All About the Authors

Helping edit, publish, and market your book.

Category: Editing (page 2 of 2)

Work for Hire: Not as All-Encompassing as You Think

contract-clipart-1552-0909-2116-0233When I first started working in the publishing industry I was young, fresh out of college, and a lot of the terms I heard being bandied about were as foreign to me as if my boss were speaking a different language. In reality he was speaking a different language, he was speaking publishing-ese. One of the terms he mentioned quite often was work for hire. At the time, I was working for a company that did production for college level English textbooks, so most of our writers were signed on as “work for hire.” I never asked what that meant, and I just assumed it meant their names weren’t on the final product. Because a lot of times that was the case, a person would work on pulling together an anthology, maybe of short stories by American women writers, or poems of 19th century Britain, but they wouldn’t be acknowledged on the cover, it was just an anthology. Not all were like that, we did work with one editor whose name had enough recognition that he was mentioned on the cover and the title page.

It turns out I’m not alone in having the wrong idea about what work for hire truly means. Some people might think it means doing a job where you get paid a flat rate. Others might think it means you’ve been hired for a specific job and that’s it.

It turns out work for hire is a clause that can be used to make an exemption to copyright laws. Under U.S. copyright laws, any time you write something, once your pen hits the paper or your fingers hit the keyboard, it is yours, forever and always. But sometimes a publisher might want to have control over that writing in perpetuity. Anthologies are a great example of this. Publishers might want to publish a second edition, or a revision, without having to go back to the original writer or editor for permission, or even to pay them a second time for work. If you sign a contract with a work for hire clause, that means your writing is owned by the publisher, not you.

If you are an employee doing writing, the work you do for that employer is considered “work for hire.” If you are an independent freelancer, your work only qualifies as work for hire if it falls into one of these categories:

  1. a contribution to a collective work (like a piece for a magazine, anthology, or encyclopedia)
  2. a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
  3. a translation
  4. a supplementary work (like a foreword, afterword, bibliography, appendix, index, or editorial notes)
  5. a compilation (like an anthology, database, or anything that qualifies as a “collective work” from category 1 above)
  6. an instructional text (generally, any text that could go in a textbook)
  7. a test
  8. answer material for a test
  9. an atlas

Of course, even if a publisher can’t qualify your work as work for hire, there are other ways for them to write into contracts ways to retain rights to your work. But that’s not always a bad thing. For example, if you’re writing copy for a PR firm to help sell dog food, you probably won’t use that writing anywhere else anyway.

Overall, it’s important to remember work for hire isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when you want to publish your poem, short story, essay or novel, make sure you read the contract carefully, all the way through.

For more information about contracts and what to look for, check out my video on All About Publishing.

Eight Tips for How to Take Criticism

If you’re lucky and if you look for it, during the writing, rewriting, and submitting process, you’ll get some feedback and advice. In my video this week, I talk about why agents don’t often give any feedback (or even a rejection) these days. So if you get some, it’s valuable. It can be hard to take criticism, even when it’s constructive, so here are some tips:

1. If you can’t take criticism early and in private, you’ll get it later and in public.
If you have a hard time hearing where your book might be flawed from your friends, beta readers, and your editor, pause, take a deep breath, and vow to dive in and deal with it anyway. Because if you don’t fix those flaws, they won’t magically disappear. It’s much better to hear this feedback now, when you can still address the problems, then to read about them in a review, after your book has been published, when you can’t fix it, and everyone can see the criticism.

2. Take it with the intention it is meant
Editors only want your work to be the best it can be. We have no skin in the game if you don’t take our advice and don’t address your manuscript’s issues, so there is no incentive for an editor to make bad or erroneous suggestions. Your friends and family don’t want to see you be embarrassed. Your writing group just wants to help you improve and to give equivalent feedback to what they’ve been receiving from you. No one is trying to demoralize you or put you down. This isn’t about you; it’s about the story (even if it’s memoir). If someone does make personal pot-shots, cut them out of the loop permanently.

