When Is Your Editor The Biggest Pain in the Butt?

May 22nd, 2013 → 7:24 pm @

My first book was edited by five people. Not everyone has that luxury. I think it’s a luxury because you get to see your work through different eyes – and you get to make the final call by reviewing the options and choosing the ones that make the most sense for your plot and characters.

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I can honestly say that all five of my editors contributed something meaningful to the final published work. Some of the editing was tedious, but I found the overall process invigorating and frequently enjoyable. It was extremely helpful to have them point out areas that warranted a second look. I would review the section in question to determine whether or not it would pass muster with a broader audience; in some cases a reference was too obscure or a joke too lame. I’m not sure I would have caught those weaknesses on my own.

My second book is not going as smoothly. So far I’ve had three editors, and they all seem to get caught up in their own lack of knowledge of my genre. They’re not contributing anything meaningful. It’s frustrating and it feels as though this book will never get out. I write comedic murder mysteries. They’re so hung up on making comments like “why would that character tell her so much when she’s not even a real detective?” Oh for god sake – get over it! Have you never read Agatha’s Christie’s famous Miss Marple? Did you never watch Jessica Fletcher solve every mystery on Murder, She Wrote?

Even under the best of circumstances editors can get under your skin. But a good editor is worth their weight in gold. Aside from the outlay of cash, the biggest potential risk to self-publishing is not making the effort to get good editors reviewing your work. I was convinced my manuscript was perfect on the first day it was submitted – it became so much better over the 18 month editing and proofing process.

Even though in hindsight I am so grateful for the editors of that first book, they still managed to frustrate the hell out of me. I think I shortened and lengthened the same sentences three or four times, and I know I moved commas out, over and back into the same places. Some of their comments were stupid and dated – but I knew enough to ignore those – albeit not without angst and bugging my publisher for permission. I think I was high maintenance!

As I look back on the experience of my first book – I would not trade the value my editors brought to the project even if I never had to move a comma. And even though my second book has not yet met with a successful editing experience, I still cannot emphasize the importance of good editors – now I just have to find some!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series : I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted,  is currently being published.

 

 

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Council Bluffs Public Library Author’s Fair

April 16th, 2013 → 2:57 pm @

Thanks to all the folks at the beautiful new Council Bluffs library for the Author’s Fair on Saturday! I felt very honored to have such a prominent table right in front of the entrance doors! It was a great chance to meet the folks in The Bluffs and get to know them a bit.

Council Bluffs Public Library

Council Bluffs Public Library

I was excited to learn that they may have another Author’s Fair in November for the Christmas shopping crowd!

I met a professional book reviewer and some very talented authors! And the library staff took very good care of all of us!

 

Author's Fair location

Author’s Fair location

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Back Porch Writer interview on Blog Post Radio with Kori Miller

March 12th, 2013 → 3:56 pm @

Check out this morning’s interview with Kori Miller on Back Porch Writer on Blog Post Radio:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/backporchwriter/2013/03/12/writing-a-mystery-with-robin-donovan

A huge thanks to Kori for her awesome interview!

 

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FAQs on Authoring a Book: Getting Started – Part 2 Continued

January 28th, 2013 → 9:55 pm @

We’ve already addressed three of the four basic categories that new authors tend to fall into:  the I have an idea I’d like to share with the world group, typically consisting of business advice – an idea, the I have a story to tell group, often about overcoming adversity, and/or self-help advice and the I want to write a book and give my business, or personal brand, a boost folks. We’ve given these author-types some advice on the best way to get things started.

Let the creative juices flow!

Let the creative juices flow!

That leaves our fourth and final category, consisting of the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks. For them the subject of the book is often secondary to their desire or even need to express themselves in writing.

At the risk of seeming immodest, that’s where I place myself. As an English major and a former English teacher, I have always wanted to write a book and I’ve never been shy about sharing that fact. When I finally got around to actually writing a manuscript there were those who asked “why did you wait so long?” And the answer is simple. I envisioned pouring my heart into my life’s work and spending the next decade receiving one rejection after another from heartless publishers who would ignore and overlook my brilliance, thus shredding my very soul.

Getting to know a publisher gave me the courage to take a shot. Once I’d made the decision to finally write the damn thing – I hadn’t a clue of what to write. A chat with this publisher helped to get me focused.

“What do you love?” he asked.

“I love comedy.”

“Then write your comedy and show it to me,” he suggested.

That was it. Next challenge – decide what funny things to write about. As a lifelong aficionado of murder mysteries – both serious and comedic – the old adage “write what you know” seemed applicable.

Once my genre was set I sat down to write. The first three chapters virtually wrote themselves. I packaged these up and sent them to my “publisher acquaintance” to await his verdict.

