Why Content Edits Matter by Liana Brooks

editing-ad-3Writing a book is hard. It often involves late nights, early mornings, crippling doubt, and the looming sense that nothing will ever be right in the world again. But, eventually, anyone can put 80,000 words onto a page and write a novel.

Making the novel coherent, enjoyable, and memorable is a whole other matter.

A content editor is like a personal trainer. They come in, they note the novel’s weak points, and they focus on tightening and perfecting the plot. Just like someone timidly approaching the gym, most authors are inclined to stay in their comfort zone while editing. There’s a temptation to cheat the book and keep a beloved scene because it just means so much to you!

Your content editor keeps you from cheating on yourself. They can tell you when your characters are acting out of character, when the logic fails, and where the gaps in the plot are.

More importantly, content editors edit with the intent of improving the pacing and making sure the emotional highs and lows are dramatic and breathtaking. The difference is a book that’s OK, and book that develops a passionate fan base of fully immersed readers.

Which probably leaves you wondering… what does the content editor look at, specifically, when do I need one, and how do I find one?

First, let’s start with WHEN you need a content editor. If you are published by a press – big or small – the first round of edits you do with an editor are content or developmental edits. You may also do a round of these with your agent before shopping the book. For indie authors, you hire a content editor after you’ve done your basic edits (all the scenes are written, you’ve checked for typos, and it is edited as well as you can on your own). After getting your content edit back you’ll probably rewrite a few scenes, maybe cut a few scenes, and then your manuscript will go to a line editor who will look for spelling and grammar errors.

So, what is the content editor going to hammer you on? The most common mistakes I see are:

  • A lack of body language. Human communication relies heavily on tone and gestures. Without those in the text, the dialog can become confusing.
  • A lack of descriptive language, or too much description. Either is bad. You need to set the scene well enough that the reader can visualize what is happening, but not spend so much time describing the rolling hills that the reader falls asleep
  • A missing plot. Sometimes author write beautiful books but all they’re showing is vignettes, cute little scenes where things happen, but nothing really matters. There needs to be a risk of failure, an antagonist keeping the hero from their goal, and a ticking time bomb that keeps the whole book moving along.
  • Illogical or out-of-character responses to situations. A genius character makes an amateur mistake, a frosty character falls madly in love after a single glance, a detective ignores compelling evidence… if you have to bend a character to fit the plot, something is wrong, and a content editor can help get you back on course.

That leaves us with the last question: How do you find a good content editor?

Anyone, literally anyone, can hang up a shingle and say that they’re an editor these days. So before you hire anyone there’s a few things you need to do to make sure you are getting the right editor for you.

1 – Make a budget.Content edits can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per edit depending on how in-demand the editor is. If you’re planning on querying the novel it’s much more cost effective to get a partial edit (the first three chapters) and then make sure anything learn in those edits is applied throughout the book. If you are self-publishing, you need the full manuscript edit but you probably don’t need to pay $2000 for the edit and a skype session with a bestselling author who edits books on the side.

Side Note: If you can afford the $2000, by all means hire the bestselling author. The skype session will be informative and you’ll have a wonderful experience.

2- Find someone who knows your genre. If you write erotic horror you do not need someone who specializes in MG Fantasy editing your book. Shop around and find someone who knows your genre and market.

3- Ask for recommendations. Network with your other author buddies and see who they recommend. Even if the editor is booked solid, they can probably recommend another editor who will have an opening. Be aware that most editors book several months in advance, the better known they are, the fewer openings they will have. But, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Someone’s last minute change of publishing schedule could always make an opening for your book!

4- Ask for samples. Good editors will either be willing to edit sample pages for you, or will have permission from one of their other clients to share sample pages. Since every editor has a different style, and every author learns a different way, it’s important find an editor who speaks your language.

5- Don’t be afraid to make changes. Publishing is a very fluid industry and it is always changing. If an editor isn’t working out for you, can never fit you in, or seems to be giving bad advice… go shopping! Friendships are great, but this is first and foremost a business. You should always be learning, improving, and working for your next stretch goal. If you’ve outgrown a business contact, that’s okay. Send them a thank you note for all their amazing help, and move on to the next stage of your career!

