Spring is a verb and a noun

hittingroad

The irony of a blog is, when you have lots to say, you’re too busy to write it up, and when you’re slow, you don’t know what to write. That said, I’m busy, but I’m not able to work on my novel so I thought a blog post is in order.

I have a second short story called “Bits & Pieces” that will be published by Luna Quarterly in June. I’ll have more about that later, right now I’m still signing paperwork. It’s lovely to have been chosen.

Another thing coming up is that I may be featured in a podcast, but until I get something a little more concrete I won’t post any details yet. I am so excited about the possibility!

In the lineup, I’m also going out with my developer editor; this time not to talk about my book, but to talk about ALL THE BOOKS. I want to discuss the best path to learn how to be an editor myself. I think it will help me develop my craft, but also will help me to help others who are learning how hard it is to sit and write something good.

My friends are growing right alongside me. We have a great core writer’s group and an extended writer’s group who are proving to be just as on point as our original trio. To see everyone’s feedback improve stories that are already great. It takes time but it’s like watching a garden in spring. One day the ground is bare; the next its green.

There’s been a lot of personal growth coming in to play with this challenge, which was a bonus round I wasn’t expecting. It’s harder to encapsulate personal growth in a blog post without sounding like an after school special or a crystal lovin’ sun worshiper, so those are things I hope to show in my work instead.

My next challenge is Norwescon, which will be when four author panelists will read my draft and give me pointers. I’m both excited and terrified. I figure as long as I remember to breathe, I’ll be fine. After all, if I’m going to be a writer, I need strangers to read my work all the time!

How a Green-Blooded Space Elf Changed My Life

I started watching Star Trek when I was young enough to not be able to not remember my age. I had no idea that those missions were long since retired.

I was young enough that to me the story was real, perhaps a historical document. I was astounded by what I saw. Space travel, aliens, heroics, humor, and Spock. Spock was a half-human, half-alien being. This was a fascinating idea for someone who didn’t grow up around blended families. The conflict of Spock was immense. Being from two worlds but of neither; his constant battle between emotions and logic. Counterbalancing the captain and being alone among a large crew. What a romantic character! Such passion in his dynamic, even as he portrayed an icily logical façade. I knew he was special. Of all the characters on Star Trek, he was the most interesting to me. I wanted to be like him. I became interested in science. I wanted to know him, to ask him questions about how he’d handle predicaments I was in. I wanted him as my mentor. And in an odd way, he was.

Today, Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock, passed away. I didn’t know him, never met him, but yet he portrayed a character that left indelible impressions on my psyche. He became a symbol for things that I needed to find for myself. I was a little surprised at how saddened I was by his passing at first. Celebrity deaths always seem to be a cultural touchstone for us, but the impact varies. Today, the impact was great, and I realized how much Spock touched me, and through that the actor responsible for breathing life into Spock.

I know that this is about him, but without him, I wouldn’t have grown up to be the same person. I didn’t understand to what level a pivotal character could be to the human psyche. It doesn’t matter if he was a character. Spock took on a life of his own. He wouldn’t have been as smoothly wonderful if Leonard Nimoy hadn’t played him.

I’ve learned a lot today, about Leonard Nimoy, about myself, and about how stories can help humans empathize. Stories provide situations we would never otherwise experience. I am saddened by his loss but grateful for Leonard Nimoy giving me one last gift. He may have never known my name, but I will never forget his.

The Saga of the Editor Search, Part 2

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…continued from previous post

Unexpected Turn

When I sent my inquiry letter to my referral of a referral of a referral of a referral, I knew things were getting out of hand. I had solid leads. An editor from Seattle asked for 2 chapters. I had a ballpark estimate from Tammy. Then, I got another suggestion. Leigh came in towards the end of my search, recommended by a fellow writer IIRC. She was local, and in a fun turn of events, had taught a class I’d attended a couple of years prior… an editing class, as it were. I remember thinking that I’d be excited to have her as an editor. I didn’t want to let that be the reason I decided to do it, though. I sent her an inquiry letter, like everyone else.

She got back to me relatively quickly, and wanted to meet by the end of the week. I thought, that was a good argument for a local editor. You can have face-to-face meetings when it mattered. We met and exchanged pleasantries. Then we got down to cases. She was professional. She was focused. She edited speculative fiction. Her rates are per hour, and she said it wouldn’t exceed 30 hours to do what I was asking. At it’s most expensive, she came in about $100 more for the project than Tammy, but what that $100 gets me is face to face meetings, an opportunity to ask questions after her report, and a speculative fiction editor.

When I asked Tammy if she edited speculative fiction, she answered, “Not often.. but isn’t that better, that I can ask questions that a genre editor wouldn’t even consider?”

My personal answer to that question is no. It is the voice of experience; it was purchased at the expense of $400 and a trunk novel that will probably not see the light of day.

When I went out to coffee with Leigh, I had a vibe that I could work with her, that she would be tough on me but only to improve my novel.

 

Conclusions

I believe I summed up my experience to a fellow writer nicely when I said, “I can’t believe I’m going to pay this woman a grand to tell me how much my novel sucks.”

Yes, I do struggle with feeling like I am throwing good money after bad. Despite the fact that I learned a lot and seriously improved my writing with my initial experience with a professional editor, because that novel isn’t online, bringing in revenue, it feels… well, like a failure. Doubtless there are several optimists out there who would argue that it’s not a failure if it got me to publish my third novel. When my third novel is up online, perhaps I will feel differently.

I’m also paying *more* than the first time… but developmental editing is expensive. Having price shopped around, I would definitely say what I’m paying is industry average. Not long after signing with Leigh, I found an article that talked about “What does it cost to self-publish?” Four authors were asked, and the only one who paid a significant amount on editing is the only one I’d heard of.

When I asked my husband what he thought of paying this much for editing my book, his answer was, “Well, do you want to be a writer, or do you need to be a writer?”

Lastly, I’ll just say that there are other ways to do this – other ways to get editing, other ways to get your book published. I’m just sharing what I went through because I had to make sense of my experience anyway, may as well share it too.

Full Disclosure – The Saga of the Editor Search

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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!