jessicasteiner: (Constructive Criticism)
Rejection count: 3.

I'm feeling pretty good about it, though. Over a year ago, I pitched OtherWhere to three people at the Surrey International Writer's Conference, and none of them so much as responded to my email. Since then, I've reworked it heavily, and now I've received three personalized rejections.

I probably have a good number to go, but it feels like...progress?

It still sucks, but I kinda feel like my many, many years of fanfiction writing has given me a fairly thick skin to constructive criticism.

Onwards and upwards!
jessicasteiner: (Solitaire)
Been a while again, but I've been working on making to-do lists and having reminders, to keep me on track, so I think things will continue to improve.

I did submit my novel to the agent who'd requested a full manuscript, but she declined it. I got some nice feedback, though I generally disagree with it, so I've continued to submit. I've got an account with Duotrope, which is a pretty great site that helps you to organize submissions and find editors and agents who are seeking submissions. I'm pretty excited about it!

As I transition to my new job, the biggest thing I'm trying to do is reduce my workload at work. I'm hoping that doing that will help me to stay on track with writing. The other option I"m considering is just basically giving up on writing new drafting words in the evening, focus on setting time aside for that on weekends, and work on things like notes, editing, and that sort of thing on weekdays. I understand Kameron Hurley has a schedule rather like that, and she's putting out like 6 books a year, so that might work better.

Anyway! Lots of thoughts.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo: Logic)
I've been working on writing pretty regularly lately, however, I decided against doing NaNoWriMo this year. Usually, I set aside whatever I'm working on to throw myself into a new (or in-progress) draft and get some good, solid work done on it in November. That's worked pretty well towards me getting a bunch of drafts finished, but since I haven't been as productive in other months, it hasn't done a whole lot towards me getting anything edited.

That doesn't mean I don't want to work on my draft, but I had a more compelling reason to keep it in the drawer for now - I've been asked for a full manuscript of OtherWhere by an agent. So instead of working on new words, I've been working on getting the last few changes done on that manuscript so I can submit it.

This past week, while my beta readers read the manuscript, I've been reading it out loud. It's a piece of advice I've heard a lot, but have never had the courage to actually implement. And you know what? It's working.

There are a lot of small changes I'm definitely making that I never had noticed before. Word repetition and run-on sentences are big ones. I'm also noticing some issues with character voice - people sounding very similar to one another - that I'm trying to work on a bit more.

All in all, it's been a great exercise. I expect to be finished it within the next few days, and to get my manuscript submitted to the agent by the end of November.

Reboot!

Nov. 6th, 2015 06:03 pm
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
Greetings. It's been a rough two years, but I'm back.

For the past two years, my work schedule has gone from very busy, to very very insanely busy, and basically stayed there. I've dealt with a coworker who flamed out and dumped their entire caseload on me, and also a three month period of absolutely no income while the government body who writes my paycheque "upgraded" their system. During that entire time, I carried a caseload of over 100 clients and worked every one of them as hard as I could.

It didn't leave much time or brainpower left over for writing, and even less time for blogging about writing.

However, I now see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as my work load at the day job. In addition to that, I've had some important boosts to my writing brain, and I believe I'm firmly back in the saddle now, with enough brainpower left over on the side to attend to my social media as well.

In September, I attended the Out of Excuses Retreat. When I got back from that utterly life-changing experience, I went to the Surrey International Writer's Conference, and pitched OtherWhere to an agent, who asked for a full manuscript.

I've decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, so that I can concentrate on getting my manuscript up to par and getting it out to the agent.

In the meantime, I am committing to updating this blog regularly again. I intend to update on a rotating schedule, every Friday, and it'll probably be more writing and life updates, and writing exercises, rather than reviews. Though I will probably do the odd review, as well.

So thanks for being patient! I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say.
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
I often have a hard time thinking of things to say here. Often things just seem like same-old-same-old, and I'm just poking along at the things I've been poking along at for months. But at the same time, I'm happy with the progress I'm making. I guess it's time to do an update and round-up.

I'm working on my fifth draft of OtherWhere, doing line edits, tightening the language, obliterating adverbs and unnecessary, redundant wordiness. I'm really happy with it, though I totally don't understand how people can finish this kind of thing in a month or two. After an hour of this stuff, I start skimming and have to stop.

Once I get this part finished, I'll be sending it out to (more) agents and also beta readers. Maybe that'll happen in March. I HOPE it'll happen in March.

I'm also poking around at various other projects without a tonne of focus, just doing whatever I feel like at any given moment. I expect to release my Motivation course by the end of February, though I'm eyeing the date right now and wondering if that's realistic. If not, then it'll be the first or second week of March.

