Working with an Editor

Do you want to get inside the mind of an editor? To know what they might look for? To know how they think? I recently had lengthy exchanges with my first editor, Derek Bowen, and would like to share my lessons learned from working with him on revising my short story, The Ravenous Flock.

After completing his first read through, he wanted me to consider renaming one of my races and my monster. They striked him more as descriptions (adjectives) than names, so I had to spend some time brainstorming on the topic before I finally arrived at appropriate names.

In general, the majority of his edits were opportunities to delete unnecessary words to improve flow. Here is an example: Before: “Grindor took hold of the hollow yak horn and guzzled the last of the water as it poured down his chin.” After: “Grindor took hold of the hollow yak horn and guzzled it dry.”

This all may sound rather simple, but once we began discussing substantive changes to my story, a whole other level of analysis was presented to me. In discussing my monster, Derek made me think about its entire ecology – always comparing to known living organisms to be able to bring familiar elements into the creature’s description. For example, extending tongues are normally sticky rather than prehensile (with a few exceptions like giraffes and ant eaters). But what really needed consideration was the day-to-day life of my monster. What (and how much) does it normally eat? How often does it live in water? How far inland does it travel? Basically, he wanted me to put as much thought into this monster as I do with my main characters.

Derek also introduced me to a new form of outlining after you’ve finished the chapter/passage/etc. He reduced an entire battle scene to 6 bullets. All he did was capture the behavior/reactions of a tribe of fighters during a fight to evaluate if their actions in battle were warranted or not. He claims this style of outlining is most effective to “do it by going back and constructing it from what you’ve actually written, not what you’d planned to write at the outset. It makes it very easy to discover whether you’ve put everything in the correct place—especially important in the age of cut-and-paste, where things can get moved with a couple keystrokes, and it becomes altogether too easy to separate items or leave one thing stranded after you’ve moved another.”

In addition, I have a dramatic reveal at the end of my story, but I had a difficult time making it feel as dramatic as I had intended. Derek commented that, “what you need is to convince the reader it’s that important to the character(s), whether it would be that important to anyone else in a similar situation—so it doesn’t need to be high melodrama.”  I ended up suggesting a new reveal, and together, we were able to craft it to a much better ending to my story about the forming of a unique friendship.

He was very impressed by my openness to his proposed revisions and so I thought I should share this one last quote from Derek: “In my experience, there are two main kinds of writers: the kind who are defensive about what they’ve written, and the kind who care enough about their writing to want to improve it and are willing to learn. The former are rarely successful.”

While these are the larger lessons learned, there were many subtle nuggets of wisdom that I captured from this experience. If you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

 

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The Process of Publishing on Amazon

 

 

First, some administrative news: My fantasy short story, The Ravenous Flock, is now up on Amazon! So, I wanted to take the time to share my personal experience of independently publishing with them.

After part 2 of The Ravenous Flock was published by Myths Inscribed ezine, all rights immediately reverted back to me per the terms of their publishing agreement. The Ravenous Flock new coverI immediately recognized that I wanted my short story to be available on Amazon to reach a wider audience, so I combined both parts back into one seamless story and added the Prologue of The Soul Smith at the end to create hype for my novel!

The process of publishing on Amazon was fairly simple. I clicked “Independently Publish with Us” at the bottom of Amazon.com and chose to publish through their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Once you log in, you click “Add a New Title” and begin entering all the information about your book (Name, Title of Series, Publisher, Description, ISBN, etc). The hardest choice was: What genre/categories should my book fall in? You can only choose 2, but I wanted to choose 3. I picked FICTION > Fantasy > Epic. And I picked FICTION > Action & Adventure. The 3rd category that I wanted was FICTION > Fantasy > General. I may have to change this in the future.

Next I got to upload my book cover (or you can design one in their Cover Creator). Without getting into a huge debate, I knew that having a poorly crafted cover can negatively impact sales, so I spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that the graphics looked clean and professional. Once complete, then you get to upload your book. It didn’t give me any guidance as to what format it accepted, so I’m under the impression that it accepts them all. I uploaded a .doc and it converted it to the Kindle format. After upload, it even helps point out potential misspellings. Then comes the fun part of previewing your story in all different Kindle devices to ensure it is formatted correctly. It loads up a virtual device on your screen within your web browser for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Kindle Paperwhite, iPad, iPhone, and Kindle. I had to make corrections numerous times and re-upload my story to ensure that it was formatted perfectly across all devices.

Lastly, you choose whether to protect your work with Downloadable Rights Management (DRM) or not. It is completely your choice, but once you choose, you cannot change your mind. Then you get to set the price of your book. The minimum price is $0.99. The price of your ebook also determines what percent of the royalties that you earn. Anything that is priced at $2.99 or above can earn 70% of each sale. Anything priced between $0.99 and $2.99 earns 35%. Then you choose which countries you own rights to your book in (which is all of them) and then you click “I agree” and Publish!

The other major choice is whether to enroll in the KDP Select program. If you choose to enroll, you are agreeing that your ebook will be exclusive to Kindle for 90 days (which auto renews every 90 days). Note: Physical/printed books are not apart of this exclusivity clause. But, if your book is found on the Nook, for example, they will likely cancel your enrollment in the KDP Select program. The benefits of this program are that you earn a percentage of money allocated to books that were borrowed through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In addition, you can market your book for Free for up to 5 days for each 90 day period that you are enrolled in the program.

Once you have completed the form, it takes 12 hours before your book becomes available on Amazon. So, separate from this process (but equally important) is the enrollment in Amazon Author Central. Once your book is posted, you can enroll in Author Central to get access to the Nielsen BookScan reports (which gives you book sales statistics from physical stores – not from Amazon.com) and it allows you to create your Author Page on Amazon. I created a profile and linked my Twitter and Blog to it as well.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.