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 boy 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.

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 once read 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 Lawrence

Arlyn Lawrence is an author and editor, and the founder and president of Inspira. She loves to see great books with important missions and messages find their way into the world and impact the lives they touch.

 

 

Tips to Harness the Power of Networking to Promote Your Non-Fiction Book

 
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The publishing landscape is, unfortunately, littered with books that never sold more than a few hundred (or even a few dozen copies). What makes the difference between a book that sells and one that doesn’t? There are number of factors, but I’ve found one that makes a tremendous difference, particularly with non-fiction books, is the power of networking.

For example, one self-publishing project I worked on, a leadership and life skills book and course for teens, found its way into educational networks, first in the Family & Consumer Science field, and more recently in the “at-risk” and alternative education realms. The books and its curricular resources are experiencing widespread success in public schools around the country, as well as in mentor organizations, and has been published in Indonesia and most recently in China.

Another author I worked with had his book and accompanying workbooks picked up by an international Christian ministry organization and ultimately translated into a number of languages including French, German, Arabic, Chinese, and more. As a result of the impetus initially gained through that ministry’s networks and international reach, the program is now experiencing widespread success not only in multiple countries, but on multiple continents.

Yet another, a marriage enrichment course developed by a non-profit organization in Seattle, fell into military networks. It eventually became one of only a few such courses approved by the Department of Defense for distribution and use on DOD installations in the U.S. and internationally.

The common denominator in the success of all these self-published projects was undoubtably the power of networking. How can an average author or organization hope to experience similar success through networking? Here are 10 tips:

  1. Identify what networks you want to get into. Who would like to read your book or use your curricular resources? At first, when we were launching the leadership and life skills books, we thought they might be a good fit for public school counselors. So, our first conference was with the NASC (National Association of School Counselors). It was there that multiple visitors to our booth told us, “You should really be at the national CTE (Career & Technical Educators) conference!” We heeded their advice, found our tribe with the FACS (Family & Consumer Science) teachers we met there, and the rest is history.

  2. Start by making a comprehensive list of probable organizations. It’s best to do this with a group of friends or colleagues, to broaden the list of ideas and possibilities.

  3. Brainstorm whom you know in those organizations. Assign various individuals the responsibility of reaching out to their contacts. A personal connection is your best calling card!

  4. Create and rehearse your basic branding:

  • two-sentence summary of your book

  • 30-second elevator pitch

  1. Develop an email list and feed it regularly. Send a weekly or bi-weekly email with useful content (not marketing).

  2. Be intentional with social media. Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn; post frequently and strategically. Encourage your tribe to comment and share to help boost your posts’ SEO (Search Engine Optimization), to make you more easily found on the internet by those searching your topic.

  3. Find out about conferences where you can exhibit and speak.For a small extra fee when you book an exhibit table, you can usually register to give a workshop or two and get in front of an audience. Give away books; it will make your booth a magnet!

  4. Contact bloggers and book reviewers in fields associated with your book. Read their guidelines on what and how to submit, and send them your book for reviews and give-aways.

  5. Be an active networker. This means: .

  • Carry business cards at all times with your book and website on them (and give them out freely!)

  • Include social media links on your email signature, as well as links to your book website.

  • Be constantly thinking: whom do I know that might be interested in this book? e.g., reconnect with your university/high school alumni, etc.

  1. Let people know you speak. Don’t be shy! Make yourself available for speaking engagements to anyone you know who has an audience or access to an audience. These generate opportunities to sell your book, just as having a book generates opportunities to speak.

Bottom line: put yourself out there. Don’t be shy. Get the word out to as many people as you can and ask them to pass the word to their friends and colleagues, too. You never know: your best friend’s aunt’s mother-in-law’s next-door neighbor might be the president of an organization that needs hundreds or even thousands of YOUR book. That’s the power of networking!

Arlyn Lawrence is an author and editor, and the founder and president of Inspira. She loves to see great books with important missions and messages find their way into the world and impact the lives they touch.

 

 

What are Participles?

 
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Hang tight, because this one can get a little convoluted (but it’s important!).

Participles of verbs usually introduce subordinate clauses, and are used as a way to give extra information about the main part of the sentence (or main clause—the “point”). The participle describes an action carried out by the subject of the main clause. Sound confusing? Here’s an example:

“Peter, slowly tiptoeing down the hall, successfully snuck past his parents’ door.”