3. Get multiple opinions—do they all agree?
One of us had a client who had a big flaw in his book. He didn’t take her advice. But he mentioned that another reader had pointed out the same problem. So he ignored two readers’ suggestions to fix it. He was later taken to task for this error in a review. Moral of the story: if multiple readers are pointing out the same problem, then it really is a problem and you need to look at it more closely. If more than one person isn’t getting something in your story, you haven’t made it clear regardless of how you meant it to read. Feel free to get a second opinion. Multiple readers are a great idea. What more than one of them points out is something you need to pay particular attention to.

4. Do not respond in the heat of the moment. Do not.
Sleep on it. Sit with it for a few days. The immediacy of hurt will fade and you’ll be able to see the issue more plainly and without the clouds of emotions. This is especially true if the criticism is something in public such as a review or an online comment. Don’t address those at all. They never end well. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

Letters From People5. Do not awfulize.
Criticism does not equal “I hate it.” The longest editorial letters I write are for the books I really love. There’s a thin line between love and hate. The opposite of love is indifference. That’s where the real danger lies. But if I have a hundred issues I pointed out, that doesn’t mean you’re awful or the book’s awful or you’re never going to get published. It just means you have a hundred issues to look at and think over.

6. Listen to this podcast about dealing with criticism

7. Read this book about hate mail: Letters From People Who Hate Me by Steve Almond 

8. Rone_star_amazon_reviewsead these scathing reviews of books that are now classics.

Appreciate that there are people who want to help your writing improve. And it will. Writing is a skill and it gets better with practice, and with coaching. No one is born writing like Shakespeare, not even Shakespeare himself.

Serving authors both together and within our own businesses

All About the Authors’ founders and partners know the book business. Not only have we joined to launch an explosive new site for authors that offers tips and guidance on editing, publishing, and marketing their books, but we are all business owners within our own book niche.

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Betsy and Carin

Carin Siegfried, owner of CS Editorial, offers a wide variety of services including developmental and line editing, academic editing, and query letter and synopsis writing. She began her business five years ago after leaving Charlotte-based book wholesaler Baker & Taylor.   Carin’s extensive credentials include working at St. Martin’s Press in New York City and Ingram Book Group in Nashville before moving to Charlotte. She is the author of The Insider’s Guide to a Career in Book Publishing and National President of the Women’s National Book Association.

Betsy Thorpe is the owner of Betsy Thorpe Literary Services. Betsy’s impressive credentials include working as an editor at many of the big publishing houses in New York City as an acquisitions and developmental editor. Betsy specializes in developmental (big-picture) editing, book consulting, and ghostwriting.  She has co-written many books, including the best-selling book 365 Nights, and her first novel just attained an agent. She is the former Vice-President of the Women’s National Book Association-Charlotte.

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Priscilla

Priscilla Goudreau-Santos owns Priscilla Goudreau Public Relations & Marketing. She began specializing in book and author publicity two years ago after an amazing, highly successful, twenty-plus-year career as a marketing and public relations consultant, publicist, writer and ed
itor. PGPR&M offers campaign, content and digital strategy, event coordination, writing, editing, and press relations. Priscilla is the current Publicity Chair for the Women’s National Book Association-Charlotte.

AyersNicole Ayers, owner of Ayers Edits, shares her editing expertise with writers interested in self-publishing or traditional publishing. She offers developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. She is available on a consultative basis for others services, such as assistance writing query letters. She opened her freelance editing business two years ago after more than a decade of experience teaching writers and working with a National Writing Project affiliate.  She is currently Events Chair for the Women’s National Book Association-Charlotte. Nicole is also an assistant editor for The Bookwoman, the WNBA national newsletter, and is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

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Karen

Karen Alley owns Karen Alley Writing Services.  She began work as freelance writer and editor 10 years ago, after a publishing career that included work as an assistant editor in book production for Digital Text Construction, and serving as editor of two separate magazines, the IGA Grocergram and Carolina Gardener. Karen spends a lot of time writing for various clienets, as well as keeping her blog, Blending it Up, updated. Her editing work focuses on developmental and line editing, and she loves working on fiction, especially romance novels, as well as non-fiction projects.

