One of our recent clients is Glenn Burkey, the owner of 5 Star Business Consulting & Coaching in Painesville, Ohio. Glenn brought us his business self-help book, The First Class Way, and we provided the full publication treatment for him: editing, paperback and hardcover production, and e-book design. Here, Craig breaks down his long history with Glenn and how he approached the design of the book's cover:
When I was a high school senior in suburban Fort Worth, Texas, one of my closest friends was Melissa Burkey. We worked on the newspaper staff together, and I was a frequent guest at her house. I adored her, her mom and dad, and her siblings. Still do. Always will.
At that time, her father, Glenn, was a builder. I didn't know much about his background or his business, just that he was an exceptionally busy guy. After Melissa graduated from high school, a year behind me, the family moved to Ohio. I made a few visits over the years—one in the mid-1990s, where I saw Glenn run a marathon, and another in 2003 when I was covering the Oakland Raiders for a West Coast newspaper.
A few months ago, Glenn contacted me and said he'd written a book. I was only moderately surprised. I'd known him to have a curious and engaged mind, a vital tool for writing. He asked me if I could help him prepare it for publication, and I was glad to do so.
The First Class Way is a fascinating book, both for Glenn's personal story of towering business success and failure (I had no idea), and for his plainspoken, actionable advice on personal and professional development. Glenn's a business consultant and coach now, helping business owners discover how they can, in his words, make their work "provide a lifestyle, not a life sentence."
Here's the cover we came up with for his book:
A few things to note:
Obviously, the approach here was businesslike, much like Glenn's book. Different choices would have been made for a novel, or a book of narrative nonfiction. Much as with writing, effective book cover design involves deep thinking about content, audience, and objective.
In the days to come, we'll have more about Glenn, his book, and his business.
In the meantime, you can visit his website here, and find his book here.
Daniel Boucher is one of our editing clients. We became acquainted with him through his wife, author Kendra Elliot, who's published by our same group. Later, when Daniel was seeking a copy editor for his new novel, THE STORYTELLER, Craig jumped at the chance to work with him. Here, Boucher talks with Craig about bringing that story to life.
Q: You chose to write your novel THE STORYTELLER for the Kindle Worlds platform, adding it to the Lee Goldberg-William Rabkin series. What intrigued you about going that route?
Early on Lee had posted a contest to get published in THE DEAD MAN's canon series. I entered but didn't win. However, the idea I had at the time never left my head. It kept knocking and knocking until finally is started screaming at me to be written, so I started writing it with the understanding that I could submit it under Amazon's Kindle Worlds program, where I could add my story to the Dead Man World.
Q: Your novel is notable in that it's both an homage to and an extension of the original book in the series. How fun was that?
It was a lot of fun—but also a bit of a challenge. I had to keep re-reading the first novella, FACE OF EVIL, to make sure I had my story straight. Also, there's a lot of homage to some of my favorite authors throughout, as well as one *big* homage to a very well-known author (hint: it's not Stephen King). We'll see if any readers figure that one out.
Q: I know you submitted this manuscript to rigorous editing—on the developmental end from Jacque Ben-Zekry and with copy editing by me. What did you learn from that process? Why is it important?
With Jacque I learned how to identify and address plot issues (it's a continued learning mind you), as well as the value in trimming content to pick up the pace when there's simply too much going on. It was hard to make the cuts where she had suggested, but in the end I was excited by how much better it read.
With you I learned that I have problems with it's and its, that commas can be overused, the importance of understanding that there a lot more words in the English language for moving about than "he made his way over" and that a copy editor, like a dev editor, can offer a lot when it comes to sprucing up story.
The biggest—most important—thing I learned was that I'll never release another work that hasn't been dev/copy edited. Why? Because no matter how ready you think—you KNOW you are—you're not.
Get. It. Edited.
Q: Anybody who follows you on Facebook gets a steady diet of movie recommendations and the full menu of your cultural interests. When did you decide to start blending those interests with a desire to write fiction?
