Tag Archives: editing

Here, let me help you with that promotion …

“Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.” — Will Rogers

There is nothing worse – and I mean NOTHING!! – than an author who over-self-promotes!

Now I didn’t say just “self-promotes” but qualified it with “over”, because we all need to do a little bit of promoting, within reason, to get the word out about what we’ve written. Even traditionally published authors need to promote themselves, because many publishers just don’t have the financial wherewithall to deal individually with each author on their list. And you authors already know who your personal and professional contacts are, anyway, so you have a better chance of attracting attention by approaching those people personally.

But what happens when you run out of those initial contacts and begin preaching to the converted, so to speak? How do you attract new readers to yourself and your work without becoming the kind of self-promoting author we all love to hate – the one who constantly blows their own horn? Why, you seek out other people in the book business who will toot that horn for you – people like me, fer instance. I publish a promotion blog called Reading Recommendations precisely because I want to offer other authors free promotion and help them get the word out about themselves and their books.

And because I know that by doing so – by promoting my fellow authors – I also promote myself and my own work. That way I don’t run the risk of sounding off about ONLY ME AND ME ALONE. I know I am not the first author to have published and I know I won’t be the last to publish, either. Why not promote as many other authors as I can? That way I provide my audience with different reading choices when they’ve exhausted everything I’ve written – and before they become exhausted with me!


And since I set up this blog and changed my approach to how I promote my own work – guess what? I’ve discovered that I’m finding more readers for my own published novel and novella, as well as for those other authors I promote. I’m receiving more reviews, I’m selling more copies, and I’m being invited to promote myself and my work on other blog sites.

But the best part is – I’m not pissing off my loyal family, friends, and current readers by constantly singing the same tune. I’m offering information about new authors whose work they might like to read. So I’m providing a service to readers as well as to my fellow authors – and I’m not pissing off anyone in the process.

(This “not pissing off anyone” part cannot be stressed enough! I’m sure you are, as am I, tired of authors who tweet and share endlessly about themselves and their latest, but never say a word about anything else. It all seems so desperate, don’t you think? Those who tick me off the most are the authors I’ve followed on Twitter who don’t then give me the courtesy of following me back, but instead send me a direct message telling me where I can buy their books or asking me to like their Facebook page. I unfollow them in a nanosecond! We all want to receive recognition for what we’ve written and published. But we’d be more inclined to become readers and fans ourselves, if those self-promoters just took a wee bit of interest in something other than themselves. Ya know what I’m saying??)

So I challenge all you authors reading this out there who have been guilty of over-self-promoting to change your ways! You don’t have to stop promoting yourself altogether, but figure out ways to promote your fellow authors. Or band together as a group and promote each other. This works very well if you are all writing within the same genre, but I’ve also known it to work for groups of writers who only have writing itself in common. You could begin by tweeting/sharing something about 4 other authors for every 1 tweet/share you post about yourself. That would work! Or you could set up a promotion blog like mine that is dedicated to singing the praises of everyone else in the business. When you do find blogs or sites like mine, share the information with your fellow authors. Here’s another great blog you should be aware of: Chris The Story Reading Ape (If you know of others, please add a link in the comments section.)

Read promotions about other authors on these blogs; share, tweet, like, and reblog your favourites. Discover some new authors, read and review their books, and help them to get ahead. Do all the things listed in the box up above.

I can’t promise you overnight success for your own books, but I do guarantee that – aside from the warm-fuzzies you’ll experience from having done a good deed – you will eventually reach a new group of readers, and your work will be exposed to people you never dreamed might want to read what you write.

So, please, for all our sakes, STOP THAT ENDLESS SELF-PROMOTION!!! Start discovering and promoting other authors. Believe me, your family, friends and fellow-Facebook-and-Twitter users will thank you! And you can stop feeling so desperate and enjoy your writing and publishing, once again.

