Archive for June, 2011

When Editor and Author Disagree

I realize it’s a tough concept to grasp (not!), but sometimes editors and authors disagree during the editing process. When that happens, here are some tips to use.

  • A good book editor never changes an author’s voice or writing style. However, a good book editor should ask questions of the author regarding things that are unclear in the writing. If the editor doesn’t understand what the author is trying to say, the editor is not in a position to correct the manuscript.
  • A good book editor offers suggestions to the author on how something may be written more clearly for reader understanding. If the editor is confident about what the author’s intention is, it’s helpful when the editor offers suggestions that rewrite the sentence or paragraph so the author can see the editor’s point more clearly.
  • A good book editor understands authors know what they intend to say and thus it’s easy for authors to skip something they think is obvious but the reader may not. It’s the job of a good book editor to alert the author to those holes in the manuscript so the author can fill them in.
  • A good author never takes edits personally. Publishing is business. Books are in print (or on e-readers) a long time. Good authors realize good editors strive to improve the book, not attack the author.
  • A good author considers editor suggestions regarding content and clarity, then makes the decision on how to handle the suggestions.
  • A good author understands there are style manuals the editor follows (Chicago Manual of Style in the case of book editing) and allows the copy edits (punctuation, capitalization, subject-verb agreement, etc.) without argument.

There will be disagreements between editors and authors, but using these tips should help.

Happy writing!

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Self-publishing Blues

One of the most common misconceptions about independent publishing is that if you pay to publish, you are self-published. That’s simply not true UNLESS you own the publishing company. So, who is the publisher? The owner of the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is the publisher.

Thus, if you purchase the ISBN from Bowker, you are the publisher of your work and thus are self-published.

At Expert Publishing, we purchase the ISBNs, which means we are the publisher of record and none of our authors (except me) are self-published. It also means all the negative connotations associated with the term self-publishing disappear.

Unfortunately, too many puppy mill presses confuse the marketplace by continuing to misuse the term self-publishing.

Another confusing term the puppy mill presses use is print-on-demand publishing. Print-on-demand isn’t a type of publishing. It’s a type of printing technology. Specifically, it’s the term used for digital printing technology.

The last term I want to alert you to is vanity publishing versus pay-to-publish. Vanity publishers charge high fees and do little or nothing to improve your book. They are not discerning in what they publish. If you’ve got enough money, they’ll publish you.

Pay-to-publish options are springing up all over, including in royalty publishing houses. In 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that Thomas Nelson, a major Christian book publisher, added West Bow Press as an imprint. The article alerts the reader that Thomas Nelson editors will not be editing manuscripts published in this imprint, however.

Another pay-to-publish enterprise is Harlequin’s (yes, the royalty romance publisher) venture, Harlequin Horizons. In November 2009, an email interview DearAuthor.com conducted with to Malle Vallik, Harlequin’s Digital Director, revealed that books¬† published in this imprint won’t enjoy “traditional Harlequin distribution” nor “carry traditional Harlequin branding.”

Book publishing is business, not dream fulfillment. It’s up to you, as author, to make the best business decision for your publishing goals. Expert Publishing only publishes business, self-help, and inspiration books. Yes, our authors pay for our expertise, and we’re discerning about what we publish since our name is on the book too. If we don’t think the author’s manuscript is ready for the marketplace, we turn it down.

Before you decide how to publish your book, do your homework. If you decide to sell your intellectual property to a royalty publisher, good for you. If you decide to keep your rights and own them once published, good for you. But whichever way you go, be sure you’re getting good book design, good book editing, and book publishing expertise you trust because books are in print a long time.

Happy writing!

 

Abbreviate Abbreviations in Your Writing

We live in a world of instant gratification, instant success, instant food, just about instant everything. We have the attention span of gerbils as we flip through channels on our televisions or move away from web sites that don’t load fast enough.

And this trend shows up in our writing in the form of abbreviations. Department becomes Dept. Management becomes Mgmt.¬† Each example eliminates some of the word’s vowels.

I knw th wrld cn ndrstnd ths.

I’m sure you get the idea of my previous sentence and there isn’t one vowel in it (except the opening “I”). But getting the idea isn’t what you want when you write. You want to be understood.

Text messaging is another example of how we’ve come to rely on abbreviations in our writing.

Book writing, however, differs from other writing because books immortalize authors. Add that we’re writing in a living language and you only have to read one or two Olde English books to see how language evolves. We don’t need to complicate the reader’s experience by adding too many abbreviations.

ACRONYMS

Having said that, it’s also tedious to read the spelled out names of commonly recognized acronyms. For example, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is well-known as MADD. So when writing about MADD, include the spelled out name the first time you use the acronym, then use the acronym thereafter. Example: She looked up MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) on the Internet. She was amazed at how much information there was about MADD.

Another issue for writers is whether to use “a” or “an” with an acronym. How we pronounce the first word of the acronym determines which we use, not whether the first letter is a consonant or vowel. For example, the consonant “n” sounds like a vowel, so we use “an.” Example: Insert an en-dash between numbers such as 2010-2011.

STATES and COMPASS POINTS

Everyone knows to abbreviate states with the two-letter abbreviation (AK, AR, ND, NY, etc.), but we don’t always know when to abbreviate compass points. Abbreviate compass points that follow street names, but not those that precede street names. Example: He lived at 210 Tulip Street NW. He lived at 210 Northwest Tulip Street.

TITLES

Abbreviate social titles such as Ms. or Mr. or Mrs.

Abbreviate other titles only when they precede a person’s name. Example: Rev. Billy Graham.

DATES

Abbreviate dates (Jun 2, 2011) only in informal writing. When writing your book (which is formal writing), spell out June 2, 2011.

Remember that your book will reflect on you for a long time. Be sure you write to be understood. Abbreviations are a good tool, but can be confusing. Avoid overusing them.

Happy writing!