Survive the Summer Sales Slump

Industry folks from all sides will argue as to whether or not a summer sales slump occurs, particularly in the eBook space. We at AOAD don’t have specific numbers to prove this, but anecdotal evidence, personal experience, and the fact that many publishers take chunks of time off during the summer when sales are lower seem to be good indicators that it happens to some extent.

The question is, if or when the summer sales slump hits, what can you do about it? Let’s talk about some ways to deal with these slower months. We don’t guarantee sales, but we do think you’ll have a productive summer if you try these out!

Hold a Sale
Hold a price drop on one (or more) of your books. As simple as that. Price drops tend to boost sales units. You may see less $, but at the same time, you may see more $ than if you hadn’t done the sale.

Release a Boxed Set
If you have a series completed, consider releasing a box set of the series during the summer. Don’t have a completed series without a box? Try an anthology with several other authors.

Promote, Promote, Promote
Rather than back off on your promotions, step up. Many authors take the summer off. Many publishers take a portion of the summer off. Take advantage of potentially having less voices to compete with and do more promoting in the summer.

Release a New Book
Releasing a new book during traditional slump months can help you get through the slump and bolster your numbers. Two things to consider… If you release in June, try releasing a summer-themed book to take advantage of those beach readers. Also, think about releasing in August which has the potential to kick start your fall sales.

Try A Social Media Refresh
Take advantages of these months when readers are paying less attention and refresh your social media. Give your brand a face lift, launch a new website, get started on a new platform (never tried Instagram? Try now), and so forth.

Summerize Your Incentives
Any giveaways, sales, releases, promotions, etc. that you do, try to make them summer themed. Combine them with other summer incentives. Think beaches, BBQ, pools, snow cones & ice cream…you get it.  Just remember, if you do this, to time your events earlier in the summer. You know…when it’s still summer for a while.

Hook Up with Other Authors
Use the power of cross-promotion. In the summer try to do events like Facebook parties, Twitter parties, Newsletter visits, blog visits or blasts, and so on, with other authors.

Get Ready for Fall
Take these slower months to get ready for the uptick in the fall. Hold off on those promotions and sales and hit them hard at the end of August, September/October. After taking a break and hearing less over the summer, readers may be more ready to take advantage. (Yes, we know this contradicts our earlier suggestion about promoting in the summer. Lol. Pick one and try it out. See what works for you.)

Learn
Take advantage of a slow down and use all that extra time in your life to beef up your skills. Take workshops, go to a conference, take an online or local college course, try writing exercises, join a writing group, and anything else you can think of.

Read
Take a break and read over the summer. Reading is a huge part of being an author. Keep up with how the market it changing in your genre. Enjoy other authors’ work. Rekindle your passion.

Write, Write, Write
Take the summer to write your heart out. Get words on the page so that when the industry returns to full steam in the fall, you can jump right in. Or get a head start on a project so that you can take it easier in the fall.

No matter which of our suggestions you try, definitely try the last one! We wish you luck heading into the summer and would love to hear what works for you. Do you see the slump? What have you tried?

Common Editing Misses

One of our editors is a retired English teacher, and quite possibly the most thorough editor I’ve ever come across in terms of grammar. This editor has a list of common grammar mistakes missed consistently during editing (whether by writers OR by previous editors).

Some of these grammar rules may be a preference of a given publisher to not apply in favor of a less formal voice. However, whether writing fiction or non-fiction, it helps to be aware of the rules. I thought I’d share her list today and get them on your radar. (Do consult with your editor about these.)

Lie / Lay
With this one it helps to remember that “to lay” is referring to objects, and “to lie” is referring to a person’s body doing the action.


*table from chompchomp.com

Like / As
Using like vs. as when preceding a comparison, here’s the trick…

If the comparison phrase has no verb, you use “like.”

She trembled like a leaf.
The heat in his gaze disappeared like a cool mist.

If the comparison phrase has a subject and verb, you MUST use “as” or “as though”.

She trembled as a leaf fluttering to the ground might tremble.
The heat in his gaze disappeared, as though he’d mentally taken a step back.

They (for one person)
When writing about a nameless person for whom you have not yet identified the gender, it can get tricky from a grammatical standpoint. Most writers will then refer to that person as “they.”

Ex. The thief was stealthy. They’d managed to get by all our security. They must move like a ninja.

The problem with this is “they” is plural, referring to more than one person. To be technically correct, you should write the above example in the following way:

Ex. The thief was stealthy. He or she had managed to get by all our security. He or she must move like a ninja.

This, obviously, can become quite clunky especially in fiction writing. We recommend reworking the sentence to try to avoid it when possible. Ask your publisher for his or her preference as well.

Ex. The thief was stealthy with skills like a ninja, because not a single one of our security measures had been tripped. 

Hopefully these were helpful. What common grammar mistakes do you find either you miss or often get missed in editing?

Death to the Cliche

say-what-you-want-to-sayLet’s start with the official definition of “cliche” which is “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”

The definition should be enough of an incentive for writers to do their best to kill those little buggers. You don’t want your writing to lack original thought. However, ridding your writing of cliches is harder said than done (cliche intended).

First let’s talk about identifying cliches–because for authors, more than the familiar phrases can fall under the umbrella of cliche. Then, let’s talk about alternative approaches to consider when you are trying your best not use a cliche.

IDENTIFYING CLICHE

Idioms vs. Cliches

By definition, idioms are phrases that don’t make literal sense but everyone understands what they mean anyway (ex. raining cats and dogs). Both idioms and cliches are phrases used in everyday language.

Cliches don’t have to be phrases that make no contextual sense. For example, as hot as molten lava makes sense without someone explaining it to you. Whereas, idioms tend to be specific to different cultures and would need to be explained to someone unfamiliar.

The biggest difference between the two is that cliches are overused and idioms might not be. In addition, cliches, in writing don’t have to be phrases. They can be any overused element such as settings, situations, or characters.

Clear as mud?

Cliches Can Be Common Phrases

Cliches can be common phrases. These are always tempting to use because they paint a clear picture which you know your readers will understand. There are scads of websites listing common cliches, even by genre. Google is your friend to help identify these.

Cliches Can Be Common Situations

Cliches can be situations characters fall into which everyone can see coming because it happens so often. For example, a work romance where they end up secreting away in the supply closet. Or in a horror, the car failing to start.

Cliches Can Be Common Settings

What settings in your genre are common? Is your mystery set in a house that looks like the one from Psycho? Is your romance set at a resort on the beach? Is your historical set in a castle? Settings aren’t always cliche, because writers most often set their books in locations that the characters would truly be in. Just watch out for the ones that are overdone. Try to go a different way that still makes sense.

Cliches Can Be Common Plots

The lowly farmer/bar maid/computer geek/orphan finds out they are “the one.” Think about that generic statement and then see how many story lines you know of that fit. Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Matrix. You see what we mean? Unless you have a unique twist on a common plot (like those three stories), try to avoid it.

Cliches Can Be Common Character Types

The plain jane, the mad scientist, the hooker with a heart of gold. We’re not saying don’t use these types of characters. In fact, in some genres common archetypes are used regularly and with great effect. The trick is to find that twist to how you use it.

APPROACHES TO CLICHES

It’s not that you aren’t allowed to use any cliches mentioned above. The trick is to make them your own, turn the cliche into something unexpected. In fact, when reinvented or acknowledged well, the cliche can become more effective for you. However, if you can’t use them well, then, yeah…don’t use them.

Remove

Pull the cliche out of the sentence entirely and ask yourself what you lose when it’s gone. If your answer is nothing, then you’re done.

Rewrite

If you remove the cliche and the sentence loses its meaning, then it’s time to rewrite. Try to determine what the cliche is conveying and then rewrite that sentiment/scene/idea in your own words.

Reinvent

Take the cliche and reinvent it or do something unexpected with it. For example “Absense makes the heart grow fonder.” There are a bunch of different ways to rework that. Absense makes the heart go wander. Absense makes the loins grow hotter. Absinth makes the mind go wander. And so forth. What twist can you put on the cliche you’re working on?

Acknowledge

Acknowledge that you’re using the cliche. This can be a great comic relief moment. A fantastic example is in The Amazing Spiderman 2, when she pulls him into the supply closet he actually says, “This is the most cliche hiding place you could have chosen.”

The Little Signs of Lazy Writing

little-things-fw1Lazy writing. Writer’s try their best to avoid it, but slipping into the simplicity lazy writing affords is easy to do. Articles abound on the internet on lazy writing, most focusing on wider concepts such as showing vs. telling.