BIO:

Liana Brooks writes science fiction and sci-fi romance for people who like fast ships, big guns, witty one-liners, and happy endings. She lives in Alaska with her husband, four kids, and giant mastiff puppy. When she isn’t writing she enjoys hiking the Chugach Range, climbing glaciers, and watching whales.

Before jumping into the wonderful world of fiction Liana was a newspaper editor for a local paper. She’s a hybrid author with experience prepping books for Big 5 publishers, agents, small presses, and self-publication, and she knows what the publishers are looking for right now.

You can find Liana on the web at www.lianabrooks.com or on Twitter as @LianaBrooks.

To request a sample and see her editing style, contact Liana at liana.brooks1@gmail.com

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A New Camelot and a Dream Fulfilled

“Sometimes the only way to find yourself is to get lost along the way.” ~John Green

There’s always a moment in time when you have to make a decision, for good or ill that will alter your life.

Two years and some change ago, I sat staring hard at the computer screen. Pages and pages of words, my personal drug. Hard work and a newly burgeoning love had given me the impetus to attempt something I’d given up on a very long time ago.

I was going to write a book.

With the man I’d fallen in love with. A shared dream we both were excited about in the beginning but that which had become a bone of contention between us for various reasons. I won’t bore you with all the gory details, except to say life for me became a horribly mocking cliché that nearly shattered the hard won happiness and peace I’d been struggling with for years.

Let’s simply say he was my Romeo, but I wasn’t his Juliet.

It only seemed ‘right’ I delete the story we’d been building up. We were over and that meant the book was over before it even began. How could I ever finish something that was supposed to be ‘ours’? When every word mocked me and I couldn’t stop crying? To finish it would be daily torture. To give up would be admitting defeat.

And as I had many nights before, I grumbled and shut the computer down without erasing the story thus far. I’d do it tomorrow.

For sure.

Now, however, I was going to curl up in bed and nurse my sorrows with Hagen Dasz finest Coffee Ice Cream and a grip of movies.

Hours passed. I watched Merlin, Highlander, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Then it was on to Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (with Gary Oldman. I love Gary Oldman.) The very last thing I watched, before tumbling into sleep and dreams was Disney’s The Sword in the Stone.

The narrator’s voice was soothing and hypnotic, his last words filtering into my mind and following me down that rabbit hole of darkness…

“And below the hilt in letters of gold were written these words: Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is right wise king born of England. Though many tried for the sword with all their strength none could move the sword nor stir it. So the miracle had not worked. And England was still without a king. And in time, the marvelous sword was forgotten. This was a dark age without law and without order. Men lived in fear of one another for the strong preyed upon the weak.”

And in time, the marvelous sword was forgotten. Forgotten. Forgotten.

Or not…

I dreamed. Hard. And it was full of color and magic.

I dreamt I stumbled into a dark forest, only the moon lit my way. And eventually, I rounded a path and came to a stop when I saw…it.

It was…beautiful.

A craggy grayish boulder with swirls of gleaming pink and moss green. The silvery moon bathed it in iridescent light, casting an ethereal glow as only a dream can.

And stuck in the stone was the most dazzling of swords.

But not as dazzling as what happened next.

I met a man.

A magic man.

I met Merlyn Emrys. Yes, THE Merlyn Emrys of ancient Arthurian Lore. Note: we are NOT talking a spindly legged, heavily bearded old man with bad teeth and surly attitude. He hates that image, by the way and says he can own Gandalf the White any day. *winks* Long story short, Merlyn said two words to me, “What if”. What if we got the players right but the stories wrong? The tales of Arthur, Excalibur and Camelot. Then he told me what REALLY happened…

It was eerily similar to The Book I was considering trashing with a few …changes.

Or ‘truths’ as Merlyn says.