I've loved movies for a long as I can remember, but it wasn't until I read CUJO (probably worth noting that I'm a die-hard King fan) that I learned reading could be fun. Since then reading has always been a visual experience for me. That may sound weird, but a good book really unleashes my imagination and I have no trouble visualizing what happening. Having said that, the combination of the two was never "planned" but is just a natural piece of me. I like it. And, if I like it, it makes sense that others will too.
Q: You and I are both married to other writers, which means we probably ought to start a support group. How much of your works in progress do you share with Kendra?
A support group? Where do we find the time?
Kendra and I share everything—except our writing. She's very much a keep-it-close-to-her-chest writer when she's writing (even her agent doesn't get to see it until it's done!). I try to read everything she writes once it's ready, and I'm always in awe of her skill.
As for me, well, what I write doesn't fall under her umbrella of interest. But she's always taking time to stop and help me when I need it. I'm sure I annoy her with all the noob questions.
Q: What are you working on now?
Believe it or not, a romance. I'm a huge romantic comedy fan and love to read anything by Susan Mallery, Mary Kay Andrews, Elin Hilderbrand and the like. While my novel is not necessarily a romantic comedy, it does have humor and (I hope) captures the "feel good" vibes like those of the previous authors I mentioned. I'm excited to write it, and I'm sure that'll remain, right? Authors never get tired of writing, right?
Craig's seventh novel, Julep Street, came out today. To mark its release, he writes below about its journey from concept to manuscript to honest-to-goodness book, and some of the issues an author must think through on the way to publication:
By a happy accident of the calendar, I've had several opportunities to speak to students and civic groups in recent weeks, and during the Q&A portions of the talks, I've fielded some variation on these two questions:
1. How long does it take to write a book?
2. How do you know when you're done with one?
Each is answered with two simple words—"it depends"—and a cavalcade of anecdotes. Do I tell them about my first novel, 600 Hours of Edward, which was drafted in a feverish 24 days? Or my second, The Summer Son, which needed a year to cook and a half-dozen significant rewrites? Or any of the others, all of which came with their own distinct challenges, and all of which announced their readiness in different ways.
With the release of Julep Street, I can speak in specifics, because this book's journey through the manuscript phase and, ultimately, publication was unlike any other I've written.
I started writing Julep Street in 2012, at a leisurely pace (for me). It got interrupted late in the year as Edward Adrift, the follow-up to 600 Hours, pushed insistently at my brain and demanded a quick gestation. In 2013, I finished Julep Street's first pass and a couple of rewrites, and I sent the manuscript on to my then-agent and my then-editor at Lake Union Publishing.
Responses were slow in coming. And when they arrived, they weren't what I was hoping to hear. My agent found the protagonist, Carson McCullough, unlikable, and the book wasn't the high-concept project she'd been hoping to see. (Spoiler alert: One of the freeing discoveries I've made about myself is that "high concept" isn't really my strength. I'm OK with this.) My editor found Carson's dog annoying and suggested that the manuscript wasn't quite there. The problem, for me, is that "there" was a squishy concept; I didn't know what it was or how to reach it. So I put Julep Street away and moved on to the next few books.
Here, I have to give credit and appreciation to my literary wingman, Jim Thomsen, who loved Julep Street from the start and would gently inquire from time to time about it. That kept the manuscript in my thoughts and was a crucial factor in my picking it up late last year and seeing its possibilities with fresh eyes. Thank you, Jim. I owe you. Again.
Upon re-reading the manuscript, I saw my way through. I found deeper empathy with Carson and wrote a more fulsome version of him. Hector, the dog, became a crucial character unto himself. The thematic aspects of the story, lurking beneath the prose I'd squeezed out in 2012 and 2013, became more pronounced in 2016. At long last, I had a manuscript I was ready to prepare for publication. The resulting book is out now, and I couldn't be more proud of it. And I'm pleased to have received validation in the form of strong reviews. (Here, too!)
So what made the difference for Julep Street? Time and perspective, I'd say. The well-grounded criticisms of my former agent and editor were given a chance to seep into my brain and come out through my fingertips in needed revisions. In waiting more than two years between setting it down and picking it up again, I gave my writing and my sense of story time to develop. Reading it fresh, I saw its flaws, its successes, and its possibilities. I acted on all of those, and then I released the manuscript into the editing and publication process.
