Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Don't Fear the Reaper Editor

Congratulations!  You wrote a novel!  Or maybe you wrote a novella or a short story.  Either way, you put a lot of time, tears and caffeine into that manuscript.  You want people to read it.  Before you send it out into the world, you need to send it to a professional editor.


We see what you're doing there.  No matter how many times you read your own work, the evil typo diary will hide errors from you.  An editor can spot things that can kill your chances of getting published.  They will crawl through your manuscript like manic spiders, catching typos, grammar and punctuation errors, and keeping your style consistent.  They also look for plot holes, dialogue issues, and continuity errors.
            Example: A group of friends take a vacation at a hunting lodge, blissfully aware of the mutant, man-eating bear that roams the area.  Early in the story, the description of the cabin includes a shotgun hanging over the fireplace with a dusty box of shells nearby.  When the bear starts munching on college kids, they bemoan the lack of a gun and die screaming.
            My note: "Ditch the gun, or use it."
            The author chose to keep the gun, but made it inoperable when it was needed most.  That rewrite ratcheted up the tension, improved the story, and got it published.
            Want to know a secret?  Editors who are also authors don't edit their own work.  They know they'll miss their own errors, even when they're trained to look for mistakes.

Cut the fat.  If you're trying to stay under a word count, trimming your prose can be tough.  If the guidelines give you a 10,000 word limit and your story is 10,300 words, no matter how much you try to trim it down, an editor can help you make the cuts without letting the story bleed out.
            Example: The story is a crime drama.  Halfway through the novella, we meet Hank Peterson.  Hank is hanging Christmas decorations and listening to the news.  The local police have no suspects in the case, and ask the public for any leads.  This scene is the only time we see Hank, and the only information that's useful is that it's December, and the police are clueless.  This is a prime target for a cut that will get the story under control.

An editor is not a ghostwriter.  Editors will correct simple errors, but when they find problems, like the example above, most will just call your attention to it.  Some may give you suggestions on how to handle the issue, but they're not going to rewrite that passage.  Ultimately, it's your voice, your story, and your style.  It's also your right to say, "Stet" to things you disagree with.
            Example: An author with a series of novels wrote a short story based in his series.  In one scene, I pointed out that a description of a building was far too detailed, and could be shortened.  The information wasn't relevant.  The author let me know that the building was a tie-in to the series, and it was an Easter egg for fans.  Well of course it can stay!  Since I hadn't read the series, I had no context, and the author provided it.

You may have heard scary things about what happens to your defenseless words when you send them away to someone else.  You know what?  The scariest part of deciding to hire an editor is actually hiring one.  Handing your carefully crafted manuscript and several hundred dollar bills to a stranger who might tell you to change everything is terrifying.
            Remember that the editor is on your side, they want you to succeed, and their reputation is as much on the line as yours.  Check out the acknowledgements in one of your favorite novels, and chances are good that the author has put in a good word for their editor.
            Do you know what scares us?  Reading a review that says, "I liked the story but I couldn't finish it.  There were too many typos and inconsistencies.  Who edited this crap?"

About the author:
S. Kay Nash was raised by a cabal of university professors, anthropologists, and librarians.  A fund raising professional by day, she writes short fiction and poetry.  She's an avid reader and bibliophile, and is managing editor at The Bookie Monster specializing in indie and small-press SF/F/H book reviews and news, and an editor for the At Hell's Gates anthology series.

About the books:

Genre: Horror, Anthology
Publication date: 9.21.2014
Pages: 273

When evil overflows from the deepest, fiery pits, the battle will be At Hell's Gates... Whether you are a zombie aficionado, or you feed on horror, there is something for everyone.  We've summoned some of the top Zompoc authors, masters in horror, and even some new talent to strike fear into even the most jaded soul.  Dare you look, let alone approach, the dreaded gates?
            Each skillfully crafted vignette showcases previously created worlds in the individual author's works.  If you've ever yearned for more back story or ached to learn what happened to a peripheral character, your wait is over.  But, as they say, "Be careful what you wish for?"  Once it has been seen, you cannot go back.  And once infected, there is no cure.
            This collaboration is in honor of the brave men and women in our Armed Services who willingly lay down their lives for our freedom.  Words could not possibly express our undying gratitude, so we have banded together, doing what we do best, to show our appreciation.  All proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to serve wounded soldiers and their families.  This is for you, those who have truly been... At Hell's Gates.
            For more information on this release, future anthologies in the At Hell's Gates series, and how to get involved with the project, visit our website.
            For more information on The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit their website.

Genre: Horror, Anthology
Publication date: 1.30.2015
Pages: 472

Welcome back to Hell's Gates!  The palpable sense of dread may seem familiar, but this time things are a bit... different.  Fresher.  Newer.  As though just recently born...
            See that squealing baby over there?  He could grow up to be a lifesaving doctor (or perhaps the antichrist).  What about that scientist burning the midnight oil?  He could be working on a bug zapper (or a doomsday device).  Did you catch the comet out of the corner of your eye?  It might bring good luck (or an apocalyptic plague).
            Yes, every darkness has a source, every monster has a birthplace, and every evil has an origin.  In the second volume of the #1 Bestselling AT HELL'S GATES series, twenty-three of the finest dark fiction authors working today will force you to witness the ORIGINS OF EVIL.  Each unique tale of terror traces an unspeakable horror back to its very beginning.
            All proceeds from this horror anthology series to go the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity benefitting military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brian Injury.  The authors and editors are pleased to donate their time and effort to a truly worthy cause.
            So sit back, relax, support a fine charity, and enjoy twenty-three tales of dawning calamity from some of horror fiction's leading lights.

Genre: Horror, Anthology
Publication date: 7.31.2015
Pages: 576

It may be thicker than water, but AT HELL'S GATES the blood will flow like a river...
            In the third volume of the #1 Bestselling AT HELL'S GATES series, some of the finest children of the family of horror authors will show you what it means to be BOUND BY BLOOD.  Each unique tale of bloodcurdling darkness shows how kith and kin survive the things that go bump in the night... or become them.
            All proceedings from this horror anthology series go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity benefitting military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.  The authors, editors, and supporters of this series are pleased to donate their time and effort to our nation's proudest sons and daughters.

No comments: