Editing a manuscript is a critical stage in the writing process. In an earlier post, I discussed the Five Stages of Writing. Currently, I’m in the editing or revisions phase with one book and the production phase of another. This often happens, because finishing the first draft of a book doesn’t mean you’re done. It’s only the start of more work.

The Editing Process

After my draft is complete, I begin an intense round of line editing. This means reading the printed pages word-by-word through the manuscript to tighten sentence structure, catch repetitions, fill in emotional reactions, add dialogue tags and more. Here is an example of what one page looks like from Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

I scribble changes on the printed page, then go back to the computer and make the fixes. Like this:

Easter Edits

Then I read through it again. Note one paragraph here has the same word, “staff”, three times. In the second round, I changed the middle one to “employee” entrance. This means another session at the computer and another printout.

Easter Page

I read it again and keep doing this process until each page is as perfect as I can make it. For revision tips, see my previous post here.

The next step is to send it to my freelance editor. She’ll return the file with remarks using Track Changes in Word. Here comes another round of corrections and one more read-through to make sure all is smooth and I didn’t miss anything. For traditionally published authors, they’ll get edits from their developmental editor and their copy editor.

Next round? For indie authors, that’s beta readers. These are ordinary readers like you who read the book the way they would any story. But they’re looking for flaws, misspellings, info dumps, inconsistencies, or anything that would give them pause. Their input is invaluable, and they always find new things for me to modify.

Is the book done yet? Nope. From here it goes to my formatter. Once she converts the file, I have to read through it again to look for conversion errors. This is akin to the advance reading copy that traditionally published authors receive. It’s the last chance for a final proofread.

This is why the editing process can take so long. I set myself a goal of 10 pages a day. For a 300 page manuscript, that’s 30 days with no time off. Sometimes after several rounds and numerous changes during one day, I still can’t finish those ten pages. I get too close to the material and have to put it aside until the next morning.

So please be patient, dear readers, if it takes longer for me to produce a book. I want it to be as perfect as possible by the time it reaches your hands. Or at least, the hands of my early reviewers. That’s a whole other topic.

Unfortunately, no matter how many passes we make through a book, including our editors and beta readers, some errors will slip by. It’s only diligent readers who can point them out to us. If you see them, please communicate in a kindly manner directly to the author via private email. Depending on our publishing status, we may or may not be able to fix these mistakes. Your eye for detail will be appreciated as long as you understand that most of us really do try our best.

What is The Editing Process? It's a critical phase in writing a novel. #amediting #amwriting Click To Tweet

Do you get annoyed by occasional typos in the books you read, or do you accept them as inevitable and keep reading? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Continuing our tradition of trying new places to eat in Orlando, we dined at Toledo, the new rooftop restaurant inside Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. A magical elevator takes you to the top floor where you emerge into a spacious lounge area. You can come for drinks and the view if you don’t care to stay for dinner. Here we are gazing toward Hollywood Studios. You can see the new Star Wars land under construction and the Tower of Terror.

View from Toledo

Inside the restaurant, we were led to a quiet table among the bustle. We began our meal with an olive medley and flatbread with melted cheese for appetizers.

I ordered tilefish for my entrée and was pleasantly surprised by the tasty dish. Dessert was the best, a couple of chocolate concoctions that we all shared.

Dessert at Toledo

Our other days in Orlando were taken up with family visits. On this night, we were celebrating our son’s birthday. We’ll soon have a lot more to celebrate as my husband and I become grandparents for the first time later this year.

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I continued to meet new people on Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) conference. Here I had a separate table to sell books in between workshops. Everyone was in the same room, and there was one track per hour, so nobody had to worry about choosing which panel to attend or running to another location.

Michael Joy and Raquel Reyes represented Florida Chapter of MWA at the conference.

First speaker of the day was Ava Doppelt, an intellectual property attorney, who spoke about copyright and trademark issues. She was followed by Tiffany Padgett from Ingram Content Group who told us about the different programs Ingram offers publishers and authors.

