Be an Active In-Person Networker

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“Who me? A networker?” you ask. Yes, you. But don’t let that overwhelm you. It’s not at all complicated to “network”—and it might come even more naturally to you than you think.

In today’s world, there is a myriad of ways to network online (think social media), and this is really important; however, it is just as important to network offline. Here at Inspira, while we have clients from far off places like Indonesia and England, Arkansas and Arizona, most of our clients are from the Pacific Northwest. And, the majority of our clients heard about our company through our in-person networking or through word of mouth. Many of our authors have found the same to be true. Their biggest book deals or speaking engagements have happened because they were able to meet someone face-to-face and share their passion.

Networking is all about exchanging information and developing contacts with the end goal of furthering your career, gaining clients for your business, or spreading the word about your book. When you are able to shake someone’s hand, you become more than just a name in a contact list; you become a face and a story. You can connect over the fact that your sons go to the same school or you both disliked the last conference speaker. More importantly, they are able to see your passion and better understand where the passion comes from.

When having a personal conversation, you are also able to tailor you message to your audience. You don’t have to speak in generalizations; instead, you can specifically say why your project would be beneficial to them.

Finally, in-person networking makes you memorable. You took up space in someone’s life and left an impression (hopefully a good one!). So, when the time comes and they are looking for a book in your specific subject, they will remember your conversation and buy yours!

  1. Always be prepared. You never know when you’ll meet a good networking connection. It could be at a big conference, but it could also be at the hairdresser or at a local football game. Be ready to talk about your book at any moment. If you haven’t already, memorize a 30-second “elevator pitch.” This can especially help if you are an introvert who gets nervous when you want to impress someone or articulate a concise idea. (Smelling nice and dressing professionally never hurts either!)
  1. Always carry business cards. Don’t make people rely on their memory; give them a tangible reminder of how they can contact you and get more information.
  1. Think local. People are often very willing to support local business and authors. Develop a relationship with your local media, including radio, newspaper, and TV connections. Talk to your local library and offer to host a reading or a workshop.
  1. Be personable. Don’t dismiss the power of a solid handshake and good eye contact. You are your best marketing tool, so don’t sell yourself short. Share your passion, and people will catch hold of your vision.

“Sometimes, idealistic people are put off by the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.” ~Sonia Sotomayer

When It’s Time to STOP Writing Your Book

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You gotta know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold ‘em

Know when to walk away . . .

Okay, so technically that line from an old Kenny Rogers song is talking about gambling, not writing a book. But either way, it still holds true. Sometimes, you just need to know when to walk away.

There comes a point in every book manuscript when good enough is, well, good enough. How do you know when that is?

My honest answer is that it’s not something you will intuitively “know”; neither will there likely be writing in the sky or an angel choir singing the hallelujah chorus. Rather, it’s a decision you make:

It is finished.

I’ve seen authors make endless iterations of paragraphs and chapters and beginnings and endings when, frankly, each was just as good as the one before it. I have seen the same comma being inserted and removed multiple times in the same sentence, seeking “perfection.” I’m not sure who was more frustrated, the author or me!

When it comes time to make that determination, here are some things you, the author, should be thinking about to determine if your manuscript is done:

  • Structure: Does the flow of thought makes sense across the entire book ?
  • Non-fiction: Is there a clear thesis statement? Does the book deliver on its promise to answer a certain question (or questions) for the reader?
  • Fiction: Do all your story lines get resolved? Are all your readers’ internal questions about the characters and plot resolved?
  • Is there an intriguing first chapter and a satisfying last chapter?
  • Does the pace of the book pull your reader through? (does not lag partway through)
  • Does each chapter end with a satisfying conclusion and transition to next chapter?
  • Are your tone and voice consistent throughout the whole book?
  • Is there a good connection between author and reader? (outside voices can tell you this)
  • Have you caught all the grammar and spelling errors? (It’s hard to get a perfect book but you should strive to get as close as possible; find a trusted proofreader!)

