jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)

Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you all know that Smashwords is running a promotion this week. All of my stories are at least 50% off - most of them are free! If you were thinking about checking out my books but hadn't gotten around to it yet, now is a great time to do it.

You can see my books here:
Books under my own name
Books under my pseudonym

Even if you're not interested in my books, I highly encourage you to look into the promotion. There's a full catalogue of the authors who are participating in the promotion, which can be found here.

Happy browsing!
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
It's been a crazy couple of weeks, between work and novelling, but I have finally reached a point where I feel I can write about it, so...yay!

I am taking a couple of courses, which is sucking up some of my time. I'm also continuing my cut of OtherWhere, which is going fabulously. I'm 115 pages in, out of about 350 pages of manuscript and I'm really feeling as though it was a better book to start with than Mortis Unbound, which means that it's a lot easier to cut and fix.

I've also put together a new website, which is at (Unfortunately, someone else named Jessica Steiner has the url I wanted o999)

It's pretty bare bones right now, but if you head over there you can see that I've migrated my mailing list over to a new provider. I'm going to be giving away stories and doing fun little things on the list, too, so I'm excited about that. I'm also excited by the fact that soon there will be the ability - through my website - for people to give me money without giving any money to Amazon or Smashwords. That'll be really cool! Over the next few weeks I'll be cleaning up this blog and migrating some content (like the sticky post) over to the website and fixing things up.

Next weekend I'll be going to VCON. If the universe aligns, Dan Wells and Mur Lafferty will know my name by the following weekend. My goal is to contain my fangirl and instead be totally awesome and professional. We'll see.

Between now and then, I have to finish critiquing three stories for the workshop I'm doing, and finish organizing my website. I also hope my new business cards arrive. They're supposed to show up by Wednesday.

If you head over to my website, please let me know what you think? I'd really like to hear feedback and/or suggestions
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)
I reached a new milestone in my edit of OtherWhere. I finally got through the agonizing process of identifying things I want to change, ensuring that everything is going to be consistent throughout the course of the novel, and that no important plot threads were dropped, and can finally move on to actually making changes to my manuscript.

I got so excited, I decided to run a sale.

So now if you click this link and sign up for my mailing list before November 8th (which is my birthday!) you'll get a coupon for 40% off of my first novel, Mortis Unbound. The coupon will allow you to get Mortis Unbound in any ebook format, from .mobi to .epub to .pdf, and it'll be good until Christmas.

The mailing list is totally non-spammy. I only post to it when there's a new story coming out or special offer I think my readers would really like to know about. The only way you can learn about stories written under my pseudonym, is by being a part of my mailing list, and I release stories about once every other month.

Go ahead and head over here and join my list!
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
Today I had the day from hell at work, but that's neither here nor there, really. The topping on the cake was when a self-represented opposing party - a man who's stooped to such dirty levels to get an edge in his case that I can barely stand to even be in the same room with him because I keep getting this icky feeling in his presence - demanded a free and signed copy of my book.

I've always - despite him yelling at me in the face, while accusing me of rudeness - treated him with as much courtesy as I could manage. So naturally if he had purchased a copy of the book, I would have signed it for him. But this was over the top.

We were in the elevator, my client waiting for me in another part of the courthouse as this man and I returned from an errand, and he made his "request". I literally stared at him in utter disbelief, and said that, no, I wasn't going to give him a free, signed copy of his book.

He literally chased me down the hall, insisting that he didn't have enough money to purchase a copy of my book, that he was a big fan of science fiction and fantasy and that he was sure I was going to be really rich one day, and he'd be able to say he "knew me when".

I told him that I wouldn't get rich giving away free copies of my books to opposing parties.

He told me that it wouldn't cost me anything, anyway, so why was I being so meeeeeeeeeeeeeean?

Uh, yeah, actually it costs me money to purchase copies of my books. Less money than it costs everyone else, but REAL. ACTUAL. MONEY. Not even taking into account the money I don't make when someone doesn't buy my book.

"What, you don't get free copies for friends and family?"

"No, sir, I don't."

And even if I did, he is neither.

I think that's got to be a square on Writer's Bingo that I can now mark off. Does Writer's Bingo exist? It should.
jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
Everyone knows that a story needs to have conflict. In fact, every single scene in your story should have conflict. Conflict is the main point of a story, and if there's no conflict in a story, then there's no story.

But knowing that, if you're like me, then you have a hard time sometimes figuring what constitutes conflict.

Conflict isn't just about having a fight on every page. If your book is filled with scene after scene of people arguing with each other, it'll get boring. Conflict is about your character overcoming an obstacle in their path.

Conflict is when a rainstorm stands between a lover and their date, and they don't have an umbrella.