I particularly enjoyed Robert Macomber’s talk on Keeping Fans Engaged. He suggested authors bring readers inside the story by sharing your writing experiences, mistakes, and research adventures. Let them meet you in person via your author newsletter, Facebook page, and local reader events. Make your newsletter about your readers, too, such as showing a photo of a fan reading your book or getting your autograph at a signing. The goal, from what I gathered, is to engage your readers as much as possible.

Lunch was a buffet with Italian food and a delicious tiramisu for dessert.

Next it was my turn to speak on “First Class Marketing on a Coach Budget.” This consisted of a Power Point presentation and a 10-page handout.

The last session was by Tara Alemany on Road Map for Success. Then we divided into tables for an “Ask the Experts” Roundtable.

The awards banquet followed, beginning with a cocktail hour. After another buffet meal, we watched the mounted screens displaying the book covers for each award finalist. As our names were called, we went on stage to receive our medal. I received a gold medal for Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition.

Below I am with my husband in photo one, and with Angelina Assanti, former FAPA president, in photo two.

 

See all my conference photos at https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor/

GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win a free book from the prize vault at Booklovers Bench.

 

Last weekend, I attended the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) annual conference. It was held at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace across from Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Outdoors is a beautiful pool area with a covered poolside restaurant and a lazy winding waterway for tube rafts. If you follow the paths, you can find the pedestrian overpass crossing to Disney Springs.

The hotel has a pleasant lobby on the third floor with a large bar/lounge area where you can get drinks and appetizers starting in late afternoon. Our first evening, we enjoyed glasses of wine and a crab cake appetizer. I skipped the Friday workshops so we could settle into our room and explore the environs.

 

Downstairs on the first floor is a sundry shop, a quick-service café offering coffee, sandwiches, ice cream and other snacks, and another small gift boutique. On this level is also a full service restaurant. Friday night, we ate here with the gang from the conference. I had a tasty pasta dish with shredded beef short ribs and mushrooms.

That evening was a welcome cocktail party for conference attendees with a cash bar. We met new friends and greeted authors we already knew, such as Melody and Barry Dimick, Robert N. Macomber, Jane R. Wood, Raquel Reyes and Michael Joy. Angelina Assanti, outgoing FAPA president, did a great job along with the conference committee of organizing the entire weekend event.

Below: Nancy with Michael Joy in first photo and Robert N. Macomber in second photo. See all my conference photos at https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor/

Coming Next: Day Two

GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win a free book from the prize vault at Booklovers Bench.

 

NEW LARGE PRINT RELEASE! 

I am excited to announce the Large Print release of Trimmed to Death from Wheeler Publishing (Gale/Cengage).

Savvy hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail enters a charity bake-off contest at a fall festival sponsored by a local farm. While she waits to see if her coconut fudge pie is a winner, Marla joins a scavenger hunt where people playing character roles are the targets. Instead of scoring points with a live person, she finds a dead body planted face-down in the strawberry field. Who would want to cut short the life of food magazine publisher and fellow bake-off contestant Francine Dodger? As she investigates, Marla learns there’s no shortage of suspects. Can she unmask the killer before someone else gets trimmed from life? Recipes Included!

Large Print Edition
Wheeler Publishing; $26.99; August 7, 2019
ISBN-13: 9781432866860
ISBN-10: 1432866869
Paperback, 451 pages
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2H4SH6P
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/304FbaL
Gale/Cengage: http://bit.ly/2LtbIV2

*Also available in trade paperback and digital formats at most online bookstores.

“From fundraiser activity, culinary insights, and probes into Marla’s logic to recipes and romance which pepper the story line and embellish its twists and turns, readers who want a cozy mystery filled with atmosphere, intrigue, and adventure should settle a chair by the fire for a good evening’s read.” Midwest Book Review

“The dialogue is sharp, the eye for detail is masterful, and the narrative pacing is just right. Plenty of suspicious-seeming characters raise the tension. Even if you’re not yet a “Cozy” fan, you’ll have a blast. All this and recipes, too.” Florida Weekly

“I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted cozy mystery. It is funny, has great characters and a good mystery to solve, so what is not to enjoy?” Open Book Society