The sensation of “finished” may feel different between a fiction and non-fiction book. An editor with Penguin Random House said, “When editing non-fiction, I feel the book is done when it delivers on its promise: it communicates its information in the most pleasing and effective way, and has answered the readers’ anticipated questions.’

On the other hand, a fiction author related, “I find that I’m done with a book when my subconscious mind is no longer working on it. When I stop thinking about it when I’m running. Or if I’m in the grocery store staring at avocados and a great idea about the book doesn’t just spring into my head. Or if I’m no longer waking up in the middle of the night with an urgent need to write down some dialogue. When those little moments stop happening, I know I’m done.”

That’s where a trusted third party voice, like an editor, can help you settle the issue and assure you that, yes, it’s time to put down the pen (or computer) and launch your book into the world. If you’ve ever launched a child into the world, you know what I mean. You teach them everything you can and pour your life wisdom into them the best you know, but eventually, you have to let them go and make their way in the world on their own.

After all, we don’t want them hanging around the house forever, do we?

 

arlyn_headshotArlyn Lawrence is a developmental editor, president of Inspira Literary Solutions, and co-author of Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World (LifeSmart Publishing). She has successfully launched five children into the real world, along with over three dozen books.

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: What’s Best for Your Book?

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If you hang around Inspira long enough, you’ll hear our slogan: “from book-in-head to book-in-hand.” Many of our authors walk into our office with a clear book head, but are unclear about which path to take to actually get the book into their hands.

Part of what we do  is help authors decide what’s best for their book and their book’s target audience: traditional publishing or self publishing. There is no overall best way to publish; there is only the best way to publish your specific book in order to reach your specific audience. Sometimes that means traditional publishing, in which case we will help you shop it out to literary agents. Other times (more often than not) our role is to help you self publish a quality project you can then market.

If you are an author considering publication, two big questions to ask are: How much control do you want over your project? And how much risk do you want to shoulder? Your answers will be important drivers toward either traditional or self publishing.

What Does Traditional Publishing Look Like?

  1. You send out your manuscript or manuscript sample (one to three chapters) and book proposal to literary agents. Once an agent is secured, he or she will be your advocate to help you find and communicate with a publisher.
  2. Your agent will help you secure a publisher and copyright contract as well as negotiate royalties (how much you will be paid).
  3. After that, your book will be in the hands of publisher. The publishing company handles editing, titling, design, printing, marketing, and distribution. You will be paid royalties, and possibly an advance, depending on your contract.

Pros of Traditional Publishing

  • expertise in book editing, production, marketing, and publicity
  • publisher shoulders the risk
  • physical bookstore distribution
  • nearly always assures chance of media coverage and reviews

Cons of Traditional Publishing

  • everything is contract-based (so read it over carefully!)
  • limited control over design and editing (they choose the cover, the title, and may even ask you to rework the book
  • publisher owns the rights to your book
  • unless the book is a big seller (not typical), royalties are generally small
  • process typically takes 18 months to two years

What Does Self Publishing Look Like?

  1. The author retains complete control over the publishing process, hiring outside help for editorial and design work (Inspira), and printing.
  2. If the author utilizes a distributor or print-on-demand printer, those companies will print and ship the books on demand; however, the books will not likely be stocked in stores.
  3. The author is in charge of all marketing, publicizing, distribution, fulfillment, and website management.


Pros of Self Publishing

  • greater control of content and timeline of the project
  • maximum earnings; author gets highest possible percentage of sales
  • author is not bound to a publisher or distributer and retains all rights to his or her work

Cons of Self Publishing

  • author shoulders all risk; there is a possibility the book will have no commercial viability
  • the book may be available through bookstores, but unless well-marketed, is rarely ever physically distributed/stocked
  • author may have more work to do, i.e., managing printing, marketing, and distribution/fulfillment

Over the past decade, self publishing has because a viable and competitive industry with self published books often reaching The New York Times best seller list. While self publishing may sometimes get a bad rap because there is no quality control, you (working alongside companies like Inspira) get to set the quality of your project!