I've been doing a lot more reading as well, which I consider to be really important. I started reading the collected works of Sherlock Holmes, because I've gotten really into Elementary, BBC Sherlock, and the RDJ movies as well, and I had gotten very interested in connecting with the source material, which I had never read. I remember picking it up once when I was probably 12 years old, saw Sherlock shooting up cocaine and went "Hang on, this isn't what I thought it was", but this time I've been really enjoying it.

Thing is, I had to interrupt because I needed to read some short stories. I've written a story I intend to submit to Crossed Genres magazine for their April deadline (Theme: Time travel!), but I haven't read a lot of short stories in recent years. I picked up Dangerous Women, which is an anthology of short stories that cover many genres, by many of the giants in speculative fiction - we're talking Jim Butcher, George R.R. Martin, and Brandon Sanderson. I figure I can learn some things from them. I'm enjoying the stories very much, and learning a lot about structure, and when that's done I'll be finishing off Sherlock Holmes.

Unless I get distracted by the three books I bought today, whoops.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo)
I wrote chapter three, another 1878 words, for a total of 6160 words.

I was struggling with this one a little bit. My outline said that Nyla meets a particular character, and locates a particular place - a gaming store - which will be very important for the series. However, I was having a lot of trouble writing the scene, because while I knew the goals I needed to hit, I didn't have any conflict for the scene.

Thankfully, I managed to push through. I came up with enough of a conflict to carry the scene, wrote some nice conversations, and introduced two characters I hadn't intended to introduce so soon - but it actually works better that way.

It wasn't something I thought of before I sat down to write. When I sat down, I didn't know how I was going to make it through the scene. But I think that's a good lesson. One of the things I often struggle with is the desire to know the shape of a scene before I sit down to write it, and if I don't know how I'm going to fix the problems I see, I hesitate to start.

So today's tip: Even if you feel like you're heading into fog, write your way to a solution. You can always tighten up the scene later, but if you just keep writing, feeling your way through, moving back and forth as you figure out the problems, you will find a solution.

Just start, and don't stop.
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 http://www.jessicasteinerbooks.com (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! http://www.jessicasteinerbooks.com/contact/
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
For all sections in this series, check out this post. I recommend reading them in order, but if you want to go straight to a particular concept, you can use the Table of Contents to find the right post.




After completing the first readthrough, it's time to read through the book again, but this time with a fine-toothed comb in hand (metaphorically speaking).

For OtherWhere, I actually did one read through and completed the next five steps all at the same time, but I strongly suggest that you do these one at a time the first time. It's difficult to learn these skills and do them all at the same time. Even for me, who had done this once before with Mortis Unbound, it was a challenge and a hell of a slog.

But anyway, on to the next step.

Step 4: Scene Cards

Get yourself a bunch of simple index cards - lined or unlined, depending on your preference. I punch a hole in the top right corner of each card, and get one of those little metal rings to keep them all together in order. A keyring would work, or a big paperclip all unbent and made into a circle. You'll definitely want a good way to keep them in order.

As you read through the book, create one index card per scene, and put it on the ring. For each card, you want to include the following:
  1. The scene number, in order.

  2. The point of view of the scene.

  3. The pages of the scene.

  4. One sentence, describing the elements of the scene.


I put the first three elements at the top, so for example, the first scene card for OtherWhere looks like this:
1POV: Omnicient1-3


The sentence requires some additional explanation. I don't just describe what happens in the scene. The purpose of the sentence is to make sure that all of the elements of a scene are present, namely:
  • A protagonist

  • An antagonist

  • A conflict

  • A setting

  • A twist


Ideally, your scene should contain all of these things. Someone should be trying to do something, and something or someone is resisting them or making it difficult. All this should happen in a place. And at the end of the scene, something should change or be revealed that changes the circumstances in a significant way.

If you ensure that every scene has all of these elements, your readers won't be bored, that's for sure.

If your scene is missing one or more of these elements, note that on the card, and move on to the next scene.

Next time we'll examine the setting of your novel in detail.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
I'm finally getting back to this, now! I hope you enjoy this series.

For all sections in this series, check out this post. I recommend reading them in order, but if you want to go straight to a particular concept, you can use the Table of Contents to find the right post.




Step 3: The First Readthrough

Now that you've prepared for your edit, and recaptured the original vision of your novel, it's time to see what you've really got - not magic this time, but despair and imperfection.

This should be a fairly natural read through the text, at approximately the same pace as a reader, though you will pause from time to time. You should not make any changes at this stage of the game.

However, it is an active read. You should be paying attention not only to the text, but to your own reactions. As you go, note the following five categories of things in the manuscript:

  1. What things don't make sense? Where does the story fall apart?

  2. Where do the characters really shine? Where do the characters disappoint you?

  3. Where does the world really work? What parts of your world-building have failed to hang together?

  4. Where do you catch yourself skimming or getting bored?

  5. What of the book really worked?


It's key to note down each item. Make a note in the manuscript, for each of these notes, and on the paper, write down a description of the problem or positive thing you've found. You might even make notes about possible ways to fix the issue.

