Editors – In for a Penny in for a Pound

DSC_0122 (2)

Aren’t we lucky I still own a pound! I’ve only been to the U.K once in my lifetime.

So what about my progress with editors? Well I scoured the internet far and wide for editors in Sydney. I couldn’t really find an editor specialised in science fiction, I don’t know why (Did I look far and wide enough?). Maybe Australia just doesn’t do science fiction as much as abroad. It would be a shame if that were the case, but us Aussies do seem to also read science fiction and speculative fiction. Anyway so no specialised editor, what am I to do. Well I chose a bunch of editors I liked the sound of and got in touch. I mean I hadn’t engaged an editor before, so its a whole new experience. It meant picking brains and getting sample edits.

I quickly realised that expenses could skyrocket from a set price per manuscript, to an hourly rate of $70-80 upwards. If I recall one estimate for my copy edit, of a 9000ish word manuscript was quoted at about $590 and that wasn’t including another $350-$400ish for a structural edit. It was an amazing shock. I mean if it could cost that much for editing and magazines might end up paying you less, how does an author keep food on the table? How can you at least cut even and get your work published? Good grief, think of how much editing a novel would cost. I’m probably lucky this is a labour of love, or I might turn away from this career choice.

Well I think the easiest way to overcome editing fees, would be to learn to edit yourself. This is what I am inclined to do, as it’s perfecting the craft of writing, but it doesn’t hurt to say sometimes you can’t see the trees from the forest at times. So I persisted.  With this persistence, I managed to get a total quote of $350 for my short story ‘The Observer’. It was quoted to me by a two man editor team. Great guys. They took me through the process, explaining how it all works. After I got a sample edit, I decided right let’s give this a go.

A couple of weeks later, they sent back my work, in track changes in Microsoft word. There was a long list of suggested polishes. A bunch of comments with advice of what works, what doesn’t, as well as t why and effect that was having. There was well thought out summarised comments at the end. It was also reassuring, having two different people looking at my manuscript. Two minds are better than one, as they say.

Ok editing box ticked. It’s been an adventure. The next few weeks, it was taking ‘The Observer’ manuscript to points of publication. Basically constituted sending the manuscript by email or through online submission portals. Then came the waiting weeks or months to send it to the next one (Places don’t like taking simultaneous submissions, which makes it very hard on the author). I got a few rejections so far, but this is an ongoing process. I’m not particularly stressed.

So here we go, in for a penny in for a pound. I sent my next manuscript, ‘The Solar Wind of Dreams’ to the same editors again. This time the fee was cheaper, because the manuscript was in better form. What do I take away from that? If you have the extra time, go over your manuscript again. Even a few more passes before sending it to the editor, can help with the editing cost. Otherwise maybe keep running it by an editor, as your final part of the process (Yes I know how tempting it is to get back in and start changing things after you have finished your painstakingly long editing process).

I have really enjoyed having my work edited, because I feel it really did help. It also gave me the opportunity to bounce ideas and thoughts off people who have industry experience. I can’t say that means my manuscripts will be instantly, a published done deal, but it sure has made them shine that much more.

Hopefully some of my experiences can help the next person, starting out on the journey to being published.

The Unboxing

The unboxing begins! Zenbook UX390UA. For months, I have been exhausted carrying my 15″ Zenbook U500VZ. Back and forth from uni. Day in day out. Otherwise lugging it, when I’m out and about writing. No more!

DSC_0106

Dadadadadadadadada.

DSC_0108

Snazzy little pouch to carry the Zenbook around. That’s a nifty little bonus. Lifting that up, here it is tucked away. The Zenbook!

DSC_0112

DSC_0114

Lovely set out. It’s an absolute maze of compartments in this box.

DSC_0113

Got that swanky little sleeve to carry the laptop in. The charger, ooo an adaptor for USB C (HMDI, USB C and standard USB port) nice and handy. Oh sweet, a little microfiber cloth to clean the screen. A real box of goodies.

DSC_0115

Here we have it, the Zenbook UX390UA. Can just hear a choir making that ahhhh sound (I could add in me in making that noise, but I’d sound like I was strangling a cat).

_20170516_150916

I think this is great. With only Intel HD 620 graphics I think there is no way to play games, so no writing distractions (Well it probably can do it… But I’m going to pretend it can’t, because this is just for writing/work). There is an Intel I7 U, with 8GB of DDR3 in it, so no computer lag! Haha I think it was a prerequisite, because I have known people with little netbooks, that really struggled with lag doing basic things.

In comparison to my bigger laptop which weighs in at 2.2kg, this tiny 12.5″ is a mere 910grams and thin as thin. I think something ridiculous like 11.9mm thin. I mean look at the Zenbook UX390UA against its older 15″ relative the Zenbook U500VZ.

DSC_0117DSC_0120 The lighting just doesn’t do justice to the snazzy gold trim.

Let’s start it up. There isn’t that much bloatware I can complain about. It’s lightning fast and I got everything setup in about an hour. Everything I wanted uninstalled vanished, got everything I wanted on it like MS Office and setup my email. Change all the settings to what I like. Usual setup joy of buying a piece of tech.

A few days usage and I can say, the keyboard is really comfortable, but I keep whacking the equals button for backspace, the limited tactile response to key presses is also a little strange. I think that is just a case of retraining the brain. Touch pad mouse works really well. You kind of need that, cause this laptop doesn’t have a touch screen like its older relative and to plug in a mouse you need the adaptor on you. I would however, highly recommend this laptop for any writer on the go. If colour is your thing, it also comes in quartz grey and rose gold, sporting that golden edge.

