Tips 'N Treats: Week 15

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~MOONTANGLED by Stephanie Burgis is 99c all month long.

My Tip

Editing: It’s Not Just for Books Anymore

You get your manuscript back from the proofreader/formatter. You upload it to your online retailers, set your price, do some organic advertising, and sit back to let it roll while you work on book 2.

And then a bunch of people notice all the typos in your blurb and don’t buy the book.

Because that blurb reflects the book. Even if you had the book professionally edited, potential readers may not even get to the “look inside” feature if your blurb is full of issues.

You had the book edited. Why not have the blurb edited, too?

Just this week, I came across three books on Amazon that looked so cool, but the blurbs had glaring mistakes. I sighed and moved on. Why? Because there are so many books that don’t have errors in the blurb. Maybe the person with the unedited blurb has a great story, but am I going to take that chance? I didn’t. How many other sales are you missing because of that blurb?

I’m not just talking about commas, either. If the blurb is wordy, has a lot of repeated words, and uses general terminology (such as “when something even worse happens”), my interest drifts.

  • Make it punchy
  • Don’t tell me five times in three sentences how “shocking” new discoveries are
  • Give me specifics. Anyone’s “situation can suddenly get worse.” What specifically happens to make it worse for your characters?

Otherwise, I’m going to say “I’ve read this story before” and move on.

Get beta readers for your blurb. Find people who didn’t read the book and ask what they think. Does the blurb catch their attention, or do they shrug and say it’s just okay? Have your blurb professionally edited. It could be the difference between 100 and 1000 buys.

BONUS: Something else not to do in a blurb—repeatedly tell your readers how good the book is. If you have a status to flaunt (bestseller at X list), say so. Compare your book to similar books to tell your readers what they’re in for. Do this in a paragraph, tops. I recently came across a blurb that spent three paragraphs telling me how amazing the book was before it even got to what the story was about. It sounded like the author trying to pump up their work, and it made me wonder if it was really that good. I passed and moved on.

~If you want to get that blurb edited, I can help. Click on over to my services page for pricing.

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This week’s posts:

Tuesday: PLAGUE ARCANIST by Shami Stovall
Wednesday: BECOMING ANIMALS by Olga Werby
Friday: THE ISLE OF GOLD by Seven Jane

Guest Tip

This week, I’m pleased to welcome Sohini Ghose to Tips ‘N Treats. Sohini brings us a post about a very important and relevant topic: empathy. Specifically, she addresses how authors can show one another empathy, but the points here can be applied to any groups. Let’s hear what she has to say.

As editors we often hone our craft and better our skills, and there are plenty of ways to do so: experience, courses, books, webinars, and reading, among others. However, with over a decade’s experience as an editor­—in-house with a corporate publisher and an independent publishing house, and especially as a freelancer working with self-published authors—the skill that I treasure the most is empathy.

Empathy for the author: Fiction editing is a lot about intuition and feelings. It is also a lot about putting yourself in the characters’ shoes, in the author’s shoes, and in the readers’ shoes. Toggling different worlds is not easy but it certainly makes us more empathetic. As an editor, not only do we need to feel with the reader, we also need to feel with the author. We need to be aware and appreciative of the work that an author has put in, respectful of their time, and understanding of their emotions. A good editor will understand why the author has written what they have written and how the author's world can be communicated more effectively to the readers. Even if a book is not very well-written, an empathetic editor can make it a good book with their emotional intelligence and deep understanding.

We must show empathy not only during the process of editing but also in our communication with the authors. Whether it be during writing the editorial assessment, when selecting the language we use in our emails or phone conversations, or simply in waiting patiently while the author navigates through our red marks, we must be empathetic.

Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean lacking objectivity—a key skill for an editor. We need to find a fine balance between the two. And although what we do daily is a conscious performance of empathy, it has to be genuine and organic.

Empathy for ourselves: As editors, no matter how good we are, we can’t possibly be omniscient. No amount of editing can make a fiction work perfect. As a work of art, it can always be bettered by someone else’s standards. However, the fact that we have done our best is good enough and should be enough reason to rejoice. Don’t let the one tiny typo that slipped away eat away at your mind. Also, don’t sacrifice your sleep and rest hours to work, work, and work. We can’t be of any use to the author if we are tired and cranky. Space out your schedule, set reasonable deadlines, and enjoy what you do.

Empathy for the editor, from the author: But empathy, albeit a skill editors acquire, is certainly not limited to our species. To all the authors who are reading this, here is how you can show empathy towards your editors. Firstly, be respectful of the editor's time and calendar. If you need more time on a manuscript, simply let the editor know in advance. Most fiction editors block their calendars in advance and a heads up will be very helpful and will prevent them from losing out on money. Secondly, communicate what you want clearly. It is okay to be confused and to not have all the answers. Your editors are here to help. You can always work your way through your doubts with the help of your editor. Thirdly, accept that neither you nor your editor know it all. It is all a learning curve and working on the book is a collaborative experience. Empathy makes the work process so much easier and friendlier.

So, to all the wonderful empathetic authors out there, and especially to all my fellow fiction editors, let’s raise a toast to ourselves for the superpower of empathy that we possess and that has made us evolved and emotionally intelligent beings, and let’s keep preserving and polishing this superpower so that we can continue wearing our capes with pride.

If you want to chat with me about editing or work with me, you can email me at Feel free to look me up on Linkedin. To see why I love my job and feel qualified to write this post, please visit my website.

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