I tend to use an alphanumerical code. For example, you might call this set of notes '1' and each of the types of things you're looking for, A through E. Number each page as well, and each note on the page. So the first note in the first category on the first page would be marked in the manuscript as something like [1A1 #1].

It's very important that whatever code or tracking system you use, that you be able to come to your manuscript later, see the code, and be able to cross-reference to the place in your notes where you describe what was wrong, or what was good. I know this may be somewhat confusing at the moment, but the point is to be able to get to the end of the whole editing process and be able to look back at each section and find the problems you identified at each stage, to be able to formulate the appropriate fix for every scene, every chapter, every paragraph. Without ways of cross-referencing and easily coming back to your notes after weeks, maybe months of work, you'll have a hell of a time doing that.
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
It's the last day of May, and I'm exhausted after a very long week at work, so I thought I'd do a recap.

This month, I edited, formatted, and released two stories for 99c. I designed the covers for both of them, though I did have help from friends. One of them is a book of writing tips, and the other is a short story. The latter is actually selling quite well, especially considering I've done almost zero promotion.

I worked on my edit of OtherWhere. I'll be doing more posts about my editing process in the future, but right now I'm in the middle of a long slog that's not much fun. I'm about a quarter of the way through this particular slog. Once I finish it, I'll probably do another set of tips about what I did. So... hang onto your seat.

Most of my work this month was involved in finishing a 20,000 word novella that will be released...at some point. I've also written a bit of fanfiction this month.

Now wish me luck. June is coming, and it's going to involve me clinging to sanity by the fingernails.
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)


After finishing the month of April, I had a string of busy days. I think I needed a little time away from the blog, but I do feel pretty good about what I accomplished this month.

I finished the A-Z Blog Challenge, while at the same time writing about 15,000 words of a "short" story. The blog posts I plan to compile into a book, so I counted those words towards my Camp NaNoWriMo goal. The story I wrote is another story in the Grim Hunter series, and will be the last, and longest, story in the anthology I plan to release of all the stories to date.

I expect to have another 5000 words or so of the Grim story, and then editing and formatting begins.

The upshot is, I'm pretty pleased with the amount I accomplished this month. For the month of May I want to keep up a regular blogging schedule, finish the Grim story, and continue editing OtherWhere. Wish me luck!
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)
Since this series is going to be very long, and managing all the links is going to be a pain, I've decided to do one catch-all post for all the sections, which I will update as I go.

I'm generally following the process in Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel course, which you can purchase by following this link over here. I followed it strictly for Mortis Unbound, but now that I've done it once, I'm making changes and putting my own spin on it. I'll be describing it generally as best I can; however, I won't be reproducing the worksheets that I'm using here. If you want those and the full detailed instructions, go buy the course.

If you don't want to or can't afford to buy the course, my plan is to make these posts detailed enough to help teach you how to edit, either way. I hope these will be useful to people, in themselves.

The Posts

  1. Preparation

  2. Recapturing the Magic

  3. The First Readthrough

  4. Scene Cards
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
For all sections in this series, check out this post. I recommend reading them in order, but if you want to go straight to a particular concept, you can use the Table of Contents to find the right post.




Step Two: Recapturing the Magic

If it weren't for Holly Lisle's course, I'd never have thought of this step explicitly, but I've found that it is, in many ways, one of the most important and useful steps.

Before you even pick up your book to read it again (and just as a note, you should have let the book rest for at least a few weeks - or a few months - before you begin the editing process) you should take a sheet of notepaper and write down what you wanted to get out of the story before you put pen to paper.

Write down the idea that first sparked the novel inside you, and the kind of book you wanted to write. Write down the sort of character you wanted your main character to be. Write down what kind of story you originally wanted to tell.

This will help to focus you on the kind of story you wanted to tell, the kinds of things that excited you about the story, and help you to reach the end goal of bringing this novel as close as possible to the novel you want it to be.
jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
For all sections in this series, check out this post. I recommend reading them in order, but if you want to go straight to a particular concept, you can use the Table of Contents to find the right post.




I've decided to do periodic (not necessarily regular) updates as I go through the editing process with OtherWhere. My experience is that people have a hard time with this editing thing. This is not my first time going through the editing process for a full novel in a structured way, so I'm hoping if I dig in and describe my process, it may help people who are flailing around, changing sentence structure and fixing typos and staring at their novel, with no idea where to even start with tackling the big problems.

Yesterday I finished my first read-through on OtherWhere, so this seems like a good place to start.

