Friday, 23 December 2016

Recommended Holiday Reading

It's the holidays, and what better way to relax than to sit back and read some of the best Indie writing going around. Goes without saying that I'm going to recommend authors whose work I've enjoyed, but rest assured I wouldn't suggest something I'd not read myself. Thriller, fantasy, paranormal, horror, romance, crime-caper, historical, even a few Irish fairies, and not forgetting the odd ninja - all here for your festive pleasure. Check out the links and see what piques your interest. Whatever you buy, don't forget to leave a review after reading. Enjoy! ;-)

Ray Ronan - Thriller/Paranormal

T Hammond - Paranormal/Fantasy

S.K Nicholls - Crime-caper

Amy Tierney - Irish Romance

Mary T Bradford - Romance/Western/Erotica

Frank Parker - Historical/Literary

Carol Ervin - Historical/Sci-Fi

Phillipa Vincent Connolly - Historical

Mitch Lavander - Zombies and much, much more.

Kieran Fanning - Teen Ninjas!

Daniel Kaye - Vampires!

Pat McDermott - Irish fairies and so much more.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Setting the Editing Process in Train

Setting the Editing Process in Train
If you’re a writer currently in the process of developing a project, and your ultimate objective is to have it published, there will come a time when you’ll need to find a professional editor to bring it to a stage where it’s ready to prepare for release.
There are many editors out there so it’s in your interest to make a shortlist and send off a chapter for a free sample edit. This sample will help you decide whether or not to take things further with a specific editor. In my eyes, it’s the only way to go before making that decision. Word of mouth is great, but even with a reference from another writer, there’s nothing better than actually seeing how an editor brings your work to a new level.
Your work – a novel, memoir, whatever – deserves to be the recipient of a comprehensive editing package. A copyedit or proofread does not constitute a full edit. Nothing less than a deep-tissue line edit will get to the base of your project’s woes. Every aspect of the writing is reviewed at this stage, with nothing passing to the next level without being scrutinised to the nth.
Once that phase has been completed and edits applied, then the copyedit begins, ensuring the updated draft stands confidently on its own feet. Editing at this stage is more about surface fixes, ensuring old and new gel together, and that nothing has fallen through the cracks from first to second edit.
When the author receives the copyedit back, the heightened script-clarity often evokes surprise, akin to first seeing the inside of a new-build after viewing it for so long as a dusty building site. The strong sense of shape allows the writer see the light through the ‘release’ door.
The next stage is the thorough proofread, creating copy clean enough to send on its way. Once that’s complete, all that’s required is the pulling together of blurb, cover-design, formatting, and the zillion other bits and pieces associated with pre-release preparation. You’ll have put that in train during the waiting periods of the editing process.
Any good editor is a busy one, which means that scheduling more often than not comes into play. Sometimes it might take a couple of months or more before your edit begins, but once the process activates, there’s no looking back and it won’t be long before you have the completed package in hand.
How does it begin? By sending in a sample chapter. Choose yours and send it to and I’ll get back to you with a free sample edit that will allow you see what I can do to help bring your project to the world at large. If it works for you, we can have a chat and move on from there. I look after my clients so you won’t regret it.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Time to Exhale

It’s Sunday morning and I’m taking a few minutes out of my busy schedule to share the joy I experienced recently of getting away from it all to spend a wonderful long weekend with lifelong writer friends off in the fantastic isolation of Eyeries in West Cork.

Being a busy editor, I don’t get much time to write my own material, or as much time as I’d like. This weekend, however, saw a total focus on that one endeavour, made all the better being in the company of some exceptional people, all warriors of the word, and the world, and all with minds and hearts open to experience and learning, willing to step into spaces and onto levels many would run from.
We rented a gorgeous house on a hill, overlooking a bay that provided an exceptional variety of seascape atmospheres and awe-inspiring sunsets that took the breath away and provided constant inspiration for several souls hungry to gather it in and fill pages with the magic of it all.
We walked the black-sand beach and mooed at sentinel cows, watched diving cormorants do their hunting thing in the crashing surf, and sat spellbound in a mystical environment of the senses, the only distraction our ever-increasing awe at being a guest of the universe.
And at night, we’d step outside into the pitch-black and crane our necks in silent disbelief at the overwhelming clarity of the Milky Way. What a sight for a city boy who grew up in constant light, with the rare view of a handful of stars on a good night. I was stunned, and that’s putting it mildly. I tried so hard to get shots with my camera, but nothing but the best could have captured the glory of this experience. I swear, my heart was in my mouth with the joy of it – I’ve never felt so open and held in my life – for that time I was in the zone, a solid member of the cosmos, connected to everything the universe had to offer.

