1. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    What should my next step be?

    Discussion in 'Editing' started by Bakkerbaard, Apr 5, 2021.

    Because I'm kinda stuck and I think it's because I went about it all wrong from line one, but that ship has sailed and here we are.

    I've had my story alpha- and beta-read (apologies to the people here that kindly offered to help, but I felt I had to hire) and I've dealt with most of the suggestions I got. I've gone over the whole thing myself many times, obviously and now I've hit a wall.
    The main problem is that the bastard's 109k in words and I'm too close to it now to see how to fix it. In fact, every time I try to fix it, I get more words. I think I need an editor, but I'm dreading the idea of taking one chapter behind the shed and telling the others it went to live on a farm.

    With that in mind, I had a look around on a site that was suggested to me here, but I'm not sure I can mention it without it looking like advertising. Anyway, most of the gigs offered there are around 5k words to edit, some in the 15k range, which leads me to believe I'm way too late with editing. I thought that stuff usually happened at the end.

    If my end-game is to get an actual book with my name on it on my shelf and I have a full story that's been described as "publishable", where do I go from here? Or, where in the process am I anyway?
    I did think about hocking my wares at publishers at this point, but I believe it's better to deliver as polished a product as I can so they'll have less cause to say, "Ugh, another one..."
     
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  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Up to you really. The editing wall is a real thing... everyone hits that point where they've done all they can do by themselves. You can pay a pro, but a good one will cost you. You can solicit another round of betas, but that can be counterproductive after a bit.

    You trying traditional or selfpub? Makes a huge difference as to how you proceed next.
     
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  3. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    I was thinking of traditional, but I have no other reason for it than, "that's how it's supposed to go, right?"
    But I'm not hung up on that. If selfpub is more viable, I'm quite willing to go that way.

    For lack of a better answer or knowledge, I'm going with traditional.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    What's should my next step be?

    ... to learn that as the thread starter, you can click on 'Thread Tools' at the top of the page and edit the title if you want to. :supercool: :superwink:
     
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  5. alw86

    alw86 Active Member

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    I did not know this, thank you!
     
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  6. alw86

    alw86 Active Member

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    If your main problem is length, try doing an edit where your sole objective is to eliminate every single unnecessary word or phrase. There's almost always some way of tightening up to lose a few k.

    As for taking one chapter out behind the shed, if you genuinely don't need it, you know what they say: Kill your darlings! I've lost whole characters this way, characters both I and the alpha liked, and the book is undeniably better for it.
     
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  7. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    No. No, no. That's how we spell it from now on.
    I suggest you deal with it, instead of making me click all kinds of arcane buttons.

    Yup.

    I'm kinda banking on that. But even though I'm very willing to settle for 100k, realistically a line-edit (which is what you're suggesting, yes?) is probably not going to cut the remaining 9k and change.

    I assume editors get paid big bucks and here's why:
    But I like all my darlings. If I take out this one bit, I have to lose three of the others bits too. It'll lose face/character/style.

    And I'll try to make this the last time I write that out loud, but damn if I'm not thinking it every time I go through the story... Let me promise you I really thought I wasn't going to be 'that guy'.
     
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  8. SapereAude

    SapereAude Member

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    What do you think an editor is going to do? Especially if you tell him/her up front that part of their assignment is to bring the length down to under 100k words?

    Either you do it, or you pay someone else to do it.
     
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  9. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    what age marketing category and genre is your novel?

    no wait, that's not the right first question. the right first question is: what publishing method do you want for your career, big picture?
     
  10. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    I know an editor is basically a literary assassin and that's probably what I need. I sure can't do it anymore, at this point.
    But when I look for people to pay I find people who top out at 15,000 words for an edit.

    The age category would be "adult", I guess. Maybe Young Adults would enjoy it too. Let's say I have no clue.

    The publishing method for my 'career'? I wasn't thinking in terms of career, mind you. I wrote one story and I have no idea if there's more in the tank.
    However, it would seem very cool to me if I could get officially published. Like, through a publisher. On actual, tangible paper.

    I suppose, if I take a better look at the psychology behind it, it would be the most validating? Not to piss on people who self-publish (let's face it, at least they publish), but it's more like playing a game on hard, in my mind anyway.
    But much like the games I start playing on hard, I'm fully content on setting it to medium if I can't win it.
    Did this make any sense?
     
  11. logicman

    logicman Banned

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    I would first step back and see what the true goal is that you want to achieve.
    Why do you think 109K words needs to be shortened?
    What about the quality? Has anyone commented on that at all?

    If you want to self publish then there is no problem with the length. Or the quality:)
    If you want to trad pub then you should fit your length in the range that us usual for that genre.
    So what is the genre? And what length do agents/publishers web sites say they want for that genre?

