Saturday, August 17, 2013

Q&A a la Ann Landers: Getting the Help Your Book Needs

More in the Questions and Answers Series a la Ann Landers  direct from my SharingwithWriters newsletter. Subscribe at http://HowToDoItFrugally.com and get an e-copy of my booklet Great Little Last-Minute Edits for Writers.  By the way, feel free to e-mail Christine to get more information on Fjords Review.

 

Peer Review and Proof Reading: Getting Help for Your Book ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



QUESTION:

Carolyn:

A few years back I'd bought your book, The Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo)  and found tons of wonderful tips, information, and people to network with.  It is amazing to me that some people may not take advantage of such a gem.

I've reviewed over 250 books and am the staff book analyzer and reviewer for Fjords Review, a literary journal.  I enjoy reviewing, but want to publish my books too.  Would you consider XXX a place to send a children's picture-book manuscript?

What are your thoughts on peer-review? This is where fiction authors send the first 30 pages to people who love that genre and ask for their opinion and suggestions. These people are asked to be brutal and to comment in red if they want to on your manuscript.  In return, they get mentioned in your book.

Best Regards,

Christina F. Kennison
ChristinaFrancine@hotmail.com

P.S.  Where might I find amateur proofreaders or editors? You mention using them in your book and I like the idea.

ANSWER

Christine,

Regarding amateur proofreaders/editors, I'm sure you also noticed that I said using them are a good starting point but will not do the same job as a professional editor who really has a grasp on everything in the publishing world--from grammar to formatting to style choices for books as opposed to, say, academia and newspapers.  This is even more important for a first book.


 Most people who use amateurs search out former English teachers or friends who majored in English. By the way, this works better for nonfiction than fiction. Many who know a lot about punctuation, as an example, have no idea how to punctuate dialogue (which you no doubt read about in The Frugal Editor (http://budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor) . Using amateur editors is a little like the peer review you mentioned. You consider the source. I. e. what they are experts in. If they are general readers. If you hear the same thing from several of them. Then you do some research on your own before you decide to accept or reject their suggestions.

Regarding the press you mentioned. I don't think they're quite right for a children's book. Children's books require an awful lot of formatting and design expertise so, I think you'd be better off hiring a designer/formatter who has this kind of experience--one whose work you like. Or try the traditional publishing route first.

 I also suggest you join what used to be called list-serves like pod-publishers-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and self-publishing-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Ask questions and learn from the questions others ask (and the answers they get).

Choose groups like these that have a lot of real experts willing to recommend and help. If you find a group with lots of newbies, you should be able to tell soon enough. Then you take their advice as exactly what it is--amateur advice. That is, not something to be ignore, but something to be carefully weighed. And be very, very cautious about any ideas or advice that smacks of unethical behavior or seems too easy.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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