And when Merlyn asks you to just…’try, one more time. Please?’  You just don’t say no.

I woke up and the rest as they say is history.

I didn’t delete the book. I didn’t walk away.

I fashioned a new world.

A new dream.

A new vision.

A New Camelot.

—oOo—

Timeless Night

17322_1648452455390369_6360017164153480998_nIn an epic battle of good versus evil, one woman finds herself the focal point of a magical feud. Sabrina thought she knew who she was until a knight of long ago returns to steal her heart. If you could live forever, what would you choose to live for? I chose love… A silent guardian, Alexander has walked the corridors of time in pursuit of an end to a haunting prophecy. Sabrina has lived a life surrounded by modern magic, unaware that the greatest and deadliest of powers reside within her own soul. If it only takes the light of love to ignite the stars, what of the decadent seduction of darkness? All roads don’t lead home and some myths only grow into legend.

Behind The Scenes

“Timeless Night” in its first incarnation wasn’t the book that eventually became published. I had something else entirely in mind for my male lead, Alex and his sassy soul-mate, Sabrina. However, the more I learned about each of them, they changed my mind right quick. In its first draft, there were very little Arthurian overtones at all mixed in.  I hinted that Alex’s past was tied loosely to Camelot, but that was it. And Sabrina was the last Van Helsing alive and determined to carry out her family’s legacy.

Timeless Desire

1977475_1648452358723712_6232067013133017460_nTrust hides the truth and spans eternity when one secret-born of treachery and upheld by honor-stands between a broken heart and shattered soul. If you could live forever, what would you choose to live for? I chose honor… Awakening to a new world, Gawain has high hopes that the last 500 years have cooled the fires of hatred burning in the heart of his wife, Nimue. Cruelly betrayed by the one person she put all her faith and trust in, Nimue hasn’t forgotten the lone cowardly act of one of King Arthur’s greatest knights. Together again and yet forever apart, can they heal the past when a new enemy rises to threaten the foundation of all they hold dear?

Behind The Scenes

Timeless Desire almost became my ‘swan song’. Writing out the story between Nimue and Gawain stirred up feelings inside of me that I’d thought I’d dealt with previously. I was wrong. While my own ‘real life’ issue wasn’t the same as theirs, it dealt with betrayal, trust, truth and emotional pain so severe, it can take your breath away. And it did. I began and quit this book so many times, it affected me greatly. I wanted to show that love is the most powerful of emotions, but that sometimes, love isn’t enough. Gawain didn’t give me many problems but our Lady Nimue was stubborn, determined and unrelenting. She isn’t a woman who trusts easily but we understood each other.

Please note: I hadn’t meant to end this bad boy with the cliffhanger it has. I did NOT seeing that coming until I’d finished the previous chapter.

—oOo—

NEW (1)This month marks the 2nd anniversary of the series debut. I’m currently working on the third book and have laid out the outlines for 2 more books past that.

It’s been insanely chaotic and wholly wonderful.

And it’s been entirely worth everything that happened to get me here.

In honor of the series and because I firmly believe you only keep what you have by giving it away, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a bouquet of ebooks by some of my fave indie authors!

WIN WIN WIN WIN

All you need to do is visit my website at: https://toriejames.wordpress.com/ and follow the Rafflecopter link to enter to win. This will be open until the end of September.

When I was younger, I thought all the best fairytales began with Once Upon a Time and ended with Happily Ever After.

I didn’t know mine would start with a question…

If you could live forever, what would you choose to live for?

I choose Magic.

NEW (6)

—oOo—

Torie James

Paranormal Romance Author

TorieTorie has loved reading since she was old enough to hold a book in her lap. While her friends were out playing, she was generally curled up nearby falling down rabbit holes, catching second stars to the right, and stepping through wardrobes into mysterious lands and countless adventures. When those stories ended, she made up her own and kept going. This later translated into a strong passion for writing that has helped her keep her feet on the ground while her head stayed firmly in the clouds. Lover of Dr. Pepper, all things chocolate, and Duran Duran, her dreams finally became a reality with the publication of Timeless Night, followed six months later by Timeless Desire, Books One and Two of her award winning New Camelot series.

