Anna Robinson, a young archaeologist, fleeing her abusive husband, is seeking safety in Tucson, where a job awaits. When she arrives, the view of the Santa Catalina Mountains from the airplane window provokes feelings of nostalgia and familiarity even though she has never been there before. What is it that draws her to these mountains, to this place? Will she find the freedom she desires? Will Foster find her and, if he does, what will he do?
As a writer, I know how hard it is to self-edit and proofread my own writing. It’s important to have my manuscript as close to perfect as I can make it before I send it to my editor. (Yes, writers who are also editors hire other editors to edit their work.)
As an editor, I know how easy it is to get caught up in a client’s narrative and miss both small and large problems that must be addressed. That’s one reason I always sub-contract proofreading to someone else. But I also make sure I’ve done my own due diligence before I pass a manuscript–mine or someone else’s–to a proofreader.
iAnnotate or Similar PDF/Document Mark-Up App
iAnnotate PDF is an Apple product (the lower case i in its name is a dead giveaway), but a slimmed-down version (with fewer bells and whistles) is available for Android devices, . That’s the one I use. I got it a few years ago free from Google Play Store, but it no longer appears in the offerings. It is, however, available from some third-party download sites.* The Apple version (a product of http://www.branchfire.com) is $9.99 at iTunes.
The fact is, however, any app that allows you to mark up a PDF will do for this type of editing. This just happens to be the one I use.
@Voice Aloud Reader
@Voice Aloud Reader (a product of http://www.hyperionics.com) is a free, flexible read-aloud program that is available in an astonishing number of languages.
Using These Apps Together
I save my client’s or my own manuscript as a PDF and open it in both iAnnotate and @Voice Aloud Reader on my tablet. While @Voice Aloud Reader reads the manuscript, I listen using earbuds and follow along, marking up the PDF as necessary. (It’s often my bedtime reading when I’m facing a deadline.) Continue reading “Two Indispensable Tools for Writers and Editors”
Finally, I have a firm release date for Book 2 in The Clay Series, The Clay Endures. Well, sorta.
I anticipate offering pre-sales somettime around mid-July, with the full release coming at the end of July. I will be at the Clay Festival in Silver City, New Mexico, on July 30 and will have the book, hot off the presses, for sale there.
This book goes back in time from the first book, The Clay Remembers. Readers will remember that Anna, an archaeologist, uncovers a broken Hohokam pot which connects her to the lives and experiences of two women from years before: Esperanza, a nineteenth-century homesteader’s wife, and Ha-Wani, the Hohokam woman who made the pot in the twelfth century. A little scrap of land in the shadows of the Santa Catalina Mountains, north of Tucson, Arizona, is the setting.
The Clay Endures is Esperanza’s story. She comes to this place to help her husband realize his dream of building a cattle ranch there. His fascination with La Cresta, a spectacular and massive ridge of granite towers and pinnacles (known today as Pusch Ridge), draws him to this wilderness where the Apaches endanger their lives and steal his cattle.
Esperanza struggles to hold onto their dream in spite of isolation and unrelenting loneliness. When she finds the ancient pot, the spirit of the woman who made it, offers her companionship and understanding. But will it be enough when she delivers her stillborn child all alone, when outlaws attack her, and when the mysterious Apache, who watches her from the shadows, finally makes his move?
You can read an online preview here.
The response to “Self-Editing Tips: Part 1″ was gratifying, bringing us to More Self-Editing Tips: Part 2. Most readers agreed that professional editing is a necessity for self-published writers, and I want to emphasize that these tips are in no way meant to relieve you of your responsibility to hire a professional editor if you want to publish a high-quality book. Several readers suggested the strategy of reading aloud, which I will cover in a little more detail in this post. Another reader suggested adding tools for determining the reading level of your manuscript, something I had not given much thought to, so I will be adding it here.
Self-editing common errors:
This list continues where I left off in the previous post. These self-editing tips relate to errors or problems you may not be aware of.
- Autonomous body parts
- Interesting phrase, isn’t it? This is where a character may have body parts acting independently of the character.
- Sometimes this construction creates an image that is hard tounsee once you’ve imagined it.
- Andrew’s fist pounded on the door. (I wonder if Andrew wanted his fist to do that.)
- He was deep in thought when the girl caught his eye. (Did she use a baseball glove?)
- I had a client once whose characters seemed to be victims of their own body parts acting without permission on nearly every page. (His arm wrapped around her shoulders. Her head leaned against his chest.) I sent the manuscript back to her with a request that she do some self-editing before I took up the manuscript. I could have gone ahead and charged her my hourly rate to do it myself, but I didn’t think that would have been fair. I gave her a quick tutorial on autonomous body parts and some online resources to use to learn more about it. She did fine and her revised manuscript was much better for her efforts.
- Here’s an extended example from Joel Stickley at his blog, How to Write Badly Well:
He reached out a sympathetic hand. Helen looked up with hopeful eyes, then swung an eager arm towards him and allowed her optimistic fingers to grasp his.
“Yes,” she said, her voice strong enough to shock her own ears. He grinned, his confident mouth lighting up his forthright face. Her heart, delighted, seemed to laugh within her chest–the chest which was usually so reserved and timid. She looked into his eyes and saw them grinning at her.
But was there something else there? A hint of trepidation, perhaps? Behind their apparent delight, what were his eyes really feeling? It was impossible to know what was going on in those eyes’ head. Was their heart truly in it?
- I suspect the example speaks for itself (pun intended)
Much has been said about the stigma of self-publishing, and probably the most oft-repeated criticism is that self-published books are frequently poorly edited or not edited at all. As an editor, I wouldn’t dream of publishing a book without hiring an outside editor to go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Of course, good editors don’t come cheap, but it’s an expense that will pay off down the road when your published work is recognized for its high quality. It’s almost impossible for us to fully edit our own writing. We are too close to it; our eyes (and our brain) don’t always register errors–we unconsciously supply what we meant to write. That makes self-editing quite a challenge.
Look closely at author and blogger Joanna Penn‘s image on the right. It might not surprise you that her editor marked up her manuscript so thoroughly, but she says she paid for this edit after several other edits and proof-readers. [emphasis mine] Professional authors hire professional editors. Even if you don’t yet consider yourself a professional author, I urge you to begin acting like one or you may never achieve that goal.
There are a number of self-editing strategies you can use to make sure the manuscript is as good as it can be before sending it to the editor who will make it even better. If the editor charges by the hour, you’ll save a little money if you’ve done your homework and ferreted out all of those pesky errors and problems ahead of time.
That said, it is possible for you to do some serious self-editing. After all, the less work you give your editor, the faster she will get the job done. Here are some things you can do before the editor takes over your manuscript:
Self-publishing often takes a beating–sometimes deserved and other times undeserved. It’s true that many self-published books are thrown together without much thought, which makes readers assume that these ill-conceived, poorly written, badly formatted books are typical of self-published books. I’m here to tell you that’s not true. There are excellent self-published books out there that compare with professionally published, best sellers. You just have to look for them.
My goal here is to pass along some titles of excellent books that should be on your reading list.