Open letter to the doubting writer

I wrote this email to a client last month and they said it had to be shared, so here is an edited version of that note. I hope it encourages you as it did them.

 

60 Once upon a time on typewriter - bigstock_story_2226743_2 from Tamika Christy

Image source: Tamika Christy

 

Dear doubting writer,

No worries, don’t stress. Panic is a normal part of the writing (and a vital part of the editing) process; no doubt you know that already.

I wouldn’t have quoted on your book if I didn’t see in it the potential to be a truly worthy book. I’m not saying the book is perfect; that’s why editing is a good idea. But you’ve already got my vote of confidence.

There’s no one with a gun to your head to get this book out ASAP. No matter when it arrives, people will be thrilled ecstatically to read it.

But you know what, even if you look at your book and think “eh, it’s still not perfect”, I was reading another book today and came across this quote:

“the woods would be very silent
if no birds sang there
except those that sang best”
– Henry van Dyke

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Read all about it: Write Around Queensland short story I edited and my reviews of other stories (50th post!)

Historic moment: Just realised this is the 50th post on my blog! Woohoo!
Thanks for joining me for the ride. 🙂

Maya’s signature look of excitement  Image source: Chelsea Anne Photography / Becuo Images

Maya’s signature look of excitement
Image source: Chelsea Anne Photography / Becuo Images
(http://chelseaanne.com/personal/mayas-signature-look/)

After 12 months of working and waiting for the 2014 Write Around Queensland anthology, today is the day!

You might remember that I said there would be some book reviews coming. Well, you also get to read the story that I edited in the eBook of the anthology – for free!

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Why you should listen to your editor

Grumpy Cat Image source: AP Images

Grumpy Cat
Image source: AP Images

“In the end, what makes a book valuable is not the paper it’s printed on, but the thousands of hours of work by dozens of people who are dedicated to creating the best possible reading experience for you.”
― John Green

At the publishing house where I used to work, we had one author who simply would not listen to the advice of his editors.

Ultimately, the final say in how a book is edited is up to the author. It’s their copyright; it’s their book. But the publishing house always has the option of terminating the contract if the author refuses to make required changes.

Our editors recommended very strongly that this author edit out his “purple prose”. This guy was in love with adjectives. It was a common problem in all of his previous books, too.

When this author’s book was finally published, it got reviewed in the Courier-Mail (one of Australia’s larger newspapers). Guess what. The reviewer picked up on the purple prose, too. They nailed the book, and it didn’t sell well – big surprise.

We talked to the author about it but he was convinced that it was a coincidence that everyone had picked up on the same issue and made such a big deal about it.

This is why listening to your editor is so important.

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Welcome!

I’m TJ Withers-Ryan, a freelance editor based in Australia and a Jesus follower. Check out my freelance services if you need the best in copy editing, proofreading, or copy writing.

TJ Withers-Ryan, Your Editor

If you’re new to my site, come on in for tips on the creative process for writers, artists, and other creators and living out your faith. This site became “Called by Name” in 2016 in response to Isaiah 43, a powerful prophecy about Jesus and a prophecy for the lives of all his followers.

To all my regulars, welcome home – it’s always great to catch up. 🙂  Cheers – TJ

Music to write by

Music to write by - typewriter treble clef. Image source: Scores for Writers

Image source: Scores for Writers

 

Ever wondered what type of music will help you to focus when writing in different genres? Here’s what’s worked for me in the genres in which I’ve written or edited.

 

Okay, NaNoWriMo is nearly over, with only five days until the end is declared. So if you’re nearly there, here’s some final inspiration, to give you the last push you need to get that baby out (what a gross analogy, seriously). And if you’re boycotting NNWM and you’re kind of sick of hearing about it, soon we’ll be back to awesome posts that are not all about how to write a novel in the shortest possible timeframe.

Why does music help you write?

Studies have consistently shown that classical, Baroque era music can help students study things they’ve already learnt once, and can help workers to concentrate better during long or repetitive tasks. For those in a busy study or work environment, music has also been proven effective for blocking out distracting background noise. If you’re writing, editing, or creating art, music can help you stay focused and be more creative and open to new ideas.

