Author Advice, Author Support, Cheat Sheet, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant

Authors… Do you get confused with certain words? Not sure whether it’s an effect or affect? Read on… This post is all about commonly misspelled words, confused definitions, and homophones. I hope it helps!

Happy hump day!

Today I’m talking about some of the most common mishaps I find in the majority of manuscripts I am sent.

With every manuscript I open, I carry out some basic housekeeping before I start the actual editing. This includes checking for some of the most commonly misspelled words and I have a list of these printed out which I keep to hand. Whether from a debut author or one with twenty books behind them, these confusions appear.

It’s with this in mind that I thought I’d create you a cheat sheet to print out and keep to hand.

I have included some of the most commonly misspelled words, words whose definitions are often, and easily, confused, and some of the most common homophone (words which sound the same but which have different meanings and/or spellings) mishaps.

You can download the PDF here: Creating Perfection ~ Grammar Assistant

Do you have any tips and tricks for remembering the spelling of tricky words? One of mine is for necessary… one Coffee and two Sugars…

Let me know in the comments below if you struggle with any of these.

Have a super day and I do hope this helps 🙂

Emma x

Publication Ready, Special Offer

Authors … I have a new service! Come and take a look #WritingCommunity #AmWriting #AmEditing #CreatingPerfection

I’m delighted to announce my new service: Get Competition Ready

If you’re looking to enter your short story into a writing competition, this is the service for you.

I will edit your manuscript following my Big Difference service, feedback on the plot and characters, and format it as per the needs of the competition host.

This service is for short stories with a maximum of 5000 words.

As a special introductory price, the cost is £50.00 until 31 May 2019, after which it will be £75.00.

For more details and to get in touch, please follow this link.

Author Advice, Manuscript, Publication, Publication Ready, Special Offer

Special Offer! Have your manuscript polished and formatted ready for e-book and paperback publication for just £150 ~ ends 30 April #CreatingPerfection

There’s just under a week left to take advantage of my special offer.

Book my Back to Basics Proofread and E-book Formatting services together for just £150.00 saving a whopping £50!

You can book and pay for this offer now and redeem it at a future date.

Offer ends 30 April 2019.

Author Advice, Case Study, Publication, Self-Publishing Author Case Study

#WritingCommunity Author Sarah O’Neill joins me today to share her self-publishing journey @soneillauthor #AmWriting #AmEditing

Thank you so much for joining me, Sarah. Can you introduce yourself and tell us when your journey began?

My name is Sarah O’Neill and my journey began almost ten years ago when I studied Creative Writing in college and it became more than just a hobby, it was something that I wanted to make a career of.

Tell us where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish, if you’re yet to press the publish button etc.

I currently have one published novel and I’m working on my second which will be ready for editing and publishing later this year. I currently publish primarily online via Amazon and Kobo. I publish paperbacks via Createspace which are available at Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

At the time, it was the best option for me because I had tried other routes and was unsuccessful. I researched self-publishing and found that it suited me more than any other option.

What’s best thing about self-publishing?

The full control that you have over every aspect of your book. You are totally in control of editing, cover design, etc. The book is still 100% yours at the end of the process because you’re responsible for everything.

And the worst?

The responsibility of every aspect. Especially as a new, emerging writer that no one has heard of because you are the sole person responsible for getting your book into as many markets as possible, for promoting your book, and for selling your book. It’s hard work but at least you know that you’ve done everything you possibly can.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?

I wish that I had researched the market before I published so that I was more prepared. My book was published in December 2017 and I’m still learning how to market, promote, and sell. This is very important information to have before you publish.

If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?

I wish that I was more prepared for every aspect that comes with selling and promoting your indie book. If I could change one thing it would be that I had researched before I hit that publish button.

Do you have any advice for those who might be looking into self-publishing?

Research, research, research. Have all your information ready before you decide i.e. editing services, cover design, selling portals (and the difference in formatting for each one), marketing plan, book reviewers, and budget. You don’t get an advance from a publisher so you need to invest your time and money and be prepared that you may not earn that money back or barely break even.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Believe in yourself. Self-publish if it feels right for you but always make sure that you’re publishing work that has been edited. Readers spend their hard-earned money on your book so you want it to be the best it can possibly be. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the experience.

Some wonderful advice here, Sarah, thank you.

