Resources for Writers: where to find them

‘Self-publishing can be both an exhilarating and lonely experience for an author, so anyone considering it should surround themselves with as much support as possible …’

That was Book Nanny speaking about the role of editing and editors with author, Anne O’Leary, for her article ‘Self-publishing: say goodbye to vanity and come in from the cold’ which was published in the January 2016 edition of Books Ireland.

The big question for many writers is: where do I find that support?

Professional Editors  

Finding a good editor is a great start. A professional editor can provide a practical source of support and assistance to a writer during the publishing process, not only in terms of helping you to make your finished novel the best it can be, but also as someone to bounce ideas off or answer any queries you might have.

Writers’ Groups

It’s impossible to overstate the benefits of being a member of a writers’ group and the tremendous practical and emotional (don’t underestimate the need for this!) support it provides during the writing and publishing process, helping you to stay positive, energised and focussed during the dark days and lonely hours when all is not progressing as smoothly or as quickly as you would like.

Writers’ Centres

Writing courses, seminars and workshops can be a vital source of networking for writers. They allow you not only to improve your craft, but also to meet other like-minded authors. Many writing groups originate as a group of writers who meet at a course and who share a desire to keep the support going, so check out your local arts or writers’ centre for courses, workshops and networking events – it’s worth making full use of the resources they offer.

The Irish Writers Centre in Dublin is the national resource centre for Irish literature and runs courses and events covering all aspects of Irish writing.

Online Resources

One of my favourite online writing resources is Writing.ie, an online magazine packed full of articles, news, events and resource information for all areas of writing and publishing. Writers Boon is another online resource website which aims to provide a one-stop shop for authors of fiction and non-fiction.

And don’t forget Facebook. There are any number of writers’ groups on Facebook, both public (everyone can see posts) and closed (only members of the group can see the posts) where you can network with other writers and editors, ask all sorts of questions, and find out all you need to know about both traditional and independent/self-publishing options. One of my favourites is Fiction Writers and Editors, but please note this is a closed group, so you will need to contact the admins to ask them to add you to the group. I suspect there is a Facebook authors’ group for every type of fiction and non-fiction, so do look around, as you are sure to find something that suits you and your writing.

Professional Organisations

The writing community is a generous one, with writers willing to share their knowledge with other writers. Listening to and talking with other independently-published authors can give you first-hand experience of the pitfalls of self-publishing as well as many practical tips for success. If you are interested in self-publishing, you should consider joining a professional organisation which gives you access to all that experience on an international level.

ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) is a non-profit professional organisation pro-moting publishing excellence and support for independent authors. ALLi sends out a great newsletter each week packed with useful information on writing and the business of self-publishing. It also has its own Facebook group for members.

ALLi also provides a list of vetted publishing service providers – editors, graphic designers, formatters, printers and so on. Book Nanny is proud to be an ALLi Partner Member.

Literary Festivals/ Writers’ Conferences

Speaking from personal experience, there is nothing quite like the positive energy and excitement a writer can get from attending a literary festival or writers’ conference. It’s a wonderful way to meet other writers and industry professionals and we are lucky here in Ireland to have so many great festivals and events to choose from. Here’s a selection of the festival/conferences which take place across the country throughout the year:

Doolin Writers’ Weekend, Doolin, Clare

Cuirt International Festival of Literature, Galway

International Literature Festival (ILF), Dublin

Wexford Literary Festival,  Wexford

Dalkey Book Festival, Dalkey, Dublin

Listowel Writers’ Week, Listowel, Kerry

Dublin Writers’ Conference, Dublin

West Cork Literary Festival, Cork

Bray Literary Festival, Bray, Wicklow

Red Line Book Festival, Tallaght, Dublin

Something Wicked Crime Writing Festival, Malahide, Dublin

Dublin Book Festival, Dublin

 

Contact Book Nanny at Book Nanny Writing and Editing Services for all your professional editing needs.

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Book Nanny’s back – with a website!

Yes, Book Nanny is back! OK, I said that a few months ago and then disappeared again, but I’ll do better this time. Honest.