Today, we’re going to focus on the little details that a simple search can help you track down and revise. These are words and phrases common in spoken English that sound natural in our heads, but can come across the readers as boring.

As with 100% of writing/editing advice, we’re not suggesting you kill every instance of these words and phrases. Instead, try looking at the frequency that word/phrase pop up in your writing. Also look at each individual usage and determine if a fix would make the writing more awkward or would improve the prose.

Look for these words and phrases in your latest work in progress. See where you can change them.

Boring Words

It/there/was/is are all signals of boring writing, particularly when in combinations like below. See if you can take these words and replace them with more specific nouns or more active verbs. Watch out for making the sentence more awkward or repeating nouns in a paragraph.

 

  • it is
  • it was
  • there is
  • there was
  • there were
  • there are

Needless Words

Needless words come in two major forms–too big or redundant

Big Words

Big words may sound pretty, but may also have readers hunting for a thesaurus. These words can also be too formal or used regionally, but not generally. The tricky part with big words is when you are a reader yourself. People who read a lot–especially varied genres and styles–tend to know more words than people who don’t. They use these words naturally.

We’re not saying don’t use big words. We’re saying watch out for words that could fall under this category and try to decide if using those words is worth it. Check out this list of “big words” and alternatives.

Redundant Words

Redundant words are words would could be cut out of the sentence with zero impact to the sentence. They are simply extra letters on the page. Redundant words frequently take the form of small prepositional words and phrases.

  • He got off of the couch.
  • She backed up against the counter.
  • He jumped down off the ladder.
  • His heart pounded in his chest.
  • She thought to herself.
  • He crossed his arms over his chest.

Mental Pauses

Both in thoughts and in spoken English we naturally insert pauses. People who speak for a living–newscasters, politicians, teachers–practice to remove these words from their speech. Writers should work to remove these from their writing. Just as they give listeners pause when hearing them, they give readers pause when reading them. They interrupt the flow.

  • oh
  • well
  • um
  • uh
  • ah
  • you know

Qualifiers

Qualifiers are words which are used to convey a quantity or size, but are generic and consequently don’t add much to the picture you, as the writer, are attempting to convey. Delete these words or find a better word.

 

  • really
  • very
  • so
  • a lot
  • some

Ex. He was really tall.

You could simply say “tall” and have the same effect, or you could say “towering” and convey a clearer picture to your reader.

Check out this list of alternatives for the use of “very”.

Lessons the Princess Bride Teaches Authors

by Abigail Owen

I think it’s no secret that one of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. Last January (2016) I started posting quotes from the movie each day. I found a copy of the script online and have been methodically going through it. A year later I’m up to the fire swamp scene. I have to say, reading each line in detail, I’ve learned a few things as a writer. I thought I’d share…

Very Little Fluff

Remember that I’m posting mostly on twitter, so I’m limited in character count. I’m leaving out the “fluff” or any lines that, by themselves, don’t add much.  In a year, there are very few lines from the script that I skipped.

Lesson: Make every word count and skip the boring bits and fluff for the sake of word count.

Quick Dialog

Almost all of the dialogue I’ve come across so far is quick. Each person saying one or two lines at the most. Very few long speeches or monologues. Think about how many one-liners from the movie are immediately recognizable.

Lesson: Short, rapid dialogue is more memorable and keeps the pace going.

Optimism Despite Adversity

The characters are charmingly upbeat despite finding themselves in serious situations. Think about things like what Westley says when they’re in the fire swamp. “I’m not saying I’d build a summer house here, but the trees are actually quite lovely.” I find this makes the characters more endearing and keeps my interest. If they were to go all serious, I’d be bored in a heartbeat.

Lesson: You can have drama and adventure but not get mired in the melodrama.

Go With the Unexpected

The characters rarely do what you’d expect. I mean, why would someone train themselves to ingest poison, or give the guy they’re about to fight a rest since he just climbed a cliff?

Lesson: It’s okay if your characters do the unexpected as long as they are true to who THEY are.

Surprise Yourself (Inconceivable is Still Possible)

I haven’t gotten this far, but in The Princess Bride, Westley is killed half way through the book (the 2nd time). That’s what I call a corner. I’ve read the author didn’t realize himself that he was about to kill his main character. But Westley’s only mostly dead which is a fantastic fix. We wouldn’t have that if the author didn’t do something inconceivable.