Do You Want to Learn More?
Attend our workshop, “Steps to Publishing Your Manuscript,” happening Sept. 24th, 2016, 9 am to 3 pm in Gig Harbor, Washington.  Learn hands-on from our team how to navigate the publishing process (traditional or self) and walk away with a plan in hand for your manuscript! Includes a delicious lunch and a beautiful waterfront location.

Don’t miss out our BUY ONE GET ONE FREE competition happening THIS WEEK! Winner will be announced Friday, Sept. 16th!

Organizing Your Book

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So, you’re writing a book Or, you want to write a book. That means you just have to sit down and get to it, right? Wrong.

To write a book as efficiently as possible—whether fiction or non-fiction–you need to start by organizing your ideas. As one writer’s blog describes it, “Starting to write a book without a content plan is an invitation to false starts and wasted effort. It’s as foolish as trying to drive from New Hampshire to San Diego without a road map, intending to navigate entirely by intuition. You may end up there, but you may have wasted a lot of time (and gasoline) on unnecessary detours and dead ends.”

That doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you’re going to write. But you do need a basic structure to guide you, such us:

Linear vs. Non-Linear

A compelling book goes from point A to point B. For information-driven narratives (i.e., non-fiction) Point A is unknowing and Point B is knowing. For character-driven narratives (fiction), Point A is an introduction to the character (or characters) or the beginning of a journey. Point B is character growth or the final steps of the journey. Depending on the type of book you are writing, you may want to go straight to Point B or you may want to take some twists and turns along the way.

Information Driven Narratives

The key to a non-fiction, information driven book is logical organization. You want to help your reader receive and understand the information you are trying to convey. No matter where you are in the writing process, it is a good idea to a good look at how your book is organized.

Think of organizing an information-driven book like organizing a messy, overstuffed closet. The first thing you want to do is put your content into baskets. All the hats go in one basket; scarves go in another. These baskets are your chapters.

Now, look at the size (word count) of each basket. Is the t-shirt basket overflowing but shorts basket almost empty? Are there chapters that you need to, sadly, ax out of the book? Are there others you can combine?

It’s time to re-arrange. The order of the baskets should help readers increase their knowledge of the content. The chapters could be organized chronologically or thematically. Some chapters will be natural pre-requisites and others you can place in the text at your discretion.

Tip: If you are not a linear/organizational thinker, ask one to help you. He or she can listen to your ideas and hear the structure in your thoughts, and help you organize them.

Character Driven Narratives

A compelling character-driven narrative does not go, as logically as possible, from Point A to Point B (unless you are writing a comprehensive, fact-driven biography. )If so, I would argue your definition of “compelling.”) Consider these different methods of narrative organization:

Fichtean Curve

This curve represents traditional plot structure (exposition—rising action—climax—falling action—resolution) This organizational method is great way to build suspense in your story so your reader keeps turning the pages all the way until the end. The dips in the curve represent all the small crises that happen to your character. You don’t want it to be an easy hike from Point A to Point B; create some side-quests and hardships along the way.

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(Image from: http://www.shesnovel.com/blog/3-awesome-plot-structures-for-building-bestsellers This is a great resource on Fichtean Curves and other plot structures.)

In Media Res: In medias res is Latin for “into the middle of things.” This phrase describes a narrative that begins in the middle of the story. This narrative could begin with the third crisis on the curve or even smack dab in the middle of the climax. The plot is still working towards the resolution of the climax, but the story is not provided chronologically. You could use a series of flashbacks, follow the paths of two different characters, or begin with the climax and then back track to the “beginning” of the story.

Beginning in the middle of the story is an extremely popular method of organization because it provides an instant hook and the division of the narrative keeps the readers in suspense.