And my excuse for all this tardiness? Apart from the joy of working with some hugely talented writers, I’ve been busy, busy, busy setting up a new website.

And here it is: Book Nanny’s website.

 Ta dah!

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The Book Nanny website is packed with information about my editing and copy-writing services, and for answers to some of the most frequently asked editing questions, check out the site’s FAQs. I will also be posting details of upcoming Book Nanny workshops and events on the ‘Workshops’ page. Something for everyone, I hope.

You can subscribe to the website by email, but I will continue to blog on this site for the present also.

I hope you enjoy the Book Nanny website and please do let me know what you think!

Book Nanny Writing and Editing Services: nursing and nurturing for all your creative writing needs.

A Question of Craft

 

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I hope you enjoyed the two articles in the last post.

It’s good to see Sinead Gleeson’s article advocating the ‘shove it in the drawer’ approach to resting manuscripts before editing or re-drafting, but you heard it from Book Nanny first – check out ‘Are we there yet? Knowing when to edit’ here.

Of course, it’s all part of the craft of writing, which, incidentally, was the main topic of discussion recently at a talk given by my colleague, Carolann Copland, author and facilitator at Carousel Creates Writers Retreat, at the Hays Festival Kells last month.

MH900280567Carolann was discussing the old ‘nature versus nurture’ argument when applied to writers and their writing. Is writing a gift or a skill? Can we be taught to write well or does it come naturally? And what part does skill or craft play in the process of writing? Fortunately for those of us who couldn’t get to Kells, we can read Carolann’s blog post on the subject here, and, as you will see, your own Book Nanny gets to put her tuppence worth into the mix.

Editing can help your manuscript shine, so before you send your book or story out into the world, it is well worth learning a few self-editing skills and hiring a professional editor to help you turn your rough diamond into a sparkling gem.

Editing matters

MB900441386Yes, Book Nanny is back after a brief sabbatical. And what better way to get back into the swing of things than with two great articles about editing:

  • Sinead Gleeson’s recent article ‘Kill your darlings: the importance of editing’ in the Irish Times which you can read here; and
  • C.S. Lakin’s blog post ‘The Editorial Burden That Weighs on the Author’ on her wonderful editing website, Live Write Thrive, which is here.

Enjoy!

5 signs that you need an editor

  1. MB900238208Your friends, family, writing group colleagues – in fact, all your beta readers – have been highlighting the same problems for a few drafts now, despite your efforts to resolve them.  When groups this diverse are all agreeing, and you don’t know how to fix the problems, it may be time to enlist some professional help.
  2. You’ve twisted and turned that plot, killed off a few darlings, resurrected and re-instated them; you’ve expunged large chunks of text, surgically removed smaller chunks, pasted back large and small bits, jigged it all about, picked a number between 1 and 10, meditated on the fact that the meaning of life is 42, and yet you know in your heart of hearts, it’s still not right, but you are thaaat close!  Time to bring in the big guns.
  3. MB900088568You’ve received a positive rejection letter (yes, such things do exist!) from a literary agent or publisher with some suggestions or comments. Take their suggestions on board and consider having your next draft edited. It might be just the ticket to get you that positive acceptance letter you’ve been dreaming of.
  4. You are thinking of self-publishing. Please, please, pretty please get an editor. Get two. Or at least two edits – substantive to deal with any structural issues and a copy-edit to help your prose to sparkle.
  5. You’ve already self-published and reviewers are suggesting your book needs editing. Take their advice, especially if you are working on your next book. And when you find a good editor for Book Two – why not let them at Book One as well? MH900280567If soap scents and chocolate flavours can be regularly reinvented, there is no reason why you can’t sell your own new improved version novel. Who knows, maybe some of your reviewer naysayers will find themselves having to eat their less than charitable words as a result?

 

For more details on substantive (structural) editing, copy-editing and manuscript critiques, check out Book Nanny’s website at www.booknannyfictioneditor.com.

