Every author needs an editor. Failing that, every author needs beta readers. The hardest part of the editing phase of producing a book is waiting for the editor/beta reader to finish his or her task. I've not succeeded in that with past books, but am determined that I will with this one.
Jumping back into the manuscript while someone else is editing it can be helpful, if only because it allows the writer and editor to interact. However, I think the doing so interferes with the editor's work, because interruption rarely makes for good work.
Right now, Russian Dawn is in the tender care of beta readers whose volunteer assistance I deeply appreciate. After they've gone through the manuscript, I'll revise as I deem appropriate. If I still feel uncomfortable with releasing the book into the wide world, I'll put the manuscript into the hands of a professional editor.
Yes, I am a professional editor, but it's folly to edit one's own work.
I've gotten a start on book promotion, too. The Facebook marketing guy I hired for my end-of-year catalog promotion will be creating the Facebook ad for Russian Dawn. I am looking into Amazon's book marketing options to determine ease of use and affordability. And I'll be present at the 2017 ConGlomeration in Louisville, KY, to promote Hen House Publishing and Red Sun Magazine. The event runs April 7 - 9.
Once Russian Dawn is released, I will combine the three books--Russian Lullaby, Russian Gold, and Russian Dawn--into a single volume for print. None of the three books, really, is long enough for print, but together they'll offer about 150,000 words of pure romance. Not too shabby.
Meanwhile, I'm hanging from tenterhooks as I resist the temptation to open the manuscript, see what the beta readers are doing, and then plunging into the revision process. Patience, I remind myself, is a virtue. Besides, I tell myself, I have a couple dozen other manuscripts that could use some attention.
Finishing the draft manuscript affects me predictably. I have finished writing, my brain thinks, and therefore it's now time to read. And watch TV. And read some more. In short, my creative energy isn't even simmering right now. It's been shoved to the back burner where it waits, tepid and stagnant until something sparks and the fire is once again lit. With the goals I set for myself this year, I cannot afford to dwell in the lull between manuscripts for long.
Clients, actual and potential, frequently pose the question of "How much do you charge per page?" The question invites multiple questions in response: How big is your page? What are the margins? What font are you using? What size is the typeface? What's the leading? Are there any graphics on the page?
Although the questions may seem sarcastic or even rude, they have a purpose. It's pretty much impossible to charge by the page when the word count per page when so many variables affect the number of words on the page. Referencing the standard manuscript page of about 250 to 300 words doesn't necessarily help, either, if the prospective client doesn't know the average number of words per page on his document.
If I'm not making sense, try this. Find a blank sheet of paper and a pen. On the sheet of paper, write a sentence in the tiniest cursive you can manage from one edge of the paper to the other. Then print the same sentence as small as you can from one edge of the paper to another. Repeat in cursive and in print, enlarging your handwriting with each pair of lines. Then add in margins--space between the edge of your writing and the edge of the paper. You'll notice that the larger the writing and larger the margins, the fewer words can fit on the sheet of paper. Now fold the sheet in half and repeat the same exercise using the same sentence.
That's why writers and editor usually charge fees by the word. Whether those hundreds or thousands of words are written in 10 point type or 18 point type, the number of words remains consistent, but the number of pages changes. Add in more space between lines of text and the page count adjusts yet again; however, the word count will remain consistent.
Now, I'll confuse you some more. The amount charged per word varies with the anticipated level of research needed to write the content. If I expect to spend several hours researching a topic to write a 1,000-word article, then my fee must cover the time spent on performing that research. If a client wants unlimited revisions to content, then calculation of the fee will take into consideration the additional time that may be required massaging the text.
Fee determination of this sort is not intended to gouge the customer, but to provide a fair estimation of the effort and skill involved. Saying that you want Grandma's diary typed up and edited for a book won't receive a bid because I have no information to use in calculating that bid. If you say that Grandma's diary has 200 pages, I still cannot calculate a bid. The page count means nothing. That's where the client must do a little work to determine an estimate of the word count.
Whether using a typed or handwritten document, find an average page within the document. Select an average line of text on that average page. Just eyeball it. It's not difficult. Count the number of characters in that average line of text. Include spaces between words: they're called character spaces for a reason. Divide that number by 5 (which the average character count of the average word). That's how many "average" words are in that average line. Now count how many lines of text are on that average page and multiply that times the number of words on the average line. With the new calculation, multiply that by the number of pages. That's your document's estimated word count. Once you have that, the writer can then estimate a fair fee for service because now I know how many words you have to edit, type, and/or rewrite.