Conflict is when a character desperately needs money to achieve their goal, but doesn't know where to get any.

Conflict is when a character is tempted to do something they know is wrong, but it'll help them to accomplish something great.

Conflict can be internal or external. It can be with other characters, or with natural forces, or with their own conscience.

A good shoot-em-up battle is fun, too.

Listen to my interview on Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing! I talk mostly about Mortis Unbound, and Star Trek.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo: Logic)
I ran out of time yesterday because I was still entertaining guests, and I wanted to give this post the attention it was due. The reason why, is because I've been eagerly waiting for the chance to write about this for a long time.

Creating a language for your novel is almost essential, if you're writing about any kind of made-up foreign culture. This applies equally to aliens as to invented cultures on Earth. It adds a sense of realism and believability when the words you use in your novel sound like they weren't just made up randomly, but follow consistent rules - even if you're the only one who knows what those rules are. Even if all you're going to do is name your characters, there is a process that'll help to create that realistic feeling, as if they come from a real language that actually exists.

Now, I don't mean that I'm going to be publishing a full Austejan dictionary to go with Dale Shepard and the Bug Aliens from Outer Space. I haven't made up enough vocabulary, and I have only a very shaky grasp of Austejan grammar. But I have done the steps I'm about to impart to you.

1. Create an alphabet or set of phenoms. Every language has its own set of sounds. Try listening to people speaking different languages - or go ahead and try to learn one - if you don't know what I mean. Generally the first thing I do, is go through the alphabet and eliminate a couple of letters (it doesn't have to be a lot!). Maybe there's no L or H sound in your language, so just cross those right off.

2. Come up with some new sounds. Now that you've eliminated a couple of sounds, try to come up with some combo-letter sounds that are going to be used in the language. Try making up some that don't exist in English! Think about whether sh, th, ch sounds are in there and make up some of your own as well. Maybe do some letter substitutions - for example, K doesn't exist, but instead they will use Ch. Think about how different English would be if you made those changes.

Just keep in mind that if you try to make up a language with only 10 letters you're going to be very constrained. Also if every sound is a combo-letter or sound that has no equivalent in English, no one will be able to pronounce your character's names. A few small changes go a long way!

3. Come up with some rules. These can be pretty arbitrary, but you should apply them strictly. If you decide that all female names end in T, then don't give any males a name ending in T (without a good reason). The consistency of a few simple rules helps the whole thing hang together and even if the rules are subtle enough that no one actually picks up on them, they'll subconsciously feel more realistic than if every name is alphabet soup.

For example, in Mortis Unbound I had clear rules for naming, such that all males ended in a certain set of syllable types, and females had a different rule. I also doubled the letter "I", like in Liiran. I went further and came up with suffixes they used for place names, like -ora for capital cities. Note Laxamora and Talgarora are the main cities named, and they comply with this rule. Laxam is the name of the Empire, and its capital is Laxamora. I came up with a whole list of words for rivers, oceans, and other geographical features, which were occasionally used as necessary in the book.

You can go further than this, make up entire grammatical structures, come up with vocabulary and just keep going as far as you want. A great resource if you want more is Holly Lisle's Create a Language Clinic. I learned a great deal from this and applied it for Mortis as well as the rules for names and places in Dale.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but the last two months have been pretty terrible for my writing productivity, and my blog productivity.

Things I've accomplished:

1. A huge amount of lawyering work, making no dent in the ever-rising pile on my desk in my office.

2. My very first multi-day Supreme Court trial. Which was as stressful as you might expect. Which is extremely. I didn't get any writing done for the week before, or the actual week of, the trial.

3. Getting so deathly ill from the flu, that I discovered the downside of working with my wife is when she gets even sicker than I am, and then there's no one healthy to work. Especially since I had that trial I mentioned. Remember the ever-rising pile? Yeah.

Thankfully, my Mom flew back from Arizona and worked while Miko recovered and I worked a trial.

Counteracting the guilt is a few facts:

1. I am only 3 chapters from the end of the first draft of Dale Shephard and the Bug Aliens from Outer Space. This is definitely the fastest I've finished a novel. I normally wind up taking months off at a time, which makes it take a long, long time. But I started this novel in November, and now I expect to get it done in early March.

2. Soon (probably this week), I will be doing an interview about Mortis Unbound at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, one of my favourite writing podcasts. I'll announce and link when it happens! I'm very excited and slightly nervous.

3. I started editing OtherWhere, my technothriller murder mystery about an MMORPG. And it doesn't suck so far. Also exciting.

