“Last Pass” Proofreading Already Successful!

“Last Pass” Proofreading Already Successful!

NEWLY REVISED info below…

Experienced editor, writer, grammarian and excellent speller as well as college-level writing professor now available for your document’s/manuscript’s FINAL proofreading.

Found no fewer than 14 errors and made several suggestions for two SHORT pieces (brochure, poster) from recent client who told me her current proofreader and she had BOTH already “proofread” these pieces! Last Pass is excellent…and essential!

Pay me less if your piece has fewer mistakes!

Only $0.25 per error
(one quarter, USA currency, payable via PayPal or snailmail checks).

When you’re fairly certain your other proofreaders have “done the trick,” let me have the “last pass.” If I don’t find any mistakes, you pay me only $25.00 for every 200 pages, because it usually takes me one hour/200 pages (about 40,000 words), to read through for errors. All errors marked, for evidence.

Usual no-error costs:
— $5 for short pieces, fewer than 2500 words (brochures, blurbs, posters, banners, etc.)
—$10 for short stories
—$15 for novelettes
—$25 for novellas
—$50 or more for full-length plays or novels

$2 extra, per page, with or without other errors, if you want the document to be checked for formatting and consistency in usage as well as the usual proofreading checks (punctuation, grammar, word choice, capitals, spelling and typos).

— Manuscripts must be provided in as a document in MS Word or OpenOffice Word or similar format (not epub, Scrivener, PDF). $5.00 surcharge, approximately, for editing suggestions and/or if the document does not allow for mark-up changes right on the document and I have to send each error/suggestion by typing out sentences, 1 per error/suggestion.

No developmental, story or other larger editing provided.

If I deem that the manuscript isn’t proofreader-ready, I return it/do not proofread it, charging only $10 service charge.

Quick turn-around on most jobs. I am fast, thorough, accurate and correct.

No ebook or publication final formatting provided. No book design, cover design, or blurb-writing (but will proof these, when requested).

I accept almost all genres in fiction and topics in non-fiction, EXCEPT those with graphic violence, war/military/terrorist scenes or BDSM/erotica. I do not proof graphic novels/comics or artwork.


Invoiced on 4/1/17 for the first two projects for this new “Last Pass” proofreading service!

Total, $18.50
—Invoice 1, $15.00, 41 errors/concerns, 6-page brochure, fewer than 2500 words; editing suggestions cost about $5.00 extra per document, under 2500 words.
—Invoice 2, $3.50, 14 errors/concerns, 1-page poster, fewer than 2500 words.
Not April Fools, either.
Affordable, reliable, quick turn-around, excellent eye for all types of errors.
Check me out!


Contact: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com
For more information, my blog, my books, more: http://www.sallyember.com

Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

I am sorry to have to post this review, but I have given the author, Amy Collins, over a month to make this right. Despite many emails preceding and after the one I quote, below, including promises of payment by a certain date and apologies for its lateness and a new promise, she has posted no payment and provided an unusually bizarre response to my having given her the deadline to respond by the end-of-business yesterday (Thursday, January 28)—see below.

I am appalled and surprised that someone who is publishing a book on writing entitled The Write Way: Everything You Need to Know about Publishing, Selling and Marketing Your Book, would unironically send out ARCs and then another version pre-publication that are both riddled with errors for reviewers.

Know this: the Author and her “publisher” (which I now think is comprised of Collins and one other person in the business) INVITED ME TO REVIEW THIS; I did not solicit her and I rarely do reviews.

After I had read about twenty pages and marked up every page, including the cover, with up to 15 errors PER PAGE, I sent her emails, left voicemails, asked her to communicate with me before I continued. I couldn’t believe this was her final draft. Maybe there was another version, I hoped?

She wrote to tell me that she had had a death in her family and while she was out, that “someone at her office sent out the wrong ARC” (there are two?). Then, for many days, she mostly did not respond (except via automated emails saying she would respond within 24 hours) for this entire communication stream.

She did send me a PDF of another ARC version which was supposedly “the right one,” but it, too, was filled with most of the same errors and some new ones. I read about twenty pages into that and emailed her back, telling her that this PDF ARC was a “new” but not a better version.

I asked for a newer, final ARC; no response. I now think there isn’t a better version (yet).

I waited a few days and sent the email, below. After reading my proposal, the author wrote back to say that she knew that I had given her a break on my editing rate (I did have sympathy for her at that point). She wrote to say that she was very grateful for my offer and agreed to pay me for my editing and postage for me to ship the marked-up edition back to her upon receipt of payment. She promised to pay “by the middle of January.”

I told her that I didn’t want to post a negative review. I’d rather that she revise and improve the book before publication: win-win. Plus, I had already completed reading and marking up the book and had marked up every page. I would be happy to get paid for my work.

January 15 came and went; no payment. More emails, more promises, and no payment, and here we are, January 28: nothing. The author said on January 18 that she had been traveling (and still is, apparently; now she’s on a cruise with other authors and publishers, publicists, etc.), but has she obviously access to the internet, since she’s live tweeting from the cruise ship!

I sent her this on Twitter yesterday (1/28/16):

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
to @NewShelvesBooks AMY: Deadline is EOB today Central USA time. My review goes live at 2 AM CST USA Friday, 1/30/16 if no payment is posted

She responded, astonishingly and terribly unprofessionally:

from Amy Collins ‏@NewShelvesBooks
Hi @sallyemberedd Grateful for all the time you put in. Had to redirect the $ to a project I am afraid. I know your review will be spot on.

To which I replied, with a quoted retweet of the above:

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
Sally Ember, Ed.D. Retweeted Amy Collins
This is known as “breach of contract” by professionals. We had a written agreement. #Youoweme #Payup

I won’t bore you with all of our previous correspondence.

In this post, then, the review occurs, starting with the email I sent the author in which I detailed for her many of her book’s most frequent and egregious errors.

Dear Amy,

I don’t know who your developmental, copy and proofreaders/editors are, but they should all be fired.

Here are a sampling of the errors I’ve found, so you know I’m not being a “troll” or pretending to know what I’m doing. You have these types and/or numbers of errors:

—3 errors ON THE COVERS (back and front and spine) in that your formatting is inconsistent (font color, size, style)
—1 error on the TITLE page (do not capitalize “by” or use it at all, actually; this is not a college essay)
—5 errors on the copyright page (no city of publication is listed; no proper copyright symbol was inserted; no need for “by”; missing colons)
—up to 15 errors(!) per page, with at least one and usually more errors on every page throughout the entire book
—TOC has no page numbers in either version, or the page numbers are wrong, and is on the verso rather than recto side
—Some pages have no numbers (the entire Glossary; all front matter)
—paragraphs and some sentences inexplicably start and end mid-sentence on many pages
— bullets are not formatted in a standard fashion within your own book; most of them are formatted incorrectly; AND, you inserted rhetorical questions within them while you BULLETED those questions(!?)
—seem to have no idea how to use (or when to use) the Oxford comma, apparently, and neither do your editors
—random sections (not consistent as to which or why) in italics
—show no permissions granted from the original authors, nor even where the pieces end, when you quote entire articles within your book
—repeating entire sentences and/or paragraphs and/or concepts from one page to the next within the same chapter, sometimes on facing pages. Word for word, sometimes
—use “so” over a hundred times, mostly inappropriately and without proper punctuation
—no standardization I could fathom for/ among and between your levels of headings regarding font, font size, font styles, alignment and/or purposes
—chapters do not all start on the proper side and you have random blank pages between some chapters (which do not result in their staring on the proper side—recto)

This and much more are wrong. I can’t even group or list all your errors.

All unacceptable, wouldn’t you agree?

I had one idea: You could use this as an opportunity to discuss the very things you warn other indies against within your book, and I would work with you on that if you choose to be honorable and do that.

Or, you could pretend it’s all fine, try to fix the errors yourself (good luck with that; you obviously have no clue how to edit your own work), and hope my review sinks to the bottom beneath all your sycophants’ fake ones.

Anyone who gives this book more than 2 stars (and that would be for content, not professionalism), is lying or has no idea how to read or what to expect from a professional nonfiction book.

I actually got quite a lot of good information from this book and do not want to slam you, but your whole “death-in-the-family—someone sent the wrong version” (in a two-person office?) sounds to me, now, like “the dog ate my homework.”

I am sorry for you any anyone who buys a poorly edited version of this book.

Here is another idea: if you pay me $400 (which is low-balling my rates, considering how much time I put into my mark-up and these emails), plus $5 shipping, I will send you my marked-up copy.

Then, when you complete all the revisions, send me a new one and I’ll review it at that point.

And, now, as we know, I will not receive any payment for my work, despite her emailed promise to do so. I still have the edited copy.

Here are some photos of the mark-ups:

write way cover
front cover of The Write Way with font, color, size errors and inconsistencies.

write way 1
There are multiple errors on almost every page and not one page without an error.

write way 2 upright
Apparently, can’t even keep paragraphs together; this occurs on several pages. How on earth does a copyeditor/proofreader not see these types of formatting mistakes?

write way 3 upright
There are up to 15 errors on some pages; this one has only 8.

Believe me, I take no pleasure in this.

I would certainly have preferred to have been paid for my time and expertise and to have had a positive relationship with this author.

I also wanted this book to be everything it said it would be and for it to live up to its title and promises. Many other authors would then be able to benefit from it.

However, since Ms. Collins doesn’t keep her word and seems to be clueless as to how to behave professionally, I am no longer surprised by the poor quality of the writing, the editing and the proofreading. Very disappointing, though, wouldn’t you agree?

Whoever did the editing and proofreading should have to refund their money to Ms. Collins. If she or anyone else continues to hire them, s/he/they should fire these horrible excuses for professionals immediately.

As I already stated, there are many great points, tips, ideas and resources in this book, if readers can ignore or get past all the mistakes and problems with the formatting, writing, proofreading and repetitions.

Especially for amy writers who are new to self-publishing, such writers would benefit from reading this book and taking notes. Do as she says, not as she does!

Try to borrow it; don’t buy this version!

Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

Definitely do not hire the author or her team for anything at all, ever. She calls herself a “teacher” and an “expert,” but I also found mistakes on her website (no surprise, now), which is: http://www.newshelves.com/ Do not contract with New Shelves for anything since they seem to have with no respect for agreements, unless you’re willing for her/them to decide arbitrarily to put time and money into other projects.

Sorry to have to post this saga and review. I would vastly have preferred the other plan to have occurred, as we had agreed.

When you get back from your cruise, fix your book and try to behave more professionally in the future.

proofreading-details-1
image from http://www.michellerenegoodhew.com

Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: *CHANGES* conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube

“Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: CHANGES conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube”
originally posted on http://www.asidefromwriting.com on July 6, 2015

CHANGES Theme Image_3

In early April, 2014, I had just completed and uploaded Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, of my science-fiction/romance/ multiverse/ utopian/ paranormal (psi) ebooks in The Spanners Series for adults, New and Young Adults, and joined two new writers’ groups in the East Bay (one in Berkeley and one in Hayward, California, where I had been living), when I was in a terrible accident. The resulting broken nose has been healing fine and didn’t require surgery; the concussion has proven to be a lot more problematic.

For several months, it was as if I were in a fog. I wasn’t allowed to do any serious computer work, reading or thinking (I had been about halfway through Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, when I got hurt). Since I couldn’t wear my glasses without causing myself enormous pain (glasses would be sitting on the broken nose, right?), and I was overwhelmingly aphasic, exhausted, confused and injured, unable to process much, the respite from writing, reading and working seemed necessary. The accident had also caused extreme damage to my arms, hands, shoulders and upper back, so keyboarding wasn’t all that feasible, anyway. Plus, when I did type, I made more errors than words, typed very slowly (usually over 100 WPM; then, about 40 WPM, with numerous mistakes).