By contrast, if you’re trying to learn new information that requires your full attention, music can distract you from what you’re reading. So if you’re doing research about historical methods of leather tanning for a new book, you might want to turn the stereo off and focus on the history.

Listening to lyrics can be distracting from writing, so most of the music I’ve featured in this post is purely instrumental. This is because lyrics are words and you’re already trying to think about other words when you’re writing. (People in other disciplines like maths, science or IT have no trouble with listening to lyrics while they work – in fact it helps, since their domain is largely numbers and code (Lesuik, 2005).)

So what can you use to inspire you when writing in different genres? Read on to find out!

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Is that a real word?

P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson) with the scriptwriter and songwriters responsible for the Disney movie version of Mary Poppins

P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson) with the scriptwriter and songwriters responsible for the Disney movie version of Mary Poppins
Image Source: Robert Deluce

Richard Sherman: Room here for everyone / Gather around / The constable’s “responstible”! / Now how does that sound?

P.L. Travers: No, no, no, no, no! “Responstible” is not a word!

Richard Sherman: We made it up.

P.L. Travers: Well, un-make it up.

Richard Sherman: [Hides sheet music of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.]

Scene from Saving Mr. Banks

 

I edited a book once by an author who used words wrong.  Just plain wrong.  There’s no other way to say it.

He said “supposably” and “supposedly” (those aren’t real words!) instead of “suspiciously” (which is not even close to the meaning of those “words”).

When I called him on it the first few times, he got all snippy.  “How do you know what’s a real word and what isn’t?  I hear people saying ‘supposably’ all the time.”

“Um, that’s my job.  I get paid to know correct grammar and spelling.  And that’s honestly not a real word.  And even if it was a real word now, which it’s not, it’s still not a word that a peasant would have used in medieval times.”

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Pros and cons of being a freelancer

Everyone has their own assumptions about what it’s like to be a freelancer.

 

Here’s what it is like for me and for the friends I know who are freelancers:

 

Pros Cons
I set my own schedule.I can take a break when I need to. I set my own schedule.That means I become a workaholic, working 6 days a week when I can because I know I need money for the weeks when I don’t have work.
I negotiate my own contracts and pay. Because I negotiate my own pay, I sometimes end up being paid “mate’s rates”.
I work from home or at my local library, so I’m more comfortable than in someone else’s workplace.I get to work in my PJs while listening to music! I work from home.I don’t get to “go in to the office”. I have to be responsible for my own time.I have to make sure my internet is reliable.
I get to choose my own contracts. I am constantly searching for new contracts.As outsourcing becomes more common, there are fewer contracts that pay a standard Australian rate.
I get to take a lunch break with friends. I can’t just “duck out” to take lunch with my friends who work in the city – there’s travel time involved.
Clients are sometimes unreliable when it comes to paying you or providing you with the right files to work with.

 

If you’re new to the creative workplace, what have been your experiences so far?

And if you need an editor for your novel, children’s book, memoir, textbook, website, company newsletter, or “other”, please let me know! Visit my freelance services page for more details on my services and to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2013. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

What does an editor do?

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

People often ask me what the difference between proofreading and editing is, or why editing is not just called rewriting.

Some of my pointers here are drawn from what IPEd (the Institute of Professional Editors Limited, Australia’s national editing association) says to authors about how to tell your editor what you need, but most of it is drawn from this year’s experience running my own freelance business as an editor / proofreader (TJ Withers-Ryan).

Step 1: There are three types of “editing”:

1. Proofreading – spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Have you any words out? Are there any typos like eextra letters? Fixing formatting errors like weird italicisation.

2. Copy editing – the line-by-line level, rewriting bad sentences. Does each sentence make sense? Does the author have any *annoying* mannerisms, technical jargon, or other bumps in the road that is their writing? Includes cross-checking facts and figures mentioned. This takes longer but is still pretty straightforward.

3. Structural editing – the story as a whole. Does each chapter have a point to it? Are the characters acting in a way that is consistent with the plot and their own motivations? This takes ages.

So, first, you need to tell your editor what type of editing you need them to do.

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