Q&A: When to hire an editor

Q: I took your Elements of Fiction seminar and read the blog posts and I’ve gone through the checklist. Now what? How do I know when to hire an editor or writing coach?

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A: When you feel stuck, or when you’re ready to go.

If you’ve worked through the checklist and you still feel stuck on your manuscript, not knowing what to do next, that’s a good time to bring in a writing coach. You may just need to talk things though so you can get advice about what the next step is. Continue reading

Fiction Q&A: Concealing a character’s identity

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Q: I saw what you wrote about not hiding the POV character’s identity. Isn’t there some way I can hide the villain’s identity, so the reader won’t figure out who it is until late in the story, when the hero does? Like, if he’s an evil mastermind, can I just call him “the mastermind” in the scenes where he’s the point of view character, instead of using his name?

A: No.

No one thinks of himself in the third person that way. Unless he has some kind of dissociative disorder—yikes, that’s a whole other post. Continue reading

Vanity press vs. subsidy: What’s the difference?

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Q: Earlier you talked about the difference between royalty publishing and a subsidy press. I’ve heard other writers complain about “vanity presses.” Is there a difference between a subsidy press and a vanity press?

A: Depends on who you ask.

Some people think so-called “traditional publishing” is the only true publishing, and that any author who pays to publish their book is getting ripped off. Those folks will tell you that subsidy publishing is just a new name for the ol’ vanity press scam.

I disagree. Continue reading

Publishing Q&A: Do you need a professional editor?

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This question came up several times during the Florida Writers Association conference.  Sometimes it was “Do you need a professional editor to work on your manuscript before you self-publish?” and other times it was “Do you need a professional editor to work on your manuscript before you submit for traditional publication?” Answers varied. Some said yes, unequivocally, and others said a good writer can produce a quality manuscript without help.

My answer falls somewhere between. Continue reading