The Importance Of An Editor

So one of the most interesting aspects of writing a book comes down to editing.  Unless you’re writing a 200 word ficlet that you’re going to post somewhere and never worry about again, you should honestly get someone to give you honest feedback on it.

But sometimes that doesn’t exist.  I am lucky to have a network of friends that I can send something to and get honest feedback from.  Right now, the very first book I wrote, back in November 2013, is sitting with my cowriter Lisa.  She’s someone I can bounce ideas off of, but also someone who can take a sentence that I write and turn it into something beautiful.  She’s good that way.

My fiction book, however, is a work solely of my own.  But not having someone that I know there to edit it for me (Lisa is still working on the travel book, which we hope to have out by this Summer) was quite a daunting thought.  Luckily someone turned me on to the GoodReads.com website, of which I was already a member, and pointed me out to the “Betas And Editing” section.  I found a professional editor, who did a massive job of not only content and scene editing and suggestions, but line editing as well.  (If you’re interested, her name is Debbie, and you can find her at DebbieEdits.com)

Now I’ve done my work backwards.  I sent my book off to an editor, but also off to a publishing house.  The publishing house really liked it, but asked for changes to be made; not huge, but ones that would consider a few major rewrites of some sections.  I’ll take Debbie’s professionally edited copy with her suggested changes (the ones I agree with, of course; you don’t have to agree 100% with your editor), and then start the rewrite again.  Then it’ll be back for final edits and then resubmission.

Ideally, I’ve been told through a Reddit post on the /r/writing subreddit, you shouldn’t have to hire an editor yourself unless you plan on self publishing.  At the time I finished with Migration, I was pretty convinced that I was going to publish the book myself, like we will with the travel book.  But now that I know there is interest from a publisher, I’ve probably gone a little overboard – but that’s okay.  I’d rather get the experience, than not.

Happy writing!

The Problem With Kudos

So here’s the thing.  I’m working on my original works, but in order to keep practicing, I like to still write different things.  For me, that means writing fanfiction, because there is such potential to learn and grow, and the feedback can be both heartwarming as well as nearly instantaneous.  I know that writing a book means that there’s not one certain place, like a personal blog or such, where you will get feedback on your writing.  So it helps me when I write fanfiction to get that feedback from the people reading your work.

Except for the kudos.

If you’re not familiar with kudos, it’s a nice little way of saying, “Good for you,” or “Good job” or the like for a piece of your work.  It can be anonymous, or it can come from a person.  A kudos, though, is like looking over an overflowing dessert table with dozens of different sweet treats available, but only being able to take a single, nondescript nibble from one of the items.  Sure, it’s nice, but you know that there can be so much more.  So in a word, it’s just not fulfilling.

My latest work is in an obscure fandom, for a pairing that may not even exist.  I love the BBC’s Atlantis, and there seems to be a storyline coming up that will pit the sweet, somewhat dorky Pythagoras with the doomed character Icarus.  We have but a taste of the pairing from the Season 2, Part 2 teaser trailer, but what it is looks heartbreaking.  It intrigues me to no end.

So in a writing community that I belong to, there is a time when you can get a picture prompt and then write a story that is exactly 1,000 words (for it is said, a picture is worth 1,000 words).  When I received my picture, the story featuring Pythagoras and Icarus laid itself out in my head, and I knew I had to write it.  And once I did, knowing the Atlantis community is small, and the Pythagoras/Icarus community even smaller, I did a post on tumblr to help promote it.  It worked, because I got some feedback on the story like below.

tumblr

So that’s good, right?  I get called a “lovely author” (though the tumblr reccer assumed that I was a girl – it happens in the “slash” writing world, trust me), and even a “This fic is so, so good and so, so painful.”  Sounds good, right?  But here’s the thing; people are so focused on SHINY! and diverting of attention, that we can’t be bothered to leave reviews anymore.  Indeed, this fic that I wrote and got such nice words written about shows up on the archive where I wrote it as such:

ao3

 

Two kudos, and not a single review.  Why?  Because clicking “Kudos” is so much easier than the critical thinking and time it takes to actually write a review.  And while I get it, it doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Trying To Stay Positive

So there comes a time when you’re working on something, and you need feedback.  When you’re in the fanfiction type realm, you can get this pretty easily, because you’re writing for others in your fandom and get nearly immediate feedback.  It can be addicting.

Writing an original work of fiction – be it a book or whatever – is a lot like writing in a silo, because you’re working on a subject and with characters that are speaking to you and only you.  They are not a shared experience, and how you see your characters and describe them is totally different than someone else may see them.  That is the most apparent in the unpublished status, because the characters have only developed in your head, and exist only on your page.

It’s important to get feedback on your writing, both from friends that know and are used to your style, and from strangers as well.  The friends will give you the feedback that you’re used to getting, and if they’re good friends, will give you the constructive criticism that you are also looking for.

The strangers?  That can be a crapshoot.

For instance, I’ve had exactly three strangers read over the first two chapters of the first book in the Migration series.  One of them has been honest, saying what did work, what didn’t work, and what needed to be tweaked.  She just happens to now also be the person that I’m having edit the book; she brought to the table a level of trust with her comments and critiques that I asked to work with her and she accepted.

The second person absolutely hated the book.  Well, not just the book, but every single thing about it.  They even hated the title.

The third person got back to me today, and they had some really good constructive criticism about the book, even though they said that they didn’t like it.  There were specific examples given, and indeed, those are things that I struggled with in the book in it’s pre-edited form.  But there were things that I absolutely didn’t agree with – but that’s because I know the characters well, and can defend them saying X or doing Y, when there is explanation beyond that first couple of chapters.

In all, it can be pretty disheartening when you get feedback about something you love.  I mean it’s good to get the right feedback; we shouldn’t all end up dittoheads, automatically liking everything exactly the same.  But at the same time, you have to learn – or better to say I have to learn – to stay positive about the situation.  Because in the end, even if nobody else likes what I’ve written, even after it’s been massaged and gussied up, I will still like it.

 

My first post, for my first fiction book!

Greetings!

So I’ve been dabbling at writing for a while, mostly in the fanfiction realm.  Some people may dismiss fanfiction writers, but here’s the thing; it gives you a chance to learn the ins and outs of how to write, and the feedback that you need to learn and grow as a writer.

In July 2014, I participated in NaNoWriMo’s “Camp NaNo”.  If you’re not familiar, it’s like a regular NaNo, but you can set the word count that you want, and you need to write the whole month until you finish your project.  Well, by the end of July, I’d made it past my 50,000 word count, but I was far from done.  It took me another two weeks to finish, the book topping out at just under 85,000 words.  Then with the help of some friends who did some beta reading, as well as a whole lot of cheerleading for me, and I finally had a polished book.  And that book is an action/adventure genre book with a science fiction bent which I have titled Migration: Origins.  And based on how I ended it, this will be the first book in at least a three book arc.

I submitted my book to a professional editor, and should have it back in the next month.  And then?  That’s when I start looking for a publisher.