I really hope March is less crazy than February, January, and heck, December were.
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)
So I've been struggling to update regularly, and so I've decided to implement some structure to the blog, so that I have a particular target and update at least once a week. Accordingly, I've decided that I'm going to do a rotating weekly post, on different topics. For example, on week 1 I would do an update about my projects and writing generally, then week 2 would be a writing tip post, week 3 would be a review, and week 4 will be something relating to real life or discussion of something that's not writing related. I figure having that kind of structure will give me something concrete to think about, so I can plan out my posts and actually post something - I'm tired of just doing update posts because I have nothing specific to write about.

It'll also mean that I have to try to read or listen to something that I can review at least once per month, which is a laudable goal I guess.

Given the rotation above, and the fact that my last post was a review, that means that this week is writing update week.

Firstly, in exciting news Mortis Unbound is now available in PHYSICAL BOOK FORM. Check it out.

I have actually held my book in my hands and I can say without reservation that it makes a sweet physical object. The binding is strong and the paper is high quality. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and Createspace's procedure was really easy to use and completely free. I'm really happy I decided to look into it.

In less exciting, but nevertheless news, I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo, it being less than 10 days before it's supposed to start. Feel free to add me and say hello. I'm a big proponent of NaNoWriMo and I've been doing it yearly since 2003 - through law school and all the rest. I didn't win every year, but I feel it's done a lot for my productivity and confidence.

Of course, it wouldn't be November if the shit weren't hitting the fan, so I'll be trying to do this while moving. Fun times. I'll keep you guys posted.
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
Mortis Unbound is now up online and rolling and I'm working each day on trying to get reviews and get the word out without being utterly obnoxious about it. So my plan was to get back to The Dreaming and get that draft finished.

I'm about 80,000 words into the novel and it's about 3/4 done. But I've been trying to get back into it for about two months, and it's been a struggle. Part of that struggle has been life-related - the stress of buying a house and some work-related stress of trials and craziness that took a lot of energy. It's hard to keep up on writing every day when all you want to do when you get home is collapse on the couch and watch Lost. (Yeah, I'm a bit behind on pop culture).

But after a lot of thinking, I've come to the conclusion that there's more going on here than life stress.

Last week, I listened to an episode of Writing Excuses, a podcast I've kept up with pretty religiously over the last four years. Dan Wells was talking about his new novel, Hollow City, which has a lot of things in common with Dreaming. As I was listening to what he was saying, I realized that there's quite a few things about the novel that just aren't coming out the way I want them to. A lot of things that are making me dissatisfied with how it's coming together.

Now, I could plough through and get the last quarter finished, then go back and edit, but I feel like until I figure out how to fix the problems I want to fix, I will be wasting my time, writing a lot of things that I'll just throw out later. I've been struggling through this novel for two years already, and I'm fearful that if I stick with it right now, it'll be another year before I finish the draft.

So I've decided to put Dreaming on hold and work on a new novel that I'm more excited about, edit the hell out of OtherWhere, and then come back fresh to Dreaming and rework it from scratch.

I feel a bit bad about the decision. I don't want to be the kind of person who drops projects when they get hard and go with the next shiny thing - professional writers are not like that - but I talked it over with my wife and she agrees that this is the right thing to do. So hopefully there'll be more frequent updates as I set this project aside and free up my mind to work on something new and fun.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
Well! After two days of gruelling reformatting, I have uploaded Mortis Unbound to Smashwords, which takes care of my Barnes & Noble problem (thank you [personal profile] clare_dragonfly for the tip in my last post!) as well as putting my novel in a bunch of other markets that I hadn't intended to bother with because they're relatively small. Still, nice to know it'll be there.

I actually uploaded the original file I uploaded to Amazon and Kobo, without delving into the Smashwords style guide, just to see what would happen. Just in that time three people downloaded the sample. I consider that a good recommendation for Smashwords, since I hadn't told anyone about it.

So, if you use iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Sony, you'll be able to find my book there within a week or so.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
So while the official release date was going to be a bit later, I went ahead and started uploading Mortis Unbound to the various stores, since I had heard that it often took a few days before they would actually become available, and sometimes there are weird snafus that make them take a few weeks.

Amazon and the Kobo Store were both effortless. The novel is up and ready to go and I've already made a few sales! You can purchase Mortis Unbound on Amazon here and on the Kobo Store here!

I was going to put it up on Barnes & Noble as well. Despite the store not existing in Canada, where I live, I like to support them. However, B&N has some rather short-sighted policies that makes it virtually impossible for me to do so.

After spending literally two days trying to figure out how I even become an ebook seller on the site (it took me no more than a minute to figure it out on the Amazon and Kobo sites), I finally found the proper place, only to learn that you need a U.S. bank account, U.S. credit card, and a U.S. address to get paid. I could probably get these things, but it would likely be more trouble than it's worth.