On Writing, Part 3 – getting help


Editing and being edited …
From Seth’s Blog: Copyediting, line editing and the other kind
From Rachelle Gardner: Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor
From Beyond Paper Editing: Editor’s Tip: Cleaning Up Your Manuscript Can Save You Money by Corina Koch MacLeod
From The Editors’ Weekly: Editing the First-Time Novelist by Susan Glickman
From Aliventures: The Three Stages of Editing (and Nine Handy Do-it-Yourself Tips)
From Positive Writer: 6 Quick Tricks to Help You Tighten Up Your Writing by C.S. Lakin



When you’re ready to share …
From Writers Write: Five things to consider before you have your manuscript appraised
From Writer’s Digest: The 5 Differences Between Professional and Amateur Novelists by Charles Finch
From Janet Reid, Literary Agent: A Rant: On Hiring an Editor (Janet replies to a question from a writer …)

And when your work is finally out there …
From Books & Such: Worried About Your Work Being Stolen? by Rachelle Gardner

Read the first two posts in this series in which I’ve compiled useful links to articles and blogs: On Writing, Part 1 – getting started and On Writing, Part 2 – following through

On Writing, Part 2 – following through


Support while you write …
From The Write Life: The Write Life Presents: The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014 by Carrie Smith

Why we write the way we do …
From terribleminds: Writing Advice From My Dream Brain and This Crazy-Making Business Called “Writing” by J.C. Hutchins
From Lisette’s Writers’ Chatau: FIVE WAYS TO STAY SANE AS A WRITER


How to anticipate and fix problems before they become unwieldy …
From Slate: Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period. by Farhad Manjoo
From Authors Helping Writers: Most Common Writing Mistakes: Stories That Begin Too Early by K.M. Weiland
From io9: Why is it so hard to write a decent ending? by Charlie Jane Anders
From Writers Write: Is your character stressed? and Persuasive Writing – Emotional vs Intellectual Words and All About Nouns
From Vulture: The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature by Kathryn Schulz
From Nathan Bransford: How did you choose your novel’s perspective?
From Books & Such: What about a Secondary Character’s Point of View? by Mary Keeley


Finishing that shitty first draft …
From Rachel Gardner: Nobody Writes Good First Drafts
From This Itch of Writing: How do you decide when to share your draft?
From terribleminds: It Takes The Time It Takes

And some genre-specific advice …
From Writers Write: Five Fabulous Tips for First Time Crime Writers
From Nail Your Novel: 3 tips for writing watertight fantasy, science fiction and time travel stories

Be sure to read my other blog posts that compile helpful articles on this subject, On Writing, Part 1 – getting started and On Writing, Part 3 – getting help …

Between Authors and their Readers


A timely quote from MY favourite (living) author-to-read, Richard Ford, that alludes to the reason authors write – to be read … by Readers. It’s a symbiotic relationship: Authors need Readers, and Readers need something to read. Quite frankly, these are the two most important people in the entire writing/publishing business. One could say THE MOST IMPORTANT. Authors and Readers can do without all the middle-men-and-women (publishers, sales reps, booksellers, distributors – although maybe not Editors, who are the Author’s *ultimate and best* reader, after all) but Authors and Readers cannot exist without each other.

This fact came to mind recently after I received several emails from Readers (some known to me personally and others complete strangers) who had enjoyed one or the other of my two published works. All of these readers commented on how my writing had “touched” them in some way or another, so that they felt a true connection with me while reading. That, my friends, is why we write – to make a connection with the Reader; to move them in some way so they react to what we’ve written. The bonus was that these Readers actually reached back to me, the Author, and told me how my writing had effected them. Not all Readers take the time to tell an Author about their reading experience. I know I don’t do it often enough with the books that have really grabbed me, although I do try to recommend those books to other Readers and spread the word that way. It is so important to our fragile Author-egos to actually receive some praise now and again, and I’ve been fortunate to have heard from many of my Readers over the past couple of years. Even constructive criticism is welcome, because it means that the Reader has given some thought to what they read and want to help the Author improve their writing.

So here is a selection of articles and blog posts I’ve been collecting that look at this very interesting relationship between Authors and their Readers, what each person contributes to the relationship, and how they can make that relationship – and the writing/reading experience a great one for both.

