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?
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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