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authors

Fit Matters: Q&A on Finding the Right Editor for Your Book

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Fit Matters: Q&A on Finding the Right Editor for Your Book

Recently, I had a great exchange on Facebook with author George Pearson. An author of two books and currently working on a third book, his books are written for the Christian market. However, the criteria George and I discussed for finding the right editor for his work is applicable for authors of various genres and topics.

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Women's History Month Profile: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—Writing to Power

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Women's History Month Profile: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—Writing to Power

Adichie tells the story of a Nigerian family under the oppression of a fanatically religious father. The story is told through the sensitive eyes of fifteen-year-old Kambili. The wealthy and privileged family consists of father, Eugene; mother, Beatrice; elder son, Jaja; and younger daughter Kambili. They are members of the Igbo tribe and live in Enugu. Despite his tyrannical rule over his family, Eugene is known an upstanding businessman and kind-hearted, generous philanthropist who gives to widows, pays tuition for over one hundred poor children, and funds the efforts of his local Catholic church.

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Writers Are Healers: When's the Last Time You Used Your Power?

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Writers Are Healers: When's the Last Time You Used Your Power?

Writers have a unique weapon at their disposal that can bring healing to the world. That weapon is the written word. Just like any weapon it can be wielded for good or evil. The right word at the right time can have a huge impact if only on one reader at first, transforming them into a force of change and compassion and producing a ripple effect that can ultimately impact entire cultures and societies.

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You Just Decided. You Need to Write That Book! Start Here.

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You Just Decided. You Need to Write That Book! Start Here.

Today's post is inspired by a question from an aspiring author. Someone heard this person's story and said that she should write a book. This is a very common motivator for people to start thinking about writing a book. She connected with me and said, "Jevon, I have no idea where to begin." This post is how I answered her.

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Do It Scared

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Do It Scared

Something I am learning: If you wait until you have no feelings of fear and everything is perfect before you do something your heart has been longing to do, you will never do it. Do not mistake faith for a feeling. Faith is about trusting in God's infinite ability to act on your behalf. His word over your life or the one thing you are aiming to do is sure. He does not fail.

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A Simply Beautiful Story of a Journey to Publication

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A Simply Beautiful Story of a Journey to Publication

Staying on the path to achieving your dreams is not easy. Quitting seems like a really good option on most days. Ignore those thoughts. Seriously. When you think of quitting, shun it like the dark evil it is. Recognize it. Call it out. Encourage yourself all over again with stories such as this from Christian fiction author Kariss Lynch. In this piece she shares her story of her journey to publication. I hope it inspires you to never, never, never give up on pursuing what you know you have been specially chosen for.

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Write to Your Strength: An Editor's Rant with 6 Tips at the End

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Write to Your Strength: An Editor's Rant with 6 Tips at the End

You have it going on over here: platform, credentials, consumer interest, consumer demand, passion, knowledge, and credibility. But you insist on writing over here in the land where nobody cares, where they have "been there done that" so many times that the books on that subject are on sale at Dollar Tree, where if this lukewarm topic of a book is somehow published the market will spew it out of its mouth, where if one more sentence is read someone is going to jump...

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You Should Probably Self-Publish If…

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You Should Probably Self-Publish If…

When your desires and expectations for certain parts of the publishing process exceed a traditional publisher's ability to meet them, self-publishing may be a great option for you. Read about 10 signs indicate self-publishing may work better for you than traditional publishing.

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Beyond a Love Affair: How I Went From Loving Books to Writing Them

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Beyond a Love Affair: How I Went From Loving Books to Writing Them

I ventured out and tried something different on my blog today and let you hear from one of my dearest friends Becky Van Volkinburg, who just became a published author. Becky and I have sang together, cried together, prayed to gather, dreamed together, vented about "stuff" together... I am so proud of her journey and I wanted to share it with you today.

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5 Reasons I Love Working with Agents

The word on the street about editor-agent relationships is muddled at best and negative at worst. But I don’t give that much thought when I am in the trenches with an agent reviewing a proposal and negotiating an author’s contract. I decide how my relationships with agents are going to be—and I like working with agents. 

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16 Things Your Editor May Be Doing When You Call

If you wondered what your editor is doing like right when you call or send an email, most likely he or she is not working on your manuscript. There is a small chance that time and chance may line things up just right for you to call as they are editing your manuscript or reading your proposal, but most likely not. So if you catch a hint that they don't have a clue about what you're wanting to know, for a split second, that's true. But they'll quickly catch up.