When it comes to document formatting, somewhat different variables come into play. I still must content with page specifications (size, margins, fonts, etc.), as well as other factors such as whether chapters will have title pages, special headers/footers, placement of images to illustrate the content, etc. If editing is also required, then the project fee will be composed of two lump sum calculations: one for editing and one for document formatting.
Producing content and making it presentable to others entails a bit of effort on the client's side before the writer/editor/designer can understand the scope of work and expect to receive fair compensation for services rendered.
...just might be an oncoming train.
My self-imposed goal of 40,000 words for Russian Dawn has come and gone. Sometimes characters just don't know when to quit. Regardless, I'll keep writing until the book's finished and then turn my energies to something else before embarking upon Giovanni's story, tentatively titled Russian Pride. It helps to switch directions; otherwise the story line gets stale.
However, for those of you who are waiting for Russian Dawn, here's a teaser:
After two years, Iosif Drakoniv's patience finally pays off. He and Latasha marry and head off to Costa Rica for a tropical honeymoon. Iosif and Latasha anticipate nothing more than a carefree time of sun, sand, and sex. Latasha, however, catches the notice of the local drug cartel's kingpin, who orders her abduction. Helpless to stop the kidnapping, Iosif calls Maksim for assistance. Maksim sends Bogdan and Gennady to help and puts them in touch with a local contact who can provide the weapons they'll need to wage war.
They rescue Latasha. Maksim calls upon Gia's grandfather, a mafia kingpin himself, for a favor to get Iosif, Latasha, Bogdan, Gennady, and two more people into the USA without tipping off Border Patrol. Shortly after they return to Cleveland, Guiseppe Maglione calls in that favor for Latasha to pay. If she declines, then she condemns the Cleveland Bratva to bankruptcy and ill will between the two organizations. If she accepts the opportunity, then she'll be at the mafia's beck and call forever. It's a devil's bargain and Latasha must make a choice.
I hope you'll enjoy the book. Pre-orders should begin somewhere around March 6th or 7th.
Coming in April, I will be at the 2017 ConGlomeration as both an author representing my work and as a representative of Red Sun Magazine. Printed copies of my books AND issues of Red Sun Magazine will be available. Magazine issues, I believe, will be free. The books will be offered for sale. The event will be held April 7 - 9 at the Louisville Ramada Plaza and Conference Center. This promises to be a fun weekend for attendees of this "geek family reunion."
Exhibitors are not permitted free booth passes for exhibit space staffing, so anyone who registers and attends will be invited to help me man the exhibit booth. I will be happy to reward your service with free copies of my books (which, yes, I will have to pay for).
From the tenor of these posts, one might get the impression that there's no joy to be found in freelance writing or editing. Or if there is joy, then it's the sardonic kind. While freelancing does indeed have its ups and downs like any other profession, occasionally I entertain myself with weird word associations and connections that make me giggle.
This week I was assigned to write an article on data driven marketing. For some weird reason, my wayward mind connected that to the 4-cycle compression engine process--intake, compression, ignition, and exhaust--to describe the writing process. Of course, I went with the vernacular expression because it made me laugh: suck, squeeze, bang, blow. Hey, I made the analogy work.
Blog writing assignments comprise the bulk of my freelance work, although I continually seek out editing and creative writing projects. The drawback of writing blog after blog is that I seem to have trained myself to quit thinking after a thousand words. That makes continuing the narrative of a book a challenge. It's a challenge I'm facing as I work to finish Russian Dawn. The solution? I look at each chapter as a blog article.
Let's hope that works.
In other news, my alter ego Holly Bargo will be featured on Laura Lu's Book Reviews. The site is launching a new author showcase. My spotlight article will appear on February 17.
I have drafted a cover for Russian Dawn. Before I reveal the cover, it needs to sit and marinate for a while. When I go back to it, I'll be better able to decide whether it's going to work.
And, finally, I've been hired as the editor for the new newsletter for the World Public Library. This awesome organization encourages literacy and offers a thousand years' of public domain work for digital download. Check it out.
That's all for this week. I've been busy, busy, busy. That's a good problem to have.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is wanting to Blog Swaps in 2018. For more information: