We all remember the hullaballoo in 202 and 2021 with the wild spread of a novel coronavirus not so affectionately called COVID-19. Shutdowns, shelter-in-place, mask mandates, social distancing: they began with exhortations to comply to "flatten the curve," meaning to slow transmission so hospitals and doctors wouldn't be overwhelmed. Slowing tranmission quickly morphed into "stop the spread," which as we all either knew or discovered could not and did not happen.
The virus still spread like wildfire. A lot of people died. Then came reports of anyone who tested positive for the virus was considered a COVID fatality regardless of the actual cause of death. Public trust eroded. Some people followed the money: hospitals received extra funds for COVID-related deaths, so they every incentive to report as many deaths as possible as COVID-related. Public trust further eroded. Drug companies rushed through research and production to produce vaccines of dubious effectiveness and widely reported, terrible side effects. Society quickly divided between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, regardless of whether one had already built up immunity or at least resistance via already contracting the disease.
Due to ethical concerns regarding the vaccines and distrust of public officials' widely varying recommendations, many people resisted vaccination. The CDC revised its definition of "vaccine," which did little to build the public trust. The vaccine—which still does not have FDA approval—remained a contentious issue with many advocating for "herd immunity." Forced vaccinations further eroded public trust, especially in high profile cases when seemingly healthy individuals died from severe heath issues not present before vaccination.
Strangely enough, one of the least political groups in the USA—Amish and Mennonite communities—relied on herd immunity. Generally averse to technology and advanced medicine, they also cherish those things we lost during two years of pandemic craziness: community and care. Our children also lost two years of education, a social catrosphe that will resonate for decades.
This year, the news is being filled with articles and broadcasts of a new and even more easily transmissible variant of COVID-19. They all express suprise and come loaded with dire warnings. Some public and health officials and schools are once again mandating face masks. Will they also soon order shutdowns and shelter-in-place mandates?
I don't know why this is a surprise. Every year in the USA, school starts in August after a summer break lasting a few weeks to three months. All coronaviruses (there are seven known human coronaviruses) are readily transmissible, particularly in crowded conditions. Bringing hordes of children and teens indoors with adults into school buildings creates the perfect atmosphere for the spread of germs. This happens every year. School starts, kids get sick, they bring their germs home to share with families, their infected parents go to work, and those parents spread the germs to their coworkers.
In short, the rising numbers of infection are not a suprise. It's predictable. What's also predictable is the rising furor over a renewed epidemic comes as election season gets under way. I dislike linking the two together, but it's been too coincidental to be happenstance.
Review the information and consider the sources of that information. Life is not without risk, so you have to weigh the risks of another round of social isolation and mandates against the risks of liberty. Then make your choice.
It's rather astonishing how often I come across people who think self-publishing equates to doing everything oneself. They're often surprised when I correct them: self-publishing isn't DIY.
When an author's manuscript is accepted by a traditional publisher, the publisher takes on the effort and risk of producing a book. This means the publisher pays the author a percentage (often a small percentage) of the revenues earned through book sales. That percentage is called a royalty. Some publishers pay an advance on the royalty in anticipation of a certain number of units (copies) sold, and the author receives nothing more until book revenues and the author's percentage meet or exceed that advance payment.
Because getting one's foot in the door with a traditional publisher or a literary agent who then would sell the manuscript to a publisher can be extremely difficult, many authors choose to self-publish without having any idea how to go about doing so. They haven't studied the publishing process and make innumerable mistakes along the way in their eagerness to get their books out to the public.
Online publishing platforms like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing make self-publishing easy, almost too easy. How-to tutorials mention nothing about ensuring quality, respecting copyrights, effective cover design, etc. They almost never mention marketing.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm one of those folks who would jump from an airplane and figure out how to fly on the way down. That's a fairly adequate analogy for authors who self-publish without studying the process and drawing a map on how to get from Point A to Point Z. People like us learn from the school of hard knocks.
Once I'm able to educate someone on the process of self-publishing, the discussion tends to turn to "do I have to do it that way?" and "how much does it cost?" To address the first: no, you don't have to do it that way. No one has to do it that way. No one will hold a weapon to your head and force you to follow the best process. However, there's a reason why experienced authors advise (i.e., strongly suggest) one do it that way: because that way gets the best result. As for the second question of cost, the answer is always "it depends." The factors affecting cost vary.