What a weekend. We chatted, ate way too much, even had a tipple or two, but most of all we took time to exhale and appreciate the time we had – to soak it all up, to put pen to paper, and then to share what we’d captured, and I didn’t have to edit a single word from anyone’s work but my own. You can’t get better than that. Well, maybe another weekend in the not too distant future.
Now, time to get back to the grindstone. If you have a work-in-progress and plan to submit it for a professional edit, visit my website to get a better idea of my services and what I’m about, then send a sample chapter to for a free sample edit. You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Knock On Your Own Creative Door

How many times have you sat, fingers poised over your keyboard, and cried internally for forgiveness from your absent muse? And while you know you didn’t actually do anything to offend the keyholder to your inspiration bank, you’re not taking any chances – just the idea that you’re kowtowing to your lord and master of the word gives you the kind of hope experienced by some poor soul hanging off a cliff-edge by their blistered fingertips.

You wonder is your muse really exclusive to you, or is she constantly on call, busy flitting from one struggling writer to another? How many scribes does she have in her stable? A handful wouldn’t be too bad – she’d have time to get to everyone and still make it home for dinner. But maybe yours has a dozen or more fretting aspirants, all teetering on the edge, striving for a firmer grasp on a visual, even a word, that will fuel this session and propel them onto a new path filled with unlocked doors to wonderful new worlds.

Such a struggle. The stress of just sitting there, waiting, striving to connect with an abstract morsel, reaching beyond madness until you can’t take it anymore and give it all up for another cup of tea or coffee and the thought that being a nuclear physicist might have been a more productive career option.

Why put yourself through so much unnecessary turmoil? I know from my own experience how the whole ‘waiting for your muse’ thing goes. It doesn’t. That’s the unpalatable reality. Waiting will get you nowhere fast, whereas chasing down that elusive git will place you in the centre of your creative arena. You are your own muse. You are the creator of your own ideas, the hunter of wild and dangerous visuals, the instigator of imaginative scenarios, the lord and master of your words and how they gel together into magical shapes of your own making.

Of your own making – that’s the important phrase. If you wait, you’re not a responsible writer. Actually, you’re not a writer, because waiters do nothing but…wait, not to mention suffer with all the stress involved. No, it’s time to don the gladiatorial garb of the word warrior and step up to the line – your line – that symbolises the beginning of your proactive campaign to write, to scratch your mark on that blank page, to pound those keys until you’ve sweated sense into the tumble of words emanating from your frothing mind.

It doesn’t matter a jot what you write about. You’ve been hovering over nothingness for way too long now, the very action of putting words down creates its own momentum. Just write, but endeavour to heighten your language, lifting your words from their everyday status. Instil life into your description of the scene outside your window, a photograph of your loved one, the memory of something ordinary that might very well become extraordinary with a little consideration. Adding colour and texture to the simplest of concepts will bring them to life and might even provide you with a nugget that you can shape into an idea that has legs. It’s the legs that matter. They’ll take you forward, and forward momentum is a million times more progressive than sitting in your shadow waiting for inspiration to come knocking.

Knock on your own creative door. You never know who might answer.

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Benefits of Positive Networking

I like Twitter, and I enjoy putting myself out there and interacting with like-minded people. I’m usually too busy, to be honest, to regularly expand my social-media platform, so when work permits I enjoy going through the selection ‘offered’ by Twitter. I generally lean towards writers and bloggers, but if someone’s profile catches my eye, I’ll usually follow.