Now did it pass the it doesn’t weigh a tonne test! Yes yes it did. When you add all my other belongings to my bag, it feels like I have forgotten my laptop.

After a month of agonising over the HP Spectre 13.3″ and this 12.5″ Asus Zenbook UX390UA, followed by a fortnight of agonising and finding the cheapest quote. I’m one very happy writer.

DSC_0105

 

 

To the Editor Post-haste.

I’ve never used an editor before, but a growing certainty is that an editor is necessary. Even for the greatest wordsmiths. You only get one chance with a point of publication, be it a magazine, publishing house or were ever. With the certainty that I’m not perfect and I still don’t know all the ropes, I decided I better find an editor to help me as a guide.

There have been plenty of knock backs, on my journey as a writer. Each knock back, whilst generally giving good advice or feedback, takes away a point of submission for a manuscript. So I thought, why not maximise my chances. Besides, if I ever, ever were to E-Publish, I would want the story I release, to be of the quality that is coming out of any publishing house. The kind, that is run meticulously under an eagle eyed, editor’s microscope.

What kind of editing would I look at? Well there is a couple I’ve been advised on. Since I am using my sci fi short story, ‘The Observer’ for this editing adventure, I decided to keep it simple. Go with a structural edit and a copy edit, it’s only a nine thousand, something word short story.

Structural Edit: This focuses on matters such, as plot/sub plots, characters, dialogue, narrative voice and overall structure.

I am starting here, as  I think it is probably best to get all the ideas and the narrative hammered down perfectly. No point in jumping into the a copy edit and the nuts and bolts of punctuation and grammar, if I only come back and rewrite things again.

DSC_0319

Copy Edit: Getting down to the physical nuts and bolts. Punctuation, grammar, expression and sentence structure. Tackling consistency of style.

This kind of edit is a necessity, once everything is in place. I can’t imagine even the greatest of writers, not making a few typos sometimes. The other day, I found a few little things had slipped an author and editor’s gaze, funnily enough. It was a discrepancy, that was in the E-Book version, of a physical book I owned. When I checked the physical copy,  it wasn’t there. This was very reassuring, for a writer starting out. Even the greats, sometimes have typos.

In honesty, if I had to say there was a weakness in my writing. I’d say it would be here on the copy edit. Sometimes I can’t see the trees from the woods, so I put a manuscript aside for a while. I come back and see the mistakes and I wonder, how the hell did that get written like that? I think the only way to improve here, is by writing. Writing and to revise and refresh, punctuation and grammar from time to time. There is nothing wrong with covering old ground.  So much happens in our lives, we are bound to overlook and forget things from time to time.

There is probably the proof edit needed eventually, but from what I can tell that isn’t needed until after a submission has been accepted. It deals more with typesetting and page matters for print.

Overall that is the plan. Go through the stages of a structural edit and a copy edit and see if we can make my short story,  ‘The Observer’ shine. Polish and polish some more. It is, if nothing else, an interesting experiment and I will know, what I am in for when my novel is finished.

I’ll have to tell you guys how it all goes. In theory it should all be done by the end of March.

 

Writing: A Journey

I think setting out to be a writer, there is a lot of things they don’t tell you and a ton of things to learn. This is the case I find, even if you’re going the university route. I mean some of it is the smaller things, like basic manuscript formatting, other things are more necessities like publishers will only give your manuscript a go once and editors/agents are a bit of a necessity. The reality is, people starting out probably need a mentor to help them learn the craft. An author who has gone the hard yards before them and knows how it all works.

On that note, I know I’m not yet published, but I think I should start with some resources I’ve found useful.

books-1

I can’t stress how handy these books are.

Book 1: Has been a great resource for refreshing punctuation and grammar, very handy for polishing your manuscript and going over the finer points of the English language. Very extensive, great reference book. I’d say it’s a must have for any writer or anyone trying to improve their English.

Book 2: This book has been endlessly helpful in the editing phase. It teaches you quite a few of the issues that arise when writing. What to look out for and common mistakes; especially for new writers (E.g. Saying someone said angrily, when the dialogue carries the emotion. It’s a bit like telling your reader the same thing twice). There are a lot of examples in this book and it covers many topics, while it seems endless, sadly it is not. There are things that are expected knowns, like certain layouts and ways of doing things, but that said it’s a must have resource, I feel.

Book 3. This books more of a quick reference book which compliments book 1.

I’ll be honest, when I first started writing I hadn’t a blind clue how to set out a manuscript. It’s not something they taught me at uni. It’s a bit of an expected to be known already. Giving that if you don’t know how to set out your story, it really detracts from the writing (An grades). It is important to know how to set your manuscript out, no matter what type of piece you are writing.

A useful resource I found on manuscript formatting isn’t in a book, but non the less very helpful and Free. It is William Shunn’s Proper Manuscript Formatting for Short Stories and I found a link to it originally, when I was going through the submission guidelines for the Asimov magazine. A link to it is here: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html It basically tells you how to format your manuscript from start to finish. So if your stuck, like I was. I’d highly recommend giving it a read.

dsc_0230

Here we have these little gems.
The Writer’s Artists’ Yearbook, is the book to go to for publishing in the United Kingdom. It’s got essays and guides about every part of publishing. From things like, lists and addresses of publishers/editors to bits on copyright and self publishing. There is even some genre specific tips and comments from established authors. I hasten to add though, this is very U.K specific, but there are plenty of useful bits in there to learn from.

It’s neighbour there, my even more dated copy of The Australian Writer’s marketplace is I feel the Aussie equivalent. In my opinion though, I think it focuses more on contacts to get published. This is why, I have a copy of both.

Overall, hopefully you guys find, as much use out these resources as I have.

Have a great weekend.