What should you do to maximize your book editing experience?

During our April 23rd webinar, which can be viewed here, we learned editing doesn’t really matter, unless you want to sell more than one book. Why? Because poor editing is the #1 complaint in reviews, and those poor reviews will turn into poor sales and a tarnished brand. Proper editing, for both fiction and nonfiction writers, ensures a book will provide a good reading experience, credibility, and professionalism. But editing is more than just grammar and spelling. It includes pacing, character development, voice, timeline, concept development, reading level, etc.

So while you may be a good writer, you may not necessarily be the best editor for your book. You can become “blind” to your own words after a few re-writes. However, know that you have the final say. It is your voice, your work, and your name on the cover. As you look for a professional editor, understand what you’ve contracted for and work to that commitment. Make sure the editor is a good fit by interviewing them and letting them interview you.  Review their resume and ask for references. A great source to use when researching your potential editor is http://red-ed.com/.

Bill Van Orsdel, and our special guest Justin Luzader, taught us more than why editing is important and what editing actually involves. Watch the recorded webinar and find out how you can save money on editing, which editing tools are beneficial, and what you should do when working with a professional editor.

Watch “Maximize Your Book Editing Experience”.

Discussing the Research Process with Author Terri Sedmak

Terri Sedmak

This past summer WaveCloud had the wonderful opportunity to meet Australian author Terri Sedmak at Book Expo America in New York City. We love talking with our favorite authors so I decided to do a sit down of sorts (via email) with Terri to discuss part of the writing process that is near and dear to my heart as a librarian: the research. I always value a historical novel based on solid research and thought others might enjoy learning a little about the process as much as I would.

Also be sure to check out the excerpts Terri provided us from her latest series!

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Kari: You were recently in the States to work on research for your current series, The Liberty & Property Legends series, correct?

Terri: That’s right. My husband, who is also my business partner, and I combined a much needed holiday (beginning with a week in beautiful Boston) with some much needed research in St. Louis, south east Wyoming, and Denver. We also spent a week in New York City to attend Book Expo America, where to our delight we found WaveCloud. We love travelling in the States; this was our second trip, our first being in 2009, which was also a research trip. We toured more broadly on that excursion, so on this trip I was able to focus on more detailed information for the next two books in the series and for other writing projects set in The West.

Kari: What made you decide to write about the American West?

Terri: I fell in love with the American West when I was little and never fell out of it. Westerns as books, TV or film… loved them since I can remember. I think initially the adventurousness of it and the romance that surrounds it attracted me.  And horses! Then I grew to understand and appreciate and really love the history of The West. The layers of complexity in its settling. The idea of freedom and independence. The extraordinary natural beauty of it. Although my first attempt at a novel when I was eleven was not set in the West but in the Australian outback, it was only a few years later that I wrote a novel that was set in the Wild West of the 1880’s. My desire to write for this era was set from that time on and the essence of that story exists in my current series.

Kari: Did you find a lot of new information on your visit? How does that help you as an author?

Terri: I certainly did! Don’t ask me where I managed to pack all the books I brought back, but my luggage was 7 pounds overweight and there was some last minute rearranging at the check-in at Denver airport coming home. Then there are all the information booklets and relevant souvenirs. I took over a thousand photos, lots of those were of detailed museum content, of cities, towns, neighbourhoods, streets, lanes, street signs, scenic backways, from mountaintops to prairies, all in specific locations that I knew I would be, or very likely could be, or now that I’ve seen it I will be, writing about.

And then there’s meeting and speaking with people. Physical environment needs a heart and that’s the folks you meet. They give you a different (the local) understanding of what you read or view with your own eyes; they interpret your research in that sense. Although The West may have changed somewhat since the Wild West days, the folks who have a heritage of living there indicate that it’s kind of the same in spirit and they preserve their heritage with pride and affection. Heritage is one of the themes in my series, so I find this type of research helpful.

As an author all of this is invaluable. I wish I could have brought back more books, taken more photographs, shot more videos and spoken to the people I met for longer and spoken to more people overall. Everything you experience adds to your knowledge and understanding and sense of place. There is so much to take in and it can be overwhelming. You just have to do your best and know that it has all soaked in and it will come to the forefront at the right moment; I believe it will.

