Tag: Publish

Traditional vs. Self Publishing Part II

Traditional vs. Self Publishing Part II

Continuing yesterday’s discussion of what the real differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing are, let’s step into the nitty-gritty and lay out the pros and cons (I was tempted to write “prose and cons”) so we can compare the two side by side.

Now that we have looked at the steps required in putting together a book, let’s consider the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing. I am, through this list, going to assume the publisher the author works with is a legitimate publisher who will do right by the author. There are, as I so often say, sharks in our waters. Those sharks can take many forms, so I’m not going to address all of them here.

Who Pays

Traditional Publishing: The publisher pays for the full costs of the publication process.
Self-Publishing: The author is on the hook for approximately $10,000 worth of services, assuming they do it properly.

Creative Control

Traditional Publishing: It varies from publisher-to-publisher, though the publisher retains final say over creative decisions as well as over editing.
Self-Publishing: For better or for worse, the author has full control over every aspect of their work. This means they will, in theory, be able to get the exact cover they want and not have to adjust any of their work they do not want to.


Traditional Publishing: The publisher handles distribution of the book to bookstores and through online outlets. Brick-and-mortar bookstores are more likely to work with a corporate entity.
Self-Publishing: Authors will have to woo bookstores and find their way through distribution on their own. This means they will be able to choose where their book is sold, but brick-and-mortar bookstores are often hesitant to work with unrepresented authors.


Traditional Publishing: Authors may expect to receive 7-15% royalties on print book and 40-55% royalties on print book. This may be off list (the price it’s listed at through booksellers) or net (the amount the publisher receives after the distribution channels take their bite).
Self-Publishing: Authors receive 100% of their profits. This is one of the driving forces in why many authors choose self-publishing. I may write a blog post on this later because it’s not as pretty a number as you might expect a lot of the time.


Traditional Publishing: The publisher takes full advantage of all industry marketing channels it has access to and often coaches the author through things like building an author website and how to handle social media to their best advantage. They also approach and pay for services like BookBub (which is expensive). They may also design and provide marketing materials like bookmarks, postcards, fliers, mailers, and other pieces of promotional material.
Self-Publishing: Authors must learn how to market their book on their own and pay for all services associated with it. Some outlets will be skeptical of self-represented authors because of the amount of contact they receive from authors on a daily basis.
NOTE: Authors MUST be an active part of their promotional team. No one will promote their book with more passion and excitement, and readers these days are hungry to interact with their favorite authors. A publisher can provide tools for authors to promote their book, but authors still must do legwork. 

Access To Experts

Traditional Publishing: The people helping you along the way with your manuscript have been vetted by the publisher and are experts in their field. They can be trusted to do what is best for your book and know the industry in and out.
Self-Publishing: The author must use their own judgment to decide whether or not the person they are looking to hire is going to best represent their book or do the desired task.


Traditional Publishing: The author must give up certain rights to the publisher to enable them to put those rights to best use as well as make a profit for the publisher.
Self-Publishing: The author retains all rights to the book.

Perceived Validity

Traditional Publishing: The author is seen as an author and someone who is an authority in their field or at least someone worthy of paying attention to. This can help an author stand out a little from the crowd.
Self-Publishing: Self-representing authors often struggle against the idea that they self-published because they were unable to gain the interest of a publisher. Many channels of marketing and distribution channels will be closed to them as a result.
Note: This stigma will linger as long as poor-quality books are churned out by the thousands every day by self-published “authors”. Amazon is working to establish quality control on their books, but with the sheer volume it is almost impossible. Yes, there are poor-quality books produced by publishers, and indie publishers struggle to throw off the stigma as well. As much as we might not like it, however, the stigma that indie authors are less valid than traditional authors is a very real part of the industry.

As you can see, there are a number of factors authors should weigh before jumping into the publishing process, and all of these are valid factors. I know the rights and royalty part of the equation leaves a lot of writers feeling like they’re on the short end of the stick, and I addressed that in a previous post. However, the benefits of traditionally publishing are considerable.

However, in my opinion there is a distinct line between who should self-publish and who should traditionally publish.

If the author has good business savvy and has researched the industry enough to understand what they need to do, and they have the money to do it properly, then I would suggest that person self-publish. At that point they are able to provide for themselves almost everything a publisher can, and they can make good decisions on the direction of their book.

Conversely, if the author does not have a strong head for business, marketing, or other aspects of the book together, or they don’t have the money to invest in the book to make it the best it can possibly be, I recommend considering traditional publishing. Having a publisher guide them through the steps, adopt the financial burden, and help them ensure their book’s success in the broad market.