When an author calls or emails me, my mind is usually on something entirely different. I am what most people call a "real" editor. Just kidding. No, seriously, I edit and acquire books for publication. So when I am not doing acquisitions, I am editing. And when I am not editing, I am doing acquisitions. I edit approximately ten to fifteen projects during a four-month season (Winter, Spring, and Fall). Then I am developing about twenty to thirty acquisitions prospects at any given time--I work for a small-to-med-size house (about 50-70 titles published per year). Not to mention, traveling just a bit to writers conferences and author events. And the meetings! OK, I won't even go there.

So when you call or email, most likely
  1. I am editing another author's book.
  2. I am editing another author's back cover copy.
  3. I am doing some online super-sleuthing for new authors.
  4. I just got off a long conference call with another author or an agent.
  5. I am responding to a long emailed list of contract revisions from an agent or another author.
  6. I am writing an edit letter to another author.
  7. I am preparing proposals for an upcoming acquisitions meeting.
  8. I am preparing a monthly activity report.
  9. I am on my way to a meeting.
  10. I am just getting back from a meeting and I am trying to figure out where I left off in my work.
  11. I am taking action on the action steps from a meeting I just attended.
  12. I am honing my telepathy skills when I have no idea what another author is talking about in the book I am editing.
  13. I am trying to decode a cryptic request from someone who just stopped by my desk and asked me to do something for them.
  14. I am making a desperate attempt to create a to-do list so I don't forget anything that has to do with the thirty to fifty projects I have in the pipeline.
  15. I am conceptualizing a best seller (yes, it pays to speak positively).
  16. I am shutting down my computer and on my way home for the evening.
None of these are wimpy tasks; they are all quite cerebral and take lots of focus. So sometimes, I am even a little startled when the phone rings, "Like what the heck is that thing ringing for!" LOL! I am sure you can relate when it comes to your field.

Sometimes I wonder if authors think that they are the only author their editor is working with at the time. Do you? That would be ideal, let me tell you. But since it's not reality, I hope you can extend some grace to us when we have to play a bit of catch up with you, we let the call roll over to voice mail, or we don't respond to your emails right away. We will get back with you as soon as we know we can give you the attention and focus you need. Truly, your success is our success, and you matter.

So, what are you doing when we call you?

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30+ Ways to Show Your Favorite Author Some Love

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30+ Ways to Show Your Favorite Author Some Love

So do you really love the writing in that book you're reading? Are you so engrossed in the story that you forget you are actually reading? Has this book challenged you to live a better life? Give more? Work harder? Go the distance when you first thought you should quit? Take that leap of faith? Yes? Well, you need to get off your duff and show some love!

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Who Are You Writing For?—Discovering Your Target Audience

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Who Are You Writing For?—Discovering Your Target Audience

Discovering your target audience is like the jelly part of a PB&J sandwich; the topic itself is totally the peanut butter. Those two elements need to be clearly defined before you put pen to paper. Many times when we discuss our writing projects, we verbally articulate who we are writing for, but when we take a closer look, sometimes it's hard to match whom we said we were writing for with the writing itself.

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6 Things Writers Should Not Say to Editors or Agents at Writers Conferences

In light of my going to a couple conferences this month, I figured I would put into writing a few things I hope writers will not say to the editors and agents (or maybe just to me) they schedule one-on-ones with. This may be selfish. It may not be. It may actually help someone more than it saves me from having to smile and say my favorite noncommittal word, "Interesting!" Yes, I am being way more tongue-and-cheek here than I would ever be in person, so don't be scared to come talk to me. :) But this space, this blogspot, is kind of like my home, where you have entered in on me being myself and where you get to be... well, whoever you want to be, I guess.

But here are some things I've heard from writers in the past that I hope to not hear at this year's round of conferences. Although, some of them make for great stories.

1. "This is my first draft, but I just wanted to see what you thought."

Huh? No. Do not bring your first draft to a conference. This could be your one shot. Have you seen the movie 8 Mile, or maybe you've just heard the song by Eminem. If not, go listen to it now and then think again about bringing your rough draft to a conference. Now, if your main reason is to attend a conference for a learning experience, that's a whole other story. But still do not show your first draft to an editor. You can consider counseling with an editor, asking questions about the industry, maybe share your idea, but please do not ask us to read your first draft. We are not attending the conference to review manuscripts or to do any conceptualization or development. We are looking for ideas to publish. Well, at least that's why I want to do one-on-ones.

2. "Before I tell you about my manuscript, I just want you to read the first few pages. No, no, just read..."