The best, most effective self-publishing process takes a lot of time and a lot of money. I've read that at a major publishing house, a manuscript will go through eight editors (or eight levels of editing) before it's released. Frankly, it's a rare individual who can afford that kind of expense and is willing to dedicate that much time to the project. Many authors who seek editing express surprise when they learn that editors do more than correct typos and punctuation errors. (If you're interested in budgeting for the cost of professional editing, you can find a good guideline to editing levels and fees here: www.the-efa.org/rates.)
The gold standard for editing begins with self-editing. Self-editing means the author reviews his or her manuscript with fresh eyes and a critical mind and is ruthless with correcting the flaws in the manuscript. Few authors can do this well, although many try. No author can truly review his or her own manuscript objectively.
Many authors attempt to avoid editing through the use of beta readers. Beta readers are volunteers who read a manuscript and return feedback. They are typically not paid. Being volunteers, usually untrained, and often a friend or relation of the author, the quality of their feedback often varies from poor to adequate. A friend or family member will not want to offend the author and may deliver unwarranted flattery. An unpaid, untrained volunteer may not understand what the author is looking for and what they should be critiquing. And it's hard to hold a volunteer to a schedule or make demands.
An editor's job is not to flatter the author. A smart author prizes the editor's candor because the editor is working in the best interests of the manuscript—not necessarily the author. The editor is not a teacher, although if the author learns from the editor's feedback and works to improve, the author will indeed learn and improve his or her own skill which will benefit future books.
I daresay most authors have fragile egos. They do not tolerate objective criticism or even "constructive" criticism. An author who fears an editor's candor may avoid the editing phase of producing a book and publish a book flawed by poor writing and riddled with errors. Not quite as bad is publishing a book that has been edited only by editing software. As one wise person (not I) said, "Editing software understands rules, not context." Editing software doesn't do exceptions. It applies what it thinks is correct, and the author who accepts those suggestions without considering whether they're either correct or effective does his or her manuscript a disservice.
Forgoing professional editing or relying exclusively on editing software opens the book and the author to scathing criticism on a public forum in the form of reviews. Professional editing won't eliminate negative reviews, because there will always be people who hate your book for whatever reason, but it will reduce them.
I think the most frustrating part of editing is that excellent editing is invisible. The reader doesn't notice how much work went into editing and revising because the reading of the book goes smoothly. However, the reader will notice—and not in a flattering way—the lack of editing or inadequate editing. Think of the books you read. If the content is riddled with errors and a lot of sentences make no sense, you notice. You notice those stumbling blocks of malaproprisms and expository description that stop the story in its tracks.
The value of good editing is difficult to calculate in terms of ROI. There's no direct link to the quality of editing and the number of sales made or lost due to it. It's not an obvious marketing tool. And it's expensive.
Therein lies the rub: Do you invest a lot of money into a book that statistics say won't earn it back? How important is quality to you? If you're determined to beat those dreary statistics, then producing a top quality book is a good start, and top quality entails professional editing, professional cover design, professional book design, and savvy copywriting for the book's cover blurb.
Then there's all that marketing you have to do.
Hen House Publishing doesn't do it all, but what I offer what I do well: professional ghostwriting, editing, and book design.
#editingservices #authorservices #henhousepublishing
We all have chores we loathe doing. I hate washing dishes.
Yes, we have a dishwasher, but it doesn't do a good job. I've never met one such machine that did. Nearly half of everything that goes into the dishwasher has to be washed again. I generally consider using it a waste of time and energy.
For many writers, editing is that detested chore. However, just like washing the dishes (and cleaning the toilet), it is necessary ... and for much the same reasons.
The analogy of the dishwasher also applies to editing software. Programs such as Autocrit, ProWritingAid, PerfectIt, and Grammarly may be helpful, but they'll result in a document still needing to be cleaned up. Such programs not only miss "dirt," but they also introduce errors (i.e., depositing "dirt") into the document.
Editing software does not and cannot distinguish nuance or context. It can't detect plot holes or inconsistencies, such as when your protagonist has green eyes on page 17 and blue eyes on page 132. As one person put it so eloquently, editing software knows rules, not context. It does not understand when effectiveness trumps the rules.
Many writers who rely exclusively on editing programs miss the above point. Or, if they know it, often state they cannot afford professional editing.
Another wise person—also a freelance editor—noted that people save up for large expenses important to them: the downpayment for a house or car, new furniture or a large appliance, an engagement ring, or something else. If your book is important to you, isn't it worth saving up to afford editing to make it as good as it can be?