There are probably more areas that I have not mentioned or discussed, and if you feel I missed something please let me know in the comments! I would be happy to amend and add to this to explain things folks are struggling with.


You Mean It’s Work?

My least-favorite type of writer is this one, and I’m sorry to be the mean one to say it, but it’s true. There are many of them in the world, and I never stop being frustrated by them. It’s the people who, when they put their work up and you critique it say:

“This isn’t supposed to be work.”

Hold on there, Hemmingway. Take a step back and say that again. This isn’t supposed to be work? So, what? You just think something up, slap it down on the page, and it’s an instant masterpiece? Right. Because Michelangelo just decided to be a painter one day and the Sistine Chapel happened. He didn’t spend his entire life dedicated to his craft or anything, right?

Personally, I think this type of person is worse than that aunt or cousin who thinks you should quit writing and get a real job. At least they have the excuse of not being a writer. They don’t know how much we work our butts off to hone our craft and accomplish our goals.

For some reason writing has this stigma attached to it, like it’s different from the rest of the arts. No one thinks you can learn violin over night and become Lindsay Stirling in a week. And if they do they learn otherwise in the first few notes. The same thing with painting. You can figure out you’re not Rembrandt by sticking a paintbrush in some paint and slapping it onto canvas with the precision of a four-year-old eating spaghetti and know you aren’t a painter pretty quickly. Maybe it’s because words on a page look like words on a page, and if you don’t know what you’re looking at it isn’t as obvious (sometimes) as the fact that your painting looks more like the floor after a frat party than it does your Aunt Gladys.

We’ve all had those friends in our lives who write Godawful poetry and ask us to read it. We are expected to smile and nod because it’s an expression of their twisted, suffering SOUL. It breeds this feeling that you can’t tell someone their writing would be improved by judicious application of gasoline and matches. Believe me, sometimes you need to be told that. You also sometimes need to say it.

Writing is work. It’s long hours of grueling, frustrating, BORING work. If you are trying to make writing your profession you need to pull up your boots and wade in because it will require the same dedication that any job or collegiate-level education will demand. Your long hours in front of your computer pounding away keys are your freshman 101 classes. Then you hit your senior year when you realize you have to make something coherent out of that mess.

I have spent hundreds of hours on the manuscript I’m working on. I wrote it in a furious rush during NaNoWriMo 2013 and have been polishing and ironing out the kinks since then. It takes that long? Yeah. Yeah, it can. You know why? Because it’s work.

I don’t say this to the detriment of folks who write as a hobby. Hobbyists are doing it for fun. They may be exceptionally talented, and may even be good writers, but they are doing it for fun. Professionals are different. Professionals are expected to be… well… professional. We can’t just slap down awfulness and be satisfied with it because that isn’t who we are.

Those who don’t want to put in the time, blood, sweat, and tears to become strong writers aren’t going to cut it as professionals. They’ll be mediocre hacks for the rest of their lives whose time is better served doing something else.

Perils and Pitfalls: Self Publishing Edition

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...
A Picture of an eBook(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Authors have a lot of people hawking services to them from the minute they start to the minute they finish. There are people out there that will do everything from sitting with you step by step, to marketing your book, to rewriting the damn thing for you. And probably wiping your nose while they do it.

The cause of this, in my estimation, is the dramatic turnover in the publishing industry. Whereas before in order to be published authors almost had to go the traditional publishing route in order to be considered a “real” book these days the DIY trend is pervasive. This, of course, means that there is a huge influx of writers looking for professional help while they engage in the various stages and flavors of publishing.

In this market there are many people looking to prey on authors that are new, inexperienced, or ignorant of what goes on. There are “editors” that can’t edit, “reviewers” that charge an arm and a leg for reviews, “self publishing” companies that are no better than Publish America, and “cover artists” that steal copyrighted material to make covers with.

How can an author protect themselves in this environment? The best way is to educate yourself. Read, watch, and think about everything you encounter. There are certain things that an author (specifically a self publishing author) needs, but there are a lot of “services” that you can forego. And even more that you may be getting scalped on.

1) Editing

Many writers reference the Freelance Editing Association as the paragon of freelance editing. I don’t know how good their skills are, but I can tell you that their prices are outrageous. If you want to pay that much money to receive editing I won’t stop you, but I can say that there are a lot of very good editors out there that won’t scalp you. I’m one. Also, just because they are in the FEA doesn’t mean that they’re good – anyone can pay the membership fee and join. Unless you have worked with an editor before or have been referred to them by happy clients don’t trust anyone’s abilities until you see them in action. Also, don’t judge us by their blog posts – we write these at midnight while furious at injustice and having drunk too much caffeine.

