Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to Catch Those Pesky Typos - Aaron Lazar


How to Catch Those Pesky Typso Typos

copyright aplazar 2014

It’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer, don’t you think? Editing your own work, running over the same pages over and over again…and still, if you’re human, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss a quotation mark here, an extra space there, or worse, a typo.

You know that reading your own words is the most difficult scenario for proofing, don’t you? Your big, beautiful brain is so good at translating what you physically “see” on the page into what your mind “knows” you “meant” to type, that it usually will glide right over an extra “the” or a missing “a.”

Yes, it purposefully corrects the errors, without even notifying you!

You can read the same sentence a hundred times, and it’ll look great to you. Your mind interprets it as you intended it. And when the first person to take a look at your book finds a glaring omission, or an extra word in that lovely prose, you may feel like an incompetent idiot.

You thought you were careful. Right? You worked so hard to catch those typos.

When it first happens, it embarrassing. But over time, you’ll learn you cannot catch all of the errors by yourself.

I’ve written twenty-two books, so I’ve been through this process a few times. (you can see them at www.lazarbooks.com, including my newest release, Betrayal.) Over the years, I’ve had publishing house editors go over my manuscripts. They found errors, I fixed them. And I tried not to make more errors when I made the corrections, which is all too common.

We had the first and second edits, then copy edits in the end to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Once in a while, in spite of our best efforts, an error would creep through. Humiliated, I’d beat myself up for this one stupid error and swear it would never happen again. 

Because, you see, I, like you, get upset when I see typos in a best selling book. I used to think, "How can they have missed them?" "How hard can it be to find them?" "Didn't they even READ this thing?"

It was very humbling and illuminating to discover that sometimes, in spite of heroic efforts, these pesky mistakes can make it through to the final version. It happens to the best of us. 

As time went on, I learned that beta readers were an amazing asset. Not only were they excellent at finding and spotting typos, but if you found talented readers or writers with a knack for literary insight (like my beta readers!), they would point out inconsistencies in a scene or even mention when they thought a character went beyond their natural boundaries. My beta readers have helped my books become the best they can be, and I love them. ;o)

Over the years I’ve developed friendships with writers and readers, and I’d offer them the job of beta reading my manuscripts before I submitted the book to my publisher. It worked out very well, and I always felt better when they’d read through my books. On average, I have 10-12 people read the manuscript before I consider it “close to done.”

Of those twenty-two books, I’ve published fifteen through a traditional small press since 2007, and have recently moved on to self publish (through Kindle Select) seven more that were waiting in the publishing queue in the past year. Polishing and proofing all of these manuscripts was a real challenge, and my beta readers did me proud. But believe it or not – they didn’t catch all the typos.

I have discovered there is one more essential step to proofing one’s manuscript: reading it aloud.

Yes, it’s something you can do yourself. It might take you a whole weekend to get through it. But it’s worth the effort. Better yet, if you have a narrator who is recording the audio book version, this is where the final catches will be found. 

Aside: I recommend that authors release all books in this order: eBook, audio book, print.

I have found that my best narrators (actors, really, with great attention to detail) have consistently isolated a couple of leftover “extra or missing letters/words” which are the hardest to find. Sure, with a real typo, like a misspelled word, MS Word underlines it for you in red. Those aren’t too hard to find. It’s harder when you have an extra preposition in a sentence, or a misused word like “here” instead of “hear.” MS Word doesn’t often catch those mistakes.

I find these errors creep in at the end of a work in progress, when I’ve gone through to beef up a sentence or make changes in general. Then I don’t always “cut” fully or “paste” fully and that’s my downfall! Creating typos because you’re fixing another typo is annoying, but pretty common.

Does that happen to you?

Here’s my advice on how to produce a typo-free book.

1) When creating your book, try to find a writer or reader friend who will swap chapters with you as you write it. You read their stuff, they read yours. You help them, they help you. It’s all good. They can help you cull out that first crop of errors, right off the bat.

2) When you’re done writing the book, go through it until you feel you are satisfied. This may take multiple read-throughs. It all depends on how careful you were the first time around when creating the story.

3) Ask another good friend to check it over, so you can be sure you didn’t make any really embarrassing faux pas.

4) Draft beta readers to help you. This may take years of cultivating friends and readers, but it is worth its weight in gold.

5) Review it a few more times yourself after you’ve incorporated beta edits (remember, just use what makes sense to you, you don’t want to lose your focus!)

6) Release the book as an eBook.

7) Find reviewers. Watch the comments come in from readers. Notice if anyone mentions typos! If so, go after them immediately. In this day and age, it’s easy to fix a file and reload it up to your seller’s page. Repost the eBook with the changes. (easy peasy if you are on Amazon)

8) Post the file on ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) to find the perfect narrator. Choose him/her carefully.

9) Send the manuscript to your audio book narrator to read before they begin production. 

10) When they find a few mistakes – fix them. Reload the eBook to correct these things.

11) Let the narrator finish the audiobook recording. If they find anything else (at this point it might just be a missing quotation mark, or an extra space), then upload the corrected eBook again. Now it should be close to perfect.

12) At this point, it’s safe to start thinking about creating your print version. I use Create Space and have been very happy with their quality and support. 

13) Order a proof (or two, or three, depending on what you find and fix!) before you finalize the manuscript. NEVER just review it online – you need to hold it in your hands, go through it page by page. Formatting can be tricky at first, so make sure you focus on page numbers and margin spacing before you let it go live. And read this printed version one more time – you might find another error! 

14) Send an autographed copy of your print book to all your beta readers – they worked hard for this, and they deserve a special treat!

Even with this painstaking approach, once in a while something slips through. It’s disappointing if it happens, but it’s probably God’s way of keeping us humble. ;o)

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Which Books Deserve Publication?


A Conversation with Lida Quillen

Publisher and Founder of Twilight Times Books

By

Dora Machado
 
 
Have you ever wondered about a publisher's selection process?

Last week I introduced you to Lida Quillen, founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, an independent publishing house that publishes critically acclaimed literary, mystery, science fiction and fantasy books. Today, she talks about her decision-making process, her take on which books deserve publication and why, what happens when she offers an author a publishing contract and her best advice for unpublished authors.

Welcome back, Lida. We love having you here! You've said before in previous interviews that you are committed to "providing an outlet for brilliant authors with books that deserve to see print." How do you decide which books deserve publication?

I prefer literary works that are exemplary, that transcend genres and/or are beautifully written. I am *highly* selective as to what I will accept for publication. Out of 300 submissions, I might accept two manuscripts for publication.

A good example of the type of novel I am currently looking for is Jerome and the Seraph by Robina Williams. This book combines mythology, classical paintings, quantum physics and the afterlife.

Barbarians at the Gates by Christopher Nuttall is an exceptional military SF novel.

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden involves magic, mystery and romance in a coming of age story.

Gate to Nowhere by Leanna Sain is an award-winning novel that combines mystery, romance and time travel.

Knight of Flame by Scott Eder is an exceptional contemporary fantasy.

Reunion by Ken Lizzi is a post-apocalyptic survival novel that involves parallel worlds.

I’ve often said that if someone enjoys reading, then they will enjoy most of the books we publish, whether the book is in their favorite genre, or not. I’ve seen any number of reviews that say, for example, “I don’t particularly like SF, but I thoroughly enjoyed Monkey Trap…” or “I’m not a big fantasy fan but I couldn’t put Cassie Scot down…” or words to that effect.

So you've found a book you love and you've offered an author a contract. What happens next? What does TT Books expect from the author? What can the author expect from TT Books?

Normally we bring out the ebook first and the print book several months later. The cover artwork can take up to three months to complete. Edits can be simultaneous but figure a minimum of four months before your book is released as an ebook. We send the ebook version (pdf arc) around to gather reviews prior to bringing out the print version.

Also, immediately after the ebook version is released, I send your book off to an editor (yes, again) prior to print production. I have found nearly all books, even well-written ones, can use a bit more polish.

re: editing process. I have an editor go over the manuscript. Then the file goes back to the author with notations and suggestions. The author sends the manuscript back to me. I then assign a copy editor who goes over the manuscript. The file goes back to the author who makes the changes (or not), then sends the file to me for final edits. At TT Books the author generally has the last word on changes.

Then, we go through this process all over again for the paperback versions. The main thing is I need a print galley review copy to send around to the pre-publication reviewers such as Booklist, ForeWord Reviews, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, etc. three or four months prior to the official release date.

Our initial print runs have been small, 500-750 books, while we test market our books. We can ramp up print runs as needed if reader demand warrants. For example, we printed 1700 copies of Monkey Trap with an offset printer two weeks after the release date. Hudson Lake, had an initial print run of 2500 books.

re: marketing. We feel the most important marketing tool is to publish first-rate books. Our books have been professionally edited and display attractive cover artwork by professional artists.

Twilight Times Books is currently listed in the Literary Market Place. Over the past couple of years, we have accumulated info on several hundred independent bookstores that are willing to carry books from small press publishers and have been sending out targeted mailings.

We have an online media room where members of the media, booksellers and retailers can download flyers, sell sheets, reviews and chapter excerpts in pdf files formatted for print. Our catalogue is also available as a download.

Media kits and press releases are sent to major publications and galleys/advance review copies sent to top reviewers such as American Library Journal, Booklist, ForeWord Reviews, NYT Book Review, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago-Sun Times, Oregonian, Seattle Times, etc.

We gather names and contact info for the Community Relations Managers for the Barnes & Noble bookstores in regions where our authors reside and send them targeted promo packets.

We have been sending postcards, flyers and/or brochures to targeted specialty shops and various book catalogues. Press releases and news stories are sent to the author's local and regional newspapers, libraries, bookstores, associations and etc. News stories are posted online to newsgroups, readers' bulletin boards and appropriate readers email lists.

What about authors who haven't been published yet? What advice would you share with authors who are struggling to put their work out there?

In order to be successful, I strongly recommend that an author is active on social media even before they attempt to publish their first novel. Readers like to know the “story behind the story,” so to speak. Fans will enjoy reading about the author’s trials and tribulations such as finishing the book, signing with a literary agent or publisher, cover art reveal, etc. Get your fans, book bloggers, etc. involved and invested in your writing endeavors.

Until a couple of years ago book publicists used to send review copies to the major magazines and newspapers. Now publicists send review copies to the major book bloggers.

Find critique partners, Beta readers or pay a freelance editor to go over your manuscript before you submit your work to a publisher or before you self-publish.

 One of the best marketing tools these days is to have two or three books in a series ready to go before you publish the first one.

 Thanks again for answering our questions, Lida. We really appreciate your time. And to our MB4 readers, Lida will return next week to talk about a hot topic among writers these days: Book marketing and what you can do to impact your sales.

See you next week!

*****


About Lida Quillen

Lida E. Quillen is an author, editor, publicist and publisher. She is the founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, Paladin Timeless Books and Twilight Times ezine and current owner of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine.

About Twilight Times Books

The mission of Twilight Times Books is to promote excellence in writing and great literature. TTBooks is dedicated to enhancing the prospects of getting great fantasy, historical, literary, mystery, science fiction and Young Adult books into the hands of readers.

Submission Information

Twilight Times Books will be open to submissions from February 15th to March 5, 2015. Send a cover letter, synopsis, first chapter and marketing plan in the body of an email message. The subject line must begin with ttb or ttbooks.


Contact Information:

Lida E. Quillen, Publisher

Email: publisher@twilighttimesbooks.com – or – publisher@twilighttimes.com



*****
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.

When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

 To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

911- a tribute

Just wanted to start a post that our fans could comment on for a tribute to this day. If you just want to say God bless America that will be okay too. Here is an image of me back in the 70s when NYC was my fav tourist spot. 
We will never forget. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Meet Lida Quillen, Publisher and Founder of Twilight Times Books

She Dreams of Books
 
By
 
Dora Machado
 
 
 
Lida Quillen is the founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, an independent publishing house that publishes critically acclaimed literary, mystery, science fiction and fantasy books.  By her own admission, Lida dreams of books every night.
 
Founded in 1999, TT Books has evolved from a cutting-edge, pioneering e-publisher into a high-quality, full-service independent publishing house with an impressive catalog that showcases more than 70 authors and 150 titles including my latest novel, The Curse Giver, and many of MB4's very own Aaron Paul Lazar's novels.
 
As you may know, publishers are busy people, so I was delighted when Lida agreed to this conversation. During the next few weeks, she'll answer my questions in a series of four posts here on MB4, where she will share her journey as an independent publisher, her publishing philosophy, her views on which books deserve publication and why, and the trends of a changing industry. She'll also offer her best advice about finding a publisher, marketing your book and the future of writing.

 Today, Lida tackles a couple of questions regarding something that is mystifying to the average writer and downright mysterious to the newbie:  The life of an independent publisher.


Hi Lida, welcome to MB4. For those readers who don't know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What's your background, when did you decide to go into the book business, and why publishing?

After attempting such occupations as air traffic controller, real estate agent, apartment manager, etc., I found a field of endeavor that is challenging and personally rewarding. I enjoy writing and by 1995 I had garnered publication credits in over twenty print publications with my short stories, poetry and articles. I had also completed the first five chapters and a chapter-by-chapter outline of the rest of the book for five different novels. These are best described as a dark fantasy set in another universe, a contemporary urban fantasy, a fantasy set in the Old West, an epic fantasy set in another universe and a supernatural murder mystery.

After I discovered the Internet, my fiction writing slowed to a trickle. There is something seductive about having 20MB of space to fill with your own creative works. I had fun building a personal website dedicated to beginning writers who plan to write and sell their work. I wanted to share what I had learned along the way to becoming a published writer.