First, though, I will begin with a book recommendation that works for both Authors and Readers: Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want To Write Them by Francine Prose

What Authors need to keep in mind about their Readers …
From Writers Write: The Five Senses – How readers remember stories
From chazzwrites: When Readers Wander Away
From Jane Friedman: 4 Ways to Find Readers Who Love Your Work
by Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant
From wordserve water cooler: Twelve Qualities of a Big Story by Rachel Phifer
From Anthony Bidulka: Book Reviews: Which Ones do Readers Pay Attention to?
From Rachelle Gardner: Focus on Writing a Great Book
From Writers Write: Setting the Scene – Four Ways to Put the Reader in the Picture

What Readers need to know about Authors …
From Writers Write: How to write a great book review
From Ploughshares Literary Magazine: 14 Ways to Tick off a Writer by Rebecca Makkai
From The Masquerade Crew: 11 things you should never do to an author
From The New York Review of Books: Writing to Win by Tim Parks

On how Readers find books to Read …
From Bookavore: The main factor contributing to the problem of book discovery is the sheer volume of books out there
From HuffPost Books: These Amazing Classic Books Are So Short You Have No Excuse Not To Read Them
From HuffPost Books: The Meaning of Libraries by Michael Benson
From BOOKRIOT:The Decline and Fall of the Book Reviewing Empire by Peter Damien
From The Atlantic: This Woman Read One Book From Every Country in the World: Here Are Her Favorites by Uri Friedman

Why we should all read …
From HuffPost Books: Why Everyone Should Read More Science Fiction by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
From Scientific American: Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy

Further reading on Readers and Reading: Oh, Readers … where art thou?

If you are an Author, what would you like Readers to know? If you are a Reader, what would you like Authors to know? Please write your comments below.

Writers and their Editors

Three more articles on the relationship between writer and editor.

From The Digital Editor: When an Editor Matters by Rich Adin
“Editors do matter. The choice of editor does matter. The type of editing does matter. A good working relationship between author and editor does matter. And it is vitally important that an author not believe that each word he or she has written is sacrosanct and cannot be changed for the better.”

(This next article may seem quite shocking at first glance to readers out there, but what the author has to say makes a great deal of sense to me who has worked on the publishing side of this buisness and knows how most decisions to publish are actually made.)

From FUTUREBOOK: Let’s abolish editors by Agent Orange

(Like the author of this article, I too was impressed by Berg’s book about Max Perkins. Those were the days when editing and editors were very important – perhaps even the most important aspect of publishing.)

From Publishers’ Weekly: What Ever Happened to Book Editors? by Marjorie Braman


More on Editing

And this is why everyone needs an editor – especially self-published authors … These are just a few comments – of 31 similar-sounding reviews!! – about an eBook listed for sale on Amazon. Yikes!! You’d think the author would have had enough sense by now to de-list the entire series and fix the problems in her books!

Worst editing ever – The story is ok but I never read a book with so many spelling mistakes. Very poor editing. Not sure I will continue reading the series.

5 star writing, one star proofreading – Very good read but absolutely the worst editing and proofreading I have EVER seen. Too bad as doing this electronically should be easy. In some cases the characters name was wrong, many punctuation errors and omissions, incomplete sentences, you name it, it was there. Too bad.

Just OK – I read the first in the series because I got it free. Since I enjoy books in series, I am reading the others to see what happens with Cindy and Mattheus, but only because they are fairly inexpensive downloads. The storyline is just ok and the editing (or lack thereof) makes me cringe at times. For example, in this book, one of the characters was first named Ables, then Noles, then back to Ables. Maybe it’s the former school teacher in me, but it is bothersome.

You MUST hire an editor!! Please! For the sake of your readers.

And here are some editing tips to tackle on your own before you send your manuscript on to a professional editor!!

From The Writer Life: 25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy

And here’s a handy-dandy Story Structure/ Plotting infographic, again to help you sort out your manuscript before you hire an editor: Amanda Patterson’s Story Structure/ Plotting Guide


Do not attempt to edit your manuscript alone, kids! That manuscript is never as good as you think it is. Besides, it’s self-publishers like the example I offered at the beginning of this post who give all of us self-publishers a bad name.

On editors and editing

Here’s a roundup of interesting and informative articles I’ve been collecting over the past few months. I’m directing this post at those students I know who are just wrapping up their studies in a writing class, and for anyone who is currently writing for NaNoWriMo – to read and heed after the month-long slog ends on Nov. 30th. I hope all this information helps!

Why you need an editor in the first place
From Poynter: Why good copy editors are “abnormal” humans by Craig Silverman
From Indie Author News Editing – Why Not to Do-It-Yourself by Gerald Rice
From The Guardian: The age of Amazon still needs editors like Max Perkins by Gavin James Bower
From Publishers Weekly: Why All Self-Publishers Need a Good Editor by Betty Kelly Sargent

Self-editing you can do before you work with an editor
From HuffPost Books: Six Easy Tips for Self-Editing Your Fiction by Kristen Lamb
From Entrepreneur: 10 Words to Cut From Your Writing by Shanna Mallon

On finding an editor
From Rinelle Grey: 6 Tips for Choosing the Right Editor for your Book
From Writer’s Digest: 10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You – But Should by Brian Klems
From GalleyCat: GalleyCat’s Freelance Editor Directory
In Canada, you may contact Editors’ Association of Canada for information on hiring a professional editor.

How to work with an editor
From Nail Your Novel: How to deal with critiques and editorial feedback and 7 ways to cut a novel without losing anything important

Different types of editing and how long to expect the process will take
From Catharine, Caffeinated: Proofreading Explained and Copy-editors: What They Really Do by Robert Doran
From The POP Newsletter: Why Does Editing Take So Long?

IslandShorts … and we have liftoff!!

I am so very, very pleased to announce the new imprint, IslandShorts, that will be publishing short fiction and non-fiction as well as poetry!

island shorts

Seth Godin has written so eloquently – and concisely! – as he always does of what exactly I went through to get this idea off the ground: Proving the skeptics wrong (something I seem to have been doing for most of my life …) and The sweet smell of success (which is how I am feeling right now!)

But I didn’t do this alone, and I want to thank Michael Fay for believing in my idea of ePublishing “singles” in the first place, for all his suggestions and ideas along the way, and especially for being extremely patient as we worked at producing what I believe is a quality publication that many, many people will enjoy reading. After all, there’s no point in just throwing any old thing out there into the world; I wanted something that both I and the authors I plan to publish can be proud of – something to which we all wish to have our names attached.

I have also surrounded myself with experts during the production of these eBooks:

Gina McCreary at Human Powered Design of Calgary provided the formatting, cover and interior design, online sales listings, and general ePublishing expertise;

Rachel Small at Faultless Finish Editing, also located in Calgary, who provided editing and proofreading services;

Artist, Karen Sloan, of Haliburton, ON, a friend of Michael Fay’s who came on board to provide the beautiful cover art for each of Michael’s publications, and wrote about the experience on her blog, Wall Flower Studio Art – Judging a book by its cover …

And Micheal Fay of Minden, ON, has reminisced about his experience of writing this series of short stories and the background to the first publication, Tenderness, in this FlipBook, On Writing Tenderness.

Thanks, as well, to Bruce Hunter and Robert Hilles for reading advance copies and providing endorsements for the first two publications, Tenderness and The Whirlabout.

(I managed this entire project primarily from my home on Bequia in the Caribbean. You’ll notice that all people involved in this publishing endeavour live in diverse locations, and none of us ever found the need to meet as a group, proving that publishing can all be accomplished via the Internet!)

IS_TendernessTenderness is now available to purchase from the following online sales sites:

KINDLEAmazon.ca and Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
KOBO and all other eReaders – Kobo.com
and iTunes


Watch for future publications from IslandShorts!

The Whirlabout will be available for purchase soon …
That will be followed by The Healer, written by J. Michael Fay and That Last Summer, written by Susan M. Toy.

A Writing and Reading Life

It goes without saying … if you are a writer, you are a reader. The best way to learn how to write is to read – and to read A LOT – not just the genre you write, either, but across the board, good books and poorly written books (so that you get to know the difference and learn to avoid poor writing when you write your own work).

So I’ve gathered up some articles and interesting information for those of you who are Writers AND Readers. The Readers among you (and I hope there are some people who follow this blog who are Readers only, because where would we writers be without you?) may skip the first section and jump down to the Reading part of this post.