However, once the enforced hiatus was over, I still couldn’t return to my regular life. My memory was horrible, both short- and long-term. I couldn’t find words, or the right words, to speak or write. I no longer sounded as if I were drunk, but I was still extremely slower and less able, all around, than I had been prior to the brain injury. I usually function in the top 10 percent of intellectuals, with an extremely large vocabulary and many types of intelligence. I had been fortunate, up until the accident, to be a wide reader of many subjects, with both formal and informal education beyond the doctoral level and a larger variety of knowledge, experiences and insights than most people. Post-concussion, I was barely above-average and often, not even that.

Before the injury to my brain, I had been writing my fiction series quite quickly, often exceeding 2,000 words per day. My creativity seemed boundless, my energy matching it. Volume I’s first draft had been completed in under two months, and it was over 130,000 words. I had developed a spreadsheet to record my (very brief) notes on my series’ dozens of human, animal and alien characters, multiple timelines, overlapping realities, historical and future events and people, but most of the series’ details and plans had been in my brain which had been injured to the point of being severely compromised.

In July of last year, I discovered all I could create were short, nonfiction blog and other posts, and it took “forever” to finalize each one, since I typed sentences that were riddled with errors. Each post needed to be proofread multiple times. I could barely read others’ blogs and reblog/share, almost couldn’t read short pieces/stories.

Yes, after a few months I was improving and could do these with increasingly better understanding, but I still couldn’t return to my fiction series. My “executive functions” and “working memory” were still extremely low-performing due to the post-concussion syndrome I had been diagnosed with in June.

I wasn’t well enough to return to my “regular” life of work or writing, but I was well enough to be bored. Luckily, I had discovered Google+ the previous year. During the winter and spring of 2014, I had been attending Hangouts On Air (HOAs) somewhat regularly.

After my accident, watching videos was about the only thing I could do, since reading, writing and other glass-wearing activities were excluded. I attended and participated (when that was allowed) in many HOAs by leaving comments, questions, and interactions with others also viewing or presenting, on topics ranging from books, book marketing, authors, writing, marketing, social media, spirituality/meditation and more. I watched most on Google+, but they were also archived so I could watch those I missed on YouTube, where I found even more entertaining, informative videos. (Find me on Google+ as Sally Sue Ember)

I got into watching one HOA in particular, Lights, Camera, HOA!, run by an excellent trio of women: Meloney Hall, Rayne Dowell and Sheila Strover.

After I attended a few shows, Rayne read Volume I of my series and reached out to invite me onto the show to learn more about being in/on a HOA. The entire reason for this show’s existence is to help newbies (like me) get comfortable with the HOA format and technology, both on- and off-camera. I LOVED it! What a great service this show provides. THANK YOU! https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Bigupticksociallightscamerahoa/about

As a former actor/performer, being “on camera” wasn’t hard for me. As a writer/author, being able to interact with viewers LIVE was so much better than having readers I almost never hear from or meet. I was hooked on HOAs and wanted my own. I learned everything I could in the next several months, wondering if I’d be able to manage my own show.

What could I have a HOA about, exactly? There were an infinite number of choices. By then, I had been interviewed on several radio shows online and submitted many “author interview” posts to others’ websites, so I was familiar with that format and was beginning to feel it was somewhat overused. Frankly, and no offense to the current website(!), I find most author interviews to be awfully repetitive and, well, boring.

I did NOT want to interview authors, but I wanted to meet more authors and talk about writing as well as many other interesting topics. By the end of July, four months post-injury, I still couldn’t write for my series, but I was able to talk better and listen very well. I decided to launch in August and to have a show that I would want to watch.

Since I wanted to be around other writers and hear about their experiences, hoping to be entertained and inspired until my own writing would (hopefully) be accessible to me again, I posted on Twitter, Facebook groups and in general, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ communities to invite authors to be guests on CHANGES conversations between authors. I also ranged around to those sites that posted award winners in science-fiction, particularly, and invited many of those authors on my show as well.

CHANGES YouTube Image_3 best

The response has been more than gratifying. I welcomed Dr. Shay West as my first guest for my August 6, 2014, premier Episode, with several more super authors scheduled to be on subsequent shows. Since then, with a few planned and even fewer unplanned exceptions, I have had an Episode each week. The live show airs three or four times per month (with one week off, to rest) on Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, and TODAY, August 5, 2015, I air my one-year anniversary show!

Amazing authors have been guests on CHANGES (http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on my website for full schedule of past and upcoming guests). I have had guests who joined me live and/or hail from France, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Israel, Guyana, and many states in the USA. The authors I have talked with enrich me weekly (and my viewers as well, I hope), writing in every fiction genre and including those who also write nonfiction, plays, screenplays and poetry.

Ethnically, my guests have been American mixed-Causasian, African-American, African-Jamaican, Spanish, English, Indian (continent, not tribe), Russian, Jewish, German, Norwegian, Israeli, Guyanan, Irish, and Greek (so far). Editors, publishers (magazine and book), and translators, with an age range, as of today, August 5, 2015, of 15 – 78 years old, are in my CHANGES guests club.

Our conversational topics list is too lengthy to include here, but has been exactly as I had planned: wide variety, high-level subject discussions that are informative, entertaining, insightful, funny and poignant. My guests and I share personal and professional stories, discuss books and writing, publishing and editing, book cover artists and much more.

I am quite happy to say that, as of August 5, 2015, CHANGES Episodes (now up to 37, http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on YouTube) have garnered audiences as large as over 1000 in one day, totalling over 3600 views, so far.

My YouTube channel went from having 2 to almost 50 subscribers. I now have over 3000 followers on Google+ and Facebook, each (although some are the same people, I’m sure), and over 5000 on Twitter. Pinterest followers’ number has quadrupled; so has LinkedIn’s.

