Category Archives: Publishing A-Z

Covering all aspects of the industry: traditional publishing, digital publishing, self-publishing, and everything in between.

VIDEO: 5 Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid

Posted by September 21st, 2015

Become a savvier author in 15 minutes!

In this video tutorial, editors Meghan Harvey and Christina Henry de Tessan share the 5 Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid:

  1. Don’t forget your reader.

  2. Don’t fly blind.

  3. Don’t rush the process.

  4. Your editorial team is on your side.

  5. Don’t wait to build your audience.

Take a seat and get schooled on how you can avoid these mistakes as you work to reach your writing goals.

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What Is a Developmental Edit?

Posted by August 24th, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-508609021Our guest blogger this morning is editor Christina Henry de Tessan of Girl Friday Productions, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this year’s San Francisco Writers Conference. She’s here today to break down the nuances of the term “developmental edit,” something you’ve likely heard as you make your way from being a writer to being an author.

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Editing can serve as something of a catchall term that can refer to anything from tinkering with semicolons to removing entire characters or plot threads. This nebulousness can make it confusing to know what you’re even asking for when you’re in search of editorial help. In an effort to make the entire undertaking less opaque—and hopefully less daunting—here are some insights into that crucial first stage in the editorial process: the developmental edit.

Fiction

Character: For fiction, character is paramount. Your characters can be lovable, flawed, complicated, even loathsome, but no matter what, you’ve got to make us care about them. Do we see their vulnerable underbellies and darkest thoughts? Or are you keeping your characters at arm’s length? Does your main character have enough nuance to keep us interested, or is he/she falling flat or being a bit too predictable in places? Does your protagonist evolve over the course of the story? Do the characters feel real? Do we feel invested in their trajectories? Developmental editors are here to make sure your readers are compelled to hang out with your characters until the very last page.

Plot, pacing, and structure: Does the story feel rushed? Are you doling out information in a way that leaves us wanting to turn the page? Or does it drag right at the moment when we want resolution? Is there enough tension? Is the lush setting or history of the time period eclipsing the main plot? Are there awkward information dumps that could be woven in more naturally? Are there any holes? Are you making any problematic leaps in logic? This can seem obvious, but if you’ve worked on numerous drafts of a book, old material may no longer make sense with more recently added material.

Style: Although a developmental edit doesn’t usually focus extensively on the line (sentence structure, repetition of words or phrases, and so on), a dev editor will point out stylistic issues. One that comes up a lot is the classic “Show, Don’t Tell” edict. Writers will often do a fabulous job of showing and then undermine their own great storytelling by telling just to make sure they got their point across. So if young Rose blushes and averts her gaze when the boy she has a crush on approaches her, you don’t need to then tell us explicitly that she felt nervous. The dev editor is there to tell you that your scene can stand on its own two feet—and if it needs extra support, your editor will suggest fixes. Your dev editor will also look at voice and tone—is your dialogue sounding genuine or stilted? Do all the characters sound the same? Does their word choice accurately reflect who they are?

Memoir

With memoir, a developmental edit can be particularly helpful, as it is sometimes difficult for writers to transform their life story into a cohesive narrative comprised of discrete scenes. How do you choose what to tell and what not to? How do you integrate crucial background information in a way that feels seamless? Perhaps most importantly, how do you nail the voice from the very first page so that the reader is drawn into your story?

Nonfiction

Nonfiction is a bit of a different beast. If you’ve written a book on finance, character development is not your primary concern, and ensuring that the plot thickens at just the right moment isn’t relevant. But a developmental editor can work other kinds of magic with nonfiction. Below are some of the most frequent issues that come up with nonfiction.

Audience: It’s imperative that you know who you’re writing for. But this can be surprisingly tricky when you’re an expert on the subject—after all, when you think about financial planning all day long, it can be hard to see what a novice might not know. A good dev editor can hone your language to make it appropriate for your target audience, using the right level of vocabulary and making the right assumptions about your readers’ background knowledge. Have you assumed a level of understanding of reverse mortgages that will leave your readers flummoxed? Your editor will be the one to point that out.

Organization: When you’re a subject-matter expert, it can be hard to see your material from an outside perspective. You’re so deeply immersed in it that it can be difficult to present your argument in a logical fashion. Who is picking up your book, and what do they hope to get out of it? Have you organized your material in such a way that each section builds on the last? Does it give enough foundational information at the outset? Or have you bogged it down with too much background before getting to your message? A developmental editor will point out the holes and ensure that there is continuity so that your readers never once furrow their eyebrows in confusion.