For full disclosure, I'm generally following the process in Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel course, which you can purchase by following this link over here. I followed it strictly for Mortis Unbound, but now that I've done it once, I'm making changes and putting my own spin on it. I'll be describing it generally as best I can; however, I won't be reproducing the worksheets that I'm using here. If you want those and the full detailed instructions, go buy the course.

If you don't want to or can't afford to buy the course, my plan is to make these posts detailed enough to help teach you how to edit, either way. I hope these will be useful to people, in themselves.

Now then. So far, I've completed three major editing steps, which I will describe over the course of the next three blog posts.

Step One: Preparation

Preparing Your Novel

First I had to reformat and print out my entire novel. Yep, the whole thing. I'm a fan of the digital form, but I have found that it's just not as easy to do editing without a paper copy. Though it may seem like a lot of paper, I recommend that you do the same.

To format my novel for editing:

1) I made sure the whole thing was in a single electronic file, and turned on the "page numbering" function, so every page was numbered in the top right corner. You will be glad you did this. When I edited Mortis Unbound, I wound up manually numbering the pages, which is dumb.

2) I double-spaced the entire book. This sure uses a lot of paper - believe me, I sympathize, OtherWhere is nearly 380 pages printed out - but it really helps you read and notice mistakes, and also gives you more space for writing in changes. It's worth it.

3) I also formatted it so that the first line of each paragraph was indented, just like published novels, instead of having a double-return between each paragraph like a blog post. I tend to write my books and stories as if I'm intending to post them online (legacy of many years of fanfiction writing), but I fix that formatting before beginning a proper edit. This is optional, but it's sort of a page-saving measure to help counterbalance the double-spacing.

4) Finally, because during my first editing experience I cursed and wished I'd done this, I put a page break at the end of every scene. During the editing process, you may find yourself rearranging scenes, and it's a lot easier to do this if each scene is actually a self-contained series of pages rather than having chapter and scene breaks in the middle of a page.

Preparing Your Space

The rest of the editing preparation involves getting your space ready and gathering the tools you're going to need.

I like to do my editing at my desk in my office. I turn on music and I can spread out the worksheets and the binders. I just find that having a table is pretty important, though if you want to do it on the sofa, it's not impossible.

As for the tools, even if you're not going to go whole-hog with purchasing the worksheets, it's worthwhile starting a binder so you can keep notes in a self-contained place. You will want a place to keep all the little things you think of, not to mention all the problems you will find.

Get pens you like and which are fine-tipped, and don't run or smear.

I actually have one of those cheap plastic boxes they sell at Staples, which is large enough to hold all of my tools: pens of at least four different colours (most of them my favourite fine-tipped blue pens, but also a couple of other colours will be needed eventually), white-out, small sticky-notes, a tiny stapler, a small pair of scissors, and a roll of tape, and probably some other things that I can't think of right at the moment. I also have a package of basic index cards, and a container of those rings you can run through a hole-punched piece of paper to hold several of them together.

Also, having a 3-hole-puncher handy is helpful. And you'll definitely want a ream of lined paper if you're not going to buy the course and have the real worksheets.

Get all that together and I'll see you next time for the next step.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
I've been meaning to do a review about this for a long time, but the job is so large that it may require multiple posts to complete. Still, here is my first shot.

Holly Lisle's website is probably one of the biggest reasons why I've gotten as far as I have so far with my writing career. (The rest of it being composed largely of stubborn bloody-mindedness). She's an accomplished author, who now spends a large amount of her energy putting together and administering courses to help new authors like myself to learn what they need to know to hone and develop their craft.

How To Think Sideways is the main course, though there are satellite courses, as you can see at the bottom of the page. The courses are now available on an a la carte basis, though when I took the course it was a single package you had to buy all at once.

The courses are worth every penny. They are clear, in-depth and thorough. Most of the weeks involve filling out worksheets. Sometimes I find the courses to be incredibly time consuming, but once you've done the course the first time, you've learned some amazing skills, which you can apply again and again.

I heartily recommend anything that Holly Lisle puts out in terms of courses. Probably in the future I'll do specific reviews on various courses she's done. Right now I'm working through the How to Revise Your Novel course for the second time, as I edit OtherWhere. More to come.
jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
Yesterday I had an internet outage at my house that lasted the entire evening (and in fact, it's still not fixed, and the tech is due on Monday morning. Sob).

I wrote a great deal more than usual, and I finished the first draft of Dale.

...There may be a connection here.

I've already got a lot of things that I want to change and improve, including adding an entire sub plot. Unfortunately I have no idea what it'll be about. However, I'm overall very pleased with how it turned out in a general sense. I'm letting it sit at least until May, I expect, when I'll pull it out again for the first polish.

In the meantime, I'm editing OtherWhere. I've also started writing a short story which I plan to submit to an anthology.

And that's the State of Jessica Steiner's Writing for tonight. Good night!
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: (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: (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
04/12/2012
04/13/2012
$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!

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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