I know these are small numbers compared to many, but I’m happy that my network is growing. We receive many compliments, positive comments and excellent questions for each CHANGES Episode from viewers who watch live or later, and more watch weekly.

Since starting CHANGES, I’m delighted to report that downloads of Volume I of my series, which is permafree since I uploaded Volume II (right before my accident), are steady. I do wish for better sales for Volume II, but I’ve heard a series has to have at least three books released “to really take off.”

What’s Next?
CROWDFUNDING to meet my Goals

—I wish to convert the *CHANGES* videocasts into podcasts, for those who prefer to listen-only, but the podcast hosting sites are not free.
—I also wish to pay for my next book covers,
—I need to buy better equipment for my home videocasts, and
—I must keep writing.

However, the concussion has severely limited my ability to work and I am in deep debt. If you’d like to help, http://www.patreon.com/sallyember has a video about my goals and rewards to donors in which I sing (really; not so well, but, hey; I’m not a professional singer!), and more information.

$4 gets you a free ebook; larger donations earn you deep discounts on professional editing, proofreading and writing tutor services, all of which can do well, despite the concussion.

Concussion Recovery News
As of May, 2015, I am back to writing new parts of Volumes III and IV! Slowly, much more laboriously, with an ongoing need for referrals to notes and dictionary, thesaurus and spell-check than remembering going on, but glad to be writing!

I wish I could open up my brain and retrieve the Spanners Series ideas that had been so accessible, so easily before the concussion and look them all over, but…

logoAuthorsDen

The network of authors, book bloggers, book marketers and other writers I have been developing over the last two years has blossomed into a group I can call upon for help, advice, and exchanges. That has proved amazingly gratifying as I trumpet my announcement, below, because many have stepped forward to play a role in this next phase.

Good news: I finished the Beta readers’ draft of Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in late July! Five wonderful writers are reading it right now and will offer their sage wisdom on its improvements by late September. I then hope to be finished with the final proofed version no later than mid-October. I have already begun the cover design process with Aidana Willowraven, The Spanners Series‘ cover artist. The Cover Reveal is planned to occur on Alesha Escobar‘s site in late October. Pre-orders start 11/1/15 and the release of Volume III is scheduled for December 8, 2015!

Wish me luck!

How Else You Can Become Involved
Beta readers for upcoming draft of Volumes IV and reviewers of all Volumes welcomed! Contact me: sallyember@yahoo.com

Also, watch a few Episodes of CHANGES any time: http://goo.gl/6xjSKl Please comment on YouTube or go to the original G+ Event page for that Episode and comment/ask questions, get more info and links. I will respond!

Become/Refer a Guest! #Authors and #bloggers, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction, but not only those: learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest.

OPENINGS 8/12/15 and later this fall! For more info, schedule and past/upcoming guests list, visit here: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV.

CHANGES Trailer Image_3

Also, I’ve invited former guests and others I appreciate to Guest Blog on Wednesdays, with excellent posts, so far! Check out the Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame on my site (see below) for previous and upcoming posts.

I strongly suggest you check out others’ HOAs as well: there are some great shows out there in Google+ land! Two good places to find them (and another great G+ community, User2User: LIVE!):
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101944073205735325459 for User2User-Live!
Http://www.hangouteventscalendar.com for the HOA Calendar

For updates about and links to available Volumes of The Spanners Series, me as an author, my own and guest blogger’s posts, Patreon and much more: http://www.sallyember.com has all links and info. Look up or to the right and scroll.


May all who are ill recover and all who are in pain find comfort.

Best to you all!

“Let’s Talk #Anthologies: How To Put One Together And Sell It”: Guest Blog Post by Alesha Escobar

I am so pleased to welcome Alesha Escobar as my guest blogger today. Alesha is a #fantasy/science-fiction and thriller author who does “mash-ups.” Alesha also concocted the idea of and edited an anthology of stories related to time travel, one of my favorite topics!

To honor the release of the anthology, Masters of Time (MOT), this month and because many of the included topics appear in my own writing, via The Spanners Series, http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2, we both welcome your comments, questions and experiences! Join the conversation, please!

Because MOT includes contributions from one of my CHANGES conversations between authors Google+/Youtube Hangout On Air (HOA) guests who is guest blogging here next week (July 15, ) about MOT-related themes, Devorah (Dee) Fox, and a previous guest blogger, Samantha LaFantasie (November 5, 2014, “5 Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block”), I am especially glad to help publicize this new anthology.

For more information about how to reach Alesha and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.

Thanks for visiting!


Let’s Talk #Anthologies: How To Put One Together And Sell It
by Alesha Escobar

If I could gather some of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors into one room, I’d politely inform them that they couldn’t leave until they’ve handed over a compilation of new, addictive stories for my reading pleasure.

Except George R.R. Martin. I’d only let him participate if he promised to stop killing characters.

One of the best things about settling into a good sci-fi/fantasy book is being taken away to an imaginative world, running alongside characters you care about and feeling their heartache and triumphs. An anthology is a tasty buffet of good stories, whether they’re short tales or full-length ones. They can treat you to the scope of a single author’s creativity or a varied range of authors collaborating with each other.

Last year in an end-of-the-year blog post, I predicted (as much as one could) that we would see an uptick in time-travel stories. I decided to put my money where my mouth was and compile a time-travel anthology, Masters of Time.

mastersoftimecover

Now that I had the concept down (science-fiction and fantasy time travel), I knew I had to reach out to authors I respected and whose work I’ve enjoyed. Once I had that taken care of, then came in the “business aspect.”

If you’re an author thinking about contributing to an anthology or compiling one, I’ll share about this process in the hopes that it gives you an idea of the amount of work it takes, as well as how to avoid some pitfalls.

So, You’ve Got Your Book’s Theme and Your Author Line-up: Now What?