Lesson: As a writer, you should even surprise yourself with what your characters do and what happens to them. DO paint yourself into a corner.

A Little Mystery is a Good Thing

I find it funny when readers or beta readers want all the mysterious questions answered in the first few pages of the book. Where’s the fun in that? In The Princess Bride, many mysteries are left unanswered for a long time.

Lesson: Writers, you have permission to torture your readers with mysteries if it makes the story more compelling.

Perfect is Boring

The characters in The Princess Bride are not perfect people. Westley leaves his love thinking he’s dead for five years, and has probably done some bad stuff as a pirate. Buttercup is marrying a man she doesn’t love. Inigo is a drunk.

Lesson: Give your characters flaws that they have to overcome or which drive the plot in a way that is true to the character and true to the story.

As I mentioned, I’m only up to the fire swamp scene. I’m determined to continue posting until I finish the entire script. I bet I’ll keep learning more great lessons. In the meantime, I ran across this fabulous article. It’s 17 life lessons from the Princess Bride. The article is aimed at parents of autistic children, but I think they’re great for everyone. Enjoy! http://www.snagglebox.com/article/autism-parenting-princess-bride

Editing Technique: Ask Questions

 

An effective editing technique when it comes to editing for content/plot is to ask questions. Seems simple, right? But many authors and beta readers don’t do this enough. By applying this technique, you can find plot hots and inconsistencies, you can also make sure you are addressing every concept which is mentioned (even the little details), and ensure your characters are acting consistently and realistically (rather than just for the sake of the plot point you need).

Q-and-A

Here’s how it works…

Editor/Beta Reader/Self-Editing: As you read, write down or use comments in MS Word to ask questions, even if you think they are obvious or probably are answered later.

Applying Edits: If the question is answered later, think about the timing of when it gets answered (too late? too soon? just right?). If it doesn’t get answered, then go back into your manuscript and answer it. OR, if it’s a question that won’t be answered until a later book in the series, make note of that so you are sure to answer it later down the line.

In the end, every question that could be posed should have an answer of some sort.

That simple.

EXAMPLE

Here’s an example from a recent beta read we performed which the author gave us permission to use.

Read the excerpt and try to ask questions. Below the excerpt is a list of questions that could have been asked during reading.

We had the author read through the questions and apply edits to the section. Questions which, after edits, get answered during the passage are crossed out. She left notes on the remaining questions.

 

Read the Excerpt:

Tala stood in the small room off the main foyer of the chapel where she was shortly to wed the leader of the Banes pack of werewolves—a man recently considered her enemy. Outwardly she projected her usual calm, collected self. Inside, nerves and doubts pummeled her. She’d bitten her lipstick off countless times, a sure sign of her agitation.

“All set?” Her wedding coordinator popped her head into the room to ask.

“Absolutely.”

“Great. As soon as everyone is seated, we’ll begin.” The woman disappeared in a flurry of movement. As a hummingbird shifter, she didn’t sit still well, Tala had learned over the last few months.

Needing a moment of peace, even if temporary, Tala turned her attention to the view. The small Rocky Mountain chapel nestled on top of a large rock base, built of the same granite as the rock, almost as though it had been placed there since the beginning of time. Below, a small, creek-fed lake reflected the starry sky and the spire of the chapel.

Such a setting was perfect for this event as werewolves preferred to surround themselves with nature. After the wedding ceremony both Marrok’s and Tala’s families and friends would follow them into the wooded mountainside for the mating ceremony illuminated by the full moon, with a reception afterwards at a nearby hotel. That was, if they didn’t all kill each other first.

“No bloodshed.” She whispered the prayer to any gods listening.

“What’d you say?” Her sister’s voice broke into her plea.

Tala winced. Damn werewolf hearing. “Nothing.”

The Banes and Canis packs had been locked in a bloody feud for ages. Once upon a time, they’d been the same pack. But a battle for alpha between brothers had torn the original pack into two, one taking the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains as their territory, the other taking the western slopes.

This mating would reunite the two packs for the first time, and, by some miracle, end the fighting. Centuries of blood and death, finally over. Her entire goal for wanting to be Alpha in the first place—to establish a peace too long denied. At least, that was the plan. Not everyone agreed.

