubles stacked in tall, thin rows. It looked as though the store wanted to forcibly eject the tackiness onto unsuspecting passerby, pulling them in and digesting them into yet more effigies of cheap plastic promises. Paul knew better. He reached out and pulled on the door, which squirmed like a friendly dog trying to wheedle more pets from a stranger. It was the easiest thing in the world to pull the door just that much farther, feeling the locks give way to the kitsch.
“Excuse me! Excuse me, we’re closed..” Jimmy Fong’s round face fell when he saw who he was interrupting. His small, pearl handed pistol was quickly secreted behind his back when he recognized his client. “Paul Bitaendo. I should have known. My shop has a soft spot for you.”
“Nice place.” Paul said quietly.
“It’s retarded, do you hear me? Fucking retarded! It should never have let you in here.” The Chinese man growled and shook his pistol at the wall. “You hear me! Some help you are.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d feel much better if you stopped waving that antique security device around.” He knew Jimmy wouldn’t actually try to shoot him, but he had no faith that the gun wouldn’t go off by mistake.
“You’re fucked, Paul, and you brought it on me now.” Jimmy scowled. “You can’t cross the Itchy Gitchy clan, they are Big Medicine around here. If they took your girl, your girl is theirs now.”
“I won’t let that stand.” His words were measured carefully, and distributed thoughtfully. “I can’t.”
“Dammit man, you are looking to get yourself killed. I know your wife’s death make you crazy, but you have daughter still. If you take on the Itchy Gitchy’s to steal her back, they kill you, they kill her, they kill Jimmy.. we all smears on pavement.”
“Better free in death than the slavery they’ll put her in.” He looked down when he heard the snap. A little porcelain figure he didn’t realize he’d palmed lie in two pieces. The little kitten’s head snapped clean off.
“I put it on your tab.” Jimmy said dismissively. “I have no more information. I give you what I had. I’m sorry, Paul. They run drugs through here, not girls.”
“You led me there. The bartender was going to talk.” Paul couldn’t keep the frustration from rising in his voice.
“There is a wisdom here, if you only look hard enough.” Jimmy said wisely.
“Fuck you, Fortune Cookie. I need information.”

Learning process

slowgoing

It is safe to say that I’m doing it wrong.

I can’t tell you the number of happy, unemployed writers who are writing up a storm, who are spending hours a day on their efforts and treating it like a real job. I see them schedule signings and market new books. They post word count that makes me nauseas from jealousy.

I hear about product funnels and how to make a mint by posting serials, and I continue to labor on my second novel.

I have a full time job, a seven year old son, and a husband. Most people might consider that to be three full time jobs.

Unfortunately, I have a powerful need to eat sometime this month. I also like to talk to friends, although unfortunately most of the time I bore them with the same thing I’m writing about here – my life and how my writing fits into it.

Still, I see how my other friends live. Two of them stay at home and manage their domiciles. One of them writes, and I am terrifically jealous of the “free time” she seems like she has. In her perspective though, she chooses to spend this “free time” helping out her brother and sister, both who have several children. She’s doing Very Important Things. And it’s easy for me to say what I’d do with that time, but I’m not in her shoes. My other friend is an artist and a mother. When she does get free time, she has multiple hobbies, which she seems to switch in and out of.

Several other of my writing friends do what I do – work to make money, and write on the side to get started. They’re mothers, they’re wives, and they’re exhausted, like me. And our word counts suck. And our writing groups are tiny, and barely held together by the invisible force of the Internet. Hell, I’ve only had a writing group since March.

But I’m doing it anyway. I’m writing, I’m editing, I’m taking classes, and I’m reading articles. I tweet, post, and network. I try to minimize the Internet stuff, as it eats into my all-important writing and editing time.

I have by no means become rich off my first book. The good news is, I wasn’t expecting to. I really do have high hopes for Bento. Hell, I want it to be a zeitgeist, and I’m in love with it. On the other hand, I’m a novice, with only one book under my belt. I still have so much to learn about marketing and all the things. If Bento becomes my golden goose, so be it. But even if I never made a dollar writing, I would still do it.

I love writing. I’m passionate about getting stories out. And despite the obstacles I’ve mentioned previously, I still make time to write. I go out with my girlfriends and talk plot. I hop onto Hangouts and learn about the publishing world. I listen to podcasts about how to improve my writing skills. And I write.

Maybe in five years there will be articles about me. Maybe my name will sit on the shelf with authors I adore: Gaiman, de Lint, Martin. And maybe there won’t. There are few guarantees in this world, but there are lots of stories.

And maybe, I’m not doing it so wrong after all.