Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What would you do for $5? Let's raise $1,000 to buy 500 books to start home libraries for a neighborhood of low-income families through First Book!

A few weeks ago a friend pointed me to a new site: Fiverr, a site that asks, "What are you willing to do for $5?"

As many of you know, every now and then I run various fundraisers for my pet charity, First Book. So I though to myself, "Self? How can we combine the two and raise more $$$ than ever before?"

"But Lindsay!" you say. "You already provide sample edits of the first ten pages, free of charge, to prospective clients! And now you're charging for it??? And if I wanted to know if my query letter would get rejected or not, couldn't I just send it to an agent for free???"

Of course not! I'm not changing any policies here. This is NOT a sample edit. Sample edits are a free service I provide ONLY to authors who I am considering adding to my schedule or waiting list - authors who I expect to work with on full evaluations. They are far more time intensive and involved. 

What I'm offering here is simple - you send me what you'd send an agent. I, using my super-powers gained in my agency days, will do just what the agent does - tell you if I'd want to see more or not.
But here's the key difference, and the reason why you're going add $5 to the charity pot: instead of a standard rejection letter, I'm going to tell you WHY I'd reject it and *gasp* WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIX IT!!!

"But Lindsay," you say again. "Can't I just send my query to Query Shark and my pages to Evil Editor for the same thing???"

Yes! Of course! And I highly recommend doing so! But not everyone wants their work torn apart and then posted online for all the world to see. And, again, it's for charity. Think of the children. 

"Okay," you say. "I'm in. What do I do?"

Easy! click on one of the links above. Once you get to the Fiverr website, take a quick minute to create an account, then click "Order Now!" and send me your query letter or sample pages. That's it! Your job is done! Now just sit back and wait for advice you can really use.

Monday, February 22, 2010

O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference

At the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in NYC until
Wednesday. Want the inside scoop? Follow me on twitter

Check in for the big news tomorrow - Google's new ebook platform (and
yes, they are taking over the world, and no, I don't mind a bit!).

Sent from my mobile device

Thursday, February 11, 2010


"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back; always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it"

-William H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Today's Accomplishment: Splurge

Today's accomplishment so far: spending my birthday bookstore gift certificates. (They lasted MORE THAN TWO WEEKS! CRAZINESS!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Notes From The Evaluation Archives

Notes From The Manuscript Evaluation Archives is a new feature I'm trying out here at the Murdock Editing blog. 

Today's Edition: Backstory in Memoir

Think about your favorite contemporary novels or non-famous-person memoirs (classic literature should not be included in this thought experiment – writers and readers in days gone by could get away with all sorts of things that our modern readers will not stand for). Do you know everything there is to know about every character's history? Where they were born? What their parents were like? If it is a story with an adult protagonist, you may know a few details as they pop up in the general narrative, but you most likely don't have chapters devoted to the past.

It is very difficult to cut our own pasts out of our memoirs. You know that your past made you who you are today, and you probably have very strong opinions on how certain things affected you. And you want your reader to understand you as a person, so you feel that you have to include everything.

Don't. Like a fiction writer, you know everything there is to know about your protagonist (you). But you don't include it all. So much about a person is under the surface – we only ever see the tip of the iceberg – but if you show us the iceberg, if you really let us come up close and see the tip, we'll know that there is more below the surface. When it comes down to it, the way that your characters speak, the way they behave, the way they interact with each other and react to the events happening to them in the present of the story will mean so much more to the reader than anything you tell them about your characters' past. 

And backstory isn't just limited to telling us about the past – too much background included in a scene or "explaining" can be just as detrimental to your story. One of the great joys of reading a book is finding the connections between events, discovering the motivations of the characters, and using our own experiences and understanding of the world to understand the characters and their actions. If you constantly spell out for us why someone did something, or that this means that this will happen, or that happened because of this other thing, you lose the joy of discovery and the power of whatever is happening in the moment. You are telling the reader far too much – if you're doing this, you'll find notes such as "essaying" and "pontificating" and "over-explaining" throughout the marked MS. When you are essaying, you're telling us too much instead of letting us just live it and discover it with you. Find your moment, stay with it, and trust the reader to find his or her own connections.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shopping for Clients: Fun with Publishers Marketplace

While I await your questions and to-be-critiqued first pages and the manuscript from my February 1 client, I'm going shopping.

Not real shopping, since I've already blown through my book budget for the month (recommendation: Jen Lancaster's Bitter is the New Black and Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader). I'm going client shopping.

I do this about once a year, sometimes twice if the summer slowdown adds enough wiggle room to my schedule. Ninety percent of my clients find me through Google or other search engines, friends, coworkers, or members of their critique groups. The other ten percent come my way through the various online and offline writing and publishing groups to which I belong - fellow members whose writing seems like a good match for my services and background. And once in a blue moon I'll work with a client I've "met" through my Operation Rescue the Craigslist Writers (in which I skim through the writing gig listings and respond to authors looking for agents with a link to Preditors and Editors), although that isn't really the point.

But every now and then I go looking for a manuscript that is exactly what I feel like working on right now. Sometimes I'm in the mood to work on Chick Lit. Sometimes I'm in the mood for some crazy vampires. Sometimes I really want to read a good mystery or a psychological thriller. Sometimes I'm looking for something sweet, subtle, and thought-provoking. Sometimes I'm just waiting for something to jump out at me. So where do I go to "shop"? Publishers Marketplace Offerings.

I love reading the listings - both those coming from agents (it's fun to see who is selling what at any given moment) and those coming directly from the authors. It's like a clearinghouse for completed manuscripts and the creative minds behind the big ideas. It's like strolling through the aisles of Brookline Booksmith (my favorite bookstore), except the books (manuscripts) here are raw and ready to be transformed and refined and shaped into what their authors always hoped they could be - agent-landing manuscripts. I tend to get lost in these listings for hours (okay, once for an entire business day). Because I know it's there - that one (or those two) manuscripts that I really want to work on - those authors who I really want to work with and to help succeed.

It has been nearly a year and a half since my last trip through the Publisher's Marketplace Offerings. So if you don't hear from me for the rest of the day (and maybe tomorrow), you'll know where I am. And if you do hear from me, then I probably found you on Publisher's Marketplace, and I want to read your book.

UPDATE: Found two!

Grand Reopening

Welcome to the Grand Reopening of Murdock Editing, with your host and editor, Lindsay Murdock!

If you're a long-time reader and somehow still have this poor neglected blog on your blogroll, welcome back. If you're a writer who I've had to turn away over the past year, welcome back. And if you're just joining us for the first time, nice to meet you! I'll be posting a most-read posts list tomorrow afternoon. 

A few points of business.

(1) I do apologize for closing my digital doors to some outstanding writers over the past year. I experienced an overwhelming (and gratifying!) surge of queries and requests from authors in 2009. Although I've considered partnering with other editors, I'm still a one-person show, and I only have those measly 24 hours in a day, and every once in a while my family actually makes me stop working to do things like cook and change the cat litter. The nerve! Once the Murdock Editing waiting list stretched to cover 7 months worth of manuscripts, it was time to put the brakes on things.

(2) I'm back, but at half capacity. As mentioned in an earlier post, I'm currently developing and testing an online course system using Google Wave. My first test class (Get it Down on Paper, OR ELSE: A Guide to Writing The Book You've Always Meant to Write) begins next week. To ensure that ALL clients and students get the attention they deserve, I will only be taking on TWO (2) clients at any given time. 

(3) Because I'm a big fan of fresh starts (and giving myself time to breath now and then), there is no current waiting list. The next available slot is March 15. I've decided that 5 months is the longest I'm comfortable allowing the waiting list to get, so there are 10 slots available as of now. Want to discuss making one of those slots yours? Shoot me an e-mail at editor@murdockediting.com

(4) The blog is back. Really. No, I mean it this time! Let me know what you want to read about here. What are your questions? Would you like to see/offer your first pages up for sample critique? I look forward to hearing from you!