Contracts, Baby!

I’m the co-owner of a micro-press, Creative Alchemy, Inc. Not only was I going to contribute to this anthology as an author, I was also going to publish it through Creative Alchemy. As much as my co-authors love me, they have busy lives, projects, and bills to pay. They weren’t going to contribute a story for free, and as savvy writers, they wanted to know the royalties breakdown, publishing rights, and the length of time they’d have to wait before they could publish their individual stories on their own.

These are all valid concerns, so I drew up contracts in order to have it all settled and agreed upon. Even if the people you’re working with are friends or are trustworthy, still: have a signed contract. It won’t hurt.

Secure an Editor

I highly recommend that your editor is someone who is not a co-author of the project. It will help with objectivity, it will be one fewer thing you have to worry about, and it will guarantee that you’ll come out with a polished book. When compiling Masters of Time, our amazing editor, Charmaine, had no qualms with throwing us into the re-write dungeon when needed. Her insight, constructive criticism and feedback helped shape our work and mold it into something we could be proud of.

Set Deadlines

When is the first draft due? The second? And the last? Try to have a tentative release date scheduled as early as possible so you can work “backwards” toward that goal. Having specific dates written down also motivates writers and keep them accountable for turning in manuscripts.

Get a Professional to Format the Book

When six or more people email you their stories in MS Word format, they’re going to be coming in different fonts and sizes and with different formatting. Y’all know how picky Smashwords is with its vetting system and you don’t want to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing and use the preview feature only to find that your book looks horrible.

Save yourself the headache; once all the stories are compiled into a master document and edited, send it off to the formatter. This is also the perfect time to remind you to get your cover artist and work on the best image you believe will perfectly represent the book.

Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

Don’t neglect things like spelling the co-authors’ names the way that they want them to be spelled. One of my co-authors always needs his middle initial included, otherwise he is confused with another author by the same name. Does your author want to go by a pen name? Make sure you’ve got that down as well.

Have your co-authors submit their bios, book links and social media profiles, storing them in Evernote or another handy place. It’s a pain to ask them twenty times for this information because you never bothered to copy it down.

Double-check each story title and make sure they’re the final choices. Sometimes authors will start off with one title (or a temporary one) and then change it for the final version. Everything should be up-to-date and consistent.

And, after all has been edited and formatted, do another comb-through!

Don’t Wait Until Release Day to Tell the World about It

I swear I still have friends and relatives shrugging their shoulders and telling me, “Sweetie, why didn’t you say you wrote a book? I didn’t know!” Oh, believe me, I’ve been saying it 😉

Many people, including interested readers, lead busy lives. The internet throws loads of information at us all day, every day, and our social media feeds get more crowded by the second. It’s not a surprise that some people miss the exciting news that your latest project has just been released—so don’t wait until release day to alert people.

Masters of Time will be officially released July 13, but I’ve been advertising the anthology since the beginning of this year. How? As soon as I could, I put the book on pre-order and alerted my email subscribers (if you don’t have an author newsletter, start one). Several book promotion sites will advertise your pre-order, and then there are some seriously cool book bloggers out there who will also be happy to do a cover reveal, an interview, feature or a review of an advanced copy. Bloggers also love giveaways, so if you have a giveaway attached to your book release, it’s a plus!

I’ve announced my anthology at my own blog as well as brought in and featured my co-authors. We’ve exchanged guest posts. I hit the social media pavement and let my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ friends know. As we got closer to July, the advertising became more urgent, and I did all this while abiding by the principle of not spamming. It’s great to tell people about your book, but remember not to spam.

Also, while the bulk of your efforts may be through the internet, don’t neglect creating awareness in real life: is your local bookstore or library open to your holding an event? Can you share bookmarks, cards or flyers? Perhaps you can host a speaking engagement at your nearest book club or school campus? Get creative with the ways you can reach people and grow visibility for your book.

Now, Here Are Some Things I Already Wish I’d Done Differently

  1. I wish I would’ve added a few more authors to the anthology. While this collection is an amazing read, there are six of us contributing short stories and it’s 100 pages total. Not bad, but some promotion sites are used to presenting 800-page book collections and boxsets to their audience. I should’ve considered book length as one of my goals, though in my gut I do believe I chose the right authors and stories. This won’t necessarily harm us, but it will definitely be part of my planning process next time.
  2. I wish I would’ve done cross-critique among my co-authors. Though my in-house editor oversaw the book, I think there is additional value in authors reading one another’s contributing stories and offering feedback. This was done with the New Myths anthology I contributed to for HDWP Books, and it was an amazing process. It also lets your co-authors know what the other stories are about and it gives them room to mention these stories in interviews and blog posts.
  3. I wish I hadn’t had a “this is my responsibility” mentality. My co-authors were (and are) willing and ready to boost promotion and cross-promote, but sometimes I shied away because I felt that I needed to “prove myself” and show that I knew how to market a book. I also didn’t want to disappoint them. Duh! There is strength in numbers. If you’re the publisher or “leader” of an anthology, there’s nothing wrong with being open to letting your cohorts help you pick up the marketing and promotion slack. In fact, it’s better to have them all on board, helping. We have various skills, gifts, contacts and audience sizes. Working together to promote the book will only benefit the group—you’re in this together.

Hopefully, sharing my anthology process has given you an idea of what it’s like and what you should plan for.

If you’re a reader, perhaps this has been a nice peek into the world of writing and what it takes to get that amazing, finished product out to you.


Thank you, Sally, for inviting me today, and I hope you all continue to be entertained and inspired by great stories!


About the Author

Alesha Escobar writes fantasy to support her chocolate habit. She enjoys everything from Tolkien and Dante to the Dresden Files and Hellblazer comics. She resides in California with her partner-in-crime, Luis Escobar, a 20-year art veteran on The Simpsons television show.