Sarah’s debut, Deadly Obsession, is out now, folks.

Here’s the blurb …

Lilly Mason has always run from her problems, this time, she’s running for her life…
When word of a family bereavement reaches Lilly, she flees an abusive relationship in California and returns to Kansas to face her fears – the family she abandoned and the man she ran away from four years ago.
Donnie O’Malley knows that Lilly is hiding something. She’s terrified, on edge, and she’s got bruises she can’t explain.
Lilly’s new chance at life is threatened when her past refuses to let her go and she and her family are forced to fight for their lives against the enemy that threatens to end them all…

You can get your copy now:

And you can keep up with all Sarah’s news by following her on social media:

Blog http://www.sarahoneillwrites.blogspot.ie

Twitter: @soneillwrites

Instagram: @sarahoneill23

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarahoneillauthor

Sarah O'Neill

Sarah O’Neill lives in South Wicklow in Ireland with her fiancé and their dogs. She is a college graduate with a B.A in Humanities. An avid bookworm and animal lover, she is happiest with a good book and her beloved dogs. Deadly Obsession, her debut novel, is the first in the new Mason Investigations series.

If you’re a self-published author who’d like to share their journey, please follow this link.

 

Author Advice, Flash Fiction, Monday Motivation, Photo Prompt

#MondayMotivation #FlashFiction #Prompt #CreatingPerfection #AmWriting #Writing #Authors

Need some Monday motivation to kick-start your week?

Try your hand at writing a flash fiction story with a beginning, middle, and end in 100 words or fewer, based on the image below. Don’t include the title in the word count and you are free to choose the genre.

You can share it here by posting it as a comment, post it to your own blog with a link back here, or keep it to yourself; either way, enjoy the process.

Image: London bus ticket, one way

Image courtesy of FreeImages.co.uk

Have a great day, and happy writing x

Author Advice, Beta Reader Questionnaire, Beta Reading, Publication Ready

#BetaReaders ~ what to look for and how to get the best from them #AuthorAdvice #AmWriting #AmReading #AmEditing #CreatingPerfection

In today’s article I’m going to talk about beta readers.

A beta reader is someone who reads your manuscript before it’s sent off for editing. Most likely after you’re happy with the structural and developmental edits but before you go for the final copy/line edits and certainly before you start submitting to agents or publishers.

The idea is they’ll provide feedback from a reader’s point of view on the plot, pacing, and consistency of your manuscript.

They are not proofreaders or editors although some of these professionals will offer this service from a critique partner point of view, so don’t expect them to pick up, or even look for, any mishaps in terms of grammar, punctuation, or spelling.

Beta readers are an excellent resource to authors and when they are used properly, can provide invaluable feedback to strengthen and improve your manuscript.

But what makes a good beta reader? And where do you find them? 

The best place to start is your author friends. If you’re on social media, there are groups on Facebook where you will find people willing to help out, but before you start sourcing them make sure you know what you’re looking for:

  • They should be in your target audience. This way they will know what works – and more importantly, what doesn’t – within that genre and can then apply that knowledge to your manuscript.
  • If they aren’t in your target demographic, they should be experienced in the publishing world and be able to appreciate decent work that doesn’t perhaps appeal to them. They will recognise what creates suspense and what entices the reader to read until the end. They will understand characterisation, plot development, and structure. They will also appreciate that at this stage, a few typos do not a bad first draft make! I’ve heard of manuscripts being torn to pieces by beta readers who didn’t quite understand that this isn’t the final stage of the process and who haven’t appreciated that this is still a work in progress.
  • They should know how to provide constructive feedback. The last thing you need is someone killing your dreams with their harsh words. Constructive criticism allows you to see the areas needing improvement while giving you the hope that it can be fixed.
  • They shouldn’t be too close to you so they are unable to say things you might not want to hear. You may have a best friend who doesn’t hold back on honesty, but others who may shy away from potentially upsetting you and not give their honest opinion.
  • They should be regular readers. There’s no point asking someone who doesn’t enjoy reading.

This is a short list of the ideal characteristics you need to look for and not everyone you select will fall into each category, but that’s fine.

Now let’s look at what you want from them.

What happens if you send your manuscript to ten people with no clear instructions on your expectations? You’ll most likely end up with ten different reports and no idea how to implement all the suggested changes as they’ll probably conflict with each other.