Let the right one in: choosing an editor

DCFN0008.JPGYou’ve made the decision that your book needs editing, but how do you go about hiring an editor? A good working relationship with an editor can be of tremendous value to an author – a bad one can leave an author demoralised and upset. As with any other business relationship, putting a little effort into finding the right editor in the first instance can save you a lot of heartache at a later stage.

Here are 5 tips to help you make a choice:

  1. Be clear about what you want, what your book needs and what editing stage it is at.  Don’t waste your money hiring someone to copy-edit text that is likely to be removed in the next draft. If you are still working on your story or structure, hire a development editor instead.
  2. Word-of-mouth recommendation. Ask your writer friends, their friends and their friends’ friends about their editors. If they are happy to recommend an editor to you, you are already off to a good start. If none of your friends write, this may be a good time to join a writers’ group and link up with like-minded folks at writing workshops, seminars and on social networking sites. Ask questions, find out what’s good and what is to be avoided.
  3. Picture3BAsk for a sample of the editor’s work and/or client testimonials. Most editors will be happy to provide these for you. They’ll often ask for a sample of your manuscript in any event, so that they can judge the editing work involved. An editing sample gives you a chance to see how the editor treats your text and how you respond to editorial criticism and amendments.
  4. Shop around – don’t feel obliged to plump for the first recommendation. You may have a glowing editor recommendation from your five best writing pals, but if they are all writing romantic comedy and your book is a gritty, intrigue-laden fantasy epic, the editor may not be the one you are looking for. Use your instinct – if the editing sample and other testimonials feel right to you, then go for it. If not, make further inquiries.
  5. Be reasonable with your editing budget – remember, if you’re looking to pay peanuts, you risk attracting monkeys. When properly done, editing is a skilled and time-consuming process. Heart writing 001For that reason it is also expensive. Also, most good editors will be busy and you may need to book an editing slot with them beforehand to ensure they are available when your manuscript is ready for editing. So plan your budget and your publishing deadlines well in advance.

For more details on development (structural) editing, copy-editing and manuscript critiques, check out Book Nanny’s website at www.booknannyfictioneditor.com.

The business of writing

There is no doubt that online publishing is transforming the industry and opening up wonderful opportunities for writers to control and manage their publishing careers. But with increased control comes increased responsibility.

DSC00070In her book From Pitch to Publication, UK literary agent, Carole Blake explains how agents and publishers seek out authors who are planning a career in writing. Of course they do. Publishing a book is an expensive and time-consuming business involving months of preparation, editing, marketing and promotional events and traditional publishing houses don’t want to spend all that money on an author who does not intend to become a professional writer.

The same holds true for self-published and indie writers. It doesn’t really matter that you may only ever write one book, the fact is, if you ask people to pay for your work, one can only assume you are putting yourself out there as a professional writer. If you want a professional writing career, then you need to approach it as you would any other business. As we all know, going the traditional publishing route doesn’t guarantee a literary gem, but it does give an author a head start in terms of available resources. Self-publishing authors, on the other hand, need to organise each stage of publication themselves.

This is the crux of the matter. As I mentioned in my previous post ‘Remind me again why I need an editor‘, publication is the process of transferring your private writing work to the public arena. The fact remains, however, that many indie/self-publishing authors are simply not aware of the work which goes into preparing a book for publication, particularly as many of the processes, such as editing, are traditionally ‘behind the scenes’ jobs.

You should remember that publication is not synonymous with printing. Nor is it just about writing. As an indie author in an open market, you are competing internationally with a huge number of other authors, both self- and traditionally published, and competition for readers’ attention and custom is fierce. 012jBasic business principles apply to self-publishing as to any other profession. Work out a short-term and long-term strategy; if your readers like your first book, they will be clamouring for more almost immediately, so you need to plan ahead. Editing, design and marketing services may be expensive – so budget for them. Work out your budget forecast like any other business to get the services you need.

There is no accounting for readers’ personal tastes and you won’t please everyone, but providing the best product possible for those who do want to read your book – one that makes reading a pleasure and not a chore – is a good place to start. Don’t forget, your aim is not only to attract readers initially, you also want to hold on to them and encourage repeat business. The most important way of ensuring that your readers will line up for your next release is to sell them a fantastic book in the first instance.

For more details on substantive (structural) editing, copy-editing and manuscript critiques, check out Book Nanny’s website at www.booknannyfictioneditor.com.

Remind me again why I need an editor…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a good manuscript must be in want of an editor. Or is it? For authors taken on by traditional publishing houses, editors are not optional. And while some authors view editors as a blessing, others are less convinced of their virtues. But not many will claim to be able to completely forgo some form of editorial help on the long road to successful publication.

Picture3BThe fact is that editing is an integral part of the publishing process, regardless of what format your creativity takes.

Take Mozart, for example. Legend has it that he produced completed masterpieces straight out of the ether. Fully formed. No amendments. No changes. No second thoughts. Like the goddess, Athene, emerging from the forehead of Zeus. Let’s face it, there probably isn’t an author in the world who wouldn’t wish the creative process was that straightforward! However, the fact is that Mozart was no more immune to the vagaries of eighteenth century music publishers than other lesser mortals, and, where possible, he used family or trusted friends to proofread manuscript engravings to avoid the pitfalls of poor quality or unauthorised copies. And there is even evidence to suggest that either Mozart  himself or his publisher edited some of the manuscripts from performance copies before publication. Why? Well, presumably to give the music-buying public a better Mozart experience!

Editors are not the bad guys 

dictionary1So where is all this leading? Well, my point is that editors aren’t necessarily the bad guys.  A good editor, whether in-house or freelance, can be a huge asset for a writer. Writing is a very personal process. Publication, as the name suggests, is a public activity. And if you’ve put hours of your time, blood, sweat and tears into your latest novel or short story, it seems rather strange that you would send it out into the wide world alone and unprepared.

A good substantive or copy editor can help a writer with the transition from private to public. They can use their experience and professional skills to support you and identify any problems that may cause you embarrassment or cause difficulties for your readers. Most importantly, they they can encourage you, fight your corner for you and challenge you to make your work the best it can be. And that has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?

For more details on substantive (structural) editing, copy-editing and manuscript critiques, check out Book Nanny’s website at www.booknannyfictioneditor.com.

Why being an Editor is a bit like being a Nanny…

‘In a moment of mental abstraction for which I can never forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the basinette and placed the baby in the handbag.’

(Miss Prism, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde)

Keeping it in the family 

Poor old Jack Worthing. No wonder he was really Earnest. Who wouldn’t be rather serious, having been mistaken at a tender age for a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality and ending up lost and found in the cloak room of Victoria Station? Luckily for most babies, literary or otherwise, not all nannies are as confused as Miss Prism! Take my grandmother, for instance. She too was a Nanny by profession, doggedly working her way up from lowly nursemaid to Supreme Ruler of the Universe. An exaggeration, perhaps? Depends on whose universe you’re talking about. By the time Nanna retired, she had nannied, amongst others, at least three generations of one family and each post-retirement visit was executed with all the pomp and ceremony of a returning monarch.

A passion for editing

So, what’s the point of my Nanna tale? Well, I believe there are a lot of similarities between being an editor and being a nanny.  Both involve caring for someone else’s precious offspring, helping them prepare to meet their public and be a credit to their proud parent(s). And like my grandmother, I love my job. I love nursing and nurturing my little wordy charges from terrible toddlerdom and unruly adolescence into blossoming maturity. I don’t mind if they’re prosaic or poetic, fictional or firmly grounded in reality, highfalutin or purely functional. I love dotting their i’s, minding their p’s and q’s, wiping their runny grammar and making sure they eat enough literary greens to promote healthy growth and development. All washed down with a generously heaped spoonful of care and attention.

But what exactly does an editor do? And how is it that some authors dedicate gushing acknowledgements to their editors, while others run away screaming at the very mention of the name? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. So, why not join Book Nanny for an exploratory voyage through all such editorial conundrums? We’ll ask the questions and (hopefully) find some useful answers which will help to make the world of editors and editing a less scary place for all budding (and perhaps even a few seasoned) authors out there.