Another thing I’ve seen with editors is that there are a lot of sub-par editors that charge a lot because they think those are the going rates. These editors miss important and large issues with works, and I don’t mean missing the occasional typo or something; I mean big, sweeping problems. Make sure you see if you can find any reviews of the editor or company before you decide to have them pick up your book, and see if they offer a sample edit. Remember, an editor is like any other service: you are paying them to perform a service. Don’t be cowed by their expertise (whether real or imagined).

2) Cover Design

Cover design can be a HUGE money pit for authors doing freelance work. There are a lot of people out there offering photomanipulated covers for prices in the hundreds, and the work isn’t… bad, but it isn’t amazing. Unfortunately, many of these people are using brushes, photos, fonts, and resources from stock that they didn’t pay for, aren’t crediting properly, or aren’t permitted to use. It’s a common problem. They then sell these covers without licenses to do so, and the author using the cover becomes culpable for the copyright infringement.

Save yourself the trouble and make SURE that the cover artist doing your work (or you, if you’re doing it) have the proper licensing to use everything you are using on your cover.

I won’t comment on the cost of handpainted covers because they are a huge amount of work, and the artist has to speak for themselves since you will have seen their art before commissioning them to design a cover for you.

3) Ebook Conversions

This one I just heard of. Apparently people are charging hundreds of dollars to have their finished manuscripts converted into ebooks. And I don’t mean typesetting – that’s worth hundreds of dollars or more. I just mean strict conversion to ebook format without the typesetting. That made my jaw hit the floor.

The best method I was given was to export your manuscript as an unfiltered HTML document, load it into Calibre (a free, open source program) and format it that way. There is a learning curve, but it won’t cost you anything other than some cursing and effort.

4) Reviews

ALL reputable review sources (magazines, newspapers, etc.) make their money off of sales of their product and advertising, not off of selling reviews. They do not charge authors for them. Unfortunately, some of the larger venues only accept requests for reviews by reputable publishers, and are thus inaccessible to self published authors. However with that being the case you should never, ever, under any circumstances pay for a review. Anyone who is charging you is scalping you. Just don’t do it.

Also, Amazon will remove reviews they discover are paid for, and Amazon doesn’t typically remove reviews for many reasons. I can’t underscore this enough – you are being scammed. You will not make back that money, and the people doing it are not providing you with a serious service.

5) Self Publishing Companies

These aren’t all bad. Some of them can be a huge resource to authors. Others are nightmares waiting to happen a la Publish America. Again, as with all others (except reviewers) read the reviews seriously. Look for people that have used their services, and examine the books that they have helped put out. If they’re full of errors, have ugly covers, and the typesetting looks like a fifth grade paper you have your answer.

Since I offer self publishing services I won’t tell you that we’re all crooks and highwaymen, but just be cautious, and stick with reputable people where you can.

Overall, you just want to pay attention. Look for reviews on the people and services that you think you might be interested in, ask for samples, and don’t part with your money readily just because someone says, “Oh, yeah, you need this for your book!”

The reality is that there are a few things you need. Most of them you don’t have to pay for. As in my previous blog, self publishing comes with unavoidable costs that traditional publishing doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean that all costs associated with self publishing are unavoidable. Or need to be egregious.

Self Publishing Thoughts

I’ve been noticing a huge trend amonst authors these days: an interest and desire to self publish. It’s a double edged sword and the decision to self publish shouldn’t be made without some serious considerations. I think it’s a very valid way of doing things and would encourage it, but only if you have the time and money to do it properly.

Both traditional publishing and self publishing have merits; they also both have pitfalls. We’ll start by enumerating some of those benefits and drawbacks here so you can see them side by side. The pros and cons of traditional publishing assume a good, valid publisher that can effectively work for the author not a back alley publisher that wants your kidneys to sell on the black market.

Traditional Publishing Pros:

  • Should not cost the author money to edit, market, design, or print the book.
  • Should provide a large range of marketing possibilities for your book to get them into the hands of readers effectively.
  • Should be able to be trusted to provide high quality editorial feedback to make your book the best it possibly can be.
  • Should be able to access larger booksellers (depending on the publishing company).

Traditional Publishing Cons

  • The author makes drastically less money than they do when self publishing.
  • The author loses (usually) some or all rights to the book for the contracted amount of time.
  • The publisher has a fair amount of control in the editorial process which means you may have things you don’t want changed changed in order to meet their publication requirements.
  • Sometimes you just plain won’t get picked up by anyone. Sad, but true.

Self Publishing Pros

  • The author receives the full profits of producing their book.
  • The author has complete control over the contents, design, and marketing strategies used for their book.
  • The author does not need to wait for an agent or publisher to pick them up in order to publish their work.

Self Publishing Cons

  • Self publishing can be costly unless you learn to do the required typesetting, cover design, etc. yourself.
  • Self publishing authors frequently do not have access or understanding of some marketing strategies used to market books.
  • Self publishing authors who do NOT pay for the aforementioned services predominantly have books that do not appear professional which can seriously hurt sales.
  • Major bookstores will not typically pick up your book (you won’t see it in Barnes and Noble).
  • Unless you wish to pay a fair amount up front for printing costs from a printer (like Createspace) you will not be able to produce physical copies of the book for local bookstores (you can do PoD for sales, however).

Now, I know it looks like the self publishing cons are heavy (and they are) that doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea if it’s something that’s really stuck in your head. However, going into it with eyes open is extremely important. The reality is if an author is dedicated to making their self published book a success they are going to need to invest money into it. Receiving professional editing is almost a must. I don’t say that because I am one; I say that because a professional editor gives your work the opportunity to be viewed in the most professional way possible.

With self publishing becoming a far more prevalent thing these days it’s extremely important to view the pros and cons before making a final decision. It’s not as simple as “the heck with Penguin books! Down with the man!” It has to be something you approach with an awareness that if you don’t invest appropriately in your work (whether financially or time to learn the skills so you can avoid spending the money) you will absolutely not see a return. Traditional publishing takes some of your freedoms and profit away in exchange for providing you the services that could easily cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars free of charge. They eat the costs of these services because they will be making a profit off of your work (theoretically).

Both sides of this coin are both valuable and important. However, it’s very much up to the author to make a choice about their work’s future. I can tell you this, though: you get what you pay for (or should, more on that in another blog). If you skimp and refuse to pay for necessary services (and don’t take the time to learn them properly yourself) you will wind up with your book making profits matching what you put into it: nothing.

Stop Paying For Advice!

I don’t mean mine. However, I’ve noticed – and commented on – the fact that most writing workshops and writing courses I’ve encountered seem to focus on “literature” (say that with a thick British accent, a monocle, and a cup of Earl Grey). They do things like kick and scream about clichés (see my post about that) and think that “genre fiction” is the lowest common denominator.

Also, a lot of these so-called workshops charge you out the backside for virtually no benefit! It’s abysmal and these people are doing this because they’re making money off the poor bastards whose hopes and dreams are to become published writers. Personally, I think that practice is right up there with Publish America. There, I’ve said it.

In my opinion, the only advice that you, as a writer, should pay for is the service of a professional editor (particularly if you’re self-publishing) or a professional consultant (there are individuals that can give information on the internals of the police force, for example). But that’s it. “Writing Workshops” that charge through the nose are usually given by no-name authors and put on by “writer’s organizations” that are nothing more than money-making schemes run by people who either haven’t been published or who have been published by a small press and consider themselves literary elites. Or they’re academic writers, but that, my friends, is an entirely different ball game.

Most of what you need to learn as a writer is available for the cost of a paperback – or even as an e-book. There is an entire library of books out there on writing by famous writers and they all say about the same things if you read enough of them (I have said library and have read them all more than once). You don’t need to go to expensive writing workshops to be able to write – you need innate talent (harsh, I know, but not everyone is cut out to put pencil to paper), you need to read all the time, and you need to be able to come up with stories. If you have those key ingredients and you hone them by writing and reading about writing then why would you need to go listen to some no-name writer or academic who hasn’t actually been in the “real world” publishing scene (the majority of the time)?

That isn’t to say that all writing workshops are worthless – if Terry Brooks or Anne McCaffrey hosted one I’d be there in a heartbeat, let me tell you. That would be worth paying the money for. However, most of the time? I wouldn’t pay for it because I can get the same knowledge by reading.

Regarding the professional editors and consultants, I say they’re important because an editor is inimical to getting your work polished. Someone who knows grammar and style better than you do (let’s face it, none of us are perfect) is important. Even the best writers need editors because often we are too close to our work to do it ourselves. If you’re looking to get your work placed with a large company, editing is extremely important. You just need to make sure that the editor you’re working with is going to do the job right.

The same goes with consultants. If you’re writing a CIA book and don’t know the first thing about how the CIA operates, it can help to find a literary consultant that has experience or knowledge about this kind of thing. That way you know what you’re writing is correct (or at least if anyone asks you can tell them it’s what your consultant told you). This kind of thing isn’t necessary if you can do the research on the subject yourself or if you’re lucky enough to find someone that is willing to talk to you for free about what you’re writing about but they can be useful if it’s a topic that’s hard to get information on.

So, in short? Stop giving people money unless you’re getting something tangible in return. Trust me, you’re better off just reading about it and talking to other writers (writing.com’s forums are free of charge and they’re a great community). There are also writer’s groups and organizations that are free and meet at local bookstores or coffeehouses to talk about writing and bounce ideas off each other. Those aren’t a bad idea either and can be a great way to connect with other people that share our particular brand of psychosis.

By the way – reading this blog will cost you $3.50. I take checks, paypal, and cash! (I’m kidding, don’t send me money unless you really want to…)

Guest Blog: George Lasher

This week instead of my babbling, I’m going to post up a guest blog from the author “George Lasher”. His story, “The Forgetful Wizard” has appeared in two of our published anthologies: “Under the Stairs” and “Damn Faeries”. Thank you for writing in, George!

I started writing in 2000 by penning a fan-fiction, Batman novel. Having proved to myself that I could write and that I enjoyed writing, I wrote a second novel, Telemurdering.

This time the story revolved around characters of my own invention. The euphoria of completing that novel gave away to the pain of rejection from the world of literary agents. The most frustrating thing about the rejections is that they never explained why.  Eager to improve, I joined the Houston Writers Guild and began to learn why my stories weren’t getting accepted: the two big reasons were the words, “was” and “had.”

I didn’t know and I think many novice writers are unaware that the word, “was” is viewed as a weak verb of being. “Was” prevents, rather than provides, description which might further pull readers into my stories. Here’s an example that clicked with me:

Bob said he was sick.
Bob said he felt like he might throw up.

Big difference! I try not to use the word “was,” unless no alternative exists. Now let’s take a look a the word, “had.”

“Had” removes the reader from being “in the moment” with the character. Readers like to be in the moment, rather than always reading about actions that already occurred.

Bob had been thinking about going home for the holidays.
Bob considered going home for the holidays.

I now understand that Literary agents aren’t in the business to teach us how to write. They post loads of helpful information on their websites, but rather than teaching, their job is to represent those who already know how to write. Personally, I’m still learning, but I have seen a number of my short stories published over the past two years. I feel confident that I will become a  published novelist in the near future. I wish that learning to eliminate “had” and “was” could get us all published, but the path to publication is filled with additional potholes, twists, and turns.

Writing is so much like competing in any sport; the required  level of dedication is immense. The world doesn’t care about the many disadvantages we face and if we can’t overcome them through practice and perseverance, we won’t be successful. But if we love to write and are willing to put in the time and effort, we may become the author of a bestseller.

Kindest regards,

George R. Lasher

It’s Work, Not Disney

Many authors come against a wall, eventually, when they start working to get published. This wall is called the “oh my God, this is actually work?” wall. Okay, well maybe it isn’t the official title, I’m sure I’ll think of something snappy later.

Most writers think about how great it would be to be the next Stephen King or J. K. Rowling (I know I have) but very few of them actually consider just how much real, grueling work it is to get there. I don’t just mean learning how to write and sprucing up your grammar, I mean rewriting your story so many times you never, ever, want to see it again when it’s finished.

“But it suuucks!” Yes. Yes it does. Unfortunately, writing isn’t a trip to Disney land. While it’s a labor of love, or even a hobby, it’s still a kind of work. You can’t just set it like a cruise missile and assume that once you type “the end” and save your document that the process will be over. Even after your work has been published, it’s still not over (you need to drum up readers, for a start).

Many authors I encounter sum up things in a simple “that’s too much work”. I have had people send me “queries” that are simply their manuscript attached to a blank email and when I responded, asking that they follow the query process, they said, succinctly, “It’s too much work. I can’t be bothered.” If that’s the attitude that is common, then I’m sad to tell you that you’ll never be published outside very small lit. journals or maybe Publish America.