And how do you qualify what each one says?

Perhaps you think a character or sub-plot needs attention but none of the feedback mentions it specifically.

Vague responses can be a nightmare to dissect too.

‘I loved Joe Bloggs.’

‘I hated Jane Doe.’

These might be the reactions you wanted for those characters, but they don’t tell you why or what you’ve done to create those emotions.

Making sure each beta reader has the same ‘instructions’ to guide them is imperative. Outlining your expectations of the feedback isn’t going to be a problem for anyone willing to beta read for you.

Using this Beta Reader Questionnaire, or one similar, will help ensure you’re getting quality and quantifiable feedback that you can make informed decisions about when it comes to editing. If all your betas come back saying the same thing about an element of the manuscript, then you know it’s most likely true; if only one does, then you can put that down to personal preference.

When you do get your feedback, try not to take it to heart if it’s less than complimentary at this stage. This is your opportunity to make your work the best it can be and it’s better to get it perfect now rather than when you’ve re-mortgaged the house to get stock of your paperback into every bookshop in the country!

Let me know what you think in the comments.

How did you choose your team of beta readers? Where did you find them? What else would you add to the questionnaire? Share your tips so other authors have the best chance of getting meaningful feedback.

Have a wonderful day and happy writing x

 

Author Advice, Blog Post, Cheat Sheet, Grammar Assistant

Removing these two words from your writing will make it stronger and more concise! #Strong #Verbs #CreatingPerfection #GrammarAssistant #Author #AmWriting #AmEditing

Today’s article is short and sweet.

There are few words in the English language I dislike but I must admit very and really are two I could happily live without.

Using these words before certain verbs can make your writing appear weak and lazy and using two words instead of one can damage your precious word count – so cut them out.

I’ve created a list of the most common examples I find in my work and have put them into a printable download with my suggested stronger verb alternative.

Strong Verbs

I hope this helps and happy writing!

Author Advice, Grammar Assistant, Punctuation

#Punctuation how to use colons and semicolons in your #fiction #writing #amwriting #amediting #authors #CreatingPerfection #authoradvice

In this article, I will talk about how to use the colon [:] and semicolon [;] correctly in your writing.

A semicolon is used to separate two or more strongly related main clauses that could stand as sentences in their own right.

It was spring; the trees were beginning to blossom.

It is not correct to join sentences like this with a comma. This is a common mistake known as a comma splice.

Semicolons are also used for balancing two pieces of information.

Wendy drives a BMW; Emma drives a Fiat.

They can also be used to join two clauses instead of a conjunction.

I love ice cream because it’s so cool on a hot day.

I love ice cream; it’s so cool on a hot day.

A semicolon should only be used if the sentences it divides make sense in their own right. ‘I love ice cream’ and ‘It’s so cool on a hot day’ can both stand as independent sentences.

If the second part of the sentence adds information but could not stand on its own, a colon should be used instead.

There’s only one flavour of ice cream worth eating: strawberry.

A semicolon can also be used to separate items in a list when phrases are used.

I need to buy some soup, tomato not chicken; milk, semi-skimmed not full fat; doughnuts, strawberry jam; and some bread.

If the list contains only short words, a comma will suffice.

I need soup, milk, doughnuts, and bread.

Colons

Are typically used to add information, so the second part explains the second part.

That was easy: the questions were all level two.

In this example though you could also use a full stop or a conjunction.

That was easy. The questions were all at level two.

That was easy because all the questions were all at level two.

Using a comma for the above would result in a comma splice which is wrong.

When using to introduce a list, only use a colon if the introduction makes sense on its own.

Please bring with you: a pencil, ruler, protractor, and eraser.

We also use colons to introduce quotes.

My mum had a favourite saying: ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

As with the semicolon, only use the colon if the first part would stand as a sentence on its own. ‘My mum used to say’ doesn’t make sense on its own so a comma would be used.

My mum used to say, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

I hope this helps to clarify the use of each for you.

Have a wonderful day and keep writing!

Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript, Publication Ready, Punctuation

#Punctuation #Apostrophe use in #fiction #writing #amwriting #amediting #CreatingPerfection

One of the most commonly misused punctuation marks is the apostrophe.