While Amazon is U.S. oriented, they don't make it hard for international sellers, though there are a few wrinkles. (You get paid in U.S. dollars and unfortunately as a Canadian I have to meet a certain threshold of sales before they cut me a cheque, instead of being able to get the money deposited immediately into my account every month. EU doesn't have this problem, but for some reason Canada does, and there's also a thing you have to do to appease the IRS, which isn't a big deal). And of course, Kobo is a Canadian site, so that's not an issue.

Unfortunately, B&N apparently doesn't want international sellers, so, I do apologize to Nook users. Thankfully, Kobo also uses .epub format, so if you would like to buy it for your Nook, you can get it through the Kobo site. I'm consulting with a friend of mine who has a Nook, so if you have any questions about how to get the file onto your Nook, please PM me and I'll gladly walk you through it.

If B&N does change their policy and open their estore up to international sellers, I'll definitely get Mortis Unbound up there as soon as I can!
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
I'm nearly there! And I absolutely love this cover, by Rebecca Potter.

Check her out at her website
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
The house hunt continues. The seller of the house we wanted decided not to sell at all. I'm pretty disappointed. I think it's sort of dickish to waste someone's time like that - all in all, I spent several hours going through the house, researching, discussing with family, going back to the house, and then writing up the offer - only to learn he'd already decided not to sell his house at all.

But life goes on, and I'm sure when we get back from our trip next week, we'll find something we like just as much. And we're pretty comfortable where we are. At least the rent is cheap and we have enough space to stretch out.

In better news, I had a two and a half hour conversation with my editor today. She's finished going through my manuscript and given me all of her notes. Some of them are substantive issues, others were copyediting things, and others were just things she wasn't sure about, which I can fix with a bit of rewording for clarity.

I learned a lot, and there wasn't anything that made me cry, so I'd say this was a success!

Nothing that she said will require a major rewrite. I'll need to fiddle around with some description and rework some character development. With the comments she'd made, I don't think I'll be needing to do a full copy edit, and I'm hoping to get a friend of mine to do the proofread.

The biggest change is going to be my title. She doesn't like The Sleeping Death, and frankly, neither do I. She had a few suggestions, but I need to check a few things before I make a final decision.

Just as a note, I haven't given a proper shoutout to my editor, so I want to do that, now. She's Marie-Lynn Hammond, a singer/songwriter and experienced editor. She's done a wonderful job, and is fair, knowledgeable, and was a joy to work with. I'll definitely be contacting her again for my next manuscript.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
I was going to do just a basic update today, but then I thought I'd talk about something that I've been struggling with lately, and add a bit of an update at the end.

I'm a multitasker. It's something I'm pretty good at. I'm capable of writing while doing something else - like talking to people over instant messenger and keeping up on my twitter feed, even with the television on in the background, so long as it's not a terribly engaging show.

I'm also a very fast writer, I think, compared to many people. If I focus and do nothing else, I can pump out 1000 new words in 15-20 minutes. And they're generally decent words.

Over the years, I've gotten really lazy with this. If I spend the entire evening switching between writing and other tasks, I can still pump out a good 1000 words, but it's in snatches. A paragraph, then check my email. Another few words, then I respond to a message. This is not a good way to write. I feel like I've spent the whole night working and not accomplished much, and the writing never flows and gets going - it feels like a chore.

Last October, we moved from a one-bedroom apartment into a three-bedroom townhouse. I finally had a desk, an office, for the first time, literally, in my entire writing career. I literally did all of my studying for law school on my bed. I wrote on my sofa, or my bed, or at a coffee shop, all these many years.

In November, I did NaNoWriMo for the 10th time, and I was determined to hit that 50,000 words, since I hadn't managed it for a few years. It had been a long time since I was really able to keep up with my 1000 words a day goal that I used to break routinely (mostly because law school took up so much time I used to spend writing) I made a pact with myself that I would go to the office, turn off the internet and write until I had done my 2000 words each day.

It worked fabulously. I had some 3000 and even 4000 word days, and even though I took some full days off, I beat NaNoWriMo long before the end of the month.

After so many years of telling myself that I was still being productive if I spent an entire evening "writing" and struggling to make 500 words in a night, I was often easily passing my 2000 mark in an hour.

Then I got lazy again. Sure, I could write that much, but did I need to retreat to my office when I could hang out with my friends online and still get some progress?

Well, the answer is, yes. I really should.

Since November, I really haven't been that productive. I've had days when I was productive, especially on weekends, and many - too many - nights when I really didn't accomplish much at all. It's just so hard to tear myself away from the internet when it's sitting right there, so shiny, begging to be looked at.