A few weeks later confirmation arrived. My chapters were of enough interest to warrant finishing the book. It was a bittersweet moment that juxtaposed the thrill of having a publisher’s interest and the terror of being clueless as to how to write a whole book.

For me, the next step was to continue writing while simultaneously creating a writing process. There are some who would say my journey appears to have been backwards. But it’s what worked for me.

Here are a few pointers for those of you raring to go:

  1. The writing is so much fun! If it’s not, maybe you have the wrong topic (obviously if you’re writing about a somber subject it won’t be a laugh riot – but it should “feel good”).
  2. You need some kind of a process. Everyone asked me if I had an outline – I never did. I found that the writing just took its own twists and turns. What I did need, however, was a process to determine:
    1. How long before I start to write the ending: I decided to split the book into quarters – and not start writing the ending until the fourth quarter – that was an enormous help.
    2. How many pages does it need to be:  I did some checking on several books in the genre – and they were books that I enjoyed so I knew that the length did not prove to be an obstacle in the enjoyment of the work.
    3. How to determine how many instances of physical comedy should be included: Again, research other authors in the genre – try to focus on books you thought worked well and see how many individual times they used physical comedy.
    4. How to remember details so I could tie up loose ends: I kept a notebook with notes on every chapter. I chronicled when every character was introduced and when every plot turn occurred – it’s impossible to remember every detail – notes are a godsend. I also took notes on every character’s name – you’d be surprised how you can forget a character’s last name – or how you spelled their name.
    5. In my case, folks always ask me if I knew who the murderer was in the beginning. The answer is “no.” At times I thought I knew, but as things progress I changed my mind – several times. Letting the prose take you where it does is known as creativity – don’t try to jam your creativity into a pre-determined outline!
    6. Let the editors do their work! If you are self-published, make it your business to find some great editors and ask them to be ruthless. If you publish traditionally or collaboratively your publisher will take care of that for you. Remember, a suggested change by an editor is not a failure of your manuscript – if you let the creative juices flow there are bound to be mistakes or awkward areas. A great editor will honestly improve the quality of your end product – we don’t always see the flaws in our own creation – nor do friends and relatives!
    7. If all else fails, just write and see where it takes you! You can always turn it into a book later. The whole key to your success is to let yourself go! After that, process and editing (not to mention proofing) will clean things up and make you ready for “prime time!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series is currently being published. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the prospective author with confidence in their ability to write and how it impacts their process of “Getting Started.”

 

 

 

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FAQ’s on Authoring a Book: Getting Started-Part 2

January 14th, 2013 → 4:30 pm @

Lately I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from folks who are thinking they’d like to write a book. They typically fall into these four basic categories:  the I have an idea I’d like to share with the world group, the subject here often boils down to business advice – an idea, the I have a story to tell group, the subject is often one depicting how they or a loved one has overcome adversity, and/or self-help advice; then there are the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks, and for them the subject is often secondary; last and probably least we have the I want to write a book and give my business, or personal brand, a boost folks.

Want to Write a Book?

Want to Write a Book?

Getting started varies depending on which group you fall into.

In the first, second and fourth groups, you know what you want to write about but are often intimated by the task of organizing your information and doing the actual writing. For these folks, I recommend that you begin by vetting your idea or story carefully, i.e. make sure no one has beat you to it. That doesn’t mean that the topic has never been addressed in a book before, but it is imperative that your particular slant on the topic is fresh and not in danger of getting you busted for plagiarism.

Once you’re sure that your topic is a fresh perspective, you need to determine the goal of your book; what are you hoping the reader will take away? And what skills, if any, will your book help readers begin to develop?

Once clear on the objectives of your book, it’s time to create an outline. This exercise will begin to formulate your process. It will help you organize your information and make it manageable for the reader. As you contemplate the various facets of your idea, or story, and how to articulate it you will also begin to identify the various ways in which your idea can be applied or your story can be relevant to your public. You might even have examples of how it could, or already has worked for others. As you think these things through, your outline will bulk up, enhancing and guiding your content. The more thorough your outline the more it will begin to parallel the structure and content of your book. This will take a lot of the intimidation away from the writing process and the age old question: I have a great idea, but how will I be able to fill an entire book?

If the actual writing of the book is still a concern for you the best way to proceed is to start with your outline and fill in the details of each key point and sub-point. Just start writing and remember your first draft is never final; you will add and delete and move things around as you go back over your work.

Be sure to articulate yourself clearly and methodically in a linear fashion, i.e. keep things simple and easy to follow and don’t jump around because that confuses readers. Once you’ve written your first draft, make sure you have a first rate editor. Your editor will make the difference between a book that makes perfect sense only in your head and a book that readers will be able to follow. Your editor will also ensure that the rough edges are smoothed over. Remember, with you folks, it’s more about the idea than the prose articulating it. A good editor can turn a confusing and disjointed manuscript into a masterpiece.