It’s a three-day thing for me, basically meaning that if someone I’ve pinged doesn’t follow me back within three days, I simply unfollow. It’s not an ego thing on my part – if a person doesn’t want to follow me, I’ve no problem with that, but I prefer my relationships on Twitter to be as mutual as possible, with a bit of positive interaction going on, initiating a tit-for-tat of likes and retweets and helping each other to network and spread the word, whatever that may be on the day.

Then I ‘sit back’ and enjoy the activity that comes from my little targeting campaign. Over the first day I’ll get a flurry of follow-backs. This’ll keep me entertained by going in and retweeting the pinned tweet of each new profile, which usually evokes one of mine being retweeted in return. Reciprocation is a wonderful way to develop fresh Twitter relationships and will often encourage unsolicited retweets that set the cycle off again.

The good thing about reactive tweeting is how it fixes the tweeter’s identity in my mind. That can’t be such a bad thing in a cyber world of millions where it’s easy to slip into oblivion, when all you’re trying to do is read good material, share what you like with a few others, and get your own message out there.

An added bonus is that Twitter’s algorithms react to my heightened activity by suggesting me to others, more than they usually do, because I receive a few ‘extra’ unrelated followers over those two or three days.

Anyway, when I start my little expansion ‘campaign’ – usually once a month, I’ll generally follow up to forty profiles, and over the next three days about half will follow me back. That’s not such a bad return. So, on the third day, I run through my list and simply unfollow those good folk who weren’t feeling my love. No harm done or felt, and I end up with twenty or so new tweeters to hopefully develop a worthwhile connection with. It works for me.

If you’re a writer or blogger, visit my profile and, if you follow me, I’ll return the gesture.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Happy to Offend

I was recently ‘accused’ of being a motivator. I have to admit it made me smile. And why not? Isn’t it a good thing to encourage another person, especially a fellow writer, to look at a particular challenge from a more positive and constructive perspective?

The pressures we experience today, even on the most basic of levels, may leave us fighting a battle we can do without. I’m referring to elements of everyday life, maybe a mother or father racing against time to get the children fed and watered before school, or the harangued worker trying to meet objectives, with a stressed-out boss hovering over their shoulder – or an exhausted shop manager counting down the hours before getting home to their sanctuary, only to be met by the demands of…the blank page.

I read and shared a tweet yesterday that celebrated the feeling of absolute joy when you’re caught up in a free-flow phase, where everything is going as it should and the gates to the Valhalla of expression are wide open. It’s certainly the place to be – the writer’s Nirvana – the complete opposite of the dreaded dark forest of Writer’s Block, where so many find themselves after enduring a day of stress and strife.

What better reason, when you find yourself in a good place, than to step up and share some of your positivity with a friend or associate who may just require a kind word of encouragement, or even a square or two of chocolate to dip into their tea or coffee to set them on the right path?

From my experience, when someone is struggling to express, what they’re usually lacking is a friendly directional push. I’m not afraid to shove, either, but I’ve found that a gentle shunt usually suffices. And once that works, more often than not there’s no looking back. The best thing, of course, is that such a service – motivating a friend to pull themselves out of a dry trough – costs nothing but the embarrassment of being publically blamed for an offence you’re really and truly proud of committing. You know where I am if you need me.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Finding The Right Editor For You

I had a conversation recently with a writer who wasn’t confident about the prospect of acquiring an editor for her work-in-progress. It seems she’d been burnt before, ending up paying a substantial amount more than she’d initially planned, plus she felt that the service provided hadn’t met expectations.
This didn’t surprise me. Many writers, it seems, dive into this phase of the process with their eyes shut. They see a colourful, well-worded ad for editing services and dash through what is a one-way door, committing themselves to what can prove to be an expensive unknown.
We chatted over a cup of tea and it turned out she hadn’t shopped around – something I recommend all writers to do. It’s natural that we want the best of whatever we’re looking for. Why would we accept something that’s sub-standard or way out of our financial comfort zone? And why would you jump for the first option that comes along when there might be several others out there who provide a service that better suits your needs?
Inexperience, I think, comes to mind. Once bitten, twice shy, so all the more reason to play a little more carefully next time around. The internet is an amazing organism, with lots of good in its infinite depths, but that shouldn’t prevent you from taking a deep breath before diving into the fray. Shop around – make a list of prospective editors, freelance or otherwise, then dig deeper to see if their offered service comes close to what you’re looking for.
If your wip isn’t solid, maybe you’re in need of a developmental editor who will work with you to restructure your project, focusing on the bigger picture. If you’ve done your work and took the time to self-edit and polish the piece, bringing it to a point where you can do no more, then a substantive/line editor is the one for you. Copy-editing and proofreading are services that are really only useful when the deep work has been completed – remember, it’s no good having punctuation and grammar correct if the work is full of plot holes and cardboard characters.
Make a list of the editors who ring your bell – it goes without saying you should keep walking if they don’t provide a free sample edit. Seriously, why should you consider a professional if you can’t see for yourself what they can do for you? Choose a chapter – I’d suggest one from the middle of your wip, and send it off, including a brief note about yourself (as a writer) and what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid at this stage to ask for rates and timeframes, etc. The editor, time permitting, will leap at this opportunity to exhibit their skills.
If you send your sample chapter off to six or seven editors, the returns should give you a good idea of who you’re better suited to. You’ve taken your time and are in control, which is so much better than being left with a sour taste due to haste borne of inexperience. My mother liked to say, ‘Decisions made in haste are regretted at leisure.’ Do your research – make a list of potentials – send your chapter to your chosen few, then take time to review and mull over their returns. Apply their edits, as you see fit, and see who works best for you. Once you’re happy with your choice, it’s time to move on to the next step – contacting the editor and developing a conversation that will provide you with a clearer picture of what lies ahead if you decide to commission them. The main thing is that you have a clear view of every step of the process. A good editor will ensure that this is the case.
I am always available to answer any questions about the editing process. I’m also here if you’d like a free sample edit. Contact me at and I’ll get back to you asap.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Interviewed by Carol L. Ervin

Many thanks to my long-time writing friend, Carol L. Ervin, for giving me the opportunity to share my views on editing through being interviewed on her blog. I have to say it was a most-enjoyable experience and I'm grateful to Carol for her time and kind words.

Follow the link to read the interview...

Carol is a prolific writer of historical fiction (The Woman On The Mountain series), science-fiction, and a contemporary thriller. The following link will take you to her Amazon page.

Visit my website to read about my editing services...

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Self-Editing Tips


A lesson in Awareness

How much do you know about the technical aspects of your writing? As a writer with serious intentions, you need to make time to learn the fundamental rules. We learn as we go, but we evolve so much more if we make a point of actively honing our writing skills through personal study. If you have the ability to create clean copy and a story with the minimum of structural issues, your trip to the editor will be a much cheaper one.


Build a strong reference library that you can dip into at a moment’s notice. Actively read novels, noting elements that you struggle with, whether that be dialogue, description, punctuation, point of view, or conflict. The more you actively read, the more you learn.

Achieving Objectivity

How long is ‘long enough’? To gain necessary perspective we need to create distance between ourselves and the work we’ve been so tied to over the past year or two. Once you write The End, put it out of mind for as long as you can and start work on something else. If you can leave it for a month (or more), great – you’ll be able to view it with a level of objectivity that will allow you see and tackle issues that you were previously too close to.

Self-editing needs to be so much more than a simple sweep through your manuscript (ms) to correct grammar and punctuation errors. Also, if you try to tackle everything in one go, you’ll succumb to the dreaded word-blindness affliction, missing some of the most important elements while focused elsewhere. The process should be slow and steady, taking one aspect of the whole at a time.

First Read

Read the manuscript without changing anything. Have a notebook to hand and jot down whatever impressions hit you as you read. Don’t allow distractions – this is simply to reacquaint yourself with the ms.


Focus on structural editing first. If the story’s not right, no amount of polishing will fix it. Is the plot solid? Are scenes complete? Are transitions lacking? Are characters fully developed and consistent? Are their actions/reactions justified? Are they meeting their objectives?