Alesha is the author of The Gray Tower Trilogy, an action-packed, supernatural spy thriller set in an alternate 1940’s. The trilogy books have hit the Amazon bestsellers lists for Historical Fantasy and Mashups.

You can find Alesha at her weekly blog, Fantasy, Mashups, & Mayhem, where she discusses fantasy and science-fiction TV shows, movies and books, and celebrity gossip…She’s just kidding about the celebrity gossip.

But, there IS a giveaway for MOT: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/p/enter-giveaway.html

The Black Dagger Gods (short story, New Myths Anthology)

 
Find Alesha on:

Alesha Escobar


MOT links:

webpage: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Time-Science-Fiction-Anthology/dp/1514173727
Trailer: http://youtu.be/PovabW4fyjQ
Apple iBooks/iTunes: http://apple.co/1bp77vK
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1K3ggGi
Barnes & Noble/ nook: http://bit.ly/1Kkkr0C


CHANGES conversations between authors is an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

“Trust the Process,” Guest Post by Krysten Lindsay Hager 

I am excited to host today’s post from another previous CHANGES conversations between authors’ guest (Episode 15; see below for links), blogger and author, Krysten Lindsay Hager

“Trust the Process”

Years ago, whenever I’d go to writing conferences, workshops, or critique groups, there was always one particular type of writer that showed up and made me feel anxious. I would wonder what I was doing with my life and/or career. It wasn’t that this person’s success made me question my work; they’d say something that seemed to imply that if we were not getting our work published, then we didn’t count as “real writers.”

I joined a critique group a few years ago that got me back into enjoying the very act of writing again. I found that having regular meetings was keeping me accountable and I enjoyed getting constructive criticism and feedback. I also appreciated talking about the story with people who were on the journey with me and my characters.

Then, another person came along with the constant talk about all the agents and editors they had met and often dismissing anything that wasn’t “hot” in the industry at the moment. I’ll never forget the day I brought a chapter of my young adult novel to read and I was excited to share it, but right before I went to read, this person declared that no agent or editor would ever be interested in my novel because it was written in first person. Her tone very dismissive, as if I shouldn’t even bother. I sat there feeling so small. I went on to read, but even I could hear the insecurity in my voice. I sounded like a little kid who had been reprimanded.

I went home that night and started to think about my story, how writing it and editing it had brought me so much joy. I had begun to rewrite that novel during a difficult time for me. I had gotten sick and was dealing with a whole new way of life. That story had brought me back, so to speak.

It hit me that the point of the writing process for me hadn’t been whether or not this piece got published, but the enjoyment I got from writing and working on it and sharing it with other people who enjoyed it as well. As I folded laundry that night (doing laundry is my stress reliever), I realized that there was more to writing than just getting to what some called the final destination—-publication. It was about the journey for me.

So, a few weeks later, I returned to the group, determined not to let this person into my head. They again put out little comments about how I shouldn’t bother with a first-person narrative, but this time I took it as an opinion and not the final word.

That night, I started reading a book called The Creative Call, which talks a lot about how it’s not about what the work can do for you or getting it published, but what the work can do for others. Reading that took the pressure off.

However, when I mentioned this very thing to my writing group a few weeks later, some of them weren’t receptive to it. A few of them had publication as their only goal. That’s fine, but for me, this was what I choose to believe: that I would do the work and leave the outcome (and my ego) out of what would make this story successful in my eyes. Even if the book were never published, I felt that writing, finishing, sharing and enjoying it would be enough for me.

A week after I finished reading The Creative Call, I realized that maybe I should send out my young adult novel, True Colors, to see if it would be something that might help teens dealing with the similar self-esteem/self-image and other young teen issues that my character faces. I knew that trying to navigate through upper elementary and middle school while attempting to fit in as well as dealing with frenemies and mean girls would resonate with many readers. I submitted the story.

True Colors Krysten

In less than two months, I got a contract for the book. I remember sitting at my computer staring at that acceptance email and I felt a calmness come over me. It felt as if a weight had been lifted. I guess I had always assumed I’d be dancing around the room, but it was more like a confirmation that writing was the right path for me. I knew that I was supposed to share my novel. Receiving the contract and knowing that the book (my first book in the Landry’s True Colors Series) was going to be published ended up not being about me at all, but more about what I could share with others.

The books I have written as part of this series are the ones I would have wanted to read at that age. The first one was now going out there into the world, which said to me that maybe there kids out there who need to read about these issues.

A lot of people go into writing wanting fame, money, etc., but I think that takes away from the purpose of writing a book. It’s not what you can get out of it, it’s what you can give back. For me, it has been about those messages and comments I’ve gotten from people who say that, when they see my character, Landry, and her insecurities and worries, they feel less alone in what they are going through. When I heard about a teen who had been upset about dealing with being left out by people she had called “best friends,” then she had read my book and gotten perspective on the situation, well, that made me happier than I was the day I signed that first contract. It made me feel that I had a purpose.

Sure, it took me a while to get to a place where I saw the benefits of enjoying the journey and not focusing on the end goal or numbers. However, it has been so gratifying to appreciate the writing process more fully and to feel connected to my greater purpose.

About Krysten:

Krysten Lindsay Hager
(author photo courtesy of Shannon DiGiacomo)

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series. Originally from Michigan, Krysten has lived in Portugal and South Dakota; she currently resides in Southern Ohio, where you can find her reading and writing, when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten Lindsay Hager:
Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor
Twitter: @KrystenLindsay
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298036.Krysten_Lindsay_Hager
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Book trailer provided by Videos by O.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFp2fPFbvTQ&feature=youtu.be

If you enjoyed this post, please comment/like it here AND go visit Krysten’s sites.