And if the writing is just too painful – there are always ghost writers!

In our next post we’ll explore the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series is currently being published. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the prospective author with confidence in their ability to write and how it impacts their process of “Getting Started.”

 

 

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Thanks to Creative Juicer and Emily for the Interview!

October 23rd, 2012 → 5:08 pm @

Check out Emily’s interview here:

http://creativejuicer.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/creative-careerist-robin-l-donovan/

 

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Exciting Feedback from a Literary Agent

June 7th, 2012 → 7:17 pm @

I felt extremely fortunate to have had a professional literary agent attend my talk at the Millard Branch of OPL. The fact that she sent me the following note was more than I could have hoped for:

Dear Robin:

It was a pleasure to meet you Tuesday night – I thoroughly enjoyed myself. In over ten years in the publishing industry, that was the first time I laughed so hard and so frequently at an author event. You’re a breath of fresh air! You’ve got it.

As I mentioned, I’d love to get together and hear more about your blog/book experience. I’ll be a guest speaker at the Los Angeles chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) in August and I think they’d love to hear about your experience. My workshop is “From Blog to Book” where I discuss what it takes to make an editor/publisher take notice of an author blog.

Would you have any time available next week to meet for coffee or drinks?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Erin Reel

The Lit Coach

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Huge Thanks to the Millard Branch of the Omaha Public Library

June 6th, 2012 → 9:13 pm @

Great audience at the Millard Branch!

Great audience at the Millard Branch!

Last night I had the distinct honor of kicking off the Millard Branch’s Authors Series. Attendees were wonderful and supportive! They asked some excellent questions and gave me some feedback that made it difficult to fit my head through the door as I exited the building! Every “talk” should be so much fun – for me!

I also appreciate being able to trot out an excerpt from the second book in the Donna Leigh Mysteries series, I Didn’t Kill Her, But That May Have Been Short Sighted! It really helped to be able to share my plot and characters with a new audience, and hearing the laughter was music to my ears!

I want to thank all of the wonderful folks at the Millard Branch for being so welcoming and supportive!

I recently had an acquaintance laughingly ask me if I really felt like a “celebrity.” And to his surprise, I was able to respond that there are actually a few people who treat me as though I’m a celebrity. I count the great folks at the Millard Branch and their wonderful audience as some of those few!
Authors Series

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So How Do You Get A Book Published?

December 5th, 2011 → 11:20 pm @

That’s probably the most frequent single question that people ask.  So many of us are poised to write, but hesitate because of the uncertainty of being stuck with a manuscript that no one will publish. The true diehards just go ahead and write. If they get published – great – but what happens when/if they don’t?

I can’t pretend to be one of those brave souls. I talked about writing a book for years, and none of the options appealed to me at all. I could invest all of the time, energy and passion it would take to create my masterpiece, and then spend a lot more time, energy and passion – not to mention money – in shopping it around and trying to get it published. I would bravely struggle to keep my hopes up as rejection after rejection flooded my mailbox and broke my resolve.

From what I’m told, shopping your manuscript around for an agent isn’t really much better. And, if you do find an agent to represent you there’s still no guarantee that they’ll be able to interest a publisher. I have known authors who were elated at finally finding that elusive agent – only to realize a year or two later that they are not infallible – even if they’re sure your book will be easy to sell!

Then, if you do manage to get your book published, will your publisher realize all of the financial benefits of your endeavor? I have also seen authors who earned pennies per book and could barely feed themselves after publishing more than a dozen novels.

Then there’s always self-publishing. You spend your money to back yourself and then hope there’s some change left to get out there and promote yourself. Experienced authors have cautioned that the uninitiated end up with a raw unedited piece that does not present itself, or you, in the best light.

Personally, I feel very fortunate that I stumbled upon a publisher who was willing to spend the time evaluating an unknown such as myself. My publisher took the time to help me polish my creation until it was ready for prime time; and the final product was something that could make us both proud.

My publisher has been my partner and my cheerleader, not trying to greedily reap all of the profit if profit is to be made. Everybody should have the benefit of a publisher like mine.

Let me know if you’d like to meet my publisher. I am confident they will be willing to review your work and give you an honest assessment. If they decide to take your manuscript on you will learn an enormous amount and benefit from their knowledge and connections.

Why am I making this offer? I’m too new to worry about being completely inundated with everyone trying to get to me – maybe someday. I, myself, have wondered if I would ever get the chance to share my musings with the world – and now I know that it feels incredible. If it’s what you want, you should have a fair shot at it too. And no, I’m not getting any kickbacks.

 

 

 

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