Tip: While you want to keep readers in suspense over how you are going to take them from Point A to Point B, make sure you know the way. Draw out the Fichtean Curve of your plot first, then chop it up and throw the reader into the middle of it.

 Have you ever been on a road trip with someone who doesn’t know where they’re going? You know how you feel as a passenger: “Hey, stop the car so we can get out and ask for directions!” (Or, these days, consult a GPS!) Don’t put your reader in that spot. Start your book with a plan and a structure. It will be an easier and much more pleasant ride to your destination.

Kerry

This post written by Inspira Assistant Editor Kerry Wade, a lover of rice, tea, and books.

Blog image photo credit: Hans Peter Meyer

Front Matter Matters

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First impressions matter. We take this into account when we show up 15 minutes early for a job interview or dress up extra nice for a first date. In fact, you only get one opportunity to make a great first impression.

This is as true for books as it is for people. Of course, the main message in the body of the book is what you really care about, and what you want people to read. However, the “front matter” of your book is an author’s tool to direct people towards the meat of the book.

Like any first impression, you want to make it a good one. Whether people read this section or flip through it to get to Chapter One, this is your opportunity to set the tone, depth, and personality of your book. Don’t shrug it off.

 What Is Front Matter and What Does It Include?

Front matter is everything that comes before Chapter One. Usually the page numbering is done in Roman numerals or some other system that differs from the body pagination. It includes:

Endorsements, which are a significant part of the marketing process. Whom you get to endorse your work can dramatically change the sales and relevancy of your book. You want “critical praise from people who have credibility with your audience” (http://publishingacademy.com/). When potential readers see the name of someone they admire and respect, they know the meat of your book will be worth reading.

Next come the Title Page, Other Books by the Author (Optional), Expanded Title Page (book title, name(s) of the author(s), and the publisher), and Copyright Page (copyright notice, ISBN—the International Standard Book Number—printing numbers, publisher’s address, year the book was published, and Library of Congress Catalogue information, if applicable). The copyright page may also include where to order more books, the author’s website, and, if a Bible version is used, which one and the proper citation from the publisher’s website.)

In the Dedication, you get can dedicate the book to someone or something. If there isn’t anyone you are dying to dedicate the book to, you can skip this. However, this can be a meaningful place to pay tribute to a loved one (e.g., your family or a mentor) or a group of people (e.g., survivors of WWI). Whomever or whatever you dedicate this book to, the tone of the dedications should match the tone of the book. If it is a serious book, then this should be serious; if it is a comedy, then go ahead dedicate it to “anyone who has ever gotten their finger stuck in a park bench” or some other off the wall tribute.

On the Acknowledgments Page, the author thanks people who have been helpful in some way relative to the book: perhaps a writing instructor, the editor at the publishing house, the author’s agent, a supportive spouse, etc.

In the Table of Contents, you can choose how you want to represent the titles of your chapters. If you are writing a “How-To” book, you will probably want to include the names of the chapters so a reader can glance through and find the one he or she wants. If it is a novel, you may want to write “Chapter Nine” instead of “The Chapter Where Jimmy Dies” (chapter titles in novels can be spoilers!).

A Foreword (optional) is an introduction written by someone other than the book’s author. Use the same rule of thumb as endorsements: find someone who is credible and well-known to your audience. This can be a huge draw and marketing tool.

A Prologue (optional) is only used in fiction, and provides extra information for your readers. This could be setting the scene or important background information for your readers.

Finally, a Preface (optional) introduces you to the reader (as opposed to an Introduction, which introduces the topic. A best practice is to save writing the introduction until the very end. (You never know how your topic will change as it gets written or what could happen during your adventure of writing that you might want to write about the introduction.)

Working on the front matter is a great option for when you need a break from writing your book. For the days you can’t get into the writing flow, work on your copyright page or make your endorsement “Wish List.” Just don’t put it off until the end. Remember, front matter matters!