Here is the cover of Best Friends Forever, Book Two in her Landry’s True Colors Series:

BestFriendsForever Krysten 2


Krysten Lindsay Hager was my guest on Episode 15 of CHANGES conversations between authors. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts, read my guidelines and then contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups
Reposting from one year ago, since it’s all still true and useful and I have new Followers/Readers

Everyone know the biggest drawback to #self-publishing is the isolation. Yes, every #author who doesn’t collaborate in their #writing writes alone. However, prior to the explosion in self-publishing, most books and ebooks that came to readers went through several other sets of eyes and had several editing and revision drafts done by others that helped polish and tighten the writing prior to publication.

artsy-writer-working
image from vidyasury.com

Today more than ever before, pieces of writing from short stories, blogs and articles to full-length books, both nonfiction and fiction, are getting all the way to a reader with no other editor than the writer. This is not a great situation for most readers or writers.

Because many writers seek professional companionship and critiques as well as audiences for drafts and new ideas, writers’ groups have sprung up for many centuries, both formal and informal. These groups usually meet regularly. Size can vary from a pair to a large group of a dozen or more.

The activities in the group can include public readings and/or sharing of written material with participants’ immediate oral comments, pages returned with mark-ups and discussions of the shared pieces. Locations can vary and many are not available free, so some groups charge a fee or require members to pay dues to cover costs and perhaps invite a speaker/presenter to conduct a workshop or give a talk on occasion.

writers_group 1
image from http://www.audreypress.com

Writers’ groups often appoint or hire a facilitator to guide and contribute to the critique. In better-run groups, this leader also keeps time and makes sure the comments are constructive and fair.

However, some groups are not well-run. The ground rules are not clear. Time is not equally distributed because it isn’t tracked well. Comments are not always fair and constructive. The facilitator dominates the discussion. Discussions veer away from the writing into personal stories and tangents introduced by participants. Suggestions are made that are not conducive to the writer’s intent, restrictions, topic, genre or format.

The diverse types of knowledge and experience among participants and in a leader of a writers’ group can be rich sources of varied perspectives OR generate too many irrelevant and unhelpful comments.

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

CONS: An unskilled or distracted facilitator
— allows too many destructive comments to occur and this encourages more of the same
— allows the exposed author to experience immediate hurt feelings or bewilderment
— allows the writers to leave the critique session discouraged and confused by conflicting advice and too many off-topic remarks
— offers too many comments and dominates the discussion, shutting down, arguing with or interrupting other participants.

Writers in poorly-run groups can be led astray, which can causes them to depart from writing in their own voices and to lose sight of their personal or professional writing purposes. Many writers get discouraged or even “blocked” by attending poorly run writers’ groups.

BEWARE! Better to be isolated than to attend a group that operates negatively.

critique
image from thewildwriters.com

PROS: An skilled or focused facilitator
— leads a well-run group peopled by dedicated, experienced writers as well as “newbies” who each feels comfortable sharing and contributing
— trains and supports members to utilize the time effectively for receiving and offering constructive critiques, with newbies learning from old-timers the most effective methods for delivering and receiving criticism
— can foster an atmosphere of professional support that provides many gems of advice and new points of view for each member, even ones who don’t share in every meeting.

These productive sessions are wonderful catalysts for the writers who share drafts and any who attend. Authors in well-run writers’ groups return from each meeting with new vigor for editing, revising and creating new content.

Tips for Writers’ Groups:
1) Productive critique sessions are NOT riddled with “we loved it,” “it’s great,” and “keep going” with little or nothing else.
Critics must provide reasons for their opinions, especially when they’re positive, so that writers learn what we do well and can replicate our successes.
Critics must also defend their opinions that tell a writer to make changes by offering suggestions for revision or reasons for the ways the writing doesn’t “work” for the reader/listener.

2) Without the prompting of a skilled, focused leader, opinions may be offered with insufficient or no reasons given. Offering positive or negative opinions without rationales is not useful to a writer and should not be allowed.

3) Focus, clear ground rules (e.g., the requirement to give reasons for opinions, taking turns, sharing time equally) and giving both emotional and cognitive responses to a piece of writing are all parts of a productive writers’ group.

4) If YOUR writers’ group is not productive and positive enough, make an effort to change it or leave it. Start your own or join a different group.

5) Networking has never been easier. http://www.Meetup.com is a source of in-person writers’ groups. You can also check your local library’s, college’s, county’s/parish’s, state’s/province’s and country’s organizational listings for professional writers’ groups in your geographic area or genre. Check Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and many writers’ associations and genre-centered groups online and around the world for possible writers’ groups, critique opportunities and other networking options. Some groups are now meeting online and virtually via SKYPE, iCHAT, Google Hangouts, etc.

CA writers club logo

If you are a writer seeking a group, I hope you find or start a great one!

Best of luck in your writing.

Dear #Indie #Authors: If You Don’t Want an Honest #Review, Don’t Ask Me to Write One

AuthorsWarning
image from: http://www.pieceofcakepr.com

If You Don’t Want an Honest Review, Don’t Ask Me to Write One

Some background…
I’m an educator and an editor: I don’t mean to be harsh, but I have a red pen in my mind when I read. Can’t turn it off. Is every piece of my own writing perfect? Not by a long shot. HOWEVER, my proofreading skills, grammar-checking and spelling are excellent, particularly when applied to others’ writing.

I used to teach English writing, grammar and spelling. I have worked as an editor, proofreader and paid writer. I also used to teach kids, teens and adults, all grades, many subjects, pre-Kindergarten through graduate school, including English to Speakers of other Languages (ESL) and literacy/numeracy to adults with severe learning disabilities. I used to train/supervise and evaluate student teachers and classroom teachers. I have a B.A., master’s and doctorate in education, specializing in multicultural and teacher education.

I have had nonfiction, articles, poetry, and short fiction published and plays produced prior to self-publishing my sci-fi/romance ebooks. I write The Spanners Series‘ ebooks intentionally in the present tense, BTW, which confounds many readers and reviewers until they understand the reasons.

Degrees are no guarantee of excellence in any area, as we all know, nor is quantity of publications any indication of quality. My education and experiences are important to note, however, for background.

