QUIBBLES & BITS
I have an editing service called STRAY CAT PRODUCTIONS. You’ll find a link on my website. I don’t advertise — 95% of my clients are word-of-mouth referrals. The other 5% kind of stumble into my site.
TWO "FUNNY" EDITING STORIES:
A woman said she wanted me to edit her husband’s "adventure novel." But she would NOT pay me more than $100 because … are you ready? … her husband had used spell-check.
More on spell-check later.
An arrogant attorney [is that redundant?] wanted me to ghost-write his legal thriller. "The concept is better than anything John Grisham ever wrote," he bragged. Rather than paying me for my ghosting, he’d pay me 50% of the royalties [hee!] When I tactfully turned him down—without telling him that Grisham had already "borrowed" his plot concept—he became agitated. A Hollywood producer was about to sign on the dotted line, he told me, and there were "dozens of writers" who’d gladly ghost his book. Well, shoot. Obviously, I’d let a golden opportunity slip through my fingers.
I get way too many editing requests from people who can’t write. I’m being brutally honest here. I told my husband Gordon that it’s like American Idol. During the [endless] auditions, there are kids who can’t carry a note in a bucket. But in a heartwrenching way (at least to me), they honestly believe they can sing. Because they can’t hear themselves. Furthermore, their best bud, mother, sister, boyfriend/girlfriend told them they were terrific.
If a query begins: "My best bud [mother, sister, boyfriend/girlfriend] says my book is the best thing they ever seen, better then gone with the wind even," it’s a red flag.
Recently Jason Printer wrote a brilliant, tongue planted firmly in cheek blog called: 20 Surefire Tips To Get Your Book Published. In it he suggested the following: "Call every editor in the publishing industry and tell them to publish your book. If they refuse, call again five minutes later. If they still refuse, send a dead animal to their office. You’ll have a deal before the janitorial staff disposes of the carcass."
Some of the blog comments were ALMOST as funny as Jason’s blog. Here’s the comment I posted:
"The dead cat didn’t work for me. The phone feedback — as far as I could tell, since the editor’s bloodcurdling screams predominated — was that dead cats are a no-no for crime fiction fans. Go figure! Next time I’ll try an armadillo."
In a more serious vein, I’m now going to give you a half dozen incredibly relevant submission tips:
1] An editor will NOT read your brilliant first chapter, get hooked, and say, "I don’t care how many typos and formatting problems this manuscript has, I’m buying it!"
2] An editor is NOT paid to correct your typos, grammar, formatting, and POV goofs. This might gobsmack you, but it’s easier to turn the book down.
3] Spell-check will NOT do your work for you. When the first line of a manuscript reads: "Hot tears ran down her checks," there’s a problem [unless she’s paying her bills on a slant]. And while your high school English teacher might have allowed you to spell phonetically, 99 out of 100 editors won’t.
4] "That" and "who" do NOT mean the same thing. An editor has pet peeves, just like anyone else. Mine is "that" for "who" [or whom]. I also wish writers would learn the difference between its and it’s. And If you tell me she dropped her eyes, I am not amused.
5] Changing your 12-pt Times New Roman to … oh, say 22-pt Broadway Bold … to emphasize the letters on a sign, or the words in a ransom note, will NOT impress an editor (that Stephen King guy can get away with it, but you’d better wait until you’re earning his paycheck). An illustration for a chapter heading — or even worse, cover art — submitted with your manuscript won’t impress an editor, either. A non-pub was puzzled by that advice. "But it makes me stand out from the pack," he said. "Yep," I replied. "It sure does. It brands you AMATEUR."
6] And last but not least, do NOT write XXX or ??? for information you plan to look up later. Or if you do, look up the information before you submit. I tend to use yada-yada, but if I forget to fill it in, I’ll always find it when … are you ready? … this is the most important piece of advice in today’s blog … here it comes … WHEN I PROOF MY BOOK BEFORE SUBMISSION.
Yep, I proof my manuscript, even if it’s better than gone with the wind and my best bud tells me Yada-Yada [working title] is neater than sliced bread and hip-hop dancing put together.
And, of course, I read it out loud — to my dog Pandora. She’s a good listener, most of the time. But she runs and hides [and sometimes howls at the top of her doggy lungs] when an American Idol wannabe sounds too "pitchy."
Quote of the week:
"I got stung actually pretty bad across my back. There’s sort of a remedy that we’ve all heard … urine. It’s the remedy if you have a bad sting. So I asked Dylan if he would pee-pee on my back. He looked at me like he’d gone to heaven. He was like ‘This is what I call a good summer holiday! Pee-pee on daddy’s back!’ I don’t know if it helped at all, but my son was happy. We’ll work it out in 20 years when he’s in therapy!" Michael Dougas. [Dylan is five.]
EYE OF NEWT’s Davy St. Charles hopes last week’s buried bean remedy removed any unwanted warts. This week Aunt Lillian has a Household Hint for you:
"Ants are said to never cross a chalk line. So if you have ants, get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor, or wherever your ants tend to march — and see for yourself."
Over and Out,