This post by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor

Do you have a manuscript you want to publish? Consider joining us for our one-day workshop, “Preparing Your Manuscript for Publication,” on September 24th, 2016, 9 – 3 pm at the beautiful Gig Harbor Marina!

Time Out for Inspiration: Arlyn

(This is the second in our series, “What Inspires You?” in which Inspira team members share where they find their inspiration and motivation for writing.  Part One was by Assistant Editor Heather Sipes. This week’s post is by Arlyn Lawrence, Inspira’s founder and president. )

 

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For me, motivation to write often comes to me out of an urge to help people. I’m not really the kind of writer who writes just for writing’s sake; I need to have an objective. So, when I have an idea or message I think will equip, encourage, empower, or even inspire someone, I am motivated!

But even though I am legitimately a people person, “alone” is where I do my best thinking, praying, reflecting, producing, and reprogramming. To get myself in the flow, I like to be alone and undistracted by people talking, or by any kind of words at all. (So I can’t write very well in coffee shops, unfortunately!) Generally speaking, an inspirational writing environment for me includes:

  • solitude
  • beauty (if I can be near the water or the mountains, that’s a big plus!)
  • music (no words when I’m writing, so I usually choose classical or piano solo)

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I think one of the most helpful things I’ve learned as a writer is that inspiration doesn’t just happen. You have to set up for it, sort of “invite it in.” So besides the inspirational ingredients I just mentioned, I also try to set up with:

  • an orderly environment
  • a regular time and place
  • having a defined purpose for the time
  • a clear mental picture of the “whom” I’m writing to/for

We have access to a timeshare condo at Mt. Hood, Oregon, a three-hour drive from our home. When I really need inspiration and solitude for a writing project or multiple projects, it’s a great go-to place for a personal retreat. There, along with time to write, I can enjoy walks in the woods, or a trip to the snow in season. Then there’s the river—right outside my doorstep.

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And sometimes I’ll drive a half-hour to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood where I can park myself in a quiet spot to work and look out at the view:

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In these settings, I can be incredibly productive and it always amazes me how much I can get done in a shorter amount of time. I am refreshed and re-invigorated by my little “working personal retreats.” I find I actually like spending time with . . . me! When I am home again and back to reality, I feel more on top of things, much refreshed, and definitely more inspired by my “time out.”

Writing Workshop Success!

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It was a day of recognizing dreams and putting them into action. For our Inspira team, hosting a writing workshop has been a long-time dream that finally became a reality. With tested principle and strategies, we have brought over two dozen books into print. We wanted a way to make that expertise available to authors who are not quite ready for the full menu of our services, but wanted some tools to get started on a dream of their own: writing a book.

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Last Saturday, we hosted part one, “So, You Have a Story: Now What?” Wanting to honor our name, Inspira, we chose the beautiful and inspirational Gig Harbor Marina as our workshop location. While it wasn’t exactly sunny, the sky was clear and the harbor view was the perfect backdrop for our participants to get inspired.

“This workshop will be a success,” Arlyn began, “if each of you leave feeling inspired to write a book and equipped with the tools to do so.”

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One thing we think is unique about Inspira is that while all our clients are authors, they are not all necessarily writers. We believe that each client, workshop participant, and person (that means you, too!) has a unique message to share, and a unique sphere of influence with which to share it. We specifically reach out to those who may not be writers, but have a powerful message that deserves to be in print. This workshop’s participants included fiction writers, businessmen and women, faith leaders, and community leaders with wisdom and stories to share.

The workshop covered how to establish your book’s objectives (this is key!), developing a plot (fiction) or outline (non-fiction), getting your ideas flowing, titling, the components of good writing, and how to refine your manuscript. It was a full day! Many people came into the room doubting their abilities, and/or felt overwhelmed at different moments throughout the day. We were able to assure them: this is a normal part of the writing process! Fear, uncertainty, and doubt come with the territory. Successful authors make peace with this and just keep writing!

