Wednesday, May 27, 2015

10 Things a Writer Should Do Post-Conference

by, Alycia W. Morales

I recently returned from one of my favorite writers conferences of all time, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. As a faculty member who used to be an attendee, I recognize the posts of several conferees this week: I'm home now, and I'm really missing everyone I just met. Can't we go back? Next year can't come soon enough.

Along with those post-conference blues comes the need to process all of the information we've taken in over the last week.

Overwhelming. For sure.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Measuring Success

By Andrea Merrell

Everybody wants to be successful, right? Especially writers. The problem is success comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says success is: an outcome or result; degree or measure of succeeding; the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence. That makes success a very broad and relative subject. The key is how you define it for yourself.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Using a Professional Editor

By Holly Lorincz

[This is an excerpt from the recently published book
by Chip MacGregor and Holly Lorincz, reprinted with permission from Benchmark Press]

"How do I use a professional editor? And how can I find someone trustworthy?"

Answer by Holly Lorincz, owner of Lorincz Literary Services, and professional editor for New York Times Bestselling Authors such as Vince Zandri and Deborah Reed

This is a good question; most writers who seek publication understand this is a collaborative process. It’s important to know what to look for in an edit, and an editor.

First, decide if you need a developmental edit, a copy edit, or a proofreading (or a combination). For instance, it often makes the most sense to start with hiring a professional to do a developmental edit. Then, once you’ve taken their assessment notes and made plot or character or timeline revisions, you can decide if you still need to pay for a close reading (copy edit) or if you are ready to hire an editor for a proof (editing only for typos and grammar errors, not for content).

If you are looking for an editor on your own, make sure you talk to them before you sign up (you can find editorial services easily by doing an internet search). At least chat through email. What is their availability? What is their experience? How long does an edit with your word length generally take? How do they define the different types of edits (not everyone uses the same terminology)? Which style guide, and other references, will the editor be using (for example, most editors use the Chicago Manual of Style on novels, as this is what most publishing houses prefer)? How do they provide feedback? How do they charge? Are there testimonials available from previous clients? Do they edit from a hard copy (old-school) or can you send a Word doc? Do they need to see a sample first? Most importantly, do they work mostly with fiction or nonfiction? Will they be comfortable or open-minded regarding your content?

Once you have settled on an editor, and you’re happy with the time frame of the review, be sure to communicate openly about what you think are problem areas. While a good editor will be reading the manuscript with basic novel or nonfiction concepts in mind, anyway, according to the type of review you've ordered, it’s good to let him or her know you are particularly concerned with theme, or a minor character’s voice, or a certain subplot, or scaffolding of information, etc.

Okay. You’ve just received your manuscript back, covered in red. What do you do with the professional edit?

To start, you may totally disagree with the suggested revisions but you still need to pay for the review. Remember, you are hiring for a service—a service that by its very nature is meant to tear apart your baby. When you’ve been handed back your bloody baby, you cradle it and cry and pound your chest in private, but then you sign the check. Now, if the edit is shoddy or unprofessional, by all means go back to the editor and do what you need to do. But if you take issue over their opinion, then you need to take a step back and reconsider.

Why did the editor say what he or she did? If this objective reader misread or found something needing repair, is it not then likely other readers will feel the same way? If so, consider the editor’s suggestions or come up with your own revisions. Assuming your bottom line is to actually sell the book, will the general public agree with your editor or with you?

Once you receive the review, it is totally appropriate to email or call if you do not understand a comment or revision. However, it is not appropriate to make suggested changes and then go back to the editor and expect them to re-assess portions of your manuscript, not unless you’ve contracted them for their time. It’s not that the editor is heartless or doesn’t care about your project, but they do have other edits scheduled and need to move on.

A common response from authors is to want to explain their point of view or what they “meant” to the editor. This is totally not necessary. The editor’s job is done the minute they tell you a scene or a phrase didn’t make sense to them. The editor knows you will either see how it could be confusing and fix it, or you will choose to ignore their suggestion. Either option is up to you—the editor has moved on.