Kari: Would you consider physical research in the location you're writing about 100% necessary when writing historical fiction (opposed to online-only research)?

Terri: There is a great deal of information on the internet for sure, almost everything you could want – almost. I find that physically researching in the location of the setting of your novel allows you access to very specific, authentic details that really open up your writing. These are the special details which you just cannot find online that help you to create your special world and your particular characters, and that include locale-specific historical details.

Just soaking up the physical environment, breathing the air, walking amongst it, is invaluable location research. I call it walking in the footsteps of my characters.

I’ll never forget seeing the Laramie Plains for the first time. I was shocked by the unfathomable expanse of those remarkable grasslands and forever sky, and the shock went right through me and all I could think about was those pioneers in their covered wagons wondering where on earth they had come to and would it ever end. You don’t get that kind of profound reaction from looking at pictures on the internet! This stays with you, it creeps into your writing, and you make a point of including it somehow.

But having said that, you can write a whole novel, a pretty good one, historically set in another country from what you research while sitting all day at your computer in your pjs. It will give you the bones and the flesh and even the heart of your novel, but it won’t necessarily give you the pores on your skin, the mole on your cheek or the slight limp when you walk like location research can.

Historical fiction writing requires a certain kind of imagination, I think. You have to imagine a world in great detail that no longer exists, so it’s not there to draw on, but it has to ring true. That world must be a complete living entity in the writer’s mind, almost like a parallel universe to your everyday life. If it’s not, it won’t be for the reader either. They have to be transported there and be convinced that it and your characters truly existed.

The Liberty & Property Legends is not set entirely in The West. There are Eastern locations as well that I have also researched on location. The great cities of St Louis, Chicago, New York and Boston have been, or will be featured, some to a greater extent than others. Also, the great western cities of Omaha, Denver and San Francisco, as well. For me, the history of The West is a huge migration story. Americans of all ethnic and socio-economic persuasions went to it, with certain expectations and a certain mindset. In my series I take the ideal of liberty and property from the Revolutionary era and migrate it West, where it is embodied in the main protagonist of the series, Luke Taylor. And that’s where the adventure begins!

Currently, I am working on Volume Three, so look out for it later in 2013. It’s going to be epic!

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In the pearly gloom of a promising morning, smoke curls from the Keatons’ chimney, and there’s a smell of bacon on the wind.

Dave rides in from the cover of the forest behind the Keaton ranch house and cautiously leads both horses into the barn.

He casts his eye around the building; there don’t appear to be anything unusual except that at this hour of a deep winter morning, activity in the ranch house notwithstanding, all of John Keaton’s horses are fully awake and alert like he ain’t the first person they’ve seen today.

Empire for Liberty, Volume 2, The Liberty & Property Legends

“This is Wyoming territory. Whatever you think is odd, very likely is compared to the rest of the nation. Seventeen years ago this town was a bunch of tents and log huts. There were Cheyenne Indians out on the plains behind you and a whole bunch of people you’d rather not know making a fast buck waiting for the railroad to push through. It was hell all right. And look at us now. Sprouting like a twelve year old boy on summer vacation. We try not to make it up as we go along, but sometimes we have to.”

Empire for Liberty, Volume 2, The Liberty & Property Legends

When he wakes, his head feels thick and heavy, like he’s been boozing. And his leg hurts. He’s lying in a bed in a different room, which is so quiet the silence buzzes in his ears. The light of the aging afternoon strays into the room from a thinly draped window. Gradually, as the groggy sensation subsides a little, he becomes aware of two things. One, he is in the same room – the same bed – where Byron Sawyer died. And two, he is naked beneath the sheet and the blanket which cover him – at least he thinks so. Lifting the edge of the bedclothes, he checks. Hastily, he covers up again. The only thing he’s wearing is a bandage on his thigh. There ain’t a situation more nervy than being hurt and naked and in a dead man’s bed. How does he get himself into these things?

