How to Treat Your Freelance Editor (And What to Expect From Me)

How to Treat Your Freelance Editor (And What to Expect From Me)

untitled (6)As a disclaimer, I will not talk about any of my editorial clients in the future. I simply wanted to use this one as an example of what you should expect from an editor and how you should react.

Before diving into the nitty gritty of this post, click on this article to learn some more about we freelance editors, and what some will not tell you because we assume it’s the obvious. However, I have learned that it is not, which is why I’m going to create a contract future clients will sign, as well as putting a disclaimer on my website.

Continuing on, I want to first preface this by saying that I know not all of my clients are going to be wonderful, pretty snowflakes that I want to catch in my hand and hope they don’t melt. However, the last experience I had with a client was horrible. It was made even worse because I met him in public, which I am no longer going to do with local clients. Overall, this client could not handle criticism, but I am going to use examples from what happened to show you what to expect when hiring a freelance editor–and overall how you should actually be treating freelance editors, who are treating you and your manuscript with respect, not the ones who aren’t.

  1. Be clear and specific about what you want. I will take some responsibility, as I do not have specific prices for each type of editing I do. In the future, if a client asks for a proofread, that is all I will do, even if it needs so much more because the manuscript is a train wreck–but more on that later. But it’s your responsibility to be sure that you are ready for that. However, my client told me he wanted me to clean up the manuscript for grammar, but he also asked me to tell me if it was publishable, which basically gave me permission to tear the manuscript apart to unearth that publishable potential. When I sent the editorial letter and we talked on the phone that same day, he seemed like he appreciated my feedback. However, he was an angry bear in public, claiming he only wanted me to check on grammar, that he already knew that he needed to re-write the novel before handing it off to me, which brings me to my next point.
  2. Re-write the manuscript until you cannot see what more you can fix before sending it off to a freelance editor. My client should not have sent his manuscript off to me if he knew it needed to be re-written. What is the point of me fixing grammar and then asking if it’s publishable if he already knew he wanted to re-write it? Grammar would then have to be fixed again. I didn’t understand this logic. Wanting me to check for grammar when you know it needs a lot more is wasting not only your time but my time as well. Sure, I’ll get paid either way, but I want to HELP you. I want you to succeed, not out of vanity, but because I want you to fall in love with your own book and keep going at it. I always try to unearth the potential in every manuscript, no matter what state it is in. I am not perfect, but I will try to be.
  3. Freelance editors are human, and we will make mistakes and miss things. My client literally yelled at me in a public space, which was in a respectable bookstore called The Book Tavern. He kept shouting, “Attention to detail! Attention to detail!” because I accidentally called his agent character a scouter. Whoops. But it was so minor that I didn’t even bother standing up for myself. I just let him vent while apologizing that he didn’t like my work, even though I know I am a competent editor because I was trained by the very best, Georgia McBride, who has been hired by the Big 5 as a freelance editor when they were swamped with client submissions. She was impressed with my ability to help someone unearth the potential in their work, though she had to really train me on how to approach giving criticism to someone without sounding vicious–which I never intentionally do, but everyone reacts differently to everything, so I really try to find that delicate balance that won’t offend MOST of my clients. All of her apprentices, so to speak, have gone on to become competent freelance editors, as well as published authors. Without her, When Stars Die would have been difficult to edit on my own to make it submission ready. Am I the best editor out there? No, because I am still learning, but am I competent? Yes.
  4. Sample edits. I will now be doing sample edits not only to give you a taste of my editing style, but to also let you decide what type of editing you want me to tackle in your book. However, a sample edit is not always representative of the rest of the book, so you need to decide carefully what you want. For example, if you simply want a proofread, make sure you are not shortchanging yourself (you need to get plenty of feedback first before sending it off to me), because if you send your manuscript off to a bunch of in-house editors who reject it because it is not structurally sound, I can guarantee you the blame will fall back on me, even though you were the one who told me what type of editing you wanted me to do. What you do with my feedback is your responsibility from there, and having a book professionally edited in no way guarantees publication. I did a sample edit for my client, which basically showed him that I did a structural edit, so he knew what he was getting himself into when hiring me. Yet, at the bookstore, he yelled at me for deconstructing his book, even though he had approved my sample edit. He acted like I had destroyed it, that he needed to undo my destruction, even though, hopefully, he had the original, unedited version on his computer.
  5. Our job is to make it the best book it can be. Since my client should have known I was going to make structural changes, he shouldn’t have blown up on me and told me that I didn’t get the story. Frankly, there was nothing to get. He spent little time in the perspective of his protagonist and had ten different perspectives, right down to peripheral characters, you know the ones that need to be there, because, well, people exist, but they’re not important to the overall story. You just need to say, ‘There were a lot of soldiers in this group, from the bright to the dull,” but I do not want a POV of any of those soldiers, not when they aren’t major or at least secondary characters, ESPECIALLY NOT NEAR THE END OF THE BOOK. So throughout the manuscript, I pointed out things, and then told him the story basically ended a quarter of the way through the book because he in no way at least hinted at where the book was truly going. However, I took all elements of his book since I knew what story he wanted, and tried to piece them together in the letter I sent him so that he could have this one thing, as well as the war part, which he felt was the most important aspect of his book that I did not think he weaved well into the story. But, as I said, I wanted to make it the best book it could be in a way that kept all of the elements that he wanted. But he still blew up on me in spite of the fact that I told him I wasn’t telling him what to do, but merely advising what he could do to make it the story he wanted, so that all elements fit together nicely to create a strong story. I did see potential in that book, and I am only sorry that he didn’t think that, even though I repeatedly told him that I did see potential. This isn’t to say I was perfect with his book. Maybe I wasn’t compatible with this book. I will never know, but I have had satisfied clients in the past, so I do know I’m doing something right.
  6. You don’t have to agree with the editor. It’s going to sting me, yeah, because I genuinely want to help you find the potential in your book. If I haven’t, please let me know in a polite manner and at least thank me for taking the time out of my day to do so. Also, if you don’t agree with my edits, I will be happy to have a lengthy discussion with you so I can justify why I did what I did in order to help you better understand with the idea that you will at least consider my feedback, even if you disagree with it. I didn’t agree with all of my publisher’s feedback, but I did consider why he felt that way, and guess what, I made the changes because he is an outside perspective and I am not, and I am glad I did because I’m confident they made the book better. Also, not every editor can bring out the true potential in every book we edit. Some editors at publishing houses reject books because they know they will not be able to make the best it can be, not because the book is bad and has no potential. The difference with freelance editors is that we are not editing to publish your book. We are editing to see what we can find in your book, hoping that you will look at our feedback and try to strengthen what we found with your own ideas. Ultimately, we freelance editors want to make you a better writer. I think freelance editors exist to be teachers, not editors preparing your book for publication, unless you’re actively getting multiple editors on board to prep your book for self-publication. My client, on the other hand, at the bookstore, refused to listen to me when I told him his plot had de-railed–and it had. He kept positing I didn’t understand the story, and he was extremely rude when doing so. He would not even consider why I did what I did, and I never even got to justify anything. The hilarious thing is that the day before, when I talked to him over the phone, there was this implication that he had read my feedback and basically told me that the feedback suggested the book would need a lot of work, so he thanked me. But in the bookstore, he didn’t thank me and turned away after giving me my money, which he felt was wasted on me, even going so far as to telling me he will never use my services again. If your freelance editor is treating you with respect, do the same in return, even if you are not happy with the work, even if you don’t want to work with that person again, or think that person will work better with another book of yours, especially if you were pleased with the sample edit. Not all of my clients are going to be compatible with me, and I am okay with that. There are multiple editors in publishing houses for a reason, not just so they can keep up with clients’ manuscripts, but so those manuscripts can find editors they’d be compatible with.
  7. Don’t tell an editor one thing and then say something different after the fact. My client specifically told me the novel I was editing was for young readers, so I treated it as such, much of my feedback pointing out that this is how he should do it to make it enjoyable for young readers. However, when we met in the bookstore, he turned on me and asked me where I got the idea that it was a book for young readers (I have the e-mail as proof that he told me it was for young readers). He told me it was a book he was trying to write for adults, and that he didn’t want to dumb down his writing. I didn’t say anything about this at all. I was speechless, not only because he was oblivious to what he had told me, but because he implied the writing in books for young readers is “dumbed down.” It is not. The best children’s books are those that can be read and enjoyed by many. The writing in these books is sharp and intelligent. The stories themselves are what categorize the book as being middle grade or young adult or whatever, not the writing, usually, unless you’re talking about a book for a first-time reader where the writing has to be simple.
  8. Don’t attack your editor. What I mean by this is that my client attacked me as a person, not just as an editor. This is what made me angry. Before I was hurt, but his attack on me as a human being is what did me in, but I stood there and took it because I knew fighting back would do no good and would offend the establishment we were in. Not only was I at The Book Tavern to represent myself as a freelance editor, but I was also there representing AEC Stellar because I gave that bookstore my publisher’s info to see about getting the book stocked there. In any case, he used my age against me. I am 23 years old. I have a lot of editorial experience behind me through internships, and have been writing seriously since I was 14, not just writing, but also actively seeking criticism and revising, revising, revising, which I think is the stage where you learn the most from. I received the best education from Georgia McBride, and I consider her a teacher that taught me a creative writing degree’s worth of education. I have a book published with pretty good reviews so far. I didn’t shove this in his face when he told me he had been writing since he was 20-years-old. He has never sought out publication for any of his works, which is why I didn’t feel like having a book under my belt mattered. There are people out there who are probably better writers than me who have never sought out publication. But it seemed like I was the first person he ever sought feedback from, because he certainly didn’t act like he was used to it. He looks to be about my dad’s age, and my dad is in his 50s. So I will let you draw your conclusions from there about his experience with writing.
  9. If you are meeting your editor face-to-face in a public space, do not blow up. As you’ve read so far, my client did. I had to personally call The Book Tavern and apologize on both of our behalves because I wanted to show the bookstore that I respected their establishment and that I did not intend for our meeting to go down as it did. I was really excited to meet my client, because I love meeting new people. Even so, the manager even had to tell us to take it outside–it got that bad between my client and I, though I was pretty much a bunny facing a bear. I was just flabbergasted, unable to stand up for myself because I had no experience in dealing with this, but I can tell you I wasn’t rude at all, though I did find a point in our conversation where I was about to be, but I shut myself up. Because of this, I am never meeting local clients anywhere again. If I do, I am bringing a third party, plus the contract said client signed, to hopefully keep the peace between us and establish some rational ground. All in all, I was sorry my client didn’t like his experience with me, but he told me not to apologize in a way that said I called him a bad name, then apologized after the fact, and if I were really sorry, I would not have called him that bad name in the first place.
  10. The editor has the right to drop your book if the sample edit is not representative of the rest of the book. Now hopefully there is a contract with a clause stating this so no legal action can be taken, because many editors do ask for half the payment upfront for labor, and if they decide to drop the project, the client shouldn’t have to pay the other half. For example, if I do a sample edit of a section that only needs proofreading, then my assumption is that this is all the book will need. However, if I go through the book and discover that proofreading is impossible because of the large amount of errors present that don’t align with what proofreading actually is, I can feel free to drop that book until the client is willing to clean the book up so I can do proofreading, which is simply looking for little errors that the author was unable to see, not re-writing sentences due to grammatical errors, like misplaced modifiers. I will drop the book so that I don’t have to change the total price I gave you in the beginning, which can understandably upset clients who were told one price, then that price suddenly had to be changed because the editor had to put more labor into the work than what was originally expected. Now my client had a right to be upset about this, because I did change the price after the fact, but I am still trying to get the business side of things together, and I think my experience with him has finalized how I want to do things, so I suppose a bad experience with him wasn’t a total waste. Of course, my client didn’t sound upset over the phone that I had to raise the price, but he sure raised Cane in the bookstore.