As a reader: I used to read about 10 books PER WEEK for dozens of years, mostly fiction. Now I read less, but mostly fiction, with some select nonfiction and recently, online pieces and blogs.

I know some stuff.

Really.

Current state of my life…
I’m also very busy. I rarely even agree to attempt a review because I’m so busy.

I’m therefore justifiably extremely picky about what I choose to read and even pickier about what I decide to review.

So, if I agree to review your book but I find that it is not well-written, not carefully edited or proofread, or otherwise NOT going to be getting a stellar review from me, I first will email you and explain my criticisms. Sometimes, I will do your critique in detail, at no small loss to my own writing time, because I truly wish to be helpful. I might not even be able to finish your book; it could be that bad.

negative-reviews-image
image from http://www.brookeharrison.com

When I review your book and it’s not very good news for you…
I will tell you that I usually get paid $100 for these kinds of critiques. I am not joking. I am also not extorting you, just making a point and asking for you to share the wealth, if you ever have any. Paypal button is on my website. You can donate $1, out of respect.

Because, if I do deign to finish your book (because your bad writing and many mistakes hurt my eyes, you should realize that I am doing you a HUGE favor to keep reading under those circumstances; imagine a musician having to listen to someone sing who is tone-deaf!), be amazed. If I further agree to review your flawed tome, the FIRST proper response from you, the author, is: THANK YOU, Sally.

Negative reviews can be helpful

How you could best react to my comments about your book…
If you are serious about being a writer and intend to continue, you should express your eagerness to consider my critique carefully. Think about how you can try to make corrections, do revisions, improve in the future. Do SOMETHING that makes me believe that I haven’t wasted my time.

If you have received only positive reviews up to this point while my criticisms are warranted and accurate, then your other “reviewers” have a very poor professional “eye” or are lying to you to “spare your feelings.” They did you a grave disservice and misled you horribly.

That is not my fault. I am pointing this out so you’ll know whose opinions to trust.

Do not hide behind those “good” reviews and do not make excuses. Do not whine about being “new” or “inexperienced.” Do not complain to me that you did not have enough money to hire an editor or proofreader, so you did it yourself or used your cousin.

If your book is not ready for publication, DO NOT PUBLISH IT. Really.

Honestly: I have given this a lot of thought before I tell you that your book is not currently good enough to merit a positive review. I give you my professional reasons for assigning your book its low rating.

What not to do when you get my email…

  • Do not call me names. (Seriously?)
  • Do not act as though I have offended you personally by critiquing your writing professionally.
  • Do not tell me you have now gone to read my book or my reviews (but not before this???) and have determined from your brief perusal (my books are over 130K words or 300 pages long) that you do not respect me or my writing and, therefore, can ignore what I’m telling you.
  • Do not tell me not to contact you and then keep emailing me or following my blog, posting about my review on YOUR blog and “calling me out” as a bad reviewer or writer, just to make yourself feel better. Your behavior is beyond appalling. You ASKED ME FOR A REVIEW, remember?
  • Do not trot out your credentials, degrees, numbers of previously published and much-loved books: I do not care. I am reading THIS one and reviewing THIS book and only this book, and my assessment stands.
  • Do not tell me how much more you know than I do about_______________(fill in the blank). That is not relevant. This is not a competition. If you actually know that much about good writing but did not apply it to this book adequately, get going to do it better next time instead of wasting your energy deriding me for noticing all the ways that you did not apply your knowledge well in this book.
  • Do not position yourself as my enemy, my judge or my combatant. What is your purpose in doing that? If my honest review of your book inspires you to denigrate me, a fellow author who donated her time and expertise to try to help you write better, there is a lot wrong with your approach to seeking and receiving reviews that I do not have the time or interest in detailing here.

News flash: Every negative review is NOT to be dismissed cavalierly by your declaration that your book “is not for everyone,” although some reviewers’ opinions certainly can be dismissed in that way. If I took the time to read and review your entire book (and almost always, I do NOT), then I thought (I hoped) that I would like your book. By definition, that means your book was written for me.

What’s true about me and you…
I am not a “troll.” I am not being unfair. I am not “slamming” you or your book. I take no pleasure in having to write a negative or mixed review. I agonize over what I know will hit you hard, especially if you have been surrounded by people telling you, sometimes for years, how great your writing is. Your writing might be entertaining, interesting or creative, and I probably already told you that. Great it is not.

I am an ethical, hard-working author who occasionally tutors writing, edits or proofreads (for money) and writes reviews (rarely, and always for free). If I mention to you that I do this for money, the “this” is not reviewing, it is my tutoring writers and editing. By taking the time not just to offer a review, but to email you (more than once, sometimes) and converse with you about specifics and ways you could improve, mistakes you made, recommendations I’m making, I have now ventured into the arena of work I usually get paid to perform.

I tell you that not to extort money from you, but to let you know that, if you find my insights valuable and you ever have “extra” money, I’d appreciate a donation that recognizes my having GIVEN you my professional expertise, having gone above and beyond what reviewers usually do. It’s an opportunity to respond with courtesy, not a requirement.

I respect most other authors tremendously. However, I am not reviewing your ideas or taking into account your desire for success, however strong they may be. I am professionally reviewing your book, author to author, editor to author, proofreader to author, educator to author.

If I have reviewed your book and you are dissatisfied with my opinions, suggestions or corrections, I strongly recommend you let it go. I will not engage with you beyond providing my critique. I do not want to get into a “flame war,” bloggers’ conflict, take sides, or other such middle-school-era nonsense.

I have writing to do.

If you are too thin-skinned (read: unprofessional), not ready, not willing to improve, AND, if you don’t know enough to respect my opinions and experience much less my expertise, so that, really, you do not want my honesty, DO NOT ASK ME TO REVIEW YOUR BOOK.

Please.

Ask your cousin.