So a couple of days ago, I pulled out my netbook. I stopped using it after I graduated from school, and got myself a new laptop that's got a lot more memory, allowing me to multitask to my heart's content. The netbook chokes if I try to run firefox and liquid story binder at the same time.

It's perfect.

When it's time to write, I head upstairs, plug my iPod into the speakers on the shelf (the netbook chokes on iTunes, too) and close the door. The netbook is so tiny that I have plugged a keyboard into it, and I'll be purchasing a simple usb mouse as well. I have Dropbox, so all of my files are automatically shared between my laptop and my netbook, so I don't have to worry about version issues or file transfer problems. I can write on my laptop (and do) but on the netbook there's little temptation to multitask because it becomes so frustrating to try to run more than one program at a time.

My productivity is so good in this setup that in an hour or so I've reached my goal. And then I can go have fun or even spend the night continuing to try to write-while-multitasking, without guilt. Today I wrote for an hour and got over 2000 words.

The lesson I've taken from this is, it really is worth it to do a few things to maximize your productivity and create a good space to work in. I might want to spend an evening relaxing with my friends online, but if I know I only have to take fifteen minutes or half an hour and I'll be able to do that guilt free, it's much easier to take that time and do it. It doesn't have to be forehead bleeding for the whole night, after a full eight-hour workday, if you can get yourself into the right mental space and really focus.

Obviously there are nights when it doesn't flow, and I could bash my face against the keyboard all night and still not manage to accomplish much. But if I get myself in the zone, without anything to distract me, the chances of accomplishing something go up substantially.

What do you do to get yourself into the proper frame of mind to write? How do you eliminate distractions?

For the promised update, I'm continuing to work on The Dreaming, and it's going at a good clip. I completed Chapter 19 today and started on Chapter 20. There are 27 chapters in my outline, and I've gotten through some pretty tricky emotional scenes, so I'm exited to get into some pure action adventure stuff, which will be dominating the next little bit. I've gotten to know my characters, as well, which feels wonderful. When I get into Sam's head, it really flows. Of course, he's a lawyer, so he's verbose. I'm probably going to have to cut a third of the words of this book, when I edit.

I also submitted a short story to an anthology today. I stumbled across the contest quite by accident, and since the short story I recently finished fit the criteria, I tossed it in. They had an option where I could pay about $10 to receive some feedback from the judges, regardless of whether I win or not, so I paid for that. Even if I don't win, it'll be interesting to hear what they have to say, so I'm looking forward to that.

My plan is to focus on Dreaming until I get The Sleeping Death back from my editor. My beta readers are also starting to trickle in with comments, though none of them are finished reading yet. Hopefully I can get all of their comments back around the same time as I hear from my editor, so I can incorporate all of the feedback at the same time.

And that's what I'm up to!
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
I reached another turning point in projects, so I thought I'd do an update.

Today I finished the first draft of my [community profile] originalbigbang story, which isn't due until September or something, lol. I wanted to get it written and out of the way so I wouldn't have it weighing on my mind as I work on other projects, and I'm glad I did.

It's called Grim Opera, and is the fifth instalment of my Hunter Grim short story series, which is a series of gay erotica stories set in a post-apocalyptic world, depicting a love story between a vampire hunter (who is also a vampire) and his shape-shifting apprentice. I'll probably release the stories as an anthology someday. It was fun to revisit this world, and it definitely won't be the last time I do.

I got a little positive feedback from one of my beta readers for The Sleeping Death, which was nice to hear. I also got back into contact with my editor, who had been on vacation. I signed my contract, sent my deposit and my manuscript, so now all I have to do is wait.

I'm pretty excited. I feel fairly confident that the book will stand up generally to scrutiny, and I'm very interested to learn where I can improve it. I'm sure that my editor will have things to say, of course, and I'm sure I'll learn a great deal and that my writing generally will improve because of this experience.

I'm also a tiny bit nervous that it'll hurt a lot to get the feedback, but I have faith that Marie-Lynn will give me constructive criticism gently, and that it won't be in the vein of "this sucks, start over". Anything less shattering than that I can probably handle. After all, I've been writing fanfiction for over 13 years. I've gotten lots of unhelpful negative comments in my life.

In the meantime, I've started work on my draft of The Dreaming once again. I started this book quite a long time ago now, and I keep making a lot of progress in short bursts and then putting it down to work on other things. I'm determined to get it done without getting distracted this time, partly because I'm really getting excited to get started on my next project, which is my "Harry Potter in Space with Aliens" series. I'm doing character profiles for that series, whenever I don't feel like writing.