A Writing Life
From The Writing Corp: Revise Like a Hero
From Canada Writes: Can writing be taught? by David Bergen
From Rachelle Gardner: Are You Afraid to Tell the Truth? AND Developing Resilience AND One Simple Secret for Success as a Writer by Chad R. Allen
From What Is A Writer: Eight Reasons Why You Should Not Slap Your Critics With a Shovel
From Write With Warnimont: The Secret to a Writer’s Happiness
From The New York Times: Writers as Architects by Matteo Pericoli
From We Grow Media: The Experience You Create For Readers Goes Beyond The Book by Dan Blank


A Reading Life
From The Chronicle Review: The Ideal English Major by Mark Edmundson
From BOOKRIOT: The Best Books of 2013: Halftime Report by Sean Bell
From HuffPost Books: The 10 Most Talked About Books of 2013 by Jeff O’Neal
From The Guardian: Top 50 classic crime novels – what would make your list?
From Qwiklit: 15 Essential Irish Novels

Do you have any tips for coping with A Writing Life or lists of favourite books to share in A Reading Life? Please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

The business of publishing

I’ve said it before, many times, and I will say it again: All writers and authors, whether they are traditionally published or self-published, print or ePublished, need to learn something – as much as they can, actually – about the publishing business. The more they know about the “business” of writing and publishing (because it is definitely a business if you hope to sell what you write) the more effective you will become in producing, publishing, and selling a quality product of which you may be proud. I don’t suggest that you enroll in a publishing program or learn everything there is to know about the business in order to become a publisher yourself, but you should at least know what goes into publishing a book, all the people who are involved, all the steps taken towards publishing and selling a book, and to know where you, as the writer, actually fits into the equation. The more you know the better equipped you will be to find new readers for your work.

The easiest way to gain some knowledge is by keeping abreast of publishing news, so that’s why on this blogsite I offer writers and authors interesting links to whatever I discover online that I think you should know about, too.

I’m devoting this post to links covering the “Business” side of publishing a book – ie. everything except the writing of it. I hope this will help with gaining more of an education. If you have any similar links to share, please post them in the comments below.

First off, check out this great infographic, The Publishing Highway over at YA Highway.

Terms you should know: Literary Terms Defined: The Common and the Uncommon by Chuck Sambuchino from Writer Unboxed

A brief description of Publishing in Toronto: Books Abroad: Book Business and Publishers in Toronto by Shannon Kobran from Publishing Trendsetter

A new publishing company: Figure 1 Publishing’s Second Rights by Kristen Hildeman from BCBusiness

Be prepared to work hard – really hard! – at preparing that manuscript: Critique by Suzanne Lakin (listing here is not an endorsement of blogger`s critiquing service)

What you need to know to successfully submit manuscripts to publishers:
How Writing a Proposal is a Lot Like Teething by Sarah Joy
AND Pitch Your Book Like It’s a Movie (The One Sentence Synopsis) by Kimberly Vargas from wordserve water cooler
AND The #1 Reason for Query Fails – How to Avoid Automatic Rejection from a Reviewer, Agent, Editor or Blogger by Anne R. Allen

How publishers are faring these days: Independent Penguin Goes Out on High Note by Jim Milliot from Publishers Weekly
Harlequin eBook Sales Account for 24.5% of Total Revenue by Michael Kozlowski from GoodEReader

Dealing with your rights: Getting Your Rights Back From the Publisher by Rachelle Gardner from Books & Such Literary Agency

When it comes time to promote and publicize: Anakana Schofield: publicising a novel – the problems from The Guardian
AND What J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith Can Teach Us About Author Platform by Joel Friedlander from The Book Designer

Selling copies – or as I like to call this, “Finding New Readers”: The End of Discoverability and the Rise of Merit by James Scott Bell from The Kill Zone
AND Is Seasonal Publishing Dead? by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly
AND eBooks Change the Season Concept in Publishing by Molly Pilkington from GoodEReader
What You Can Do When Your Books Aren’t Selling by Daphne from The Self Publishing Toolkit

On the business of bookstores: Borders Bookstore to Launch Once More in Singapore by Michael Kozlowski from GoodEReader

On the business of libraries: My Local Library Has an Espresso Book Machine by Nate Hoffelder from The Digital Reader

And finally, from Kate Hart there’s How to Get Published: A Flowchart


Any questions, additional information, comments? Please post below and let’s start a conversation!