Saturday, July 30, 2011

Im patiently waiting

Nope, I didn't forget the apostrophe.

I just added one too many spaces.

An Express Mail package is supposed to be arriving sometime before 3:00 pm today.  I have one of those snits of a mailman, though, who might knock, or might not, or he might just deposit the parcel at the apartment office and leave quietly.  He's never done it before, but I can see this guy just chucking the parcel up onto my balcony.  I came home yesterday and he'd left another parcel outside the door; inside was the four-box set of George R.R. Martin's The Song of Ice and Fire books, and since I've been very much looking forward to reading them I'll try to be a bit more kindly to him.  For now.

Today's package, though, contains my edited manuscript, freshly bled over and ready to guide me in making my book into a story.  The editor already sent me the report, but it's mostly an overarching analysis of the work.  While it has page numbers and some great suggestions throughout, it's not the detailed "remove this comma, dummy" type of information that the scarlet-shaded manuscript will have.

Yes, I'm impatient.

Speaking of the editor--if you've been reading along, you've noticed that I have yet to identify her by name.  That's on purpose.  I felt really good about the relationship going into it, but I've had that blow up in my face before.  My management style has always been a case of "praise publicly, coach privately."  If the editing relationship went as well as I thought it might, I would have no problem later on announcing who I'd worked with, but if it didn't, I wanted the ability to be anonymously honest.  That is, after all, why I'm writing this blog: to create a sort of honest on-line and very public journal of the First Novel process.  Many of those who've worked for me before know that I have very little problem saying either "You sucked" or "We sucked," depending on which is more appropriate, and that kind of comment doesn't need to be attached to a person's name on a blog.  Unless, of course, that person is the author of a series I particularly despise about vampires and werewolves, but that's a different post....

At this point my concerns are pretty much history, though.  The amazing lady I've been working with is Debra Ginsberg.  Her site is, and there's enough well-laid-out information there to have made me comfortable with both her credentials as a published author and the services she offers as an editor.  She also came highly recommended by a friend, which means a lot to me.  Her price isn't cheap, but it's reasonable, and I like that she quotes by the project rather than by the word or by the page, which a lot of editors out there do.  The whole "$.02 per word" kind of thing worries me going in, frankly.  An editor's job is to suggest adding and removing words, for one thing--will the addition/removal affect the price?  For another, Microsnot Word doesn't actually count words; instead, it uses an algorithm based on number of characters.  Regardless, Debra does none of that.  She gives you two options: a line edit for X dollars, or an editorial report for Y dollars, or both for Z dollars, which happens to be less than X + Y.  I guess that's three options, but I was close enough for either government work or fiction.

Editing isn't all that I've gotten out of the deal, though.  She's also served as a coach.  I can imagine that there are editors out there who would say, "Just send me the manuscript and the money, shut the heck up till I'm done, and I'll send you back the manuscript."  Perhaps not in those words, but that's the attitude.  Not hers.  She's been in contact with me regularly, sending me short notes about how it was progressing and her early thoughts. 

Her editorial report has been spot on.  In overarching commentary, she's recognized my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and she lays them out in clear and honest prose.  Remember way back when, I blogged that I use too many ellipses?  Caught. She's also zoomed in on some of the character development problems that my friends had brought up and I'd tried to fix (but apparently didn't).  The good news this time is that she's given some solid and direct advice on how to fix them.  She didn't just say, for example, that the beginning scene was a bit too jarring; instead, she said that I should consider opening with more description of Matt and the meeting participants and expand the prose a bit--and she told me how to go about it.  Crystal is still coming across as a flat and somewhat-confusing ditz, and she suggested that I add descriptive text in the scene where Crystal is led to the room to reveal more back story, and instead of telling the reader that Crystal was consoling some of the folks who'd survived the cataclysm, that I show her doing so.

Yeah, I know those are blinding flashes of the obvious now.  Trust me, though, when I tell you I didn't think of them earlier.

She also finished an entire week early, and went to the added (and contractually unnecessary) expense of sending the parcel back to me via Express Mail so that I'd have this weekend to work on it.  Excellent example of what customer service should look like, that is.  

So, to wind up the story, the editing experience has been entirely positive and well worth the money.  Now, if only the dang mailman would show up.

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