Working within our own businesses and joining forces as a partnership is all about achieving the All About the Authors’ mission: to better serve authors. And between us, we have a tremendous depth of knowledge. Combined, we’ve worked with authors whose successful books have included a New York Times bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Kirkus Books Best Indie Book, an iBook Pick of the Year, a Red City Review Book Award Finalist and a New York Public Library Best Books for Teens.

Find out more about each book pro at Meet the Team. And, join the All About the Authors’ author community to learn how you can achieve your goals and dreams.

Blind Dates and Editing Samples

There are many reasons that I’m grateful for my husband, but I’m especially appreciative that I will never have to go on a blind date again. I know some folks hit the jackpot when their friend sets them up with their roommate’s cousin’s brother. My best friend is living proof that a blind date can turn into a lifetime romance. That said, horror stories abound, like the time you faked a seaweed allergy just to get rid of a bad date, never mind the fact that you chose the sushi restaurant.blind date
Yahoo, no more blind dates for me! Except I’m an editor. And every time I open my inbox and see an email from a potential client, I’m reminded how much editing samples are like blind dates.
1. It’s a Cold Call.
Most often a request for a sample edit comes from a stranger. He found me online and liked my website. She got my name from a friend.
2. Make Small Talk.
We exchange witty emails. I try to dazzle them by sounding fun and professional. Who wants to date a boring editor? Little does the prospect know I spend ten minutes agonizing over the greeting.
3. Online Stalking Commences.
In the interim of email exchanges, we check each other out on social media. We reach out to any connections to get the skinny. Believe me, I don’t want to work with a prima donna lunatic who will leave me in the lurch when it’s time to send payment. And the prospect wants to make sure that my red pen isn’t deadly.
4. A Date Is Set.
If we’ve both passed the initial hurdles, we set a date for a sample edit. The prospect scrounges for the best material to send me. They worry that I’ll think the sample is fat or ugly or boring. I sweat over the sample, spending longer than I should. I worry they’ll think my editing style is out of shape or arrogant or cheap. We agonize over the moment of the truth.
5. If All Goes Well, We’ll Get Naked.
No, not really! But kind of. Metaphorically speaking. If the material is a good fit for me and the prospect likes my style, we dance. We agree to fees and schedules. And then we get busy. Editing, of course.
While I may never have to endure another painful meal with a stranger that I’m hoping will be my man, I do have to put myself out there with each prospective client. The next time you’re looking for an editor, remember they’re probably just as nervous as you are to make a good impression.
Be sure to subscribe to see what I have to say about the best ways to find an editor in the Wild West market of today’s publishing industry. And tell me in the comments what questions you have about finding an editor. Or entertain me with a blind date horror story. 

What’s Happening in the Author Resource Center?

Do you want to know what’s happening in the Members Only Author Resource Center? We’re providing expert content about writing, editing, marketing, and publishing books.

Right now we’re building our video library content with topics that include writing for magazines, how to get your book facebook_imagenoticed, and when to look for an agent. We also have plans to host live chats to answer your questions, plan webinars, and record podcasts.

Now’s your chance to tell us what you’d like to see. What book industry topics do you want to know more about? What questions keep you awake at night? What type of content do you like best? Let us know in the comments. And if you have a question, send us an email.

Join this exclusive group now to take advantage of our introductory rates!

The One Thing You Must Not Do During NaNoWriMo

NaNoIf you’re like me, NaNoWriMo keeps popping up in your newsfeeds. It’s the time of year when we overdose on pumpkin, scrounge around for the best Halloween costume, and consider whether or not we’re ready to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge.

I’m going to assume that you’re all writing warriors and you’ve said yes. Yes, I will win NaNoWriMo 2015. There’s a video in the Author Resource Center full of tips to help you prepare for November 1, as well as calendar templates to make planning a little easier. Go watch it as soon as you finish reading this post. And if you haven’t subscribed to the Author Resource Center yet, here’s a little extra enticement to join: I put the great debate to rest in this week’s video. What debate, you ask? The pronunciation debate—is it NaNoRYEMo or NaNoREEMo?

All right, moving on. Let’s focus on the one thing that you absolutely must not do if you want to win NaNoWriMo this year. Do not even think about editing your manuscript while you’re drafting. Nothing will kill a writing groove faster than deciding that you must get a scene exactly right before moving on. no-symbol-39767_1280

Repeat after me: November is for writing. January is for editing. (You hide the manuscript in a drawer in December.)