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In the afternoon we took a break for lunch at JW’s Trolley for some fish and chips (the best food to fuel a writer!) Then, refreshed by the ocean breeze, it was time to put pens to paper, and write. The silence was filled with pens scratching and keyboards clacking, and an atmosphere of excitement grew in the room. As the participants shared what they had written, there was a palpable sense of “we can do this.” It is a beautiful thing to have a room full of people passionate about their dreams. However, it is even more beautiful to have a room full of people actively pursuing their dreams, equipped with the confidence and know-how to do so. “Thank you for such an encouraging and practical workshop,” said one participant. “I am excited to see these dreams in print!”

At the end of the workshop, each and every person said they felt inspired and equipped to make their dream a reality. With our criteria met, we consider the workshop a success!

We invite you to join us for part two, “Steps to Publishing Your Manuscript” on Saturday, September 24th at the Gig Harbor Marina. Visit https://inspiralit.com/workshop/ for more information.  

Post by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor

Fathering the Future

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Last Saturday, several of our Inspira team had the honor of attending the 14th Annual “D.A.D.S.” Fatherhood Banquet and the launch of our client Marvin Charles’ new book, Becoming Dads: A Mission to Restore Absent Fathers.

Marvin is the founder and executive director of D.A.D.S., a community based organization dedicated to walking with men in supportive community, and helping them navigate the relational and legal barriers that separate them from their children and families. Over the past ten years, Marvin and Jeanett Charles, along with their team at D.A.D.S., have worked with 3,222 men to bring them back to their families!

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Becoming DADS: The Mission to Restore Absent Fathers tells Marvin’s own powerful story of redemption and restoration, providing absentee fathers with a message of hope and a vision for the future, as well as practical support and resources. Through this book, he hopes to educate people on what the real issues are that compromise families and energize the cycle of abandonment and fatherlessness.

The theme of this year’s D.A.D.S. fundraising banquet was “Fathering the Future.” The banquet honored fathers who have taken the steps necessary to provide a future for their families. The men who took the stage shared their stories of their own fatherlessness, addictions, and court battles. All of these men chose to stand up to the cycles of hurt and pain in their communities, turn their lives around, and give back to their children.

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“D.A.D.S. provided me with hope again,” said one father. “They listened and educated me. They heard my story with an open heart; they understood my emotions. They took my hand and walked step by step with me, shared tears with me, and celebrated my joys and victory.”  At the end of the banquet, the full house of committed D.A.D.S. supporters gave a record $200,070—nearly half the organization’s budget for the year!

The keynote speaker for the evening was Jeff Kemp (another past Inspira client). Jeff is a former NFL quarterback and is the author of Facing the Blitz: Three Keys for Turning Trials into Triumphs (published by Bethany House). He used the biblical story of Gideon to describe the mission of D.A.D.S. Just like God called Gideon a brave man of valor when he was still in the winepress, D.A.D.S. speaks identity and purpose over men before they recognize it themselves.

After the banquet, Marvin hosted a book signing for Becoming DADS. It was exciting to see this book in the hands of people who care passionately about this cause. We can’t wait to see the continuing impact of Marvin’s story, this book, and D.A.D.S!

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To order and find out more about the book Becoming Dads, visit Marvin’s website at http://www.marvinlcharles.com. Learn more about the work of D.A.D.S. at http://www.aboutdads.org.

Post by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor 

Team Time at Inspira

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We were busy bees last week at Inspira. Our editorial toolkits are now bursting with new resources, ideas, and strategies! We’re excited to share with you what we’ve been up to recently, and how our growth will help our clients.

Last week we were graced with a week-long visit from one of our contributing editors, Connie Willems. Connie works remotely, so she flew in from Oklahoma City to not only meet our whole team face-to-face, but to offer valuable advice and insight. She has an extensive background in book and periodical publishing, and also works as a life coach (you can check out her website at www.reallifediscovery.com), so we were eager to learn from her!