A good developmental editor is like some hybrid of a detective and a psychologist, sniffing out problems and proposing solutions so that you can polish and hone before putting your beloved manuscript in front of a wider audience. In short, we hope you’ll think of us as your secret weapon.

Christina Henry de TessanAbout Christina Henry de Tessan

Christina Henry de Tessan is the vice president of editorial at Girl Friday Productions, a full-service editorial firm headquartered in Seattle. Formerly of Chronicle Books and Seal Press, she’s also the author of several travel books, including Forever Paris and Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad.

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Forty-Eight Hours to Publish My Book by Book Country Member Len Webster

Posted by June 17th, 2015

Forty-Eight Hours to Publish My Book by Book Country Member Len Webster

Book Country member and best-selling author Len Webster shares the final days before the publication of SOMETIMES MOMENTS. Len workshopped SOMETIMES MOMENTS on Book Country.

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48 HOURS TILL PUBLICATION

With forty-eight hours to go before I published my third romance novel, SOMETIMES MOMENTS, I found myself considerably overwhelmed. To the point where I wanted to throw up. Not like a little. Like I got wasted just before 10PM on New Year’s Eve and ended up in a disgusting and highly unlady-like puking fest.

Forty-Eight Hours to Publish My Book by Book Country Member Len Webster

 

 

 

 

 

True story?

You’ll never know.

When it comes to publishing, time has been both my friend and my enemy:

Friend: I am excited that all the work I put into writing and editing SOMETIMES MOMENTS would finally result in a book.

Enemy: I still have a million things to do, but not enough time before the release to do them.

Damn, time.

WHAT I STILL HAD TO DO:

Create promotional pictures and keep a careful eye on my pre-order sales.

I also had to tell my brain to stop overthinking “No one will like it!” thoughts and replay some “Someone will love SOMETIMES MOMENTS!” ones in my mind before I fell asleep. Continue reading

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Bouchercon 2014 : Meet Alibi Editor Dana Edwin Isaacson

Posted by November 10th, 2014

Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach kicks off November 13th in Long Beach, California. Bouchercon is one of the world’s largest crime fiction conventions. Dana Edwin Isaacson, Senior Editor at Alibi, shares what he his most looking forward to at Bouchercon.

ALIBI editor Bouchercon 2014Janet Umenta: What are you most looking forward to at Bouchercon 2014?

Dana Edwin Isaacson: During the e-publishing forum on Thursday, our Alibi authors are doing a virtual eBook signing, using our partner Autography. Interested mystery readers can meet our authors at the signings, get a personal inscription or photograph with the author, and then go and download their personalized eBook. As I’ve yet to see this incredibly cool innovation in action, I’m eager to get my own personalized eBooks!

I’m also excited to be meeting in person for the first time a few of our Alibi authors. When editing a novel, you develop an intimate relationship with the author’s viewpoint. It’s fascinating to meet in person someone whom you feel you already know.

JU:  What new trends do you see in the mystery and thriller genres?

DEI: Cozies are selling well. In online strategies, novels with a female protagonist find it easier to win readers.  Also, there seems to be an uptick of medical thrillers. Continue reading

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4 Reasons to Go to a Writer Conference by Noelle Pierce

Posted by October 17th, 2014

Noelle PierceIf you’re a writer and you’re trying to decide whether to go to a regional or national conference, then my advice is to go. Granted, my experiences are limited to conferences related to the romance genre, but I think some things are going to translate no matter what genre is represented. Whether it’s a national or regional conference, there are going to be pros and cons—and I feel in most cases, the pros will outweigh the other.

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What conferences can give you:

1.  Networking with other writers at various stages in their careers. A conference is one of the best places to meet a critique partner or mentor. It’s also a place to be with like-minded individuals. I cherish those few days a year where I can walk up to virtually anyone and have something in common with him/her. Continue reading

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7 Things You Need to Know to Write the Best Title for Your Book by Keith Ogorek

Posted by September 17th, 2014

Your book title is your first marketing decision

Choosing a title for your book is certainly a creative decision, but it is also your first marketing decision because your book title can greatly help or hinder the sale of your book. While most authors usually have a title in mind when they first start writing their manuscript,  it is worth considering the following tips before you select a final title for your book.