    Self publish? NO problem. Just do it.
    Trad Pub? Then make sure the quality is the best and worry less about length but do not miss the target for the genre by too much.

    Secondly you should learn about the LEVELS of editing. There are at least 3, typically 5, some sources have 19 of them.
    You definitely need a development edit before you start writing.
    At the end you would have another to polish the wording. Finally is SPAG at the lowest level.
    Here is a link to one good summary: https://withoutbullshit.com/blog/guide-five-levels-editing-infographic
    Note that you will find many of these descriptions that sort of agree in general but do not agree in details.

    As a side note, everybody has a limit to their ability.
    At some point trying to make things better only makes things different.
    And as you note, perhaps longer too:)

    I would like to know a lot more about the mss, but based on what you said, I would suggest you consider doing this:
    Take your existing mss and create an OUTLINE from it. Identify each scene, and label it on a card with a short phrase that reminds you of it what it is.
    Then lay out the cards and reading the blurbs see if it flows logically like a row of dominoes falling when you start at the beginning.
    Ensure that there are no errors or omissions. And delete any side trips down rabbit holes or detours that do not add to the plot.

    Now when you have the final beat sheet laid out in card format, start rewriting the entire mss.
    Use each card as you do a scene.
    If you prefer make a full beat sheet with more guidance for each scene if that helps you.
    NOTE: You can refer to the old mss for ideas that you want to copy, but come up with new words and be terse.

    If there is any question as to quality have a DEVELOPMENT editor help you with the beat sheet.
    After you have REwritten the mss then if you need you could hire an editor for wordsmithing and also pruning if you ran long again.
    There are groups of professional editors that will do the entire mss but you will pay them for doing it. They typically charge by the word or page.
    And finally you need to do the SPAG check. Again you could hire an editor else do that yourself.

    As to prices use this as a guide: https://www.the-efa.org/rates/
    Be sure to get a professional editor not some wannabee freelancer trying to make a few bucks with an internet job like you seem to have encountered.
     
  12. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Active Member

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    If you want that kind of validation, then seek traditional publishing. There's nothing wrong with that (my kind of validation comes strictly in the form of a medium I can exchange for goods and services, but I'm a simpleton that way).

    But not knowing what audience your book appeals to or whether or not you plan to publish more books means you're not ready for either kind of publishing. You have to decide these things on your own first. Frankly your first book probably isn't good enough anyway. With self or trad, you're competing with people who are putting their best work out there after having already written and fully revised a few practice novels to a target length with tight pacing.
     
  13. logicman

    logicman Banned

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    Self publishing is very easy compared to trad pub.
    And whichever way you go, you still have to do the promotion and marketing.
    So if you want to make money SP is the better bet.
    If you are not a big name or did something truly aamazing the trad pubs will expect you to do all the promotion and effort anyway.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  14. logicman

    logicman Banned

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    Making sense yes.
    But it tells me you need to learn more about the entire publishing business and also more about what editing really is.

    There are PROFESSIONAL editors that will, for a fee, edit your entire book.
    You need to decide WHICH level of edit you actually need now.
    As I noted earlier I think you would do best starting over at the DEVELOPMENTAL level.

    What is the GENRE? Adult and maybe YA does not help us much with our helping you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  15. logicman

    logicman Banned

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    Big bucks is relative. I would say editors are at the lower middle income range of everybody.

    Perfection is not possible. If you want fewer words you will have to give up something.
    Think Flash Fiction vs the novel War and PEACE.
     
  16. logicman

    logicman Banned

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    +1
    I hate writing.
    I like having written.
    I love taking the check to the bank.

    +1
    Agree.
    The OPer needs to more about the entire business of writing editing publishing and selling so he can ask more pertinent questions and make better decisions.
     
  17. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    I think it needs to be shortened because I'm given to understand that the preference lies around 80k, which just seems very compact to me.
    The quality seems fine. Several people have told me it was good and that includes people I've either paid to be honest or have no problem being honest.
    And when I go through it, though I'm rather biased, it doesn't feel like I need to work to read through.

    The damn genre-thing keeps biting m in the ass.
    I have no clue what the genre is. Closest I've been able to figure out is Urban Fiction.

    Fuck.
    I was hoping to avoid another rewrite. It' like coming up to the finish in a marathon and seeing the line move back.

    I may give the impression that I think differently, but I can assure you I'm quite realistic. The chance a publisher or an agent or whatever the fork I don't know about is even going to flip the first page of my stuf is near zero, I'm sure. Which is exactly why I'm here trying to figure out what I can do myself to polish away reasons for someone not to read it. Only when I'm satisfied that I can't do more, I'll start pimping it out.

    A solid fact, right there.
    I spent the last twenty years playing videogames, before I more or less accidentally wrote a story that turned out to have potential. I figured seeing it through to The End was more important than learning about how a story I still had to write was going to be published.