When I first discovered the Internet in 1997, I was amazed at the number of highly talented and yet unpublished writers I kept meeting online. I could feel their anguish and frustration at not being able to break into print. I decided to do something about it and created Twilight Times ezine in July 1998 to showcase great writing and to give these writers an outlet.

Next I started listening to writers who could not get their novels published. In January 1999, I started Twilight Times Books to present the works of talented, but under-published novelists.

What is your workday at Twilight Times Books like? What kinds of activities consume your time? What part of your job do you enjoy best? What part of your job to you like least?

A typical day starts out at 8:00 AM. I am on the computer in my home office coordinating the various stages of the production process, assigning cover artwork to an artist who can best convey a sense of the story, matching a qualified editor to a particular manuscript, putting the finishing touches on the InDesign files that will be uploaded via ftp to the printer, etc. I upload files for new ebook releases to our various ebook distributors and begin promo and marketing efforts. The workflow is handled electronically, for the most part.

By now, it is 3:00 PM and the FedEx driver has delivered cartons of books to my car port and the UPS driver has left cartons on the front porch. With several hundred books in the house, the new books will need to go to a temperature and humidity controlled storage area off-site. I place galley copies in boxes along with a cover letter and marketing material for various pre-publication book reviewers then load the boxes of books in my truck and drive ten miles into Kingsport.

A quick visit to the post office and/or the UPS office and the orders are on their way. The cartons of new books are tucked away at the storage unit and I head home. I’m back on the computer to coordinate with authors, editors, artists, work on promo, publicity and marketing as well as respond to email queries (several hundred email messages most days), etc. After supper I typically work on the computer until 1:00 AM or so then fall into bed and dream of books.

Actually, I enjoy all aspects of publishing. I enjoy giving talented authors their first break and watching them develop as writers. Fortunately, I also enjoy the publication process. We have authors, editors and artists from countries around the world. A new book from an author in Denmark might have a Canadian editor and cover artwork from an artist in Australia. Finding the best editor for a particular author, commissioning the artwork, bringing out the book in various formats, sending it around to the distributors, handling the marketing and promo, etc. is all part of the publication process – a most interesting and challenging endeavor.

 Thank you so much for answering our questions today, Lida. And to our MB4 readers, Lida will return to talk about how she decides which book deserve publication next week!
 
*****
About Lida Quillen

Lida E. Quillen is an author, editor, publicist and publisher. She is the founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, Paladin Timeless Books and Twilight Times ezine and current owner of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine.

About Twilight Times Books
The mission of Twilight Times Books is to promote excellence in writing and great literature. TTBooks is dedicated to enhancing the prospects of getting great fantasy, historical, literary, mystery, science fiction and Young Adult books into the hands of readers.

Submission Information

Twilight Times Books will be open to submissions from February 15th to March 5, 2015. Send a cover letter, synopsis, first chapter and marketing plan in the body of an email message. The subject line must begin with ttb or ttbooks.


Contact Information:

Lida E. Quillen, Publisher

Email: publisher@twilighttimesbooks.com – or – publisher@twilighttimes.com
Website: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter.com

*****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.

When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, September 4, 2014

3 Ways Your Writer's Oath is Failing Your Reader

There is a pact between a reader and a writer, and when it is established with credibility the reader will read and commit to the writer's offering. Likewise,the writer will, on their end, agree to give the reader something for their time--a story, an idea, a way to look at the world.
DUH!
But sometimes we don't quite hit our mark, and we end up failing the agreement with our reader and well, this is a bad thing. So in order to prevent this from happening, we need to look at what our readers expect and how we might be failing their expectations.

1. We pledge an epic eruption at the end and all the reader gets is a tiny thunderclap. This is also known as not bringing the heat. We cannot build a climax for three hundred pages and not give them what they paid for. So, if you hint at a big finale, don't close the curtain before the job is done.

2. We commit to paper people who are true to themselves as we have written them. This is known as making characters stay the same throughout the book's journey. But sometimes, they just don't behave. They grow and change and act like someone else by the end of the book. That's really okay, sometimes they do change just like we do. But when they are zombies who don't know who they are and why they are doing what they do, well, that is not okay.

3. We vow to keep our chapters succinct and to the point. And then, the reader decides that they know exactly how it is going to end, and quits reading. Well- we should try to keep things interesting and not too easy to figure out. Part of the element of surprise is well, the element. Don't make out like the story is not going to move along in it's natural rhythm. It will. And it's okay to allow it to seep over the edges of convention as long as it doesn't jump in the river and swim all the way downstream.

So finally, try to make an earnest effort to give the reader what they think that they are getting when they read your blurb. But don't forget to throw in that special sauce that makes them say they were pleasantly surprised too.