A glance over her shoulder showed her sister still peering through a cracked doorway into the chapel beyond.

“Shyla,” she hissed. “Get away from the door.”

In response, Shyla wiggled her provocative backside, covered in a pale turquoise bridesmaid gown which matched the beading on Tala’s wedding dress, and continued to report on the scene in the sanctuary. “Marrok looks amazing in a tux. You lucky girl. Come see.”

“No, thank you.” Tala left the window and sat, her hands folded primly in her lap.

Shyla glanced over her shoulder. “Tala Canis, aren’t you even the least bit interested in your future husband?”

Tala lifted a shoulder in a shrug. “I’ve seen him.”

Shyla shook her head, returning to her perusal of the guests. “I’d be all over that man if I were you,” she muttered. “I’m surprised your wolf isn’t dry humping him every second of the day.”

“Shyla! Someone might hear you,” she rebuked her sister.

Mate, the beast caged inside her rumbled.

No. Means to an end. She and her wolf had been having this debate ever since they’d gotten their first whiff of the alpha of the Banes pack. Sandalwood and rum. If she were less self-controlled, Tala could get drunk on his scent alone.

Truth be told, she wasn’t nearly as uninterested in her husband of convenience as she made out, but she refused to give her perplexing desire any serious weight given their situation.

When a werewolf mated, pheromones were released, igniting lust not only in the couple, but in anyone near them. The more powerful the werewolf, the more pheromones released. In this case she and Marrok were both the ruling alphas of their packs. The first time two alpha werewolves had mated in the history of their kind—female alphas were rare. Consequently, pheromones hung heavy in the air, a sweet perfume of heady need, regardless of the fact that this marriage wasn’t a love match.

Shyla backed up as the door opened unexpectedly. Sandalio, one of the oldest wolves in their pack, entered.

He ignored Shyla and walked straight to where Tala sat. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

She remained calm in the face of what she recognized as a veiled threat. “I do. And I hope you know what will happen if your support isn’t total.”

Two could play at the threats game, only hers wasn’t as subtle. She wouldn’t mind kicking the old man out on his ear. He was a pain in her butt.

Sandalio narrowed his eyes, but bowed his head in acknowledgement. “My…felicitations on this most joyous occasion.”

“Thank you.”

She exchanged a long suffering look with Shyla as he left.

“He’s going to cause problems,” Shyla warned as she resumed her position at the door observing the other room.

“I know.” Tala would deal with Sandalio when he made his move. Until then, she had bigger problems.

She hoped like hell the scheme of uniting the two packs through marriage would end the fighting. Otherwise, she was about to bind herself to a stranger, an enemy, no less, for nothing. If their wolves bonded as well—and, given her wolf’s possessive behavior already, that was a distinct possibility—their mating would become permanent. She stood the chance of losing her pack, and possibly her life, for the attempt. Many in her pack were fuming about the idea already.

Mate, her wolf purred again, content with what they were about to do. Eager even.

The hussy would’ve already claimed Marrok’s wolf if they’d let them loose together. She practically rolled over anytime Marrok was near, panting with lust, pushing Tala’s own need even higher. Tala would be glad when this ceremony was over and the overwhelming cloud of insta-lust started to dissipate.

“Who’s the hottie standing up with Marrok?” Shyla asked.

They’d each opted to have only one person stand up with them. She’d asked her sister, but Marrok didn’t have any siblings. “Castor Dioskouri—a Greek demigod.”

“That explains why every single female in there can’t peel her eyes off him. Which god made him?”

“I’m not sure actually.”

“Huh. Is he single?”

“Don’t bother. He’s here with—”

“The blond in the backless navy dress? Yeah. He hasn’t unglued his eyes from her since she arrived.”

Tala knew the blond. “Leia’s just his Executive Assistant.”

Shyla hooted. “Do you really believe that’s all she is to him?”

“No. But she’s a nymph…” Nymphs had an uncanny ability to resist gods and demigods when they wished. Leia certainly appeared to wish it.

Shyla flicked a glance over her shoulder. “The one you told me about?”

Tala nodded.

“Is she going to help?”

Factions in both packs were staunchly, if quietly, against this mating. Centuries of hate ran deep and would not be buried in an instant. If they could manage to fulfill an age-old prophesy, or fake it, maybe the tides might turn their way.