    Okay. Let's see if we can figure it out.
    It's set in any old town in modern times. The main character is a guy in his late twenties (unspecified) who accidentally sells his soul to the actual devil for a car.
    Other than that fantasy character, we're not going to find any orcs, elves, trolls (no real ones and the fake one has already been cut anyway), or magic. It's just gonna be a guy without a clue trying to undo the soul situation.

    Based on the presence of the Devil as a "magical" element, I've determined this story sits on the outer fringes of Urban Fantasy, but I'll take any better suggestion.

    True. But if I don't aim for it, I'm not even going to wind up at "meh".
     
  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    That's what I was going to say. Particularly the "fringe" part, but Urban Fantasy is kind of a fringe-y category anyway. Lots of things get lumped into it for lack of a better spot. I would market it to agents and editors as such. They'll have a better idea of where to place it, assuming they like what they're reading. Definitely better to write your best competent story without stressing too much about the genre. Unless you're one of those authors who knows how to write with laser genre focus, which I'm not.
     
  19. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    As proven in previous posts, I'm barely an author who knows how to write. Genre will indeed be on the bottom of my to-learn list.

    Anyway, I've given it some more thought and as much as I hoped to avoid it, I'm gonna go for full axe-not-scalpel revision before looking at this whole editor/publisher/agent-adventure.
    Thanks for the assistance so far, anyway.
     
  20. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    okay so you're writing an adult age category novel, but I have absolutely no idea what you mean when you say the genre is Urban. i'm going to guess that it is set in a city.

    let's see if we can narrow this down:

    1. is this city here on this planet?
    2. is magic real in your story?
    3. is the time period more or less the present day, more like a period of time in the past, or more like a time period in the future?
    4. does the main plot in your story involve either getting to the truth behind a crime in order to affect justice or reparations, two or more people overcoming personal and world obstacles to start a committed romantic relationship, or outsmarting/outwitting/escaping a villain that means to do the protagonist harm?

    i'm sorry to demand specificity but you want to go tradpub and I can't answer your questions without knowing what shelf it would live on in the bookstore.
     
  21. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    I specified this in the unwieldy collection of replies I did a few posts back. Original in cursive, additions in... uhm... upright font.
    It's set in any old town in modern times (but not so modern I have to write in face masks). The main character is a guy in his late twenties (unspecified) who accidentally sells his soul to the actual devil for a car.
    Other than that fantasy character, we're not going to find any orcs, elves, trolls (no real ones and the fake one has already been cut anyway), or magic. It's just gonna be a guy without a clue trying to undo the soul situation
    through mostly conventional means.

    Based on the presence of the Devil as a "magical" element, I've determined this story sits on the outer fringes of Urban Fantasy, but I'll take any better suggestion.

    To answer more specifically:
    1. It's not a city. More of a small town, which is why I'm hesitant about the Urban part. And it's on earth, yes.
    2. I don't know if it counts as magic when the Devil does it. There is a minor amount of divine meddling, but I mostly stay away from the magic bits. Anyway, that would the Fantasy bit of Urban Fantasy.
    3. Time period I addressed up there. About a year or two in the past.
    4. It does involve getting to the truth behind a crime in the sense that the sale of the soul was a scam. And the Devil takes it personal, so he definitely means to do harm.

    Also, it may be good to note that the story doesn't take itself too seriously. I've written this with Douglas Adams and the classic LucasArts point & click adventures (which it was supposed to be when I first started working on it, somewhere in 2016) in mind.
     
  22. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    hm. i don't think a deal with the devil is enough to say you've written a fantasy novel, honestly, so I'm gonna call it Adult General Fiction. 100k is your hard limit for word count, and you're better off coming in under 90.
     
  23. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    Ugh... That's gonna be at least three chapters to cut and that's if I settle for a 100.

    Well. First I'll need to make myself to start cutting at all, which at this point is the real challenge. I'm sure it'll be smooth(er) sailing once I get over that hump.
    Thanks though, it's been very helpful.
     
  24. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    yeah it's a real pain in the ass! and it's all about money--there's a price break in printing and distribution of books at a completely arbitrary seeming point, and to minimize costs and risk on a debut, it's become a thing to judge a debut book based on whether this one particular cost comes under this point.
     
  25. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Active Member

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    Feckin' for real?!
    I was sitting around thinking it's because people couldn't be arsed to read past the 90k mark for some newbie author, and I actually found that reasonable. Now you're telling me I'm gonna have to cut good stuff* because of money?
    Ugh. It makes sense, I guess, now that I think some more about it.

    * "Good" stuff , because in a downsizing like this I'll have to cut way more than the 'meh' bits.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021 at 2:54 PM

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