A series of short stories, including Ties That Bind: The Cloie Chronicles, Book One, have also been published.

Currently working on several projects, including the 3rd installment of her New Camelot Series (Timeless Surrender, Book 3) and a new anthology called Fractured Fantasies,  Torie lives in Southern California with her family and a houseful of pets who rule the roost.

Blog and Website      Facebook      Twitter      Goodreads      Amazon

NEW (2)

Winner of “Best Published Book in 2013” by Writing World.

2014 RONE Award Winner (Paranormal)

6th place in Sci Fi/Fantasy for 17th Annual Predators & Editors Readers Poll

9th place in Romance for 17th Annual Predators & Editors Readers Poll.

Top Ten Finisher Preditors & Editors Poll (Best Short Other) 2014

Top Ten Finisher Preditors & Editors Poll (Best Short Other) 2014

NEW (7)

Get A “Real” Job

i-have-a-real-jobEarlier this week one of my friends – a fellow author – posted a status update on her wall that is all too familiar to anyone who runs in our circles.  The lyrics vary, but the tune remains the same… “You should get a real job”. In this particular case, my friend had made the cardinal sin of posting a status along the lines of “I wish I could get one of these…”. This post was innocent, one of many and of the type that I post often.  On this particular day though, one of her friends read this post and immediately took it as an open invitation to voice an opinion.

Had the opinion been “Me too”, then this would be a vastly different blog post.

No, this friend took it upon themselves message her with the advice that perhaps she should stop hanging out at home with her young daughter and “get a real job” and as for that “writing” thing that she does… well, if she had a “real job”, then she would have the money for things that she wanted. So if she would just “get a real job”, she wouldn’t have to wish for things.

I’m going to give you a moment to decide if you’re as outraged as we were or if you’re ok with that.  If you’re ok with that… I would suggest that you stop reading here and move on.

Still with me?  Well, then you can imagine that my friend had a response that was less than calm.  She has been fortunate enough to have a loving husband who is more than happy for her to remain at home with their toddler.  Her writing career, while hardly bringing in enough to retire on, is growing and while they’re not wealthy, they are happy, healthy and doing ok. If she wants to say “I wish” about a luxury item, that’s her right and none of your business!  Would she have suffered the same treatment if she had been working full-time and said the same thing??

Of course, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on the planet as was proved by this great video, so I won’t go into that.

real jobWhat I’d like to address today is the fact that so many people look at authors and say that what we do is not a real job. Don’t even get me started on my job! A lot of what I do takes place in the digital world, via email or on social media and this immediately makes a lot of people around me assume that I’m not really working.

After all, who gets paid to be on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube?  ME!  Me and hundreds of other people who know how to use social media for more than just catching up with friends and family and cyber stalking supporting our favourite celebrities.

Only someone who has never written more than an email could possibly think that writing a novel is not work. Considering that many people would agree that mental work is often more exhausting than physical labour, why would those same people say that writing isn’t taxing?  Is it because we enjoy writing?  Well, if you enjoy being an accountant, does that mean that you don’t have a “real job” either??

Writing is not a hobby or something we do to kill time.  It is something we are passionate about, something we invest hours, days and weeks in and something that we hope one day to be able to earn a living at.  We spend incalculable numbers of hours in research, writing, revising, and then promotion and marketing. Most of us do this while holding down a day job which pays our bills, but every now and then, one of us will be afforded the opportunity to pursue our chosen career full time and believe me… we do NOT waste that time.

My advice in this situation comes from my dear Mom… “If you don’t have anything nice to say, rather say nothing at all.”

And to the person who had the nerve to offer this advice to her… If my friend had wanted an opinion on her wish, she would’ve asked for one. And believe me… between raising a toddler and working on her latest novel, she is working plenty hard enough to satisfy even your high standards.

What do you think?

Until next time…

BM xx