All werewolves knew of the foretelling that two alphas—a male and a female—would unite their people in peace. The sign would be a display of nature as had never been witnessed before.

QUESTIONS

Why is she marrying her enemy?

They’ve only been engaged a few months? Why so fast? (Author: Decided that this was obvious enough in the marriage of convenience and trying to avoid bloodshed comments.)

What is the purpose of combining feuding packs?

Why would Tala take the personal risk? (Author: Somewhat answered in the “ending the bloodshed” in this chapter but also answered in more depth later in the book.)

Why is a Greek god Marrok’s best man? (Author: Answered later. Addressed in-depth in another book)

Why would Leia help Tala and Marrok? And what do you mean by help? (Author: Answered later. Addressed in-depth in another book.)

 

What Did You Catch?

Did you have other questions we missed? Is this something you already apply in your own writing or might like to try? What other techniques work for you?

What Makes A Good Critiquer?

Receiving critiques from beta readers, critique partners, and even fans who have volunteered to provide you feedback on your latest WIP, is an important step in the writing process. One which takes a while to develop as you search for people who give you good feedback, quickly, and don’t mind being “bugged” on a regular or semi-regular basis.

what-makes-a-good-critiquerLet’s address the first part of that… What Makes a Good Critiquer?

Many times, beta readers and critique partners return notes and suggestions which are too basic. Or perhaps too nice is the word? On a single page they might make one small correction, and as lovely as that is for your pride (and as much as you appreciate the time they took to help – because you absolutely do), it’s not what you’re looking for as an author. And on the critiquer’s side, the tricky part about doing a critique or a beta read is wanting to give advice while at the same time not changing an author’s voice or offending them into despising you.

Here’s the problem: a critique is just that…critical.

The JOB of a critiquer or a beta reader is to BE A CRITIC. To point out those things that need work, that need fixing, that could be done better–at least in their opinion. And the reason an author asks for a critique is to help them find those things. You WANT to make your manuscript better.

Don’t get me wrong. Receiving a heavily critiqued manuscript with red slashes through everything can be rough on the ego. But if the goal is to get better, sometimes a bruised ego is worth it. Right?

We could devote months to what kind of edits we could be applying. But let’s at least touch on what a good critiquer or beta reader will do for you:

WILL – Critique EVERYTHING

A good critiquer or beta reader WILL look for any and every instance where an aspect of the manuscript might be improved (from word choice, to character development, to flow, to pace, to…well…everything). You should get back 3 things:

  1. Direct edits within the text

This can be grammar changes, but, more importantly, it should include suggested word changes, clarifications, moving paragraphs or lines for flow, etc.

  1. Notes about specific sections of text

This is cleanest if done with Comments in MS Word. Notes can be as simple as “this sentence is awkward, try to reword,” or can affect a large chunk of text, such as “the last few chapters have been slow, pick up the pace.” You can also use notes to add praise (important).

  1. Overarching notes about the manuscript as a whole

This doesn’t have to be an essay on the manuscript. But a few lines. For example “Loved the overall plot, but the middle felt slow. I also didn’t connect with the heroine. You might consider making her more sympathetic.”

WILL – Find the Positive

A good critiquer or beta reader will also point out the GOOD stuff. An author can grow just as much by getting feedback on what they do well. Knowing what you do well helps you incorporate more of it. Plus, it helps you not take the more critical aspects of the feedback so hard. 🙂

WILL NOT – Insert Their Voice

A good critiquer or beta reader will NOT insert their voice into your manuscript. This can be difficult, as most folks who will edit for you are probably authors themselves. A good way to avoid this, when giving a critique, is to only make changes in line (in the text) which are basic edits.

Anything that is a “bigger” edit, make it a suggestion using Comments in Word (under the Review tab). Even something like “this sentence is awkward” in a comment can be better than actually rewording that sentence for the author unless you have a very specific way to reword it that doesn’t change the feel or meaning.

WILL – Be Respectful

Finally, a good critiquer or beta reader will treat the author with RESPECT. Someone who makes you feel like a total idiot is not a good critique partner or beta reader for you. This may not even be their fault, it could just be a difference in how you communicate. But the goal of a critique is to HELP you improve, not to break you down.

 

These are just a few key aspects of what makes a good critiquer or beta reader. You will probably have to try many helpers before you develop a solid base of folks who you work with regularly. If you come across a critique that doesn’t jive with how you work, with your voice, or what you’re looking to get out of the critique, move on to someone else. (Yes, sometimes easier said than done.) But when you do find someone whose feedback jives with yours, treat them well. You want to keep those gems around!

 

What You Can Try for FREE with AOAD

Many glasses of different wine in a row on a table

At Authors On A Dime (AOAD), we understand how hard it can be to spend $ without knowing for sure the quality of what you would get in return. Authors struggle constantly with where to invest. Let us help you out with a list of services you can sample for free.

Come on over and try out any of the following:

EDITING SERVICES

editing-graphic.fwBeta Reading – Send us the 1st chapter or first 20 pages (whichever is shorter) for a FREE sample of the comments you’d get back with a beta read from AOAD. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Proofreading – Provide the first 3 pages, for a FREE one-time sample proofread of your material. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

PUBLISHING SERVICES

computer screen saying I love my job among other objects on the

eBook Formatting – Try out this service by having us format 1 chapter for FREE. This sample formatting is at the Basic Package level which includes chapter breaks, headers, spacing and indentation, and font.  (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Print-on-Demand Formatting – Try out this service by having us format 1 chapter for FREE. This sample formatting is at the Basic Package level which includes mirrored margins, page titles, page numbers, chapter breaks, headers, spacing and indentation, and font.  (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Blurb Creation – Try out this service by doing a FREE brainstorming session with us. 30-min Skype or up to 5 email exchanges on ideas, wording, flow, etc. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Synopsis Writing – You have written your synopsis but would like a second set of eyes to give you feedback on anything from how it flows, to whether you cover the important bits, to editing advice. You can try out this service for FREE the first time. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

GRAPHICS SERVICES

Abstract smoke

Book Cover Design – For your first book cover, we will do a 30-minute brainstorming session with you–looking at your book, ideas, and searching for images that might work–for FREE. No obligation to hire us for the book cover. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Banner Design – Need a banner for Facebook, your website, twitter, or other social media? We will let you try out this service by providing a free Basic-level banner on your first visit. Basic = text-only, basic font, graphic of your book cover or author logo. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

SOCIAL MEDIA SERVICES

Social media concept

Social Media Calendar – 1st month FREE. We can work with you on what you want/need scheduled and when. We will then create the social media calendar for 1-month at a time. In addition, we can keep track of your calendar for you, emailing you weekly reminders of upcoming events and post needs. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Blog Topic Suggestions – We have a generic list already started for you in this blog post. Want more tailored suggestions? We’ll provide 3-5 post topic suggestions to help you get rolling. Any help needed after the initial list of suggestions will move you into Brainstorming for a fee. More info…

Newsletter Article Suggestions – Want to write your own articles but don’t know where to get started? We’ll provide 3-5 post topic suggestions to help you get rolling.  Any help needed after the initial list of suggestions will move you into Brainstorming for a fee. More info…

Facebook Post Suggestions – Want to write your own posts but don’t know where to get started? We’ll provide 5-10 post topic suggestions to help you get rolling.  This service is FREE! (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Twitter Post Suggestions – Want to write your own posts but don’t know where to get started? We’ll provide 5-10 post topic suggestions to help you get rolling.  This service is FREE! (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Discuss Street Team Options FREE 1/2 hour discussion or 5 email exchanges to point you to examples of types of street teams out there and figure out what would work best for you and your readers. (Free 1 time only.) More info…

Proofreading: A Necessary Evil

What Is Proofreading?

Proofreading involves reading your manuscript (or a portion of your manuscript) and providing corrections, including (but not limited to):

  • service-spotlight.fwgrammar
  • proper word usage
  • syntax
  • spelling
  • proper sentence structure
  • punctuation
  • typographical errors

Why You Need Proofreading?

Proofreading is essential. A well edited manuscript is professional. If you intend to be a published author, making your writing as error-free as possible is critical. Readers can easily be turned off by typos or incorrect grammar. Editors and agents you query will look for a well-edited manuscript showing. Every website which talks about self-publishing highlights two things to spend money on: a good editor and a good book cover. Present your hard work in the best light possible. Have it proofread.

