Email: melinda@tropicalwriting.com.au     Phone Number AU: 0400703836
Follow Us

The Business of (Indie) Writing – Day 3 – Writing, editing and writing some more: how to edit your book and make it practically perfect in every way with freelance editor, Lynne Stringer

‘I’m about to upload my story, can you quickly check for me,’ is a phrase Lynne Stringer hears a lot in her day job as a freelance editor and it drives her crazy. Her advice is we need at least two rounds of editing and preferably more, especially if it is our first book. Timeline errors, plot inconsistencies, structural problems, grammar and spelling problems, and everything else problems all get a mention during our chat today and I’m going to brave and suggest some of us may never look at the editing process with such fondness ever again. Editors are our ‘objective eye’ and their job is to tactfully and gently guide us through the process of making our babies the best they can be – after we think we’ve already brushed their hair and cleaned their teeth. You may find Lynne’s advice confronting, and some of the prices she quotes even more so, but if our work is going to be our business card, brand and representative out there in the big, wide publishing world, then we’d rather get it right, wouldn’t we? Lynne tells us how…but I can’t guarantee we’ll like it. You can find out more about Lynne and her work here.

Read Full Transcript

Lynne Stringer
Melinda: Welcome to another episode of Writer on the Road. Today I've got with me a wonderful woman by the name of Lynne Stringer. It's someone I've been wanting to speak to for quite a while because Lynne does the very thing that I think I'm brilliant at and I'm actually very bad at and it's called editing.
For all of you who know anything about Indie publishing the first piece of advice that any of us give you is get yourself a professional editor because no matter how many times you read your stuff you miss the mistakes and I have a case point, I've been putting a little series of podcast interviews in the last few days and I think I'm rather brilliant and my daughter will edit them for me and go through them and there are glaring mistakes that I've read ten times and those mistakes are just there. Welcome Lynn.
Lynne Stringer: Thank you very much Mel, it's great to be here.
Melinda: I'm very keen to talk to you about the editing process. But first of all would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself so that my listeners have an idea of what you're about or where you've come from, where you're going, all that kind of stuff, so that they can switch me out and tune into you.
Lynne Stringer: I've been working with writing ever since I was a child really, I've always loved writing. My father's a writer also. I gradually got into it more and I actually studied a bit of journalism, became the editor of a newspaper, just a small one, which I was the chief journalist for and editor of for seven years.
After that I started working with a company called Wombat Books doing some editing first. I was editing non-fiction works for them. Then I started editing their fiction as well because I just seemed to have a knack for being able to do that. I finished up working with them as an editor, although I still do some freelance for them when required, but I finished up that last year and started working for Amanda Greenslade at Australian eBook Publisher who I believe you had on the show recently as well. Now I do editing for her, I also do my own private editing work as well. It's not an easy task because as I like to say an editor's job is to tell you that your baby is ugly and needs plastic surgery which no one likes to hear.
Melinda: Lynn's never said that about my work because otherwise I'd hit the off button. She can actually say that my work's beautiful before we start. But the truth of the matter is, Lynne and I were having a brief conversation before we started tonight, all of us, even the best of us, even English teachers, miss the most basic of things when it comes to reading our own work because it becomes very familiar to us. That's why I've got Lynne on here tonight because I'm guessing all of us are keen to hear what an editor's got to say, what our editor's see when send off our manuscripts saying can you just give this a quick tidy up before I upload it to Amazon to make my fortune. Yeah, so Lynn.
Lynne Stringer: That is the phrase I hate hearing the most. I'm about to upload up it, can you just quickly check it because you don't do that. You've got to take editing seriously and you need to have, if you're going self-publishing, you need to have at least two rounds of editing and preferably far more before you can even be sure yours is going to be correct because so much may need to be done, especially if this is your first time.
But even if it's not, too you need to be someone who's going to be able to cope with the criticism you're going to get too and be aware that the editor, while we might say things that you don't like, our goal is to make your book better and you've got to be prepared to put the time in to getting an editor and being aware that once I've edited your book once you don't upload it Smashwords or Lulu or wherever the following week because it's not going to be ready that quickly, it's a long, drawn-out process if you want to get it right.
Melinda: I'm making a couple of notes here as Lynne is giving us that very brief introductory nightmare scenario of waiting.
Lynne Stringer: No one likes to do that!
Melinda: My students at school, they think that they start at the introduction, go through their three paragraphs, write their conclusion, they'd submit it and get an A. But as teachers we know that's not the case at all. As writers we like to think our manuscripts have gone through, and I know with my own manuscripts they can go through a dozen edits and I think I've picked up everything and I would like to think that I could just send it off to someone like Lynne and give it one go over and that would be enough.
But my own experiences even with The Miner's Wife and it was with Australian eBook Publishers. I think there was something like 400 mistakes after it had gone through the editing process because there's different levels of editing. If for my listeners who are just starting at the very beginning and you get a call saying can you just give my manuscript a quick edit, how do you go about saying well I can... but.
Lynne Stringer: I have to be very tactful about it, because as I said writing is probably one of the most personal things we do. It's an extremely personal thing and it's very easy to offend someone with things like that because none of us like to hear that what we've crafted so carefully and edited ourselves 15, maybe 100 times if you're like me, might not yet be perfect. So you do have to be very gentle and try and make people understand that it can be very difficult to get it right, you may have had problems especially with the plot as well that you might have missed something because you've got what you think is a logical sequence of events but you may not realize that you've missed a spot that your reader is going to pick up on. So my job is to tell you about those things. The goal being of course to get it fixed up before it goes to print.
I have one of my regular private editing clients, she put a testimonial on my website and said that she was amazed that I gave her back her manuscript and I found timeline errors, plotting consistencies, structural problems as well as all the grammar and spelling and everything else problems and this was in a manuscript she was about to send to the print. But she'd sent it me first and suddenly I sent it back and she goes oh my goodness, look at all these things. She's right, the plot doesn't work! She had to do a re-write to fix it up. So it's amazing what you don't see because you think you know it, but there can be things you've missed and that another eye, an objective eye, can pick up.
Melinda: I know from my own experiences I guess that there are things called story edits and line edits. So they're two completely different things. Now I don't know whether the charges are different, but--
Lynne Stringer: It depends on who you're going with and what they do. Personally, I like to try and do the whole lot in one go. With some manuscripts that can be really tricky because there's often a lot of things to deal with. Those are the people who I usually say you have to come back and have another edit because there's probably things I've missed because I've been so distracted by other elements. But I find it impossible if I'm reading a book and say I find a structural problem with the plot, I can't stop myself from doing other editing at the same time, like structural edit means that an editor with go through your manuscript and look at the plot and characterization, make sure it's paced right, make sure it makes sense, make sure you're communicating it well.
What we also call a line edit or a copy edit as it's always known means we go through the manuscript line by line, we make adjustments for what might think might work better and they are all just suggestions. But if you come to me I will actually probably put words in that I suggest you change it to because I think they communicate what I think you're trying to say more effectively. So you go through it line by line, which is why it's called a line edit and you make adjustments to try and make the flow work. That's something that I usually do, like I said, at the same time but some people will do those individually.
Some manuscripts will really require a structural edit which is best to get done first and then a line edit after that. Then, after that you should also have a proof-read as well which is just looking for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and punctuation problems. You may find that you need a couple of rounds of those ones as well, especially when it comes to, your book has significant structural problems, like if your plot doesn't work. You might think you fixed it up, but you might not have fixed it up at all. So you might need to come back for another round or even another round. But it depends, every manuscript is different and the problems in them are always very different as well.
Melinda: We've got to remember that right at the top of the page I've written here your aim is to make our stories better.
Lynne Stringer: Absolutely.
Melinda: As Indie publishers we pride ourselves on being as professional as we can be and I personally think that the standards are improving daily as we hire cover editors, sorry, cover designers, editors, graphic designers, all the kinds of people that put us right up there with anyone else because as we know a reader doesn't care where the book came from as long as it's a good story.
Lynne Stringer: That's right.
Melinda: They don't know to look inside the cover and say oh gee that one's a penguin one or that one's this or whatever. They just care about a story. So it's our job to make sure our books look as professional as the next person's on the shelf. That came as a huge shock to me that we had to government through story edits or structural edits, line edits, copy edits and proofreading. There's a cost that comes with that.
Lynne Stringer: Yes.
Melinda: As professional writers, and like professional anything, education quite often isn't free. Life-long is something as writers that we need to embrace. Cost wise, now I know I'm going to talk to you in a minute about what you have to do to make yourself the best person for us to come to, but as a writer what can I look at and I know costs very hugely, I've got some horror stories about what happened to me when I went to America for some of these before I found Australian eBook Publisher. I was very wary by the time I got to poor old Amanda. Cost wise, what are you looking at if we wanted to put our stories through the rigors of those three rounds per say.
Lynne Stringer: It depends on who you go with and how many rounds are required. It is definitely not a cheap business. I am to the cheaper end of the scale definitely, although I'm thinking of putting my prices up because it is an incredible amount of work to do and considering I do the whole edit, everything at once, it's very time consuming and with some manuscripts it can be extremely taxing mentally. So might be doing that, but I haven't yet. But you can honestly, if you want to make sure it's done properly be prepared to spend at least a couple of thousand dollars depending on the length of your manuscript. But, some people go oh my goodness, no I can't spend that kind of money.
We had, because I work for Australian eBook Publisher as I said, we had someone the other day who' self-publishing their book and they, they're spending thousands of dollars having their books published. I said, she said I'm sure if I need to proofread or not, can you just check and see if it needs. I had a look and her book has significant problems, it's completely written with telling, she doesn't show at all, it's shockingly bad. So I'm going I have to tell this lady that I think she needs a proper edit. So I said very gently I think it might be a good idea if you get this edited properly, have more than a proofread. Oh no, no, no, I can't. I've had this, and this is something else I want to mention.
She said to me she'd been, she'd had other editors mentor her. So this is something you do need to know too, there are editors and there are editors. Some editors are unfortunately not that great and you need to make sure and it's hard because it's going to be hard who's the good one and who's the bad one. But there are editors out there who have no idea what they're doing and I couldn't believe it when this lady said she'd been mentored because her book was really not very good. So I said to her I still think you really need an edit. She in the end wouldn't even go for the proofread because of the cost. Now she's going to spend thousands of dollars producing a book that is really, really bad.
It's heartbreaking for me as an editor because being a published author myself I know how savage reviewers can be and my job as an editor is to be savage before you get your book out there. So hopefully the reaction will be less savage. I'm not saying you wouldn't ever get a bad review because that's inevitable. But the better your book is the likely that is. You've got to be willing to spend the money and if it means you have to take longer to get the book out then so be it, because it's better that you wait until it's ready before you spend all the money and find that you're left with a garage full of books that you can't sell.
Melinda: I can tell you from experience that I think The Miner's Wife, now it had gone through the whole rigorous PhD process, which I had a professor working with me and I know by the time my book got to Australian eBook Publishers I thought oh that's okay, and it cost me another $5,000 to even bring close to what we wanted. I'm an English teacher, I read it with a fine tooth comb, Australian eBook Publishers went through it and Amanda and her team went through it and even at the end of that we found another 400, they were proof edits, they were small things and that's with a professional team working on it.
This does need to happen. I'm for one I'm absolutely convinced that it needs to happen. It's, as you said telling first time authors that their baby's got wood feet that breaks their cotton-picking little hearts. But when your book is our there I've got some middle-grade novels out and again Amanda from Australian eBook Publishers said look Mel, I'm really sorry to tell you this but your structure is crap and you need to go back in and I think she charged me like $600 and a couple of conversations.
Lynne Stringer: That's really cheap!
Melinda: Yeah, a couple of conversations, she said Mel have you done those edits yet and I'm going nah, I'm going to--
Lynne Stringer: Procrastination.
Melinda: I want to bury that one in the bottom drawer and I'll move on. But without the professional experience we may as well not call ourselves publishers and we may as well not try and compete on a professional level. I know I've been dealing a lot lately with romance authors. Here in Australia we have a really, really strong contingent of published romance authors with traditional publishers and they talk about the edits and they talk about their book a year and they talk about working with teams of professionals. It's time consuming and it takes a lot of effort.
Lynne Stringer: They would still have mistakes in it at the end of it too just to say. There's very few books ever get through without any mistakes.
Melinda: That's absolutely right. But they're lucky that they can ship their stuff off and have someone else worry about all that, then they come back and make the changes and off they go. The problem that we have as Indies is we're in charge, we're business, we wear our business hats as well as our writing hats. The pressure is on, as we all know to write quickly, write regularly and publish often. So we're very much reliant on people like yourself Lynne as independent editors. But people still hesitate to pay, pay that price of a professional.
