Tag Archives: editing

Word Count

I have the strangest problem–my novel is too short! Most novelists I have encountered or read blogs on have the opposite problem. My first novel The Healing Pool was CRAZY long and I had to cut it down about 20,000 words. My current project has the whole story written but needs at least 11,000 more words to make the minimum word count for YA novels.

I enjoy cutting back. Finding redundancies and adverbs and lags in the story and slicing them down is satisfying, although also a little sad. Adding words has been a slow and tedious process. I wanted NaNoWriMo to be my motivation to beef up this novel, but if we’re being honest I got only about 5,000 words in. In my mind any adding is great, but it’s frustrating how hard it is to add to this novel. The story line is finished. It makes sense from point A to point B and could work as a novella, but I want this to be novel length. I am proud of this story and I want to have a wider audience to enjoy it. I don’t know anyone who reads novellas. The only reason I know they exist is because we talked about the different kinds of creative writing in High school! I have nothing against novellas, but I wish I knew of more people who were interested in reading them.

Part of my trouble is time and short attention span. Since graduating college I can honestly say I no longer have the stamina to sit and write a paper for 2-3 hours in one sitting. I have no idea how I managed to write as much as I did in school, never mind sit in class for 5 hours a day! Working 52 hours doesn’t help either. Luckily my work hours are going down starting in the new year. Maybe with that extra time I will try to write a little bit more each day. I can only hope Netflix will not beckon me over….

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Getting there!

I finally made it through Charley’s Dragons! I’m at a (not so) whopping 32,000 words but I’m feeling okay. The next step is going through it again and beefing up the story now that the plot skeleton is in place. I’m hoping it will be easier than I think it’s going to be!

I noticed as I was going through CD that my genre changed. It was originally New Adult/Adult Fiction, but now it has a YA feel. It covers some heavy topics such as childhood mental illness, but the voice is a child and the dialog with the psychiatrist is accessible for a younger audience. The genre shift has helped the story and also my sanity. The perspective I removed was heavy-handed, dark, but not always engaging. I wanted to write this for an adult, but honestly why force it? The book works much better now and it’s totally fine that it’s YA. My first book and other MSs in process are MG so it makes sense that my writing gravitates for younger readers. Besides, adults love YA fiction! Writing for children is getting better and better and adults love a good story even it is about teenagers.

I’m still hoping to meet my goal and get another 25,000 words done but it’s not the biggest deal if it’s not finished. I wanted NaNo to be the big push, but my writing style works in bursts of inspiration–the downside being that the bursts come at infrequent times at inconsistent lengths. Today was a good day: 1200 words! Tomorrow is my day off so we’ll see if I get anywhere…

How’s everyone else doing with NaNoWriMo? Any great MSs in progress or at least fun brain-dump stories you want to share?

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Draft # 3 DONE!

I just finished the third draft of Book #2! It feels so good to have gone through it again. I wish that this process could go faster, but right now since I’m in school my priorities are all out of order for now. Nevertheless, the third draft is done. Time to start thinking forward.

I have some more friends who are interested in reading the first 20 pages of the book which will give me an idea of what else I can do to make the book clearer. For this book I decided to mainly focus on dialogue and intentionally not describing the physical attributes of the characters. I know the lack of description might be frustrating for some readers, but I’m hoping that they begin to see the person they imagine being in the situations my characters are in. I’ll hopefully get more feedback on if my plan is working or if my readers want to know every detail of what the characters look like!

Now is also the time when I begin to think about querying agents. I really want this book to get some attention. The genre I think falls under New Adult fiction (between YA and adult) but I do not know if it’s proper to put that as a genre. It leans towards adult fiction because of issues of violence, sex, and language, but it reads easily like a YA. There’s always a gray area and that frustrates me, but hopefully that won’t be the biggest deal. Does anyone have experience with NA fiction? Any querying advice?

I am so excited to get started on the publishing process for Book #2. I’m eager to start working on the query letter and picking agents. It’s so nerve-wracking, but it will be fine. At this point I don’t think I can afford to self-publish Book #2 so if agents don’t work it will likely take a while to get it published. I’m optimistic that the angle this book is taking will at least get some attention and suggestions even if I don’t snag an agent right now. Fingers crossed!

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A little reflecting on editors

I am working on a project for an entrepreneurship class that I want to use to expand into my existing business as a self-published author. This mock-business has developed into a resource for new authors looking to self-publish for the first time. Ideally, this business will be filled with online resources on how to find the right self-publishing company, editors, cover artist, etc. For the final in this class I will only have bits and pieces of this greater goal. Especially since I have only published one book and the field is constantly changing, I cannot be that resource just yet.

However, I got to thinking and I really wanted to take some time to wrap-up my experience with finding editors. It is easy to think that publishing companies will take care of everything for you and make it simple to publish. Easy is not always the best way. Self-publishing today is getting a better reputation, but there are still enough authors out there who do not put in the time necessary to produce a good product. Looking at my book now I find mistakes that make me *facepalm* but I know without the help of my editors the book would not have the story structure and flow that it has now.

When I started out looking for self-publishing companies I discovered that they all had packages that would make it easy to publish my book. I admit I was tempted. I like having a one-stop-shop to get everything done, but there was something fishy about the editing packages available. Author House was one of the places I looked. At the time I was thinking I did not want a package but it would be nice for them to edit the MS. I called to ask what they would charge. I learned a fun fact–they charge per word on all their edits.

Keep in mind: at this stage my book was 100,000 words. It was long (too long) and getting that thing edited was going to hurt the budget. If I went with AH I would be paying close to $3,000 just to get the grammar checked! If I wanted content editing it would be almost $5,000. It is possible they do a fine job, but I did not know this company. I needed to figure out my other options to see if editing really is that expensive all the time.

By this time I had joined SCBWI, which has been one of the best decisions I have made as an author. I joined some message boards and began asking around to see what people had used and if there were better options. This is where I discovered my editor, Chris Eboch. She, like other freelance editors, is much more affordable than publishing packages. She also specialized in MG/YA fantasy which was perfect for “The Healing Pool!” I read her testimonials and emailed her.

She completely turned my MS around. She knew when to cut, what to ask, and how to get 12 year olds to care! She pointed out how my descriptive chapters read more adult-like and that children would be less interested. She knew her audience and could articulate well how to fix some of the plot holes and where to cut chapters. Although Chris only does content editing she taught me more in her edits than in any english class I have ever taken. I now look at my writing and other writing with her in mind to help make drafts more efficient.

For my line editing I decide to use the company Yellow Bird Editors. They did a fine job and had a quick turn around. Their prices were much more reasonable than publishing packages, but line editing is expensive. It just is. I went with Yellow Bird since they seem to have good standing with their editors. They each have testimonials and bios, and authors have the option to ask for specific people they want to work on their book. I admired that quality in the business and I am glad I chose to work with them.

In short, never take the easy way out. Working a little harder to find the right people and the best decision for your wallet will lead to a book you feel closer to. I enjoyed going through the purple pen markings Chris gave me and the 1,500 Word reviewer comments Kristen (Yellow Bird) gave me! If I decide to self-publish again I will likely keep looking for other options even though the ones I have are already pretty fantastic. It is best to connect with individuals rather than a large corporation.

Have any questions for me? I would love to help if you are just starting out! Or, do you have a great editor? How did you find her?

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