Tag Archives: editor

Over Thinking It


Have you ever written something only to go back over it like 900 times and rewrite it every way imaginable? I do it all the time. I have been known to even do it when writing something as simple as a list or a note for my daughters’ school. One of the reasons why is because, as a writer, I don’t want other people to read something I have written and say to themselves, “This guy is a writer…really?” Another reason is because I have a compulsion to make everything I write as clear as possible; no misunderstandings here. Perhaps the most important reason though is because I over think absolutely everything…including my writing.

Over thinking our work is a condition that is an ailment within the writing community. Like any disease it invades writing groups across the nation and makes us all question our work and then rework it until it is a fraction of the idea we began with. It can start with something as simple as a character and a single trait. Does Bill really walk with a limp? Why should I give him a limp? What if he has to run later? What if he dies all because I gave him a stupid limp? Do you see what has happened there? My obsession over Bill’s limp has stopped all story flow. I could feasibly spend hours, even days, on Bill’s limp.

Over thinking your story can keep you from ever finishing it at all. It is for this reason that many seasoned writers will tell you to write your first draft completely through before even really “thinking” about the story at all. I think this is great advice but it does not stop the possibility of over thinking; it just delays it. Now you have your finished first draft but if you are an over thinker you will just do it on the first edit. The key to not over thinking is to not do it at all.

Let’s call it what it is…over thinking is the byproduct of low writing self-esteem.  Those of us who over think are not actually over thinking the story but instead we are over thinking ourselves. We need to recognize what is happening in order to correct it. We are not actually questioning the story but our own ability to write the story. It is not unusual to self-doubt as a writer…it is a lonely way to work and often times we don’t get positive feedback and when that happens it is easy for our minds to run amuck. You have to stay on top of how you are feeling about your writing and if need be, you must do all you can to boost your self-confidence. I have a friend who I can call if I am going through it. We boost each other out of the mire of self-doubt. I know that if I don’t deal with it, the story I am working on will never get finished.

So find a friend, be aware of what is really going on and fight self-doubt head-on. If you don’t you will never finish your story and all you will end up with is a guy with a limp and nowhere to go.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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I Am a Writer Who Sometimes Has Typo Blood


It is the one thing that drives every reader nuts…the dreaded typo. I’m here to tell you that it drives us writers nuts too. There is nothing worse than receiving your galley copy only to read through and discover that although you had a story in your head; it’s obvious that your fingers had other ideas.

Personally, I am horrible at catching my own typos. The embarrassing part is that there are some articles I have written that are several years old that I am just now discovering have typos in them. Clearly my editors missed them too. There is nothing like looking back at a piece you were really proud of and seeing a line that reads, “Someday y ship will come in”… where the hell did the “m” go?

There are lots of reasons why writers make typos. Sometimes I am in a hurry to get something done, like this column. Sometimes my fingers are cold because winter has set in and I’m too cheap to turn up the heat. Sometimes…well…sometimes I’m just lazy abut editing. No matter what the reason, typos can kill a great piece of work and for that reason you have to be more careful.

True story – when my very first novel was published I was young and stupid. I received the galley copies and was too embarrassed to ask what they were for. Not having done my research I thought I was simply getting advanced copies. (yea me!) So I never sent them back, in fact, I never even looked at them. Several months later I proudly took delivery of my first set of novels and sent them out to family and friends. Look what I did, I screamed to the world. A few weeks later I got one of the copies back from a well-meaning friend who had gone through and marked it all to heck. That novel was a land overrun with typos. Some of them were my fault, some were the product of typesetting (it happens) but the bottom line was I had sent my novel out like that. I had to wonder how many other people were reading my novel and wondering why I hadn’t gone to school to be a proctologist.

You have to edit those galley copies and you have to edit the original work. The human brain can be a lazy reader and it won’t catch those typos unless you are vigilant. You’ve seen those little tests where there is a paragraph that is written in such a way that the first and last letters of each word are right but the middles are scrambled and you can still read what it says…that’s because we are lazy. So once you have finished your novel read it backwards, read it one word at a time, get someone else to read it and for Pete’s Sake correct those galley copies. You don’t want your readers to think that you should have been a proctologist…that work would stink.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on October 9, 2022 in Editing, Writing, Writing Tools


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Promoting Your E-book Might Cost Your Less Than You Think


Recently I came across several websites and blog sites that were touting the joys of free promotion. It never actually occurred to me personally that there were other sites besides Facebook and Twitter through which to do this without having to give up an arm, leg or that bothersome first born. I personally am grateful for all the help I can get promoting my work. Assuming that you too would enjoy having this information I ran down 5 such sites that I feel comfortable recommending.