Lynne Stringer: They need to, you need to get over that really is what I have to say because I know so many people who have spent $5,000 getting their book published and then have not been able to sell it because it's bad, it's terrible. Because they haven't taken that step. I remember what you mentioned earlier that you think education is getting out there and people are realizing more and more that they need to have editors and I agree, I think it is started to get out there.
But there are people who clearly haven't got the message or at least think it doesn't concern them. They think, oh of course that's for the person who's the hack. I'm the professional here, I know what I'm doing, I don't need an editor. It's all just good. That's the worst kind of client for me to deal with too because quite often people will send me their book and expect me just to rubber stamp it, you can tell that's what they were expecting. They expect me to go oh I found a couple of little spelling mistakes, you're all good to go. Instead I come back and say okay now there's this problem, there's this problem, there's a problem. You can tell by the way they react that they were not expecting it and that they don't think that I'm right. That becomes extremely difficult to convince them. But everybody needs editing, even editors need editing.
I was recently an anthology, I wrote a short story for an anthology and I think they were three or four of us who were editors who wrote stories for it. I wrote a blog at the time, one of my blogs was titled "Even Editors Need Editors" because I was writing my story and I thought oh it's pretty, I think I've got this pretty tight and I sent it off to the women who'd been charged to be my editor for that and she came back and said okay repetition here, repetition here and I'm going okay I missed that.
She herself was edited by someone else and she came back to our Facebook group and said it seems that I've found, I've just discovered I start a lot of sentences with the word "well" which she hadn't noticed. But yeah, she apparently had "well" her dialogues were starting with the word "well" over and over again. So she had to go through and take them all out. So we were all laughing and talking about how much even we as editors, it's our business to make perfect or as good as they can be, but we still, if it's someone thing we're writing we still miss things that are basic. You get it back and you go why didn't I see that? That's the whole point because I saw it only as I expected it to be so I missed the implication of what it, of where it fell down.
As a writer you do need as thick skin because as I said earlier you will get bad reviews. So you need to learn before the book's published to be able to take some criticism. I'm not saying too that everything an editor says is what you need to do. I have had a couple of disagreements with some people who've recommended something structurally in my books and I've said I'm sorry I don't agree and I've rejected it. But I always take it very seriously and I consider it and I try and push my ego aside and say is what they're saying valid, view it as objectively as possible if I feel that yes it necessary for that and they're right, gets changed. If not I might say okay I don't agree in this case, I think there's a difference of opinion, not of quality and I'll say I'm going to continue with the story as it is. So you can do that.
But certainly for first time authors I would recommend that they take things very seriously that an editor tells them and not just say well of course that's rubbish because I know what's right for my story. Yeah, that's right to a certain extent but ultimately it's not always right and sometimes you just need to take a step back and say is this advice I need to heed.
Melinda: Yeah, and I think we can all do with some advice when it comes to this kind of thing. I know there's a thing out there, and I haven't tracked any down myself and they're the wonderful, I don't know whether you pronounce it beta readers or beta readers?
Lynne Stringer: Beta readers.
Melinda: What role do they play? I think they can be very good when you're just getting a story together because again same with, I think they're beta readers, not beta readers, they could be either actually. So probably depends on where you're from. I think they can be helpful at the outset and then again of course there are good ones and bad ones I'm sure. But you can't just, because I have had people do this for me too, you can't just stop with a beta reader and think that it's okay, that your manuscripts okay that is because most beta readers are not professionals in the industry. So there will still be things that they don't see or that they can't tell you about because they don't realize it might be an issue.
With writing, especially writing a novel, there are a lot of strict rules these days and techniques that you're expected to follow. Now of course you can say oh I'm not going to do that and I guess you don't have to, but the publishers didn't come up with rules like that just because they felt that it was fun to torture authors. They came up with those rules because they recognize that books written in those styles sold better because that's why they do anything, they'll do anything to make money. That's their businesses, that's their goal in life is to make a profit. So they're going to try and star books that they think will sell best, sometimes they do get it wrong. So there are certain rules that you need to learn and follow and I don't think all beta rules know about those necessarily so they're not necessarily going to be able to advise you in those kinds of areas.
Professional editors, we're professionals for a reason, we're in the business and we're aware of how the business is flowing and we have conversations with other editors, with publishers. So we know what is required and we keep on top of that kind of thing, so we can help you understand what you need to do to make sure you have the potential of the best reach in the marketplace.
Melinda: Yeah. I've got a question for you, I was just playing around with the sound there, I was having a little test to see what was going on. What should we look for? You said like you know what to look for, you have the professional conversations. If you've got Molly Smith sitting out there what are some of the tips that you recommend that we look for as, or before we send it to you. I know there's a little editing process that I go through. I know we should all put in our drawer and come back to it two months later but now that we've got to churn out a book every thirty days I'm not quite sure how that works.
Lynne Stringer: Make it two weeks.
Melinda: Let's turn this thing out because romance writers readers’ twenty novels a week and they want them all from us. Can you tell us if, what would be your, I guess your best half dozen tips. What do you recommend we do to start?
Lynne Stringer: One of the first things should be blatantly obvious but I'll mention it anyway because it's clear not many people do it, spell check your work. It's amazing how many manuscripts I get that have significantly wrong spelling in it and I'm going seriously a spell check would have picked that one up. So the first thing is please run it through a spell checker. Considering to what I charge too, if you're coming to me it would be a great help to me if I don't have to fix up very common spelling mistakes from the outset. That would save me a lot of time and hassle.
Then the next thing. Watch some of the things you can look for fairly easy. Watch for yourself when you're repeating yourself, repetition. Authors love to say things two, three, sometimes even four times over and you don't need to. We all do it, I do it all the time, I mentioned it earlier. We'll say things like saying things, saying things slightly different ways. Like we might say I told her it was okay, I said it would be alright. You don't need both of those in there, you've already said it once, just cut the second one out. So cut that one. So repetition is something that's relatively easy to find.
Also if you see yourself using particular phrases, like a very common is "I couldn't help but...", if you think you've got a couple of those in there, do a search on your document and see exactly how many you come up with. If you come up with forty you've got too many. So cut them down to about two or three.
Things with words like suddenly, not a good idea, try and show why it's sudden, don't put sudden in there. Saying things, I would avoid words like "very", "very" is a useless word really when you're writing. Like if you've seen the film Dead Poets' Society it's one of the greatest ways of understanding why that's silly. You don't say very tired, you say you're exhausted. You don't say that you're very sad, you say you're morose or things like that. Pick another word, if the word after the word "very" isn't strong enough to convey what you mean change that word and take the "very" out. Same with words like "really", "totally" and things like that.
Now, I will say on that though that there are occasions where those are more acceptable. My most recent novel, I've written from the point of view of an eighteen year old. So I'm aware that eighteen year olds talk like that, so I do have to put those in sometimes. But again try and be sparing with your use of it because there are usually better ways to communicate things like that.
What else is something that is relatively easy to pick up? The hardest things with editing is things like structure because if you haven't picked up on plot problems it can be difficult to work out how to. Probably just, one thing I did notice on a book I edited a couple of years ago, if you've got a timeline make sure you write it down because this one person, she was, I think she said it was Christmas in a week and then Christmas occurred about three weeks later in the time line of her novel. So write down your time line, when is this happening, why is it happening at this point and make sure you've got all that information right because that's a very easy way to get tripped up. In fact, especially on rewrites, you have to be really careful on rewrites because sometimes you can change something and not realize something else needs also to be changed. That's a very common mistake and it's very easy to make.
Okay, what, repetition. A lot of things like I said, it's difficult to point out unless you actually see them there. But yeah, those are the most common. That's another one too, too much description or too little, both are common problems. I edited a manuscript once where it was an interesting story, one of those sort of fantasy novels and had two men on a quest, you know the kind of thing like Lord of the Rings style, they're off with their swords strapped to their waists and they're trekking through the forest to go and do the great deed or whatever they're doing. The bad guys saw them and they were down at the bottom of the hill and the bad guys were at the top.
From the time the bad guys saw them and yelled and charged down the hill it was seven paragraphs before they got to the bottom. I guess the guy was trying to raise the tension. What he did was kill the pace because if they're racing down the hill at you you've got to get the action because that's what your audience is waiting for. So just have them get there! Don't make your audience wait, they will get bored and they will get frustrated. So that kind of thing is always a good thing to avoid. Don't stretch it out because you think it raises the tension, it usually doesn't. Just cut it especially if you're in an exciting section like that. But it is necessary also to make sure you've used enough description because some novels don't.