So that's where I'm at!
jessicasteiner: (Default)
This is the fifth and final installment of my series about hiring a freelance editor. You can see an index here and zero in on the topic that most interests you, or find all of the topics under the 'editing' tag. It may be the shortest of the series, but in some ways it's the most important.


Each editor's rates is, of course, set individually.

Some editors charge by the hour. Depending on their experience, they can charge anywhere between $20 and $50.

Others charge by the page. This seems to be more likely for small projects, such as resumes or academic papers. Though I didn't look too deeply into this, it appears that there's a base rate, such as $20, and then it goes up from there based on the number of pages in the project.

It appears that sometimes, particularly on the job boards, an editor will offer a flat rate for a large project like a novel. I suspect that an editor with few credits is willing to take a hit to the size of their paycheque in order to get experience editing a novel. I've even seen an editor offering her work for free, just to get the experience. If your budget is fairly small, this may be a good option, but you run the risk of not getting the best edit possible.

On the large job boards, it's fairly easy to cross-check different editors and compare how much they charge for various types of jobs, and it's worthwhile to check around if you're shopping for an editor, so you have a number in mind. However, my experience with the job boards was that the projects are generally smaller than a full-sized novel, so it's difficult to gauge how it will compare simply by looking at the listings.

Though it varies, getting a full novel edited is not cheap. If you think about it, it takes several hours to read a novel. Reading while taking notes and making changes can take many, many hours. A full, substantive edit can run upwards of a couple of thousand dollars.


It's important to see the terms under which the editor is going to work. A reputable editor will send you a contract, which sets out the work and how much it will cost. Scrutinize the contract - and by that I mean, read it. If there are bits you don't understand, ask. And if the editor isn't willing to clarify, run.

You shouldn't send your manuscript to someone - or several hundred dollars - unless you're sure that the person is legitimate. There are a lot of people out there more than happy to part someone from their money and not deliver anything.

Both you and the editor should have a clear idea of exactly what each of you is expected to do, and how much it will cost, before you begin sending money. Obviously for a large project where there is unpredictability in how long it will take the editor to get through the project, you may only have an estimate of how much it will cost, but you should have a good grasp of exactly how the final bill will be calculated. That way, neither of you will be surprised or angry at the end.

I will say this isn't advice only specifically for hiring an editor, but for pretty much anything you do that involves a contract.

How it Turned Out for Me

One of the people I was referred to seemed to click with me right away. I scrutinized her website and saw that she had some good credits under her name, justifying her hourly rate, which is on the higher end of the range I saw.

At her request, I sent her a plot synopsis and three chapters. She suggested that I do a Manuscript Evaluation, and quoted me $800, saying that it could end up being lower because my writing was generally good. She will be documenting her hours - good, and if she ends up taking less time than expected, I won't have to pay the full amount, but she does want half up front. I feel that's quite fair.

The entire process of finding her and deciding to hire her took about three days, so when I made the decision of who to hire, I wasn't quite ready to actually take the step and send off my manuscript. I had expected it to take quite a while to find someone suitable, who was willing to take me on. Because I was still working on my own edit, and wanted some people to read my novel before I sent it out, and my editor was about to go on holiday, we decided that the work would start in June when she gets back. So I haven't signed the contract yet, and I also haven't sent any money.

And that is the end of my series on what I learned while working on hiring a freelance editor. If you know something I've missed, please feel free to share! And stay tuned as I go through the process. I'll definitely have updates.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
This is the fourth installment of my series about hiring a freelance editor. You can see an index here and zero in on the topic that most interests you, or find all of the topics under the 'editing' tag.

Before I set out to do my research, I thought that there were basically two, maybe three kinds of edits. I thought there was a substantive edit, where the editor would go in depth about structure, style, characters, plot, and everything else. I knew this was a major undertaking (though I didn't quite understand HOW major, or how expensive), a copy edit, which I really didn't know what that was, and a proofread, which is basically just checking for typos, and which I wasn't sure was actually separate from copy editing.

Boy, was I wrong.

Manuscript Consultation

As an unpublished novelist, the first thing that most of the editors that I contacted suggested I obtain is a manuscript consultation. This isn't really an edit, but more of a general overview, giving me feedback about all kinds of things, from style to pacing. My impression is that an editor will give detailed notes on my manuscript, but won't actually go line by line and suggest fixes.

The idea is that for a first time novelist, you may not want to embark on a thorough substantive edit if your book simply isn't anywhere near publishable quality. As editors charge by the hour, if your writing needs major, major work, a full, line by line edit may be hugely expensive, because there will be so much that needs fixing.

A manuscript consultation allows you to get feedback from a neutral third party, which you can then take and try to either improve on that manuscript by applying the feedback, or chuck it out and start fresh if it's completely broken and not worth saving. Many people have never had anyone other than themselves or maybe a loving spouse or parent look at their work, so a consultation can be the first time they've ever gotten real feedback on things that they can try to improve.

Substantive Edit

This is basically what I expected it was, going over the book and doing a major review of macro-level issues, such as plot, structure, pacing, etc. Some editors will call this a structural edit, or simply a manuscript edit.

Stylistic Edit

Some editors offer this type of edit as a separate item from their substantive edit. Instead of looking at logical, structural items, the editor will help you to polish your own, unique voice and make it consistent throughout the manuscript. The editor also helps to smooth out the language by clarifying meaning and eliminating jargon that may make your manuscript difficult to understand. I have a feeling that editors who don't offer this service do this as part of the substantive edit.

Copy Edit

This is apparently the most comment type of edit that freelancers do, though it wasn't what I was looking for. The editor will go through line by line and correct grammar and sentence structure, clean up consistency problems, and fix punctuation.


Proofreading is the last thing that is done before the book is sent out to be printed. It's merely a process by which the editor ensures that no mistakes have been made, such as typos, in the final proofs. (A proof is basically a document that gives the printer everything they need to create a finished, printed book). They will check things like headers, page numbers and layout to ensure it all looks perfect, not just look at the words in the manuscript.

Other Stuff

Many editors also offer other services, such as project management (helping you to turn an idea for a book into a finished project), fact checking, and indexing.

Next time will be the last post in the series, in which I talk about pricing in more detail, as well as describe some of the legal issues that you should be aware of when hiring an editor.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
This is the third installment of my series about hiring a freelance editor. You can see an index here and zero in on the topic that most interests you, or find all of the topics under the 'editing' tag.

So once I was all organized and ready to go, I began my search. Being a simple-minded sort of person, I went to Google and typed "Freelance Editor" I think. And boy, there sure are a lot of them.

The first thing I discovered is that people hire people to edit a whole lot of things that I never imagined. Like resumes. I certainly know the value of having a good resume, and I had my mother and my wife look mine over for typos and did a lot of research about resume-writing when I was developing my first resume, way back in the mists of time. It never occurred to me to pay someone upwards of $30.00 to edit it. But I can see the value.

But money is for another time.

There seem to be two kinds of places where editors hang up their shingle, and depending on what you're looking for, you may prefer one or the other.

Job Boards and Organizations

There are a myriad of organizations that exist to connect freelance editors to people who want to use their services. There are huge advantages to these websites, such as:

  • Rating systems: Other people who have used the editors through the site can usually leave comments about their experiences, and rate the editors. Very useful in trying to choose a good editor for your work.

  • Searchability: The websites incorporate keyword searches, so you can search for editors who deal with your specific kind of project, instead of having to wade through every one individually.

  • Price Comparison: The nature of the website makes it easy to compare different editors. You can see how much they charged for different projects, to get a sense for how much they would likely charge for your project

The websites I looked at were: Edit Avenue and oDesk. They both have different formats and advantages. Edit Avenue was focused entirely on editors, but the projects were generally less than 20 pages, so I'm not sure if they actually take full-length novels. oDesk had everything from ghost writers to editors and many other kinds of professionals, but was very searchable, making it easy to narrow down the search.

The one downside I found from these websites was that - rightly or wrongly - I got the sense that the people there had less experience. They have a less professional feel than the individual websites. While I'm sure that many of the editors on the sites are highly competent and experienced, anyone can show up and hang out their shingle, though thankfully the sites also include a resume.

Ultimately, I didn't end up contacting anyone on the job boards, though I did note down several I wanted to contact. I'm sure if the steps I took hadn't turned out, I'd have contacted a few people on both Edit Avenue and oDesk.

Individual Websites

My googling also tracked down a couple of people who had created websites of their own. These are individualized websites, so they're all very different. One of them had a form that you could fill in if you were interested in getting a quote. Another had a blog that I snooped in as part of my research, to see if I felt any kind of connection with the person.

The websites had information about pricing, and about their experience. It seemed overall that people who had made their own website were more highly experienced freelancers, with significant credits to their name.

Beyond the more professional feel of having a website, I found that I felt a more individual sense of who these people were. As a result, I felt more comfortable diving in and contacting a few right off the bat, to ask for quotes.

I wound up contacting three people like this. I filled in the form on the one person's blog, and for the other two I simply sent emails outlining generally what I was looking for and asking for a quote.

Two people got back to me within 24 hours. Both of them told me that they didn't have time to take on my project, but offered to refer me to someone else who was equally experienced and might have the time. I took them both up on this offer, which takes me to the third section of this post.