Here at Lancarello Enterprises, we can't tell you when it's time to bring others into your story. That's your journey, and it's personal and unique. Our best advice is to write as well as you can, develop a strong relationship with your manuscript, rewrite until you've done all you think you can do, and then put some faith in professionals to help you realize its potential. When you've reached that point—when you're ready for developmental editing, copy editing, or publication design—we'll be ready to talk. Always.
We're just a click away.
Writing is, for the most part, a solitary act. And yet no writer works alone. Any professionally published book goes through several phases of editing before it’s published. Part of the process as a writer is to revise and hone the writing until every word is in its right place, every sentence reads clearly, concisely, and fluently, and every paragraph and thought is organized and arranged.
Unless you are a super-genius (just ask Wile E. Coyote), you will need to hire professional editors to assist you. You need someone with proven experience and a reputation.
If you are self-publishing a book and can’t afford an editor, then you aren’t ready to publish.
Depending on which stage of the process you’re in, you’ll need to call on one of the following (typically in this order):
A developmental editor
A copy editor
A developmental editor looks at the big picture. Rather than focus on things like grammatical issues and style choices, a developmental editor will help you make sure your story and characters follow a full arc, that your timeline meshes, that no plot holes are left open, and more. In other words, a developmental editor is there to help you make the story the best it can be. If you’re writing a memoir, a how-to book, or some other form of nonfiction, the goal is still the same: make sure your sequence of events works, make sure your directions are well-organized and easy to follow, and/or make sure the readers are engaged.
Developmental editing typically happens in several passes. Your editor provides you with a letter addressing all aspects of character development, story arc, pacing, etc., along with a manuscript complete with embedded comments addressing the specific references to those aspects and issues. You then get to work rereading and rewriting, based on your editor’s suggestions. (Do you need to take every suggestion? No. But if you don’t, ask yourself why.) The manuscript is then passed back to the editor for another round of examination, and then the two parties proceed with some number of back-and-forth passes until you both agree the story is where it ought to be (or until the deadline requires the story to be where it ought to be).
While the developmental editor is looking at your manuscript from a big-picture standpoint, copy editors handle the finer issues, those of grammar and mechanics, while providing a second line of defense on the global issues the developmental editor focuses on. (The fact is, all levels of editing, if done right, have some overlap with each other; a good developmental editor will point out nettlesome style issues, and a good copy editor will find a hole in your novel’s timeline.) Copy editors make sure your sentence structure is correct, your references are accurate, your tenses match, and that “Febreze” is spelled with one “e” rather than two. They’ll make sure your modifiers don’t dangle and your parenthetical phrases don’t take over. Trust me on this: They will save your bacon. And they’ll make sure you didn’t write it as “save your bake on.” Typically, this happens in one pass. You address any notes the copy editor has made in addition to the corrections, and unless you have additional questions, you’re ready for the next stage.
Your manuscript is getting into better shape with each editing pass. Now it’s time for the proofreader. Proofreaders generally deal with the typeset, “final” version of the manuscript, and the job is to make sure all the clichéd “i”s are dotted and “t”s are crossed. They make sure no one missed an incorrect there, their, or they’re. They look for typos, spacing errors, and overlooked spelling or punctuation errors. They make sure the pages are in sequence, or that the author’s name isn’t misspelled atop every other page (yes, this has happened). Some proofreaders like to do this with either a printed proof copy of the book, or with a PDF of the interior formatted manuscript.
Tips to editing success
In my experience, finding the right editor for you is as important as finding the right spouse. You need to have a rapport. You also need to trust their judgment. It helps if they have a working knowledge of the genre or the subject matter you bring to them.
Also, when hiring an editor you’ve never worked with before, ask to see samples of their editing first.
Finally, make sure you allot enough time for each editor to accommodate your publishing schedule as well as their schedule.
Need an editor? Contact us for a rate quote and a sample!
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