This can be common too even in contemporary novels where you don't often need to do as much description in a contemporary novel as you do in a fantasy novel because your audience is familiar with your world, but you still do need some. I edited a novel a few years ago now where it was about this young couple that were getting back together, they had a daughter. They went off to a lake to fish. Now I imagined them, when she say's saying they're fishing had their poles in order, so I'm thinking they're on the bank of the lake or on a jetty or something with their fishing rods.
They mentioned the little girl had gone to sleep in the cab and I'm going what cab, oh in the cabin, that's right in the cabin. So I thought there must be a cabin on the lake or the cabin of the guys Yute because I knew he had a Yute. The next paragraph she mentions they're on a boat. I had to do a, because I thought did I miss that. So I searched the document for that to see if I could find any mention of a boat but there was not a mention of a boat anywhere.
So I'm going okay obviously for her when you went fishing you went on a boat, so it was obviously. But for me I've done surf fishing or bank fishing so I never, a boat never even occurred to me. So that kind of thing you need to watch out for too because what you think is obvious may not be obvious to your audience. So there's a real balance with getting descriptions right.
Melinda: Anyone who's listening and I'm sitting back going oh my god I've got to pay an editor, I've got a little novella coming out and I'm thinking how quickly can you read it and get that back to me because I got to get into the guys who want to publish it. It's look, I can't recommend enough that we use your expertise and as far as I'm aware professional editors go through a training course. Can you tell me, there's a professional organization for editors?
Lynne Stringer: There is, you don't have to but I'm a member of Queensland Society of Editors, but that's based on my experience because I have been editing professionally since 1998. But a lot of editors do have to go through training but my opinion doesn't necessarily make me a good editor, I came from a technical perspective. Personally the training angle isn't for everyone. I am a kind of person who learns on the job and I actually, I never went through a professional course for this, I just learned because I had to, it was something I did and because I had a fairly analytical brain I was able to pick up on mistakes and I could focus.
So I think I've got a kind of natural ability for it and as I said I've been editing professionally since 1998 so that's nearly twenty years now so I think what I haven't got in a piece of paper, a degree, I've made up for in professional experience. But certainly there are courses and finding someone who's done one of those can be a help. But like I said I honestly believe you learn editing more effectively when you're actually doing it, it's the same as anything else, experience is the most important thing in it.
There will be editors and editors again, and not every editor suits every person either because writing is such a personal thing and some writers will have certain styles, the editors might understand that style and be able to communicate, now how to make that writer communicate well in what they're trying to say, which is why if you're not happy with your editor you really should shop around and try and find another one.
Don't feel you have to say with the same one just because you' always have unless it's working for you. If it is, great, stay with them absolutely that's great. But I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to, if they're happy with their editor say this person over here is cheaper I'll use them to save a bit of money. Don't do that, if you've got an editor that's working then stick with them because you're not necessarily going to, you might save money but that doesn't mean you won't lose more down the track if your book isn't up to scratch because they haven't picked up on things that they should have. So it's a very personal and subjective game just as writing is. So it's always difficult to judge who's good and who's bad.
Melinda: Anyone who's followed this podcast and anyone who follow I guess our top indie authors and the advice that they give and I think Hugh Howey's Data Guy statistics back this up, in the last five years there's such a huge growth in indie publishing and to go traditionally nowadays, in my opinion be absolutely insane. So to find a professional editor, to find an agent, to find a designer, all those kinds of things.
Lynne Stringer: Oh, just oh.
Melinda: I'm finding that agents now are doing the hard yards for indies in that they're bridging that marketing gap, so maybe a new word for agent is marketer, I don't know, I'll have to find an agent and bring them on and have a chat with them.
Lynne Stringer: Finding agents forever, I tried doing that myself and I ended up giving up, it's so hard.
Melinda: There's a new breed of agent coming through and they're no longer the gatekeepers either, I think they're now working with authors to get them out there as best they can. I think traditionally agents, and correct if I'm wrong, it was their job to pitch to the big five publishers.
Lynne Stringer: Yes, that's absolutely correct. Most of them, the big boys will not go through anyone who does not have an agent.
Melinda: Notice those words, big boys. I don't think the big boys are so big any more.
Lynne Stringer: No they're not.
