Monday, December 27, 2010

Should I Hire a Freelance Editor

Today's post was originally posted at Lit Agent Rachelle Gardner's blog, Rants & Ramblings (March 25, 2010). Enjoy!

Lately more and more people have been asking me if they should hire an editor prior to submitting to agents. Here's my take:

Using a freelance editor can be a great idea - if you use it as a learning experience. You need to do most of the work yourself. I think it's wasted money if you're counting on someone to fix your manuscript for you. The point is to get an experienced set of eyes on it to help you identify problems and figure out how to fix them.

Prior to being represented or having a contracted book, the best way to work with an editor is to have them give you notes on your book, but not make changes themselves in the manuscript. Then you can go back to your manuscript, grasp the reasons for the changes they're suggesting, and implement them, all the while learning how to make your book stronger. Hopefully you're going to take that new knowledge with you into writing the next book.

It can be very helpful for an editor to give you an evaluation of your first few chapters, so that you can then rework the entire manuscript according to what you learned. It's a terrific learning experience and can help you grow as a writer. It's almost like having a writing tutor.

If you get an agent and/or sell your first book based on a manuscript that has been heavily edited by others (or is the product of intense critique group feedback), plan to do the same thing with your second book before submitting to your agent or publisher. And your third book, etc. Over time you'll grow as a writer and become less dependent on outside help.

Many agents and editors are uncomfortable with writers having too much outside editorial help prior to being contracted, because it can mask a writer's true abilities. I'd hate to get you a 3-book contract with a publisher based on that stellar first book, only to find out that you had a ton of help with it and are not able to deliver that quality of book a second time.

Q4U: Have you hired an editor? Have you considered it? Do you think it's a good idea?

Rachelle Gardner is an agent with WordServe Literary Group based in Denver, Colorado. She live with her firefighter husband, two middle school-aged daughters and a fun-loving yellow lab at the breathtaking elevation of 7,000 feet in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she's not reading, you can usually find her out running, hiking, skiing, or having coffee with her girlfriends.

Until next time,


Monday, December 20, 2010

December's Update

I'm writing this a few days early, as I usually do. Today, Monday the 20th, is probably taking my family out of town on a job interview for my husband. (At the time of this writing, we're debating on the whole family going, or just TMOTH.) I'm also about to move (finally!) so I'll probably be brain-dead by Sunday night (the 19th.)


My life has tried very hard to get in the way of my writing. What should have been an obstacle--my son landing in the hospital Thanksgiving week--actually turned into a blessing writing-wise. With him stuck in the hospital for observation, and me with him, I had plenty of nearly-uninterrupted hours to write (and watch the Burn Notice marathon on USA Thanksgiving Day.) This at least got me jump-started, so now, most of the scenes I needed to work on with Homebody are down on paper. I'm hopeful that if I'm in the car today (Monday), I'll be able to spend some time cleaning things up. As long as my brain's not too dead. We'll have to see about that one. ;)

When I have this all done, I'll be sending the draft off to one last crit partner in Pennsylvania, and then working on tweaking/perfecting my query letter. Yea!

What's up next after that? I haven't decided yet. I need to do some editing on my other projects, however, I'm kind of burnt out on editing. I really need to do some writing again--a fresh project, whether it's with new or old characters. I don't care which, I just want something new. I've got several unfinished projects I could choose from, and some new ideas I'm playing around with, so I've got a lot to pick from! 

So, how about you? How are your current projects coming along? Have the holidays or life gotten in the way, or are you persisting through everything? 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Isn't What It Used To Be

Photo by DreAminginDigITal via DeviantArt.
I'm finding it harder as an adult to get into the Christmas spirit than it was when I was a kid. As a child, I couldn't wait to decorate the tree, start playing Christmas tunes, and of course there was Christmas morning. I have vivid memories of mornings where my parents had artfully arranged the gifts around the tree the night before. Every Christmas morning was magical.

Now, with divorced parents plus in-laws who want to see us, Christmas is, quite honestly, an energy drainer for me. I actually have begun to loathe the holiday season because it means that I don't get recharged and get through it feeling more exhausted than before.

I've tried to explain this to TMOTH (The Man of The House), but I'm not sure he really gets it. And while I understand his wanting to see family, I'm getting to be of the opinion that that's what family reunions are for. It's a drain to watch people open gifts, gorge themselves on too much food, and spend too little time honoring what the season is really supposed to be about: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Maybe that's why the season is such a problem for me: we're focused on the wrong things. Instead of attending a church service together, we gorge ourselves on turkey with the trimmings. Of course none of us visit each others churches since none of us can agree on a church. (My church tends to close down for Christmas anyway, so there are Christmas Eve services--on three nights no less!--but nothing Christmas day.)

This year, let's try not to be so focused on having the "perfect" dinner, or finding the "perfect" gift for someone. In these rough economic times, it's best not to feel the added pressure that the season creates anyway. I know my own Christmas giving will be leaner this year. Focus instead on your immediate family. Be thankful--and express it!--to God for sending us His Son. Make a tradition you want to continue in your life. The pastor of my church, after the gift exchange, has a tradition of putting a discarded bow on his head, sitting under the tree, and reflecting on what God has given him as well as what he can give to God. Maybe that's something you could do as well.

I wish you the happiest of Christmases. I pray you find how truly blessed you are, regardless of how abundant or lean this year may be for you.

Please enjoy this Christmas tune. It's one of my favorites.

Until next time,

Monday, December 06, 2010

Crime Pays Better

After being told by many, many people that I should watch ABC's Castle, I recently started catching it on Hulu. I love the line from the opening: "There are two kinds of folks who sit around planning how to kill people--psychopaths and mystery writers. I'm the kind that pays better."

That line alone drew me into the show.

From the time I became addicted to Nancy Drew, I've had a bit of a fascination with crime. Maybe that's why I tend to write mysteries over any other genre (even my science fiction stories are primarily mysteries, the setting puts them into the sci-fi category). I can spend hours reading the news about murders, robberies, carjackings. Sometimes, I come across a story that boggles my mind.

And despite the fact that I can, in theory, understand where the criminal is coming from as a writer, as a human being, I find myself wondering "how could they do that?"

Even though I write almost daily about murder and mayhem, I'm still relieved that I haven't been desensitized by my own research and can shake my head at what others do.

From =Falln-Stock at
For instance, a few years ago, there was a pregnant woman killed relatively nearby (within 100 miles of where I live). Her unborn baby was cut from the womb. The perpetrator had told her boyfriend or husband that she was pregnant, and after a while, needed a baby to "prove" things. As a writer, the story fascinated me. As a woman, it made me sick to my stomach, especially since it was around this time that my husband and I had started trying to have children.

Quite honestly, I think this split in my personality may make me a better writer. And I know for a fact it's led to some of my story ideas.

So even though crime may pay, I'm relieved that the only kind of crime I'll ever be paid for is the fictional kind. I'll just continue reading about the real-life crime, and leave the perpetrating to the idiots psychopaths criminals.

And because I love Castle's theme song so well, here's that ditty just for your own amusement. Enjoy!
Until next time,

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