Category Archives: Revising & Critiquing

Whether you’re working alone or with a writing partner, with an editor or a copyeditor, or even workshopping, there’s always room for improvement.

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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Member Spotlight: Catching Up with Alys Arden

Posted by September 8th, 2015

Alys Arden 8.8.2015It’s always wonderful to have Book Country member Alys Arden visit the blog. Today she’s here to update us on all the exciting things that are in the pipeline for her and her bestselling self-published young adult novel THE CASQUETTE GIRLS (originally workshopped right here on Book Country!).

Lucy Silag: We know you’re re-releasing THE CASQUETTE GIRLS with Skyscape (an imprint of Amazon Publishing) but we need more details! Fill us in on how it got picked up, what’s new, and when we can buy the new version.

Alys Arden: THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, along with its unreleased sequel, were both acquired by Skyscape early this year. They are re-releasing a new edit of TCG with a new cover (see below), which was just revealed last week! When I re-drafted the manuscript for Skyscape, my objective was to polish it up without changing SO much as to confuse people who don’t want to read the new version and wanted to skip to book two, but I wanted to add some exciting new things for fans who do want to dive into the new edit. As for what’s different . . . there are a few brand new scenes; my beta readers said Nicco is more sinister in the version. Oh, and there is a new layer to the curse! I really had fun focusing on the magic and the witches in this draft. There are a few more hints about things that will happen in book two, a few more clues. *wink* One of the scenes that I ended up totally re-writing, and had so much fun with, was Adeline’s fight scene in 1728. I’ll just say . . . it’s a bit bloodier, now. The pre-order went up this week, and the book will be released on November 17th.

THE CASQUETTE GIRLS
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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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G.D. Deckard on Self-Publishing his Debut Novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country

Posted by June 24th, 2015

G.D. Deckard on Self-Publishing his Debut Novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country

Congratulations to Book Country member G.D. Deckard on publishing his debut science fiction novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country! G.D. is an outstanding member of the Book Country community. He’s always involved in engaging and helpful conversations about the writing process and book marketing in the discussion boards. G.D. workshopped THE PHOENIX DIARY on Book Country, and we are so happy to see it finally hit the e-shelves. Below, G.D. shares what inspired him to write THE PHOENIX DIARY and how joining Book Country helped him in the publishing process. THE PHOENIX DIARY is available on Book Country and on all major online retailers. Connect with G.D. on Book Country.

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Janet Umenta: What inspired you to write THE PHOENIX DIARY? How long did it take you to write the book?

G.D. Deckard: One day I realized that abandoned streets, houses, shopping malls, and schools meant a world without oil. The first working title of my manuscript was AMERICA WITHOUT OIL. But that story idea had already been used by other authors. So I took the opportunity in my book to blend a straight-forward adventure with answers to life’s oldest questions: Where did humans come from? What is death? Do we have a destiny? I made up the answers, of course, but that’s the great part about science fiction. The making up the answers part and the actual writing took me six years.

JU: THE PHOENIX DIARY is a hard science fiction novel. Who are the science fiction authors you looked up to growing up? Did you draw from any of their techniques?

GDD: The science fiction authors I looked up to growing up were Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, and Delany – the classics. I am fascinated by our sense of wonder rooted in reality, which led me to explore science fiction. While doing research for THE PHOENIX DIARY, I discovered that there are actual remnants of ancient nuclear reactors in West Africa that are nearly two billion years old. I was stunned and asked myself, how did they get there? Continue reading

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New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!

Posted by June 22nd, 2015

New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!A new set of Waiting to Be Discovered titles is featured on Book Country’s Read and Review page! We are always blown away by the diverse array of books we feature. All thanks to you!

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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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Book Country Top Rated Books for June 2015

Posted by June 15th, 2015

New Top Rated Books for June

A new set of Top Rated books is featured on the Read and Review page. We are excited to share with you the books that garnered great positive feedback!

  1. THE KITTEN AND THE CLOUD by Meg Ripley
  2. LEAF by Serena Sanchez
  3. LESSONS OF OUR FATHERS by Ivella Jacobs
  4. AS A CROW FLIES by Rob Emery
  5. NEW WORLD UNDERGROUND by Josh Vitalie
  6. RIDER OF THE SUN HORSE by RJ Blain
  7. DARKNESS BRUTAL by Rachel A. Marks
  8. THE NOTHINGNESS by Keith Rieger
  9. ONE GREEN BOTTLE by Curtis Bausse
  10. DELWYN OF THE REALMS by Kelly Proudfoot
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Sign Up for the Book Country Buddy Program

Posted by June 10th, 2015

We are very excited to introduce the Book Country Buddy Program! The Book Country Buddy Program is a new FREE perk for our members! We designed this program based on member feedback, and we can’t wait to see how our members will use it to write better books than they ever thought possible.BC_Buddy-Program_600x400

What is the Book Country Buddy Program?

Using the information you provide on this form, Book Country staff will match you with a fellow writer in your genre. You and your buddy will commit to an intensive 12-week manuscript reviewing and revising process, all via BookCountry.com.

This is a great opportunity for writers to:

  • Get valuable, detailed feedback on multiple drafts of the same manuscript.
  • Gain a like-minded writing partner and friend on Book Country. 
  • Commit to an ambitious yet attainable writing and revising plan.

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New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country

Posted by June 8th, 2015

New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book CountryWe’ve added new titles in the Waiting to be Discovered carousel on the Read and Review page. Help a fellow author by leaving constructive feedback!

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New Book Country Editor’s Picks for June

Posted by June 1st, 2015

editor's picksWe’ve updated the Editor’s Picks carousel on the Read and Review page. Check out a book and leave a review!

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