HEARTLAND On the Side of Angels, Volume 1, The Liberty & Property Legends

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Want more? Find Terri on WaveCloud today! Also be sure to check out her website and Facebook page.

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Top 10 Summer Reads: Time to Break out a New Book!

Did you hear? Yesterday was the first official day of summer! While you might not find yourself with the same, glorious eight-week stretch of freedom you did as a child, it is still a great chance to use what time you do have to kick back and enjoy some extra reading.

We have asked a few of our staff members at WaveCloud to suggest their pick for summer reading; who knows maybe you will find your new favorite book!

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: Are you wondering where the idea for the upcoming movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter came from? Why the mind of author Seth Grahame-Smith of course! This summer, start your reading adventure with Grahame-Smith’s reinvention of the classic tale of Pride and Prejudice. Only this time, much more than husband-hunting is going on in Meryton: Zombies. Grahame-Smith creates an exciting, blood-soaked rendition of a beloved classic all the while explaining some of the most confusing aspects of Austen’s novel. Ever wondered the real reason why Charlotte Lucas married Mr. Collins? You’ll find out in this version! Definitely worth a summer read. - Kari

HEARTLAND, On the side of Angels by Terri Sedmak: An Aussie author with better insight into our western past then most Americans. This book takes you back in time on an adventure that meshes well with a trip to the lake or campsite. Her writing is so descript it is easy to imagine life 125 years ago, all the while swiping your e-reader for the next page… love her writing and hear the third book in the series will be out this fall!  - Tara 

The Stranger by Albert Camus: You’ll either love it or hate it, but it’s short enough you won’t feel like you wasted your time. One of the premier examples of existential writing, it’s a great companion if you’re traveling alone this summer as it perfectly captures the essence of being a stranger in a strange land. – David B.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – This novel gives a great view into some of the lesser known places and cultural aspects of India as well as providing insights into the redemption of an escaped convict’s life.  The story will be especially appealing to anyone that has an interest in India or has spent any time in this multi-faceted/multi-cultural country. – Jay

Wool Omnibus Edition (1-5), by Hugh Howey: When I caught wind that Ridley Scott optioned the movie rights, I thought the story must be good.  That’s an understatement.  I truly enjoyed the Wool storyline and also went on to enjoy the prequel, First Shift.  Hugh has a great story with great characters.  It has been particularly popular with people who don’t normally read science fiction.  It is a great speculative fiction novel.     - Bill

The Taking, by Dean Koontz:  This book takes no time to get rolling
and continues non-stop at breakneck speed until the post-apocalyptic end.  It
provides a great way to chill your bones on a hot summer night with a potent mix
of suspense and fear. – David S.

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. by Chris Kyle: It’s 400 pages but a quick read.  It doesn’t go into heavy technical details of shots taken, it doesn’t go into heavy details of military operations or involvement.  It gives you a picture of Chris Kyle as a person, as it is an autobiography.  Who he is, what he did, what he had to do, a quick view of the mind set of military personnel and some funny/sad stories told by a “good ol’ boy” from Texas. – Mark 

A great mix from us here at WaveCloud! We hope you find these useful and can find something that makes your summer a bit more enjoyable.

Read What You Love

How often do you actually read? I have always considered myself a proficient and avid reader. It has always been something I loved. In high school and college I collected books, making sure that my personal library was full of the classics and other “highbrow” literature. Then, I hit the real world and my time for things slowly began to diminish. Suddenly I looked up and realized that I hadn’t read a book in more than a year!

In library school I was taught that if you instill a love of reading in a child you can create life-long readers. But can you? Is that all there is to it? I learned to love reading as a child and never had it beaten out of me by the stereotypical bad teacher. In fact my love of literature was strengthened by my teachers (I know I was pretty lucky in that respect). Yet, here I am almost 27 years old and it’s a miracle if I read a book every few months. My jobs, my family, and mainly – the TELEVISION get in my way. I find myself staring at the TV night after night when I know I should be reading and the only time my book will take precedent over The Walking Dead or New Girl is if I’m so engrossed in it that I can’t wait to pick it up again.