When you think about it, the entire publishing industry basically works on referrals. There's definitely something about having someone say "Hey, this person is good" that just gives people more confidence. I found it very gratifying that the people who didn't have time to take on my project immediately turned around and referred me to someone they trusted.

I'm sure that the editor felt the same way, that a friend of theirs was putting me in touch with a writer that they thought would be a good fit.

I was careful to note down who had referred me to whom in my editing spreadsheet, so that when I contacted them, I could refer to the original person. I really wanted to be able to say "So and so suggested that I contact you", to create a connection. And one thing that I really wanted was to find someone that I connected with on a personal level, someone that I can build a relationship with. I wanted to find an editor that I could work with well, rather than having a faceless person reading my work and giving me suggestions.

Next time, I'll discuss the types of edits that one can hire a freelancer to do for you.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
It's been a productive morning!

I set up a twitter account, which I'll primarily be using for quick writing-related status updates, boosting the signal on reviews and posts here, and for retweeting random things I enjoy. Follow me at [ profile] steiner_jessica if that link works...

Secondly, I cleared out my email and did some administrative things.

And thirdly, I finished my line edits on The Sleeping Death! What a painful process that was. I mostly was trying to focus on tightening things, getting rid of extraneous speaking tags and adverbs, especially, and it was really fiddly. I found that I couldn't really do it for very long before my concentration started to flag, so I tended to do about 2 chapters a night. For a story with almost 60 chapters, that was a slow pace.

So now I'll be sending it out to my beta readers and hopefully get their comments within a week or two. After that, it goes to my editor!

I'm looking forward to a rest from editing for a couple of weeks, to be honest. Time to focus on my [community profile] originalbigbang story, which is the fifth instalment of my Hunter Grim series, as well as getting back to The Dreaming. So it's going to be a bit of a pure writing stint for now.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
This is the second installment of my series about hiring a freelance editor. You can see an index here and zero in on the topic that most interests you, or find all of the topics under the 'editing' tag.

Before I began my search for a freelance editor, I knew I really had no idea what I was in for. I wasn't sure if it was going to be like searching for a publisher, where I would need to prove myself and hope someone was willing to look at my work. I also didn't know how long it was going to take. So I came prepared for a long, difficult search.

It turned out not be nearly so difficult as I feared, but I still feel that the steps I took to get organized before I began helped out.

I created myself a spreadsheet, modeled after a spreadsheet that I had seen in the "Writer's Market", which is supposed to be used to organize a search for a traditional publisher or agent. I set the spreadsheet up like this:

Manuscript TitleOrganizationContact NameQuote RequestedResponse ReceivedQuoteComments
The Sleeping DeathJane Doe Editing Ltd.Jane Doe
$800Liked the website and blog. Referred by John Smith. Sent synopsis and first three chapters on 04/13/2012.

The idea behind the spreadsheet is just to keep track of who you've contacted, where you found them, and how long it's been since you heard from them. This is to prevent you from accidentally contacting the same person multiple times, or from forgetting who people are when they contact you back.

The comments section can be used to record details that don't fit anywhere else. I used it to mention anything unusual about the particular person, and to leave myself reminders about what we had talked about already.

It also gives you an easy way to check whether enough time has passed that it might be worthwhile to follow-up. This basic spreadsheet can be useful for a lot of applications, and you can always add in more columns as needed. I set it up so that I can reuse the spreadsheet for other projects, maybe contacting people I've looked at before, for OtherWhere when I'm ready to do so.

As I did my research, I threw in links and information about various people I had looked at, even if I didn't think I was likely to contact them, so that I wouldn't ever repeat my work or cover ground I had already spent time covering.

In the end, I contacted three people at the end of my first day of research, though I had looked at about ten on various websites. I sent a short, polite email letting them know where I had found them, and describing what I was looking for the editor for - a fantasy novel of approximately 110,000 words - and requested a quote.

Two of them got back to me within 24 hours, both of them to tell me that they didn't have time to deal with my project right now, but both offering to refer me to people they knew who might have time.

I accepted those offers, noted down in the comment section whom they had referred me to, and added new lines for the two new people. In the comment section for those people I also noted who had referred me to them, so I could tell them if they asked. I wound up hiring one of those referrals, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself there.

As you can see, just a tiny bit of organization goes a long way. I immediately had a place where I could compare the people I had spoken to, and knew exactly when I had heard from whom and about what, without having to poke through my emails. And if none of those initial contacts had panned out, I had a central place where I could move on to my next choices and contact others, or recognize that I had to widen my search and go back to the drawing board to get more names.

Next time I'll talk about the places where I found editors, and the various pros and cons of each!


jessicasteiner: (Default)
Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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