  • Author Marketing Club: Tired of looking up links to find the best places to submit your books? Here they are all together in one spot. Writers can just click on the logos to load each site’s form, fill in your details, and you are on your way to promoting your work.
  • Free Kindle Books & Tips: No better words can be uttered to a writer than “for free”. On this site just fill out the form and you are good to go. Books have to be free in the Amazon Kindle Store and must have an average user rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars for consideration though. It’s a great tool for writers wanting to try a book out on its own before charging.
  • GalleyCat Facebook Page: Writers can post their book in the “New Books” section. This is an easy way to share your book with readers. Remember that whenever you offer your book through a third party site, read the small print.
  • Goodkindles: Often times self-promotion is the name of the game for authors. This site offers writers a place where they can post an article about their title. It is a platform to shout out to readers about what you think is most interesting about your book. Who better to market your book than you?
  • Meet Our Authors Forum: Amazon offers e-book authors a lot of opportunities and one is their “Meet Our Authors Forum”. I think this is cool because how often do you as a reader get the chance to ask authors questions? This is a place designed to allow writers to talk about their work.

These are just a few of the places I discovered, there are tons more. I know that many of you hate the concept of self-promotion (I do too) but it is a necessary evil so we might as well take advantage of all that we can.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Have Book – Will Make Mistakes…What to Avoid


We writers are not perfect. What?! Not Perfect…please…you may be saying, but it’s true…perfection is not a trait we carry as writers. We make some whoppers sometimes and as beginning writers we makes some pretty lame ones too. There are some basic mistakes that I can help you avoid though. They may sound like lame mistakes at first but put some thought into them because many, many writers make them all the time.

Mistake #1: Telling folks you’re writing a book -

This is a doozy. Almost every writer wants to brag, it’s in our nature. The problem with bragging however is that you then have to follow that up with action and therein lies the rub. If you are walking around talking about writing a book, you aren’t actually writing the book. Stop telling folks you are writing and instead write!

Mistake #2: You have your manuscript done and it’s the bomb –

Manuscripts are like newborn babies. When your kid first comes out it’s all “awwww, how adorable” but then you take it home and that first night the little bag of bones keeps you up all night crying because it was much more comfortable inside that womb. Your manuscript is the bomb when you first print it out because it is technically, done but alas, the work is just beginning. There’s editing, cutting and polishing…and trust me, just like that baby was more comfortable inside the womb, your novel was better inside your head too.

Mistake #3: Asking everyone you meet for their opinion -

Unless you live on a street with professional editors or come from a family of experts in your genre, stop asking everyone for their opinion. Opinions come a dime a dozen and if you insist on sharing your work with every Tom, Dick and Eduardo along the way your book will never be finished. Seek out constructive opinions but only from those who understand the work….your mom, she doesn’t understand the work. (Unless she is Anne Rice, then ask away)

Mistake #4: You don’t research your publishing options -

Major New York publishing house or self-publishing service or POD solution, decisions, decisions….the publishing options these days come in many flavors and require research. There are costs involved in some, requirements that the large publishing house demand and even self-publishing has its quirks. Today more than ever a writer has to do the research on which option is best for them. Make an educated decision on where to send that book…trust me…it’s worth the time.

Mistake #5: No after-the-book-is-done plan-

Advertising, promotion, ads, actually selling the book….haven’t given any thought to any of this? Shame on you! There is really no point in writing a book, if you have no intention of helping it get its wings. Long gone are the days when the publishing house took care of all that book promotion. Now authors have to set up book signings, do the advertising, and beat the pavement for readers…it’s all on us. If you have no plan as to how you are going to promote your work there will be a lot of sad afternoons looking at the sell stats and then hitting the couch to watch Castle reruns while you cry into your afternoon smoothie. Have a plan on how to get that little guy into the hands of willing readers.