In this article I’ll be talking about, and sharing examples of, how to correctly use one.

Possession

In writing, we use ‘s to show possession after singular nouns and indefinite pronouns:

the girl’s hair the man’s beard anyone’s guess

For plural nouns ending in s, we just add the apostrophe:

the neighbours’ cat

And we punctuate time periods in the same way:

the days’ takings three weeks’ time

For compounds and of phrases, use ‘s after the last noun:

my mother-in-law’s cake the Queen of England’s swans

The double possessive making use of both of and ‘s can be used with nouns and pronouns:

a play of Shakespeare’s that car of her father’s

But not with buildings or companies:

a friend of the Smiling Mule the window of the hotel

This one’s a little tricky to remember but we don’t use an apostrophe for the possessive its (belonging to it) but we do for the it contractions (it is / it has):

the dog ate its bone it’s too warm today

Omission

The apostrophe is also used to indicate a missing letter or letters from a word. The apostrophe should ‘face’ the way the missing letters should be:

how you doin’ just you wait ’til

Plurals

The apostrophe is NOT used for plurals. Nor is it used for the following:

Decades: 1960s / 60s

Names: keeping up with the Joneses / sixteen Hail Marys

Abbreviations: CDs / ABCs / DVDs

Other: dos and don’ts

These are just a few of the basics and if you learn these rules, you’ll be in a much better position to polish your own manuscript while going through your edits.

I follow the Oxford Style Guide and you can find more information in New Hart’s Rules.

Best of luck, have a great day, and keep writing!

Author Advice, Beta Reading, Editing Assistance, Manuscript, Publication

Here’s my top tips and advice on finding the right editor for you and your manuscript. Make sure you know what you need and what they can offer #CreatingPerfection #WritingCommunity

In today’s article, I’m going to talk about the different levels of editing available and how an author should decide which they need.

First, let’s look at the different levels of editing available.

There’s a detailed breakdown here but here’s an overview:

Structural/Developmental Editor: Will look at the big picture elements of your manuscript. Plot, characterisation, point of view, pace, and narrative.

Line Editor: Sentence level elements including: word choice, clarity, consistency, conciseness, dialogue, grammar, and syntax.

Copy-editor: Sentence and word level elements including: paragraphs, dialogue, spelling and punctuation, consistency in minor plot/character details, and clarity.

Proofreader: Sentence, word, and layout: basic formatting, dialogue punctuation, chapter sequencing, and indentation.

Many freelance editors will offer one or two of these services, and will perhaps combine two of them, but I’ve yet to meet any who offer all four levels. Typically, a line and copy-edit can be combined, and maybe a copy-edit and proofread, but a developmental/structural edit should be done on its own.

Now let’s look at some of the areas an author may find they’re struggling with:

  1. Punctuation
  2. Overwriting – too wordy
  3. Characterisation
  4. Grammar
  5. Plot development
  6. Narrative point of view/head hopping
  7. Consistency in formatting and layout

The type of editor you need will depend on the issues you have, using the examples above, here’s who you’d need to call on to help:

  1. Line Editor / Copy-editor / Proofreader
  2. Line Editor
  3. Developmental/Structural Editor
  4. Line Editor / Copy-editor
  5. Developmental/Structural Editor
  6. Developmental/Structural Editor / Line Editor
  7. Line Editor / Copy-editor / Proofreader

As you can see, not all editors specialise in all areas and you need to find out what any editor you approach offers.

‘What if I don’t know what my problems are?’

It’s easy for someone in the business to say you need A, B, but not C, but that doesn’t always help the author if they don’t yet know what their sticking points are, after all, you can’t mend something if you don’t know it’s broken. A tiny gap and huge hole are very different things.

Consider this; an author skips a copy-edit as they’ve been told it’s the big picture elements that matter most, not a few typos. But what if it’s not a few typos? What if the novel has a wonderful and captivating plot, is beautifully paced, and full of characters their readers instantly fall in love with, but on a line level, it’s so full of spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes all the good stuff is lost inside and it’s too unpleasant to read?

Or, on the flip side, the author has been meticulous with their line level editing and proofreading, the sentences flow with no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mishaps but the characters are one dimensional, there are plot holes galore, and the reader is left with nothing but unanswered questions.