About Our Proofreader

Our lead copy editor/proofreader is a retired AP English teacher with a Masters in English. Some publishing houses prefer a specific Style of Editing or may have an in-house style. Please be aware there are differences in rules. We use MLA, which can be more formal, though we allow for more informal sentence structure as favored by many publishers of fiction.

How It Works

Submit your manuscript in a Word document. All edits are applied to the manuscript using “Track Changes” in MS Word. As the author, you then choose what edits to incorporate into your manuscript. Copy editing/proofreading is not beta reading. Edits will be limited to grammar/punctuation, and will not include comments on content, flow, plot, etc.

You may choose how many times you want the proofreader to provide edits. Please only request subsequent copy edits after you’ve completed applying previous edits.

You may also choose how much of your manuscript to have edited. For example, you might have the copy editor do a full pass the first time, but only edit the first few chapters the second time.

Our Pricing

  • 1st Pass Edits ($1.50/page)
  • 2nd Pass Edits ($0.75/page)
  • Subsequent Edits ($0.25/page)

*Page count based on double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12pt font, with standard margins.

Request-Button.fw

The Importance of Self-Editing

Editing-Tips.fwSelf-editing is one of the more important skills to develop as an author. Even if you pay for a professional editor, still learn to edit yourself. Even if you are traditionally published and send your manuscript to an editor, self-editing is critical.

Our experience with different kinds of editors has led us to this conclusion. Some editors excel at content editing (comments on plot, flow, conflict, etc.). Some excel at the grammar (copy edits, proofreading). All editors have their pet peeves and areas they focus on more. Much like parenting, you’ll find a different theory and approach from different editors.

In addition, books sent to publishers are generally expected to be done. Your editor’s job is to tighten it up only. In our experience, unless you are a known name in the writing world, you won’t be doing major re-writes with your editor. You probably won’t even be doing minor re-writes. So you’d better make sure your manuscript is as tight and clean as possible.

Our point is…just one editor isn’t going to catch everything. Plus, paying for editors can get expensive. This makes it important for you to train yourself to catch as much as possible. Doing so will assure you are producing the best manuscript you possibly can.

For a writer just starting out, there are a ton of wonderful self-editing classes you can take online. (Editor Angela James’s self-editing course is one of the best we’ve found, particularly for romance writers, if you’re looking for a recommendation.) Find one or two courses and take copious notes as you go through.

In addition, work with a professional editor at least on your first few manuscripts, and (HERE’S THE KEY) start keeping lists. These lists might be general editing habits–things that you don’t naturally edit out as you go. These lists might be specific to you–what are your bad habits?

MOST IMPORTANT: Keep your self-editing checklist growing. You’ll find new bad habits as you go. Or, after editing the same bad habit for several novels, you learn to edit it out as you go. A new beta reader might spot something in your writing you hadn’t seen before. Keep the list growing!!!

To get you started, here are some examples of categories of edits and the specific edits you might put on your list.

writingpartyeditingchecklistFirst Chapter Edits

  • Work back story in organically
  • Purpose of the story is clear in the first chapter

Kill Words Edits

  • it was
  • it is
  • there was
  • that
  • and then
  • Starting sentences with And or But
  • -ing words (gerunds)
  • felt
  • saw

Deep POV Edits

  • Show, don’t tell
  • Use actions instead of dialogue tags
  • Use all 5 senses regularly

 

Set the Scene Edits

  • Describe a new setting (organically if possible)
  • Establish location and time at the beginning of new scenes

Dialogue Edits

  • Replace dialogue tags with action that moves the story forward where possible
  • Check for too many “saids”
  • Don’t have people state each other’s names constantly. In real dialogue people rarely do so.
  • Make it clear who is speaking, especially when more than 2 characters in a scene.

Varying Sentences Edits

  • Check for too many sentences starting with She/He/They
  • Vary sentence length and structure
  • Look for run-ons

 

These are just a few examples of the self-editing lists you might start. Make your self-editing list personal and specific. These lists should fit your genre, your writing style, your habits, your needs. We promise, the longer you cultivate and consistently use a self-editing checklist, the better your writing will become.

In an upcoming post, we’ll review the How To’s of self-editing in greater detail. But, in the meantime, let’s start a joint list for anyone to use. Add your edits (categories or specific edits) in the comments!