Many writers get hung up on making every sentence, every dialogue exchange, every plot turn just right. They write something lame and begin to compare themselves to ___________________ (insert name of your writing hero). They know that said writing hero would never write such drivel, and all writing must cease until this hot mess is cleaned up. What they don’t know is that the writing hero writes drivel, too. Everybody does. That’s the reason it’s called a draft.

And please, please, please don’t worry about your spelling or where the commas go! Turn off those squiggly lines that Word uses to shame us all. Go to the Start menu, choose Word Options, then select Proofing. Uncheck the box marked check spelling as you type. Poof, those pesky lines are gone, and you can concentrate on your story.

Just write. If it’s bad, who cares? You can fix it later. Make a note of what is bugging you, and then move forward. Keep writing. Hit your daily word count. Be the writing warrior I know you are and conquer this NaNoWriMo beast. Remember that your goal is (or should be) to cultivate a writing practice. And as Jessica Brody says, “Don’t be afraid to write crap because crap makes great fertilizer.”

Leave a comment and share how you silence the editor living in your head.

 

When Do You Know You Need an Editor?

You’ve spent IMG_2233months, perhaps years, writing your manuscript. You’re revised, rewritten, edited, heard criticism from your writers’ group and beta readers. Isn’t your book done? Can’t you send it off to publishers now? How can you tell if you need to hire a professional editor?

One sign of needing an editor is if you feel that the manuscript is “the best I can do.” That’s not the same as knowing it’s great and really a wonderful novel. If you think, “It’s okay, but I don’t know how else to improve it,” that’s a big sign that a professional editor can be of help.

Another sign is if you think it is wonderful but… there’s that one little thing. Maybe it’s a plot hole you’re hoping readers will ignore, or a character you know just isn’t gelling or a climactic scene that falls flat. All of these are issues an editor can help with.

Is the book too long? If you’re considering trying to get a contract with one of the big traditional publishers, your manuscript must be a certain length. If it’s falling short, an editor can suggest more content that she thinks is missing from the plot. But we find the opposite problem to be true for most novelists: the book is running thousands of words long, and the author has tried but can’t find any more cuts to make from the book. A professional editor is not wedded to your each and every word: we are wedded to making the best, most compelling story, and if there is extraneous material, we can find it and excise it.

And of course if you’re planning to self-publish, you definitely need an outside editor. After all, you’ll be missing out on the advice from both a literary agent and a publishing house editor that you would have gotten in the traditional route. But there’s no reason that means you have to put out a book that’s flawed. Independent editors are here to fill that gap. You might not know what it is you need help with—after all everyone has their blind spots—but editors can help with so many concerns, big and small. A fresh pair of eyes can notice things you overlooked or had always planned in your head to include but forgot to actually type in.

After all this book will be out in the world with your name on it. Do you want it to be anything less than perfect?

 

What Type of Editing Do You Need?

You’ve written your last sentence and hit save (twice—just to be sure it worked). Time to celebrate! You’re finished, right? Well, no, you’re not. Now it’s time to dig in and get dirty. You still have niggling doubts that your main character isn’t likeable or that your explanation is clear as mud. Maybe you’ve gotten less than positive feedback from critique group members or early readers. And it could be that you still have no idea what a comma splice is, but you know you’re guilty of committing this grammar crime.

The problem is that you don’t know exactly what your problems are or how you can fix them. That’s when you know it’s time to hire an editor. Sometimes you don’t even realize that you need an editor, but you have a wise friend who’s told you that you do. You trust this friend. And that’s good because your friend is right. Having your book professionally edited is one of the best things you can do for your writing career. Without a solid manuscript, you’re dead in the water. A great query might prompt an agent to request your manuscript, but without solid writing, you won’t snag a contract. Same goes for self-publishing. You can’t compete in a saturated market without a well-written book. A professional editor can give you advice that propels you to the next level.

So you fire up Google, search for editing services, and just stare. Who knew there were so many different types of editing? What services do you need?

Let’s clear up some of this confusion. While there are many types of editing available, the basic services you may need are developmental editing, line editing and/or copyediting, and proofreading.

Whether you plan to self-publish or find a literary agent to represent you, a developmental edit is a good idea. Developmental editing, also called structural or substantive editing (those sneaky editors—calling the same service different names), addresses the big picture elements of your manuscript. In fiction, these are character analysis, point of view, setting, timeline, story arc, pacing, and tone. In nonfiction, editors look at organization, style, point of view, pacing, and comparative analysis. The editor will mark up your manuscript, pointing out the good and the bad, with lots of viable suggestions to improve your manuscript.

Line editing and copyediting are often confused and thought to be synonymous. These services do have a few differences though. A line edit is a more intense service, and the editor will provide a hands-on approach to make your sentences crisp, eliminate jargon, or make dialogue sound belietrack changesvable. Sometimes an editor will provide line editing during the developmental editing phase, and you’ll need a separate copyedit after revisions. But if you hire an editor for a line edit only, this service should include a copyedit. So what does a copyedit include? Copyediting addresses manuscript issues at the word level: grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, treatment of numbers, consistency, and repetition. A copyeditor will point out a confusing sentence. A line editor will rewrite the sentence. You definitely need a copyedit (and possibly a line edit) if you plan to self-publish a quality book. However, if you hope to publish traditionally, you can hold off on this service.

If you’re still a little confused about whether you need a line edit or a copyedit and what that should include, you’re in good company. Editors don’t always agree on this either. That’s why it’s important to nail down exactly what your editor is going to do, regardless of what she calls it.

Proofreading is a final look at your manuscript before it is published. A proofreader will catch typos, inconsistencies, and issues with formatting, such as bad line breaks. You should not need a proofread until your book has been formatted and is ready to make its way into the world.

Now that you know what the basic editing services entail, you should be able to decide what service(s) you need. Figuring out the service you need is helpful when you begin the search for an editor because many editors specialize. If finding the perfect editor sounds daunting, there will soon be a video on this very topic, so stay tuned.

All About the Authors – A Force of Five

group photoIt all began several years ago with the founding of the Charlotte Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association and a lot of serendipity. That’s where Carin Siegfried (the first president) and Betsy Thorpe (the first vice-president), met. A few years later, Betsy reached out to Carin to encourage her to start freelance editing after Carin left the Charlotte-based book wholesaler Baker & Taylor. Both had worked in New York City at Random House (Betsy) and St. Martin’s Press (Carin) before moving to Charlotte. Next, also through WNBA, Carin and Betsy connected with Nicole Ayers, another freelance editor, and they would discuss their work and best practices. Nicole had over a decade of experience teaching writers and working with a National Writing Project affiliate before she turned to freelance editing. Carin also discovered that a college friend, Karen Alley, had begun freelance editing after a career that included work as an assistant editor in book production for Digital Text Construction, and time as editor of two separate magazines, the IGA Grocergram and Carolina Gardener. Carin encouraged Karen to join WNBA. And, in 2013, Priscilla Goudreau-Santos, a freelance publicist, writer and editor with over 20 years of public relations, journalism, and marketing experience including book publicity, also joined WNBA and a dynamic alliance was born.

These five book professionals met often at WNBA events, and also at social get togethers. This year, they decided to launch All About the Authors, a platform for writers to learn more about the publishing process and meet editors and publicists who are experts in the business. These savvy book pros knew from their clients and from workshop attendees how much confusion there is about the process of getting a book from one’s head into printed form. And between them, they have a great deal of knowledge that can help. Combined, we’ve worked with authors whose successful books have included a New York Times bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Kirkus Books Best Indie Book, an iBook Pick of the Year, and a Red City Review Book Award Finalist. So they decided to make their knowledge available, for authors to learn about publishing from the comfort of their own homes.

All About the Authors will take authors through every step of the process, both big and small. We encourage you to send us questions if you have them. We know writing a book and getting it published is a confusing and daunting task, and we strive to make it more understandable. We want to break it down so you will know that it is possible. With our guidance, you can determine which path is right for you to achieve the results you want, and we want to help you get there. That’s our vision and our mission.

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