When you find a good editor, learn to appreciate their work, even if it’s emotionally hard to read his or her notes. The majority of us take our role as editor seriously, recognizing how vulnerable most writers are when it comes to having their project critiqued. That’s as it should be. I offer criticism from the point of view of someone who honestly just wants to help authors produce their best work, never to be condescending or argumentative. I believe this is how most professional editors operate, from an innate desire to teach, to be supportive, and to be part of a book’s journey to a bookshelf.

How do I know what type of #editor I need? via@HollyLorincz (Click to Tweet.)

@Holly Lorincz advises us to do our homework before hiring an #editor. (Click to Tweet.) 

Holly Lorincz is the owner of Lorincz Literary Services, an editing and publishing consultation service that can be found at  She is also a literary agent with the prestigious MacGregory Literary, Inc.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What NOT to Do at a Writers Conference

by, Alycia W. Morales

Conference season is in full swing, and there are several writers who are dreaming of landing an agent, their first publishing contract, publication in their favorite magazine, and so much more.

But sometimes we can get so lost in the excitement that we lose ourselves in it and forget the guidelines we've been taught. Or maybe we really think we can get away with ignoring them...

Having been to several writers conferences as either an attendee or a member of faculty, I've observed a few writers and their forgetfulness. If you want to land that deal, be sure to learn from those writers rather than make the same mistakes.

Don't follow an agent or editor into the bathroom to pitch your book. Be professional. Set up an appointment with them instead. If there are no slots left for a time, ask them if you could meet with them after dinner or during some other break. If they say no, respect that.

Don't get emotional on the agents/editors. This will only freak them out and make them run far away from you. I watched one lady bawl on an agent's shoulder, claiming God had called her to write her book and begging for him to understand. Then she followed him to dinner. She didn't get any closer to her dream by doing that. Neither will you.

Don't tell everyone God called you to write your book, so it must be published. God calls a lot of people to write books. But sometimes we're only meant to write a book for our own healing process. Or maybe to share with our family. Or maybe to self-publish. Or maybe to use for speaking engagements. Not everyone is called to write for major publication. Rather than seek out the agents and editors for your answer to this rather weighted question, seek God's guidance. If it's really meant to be, He'll tell you by having an agent or editor ask to see more rather than have you telling them what His will is.

Don't challenge rejection. Instead, work with it. Ask questions, but ask the right ones. What can I improve on? What would you recommend I do? And then...

Don't ignore what the professionals are telling you. They have been working long enough to know what sells and what doesn't. They also know what needs work and how to improve your writing. Listen to what they are telling you. Pay attention. Then, go home and apply it. If you want to see the day of publication, you will have to work on your writing.

Don't say something you may regret. There are a lot of ears at a writers conference. Word gets around quickly when someone speaks ill of someone in the industry. There's a Proverb that says that even a fool is counted as wise when he keeps his mouth shut. If you don't have something positive to say, don't say it where someone may hear it. It may be wise not to say it at all.

Don't hog the conversation. People will ask you questions and want to hear your answers. You may eat dinner with a faculty member, and you may wish to ask them questions or answer theirs. Please remember to honor the others at your table/in your conversation and give them a chance to speak as well. It's rude to not let others get a word in edgewise.

Don't try to take over the class you're in. Some faculty members will encourage comments and questions during their classes. That isn't liberty to offer your teaching on their subject every chance you get. There isn't enough time in an hour-and-a-half to include every minor detail of a topic. The faculty members are professional enough to know what is most important and what can be left out. And they were the one hired to teach the class, not the conferees. Be respectful.

Don't ignore your fellow conferee. You'll be surprised who may be your editor next year. A lot of people go to conferences to meet with agents and editors and authors. What they don't always realize is that it's good to develop relationships with their fellow attendees. Many lifelong friendships, critique partnerships, prayer warriors have been discovered at writers conferences. And who knows? Maybe that conferee is already a writer/agent/editor and you just don't know it yet...

Q4U: What things have you seen at conferences that you don't recommend conferees do? We'd love to hear your stories! (Please don't mention names.)

What NOT to Do at a Writers Conference via @AlyciaMorales {Click to Tweet}

Conversation Hogs, Must-Have-Input-ers, & other annoying people you may meet at a #writers conference {Click to Tweet}