That’s the key isn’t it? We have to LIKE what we’re reading. Once I stopped telling myself I had to read the classics and started reading what I really wanted to read I found myself more excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a time and a place for the classics, but for me to read Charles Dickens or Toni Morrison I need to dissect the symbolism and really focus. I don’t have time for that. Life moves at a fast pace and as I’ve already mentioned, it’s just a miracle I am reading.

Society doesn’t appreciate this though. I constantly read about adult illiteracy and how most adults are only reading on a “functional” level. Most recently, there was an article in the news about high school seniors and their ability to only read at a 5th grade level. This irritates me, because if you pay attention to the article, the source of this information is simply a survey of “what kids are reading.” Yes, high school kids, FOR FUN are reading 5th grade level books. Sounds bad, right? But do you know what Accelerated Reader (who is the company giving us the level) considers 5th grade? You would be surprised. I’m willing to bet 90 percent of adults I know (including myself) and consider highly literate tend to read 5th grade-level books on a regular basis. According to their website www.arbookfind.com, Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” comes in at less than a 10th grade reading level and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is only 6th grade. So if the classics are less than a 12th grade reading level, where do you think these recent books I’ve found myself enjoying lie? At the same level as our supposed “illiterate” high school seniors.

At WaveCloud we believe that WHAT you read is far less important that IF you read. The fact that I am stimulating my mind with something other than my favorite TV show is all that should matter. Adults already have so many obstacles against them and their reading; they should not also be made to feel ashamed of what level they read at. DO NOT be timid to carry your copy of The Hunger Games on the train in the mornings, do not fear the term “YA Lit” (Young Adult Literature) or hide your comic book from your girlfriend.

YOU ARE READING, which is more than most can say. Reading what you love is how you continue being a life-long reader. Graphic novels, non-fiction, magazines, websites, all of these are a form of reading and if they are what you enjoy, go with it! Get out from in front of that television (just DVR it for later) and find something that appeals to you. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games movie but trust me, the book was 10 times better.

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To Print or not to Print?

So, your book is almost finished and you are starting to think about how you are going to turn your manuscript into something that Readers want to buy.  Some book designers I’ve talked to suggest working on the book cover while you are in the editing phase.  Having a book cover can give you some focus for your writing work.  After ALL editing is complete, you’ll start on the interior layout phase.  Your book cover and interior layout will have a big impact on your marketing and reader satisfaction, respectively.

One of the considerations in building your cover and your interior layout is whether you plan to sell your book in a print version.  If you think you’ll want a print version of your book in the future and if you are engaging a professional service to create your cover and interior layout, then it is worth asking the designer(s) to design both the e-book AND print versions of your book cover and interior layout at the same time.  This will cost more now, but less than re-engaging your designer later to do the print version as a stand-alone project.  Even if you are doing the cover design and interior layout yourself, it is a good idea to tackle them at the same time.

Still not sure you care about print? Here are a variety of reasons an author might want to consider printing their book:

  • Depending upon your genre, 50% to 90% of sales are typically print books
  • Print-On-Demand (POD) is a low-cost way to make your print book available on Amazon.com
  • Position a book for bookstores and other bricks-and-mortar distribution possibilities
  • Print books for book signings and promotions
  • Print books for reviewers/bloggers that prefer print versions
  • Print books for keepsakes (families/friends/personal use)

If you are going to design a cover and interior layout for a print version of your book, then you may want to consider choosing a target book size that is ready for several different printing services.  Creating one book-cover file and one interior layout file that can work across multiple platforms (and look good on any of them) will save you money and keep you flexible as your sales and distribution evolves.

I recommend creating one set of files that can be used on any of these platforms:

  1. Lighting Source
  2. Createspace
  3. Espresso Book Machine
  4. A digital web press (hopefully a shop with the latest commercial HP printers)

There are plusses and minuses to each of these print routes, but at the very least, you should be able prepare your book files once and be ready for any of them.  In an upcoming blog post, I will ask one of our book designer friends to give us some advice on which format targets (book sizes) are common and available across all four platforms.

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