Overall, this was a learning experience for me, and the one good thing it did was finalize the business side of things for me, so I will be updating my website, adding a disclaimer, and creating a contract that I will post on the website so you know what you’re getting into before you request my services. The one promise I can make is that I will do everything in my power to help you see the potential in your book. I want you to learn to be a better writer so that way you can go on to be published to inspire and entertain people with the beauty that came from your heart, that beauty being your story.

Trends in YA Book Covers

Trends in YA Book Covers

Recently I stumbled across this article on Jillian Audrey’s blog on recent trends in YA covers and decided I wanted to share all of these with you.

I would post all the pictures of the current trends right here, but I want you guys to click on the links and look at the covers yourself just so I can spend this blog post explaining each one and either giving my approval or disapproval to several of these trends.

  • The Beheaded: I hate covers with beheaded characters. Why are they all beheaded? Is there some types of social commentary these covers are trying to make? They’re all beheaded women, too. Are these covers just trying to reduce women to just their parts, instead of showing the whole person behind the cover? This one bothers me because it reduces women to just their parts. I don’t know what the marketing department/cover designer is thinking of when they choose to behead the characters on the covers. What say you, Stars?
  • The Big Head: Yes, I know that When Stars Die falls into this trend. But, in my defense, my publisher and I originally wanted Amelia holding her little brother as the original cover, but that didn’t seem like it was able to be done, so we went the big head trend anyway. And you know what? I love my cover to bits, and many of the ‘big head’ covers in the trend’s list are beautiful anyway, such as Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. At least they’re showing the faces of these characters, too, and especially their eyes, which can convey a lot. I like my cover because it really puts Amelia out there, and you can see her innocence, which points to the fact that she isn’t a very worldly person.
  • Baby’s Got Back: This trend doesn’t bother me too much, but, again, it makes no sense. Sure, some of the covers are beautiful, but, admittedly, if you see enough of these, you begin to wonder why the marketing department/cover designers are choosing to take their models and show their backsides. Maybe these covers are trying to portray that these characters are going somewhere super important. I don’t really know.
  • The Mope: This trend doesn’t bother me at all because at least it’s showing the entire model and not just her parts, and at least ‘the mope’ is conveying the darkness of the book. Plus, some of these gorgeous covers just suck me in and make me want to read these books.
  • The Dead Girl: This one doesn’t bother me so much either because at least the characters are varied in how the cover designers chose to portray the deadness of the models. Plus, I read one of those books among the ‘dead girl’ trend, and I can tell you these types of books point to the overall theme of death, and that these ‘dead models’ point to the fact that death is going to be an enormous part of the book, that the main character is just going to be surrounded by it.
  • What Big Eyes You Have: This is another trend that I don’t like. While the eyes are pretty, they don’t really tell much about the story. I especially hate the big eye trend on opaque faces. It’s very tacky. There was this one middle grade book at the school where I do my observation that is called Escaping the Giant Wave, and this cover has a beautiful tidal wave, but there are freaking opaque eyes above it, and I think it’s stupid and cheesy and ruins the whole cover of the book. The eyes also look like they belong to a girl, and the main character is a boy. The cover would have been beautiful without the eyes, and those eyes serve absolutely serve no purpose at all–unless it’s trying to explain that the kid is going to have to escape this tsunami himself, with no adults present to help him. Otherwise, it’s a crap cover.
  • What Big Lips You Have: This is a trend I really hate, especially in YA covers. It’s oversexualizing the model, who is supposed to represent a teenager. Are there erotica books in the YA genre now, because those big lips definitely signify something pornographic going inside of the book.
  • What Big Hands You Have: This one doesn’t really bother me at all, especially the cover of Anna and the French Kiss. I mean, I suppose it’s arguably bothersome because it makes the book seem like it’s all about the hands, but, otherwise, I have no problem with this trend.
  • Kissy Face: Yeah…I don’t like this trend at all, but I’m probably being biased because I don’t like pure romance novels. Plus, some of these covers show the characters about to kiss, or they show the characters barely kissing. Too Nicholas Sparks for me.

So what are some other trends you’ve noticed in YA books lately?

Guest Post: What Inspires You the Most

Guest Post: What Inspires You the Most

936236_564447873606956_1758649304_nToday’s guest blogger is Eric Keys. You can find him here. Enjoy!

What are my sources of inspiration? How do I dream up this crazy shit?

For starters, I’m going to side-step the issue of why I choose to write the crazy stuff I do. I mostly write horror but I sometimes write erotica. Even my erotica tends to be tinged with darkness. I’m not a particularly spooky person. If you saw me on the street you wouldn’t think horror writer.

But I see things, sometimes. Not literally, mind you. I don’t see Satanic Messiah’s returned from the grave, or talking road kill, or demons disguised as shy, bookish girls or strange rituals involving the dedication of ones son to some nameless force of evil.

What I do see is the “not rightness” of the world. I see that the world sometimes is a hostile, brutal place and not the place our movies and churches told us it would be. It gets my mind to working. And suddenly, a thought will pop into my head. “That’s too horrible to even think about.” When I think that thought, I know that I am on to something and then I listen. It’s not exactly a voice, but a stream of images. They pour through my head and I try to catch them. Some of them I like, some of them I don’t, but the orgy of ideas has started. They interact and shove each other. Sometimes they strangle each other, but in the end, the strong survive and rise to the surface. Bloody and tired but proud that they have remained standing.

So, my sources of inspiration are the horrible. Even my theological-erotic writings ultimately come from those haunting questions that keep me awake at night thinking: “This is too horrible, too horrifying, too much”

Specifically, I tend to gravitate toward certain questions or themes. For example, religious/theological questions and the hypocrisy of many “believers.” My (not available online) story “God in a Box” dealt with this. My story “A Single Act of Prolong Vengeance” (included in this anthology) dealt with not only the hypocrisy of religious officials but the way people use religious institutions for perverted ends. I saw people comfortable in their own beliefs. They didn’t see the disconnect between belief and reality. The attempted to justify the unjustifiable. I couldn’t stomach it. So, I wrote.

Another theme I come back to over and over is that of the revelation of hidden, horrific truths. “About a House” –story I recently submitted to an online magazine–deals with the theme of a double life and how our tendency to interpret events often covers up the real, hideous meanings. A minor event–a conversation about a house we passed while driving–was the source. The passenger talked about how she interpreted the house and how she interpreted her past. It occurred to me that there might be more than she or I could see and the idea of hidden knowledge leads to the idea of revelation and then it all just took on a life of its own.

These ideas, themes, questions–they haunt me. They keep me awake at night. They turn my guts over and over until I need to vent them somehow. I do that by putting words to them. The words help me explore these issues. I don’t always come to conclusions, but I need to speak/write.

There is a delight, a rush of sorts, that comes from moving in this realm. I don’t know how to explain it. Suddenly you are aware of things you weren’t aware of before. And maybe yes, maybe then you do start to see Satanic Messiah’s returned from the grave. Maybe that dead raccoon by the side of the road was trying to say something to you. Maybe the shy, bookish-intern really wants to eat your soul (but what a delight it would be to satisfy her hunger!) and perhaps your daddy dedicated you to some nameless force of evil.

You find yourself awake at night, wondering what that sound was. Who would be driving down the road at this time of night? Is there something in their trunk? Or someone? Was that music real? Did I just smell Death? What just brushed up against my leg? Who’s there? Don’t come any closer! Stay back! I have a gun! Oh, god! It can’t be! It’s too horrible to even think about!

And then the word/idea/image orgy starts all over again. And maybe you write something and show it to someone and maybe they nod, knowingly. And maybe they tell you a secret that has kept them up all night. And maybe that dream you had reminded your new friend of some sound they heard once. And maybe you two sing a hymn to some ancient and implacable god, some blasphemy the two of you dreamed up which turns out to have always existed. Those songs are what inspire me most.

The Madness of…Authors’ Checklists!

The Madness of…Authors’ Checklists!

It’s only a matter of time.

My contract manager sent lists of things to me last night that I am to start working on in order to make this book successful. It is a lot, and I have three different lists to go through. I plan to get some of it done today because, unfortunately, I can’t get all of it done due to the nature of what is being asked.

First there is my Beginning Author’s Checklist. This is a basic list asking me for long and short book descriptions, dedications, early reviewers, and who I think might buy it. Doesn’t sound time consuming, but, oh, I know it will be. The synopsis itself took hours, so imagine the long book description, which isn’t a synopsis, but still, that isn’t the point. I luckily already have a good short book description. As for the reviewers, I have people in mind as well as potential customers. This small list alone could take me hours, but this is what I want, and it is completely worth it for me.

Then there is my Book Information. This one asks for all things book-related: setting, conflict, point-of-view, other works, marketing, ect. I MAY start with this list first since I know it can be completed today. It shouldn’t be as time-consuming as the first list, but still, it will take some time to get done. I’m just glad I’m not in class this semester. Then again, the semester is almost over. Still, exams…*shudders*

Then, last, there is my Author Information, which is basically about me and my book. What made me start writing this book, challenges I have faced, what I hope people will get from the book, hobbies, interests, future products, ect. I think I’ll actually do this one first. This one sounds more fun because, hey, it doesn’t require intense thinking on my part.

Other things that I have to get done too are getting a headshot of me, which I can do myself since I have the equipment–I just don’t have a wireless clicker, but my fiancé will suffice. I also hope the new book cover I have will be approved. Once it is, it will be the first thing I reveal to you guys. I also still have social media I’ve got to get done today. After all, I’ll probably start doing giveaways Thursday because I’m very close to 200 followers. And I want to try and write in Stolentime if there is time to do it.

So I’m in for a busy day and week.