“Trimmed to Death is a solid cozy replete with olive facts, dogs, small town rivalries, entrepreneurship, and killer recipes. Another entertaining read from author Nancy J Cohen. She kept me guessing to the end!” Muddy Rose Reviews

AUTHORS ACADEMY
Saturday, August 24, 10 am to 12 noon, “Agents, Query Letters, & Synopses” with Nancy J. Cohen, Florida Author’s Academy, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 104 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Phone: 561-279-7790. $25 fee for class. Advance reservations requested. http://www.flauthorsacademy.com/

GIVEAWAY
Enter August 1-18 to win a free mystery from the prize vault at Booklovers Bench.

 

I have begun line editing Easter Hair Hunt. The problem is that I can’t get past the first page. I keep redoing the opening paragraphs of my manuscript. So I need your help. Let me know which rendition you think is best.

Coming Soon

Number One

“I don’t see Blinky anywhere, do you?” Marla asked. She and her best friend stood on the rear terrace of Tremayne Manor, a historic mansion privately owned but open to the public for special events and guided tours.

“Blinky seems to have disappeared,” Tally replied. “Where were you supposed to meet after the Easter egg hunt?” She rocked the stroller holding her nineteen-month old son, Luke, who sat happily playing with a squeaky toy. Marla had figured the duo needed an outing, so she’d invited Tally to join her. After her husband’s death, Tally was struggling to raise Luke on her own.

Number Two

“I don’t see Blinky anywhere, do you?” Marla asked. She stood on the rear terrace of Tremayne Manor along with her best friend. The historic mansion was privately owned but opened to the public for special events and guided tours.

Number Three

“I don’t see Blinky anywhere, do you?” Marla asked. She stood alongside her best friend on the rear terrace of Tremayne Manor, a historic mansion privately owned but open to the public for special events and guided tours.

Another Question

Should I add last names for Marla and Tally? This would speak to new readers, not fans of the series who are familiar with the characters.

Which choice do you like best? Any changes to the second paragraph? This is why line editing can take me so long. I get hung up on one section and can’t move past until it’s as perfect as I can make it.

 

Through much trial and tribulation, I learned how to publish my books direct to Apple Books using my Dell desktop computer. Earlier, you had to submit using an Apple computer. Since I didn’t own one, I hired a formatter to do the uploads for me. Then Draft2Digital came into existence, and they offered an easy way to submit your books to Apple. Naturally, D2D takes a commission for this service.

Then Apple changed the rules. You could upload directly through any Apple device, such as an iPad, or via the iCloud on your PC. I decided to learn how to do this rather than going through a third party aggregate or hiring a formatter. 

The first step is to sign on to your iCloud account via your web browser. Make sure your manuscript meets the formatting suggestions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208716

Click on Pages. If you haven’t added this app, you need to do it first. Once in Pages, on the upper row is an upload symbol. Click on this and upload your Word document. Double click on the document. At the upper right, click on the tool symbol that looks like a wrench. This brings up a dropdown menu. Click on Publish to Apple Books. You’ll have to sign in with your Apple password. Check “This is a new book.” You can update an already submitted book at this stage, too.

Make sure you fill in the boxes accurately. Under Layout, click Reflowable. Upload your book cover. Correct the book title. Add your series name and number. Make sure your author name is correct, including your middle name or initial. Next, provide your book description. If you’re copying and pasting, paste it in with Control-V.

Next, choose your Apple subject category and subcategory, i.e. Mysteries & Thrillers, Cozy.

For Interest Age, I’ll put 12 and Older
Contains Explicit Content: No
Language: English
Publisher and Imprint: [Add your publisher name if you have one]
Original Publication Date: [Today or later]
Pre-Order: Yes or No
Specify Sample Range: No

Vendor Number: Apple assigns you a different vendor number for each submission. Do not make the mistake I did in thinking this was something I had to fill in. It has nothing to do with your seller account. I screwed up on this point and kept filling it in and messing things up. Lesson learned: Leave this box alone.

