Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Post! Go Read This Edition

Did you get your taxes done? Has Spring started wherever you are? Are you all caught up on your writing/publishing industry blogs?

If not:

  • - I don't know, TurboTax?
  • - It's actually warm this week in Boston, so there is hope for you too!
  • - And Go Read This! 
If you're working on your query letter, make sure you're at least reading (if not submitting to) Evil Editor (look for the Guess the Plot posts) and Query Shark. If you have a whole day to kill and want to snork coffee while learning how to get a query right, read the Miss Snark archives (good lord I miss that woman). Jessica at BookEnds Agency is also doing Workshop Wednesdays. Pay attention! 

"2. Don’t waste time with the obvious.

“My books are about the relationships between people and how they react to a murder in their midst.” 
Doesn’t that apply to most mysteries? If you’re a New York TimesBestselling author, you could get away with this. Then again, your audience would be just as thrilled if you leaned toward them and asked if your mascara had smeared."  

Kristin at Pub Rants suggests querying while the querying is hot!

Repost: Dedicated To David

Dear readers, I promise this will be my last irate post on David. Read to the end though, and you'll understand why it simply had to be posted.

Those of you who stopped by yesterday will recall our dear friend "David" (that's his actual name, I'm just putting it in quotes because I don't like him). Read the post below for more background on "David."

Why do people insist on offering misinformation on subjects they know nothing about? And why do I let it bother me so much?

Today there was another LinkedIn question that caught my eye - an author looking for information on submitting an idea for a For Dummies book. For Dummies is published by John Wiley & Sons. I worked in editorial for Wiley for years, although not on the For Dummies books, so I thought, "Hey! Question I'll know the answer to!"

And there, waiting for me, was our good friend "David."

David offered the following advice (this is all paraphrased).

(1) No one in publishing is buying anything anymore. Especially not self-help books. Don't even try.
(2) The economy stinks, so books are no longer being published. Don't even try. 
(3) If you do try, HIRE an agent with an NDA in place so the publishing house DOESN'T STEAL YOUR IDEA.

I tried to post my response. But, horrors - when I hit send there was an error! I tried again! Another error! I kept trying for another half hour, because I'm apparently in need of a chill pill.

So, having finally given up, my response to the poor, misinformed author is posted below. I hope, by some miracle, he finds it on the great interwebs.

"Hi [Author]. Wiley, the For Dummies publisher (and my past employer) won't generally accept unsolicited submissions. For most of the titles, the editors come up with subjects they want to market, then go out and find experts.

If you are an expert in a certain field and already have a great platform that proves you're the go-to guy for your subject, pitch the idea to an agent with great nonfiction credentials. If an agent thinks Wiley might want it, he or she should be able to get the editors to take a look. The official author guidelines are discussed in the link below.

And now, to debunk another response posted earlier:

(1) The Dummies book market is not saturated. There are, in fact, over fifty new titles being printed in this series this year alone. I'd count the 2008 titles, but it's almost lunch time, and it would take too long.

(2) Almost all publishers are still buying new books from new authors. Larger publishers don't take unsolicited manuscripts, but that has nothing to do with the economy; it's been that way for a very long time. Some small publishers still accept unsolicited manuscripts and are making no changes that indicate they will do otherwise in the future.

(3) An agent is a good idea, but mention an NDA and they will, at best, have a good laugh. This is not how publishing works. And, despite conspiracy theories, respectable publishers don't steal ideas.

Good luck [Author], and please feel free to e-mail me off-board if you have any questions."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

REPOST! What to Expect When You're Expecting to Hire an Editor: Part III

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how you should go about picking an editor, so without further ado: What to Expect When You're Expecting to Hire an Editor: Part III

Once you've gotten past Part II - How to Find an Editor, it's time to narrow it do to the one, the only - YOUR FREELANCE EDITOR.
How to Choose an Editor
There are a lot of things you should consider when hiring an editor, including, but not limited to:
  • Experience/skill level/past successes (How did your editor become an editor? Who has he or she worked with?)
  • Pricing structure/total cost (Make sure you're getting what you're paying for!)
  • Personality (Do you click?)
  • Areas of expertise (Does the editor know your genre? If your book is too close in plot to another book on the market, would the editor notice?)
  • Business philosophy (Can you ask questions after the edit is complete? How accesable is the editor before/during/after the edit or eval is complete? Is this a person you can count on?)
The process can certainly be confusing, but following the steps below should keep you on the right track.
1. Go with your gut. For a full-length book, you'll likely be working with an editor for at least a few weeks; I've worked with some of my writers over several years and several books. The editing and evaluation process works best and will be the most valuable to you if you can develop a friendly, easy relationship with your editor. Early conversation - whether by e-mail or phone - should leave you feeling confident that you're working with someone who wants to help you succeed. If you don't feel comfortable with one editor, move on to another.
 2. Get a second opinion. I always recommend that writers ask for references, particularly when they're looking for an editor to perform a good deal of work (line edits, developmental editing, extensive copyediting, manuscript evaluations and critiques, etc.). Go ahead and ask an editor if you can talk to one of his or her previous clients - they'll be able to give you unique insight into the process and the value of the services you're considering. 
3. Do your research. Google the editor's name and/or business name. Look for any complaints or warnings other writers may have published online. At the very least, ask the editor about any troubling posts. Of course, Google has its limitations - don't worry too much if you find that your editor's name brings up a whole cast of strange characters - there are at least 5 other Lindsay Murdocks that pop up on my GoogleAlerts - one of them actually lives only a few towns over!
Also, although I've mentioned it before, I have to reiterate - check any editor you're considering hiring against the Preditors and Editors database. Not all freelance editors are listed there - but if an editor does have complaints against him or her, chances are those complaints are documented on this site.
4. Take a taste. When you order an expensive bottle of wine at a restaurant, the server will have you take a sip before serving the rest of the bottle, just to make sure you like it. An editor should do the the same - offering you a sample edit so you can see precisely what you're getting for your money. I offer a free ten page sample edit or evaluation to ALL potential clients. Most editors I know will do the same.  
5. Get it in Writing. Some editors use written contracts, some don't. At the very least, get a detailed description of what you're getting for your money, what your options are, what deliverables you can expect when, how much it's going to cost, and when payments are due. Ask questions and get answers. Remember, your editor is a professional who will be working for you.
BONUS: Be nice, and expect the same from your editor. We're all in this together!