Umm... Excuse me? Yes, this has happened to me. The writer practically put their one index finger to my lips as I began to talk and said, "Shhh... Just read this. I know it's going to blow you away." Do I really need to say what's wrong with this? Let's just say this writer is not publishing with me.

3. "I know this isn't the kind of book you are looking for, but I just wanted to talk to you anyway."

Yeah, about that. No. I really need to use the little bit of time I have away from the office (on office time by the way) maximizing on meetings that may have some kind of ROI for me and the company. What happens in these meetings is that, fifteen minutes after the author's spiel, I still end up telling them that this is not the kind of project I am looking for, but perhaps XYZ publisher or agent will be better suited for you.

4. "I have never heard or known of a book like mine. It is so unique."

Really. This seems like a good thing, but it's not. If there are no other books in the market like yours, there may be a reason for that--the market (i.e., readers) does not want a book like yours. So saying this is not a selling point. Perhaps you could show how your book is similar to other books along the same lines (same genre or category) and then you could show how your book is different. Saying that you know of no other book like yours in the market says several things: 1) you don't read much, 2) you don't understand the book market, 3) you don't know the job editors have to do to sell book ideas to their sales and marketing team who sell books to distributors based on comparison, 4) you did not do your research.

5. "I don't have a proposal, but I just wanted to see what you thought about this idea."

Great, but not during the one-on-one. Meet me at a meal. I could be off here, but during one-on-ones I expect to meet with authors who are ready to be published. If you are still just learning and seeing if the author's life is right for you, let's talk over a meal.

6. "You guys publish the weird stuff, right?"

Cute. But no. Try not to say anything about the publisher you are meeting with that could be taken negatively. In this case my thoughts were on my defense, not the author's pitch: We publish verifiable genres and recognized BISAC categories--at least in our minds. So that is a little off-putting to say our stuff is weird, but then again maybe you're also saying your stuff is weird and that we should all get along because we're all weird. I guess that's OK. But come to me showing me that you understand what we are publishing and perhaps what we publish sets us apart from what other publishers are doing in our same market. That would be nicer to hear. I don't want to be working for weirdos (although sometimes I question if I am or not, but only I get to say that).

While I may have been taken aback by many more surprising statements during these wonderful editor-writer encounters, these are the ones that come to mind right now. Maybe more will come later. While I am probably the nicest editor you'll meet at a conference (I will still enjoy our meeting as if you have done nothing wrong even if you come to me with any of the intros listed above), I do think it shows an author's thoughtfulness and seriousness about their career when they take these one-on-one meetings and use them for what they are for--to get a publishing deal. If you are not ready to be published or you've found an editor or agent you'd like to just network with but don't have a manuscript ready, you should plan to share a meal with them--sit at their table. Please sit at my table. I love to have a full table. I am there to be exploited and to have indigestion for those three or four days. I love this business, the readers, the authors, and the whole bit that much. And then if I do request your manuscript, please, please send it to me. If you have problems hitting "send," read this.

That is all. Thank you.

What are some interesting things you've heard people say at writers' conferences?

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An Editor's Inspiration


Today I am working on an extensive edit, where I am having to fill in large portions of text. And I have actually been battling what I call editor's block. Being a developmental editor, it is my job--and really it's a gift--to be able to see how a theme or topic can germinate into a full-fledged trade book. Basically this is called conceptualization. That part came pretty easily to me for this particular project. But somewhere between the conception and the development, I lost my train of thought a bit.

Now I am knee-deep into my edit and the deadline is encroaching upon, creeping into, or threatening to cramp my creative space.

However, what inspiration I thought I lost has returned full force. Want to know how? I began listening to the author speak on a similar topic. Having CDs or DVDs of my authors speaking or doing media interviews is really a point of inspiration for me when I begin to conceptualize or edit their work. I get fired up about their project just by hearing or seeing their passion about whatever it is they are talking about. I get a better sense of their voice, their mannerisms, their coined words or phrases, and other things that connect them so well with their audience. It helps me to be able to take those unique and identifiable traits and add them to the work I am conceptualizing or developing for them. I think adding those elements strengthens the impact of their book as well.

You may be reading this and thinking that writers have to come up with all their own ideas. That is definitely and hugely helpful and most generally preferred. Then there are times when someone who has adoring fans and incredible insights who needs that extra hand putting an actual book together that strings all of their appeal together into one place and on a solid, salable concept. That is where I come in.

So just a little tip: inspire your editor by sending them a CD or DVD of you communicating your heart to a large audience. It doesn't necessarily have to be about the subject at hand, although it really helps if it is.

If you are editing or writing for someone else, what are some tangible things that inspire you?

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