ISBN Digital: Scroll down below Vendor Number to find this box. Use “Control-V” to enter number if you are copying and pasting.

ISBN Print: Add your print ISBN here if you have one.

Hit “Continue”
Hit “Download Preview” to review.
Hit Open. Use “Page Down” to flip pages.
When done, Hit “Upload” on bottom right of the previous window

This will take you to iTunes Connect, where you should already have an account. Sign in and click on My Books.

It may take a few minutes for your new book to pop up. When it does, click on it, then click “Edit Metadata.” If the spacing isn’t right on your book description, add <br> at the end of each paragraph and in between paragraphs. Here’s mine for Hairball Hijinks.

Apple Edit

Make sure all else is correct, then click on Submit.

Go to Rights and Pricing
Click on Add New Territories
Fill in the Release Date
Cleared for Sale: Yes
Base Currency: US Dollar
Publication Type: New Release
List Price: Fill in your retail price
Suggested Apple Price: Can be same as above
Apply to Territories; Select All, to check the boxes for all territories
Continue, Confirm, Done.

Get your Apple Book ID. Come back later, sign in to iTunes Connect, go to My Books, and get the individual store links. Consider joining their Affiliate program at https://www.apple.com/itunes/affiliates/

More people are reading on their smartphones and tablets these days. While they can download the Kindle app, it makes sense to have your book directly available to Apple customers. If you’re just setting up a seller account for the first time at iTunes Connect, you’ll need to fill in all the payment and tax information. If you have an LLC or a fictitious business name, you may have to contact Apple and ask them to apply this publisher name as the Seller on your account.

Once you’re all set up, everything will become easier. Apple has a few more hoops to jump through to submit a book than Amazon, Kobo, or Barnes and Noble, but it’s worth the effort. And by uploading direct, you can take advantage of whatever promotional opportunities they offer, such as free promo codes.

Tips on Publishing your Books Direct to Apple #indiepub #pubtip Click To Tweet

If your experience is different, or you have more tips to add, please contribute in the comment section.

I have finished the first draft of EASTER HAIR HUNT, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries!

Easter Hair Hunt

Yay, the work is done! Or is it? Yes, the creative part is over, the agony and anticipation of facing a blank page every day and wondering if the words will come. It’s a great relief to type THE END, knowing you’ve reached your word count and have completed the story. But your labor is far from finished.

The first thing I suggest doing next is to revise the synopsis. Inevitably the story has gone in a new direction since you wrote the first version. Now you’ll need to bring this tool up to date. Patch in the new information and polish it so the story reads seamlessly from start to finish.

Why is this important? You may need a synopsis as a sales tool. Your publisher may require one. You might need a synopsis, short or long, to enter your book in a writing contest. Or your marketing department may need it for their purposes.

At the same time, you can start working on your story blurb. If you’re with a small publisher, they may ask you to come up with the cover copy. If you are an indie author, you’ll have to create the book descriptions on your own. Even if you hire one of the services available for this purpose, they most likely will require a synopsis as well. If you’ve gotten a head-start on the blurb, these folks can use it as a jumping off point. You’ll want a one-liner tag line, a few sentences for a log line, then a short one-paragraph description and a longer one of two to three paragraphs. Remember to maintain the tone of your story in the blurb.

Several rounds of editing and revisions will follow. I need some distance from a story before I can begin line editing, so I may work on something else until I’m ready. If you’re writing a series, this is a good time to do research or jot notes for the next story. Or work on a marketing plan for your book. Then it’s time for line edits, read-throughs for consistency and to catch repetitions, editorial revisions, and beta readers. A final polish will always find more to fix. So there’s a lot more work before your baby is ready to face the world.

In the meantime, celebrate your achievement. You’ve finished a book. Savor the satisfaction and give your creative mind a break. Enjoy your well-earned glass of champagne, specialty coffee, or raspberry lemonade. You deserve a treat. Indulge yourself and relax with some fun activities. When you’re ready to return to the story, your muse will let you know.

Writers, what do you do after finishing the first draft of your novel?

