Category Archives: Let’s Talk

On Editing


I could virtually feel the incensed outrage of the author who last asked me this question, after I referred them to my editing page. They were not the first to feel this way, and won’t be the last either. I know they didn’t mean to come across as rude, and they didn’t mean to insult me. I can’t blame them for that honest reaction. For a struggling newbie author, even my fees (very low compared to those recommended by “professional” editors’ associations) seem exorbitant. In fact, right now, I’m not sure I could afford to employ someone who charges that for editing my own novels. Yet good-quality editing can make or break a book.

I just wish I had the time and patience to explain exactly what it means to do a decent editing job. I tried to do that on my page, but maybe I need to make those descriptions clearer, because mere lists of tasks are not enough. I can tell you now that the least time I need to edit a hundred-thousand-word book is about six working days, with two passes. And that is when the manuscript is near-perfect, and the mistakes contained within it are no more than about 250. Two hundred and fifty comments in a hundred thousand words. That is one for every page and a half. That is quick. Even then, I lose sleep worrying that I may have missed something, because there is no better measure of my work than the book I help produce. Add to that total a few hours spent revising any changes, or another three-day re-reading. How many hours? About 75. My fee is topped at $600. Do the maths. I work for $8 per hour – the best case scenario.

But I’m not writing this to complain. I choose to do this, and it isn’t even because I desperately need the cash. Yes, of course I enjoy the extra security it gives me, even when it is hard-earned. I actually feel an enormous sense of satisfaction when I see a well-polished final product, something I can proudly point at and say “Yes, I worked on that.” There is even more satisfaction in seeing an author progress over the years, and knowing that I had a small input in that progress. I watch what they say in interviews, and read their back-cover blurbs, and when I spot a correctly used phrase (one they used to misuse) I smile and give myself a tiny pat on the back.

There is no glory in editing, but it is a feel-good profession. I should know.

Why have I told you all this? Simple. I took the day off.

And in doing so, I tripped over this article, and its second chapter. If you wonder – 1) whether you need an editor; and 2) whether you’re getting a good deal, read it. If you value your editor, read it. If you know an editor friend, read it. If you worry about finding an editor (because the ranks of the good ones who still take on individual clients are shrinking), read it. It might help answer a few questions.

Message to my authors: don’t, for one minute, think I’ll give you any less love because I can do maths. (Hint: I did that little calculation the day I made my editing page public.) I have no favorites. I love you all the same, whether I spent six days or six months working on one of your books. Editing is far more than a job to me.


Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Let's Talk



Still Looking For A Publisher? Why?

pd bookMy dear friends, it’s Sunday, and I was going to take a break from blogging. It almost worked!

I was just ambling along in the blogosphere, and tripped over a very edifying discussion between an author and her publisher, Kensington Publishing Corp. Delilah Marvelle is setting things into perspective with great wit and finesse here. Be sure to read the post to the end. Even the comments are worth the time.

I read it again, just now, and can’t help thinking: I’ve had a lucky escape!

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Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Just A Thought, Let's Talk


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Autism – What Does It Mean?

This morning I read an article on D.M. Kilgore’s blog. It made me wiser by far. I have two words for you: read it!

It goes like this:

Why, if that was your kid you’d bust that butt and tell her to stop acting like a cry-baby! Geesh.  You slip a disapproving glance their way and the mother drops her head in defeat… but only for a moment.  Suddenly, she’s the one shooting you an icy stare.  And… then she approaches.  Her jaw is set determinedly, and if looks could kill… buddy you’d be a dead man.  An instant too late, you wish you had just grabbed the cereal and made a clean getaway.

The mother lays into you for being a judgmental jerk and explains that her daughter is Autistic.  In your haste to get away, you make a detrimental mistake, and apologize by saying, “I’m sorry.  It’s just that, well, she doesn’t look retarded.”

IF you live through that, she might enlighten you about Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Overload, oh, and the sheer ignorance of using the “r” word.  She might even roll her eyes at your stupidity or pat you sadly on the head.


Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Just A Thought, Let's Talk


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Equality, you say? Not if you’re an indie!

I’ve poked my head out of my writing cave for a few minutes, having finished work on my Valentine’s Day release, Not Juliet. Yes, it’s done!

Ok, back to business.

I was seeking reassurance, I suppose, that my work would compete on the same level with all the others out there, and that quality will win out, no matter the method of publication, and no matter of who gets to read and review it. Because I won’t pay for reviews. That would be silly.

And then I find this article on Indies Unlimited. Equal treatment?

Yeah, right! Isn’t it enough that traditional publishers have done everything in their power to crumble and fall off their pedestals – in my view, at least? Reviewers are doing that, too? Good names, recognized names? Is there anyone left you can trust?

Not if they ask for your money, it seems.


Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Let's Talk


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Authors’ Resources – Poll

Many of you know that one of the things I wish to do is provide a wide range of resources for authors and authors-to-be, so that, at a glance, simple yet popular issues could be clarified in one minute flat.

Issues such as customary phrases people get wrong on a regular basis, for example. Some of my stubborn author friends really need to read these. Hint! Hint!

So, let me know what’s most important to you in broad lines first, and then we’ll look at each one in more detail in future posts. I am serious about getting this show on the road as soon as possible.

Take the poll below. It’s free, it’s anonymous and you can tick more than one box. I’ve even allowed a spare box for you to add things I haven’t thought about (or you could leave a comment below). Go for it! Your opinion matters.


Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Let's Talk, Polls


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Publishing, Human Nature and a Question of Ethics

Is it only me, or have all of you been brainwashed with the same ‘be nice’ repetitive stanza until that’s all that rolls around in your heads anymore? No, I don’t blame you! How could I? I got the same treatment, and only recently discovered that ingrained idea needs a little adjustment.

attitude adjustment

The necessary adjustment

It was probably lurking in the deep recesses of my mind for a while. Maybe I should explain. I am a kind-hearted soul (or so they tell me), been raised with high standards (which I raised even higher since I left home), and therefore am intent on making my way in the world using nothing but my own abilities, without taking advantage of the fellow human being or causing anyone distress.

How many of you can relate? Is that you? Almost? Or completely?

See that rock, right at the top? That's my standard!

See that rock, right at the top? That’s my standard!

For a while, I was silly enough to imagine everyone followed the same guidelines. Not only people, but companies, too, since they are made up and run by people. Why wouldn’t I expect them to play the same game, follow the same rules?

Well, turns out I’m a dummy! Big surprise: people don’t behave as ethically as you do.

Playing tricks with the human psyche is the bread and butter of aggressive marketing. How many times did you go to the mall because of that advertised deal and ended up spending more than intended? Why? Because you really needed that item? Or maybe one similar, but the offer clinched it? Deep down, you knew they weren’t thinking of your quality of life when they advertised it, just their own profit, right?

I’ve heard all sorts of adverts – buy this refrigerator, and we’ll fill it with your favourite soft drink. Yeah, why not? Sounds like a good deal. Pay for this kindle and we’ll give you 100 books. Wow! How nice! Buy more furniture than you can fit in your room and we’ll throw in a free footstool. Super! Here’s my credit card! We react faster than we can say ‘Doh!’.


We’re hearing this all the time, and we don’t even think it odd. Are we so conditioned by advertising, that we react on auto-pilot? Whether we decide to take the offer or ignore it, we don’t think it unethical. But in many cases, it is. ‘Our brand is better than theirs.’ ‘World-acclaimed’, ‘award-winning’, ‘astounded the critics’… You ever heard those phrases? Do you believe those claims? I do. I never stop to think. I just assume the people behind making them have the same high standards I do. They wouldn’t lie. Would they?

So if this is considered normal, coming from a company – ran by people, remember? – why are indie authors victimized for trying their best to sell their own product? Is it because they are not part of the big company? Because they stand ‘alone’? They are still people, are they not?

There’s no end of discussion, mostly among ‘respected’ members of the publishing industry, condemning an indie author’s decision to drop their ebook price to 99 cents and what that does to the market as a whole. If enough people do it, the market will collapse. It’s unethical! Shameful! How dare they!

And how dare they publish at all! They haven’t even read the classics! They haven’t learned the novel-writing rules! How unbelievably cheeky to think yourself clever enough to write! What, you don’t have three degrees and twenty more years’ courses on creative writing? You should go back into your cave right now, and leave the publishing business to the ones in the know! Indie authors are doing nothing but satisfying their own vanity. Their product is not good enough for our (read ‘traditional’) market.



How many times did you hear that? How did those comments make you feel? Inadequate? A fraud? Ashamed you’re alive? Just a bit uncomfortable?

Why? You think all those companies out there are feeling even the tiniest shred of that unease? I can answer that one for you: no!

You have a product. There’s nothing wrong with taking that product to the market. There’s nothing wrong with pricing it as you see fit. There’s nothing unethical with that. You have won an award, but it’s not an industry recognised one? So what? Be proud. Who’s to say your product, your book, is less deserving than a so-called prestigious one?

By the way, prestigious means ‘inspiring respect and admiration; having high status’. You’re an author. You have an idea worth sharing, a message you were able to put into words. That is inspiring. You’ve fought your way through the mire that is changing publishing conditions, you’ve stood up to the bullies and picked your way through the minefield of traps set by con artists and ‘people in the know’ alike. You have my admiration.

walk away from your shackles

Break out of the shackles of niceness, step away from the cankerous belief that you’re not worthy enough. If you want to succeed, you go for it. If you can think of a new idea, something ‘not in the rules’ – just do it! It’s not easy penetrating an already full-to-bursting, struggling market. Don’t worry about not being nice enough to the other market players, because they’re not worrying about you. There is no ‘nice’ in marketing.

This is the point at which you need to have a spilt personality. Be nice, be ethical, love your friends. But don’t give a damn about your competitors’ opinions. They’re in the game to succeed, not to get a certificate in ethical behaviour. So what are you waiting for? You may as well do your darnedest to reach your goal, because no one will start dishing out certificates in niceness any time soon.

certificate of nicenessI don’t care if my pizza is being delivered by a millionaire in a Ferrari or a pimply kid on a bike. If it’s good, I’ll eat it and buy some more.

I don’t care if the book I just bought has the words ‘Random House’ on the front cover or not. If it’s good, I’ll read it to the end, and go back for more from the same author.

And if you make me, the buyer, happy – whether you are giving me the book at a lower price, or offer some other services, interaction, a good website or any other detail that takes my fancy – I’ll be sure to recommend you to all my friends.

I’m nice, like that.


Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Let's Talk


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Shared Experiences on Marketing – Meet Dan O’Brien

Just a quick note to share an interesting post on an indie author’s experience on marketing, complete with valuable information on review providers – all from an indie’s perspective. Come and see. Meet Dan O’Brien.


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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Let's Talk


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