These are just a few mistakes that writers make on a regular basis and, trust me, there are many, many more. There has to be some common sense inserted into the process and you have to think both like a writer and a reader if you are to be successful at all.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Writers and Self Abuse-Setting Healthy Boundaries


We are going to tackle a serious subject for a second…self-abuse. This is one of those subjects that don’t get all that much attention because, well, frankly, first off, no one really wants to admit that it is a problem and second, many writers don’t know how to stop it.

What are we referring to when we say “self-abuse”? The answer is many fold…let’s take a look at some of the ways we hurt ourselves…

  • Self-talk - Some writers delve into negative self-talk. You know what I mean, telling yourself you are a hack, degrading your work and generally putting your writing, and yourself, down. I have had this problem myself. I tend to let other people get to me, convincing me that what I do is not worth the effort and then I start telling myself that. As a writer you have to stay positive when taking to yourself.
  • Allowing others to belittle what you do – When my writing is making money, I am the hero of the household….but have some down time when economics shoots one over the bow and suddenly I am “just a writer”. We have one of very few jobs where what we make ends up defining who we are at times. Don’t let people make you feel bad just because the money isn’t rolling in.
  • Running with Rejection – This is a biggie for me. I hate rejection in any form but I especially had it in the form of a written response. So many editors and publishers forget that they are speaking to human beings when they send those stupid form letters out. In my mind I took the time to send you my work, the least you could do is write me back a small encouraging note.
  • Allowing others to take up your writing time – Again, this is a big one for me. With four kids, three grand kids, a multitude of extras in the form of the kids’ ex’s and current partners, there always seems to be a crisis to deal with. A few weeks ago I sent out a blanket text to all of them that I was off limits between 9-4 every day and within minutes three of them called anyways. Set your boundaries…it’s important, and then, enforce them.

There are many, many ways to sabotage your own work and many of us do so every day. This self-abuse is not helpful in creating good work. You have to control your environment, all of the outside influences and, of course, yourself in order to accomplish anything at all. So set those boundaries people and then enforce them…trust me, your readers will thank you later.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Stupidity Drives Me Crazy - Especially When it Comes From a Writer


As a writer there are a lot of goofy things that drive me kind of nuts. I hate it, for instance, when people ask me if my writing is a hobby. I also hate it when I tell people that I am a writer and they ask me when I’m going to get a “real” job. Let’s face it…most people do not understand what it is that we do. But what happens when another writer doesn’t seem to get the process? For me, it makes my head explode.

Here are few things that I have either heard or read that actual writers have said over the years….

-I want to tell my story, please write it for me and I’ll just take a cut of the royalties: Seriously, this was a Craigslist ad. It amazes me that, #1- so many people think that their story is sell able, and #2 – that they actually think that another writer will do all the work so THEY can have a cut. Really?

-I wrote my novel and the only editing it needs to commas: Wow. I am the first person to admit that I am comma challenged, however, if you have written a book and you are arrogant enough to believe that the only editing it needs is comma placement…well…good luck with that.

-I am going to demand that the publisher give me a larger cut: ROFL…okay…It amazes me that so many writers, especially first time writers truly believe that they are in a position to demand anything at all. Folks, if you have actually gotten the attention of a publisher, be grateful…thousands of others haven’t gotten that and are at a corner bar somewhere drinking and explaining to the other patrons that they are being slighted by the universe. Demand nothing…instead kiss that publisher’s behind.

-I’m not doing any marketing, that’s the publisher’s job: Ummmmmm…okay….so you don’t actually want to sell books? Today’s publishing world has changed…long gone are the days when the publishing house was willing to dump a zillion dollars into a PR campaign. If you want to sell book you have to get out there and stump. So unless you live in Maine and your mailbox reads, “S. King” get off your ass.

These are just a few of the things I hear stupid writers say and, trust me, the list goes on. I’d like to invite you all to share some of the goofy crap you have heard your fellow writers say. Comment below and share with us…I know that you ALL have stories to tell.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Nobody Scares Me Like I Scare Me

scaredFear is a staple for most writers. Because we live such a self-sustained existence we don’t get the encouragement, pats on the back or supportive talks that other people get when it comes to their careers. In my family I have no one to really talk to about what I do. Most of them don’t understand what I do and the rest of them find it really boring. So most of the time I am left to my own devices, and more often than not, my own imagination, which can be very, very bad….