Here, the present participle (tiptoeing) is referring to the subject in the main clause (the fact that Peter snuck past his parents’ door).

Sometimes, however, we forget this rule and dangle the participle—meaning it doesn’t properly refer to the subject of the sentence. Doing this is grammatically incorrect. Here’s an example:

“Traveling to Morocco, the weather got hotter and hotter.”

If you were to read this literally (and follow participle use rules), this sentence would be saying that the weather is traveling to Morocco. Of course not! If the sentence were reworded to have to the participle referring to the subject, it would make more sense. For example:

“Traveling to Morocco, I found that the weather got hotter and hotter.”

We hope this helps you better understand participles and their use! As always, keep writing–and read, read, read to help improve your grammar skills!

This post was written by Inspira’s Managing Editor, Heather Sipes.

(c) 2018 Inspiralit.com.  All Rights Reserved.

 

Capital vs Capitol

 
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Capital: Refers to money or assets, a city that is the seat of government for a region,  uppercase letters, or something significant or praise worthy (as in “a capital idea”)

Capitol: Refers to capitol buildings where legislators meet

Grammar hack to remember: referring to the physical building is the ONLY time you use “capitol” with an O!

Good spelling is not just intuitive or inborn. You can train yourself to spell well!  Just remember simple grammar hacks like this and you’ll be head and shoulders above everyone else who’s still making the same old mistakes! 

 

Edit Ruthlessly

 
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One mistake many writers make is to write and edit at the same time. Trust me, at that pace, you’ll never finish!  I once heard the quote (and I thoroughly agree with it): “A first draft is simply you telling yourself the story.” Meaning, the first time around, you’re just getting it down on paper.

Next step: edit ruthlessly. That’s right  Kill your darlings. That means those lofty phrases you thought sounded so great when you first wrote them probably aren’t.  Trust me again, being concise is a much higher priority than being eloquent!

When I’m editing, I keep a file for that project on my computer  called “Holding Zone.”  When I “edit ruthlessly,” I put what I’ve cut into the Holding Zone. That way, if I decide I want it back, or want to use it elsewhere, I can retrieve and reuse it. Tracking changes while editing will also accommodate this goal.

Eventually, you’ll get better at slashing your own work. And, you’ll likely find yourself noticing it in other writers’ writing if they don’t catch on to this important principle, too!

 

Developing Your Book’s Purpose Statement

 
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Are you thinking about writing a book? If you’re feeling inspired, motivated, or simply have a message you want to share with the world, then maybe checking “author” off on your resume is in your near future. We couldn’t be more excited for you!

One of the most crucial steps in the book-writing process (potentially even THE most important step) is developing your book’s objective. Every book (except for fiction work) needs a clear and defined objective as it provides direction, organization, and gives readers a “take-away.”

In order to determine the objective of your book, ask yourself these questions: What do I hope people will gain by reading it? What do I have to say that is unique? Why is my mission or message important? Who are my readers? How will my book impact their lives?

At Inspira, we’ve developed a simple formula to help our authors create a purpose statement for their book. Once you’re ready, you can use this formula (as well as the questions listed above) to dial in your point and start writing with definitive purpose:

  • If. . . (Insert here the kind of people who will be reading your book, or your target audience. What is their gender, age, socioeconomic status? What are their interests? )

  • Read. . . (Insert your working title here. Read here for tips on naming your book.)

  • They will overcome. . . (Insert what you see as the readers’ main need or obstacle.)

  • And ultimately achieve/experience/be able to. . . (Insert the unique benefit or “take-away” you’re providing.)

Here is a sample of a purpose statement:

“If young millennials (age 18-25) read my book, 10 Steps to Getting Your Perfect Job, they will overcome joblessness, boredom, and anxiety, and achieve the skills they need such as determination, charisma, and flexibility to land their dream job in their ultimate career field.”

Your message is important and deserves to be shared with the world. If you’ve been considering writing a book but aren’t sure where to start, this could be the step you need to take. As always, Inspira Literary Solutions is available for consultations, writing coaching, developmental editing, copy editing, design, and even book production.

Happy writing!

If you’d like to learn more about what we do at Inspira and how we help aspiring and current authors of all genres, we invite you to peruse our for samples of our work, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or email us at arlyn@inspiralit.com.