Monday, August 20, 2012

Critique Giveaway and a bonus!

MS editor extraordinaire, Aimee Salter, has stopped by today to give away a first chapter critique – yah! She critiqued my manuscript, so speaking from experience, her advice rocks.

Aimee also did interviews with me on my two group blogs YAtopia and Writing Teen Novels, so check them out for some great free advice on making your manuscript sizzle.

So some quick questions before the giveaway. 

Sharon: What’s the best thing about editing other people’s manuscripts? 

Aimee: Without question, the best thing about critiquing is what I learn about my own writing from identifying the problems in others. We writers are always too close to our own work to truly edit effectively. But by identifying structural, phrasing or plot problems in someone else’s manuscript, I’m able to better see where mine has gone wrong.

Sharon: And, what’s the worst thing about editing other people’s manuscripts? 

Aimee: Having to tell people their babies aren’t perfect.

Can I say, in defence of all critiquers / editors: We tell you what we see because we want your story to be even better. Don’t view suggestions for improvements as criticisms of your talent or your story. See them as the rungs on a ladder to making your story shine and revealing your true talent to your readers.

Sharon: So, how did you get into freelance editing? 

Aimee: I learned how to critically analyse a manuscript in a critique group which included published and represented authors. In any “clinic” we’d each give our full manuscript to the Administrator who assigned it to someone else, then gave us another manuscript to read in full. When I saw how much my writing improved as a result of being on both sides of that coin, I knew every writer should do it.  

Once I’d been doing that for a couple years, some of the authors approached me outside of the group structure because they’d found my comments helpful and wanted to start working as partners. I was excited – but I remembered how hard it was to find that group and gain credibility in those circles. I knew there wasn’t enough of that kind of help out there for everyone because most authors with that kind of experience already have a critique group they trust. They aren’t often looking for new blood.  

I also know most fledgling authors can’t afford a full editorial consultant. So I decided to offer critiques at an affordable price (usually in the vicinity of $225-275 for an entire manuscript up to 100,000 words) because I want to see more authors watch their babies grow up like I got to.

Sharon: What advice would you give to other people considering hiring a professional editor, such as yourself?  

Aimee: Do your homework. Make sure the editor can actually help you. Then make sure their style works for you. Everyone works differently and you need to make sure you can accept the tone and structure of any given editor’s work. 

Don’t pay money to anyone who can’t provide an editorial sample (and by that I mean a portion of an actual manuscript with their notes / marks on it as they would present to you in your work), or who hasn’t been recommended by someone you know personally.  

Keep in mind that online recommendations (especially Twitter / Facebook) could easily be dummy accounts set up by editors trying to drum up business. Don’t pay any money until you know what you’re paying for. 

If you can’t afford a super-reputable editor who freelances outside of a traditional publishing career, read self-published books until you find one whose prose and plot make you wish you’d written it, then find out who edited it. Hire that person – or someone they recommend.  

And if you weren’t able to anticipate the majority of my answers here, hire me. There are samples of my critique work on my website. I’m a lot cheaper than a qualified editor, and when we’re done, I guarantee your manuscript will be noticeably improved (if I can’t improve it, I won’t let you hire me).  

Most importantly, because I’ve worked with published authors, I know what a “submissible manuscript” looks like. And because I don’t believe in critiquing the same manuscript more than once, I won’t lie to you about how close (or far away) yours is.

Thanks Aimee!!

So, you can enter the competition below to win a first chapter critique from Aimee, and I've also thrown in a $15 B&N voucher. You've got until September 3, 2012 to enter.

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32 comments:

  1. It is always very hard to find someone that gives helpful critiques. Some editors are really expensive or are not really reliable.

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  2. Nice! Love editor tips and giveaways ;)

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  3. Thanks for the great tips! It'll be great to use these when editing my WIPs.

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  4. This was a very interesting and informative interview! Thank you :)

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  5. OH, this is exciting!! Thanks so much for doing this!!

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  6. I hopped over from YAtopia, then checked out the third interview. I concur - The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is an excellent resource. Question for you Aimee - how can you tell the reader "gets" the emotion you are trying to convey? I generally don't name the emotion and just *hope and pray* I've done a good job with conveying the emotion in dialogue, body language and tone. Is there really a way to know when we are self editing? I think it's more of a CP or Beta type of thing... Just wanted to hear your perspective.

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    1. I agree this is difficult to tell on your own. The only tip I could suggest for self-editing is if you have the time (and self-discipline) to put your manuscript away for weeks (months is better). If you can work on something else for a long time, then come back to your own work with 'fresh eyes', you'll catch a lot of stuff you wouldn't catch.

      BUT...

      I think you're bang-on - the only way to be sure you're hitting the right emotional tone is to get several people to read it and report back. It's why I think it's crucial to get other skilled writers looking at your work.

      When we read our own stuff we see the scenes in our heads as we originally imagined them - subtext, backstory and all. The reader doesn't have that resource to draw on.If you can get lots of 'objective' eyes, you'll get a feeling for how it's coming across.

      Oh, and be careful: I have a beta reader who's BIG on emotion, but she often reads things into stories that no-one else sees. She's really helpful in a lot of ways, but I couldn't use her emotional gauge alone. It's important to have more than one to get an accurate measure.

      I hope this is helpful!

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  7. I'd sure love to win a critique, I'm at that point where my crit group has seen my MS so many times I need a great (new) set of eyes!

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  8. Eek, I'd so love that chapter critique! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  9. Thanks for the competition entries, guys. I can't wait to see who wins!

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  10. Always looking for another set of eyes to look at my work. Great giveaway idea!

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  11. Great tips and giveaway! Aimee, you rock as usual :)

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  12. Good tips for finding a freelance editor, thanks!

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  13. Thanks for such great information.

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  14. Weighing the pros and cons of a critique are really important, especially if someone is offering professional services.

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  15. This is extremely cool. Thanks for the giveaway! :D

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  16. Ahh, I would love a first chapter critique. That would be so helpful. Thank you for the giveaway again, Sharon!

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  18. Thank you for the tips and for giving us a chance to have our first chapter critiqued. :)

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  19. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  20. It can be really tough to find a reliable and knowledgeable critique group. Any advice on that front? I believe in the value of a professional critique, but I also think that a group could provide a variety of opinions and insights.

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    1. Depends on what kind of group you want, Connie. I have two really different groups I belong to: One is a full-manuscript critique group that clinics online four times a year. It includes agented / published authors, and wannabes like me. It's the most valuable group in terms of feedback on my manuscript, but also a LOT of work. But if you're interested in that sort of thing, just google "Full manuscript critique group". There are several out there and you can apply to be a part of most of them no matter where you live. Most, like ours, require an application (which includes writing samples and a sample critique done by you).

      The other group I belong to meets weekly and we read scenes to each other. More of a support / advice group. If that's what you're after, you'll need to google your local region.

      I definitely recommend critique groups. But you might have to shop around before you find one that works for you. I've been involved in a couple that weren't really productive. Good luck!

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  21. I'm not a writer, but I LOVE reading posts like these, especially learning how you ended up as a freelancer.

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  22. Very interesting I've never even thought of hiring an editor!

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  23. Editors are indispensable! Thanks for a wonderful giveaway! :)

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  24. Wow. What a great contest! Thanks.

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  25. Would love to win this for my husband
    Missyingling@yahoo.com

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