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Archive for February, 2011

Sorry folks, but this cold virus is really causing havoc here, so I’ve decided to do you all a favor (read: not write anything in gibberish as that seems to be how I’m speaking today :P) and repost Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips by Dustin Wax. He’s got some great advice I think we can all use, especially if you’re a DIY-er.

Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips

Teachers, business people, and just about everyone else it seems complain often and loudly that people today (usually “kids today”) don’t know how to write. I’m convinced, though, that a big part of the problem (perhaps the biggest part of the problem) is that people don’t know how to edit. We labor under the notion that good writing flows easily from the pen or typing fingers, and that editing too much will “kill” our work.

The best writers know differently, of course — their memoirs and biographies and writing manuals are filled with stories of books that needed to be cut in half to be readable, sentences that took weeks or months to get just right, and lifetimes spent tinkering with a single work that never strikes them as “just right”. To paraphrase a common saying among writers, there is no good writing, only good re-writing.

But if writing isn’t taught well enough or often enough these days, editing is hardly taught at all. This is too bad, since editing is where the real work of writing is at. More than just proofreading, good editing improves the clarity and forcefulness of a piece. Here’s some tips and tricks to help you make your writing more effective:


read the rest of his post, with all the great tips and tricks here.

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The proof of my second book, Simply Prayer, finally arrived in the mail this week and I’m happy with it overall. I admit, though, that I had to beg my husband to read through it just to make sure the errors I found needed to be fixed or if I was just being a perfectionist. Usually I would have simply buckled down, fixed the errors and, as I want it available by Ash Wednesday, ordered an expressed shipped proof. However, I ran into a snag with the digital files — which is the point of this post.

If you use InDesign CS4 you probably know about the book feature where several separate files can be compiled into a single book. It’s a great tool that keeps file size down and makes it simpler to print a single chapter.

The downside, as I discovered after sending my .pdf to CreateSpace, is transferring all those files into an ebook. You can’t simply re-save the book with a new name and expect the chapter files to save themselves as new files too. You’ll have a newly named book using the original chapter files instead.

What that means is that any re-formatting you do to your chapters will be saved over the original files. For instance, I wanted to include the pictures from the print edition in the ebook edition, but I wanted them to be seen just before the section titles. To do that I followed Elizabeth Castro’s instructions from EPUB Straight to the Point and pasted them directly into the text box. It looks great in the epub, but when I went back to check something in the original book file (after making those changes to two entire chapters!) I discovered that change was there as well. Not good.

If I had already approved the print edition and had no plans to ever release a second edition similar to the first, then it wouldn’t be a problem. Now, if I wanted to make any changes to the print edition, it will be a major headache. I’ll have to re-format the print files, getting them back to the original as close as I can, before I can correct those little things I didn’t like.

The good news, at least, is that I’ve learned a valuable lesson I can pass on to all of you.

  1. Save the original files in a single folder, including images and anything else contained in your print edition.

  2. Copy everything from that folder into a second folder strictly for epublishing and web content.

  3. Re-name everything in the second folder. I chose putting an “e” in front of each file name to make it easily identifiable.

  4. Open the new “eBook” in IDCS4, select all the old chapter files, click the remove button, then add the new “eChapters.”
  5.  

It’s a little bit of work to create a second set of files in a new folder, but believe me when I say a little work now will save a lot of work later. What other tips and tricks have you learned while putting your book together?

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If you’re a highly sensitive person like me, then you’ll understand how stressful marketing yourself, your product or your business can be. If you aren’t an HSP, then today’s marketing landscape with its hurry, scurry push in social media probably doesn’t bother you. You may, in fact, thrive on the pressure, the excitement. The downside to that is that mistakes can be made at a faster rate and be more challenging to correct.

It’s also true that HSPs will suffer more stress and anxiety if we jump into all of the things we’re told we should be doing before we take the time to fully plan where we want to end up or if we don’t pace ourselves the way we need to — at a slower rate than the rest of the world. Regardless of whether you’re thinking about blogging or using Twitter or Facebook or any other social media, as an HSP it is imperative to think it through and take your time.

I’m currently working my way through Kristen Lamb’s WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, which I highly recommend, but I have to continuously remind myself that I am not in a race. As Kristen has pointed out in previous blog posts, writing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Building an author platform goes right along with that. I may not be able to fit in 15 minutes each for Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (or whatever other social media outlet I’ve chosen) everyday, but I can certainly spend that much time on one per day, blog at least once per week and still have time left to work on my “masterpiece”.

Jumping into anything before you’re truly ready, or even mostly ready, gives a higher possibility of failure. It also means a greater possibility of losing your passion to write altogether. Still, it’s very difficult to reign in our enthusiasm, especially if we’re newer to the process. As Jody Hedlund says in her post The Pressure To Jump In Too Soon, “It’s hard enough to have patience. Therefore, when we get involved in the cyber writing world, eventually, we might begin to feel left behind or the pressure to keep up with what others are doing—even if we’re right where we need to be.”

Jody suggests 5 things newer writers can do to keep those feelings of pressure to a minimum, which I think really speak to HSPs:

  1. Concentrate on your writing because that is what will sell.

  2. You can put aside the book you’ve written without editing it. Consider it a project to revisit later when you’ve had more experience.

  3. If your story isn’t working or you’ve lost the passion for a project, it’s okay to put it away unfinished.

  4. Take the time to try out other genres. You may find your best writing isn’t in the genre you thought it was.

  5. Most importantly, spend less time thinking about what everyone else is doing and more time being you. As an HSP you know you’re unique. Capitalize on it.

It’s not the popular choice to take the slow lane when trying to forge ahead in a writing career, but for highly sensitive people it can be the best way. What other ways have you discovered to keep your career moving ahead while maintaining the balance you need as an HSP?

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I finally ordered my proof copy of Simply Prayer, formerly Prayerfully Yours. While I’m happy with the file I uploaded to CreateSpace, I’m left wondering if I was my own worst enemy in getting the entire project done to begin with.

I had originally planned on having the book out before the season of Advent, but missed that deadline by a good two months. I reset my deadline to have it ready for Lent 2011 and I’ve just made it. Why all the deadline problems? I tried to cut too many corners. Instead of going the normal route of writing, editing, designing and fixing the details of the design I tried to write and design simultaneously.

Bad idea. Very bad idea.

What I had hoped would shorten the amount of time from the planning stage to the finished product bred headaches and nightmares too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say I won’t be trying that again. And so I want to leave you all with a bit of advice. Follow these four steps and you’ll reduce the irritations and frustrations of the DIY Independent Author.

  1. Write until the story is completely told, or for non-fiction until you begin repeating yourself. Don’t worry about page count and design elements like fonts, pictures or pulled quotes.

  2. Edit your manuscript completely before you even begin to think about what it should look like on the page. Once the design process begins it’ll make it more difficult to add new material, move passages around or delete entire sections.

  3. Design your book with an eye toward more than one media. Ebooks are growing in popularity and soon will become the majority when it comes to purchases, but that doesn’t mean no one will want a well-designed print edition. Yours may become a collector’s edition. If you’re not already proficient in designing print and/or ebooks, then either hire someone to do it for you or find some really good resources like The Book Designer or Elizabeth Castro’s book EPUB Straight to the Point.

  4. Fix the little details of your design, like making sure chapters begin on the right of a print book and new sections/chapters are new pages in ebooks.

What short-cuts have you tried that didn’t end up as you had planned?

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