Melinda: Once we can, I think I had Drift2Digital on and we've got Kobo and we've got Amazon, we've got, I guess the playing field is a whole lot more level than it ever was and plus there's a lot of different styles there. So we can, I guess as far as reading goes we're spoiled for choice now because there's so much out there. As far as writing goes we can target our audiences a lot more widely, we don't have to go for the thing that you're going to find on the Big W shelves and nothing else.
Lynne Stringer: That's going to be all the, the stuff that there's too, that's all the really popular titles and you can be sure that that's going to follow unless it's something that sudden caught the public's interest in an amazing way, that's something that's going to be fairly standard, it's not going to be anything different really that you find in places like Big W because they will only go with the popular titles there because they want things that will sell. So if you want something that's standard and probably fairly predictable then go for those ones.
Melinda: I'm going to move on because I think you have a lot more interesting things to talk about and I really wanted to get that editing thing out of the way because as I said I'm looking at editing myself and I'm looking at finding editors and I know my listeners would be looking at professional editing as well and we're curious about how it all works and what it's going to cost us. I know before I found Australian eBook Publishers that I paid some really dead money. It was a bit sad but I know we've got the, what is it, the alliance of independent authors now who protect us a little bit better. There's places we can go to make sure that the people that we're giving our money to are scrupulous. But you, I want to speak to about the other side of the coin, you're also an author. Now you're with a publisher, I know you said Wombat Books I think it was.
Lynne Stringer: Yes, Wombat Books, Riser Press. Riser Press has recently been brought on, they now handle the young adult and adult titles that my publisher produces. So while my, I've written four books, I wrote a science fiction trilogy that were published under Wombat Books, but now Riser is out, my new book which is being published in October is being published under Riser. So that's a, they're only very small press so it's not a big outfit at all.
So there's still a lot work I have to do because you need to, well any author should do a lot of work anyway in promoting their book. That's an essential. I think it's something a lot of that we author, it certainly takes us out of our comfort zone, we don't like, well if you're anything like me I don't really like going out there and saying hey buy my book because it's embarrassing. But you have to as an author and that can be really hard too.
Melinda: I just painted my books on the side of my caravan. It was much easier for me.
Lynne Stringer: That's a good idea.
Melinda: You know the old sandwich board then I send the kids out with a bucket. Did you consider or will you consider rather than going through a publisher would you consider going indie now? I notice on your website that you have your books up, I guess you've got a box set up there of, I think it was three books for $55. Are you considering in the future going indie or you'll always stick with a publisher? I know this is a very personal choice.
Lynne Stringer: It is. Well the advantage of a traditional publisher is she pays for the edits, she pays for the printing and all that kind of thing. So my outlay at that end is virtual nil. I do certainly pay for some of the promotions myself because I know she does her best but she only has a limited budget because she's got a lot of books that she's trying to get out there and I know how hard she works doing that. But, so a lot of those costs she will meet herself and then she pays me royalties.
Because I'm not exactly what you'd call a rich person and I know most of us aren't, but I don't know if I'd have the money to publish, self-publish. But if a manuscript came along that she said no I don't like that one, but I felt it was still worth publishing I might go that way. That's the thing, you don't have to, as far as I know, it might be different with the big boys, but with the small press publishers it's contract based on a particular manuscript. So if you produce another manuscript and you say oh I'm not going to publish this traditionally, I'll do it myself or if they say like I just said I don't want to do that one then you can publish it yourself and that's no problem, that's not going to be an issue, I don't think for any certainly of the small press publishers because they recognize that they can only do so much.
If you want to go out there and do one yourself I don't think they're going to get oh no you can't do that, at least my publisher doesn't. She knows she can't accept everything because she has to be careful what she can deal with being such a small operation. So it's not, I might do that if I got a manuscript that I think had legs and she didn't think she could publish it, but yeah, it's not something that I've really, I think I've thought yeah it's a possibility, but it's not something that I can see myself doing in the near future.
Melinda: I've seen lots since I've been doing the podcast, I'm just rampantly indie I can't believe anyone would go with anyone. Then I've watched the romance writers and how successful how they are and I think wow I can see why they're doing what they're doing. I've just--
Lynne Stringer: Yes, there are pros and cons.
Melinda: I've got to wind this conversation up now and I can't believe we talked for as long as we have about editing, but I think it's something that we're all very interested in and we might have to have you back again. But just on a finishing note, I've just brought up the most amazingly beautiful cover for Lynne's latest book and it's called Once Confronted. I'm going to put that up I think either on our blog post or our picture for our podcast because it's a beautiful, beautiful cover. Who designed that?
Lynne Stringer: My publisher did. We actually had a huge backwards and forwards about that because at first I didn't like that cover, we had another one that we were going to go with but then we got some negative feedback about that one and that one was purposed instead and I said oh no, don't like it! Then we actually put both of the covers up on Facebook to see if the people who follow my publisher on Facebook, which ones they like the best and the covers were neck and neck for two days and it was so exciting to see. That one eventually edged ahead and I do like it now, it had grown on me immensely. But yeah, it was a big deal at the moment because people were saying no I think this one, no I like this one! It was very interesting to see the back and forth.
Melinda: A couple of things that Lynne mentioned there that we just haven't got time to pick up on because as everyone knows I've got to go and pick my daughter up from dance and she'll be angry if I'm late. But Lynne talked about putting things up on Facebook, giving them a bit of test before we go to publication. Something that comes up again and again on the podcast is creating a bit of competition, creating a bit of interest, seeing what has legs. That's one of the advantages of indie publishing and I'm guessing small press as well now is that we do have choices and we do have some level of control. The cover that Lynne has decided on is beautiful and it looks like a young adult novel by judging by it.
Lynne Stringer: Pretty much. Officially I think it's new adult but I think it has a lot of appeal for young adults. Actually case in point if you're interested as an author and you're thinking it's all going to be clean sailing I've actually had some bad reviews on the book so far which has been really difficult to deal with. I've had some good reviews as well and it just shows you how subjective things can be too. It has been a really difficult past couple of weeks with this book and it hasn't even been officially released yet either.
It's all pre-release advance copy reviews at the moment and so it's, and this is from a book that has been edited several times by professionals, not just me, and of course I'm a professional editor as well, so I know how to write. La,da, da, da, I've still had four people call me a terrible writer and all this kind of stuff because people have different opinions on what is good writing.
If you want to know what it's going to be like when you have a book out there, no matter how well you've written it, no matter how professionally, just go and have a look at some of my reviews and you'll see that there is a wide variety of opinions of what makes a good book. Readers will tell you in no uncertain terms.
Melinda: That whole new adult because the girl on the cover, as I said I'll put it up, is a little bit older and I did wonder that when I was looking at it because my daughter's 16 and this girl on this cover is obviously older than her. It is a very difficult market to pitch to because I guess the readers of that market have a definite opinion about what they want to read. I think we're opening a whole new conversation about reader reviews and what happens once our book gets out there.
But I'm going to have to wind this one up Lynne but I would dearly love to have you come back and we could talk further. You're obviously on the same journey that the rest of us are and you're obviously not shy about talking about the good, the bad, the ugly of what happens once that book gets out there. I should imagine that a bad review would be reasonably demoralizing I guess at the best of times but when you put so much effort in and everything looks so beautiful and it's well written and you can't defend yourself once it's out there, it's done.
Lynne Stringer: No, and you're not supposed to either. I mean sites like Goodreads, they actually have a policy, they say do not engage with bad reviewers at all. So I have no right of reply to any of these reviewers.
Melinda: I'm going to have to go and read it now. I'm going to give it to my daughter and see what she thinks, as long as there's no naughty bits in it she can read it.
Lynne Stringer: There are no naughty bits, I don't do naughty bits in my books, it's a nice book.
Melinda: Alright, look, it's been a pleasure Lynne, it's been great to meet you. I think the whole editing process is a fascinating one on it's own. I'll certainly put a link up to Lynne's webpage here, I'm going to put the cover up and I want you all to tell us what you think it's like and if anyone's got a review and it's a nice one put it up.
Lynne Stringer: Thanks so much for having me.
Melinda: Not a problem, bye!

About the author, Melinda

I'm an authorpreneur, English teacher and podcaster who dreams of a life on the road full of adventures and handsome heroes, whilst making squizillions of dollars in book sales to pay for my chocolate fix. In the real world, I write novels and non-fiction, and offer my expert advice via online courses (as soon as I make them) and writing retreats (as soon as I organise them).

Leave a Comment