Short can be sweet . . . and memorable

Best title for your book Think about the book titles you remember. I suspect many have short titles. Try to come up with a title for your book that has no more than four or five words at most. For whatever reason, it seems like a lot of titles have three words in them. The Hunger Games and The Tipping Point are examples. Keep that in mind as you craft your title.

Avoid words that are obscure, hard to pronounce, or spell

Sometimes in an attempt to be provocative authors will choose words that are unusual in an attempt to standout. Don’t be tempted. Obscure words are great for scoring points in Scrabble, but for book titles. Continue reading

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5 Considerations for Sequel Writing by Hillary Jacques

Posted by September 10th, 2014

Hillary Jacques on sequel writing

Welcome Urban Fantasy author Hillary Jacques! Hillary has been a Book Country member since 2011, workshopping THIS IS DALTON and BROKEN IN. Her new book, CARNIEPUNK: RECESSION OF THE DIVINE, will be out in December and is published by Simon and Schuster. Hillary shares advice on sequel writing. 

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Writing a first novel is like going on a carnival ride in a foreign language. Even when you think you know what’s happening, there are these moments of pure discovery where you round a corner and find a ghost town or a nemesis long thought dead. It’s almost magical. And then comes the sequel.

Writing a sequel isn’t as simple as getting in line for the ride again. Nope. The author boards, ticket in hand, but instead of bumping along a familiar set of tracks, there are all these considerations to deal with. Details, development, and continuity. Half of them have been explained before, and the other half have changed. So what do you do? Continue reading

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Assistant Editor Michelle Meade on the Editorial Process

Posted by September 9th, 2014

“Never feel that your book is finished before you get started in the editorial process.” Michelle Mead, now Assistant Editor at MIRA Books, an imprint of Harlequin, gives advice to new authors starting the editorial process.

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Slice Literary Writers Conference: What’s All This Talk About “Platform,” and Do I Really Need One?

Posted by September 5th, 2014

Are you headed to the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference tomorrow?

I will be there, speaking on a panel called “What’s All This Talk About “Platform,” and Do I Really Need One?” from 2:45-4:00pm in Room 3203.

Here’s what the panel is all about:

It seems that writing a great manuscript is not enough to attract a publisher. Many say you aren’t publishing material unless you have a “platform.” But what exactly counts as a platform, and is it really that important? Agents and editors talk about how platform influences publishers, how best to spend your energy building one (or not), and how the definition and importance of platform changes depending on what you’re writing.

Panelists: Emily Griffin, Editor, Grand Central Publishing; Kirby Kim, Agent, Janklow & Nesbit; Lucy Silag, Community and Engagement Manager, Book Country; Terra Chalberg, Agent, Chalberg & Sussman; Maya Ziv, Editor, HarperCollins

Moderator: Joshua Bodwell, Author and Executive Director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance

Slice Magazine

The Slice Literary Writers’ Conference is hosted by Slice Magazine, a fantastic publication that “aims to bridge the gap between emerging and established authors.”

If you’ll be there, I hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a spirited and informative conversation about the writer’s platform and what that means.

I’ll also be tweeting as much as I can from the conference, and I’m sure there’ll be lots of interesting tips and tweets coming from other participants as well. Follow the official conference hashtag #SMC14 as well as #SliceConference to stay in the loop!

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Book Country Sponsors Slice Literary Writers’ Conference

Posted by August 26th, 2014

I’m excited to introduce the Book Country community to Maria Gagliano and Celia Johnson. They are the cofounders of Slice Magazine, a literary magazine dedicated to connecting emerging writers of poetry, literary fiction, and narrative nonfiction with one another. The Slice Literary Writers’ Conference continues that mission with two days of programming dedicated to illuminating craft and publishing topics. Book Country has signed on to be a sponsor of this year’s conference because we admire their mission of helping writers find their audience.Slice Literary Writers' Conference

Our sponsorship includes a scholarship for one MFA student to attend the conference this year. We’re excited to tell you more about that scholarship recipient in a future post. In the meantime, I wanted to give Maria and Celia a chance to tell you why they began doing this incredible event, and why you should keep this conference on your radar.

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We’re excited to host Slice magazine’s fourth annual writers’ conference in Brooklyn on September 6 and 7. My Slice co-founder Celia Johnson and I started Slice eight years ago as a print literary magazine dedicated to helping emerging writers find an audience for their work. In that time, an amazing community of writers, readers, and publishing professionals have rallied around Slice’s mission, working together to foster the next generation of great writers. Continue reading

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