You’ve finished the first draft of your novel. What’s next? #amwriting #writetip Click To Tweet

GIVEAWAY

Enter Now to win a free book from the prize vault at Booklover’s Bench.

Is it worthwhile for published authors to enter writing contests? That depends upon your goal. Here are the pros and cons for you to consider before entering your book in a contest. These are paid competitions, where judges actually read your work, and not the ones at conferences where people vote on their favorite books or authors.

are writing contests worthwhile

Pros
Gain exposure for your work to new readers
Potential to call yourself an award-winning author
Placement as a semi-finalist or finalist will provide a sense of validation
A winner’s badge will add prestige to your credentials

Cons
The contest fees can be high
Entering contests may be time-consuming
Winning awards won’t help you sell books
Low scores, if feedback is provided, can be demoralizing

Prestigious awards are offered in every genre. In the mystery/thriller field, we have MWA’s Edgars® and the International Thriller Writers contest, the Thriller Awards Competition. These books are read by dedicated judges. Mystery conferences like Left Coast Crime and Malice Domestic have contests, but your book has to be nominated and voted on by attendees.

States also have writing awards you can enter, and so do smaller regional or chapter conferences. For example, there’s the Florida Book Awards competition in my state.

How do you decide which contests to enter? Consider these factors:

Sponsoring Organization: Will readers or fellow authors recognize this award? Do you care?
Judges: Are they readers, booksellers, librarians, or other authors?
Prize: This is a prime consideration since you’ll be spending money to enter the contest. Is it worth the entry fee and effort merely to get a certificate if you win? What types of publicity come along with the award? Do the promises of cash and exposure to industry professionals ring true? Will you get a plaque, medallion, lapel pin, or trophy? Do you have to be present to accept your award, or will the sponsors mail it to you? A digital badge is useful, because you can add it to your book cover and website and use it in your promotional posts. Are printed award stickers available for your print books if you don’t want to redo your cover?
Cost in Entry Fee: These can range from $25 to over $100 to enter. See if there’s an early bird discount and try to get your book in before then.
Book Requirements: Does the contest require physical books, which will cost postage, or digital entries?
Competition: Are there multiple categories so your subgenre is represented, or is one general category applied? For example, can you enter for best cozy mystery or amateur sleuth novel rather than best mystery novel? You’ll have a better chance with narrower categories.
Categories: Some contests tempt you by offering additional categories with your submission for a reduced fee. Be careful of your spending as costs will add up. Is this to your benefit or more to the contest organizers who make money from each submission?
Past Experience: If you’ve entered a contest two or three years in a row and your books never place in the finals, or reach the finals but never win, it might be time to save money and move on. Perhaps their judges just don’t appreciate your subgenre or style.

Here’s a watchlist that will help you make an informed decision:
Watchdog Desk of the Alliance of Independent Authors
https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/award-and-contest-ratings-reviews/

Keeping Track of Entries
How do you find these lesser known contests? Follow your author colleagues and see what contests they’re entering. Look on Facebook at your author friends sites for announcements of contest wins. Also check your local writing organization newsletter. Make a list for your book title of which contests might be appropriate to enter. Be sure to check for your work’s eligibility, entry deadlines, fees, judges and prizes.

When you enter, make a note of the contest name, the sponsor, the costs, the categories you’re entering, the date of submission, the format or number of copies sent, and the dates when finalists and winners will be announced.

In Conclusion
Making the semi-finals or finals of a contest where your book is evaluated against other works is an ego boost. It’s not easy to place against potentially hundreds of other authors, so consider it a well-earned reward if you do place in the top tier. Here are some of the badges I’ve earned and can proudly display on my website book pages.

CIBA 1st Place Winner

Semi-Finalist Kindle Book Awards Finalist 2018

If the award doesn’t come with a badge, hire a graphic designer to create one for you or make your own.

Be happy to accept your kudos where you can get them and post about your successes. We want to celebrate with you.

Are writing contests for published authors worthwhile? #bookmarketing #pubtip Click To Tweet

Authors, what do you think? Have you benefited from entering writing contests?

 

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