I’m not talking scary, nightmare on the street over scary, or someone’s coming to get me scary…no, I’m talking about my own personal powers of self-prophesy. You see, when I write a book I go through a process that, when I think about it when I am not in it seems, well, kind of stupid, BUT in the midst of it, it is as real as my grandmother’s inability to make pancakes. (they were really bad) You know what I am talking about…you write a book, you edit that book, it’s all ready to send out into the world…but before you can hit the send button or lick that last stamp it hits you…OMG what if it sucks!?

I get the what-if-it-sucks really bad. I imagine the editor throwing the book out after reading one page. I imagine the publisher and his friends laughing at my book over drinks. I imagine getting a letter back from the intake person asking me to never write another word. I scare myself right into hesitating sending the book out. Fear grips me and I stop where I sit and ponder getting a job as a pizza delivery guy. (How hard can it be, right?) I literally talk myself out of being a writer for a short time. And you know what…I do it every time I finish a book. Over the years I have gone through the what-if-I-sucks hundreds if not thousands of times…I can be quite pathetic….

So what does one do when a case of the what-if-I-sucks hits? I have developed a bit of a routine to help me through and I thought I would share it with all of you in case it might help. You might develop a routine of your own but feel free to use mine as a guide…

  • See if for what it is…fear – You have to realize that every writer gets cold feet (or in my case frozen body) and that they all get over it. It is natural to question yourself, just don’t let it paralyze you.
  • Move on – You have to move on from your current project once it is done. Shoving it out into the world is the best thing for it and for you. It’s what you are supposed to do…so shove away.
  • Talk yourself through it – Remember those pats on the back that you aren’t getting from others? Give those to yourself and don’t feel bad about it. As a writer you have to be your own cheering section and that’s okay.
  • Develop a support crew – It took me a long time to admit that I needed other writers in my life. I wish I had done it 20 years ago; it would have helped me though a lot. With the internet handy, it is easy to develop a team to cheer you on. Find other writers and connect.

These are just a few ideas for those of you who have issues with the what-if-I-sucks….there is hope. Remember, you are not alone…all writers go through this even if they lie and say they don’t. Fear of failure is human nature but just like the guy who crawls back into the cannon at the circus, you have to crawl back in there too. It is, after all, the only way to ensure that the crowds keep coming back to read the next book, and the next, and the next….

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on April 15, 2023 in Publishing, Writing


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The Write Time to Edit

577956_511727248860504_1505904713_nA lot of you have been asking me lately how I feel about the editing process. I would like to say that editing is a pure joy, a semblance of bliss within the writing process…but I’d be lying.

For most writers the editing process sucks. Let’s face it, it’s not really writing…it’s editing. To some degree editing is counterintuitive for writers. (look Ma I used a big word…) We write, we aren’t geared towards editing. Editing is the slaughterhouse of manuscripts. It’s where you shoot a bolt gun into your masterpiece and then tear it down in steak-like portions. (Suddenly I am no longer hungry) BUT, editing can’t be ignored. Like the brother-in-law who calls himself a preacher after getting ordained online…you have no choice but to put up with it, no matter how ridiculous it feels.

I know that most of you have heard the advice, put your manuscript down for a bit before editing, edit it backwards, let someone else edit… And all of that might be great advice but here’s the rub…you wrote it. No matter who you are editing your work is a painful process so for that reason it is doubly important that you come up with an editing process that works for you.

Some writers hear of a process and can adopt it just fine but in my opinion I think it is easier to find your own groove and then stick with it. I edit after the story is complete. I read it through on my own and then I have a text reader read it to me in a sexy British accent. (The software program I use does that, its kinda cool) I admittedly cut the fluff but I also add to more than not during the editing process. What helps me most? Not thinking of it as “editing” but instead I am “refining” my work. You know, bringing out the coolness.

Let’s face it, if you write you have to edit; there is no way around it. In the end the editing process IS a part of the writing process - sort of like having to dry the dishes after washing them….it just has to be done or mom (or your potential publisher) will ground you. So find an editing process that works for you and run with it. I don’t care if you have to edit while hanging upside down eating spaghetti through a straw…as long as you have a process.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on April 11, 2023 in Editing, Writing


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Cut it Out! Word Counts and How to Keep Them from Running Amuck

finished-essay-word-count-spotonThe dreaded word count…it haunts you. When you are writing a novel you do your best to hit that right number for the publisher, when you’re writing magazine articles you can often find yourself looking at a 300 word article that was supposed to be 1200. Let’s face it…we writers are notoriously long winded when it comes to our writing.