Time to iron out the wrinkles with a serious line-edit. This is where you wade in deep – one word at a time - anything confusing, convoluted, or wordy needs fixing. Every word, phrase, sentence must pass the hard-edit test. If it doesn’t hit the mark then it needs reviewing. You can’t be soft here, even if it’s one of your favourite pieces. If it doesn’t read right, chop, chop, chop. This phase is also ideal for searching out ‘weasel’ words – repetitive personal phrases/words of habit that stand out because they are yours, not the character’s.


Pull sentences back to their bones without changing original meaning. Hit unnecessary repetition, redundant words and phrases, and negative patterns such as sequential sentences/paragraphs beginning with the likes of He/She/I. If you have three in a line, change the second to break the pattern. Patterns can be a result of lazy writing, but here we’ll just blame it on first-draft fever. Considered rewriting will rectify and improve any such issues.

Activate Your Writing

Target telling adverbs and replace with strong verbs and considered descriptive narrative that pulls the reader tighter to the character’s experience. Same goes for adjectives - test as you go to see if a particular noun can stand on its own without the so-called supportive adjective. Have confidence in your writing and allow the power of context carry your story to the reader.

Cut Filters

Another way to activate your writing is by cutting filters. The likes of ‘she felt the rain on her face’ distances the reader from the action by placing the character in the way. Using filters does no justice to your writing when something as simple as – ‘cold rain spattered her face’ pulls the reader into the moment, activates their imagination, and creates a stronger reader/character connection. Other filter examples are: thought – wondered – knew – realised – saw - touched -watched - heard.


Get your dialogue structure and punctuation right. You can google the fundamental rules anytime, but the important thing is to absorb them so you’ll not have to think about them when writing. I’m a dialogue man and my clients feel it when they send me dialogue that falls below my quality bar. Important, too, to cut excessive tags and said-bookisms – if the tag isn’t a manner of speaking, cut it down and replace with a simple but effective ‘said’. Vary up dialogue/action tags, too, to break patterns and enhance variety. Dialogue tags can easily be replaced with the likes of action or observation tags before, during, or after the spoken word, ensuring there is as little structural repetition as possible. Such variety enhances the reading experience, which is always a good thing where the reader is concerned.


Point-of-view and tense slippages stand out better when read aloud. Don’t jump heads from one character to another within the one scene. It simply doesn’t work, confusing and irritating your reader, often to the extent that they’ll abandon all hope and spread the word for others to approach with caution. One character’s perspective per scene, even if it’s a short one – slip a divider/asterisk in and carry on with pov integrity. It’ll be appreciated by your reader. If your pov character can’t see or hear what’s going on, then it can’t be included in the scene. Have another character speak or act so we know what’s going on with them, or have your pov character act/react verbally/physically to create necessary context.

Be careful to catch any tense blips, slipping into present from past, or visa-versa.


As a writer, it’s your responsibility to at least thoroughly proofread your ms before subbing it to your editor or publisher. It takes work, but you should be up for the challenge, especially if you’re serious about your craft. As mentioned above, the cleaner the copy, the cheaper the edit. I base my fee on impressions from sample edits – if it’s lagging behind where it should be, I know I’ve my work cut out and charge to suit. Take it slow and read each word aloud without jumping ahead because you 'know' the phrase or have read it a zillion times. This phase is about one letter and space at a time.


Keep a style guide handy. I use The Elements of Style, but there are others out there. It’s good to have to hand for the more obscure rules. A style sheet, consisting of character/setting details, will prove invaluable when rewriting. It’s a simple list to add to as you write your first draft. Character details, place names, and setting are examples where you need consistency throughout. Readers are expert at finding consistency/continuity errors and your style sheet will save you post-release blushes.

Last thing to do is the idiot-check run-through. Just read through the ms to ensure nothing gets left behind. Believe me, it’ll be worth it. Once you’ve that accomplished, it’s time to send it off to your editor. My email address is:

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Stand Up For Indies

Stand Up For Indies

I’ve read a couple of blog posts recently from traditionally published authors venting against Indie publishing, basically viewing it as inferior and too much work for the minimal return. As far as they’re concerned, writers should focus on writing, not on marketing, or anything else that takes time away from producing the goods. They ask why should writers pay through the nose for services provided ‘free of charge’ to prospective authors on the trad’ path?