The reality is that the hard part comes after you type “the end” and close the document. Why? Because you have to edit it. And editing, my friends, is miserable. Before anyone else (except maybe a few trusted individuals) even see your work, you should be proofreading it for grammar mistakes and other such problems. However, it won’t be until you have someone reading it that is able to see your flaws (“this plot has a hole the size of Canada!”, “why do you kill BobJoe off in chapter two and have him come back in chapter seven?”) and then, what’s worse, is that you have to go in and correct them.

Once that’s all been done, and you have a publisher say “hell yes” to your manuscript, you have to go through yet another round of editing, this round almost more grueling than the last because this editor knows what they’re talking about. Theoretically. If you’ve got friends that are professional editors and willing to assist you then that’s grand and dandy, you might escape the worst of this “round two” because you’ll have caught these errors ahead of time. There is, of course, also the possibility of hiring a freelance editor (like yours truly) to do work on your manuscript and help you out in this phase, too. But most writers don’t go that route and instead have their friends try and weed out the worst of the mistakes.

The unfortunate truth is that being an author is like any other job, in some respects. You have certain duties, you have certain responsibilities and if you don’t maintain a degree of professionalism and quality in what you’re turning out, you will be “fired”. Of course “fired”  has different forms, like being dropped from a publisher or never being published to begin with. It’s also not a very high-paying job unless you’re Dean Koontz (don’t we all wish we were!) so expect long, grueling hours for a very small paycheck.

But with all this said, if writing is your passion, then the work isn’t as bad. It’s there, it’s rough, but it’s worthwhile the moment you get the “We are interested in publishing your work” letter from a publisher (a real publisher…) and see your name on a front cover. Worth. Every. Second.

What Editing Is Like

I apologize again for missing my mark last week – I’ve recently started a new job and I was travelling still. I’m home and so my blog should be back to your regularly scheduled insanity.

Editing is a strange and intimidating thing for most authors – even if you’ve worked with peers and had friends look at your manuscript and critique it. Sending your work to a professional editor is like sending your kid off to college. You don’t know how well they’re going to do, if they’re going to pass at all, and if all the time and energy you’ve put into them are now being put to the test by people that could either put them out into the world as polished, professional adults or send them home scuffing their shoes and unable to pay the rent.

The first thing you need to do is trust your editor. Does that mean never second-guess them or do your own research? Absolutely not. If you have questions, by all means ask them, look them up, or discuss them with your editor. But your editor usually knows best so trust them – they got into their position (if your publisher is reputable) because they know what they’re doing and have the experience, knowledge, and drive to help guide you through the process.

Okay, with that out of the way, the process – at least the way I run things, which isn’t how all editors do it – starts with me reading the whole manuscript, top to bottom. After that, I make notes about what I’d like to address and start at the beginning. However, this isn’t about my process, really, it’s about the author.

The author sends their manuscript in and waits a while (this is after they’re approved with us wanting to publish the work), sometimes up to a couple weeks. The waiting is probably pretty miserable but unfortunately it can’t be avoided; we’re a small company and don’t have enough employees to have a quick turnaround on everything. Then they get an email with the first few chapters edited (usually the first two or three) and notes about their manuscript that should be looked at (spacing, formatting, etc.) and suggestions on how to fix these problems.

They then work on the edits and (hopefully within two weeks) send them back. The process repeats itself until the book is finished. The first edits are a bunch of red lines, comments, and notes, telling them to strike this, fix that comma, add or remove this word, maybe “show, don’t tell” (I say that a lot) and other suggestions for change.

The only things I am absolutely adamant on and won’t budge about tend to be grammatical ones. I don’t let those go. But anything else? I’m willing to talk about just about anything else and help the author work their way around problems they might have in their writing but grammar I stick on.

Most everything else? Just basically sending the manuscript back and forth until both of us are happy. Also, sending cover art, contracts, and other notes back and forth between us and generally trying to build a rapport with the author – if I can work with them to make their manuscript the best it can then everyone is hopefully a positive part of the process.

I can’t speak for all editors and all policies and the way everyone else does it, but that’s what you’re facing when I work with you and it’s about what I’d expect is the case with most editors. I tell you this because that’s all that editing is. You don’t need to be scared or nervous of it – I know a lot of writers are. I’ve heard everything from “You don’t understand my work!” to “You’re trying to steal my story, aren’t you!?” and the truth is that neither of those is the case. Editing and editors aren’t your enemy, and the process isn’t as scary as many people might think it is.

The one thing I can tell you is that it’s work. Hard work. It’s absolutely not a walk in the park and certainly isn’t easy. But it’s not something to be afraid of – we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty, right?