Magazines and book publishers reject manuscripts all the time because the word count is too high. If you are anything like me, when a publisher comes back and bellows those dreaded words…”cut it”…I break out in hives. Cut it where, I always find myself asking…I don’t want to cut out anything good. (and let’s face it folks…it’s all good) So what is a writer to do when they are faced with putting some of their verbiage in front of the firing squad? Here are a few suggestions….

  • Give your character an action instead of describing it -  too many writers will kill you with description for example – “You are mean,” Bob said his words wrath with pain. Let’s face it, Bob doesn’t like you much but do you have to give him so many words? How about, “You’re mean,” Bob whined. You saved 6 words there.
  • Use your “ings” - Using the ‘ings’ eliminates the need for conjunctions. (I know all you School House Rock fans are sniveling)
  • Dump the adverbs –If you don’t an editor or publisher will admonish you, trust me.
  • The amazing word “that” needs to go – Why is it amazing? Because once you are done with a manuscript if you go back over it and highlight every instance of “that” you will be completely in awe of just how many time you have used it. We all use the word “that” like most teens use the word “like”…send it packing.
  • Remove adjectives like a butcher cutting red, smelly beef from a cow that stood in his field like a the house that Job built - Okay, I’ll stop, but you get the idea. Many writers will beat you in the face with adjectives…don’t be one of those writers.

These are just a few ways to cut your word count down and not mess with your actual story. There are other ways too but these are the basics. Accept that we are long winded and just understand that, in the end, you will more than likely have to cut. I would like to suggest that you do leave the cutting for the editing process however. I find that if I try to cut as I go, I never get the actual story written.

So tame those word counts people…..


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on March 9, 2023 in Editing, Writing


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There Are No Rules - Get Over It!

Rule bookWho ever said that rules were made to be broken was probably about to get grounded by their mom when they said it in a fleeting defense for some moment of idiocy. However, they were not far off, especially when it comes to writing.

I have been writing most of my adult life in some form or another. Because I have always had a pen in one hand as I carried on there has also always been some publisher or editor standing just over my shoulder espousing “rules”. It’s been quite annoying at times. When I was younger, I would listen, nod my head obediently and then change my behavior to fit the “rule”. Well, I’m pushing the 50 mark now and you know what I have learned after all these years? Rules be damned…(most of the time)

The “rules” tend to change with the venue in our line of work. I recently had a magazine publisher who thought that the “AP” in AP style meant “ass protection” (I kid you not) so he wanted his writers to be sure of their facts and ensure that his ass was protected. You just have no idea how hard I laughed about that one on the drive home from our first editorial meeting. Just a few days ago I had a blogging client tell me that they wanted me to always, always spell out the time in columns. Yes, as in one o’clock…all I could do was shake my head.

The “rules” of writing have literally left the building in terms of any kind of consistent “style”. Lost is the art of “AP style”. (for those of you still scratching their heads, AP stands for Associated Press and no, I have no idea who made them the style nazi’s…most of us just rolled with it through the years) Also lost is the art of proper formatting. With all of the new printing options, e-book, traditional, digital…formatting is a whole other evolving aspect of the publishing world. (It’s often hard to keep up) Let’s face it, we, as writers, are now in a profession where there are no real rules, only moments of clarity provided by often bi-polar editors and publishers who change their eating hands for fun.

So what is a writer to do in a world where the road signs change so often that the only thing you know for sure is that you are lost most of the time? The answer is simple, always read the guidelines. Every publisher has them; that set of rules whose reason for existing is known only to the guy who actually owns the publication. And once you have read those guidelines, follow them, no matter how stupid they are. I know, I know…it’s hard but it has to be done if you want to work for those publishers. Sadly there are more of them than there are the ones who follow the “rules”.  I have had to swallow a lot of really stupid styles over the years but I have also made a lot of money off those same publications.

I do realize that the writer in some of you seasoned writers wants to stand up on a desk top and demand that the publisher/editor adhere to the AP style or at least something close but don’t do it…you are wasting your breath. Get your head out of the rules fellow writers…cause there are none…there are just crazy editors/publishers who believe that they are “right” and no amount of arguing will change their minds…BUT…if you shut up and write, there is money to be made and your revenge will be in knowing that, in the end, the publisher is the one who ends up looking stupid. You just need to move on to the next assignment.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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