I’m afraid their argument is ill-informed. For a start, beyond their advance and low-percentage returns, where do they think the money from their sales goes? Their book pays the agent and editors, the designers and marketers, and then there’s the sizable chunk taken by bookshops. Indie authors are well aware of how much stores ask in return for shelf space – up to half for what can be a rarely viewed slot in a distant corner.
Where trad’ published authors may be guaranteed access to the best of bookshops, the balloon often bursts after one month when the book is taken off the ‘Just Published’ shelf and sidelined to the back shelves or, worse, to the discount pile. In the indie world, the author’s novel is always reachable - and not just the most recent work, but all previous publications are there to be accessed at the touch of a button.

And what’s the problem with doing your own marketing? I know many indie authors who are now masters at it, managing to portion off their marketing time without detrimentally affecting their writing time. All right, they may not have the resources for major poster or radio campaigns, but the broad world of social media provides a network that can be far-reaching with the minimum of financing.
They also blathered on about the inferior quality of writing in the Indie world – that there’s a solid reason they’re not traditionally published. I accept that I’ve encountered badly written and badly edited (if at all) indie novels along the way, but such occurrences are in the minority, especially now where authors know that word of mouth dictates that quality wins the day. Which is why indie authors go to so much trouble to exploit the services of beta-readers, professional designers, formatters, and editors, ensuring their product is the best it can be.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s wonderful that we no longer have to suffer the long wait to be accepted by an agent or publisher, and that our stories are making their way to the world at large. We’ve cut out the middle elites and are making our way independently, collaborating to provide so many readers with quality writing they might otherwise not have seen. We write, we edit, we market – constantly pushing against the boundaries, knocking down walls, bringing our work to the people. Long may it continue – it’s high time Indies got the support they deserve.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Getting Out and About - The Healthier Option

I wrote before about the importance of taking time away from the keyboard. When you’re working for yourself as a writer or editor, doing something that you love, the tendency is to lose yourself in the world of story and character, or structure and style. Nobody’s there to ring the bell for lunch, or to let you know that it’s time to go home, especially when your workplace happens to be in your home. But while you may be working hard to meet objectives, hours of isolation and lack of physical activity only serves to draw darkness into your head and sludge into your veins. Getting out into the light and air will not only give your brain a well-deserved break, a nature-heavy walk will help invigorate you holistically.

The important thing for me when I’m out and about is to include water and trees. Nothing placates and stimulates me in equal measure than walking along the river or lakeshore and through ever-changing woodland. I get to witness beautiful swans flirting as they search for a suitable nest site, or I can pause and admire the awe-inspiring vista of the Dartry mountain range to the north of Sligo town.

My powerwalking workout burns the fat while the combined energy of light, trees, and water eradicates stress and leaves me refreshed physically and mentally, more than ready to dive back into whatever project I’m working on. A healthier heart and mind not only gets more work done, but the quality of the work experience is radically enhanced just by that post-walk buzz.

If you’ve read this, I entreat you to make a little plan to take yourself out each day for a nature-heavy walk. Even if you live in a town or city, there are still parks and rivers that you can avail of to lighten your heart and soul. With the exercise you’ll eat and sleep better, but best of all – your work will benefit beyond your expectations. Go on, give it a try and see how right I am.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Always Open to Sample Chapters

While I’m a busy editor, I always make time for sample chapters submitted by writers in the process of searching for a suitable editor for their novel. My sample edits are provided free of charge, which I believe is the way to go, but from what I’ve seen not all editors provide such a service. Maybe that’s because they’re so well established their calendar is more or less always full, most likely with regular clients. That’s a great place to find oneself, and fair play to them because I know from editor friends that it takes several years to reach such a heady height. May their calendars remain full.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to edit sample chapters free of charge. To be honest, it doesn’t take up a whole lot of time, and it goes such a long way to helping writers find the right editor. Personal testimonials help, but you can’t beat the experience of seeing at first hand solid and constructive feedback from a sample of your novel.