It’s such a minefield for authors, especially newbies. The best advice is to find some beta readers you can trust to provide honest and constructive feedback, or have a professional critique done on your manuscript.

There’s also the possibility that a sample edit from a freelancer will help shed some light on where you may need assistance.

So, how do you know when you’re ready?

I love how Jane Friedman explains it:

[N]ever hire a copy-editor until you’re confident your book doesn’t require a higher level of editing first. That would be like painting the walls of your house right before tearing them down. (‘Should You Hire a Professional Editor?‘)

This is such a brilliant way to look at the editing process. There’s no point in having all the typos dealt with if your plot and characters aren’t doing what your reader needs them to do.

Therefore, there is a specific process, and it’s not based on importance but on logic.

Start your editing process with the big picture elements. Whether a professional critique or feedback from trusted beta readers, get all the structural elements in place. If no issues are found, brilliant, if there are mishaps, that’s great too as you can deal with them, either yourself or with a professional, before they are brought up in reader reviews.

Once you have the big picture elements sorted, you can look at the line and sentence level mishaps. I would always recommend an author employs a professional at this stage as although they may not be a specialist in the big picture elements, they will know if things are amiss.

They will guide you to getting your work into great shape and will advise if there are further needs.

I offer two main services, the Big Difference Edit which combines line and copy-editing, and Little Tweaks Proofread which combines copy-editing and proofreading. I also work with authors on a Step by Step and Consultancy basis

Your copy/line editor should be able to pick up other elements relating to the proofreading, but don’t expect miracles. They aren’t Superman and at this stage, there are likely to be more revisions to the manuscript during which further mishaps can be introduced. For more on this, read here.

Remember: Your editor, at any stage in the process, isn’t a ghost writer. As literary agent Rachelle Gardner explains:

Using a freelance editor can be a great idea – if you use it as a learning experience. You need to do most of the work yourself. I think it’s wasted money if you’re counting on someone to fix your manuscript for you. The point is to get an experienced set of eyes on it to help you identify problems and figure out how to fix them. (‘Should I Hire a Freelance Editor?‘)

There’s no doubt you need to have at least one professional editing pass on your manuscript. As this poem by Anon shows, we cannot rely on a spell checker:

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word

And weight for it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its really eve wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

I am shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect in its weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

(Sauce unknown)

As you can see, there are many mistakes which won’t be picked by standard spelling checkers as they are only checking for incorrect spellings.

So, what now?

You know you need an editor, but how do you find one you can trust?

Word of mouth is the first place to start. Ask in the writer groups you belong to, (if you’re not in any groups, but would like to be, let me know and I’ll guide to some brilliant groups) who do other people use? If you’re not in any groups yet, you’re left with Google. There are many search terms you can use: freelance copy-editor/proofreader for example, this will bring up lots of pages for jobs and companies who offer these services but scroll through a few pages and you’ll eventually start to see the freelancers.

Always speak to more than one editor, and to help you determine they know what they’re doing,

here’s what they should be asking you:

  • What genre is your manuscript?
  • Have you already identified any problematic areas?
  • What are your publishing aims? (Self-publishing/submitting/time frame etc.)
  • What stage are you at with the manuscript? (has it already been looked at by a professional/beta readers?)
  • Where are you on your journey as an author?
  • Do you have a deadline for this?

here’s what you should be asking them:

  • What levels do they specialise in?
  • Do they have experience in your genre?
  • What style guide do they follow? (I follow the Oxford Style Guide)
  • Do they have references and testimonials?
  • What books have they edited?
  • Have they worked with indie authors before? Publishers?
  • If they are American, can they edit to British English style guides? And vice versa.
  • What are their costs and payment terms?
  • What timescales can you expect?
  • Do they offer a free or paid for sample edit?

Any editor worth their salt will be able to answer those questions for you. If they can’t, I’d be tempted to move on to the next person on your list. Full transparency at this stage is vital, you don’t want to end up in a position where you choose your editor, get your heart set on them, only to discover they charge twice as much as your budget will allow and aren’t free for a year.

So, there you have it.

You are now able to make a fully informed decision on which editor you need, you understand the roles played by both the author and the editor, and that full transparency by both parties can, and will, lead to a wonderful working relationship.

If you’d like to have a chat with me about your project and my services, please do drop me line, I’d love to hear from you.

Best of luck with your project!