We gathered the whole team together for a day-long workshop that focused on strategy, personal writing skills, team building, style guides, and more. (We can’t think of a better way to spend a day than discussing how to properly write em dashes and ellipses…can you?) Connie drew on her many years of experience to help us hone our skills, which will in turn allow us to better help our clients. The stronger our skills and experiences, the stronger our books!

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Of course we had lofty goals of impressing Connie (the successful editor and publisher that she is) with our smooth, hiccup-free business operations, but fate had other plans. One of our books was going to print during her visit, which is usually the most harried step in the book-creating process. A couple of last-minute changes made for a frenzied (yet exciting) week full of drama. Thanks, Connie, for your assistance in successfully navigating the snags!

Now that we’re on the other side of our week full of learning, creating, and teambuilding, we are excited and eager for new projects and possibilities. We have fresh resources under our belt to help our authors get their story or message from idea in head to book in hand!

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Blog post by Heather Sipes, Assistant Editor at Inspira.  You’ll get to know Heather a little better next week when we start our new blog series, “What Inspires YOU?”

Why Your Book Needs a Developmental Editor

 

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When my youngest daughter was in second grade, I once accompanied her class on a field trip to the zoo. Hillary was delighted to have me with her on the school bus full of loudly chattering children. One of her classmates, a young man of about seven, sized me up and asked boldly over the din, “So what do you do for a job?”

Hillary enthusiastically and proudly answered for me, “She fixes people’s spelling!”

The boy looked at me with great pity. “Oh wow. Bummer.”

I couldn’t stifle my laughter. I’m sure that, to him, it sounded like the worst job ever!

Thankfully, correcting spelling is probably one of the most minor aspects of what I do as an editor (although I don’t mind it). But it’s still probably one of the first things most people—adults included—think of when they think of “editing.”

Developmental vs. Copy Editing

When most people think of an “editor,” they generally think about someone who weeds out all the bad grammar, misspelled words, and typos from a manuscript.  That is only partially true. This is copy editing. A good copy editor knows the rules of grammar and uses them scrupulously to polish your manuscript.

A developmental editor, on the other hand, reads a manuscript and asks good questions. She (or he) gets at the heart of your book to make sure it has all the right components, and that it flows seamlessly and logically from start to finish.  She’ll look for things like:

  • structure and sequence
  • clarity and logic
  • outline and objectives (if non-fiction); character and plot (if fiction)
  • organization – does the material (or plot) unfold in the most useful/interesting way?
  • ensuring research and quotes are properly cited and documented
  • illustrating key points with well-illustrated stories, graphs, and/or diagrams
  • making the language clear and easy to understand
  • ensuring the thoughts flow smoothly from chapter to chapter, ending up in a satisfying conclusion

I love this apt description I found of the difference between a a copy editor and a developmental editor: “A copy editor will point out that you have broccoli in your teeth. A developmental editor will ask you why you ate broccoli to begin with. Perhaps kale would be better?” *

The reality is, for your book to be the best it can be, you need both – developmental editing and copy editing (in that order). I can’t count the number of “edited” manuscripts and books I’ve seen that may have their spelling sorted out, but they lack any sort of cohesive structure and flow. These books, unfortunately, fall flat and, sadly, never reach their full potential.

I pointed out to my young friend on the school bus and reiterate today, years later, that I love my job as an editor. I do both developmental and copy editing and enjoy them as integral parts of a complete project (and a stellar book). And, when necessary, I’ll even politely point out any offending broccoli—at no extra charge. 🙂

Arlyn-smaller

Arlyn Lawrence is the president of Inspira Literary Solutions, a boutique book development and design company whose aim is to be a resource and support to authors and organizations with a manuscript, message, or mission they want to get into print. We provide an a la carte menu of every service necessary along the way to publication, from book idea to book-in-hand. www.inspiralit.com

*illustration credit to Merry Farmer

 

 

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