It works the other way, too, enabling me to see if the writer’s work is ready to be edited, as well as what level they’re at, which helps determine price. Anyway, I’ve written about that before so I’ll not hit you with it again. All I’ll say is that both sides benefit from the sample edit, so if you’re looking for a reputable freelance editor, submit a sample chapter from your work-in-progress to and I’ll send you back a comprehensive line-edit with no strings attached. All genres are catered for.
You should also visit my website to get a better flavour of my editing approach and background.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Are You In This For The Money?

Are You In This For The Money?

As a freelance editor, I like to know what’s going on in the editing world – I’m a member of several editing groups – so I make it my business to keep up with news and with blogs pertinent to the trade. I happened upon one the other day owned by a person relatively new to the game. It’s great to see newcomers because there are always editors retiring, and there’s always work out there, especially if they have what it takes. What got me about this blog piece was the blogger’s promotion of their services at a rate that ‘couldn’t be matched by anyone else’. Not just that, but why should authors pay what could be seen as a high rate for an edit when their novel isn’t going to make all that much money anyway? This got me thinking about reasons for releasing novels in the first place, and why writers should be willing to pay for a quality service when having your novel edited.

Is the main objective of publishing your novel to make money out of it? It’s a serious question. Are you in it for the money? If that’s the case, what happens when your novel doesn’t sell more than a thousand or two, if that, even with a solid marketing campaign? What happens if you don’t see a return for the cash you forked out for professional editing, formatting, cover design, etc? Do you keep going and put another novel out there, or do you simply give up the ghost and return to the office, or shop, or cleaning windows for a living?
Or is it about having your novel read, irrespective of the financial side of things? Are you the kind of writer who slaves over your novel for a year or more before sending it out there to be read and appreciated, because that’s what deserves to happen to a novel that has been put through a comprehensive pre-publishing process? Yes, it’s wonderful when the book sells and royalties pad your account, and it’s an amazing feeling when you actually make a profit on your initial outlay, but it’s not why you’re in the game. You love writing – it’s something you simply cannot not do, even though you’ve tried because of the constant pressures involved in placing it before near-enough everything else. You might be lucky enough that your partner works full-time, or you might be able to hold down a part-time job, but you’re willing to live this life as a struggling writer because it makes your days worthwhile. It’s not about the money and, from my experience, you’re more than willing to save to enable you to have your novel professionally edited, formatted, and the cover designed to ensure that the work you release to the world is the very best it can be.

There’s also the reality that a writer’s reputation, and their sales, rises when they have several novels published over a number of years. Readers might like a novel, but if there’s nothing else belonging to the author out there they’ll simply go elsewhere, and you couldn’t blame them. So it’s not about caving in and going for a cheap-as-you-can-get editor because your novel might not pull in more than two or three thousand in royalties. The writing game is not a sprint to the finish. It’s about learning your craft and applying that as best you can to the work at hand before having it professionally edited and prepped for publication. It’s about building your author platform and networking across the breadth of the social-media world in order to pitch yourself and your product to the widest possible audience, always learning as you go and remembering to pay it forward by helping those who are coming up behind you.
I’m taking a deep breath here because ranting takes it out of me. What was this all about? I provide a solid service, taking into account the realities of living as a writer when determining my fee, but I don’t give my services away, either. Why should I? I work more hours than is healthy, and that’s definitely not going to change if I were to undercut the competition to the extent that my rates couldn’t be matched by anyone else. If you want quality, you pay for it – that’s how I see it. And if you care about your novel, you’ll ensure that your editor is the best you can get, not simply because he or she is the cheapest. Do your research and get the real deal.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Next Step (submitting a sample chapter)

You’re a writer. You’ve spent a year or more writing what you hope will be a best-selling novel. The sweat and tears of stolen hours and neglected housework have soaked into what can only be described as the work of your life so far. After all the struggle and stress, you’ve rewritten and burnished it as much as you can, hopefully with the help of peer critique and beta-readers, and now it needs to be placed into the hands of an experienced editor who will take it on and work it through several collaborative phases that will see it develop to a level where it’s ready to meet the world at large.
You search the web to find the editor of your dreams, visit websites and read through a phonebook of testimonials, as well as asking writer friends for recommendations. It’s the way to go. You need to build a shortlist of potentials.

Then what do you do? If they don’t offer a free sample edit, move on. Just my opinion, but worth considering. You need to know how they work – how they approach a variety of aspects of writing and story. Are they constructive and considered? Do they suggest or dictate? Are they actually helpful rather than simply corrective? In other words, will they bring you on as a writer as they reveal the elements that require reviewing?

It goes both ways, of course. The writer gains a sense of what the editor is about, while the editor gets the opportunity to see where the writer is coming from. As an editor, doing a sample line-edit gives me a good idea of the work levels that might lie ahead if the writer commissions me to edit the full manuscript. Sometimes the work needs more time with the writer – maybe another run-through after some research on certain aspects of craft. Plus, I get to know the writer better through our correspondence, and this allows me to determine approach, price, and timeframe.

A relatively well-polished draft will take up to two weeks for a first pass. The second pass takes about a week (evenings), and the final proofread usually takes three or four days. Those three serious passes: line-edit, copy edit, proofread, will leave you with a manuscript ready for final pre-release prepping. Anyone who has worked with me knows how well that process works. Send me your sample chapter and see for yourself.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Are You a Healthy Writer?

Are You a Healthy Writer?
As a freelance editor, it’s common for me to spend up to twelve hours a day at my workstation. No real surprise in that, you might think, especially if you’re a writer slogging through your day to develop your novel into something that has the legs to take it out into the big, bad, self-publishing world.
As writers, editors, etc., spending hours at your keyboard is par for the course. It’s what we do and, to be honest, it’s not something we complain about. No too much, anyway. No, the problem is how detrimental such a sedentary regime is to our overall health. How many of you are battling with your weight? What about all those back and muscle issues you’ve developed since you became what equates to a full-time writer? Have you had to struggle against the darkness due to heightened stress levels?
I’ve always been a physically active individual. I like cake a bit too much so recognised the importance of getting out there to keep the ‘happy inches’ off, and more times than not I succeeded in keeping relatively trim and healthy.
That all changed when I became a freelance editor. With no shortage of work, it wasn’t too long before I discovered that my favourite clothes weren’t fitting me as comfortably as they used to. And because the workload was constant, I found that I now had to drag myself out to get a bit of fresh air and light, never mind actual physical activity.
I thought I was doing okay, getting out most days, even if it was just to scoot over to the shops, or to sit on a bench at the river and watch the swans and ducks doing their wonderful thing. But building the business was the priority and my full focus slipped from myself to my work. A week after Christmas, my partner and I weighed ourselves, and it was with shock that I realised the weight had just piled on during the past year - I was a stone and a half overweight.
That was a month ago. My workload is still heavy, but now I’m adamant that I get active at least once every day. I’m up and out before 7.30 each morning, pushing through a five mile power walk through the local woods and along the lake that ends in a pretty serious stretching routine. Once I’m showered I get down to work, but now I ensure that I take a few minutes break every half hour or so where I walk through my house, stretching and bending (and making tea) and doing my eye exercises.
Instead of sitting all day, I now spend every second hour standing, with my laptop on a sturdy pile of books on my kitchen table (got that great idea from a writing friend who almost seized up from too much sitting). I move from my trusty armchair at my favourite window to my kitchen, and back again, getting my stretches and shoulder rolls in as I go, guaranteeing a solid flow of activity through my working day.
Best of all, I’ve cut back on my working schedule and now have a few hours to enjoy socially each evening. I love my work, but life’s way too short not to have that bit of time for yourself and your loved ones. And best of all, I’ve lost several pounds each week – some more than others – and many of my favourite clothes no longer evoke groans of discomfort.
Because writing and editing require constant high focus, it’s essential to control stress that we might not always be aware of. I’m a laid back kind of guy. I’m into things that encourage me to chill out, which is why I’ve joined a tai-chi class, a discipline I practised years ago but allowed fall by the wayside. It’s the best thing I’ve done in years. I’m so relaxed after it, I almost don’t know myself, and I’d recommend it to anyone who spends much of their day at their computer. It not only stretches the body in a gentle way, it also invigorates the internal elements.
As a writer/editor/artist, do you keep physically active to ensure you remain relatively fit? Have you any tips you’d like to share below?