Friday, August 30, 2013

Do You Have Something to Say? A Call for Guest Bloggers!

Hi all!

With everything that's coming up in the next couple months to get my book ready for release, I'll have the freedom to blog less frequently. So I'm looking for guest bloggers, preferably with one of the following focuses (though if you have another great idea, feel free to contact me anyway):

- "How-To" articles covering an aspect of writing technique, grammar, or story-telling.

- Agented writers with insight (or encouragement / inspiration) into the query or submission process.

- Self-published authors willing to share the realities of their sales stats, or offer advice based on their publishing experience

- Traditionally published authors offering "behind the scenes" insight into the publishing process and / or current fiction market.

If this sounds like you, contact me at aimeelsalter (at) gmail (dot) com with the title of your suggested blog, a brief outline of the premise, and a link to your website if you have one.

If I choose your post, it will show up sometime in September, or early October.

Looking forward to hearing from you! I'm off to, you know, tear out my hair and other productive pass-times.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Self-Publishing Journey: On Titles, Branding, and Making Everything Stand Out

Wowzers, people. There's fun stuff happening here. (Cover concepts anyone? Anyone?). But more on that in a later post...

I've finally settled on the title. And it's *anti-climactic drum roll, please*


Why? Well, primarily because it's the only title I liked that didn't have twins, quadruplets, grossuplets already in the market.

(Let's just take a moment to *SQUEEEEEEEEE!" and *Flail* because in a few weeks there's going to be a real, actual book on the market that I wrote and that's the title and... HELLO!?)


Anyway, I've already had a couple of people question that decision:

"Why not just call it what you love, Aimee? People will still find it if they're looking for it."

"But...but...that's different to what you've been calling it all along. People won't remember it!"

Here's the thing (and it's a Thing that applies to more than just the title)...

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: to most readers a book is a commodity. It's a product they choose to buy, or not. It (hopefully) will start as nothing more than a title, and maybe an enthusiastic premise description from a friend. Interested, but dubious reader then jumps on Amazon, or B & N and types in.... what was that title again? Breaking? Breakable? Break-something....

So they type in Break. Or Breakable or. Break + Amy Slater (because everyone spells my name wrong).

A title that is unique has a FAR greater chance of being identified in the list that results on search engines than one that already has six products selling. Because which product do you think the search engine's going to pull up first? When they have multiple matching results, they get listed by popularity. And a brand new book is rarely going to compete with one that's been selling for six months.

It would be easy to title and market to my network. I've got over 600 followers here, which crosses over with over 3,600 genuine followers on Twitter. Taking into account the potential bleed from people I know who will be kind enough to promote to their network, plus my actual, in-real-life people contacts and I've got a sphere of influence that maybe reaches 4,500 people.

Do you know how many of those are statistically likely to buy my book? Something like 50-80 of them. And while 50-80 sales would be nice, frankly, I'm hoping for a lot more. But that means my story has to be good enough to encourage those 50-80 to tell others that it's good. And most especially, the product has to be easily identifiable for people outside my sphere of influence who've never come across me or my book before. Because that's where the REAL sales are.

And that means my title, my cover, my blurb, any advertising I do, all need to speak to someone with ZERO prior connection to me. That's an objective audience, my friends. And they don't give two hoots for my artistic inspiration or feelings. They just want to be entertained.

Which then, hopefully, leads into the other side of this issue: When strangers come across me and my book, they're coming in contact with my overall branding and author perception. I want to be known for quality product, but also for standing out. I don't want any of my books to get lost in the shuffle. And I don't want any of my stories to hurt for lack of a carefully thought out marketing approach.

The easier it is for someone to find me and my books, the more likely they are to purchase.

So, whenever and however you enter the market, remember: Create your product for the buyer who doesn't know you, doesn't have an attachment to you as a person, but has gained an interest in your story. Because if you choose for yourself, or your friends, you're only potentially hampering your own progress.

Hence, my new title: BREAKABLE.

It's unique. It's short. It's easy to remember. And it references my story.

How? *Grins* Well, you'll have to buy it to find out, I guess.

Your Turn: Whether you've sold a book before, or plan on selling one in the future, what process do you use to identify things like titles and cover images? What do you hope your brand says to your audience?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Interview with Melody Valadez, Author of THOSE WHO TRESPASS

You know those days when you've been WAITING for a book to come out, and it finally arrives, and you don't even have time to feel relieved because you're too busy reading? Well, this is one of those days for me. In fact, I think the only release I’ll find more exciting this year is my own. I’m quivering with anticipation today because Those Who Trespass is finally ON SALE!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ve asked the author, Melody Valadez, to drop by and tell us how Those Who Trespass came to be. If you’ve got any questions for Melody, ask them in the comments!

Thanks for dropping by, Melody. Today must be such a big day for you!
Thank you so much for having me! This is a huge day...I still can't believe it's really happening!

I’m so excited to get my hands on Those Who Trespass. For those who haven't heard of it before, can
you tell us what it's about?
Of course. Those Who Trespass is about Jenn Alistor, a 17-year-old murderer. When her brother, Jake, disappears, Jenn makes a deal with the feds: if they'll help her find her brother, she'll turn herself in. But their so-called help comes in the form of 21-year-old Clayton Ford--brother of the guy she killed. Suddenly, lives aren't the only thing at stake any more. This is Jenn's one shot at forgiveness. But she has to choose. Time is running out.

What inspired the story?

There was no single inspiration, honestly, though Gordon Korman's On the Run series was the initial spark. I've always loved writing suspenseful stories about spies and guns and mysteries, but Those Who Trespass quickly became that and more. I was intrigued by Jenn the moment I wrote her into existence, and the story that followed was me answering my own questions: Why was Jenn a murderer? What is like to live with something like that--especially for Jenn, who has such a clear sense of right and wrong? Where is Jake, and what secrets is he hiding? And, most importantly, can Clayton ever forgive {not to mention love} Jenn when he has so much right to hate her?

How long did it take you to write?
I typed the first lines back in October 2010, three years and several drafts ago. That's a long time...hopefully future books are a little more stream-lined.

You’ve been through quite the ride with this book! Tell us about the highlights (and low-lights?) on the journey?
Such a ride, with so many highlights and low-lights, haha! :) Receiving your first critique was definitely a great moment; 

I barely knew you at the time, and having such an enthusiastic impartial opinion gave me hope. Then 13 requests {and 3 revision requests!} from agents; I never dreamed of a great reception like that!
Of course, then comes the low-lights...though I ended up doing some major revisions, my book had a hard time finding a home in the agenting world. Honestly, I thought Those Who Trespass was forever shelved, until the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest showed up in January. I shrugged and submitted TWT, with no better reason than, "Why not?" It made it to the Quarter-Finals {final 100 Young Adult novels}, and, as if that wasn't awesome enough, I got a prize in the form of a Publisher's Weekly review. I've heard that some of those reviews aren't particularly kind, so it was a definite highlight when the reviewer called my book "an adrenaline rush in book form."

So...How did you reach the conclusion that self-publishing was the best choice for you in the end?
 The Publisher's Weekly review--and the excited responses to my excerpt during the contest--made me realize that my book was too good to die. I considered playing the query game again, but I was realizing what a lot of agents had already known: Those Who Trespass doesn't fit all that well into a genre. Thankfully, self-publishing--particularly in the e-book world--has made it possible for writers and readers to break out of the traditional genre boxes. Also, I'm in college, and it's an unfortunate fact that I don't have time to query and revise and revise again over the next three years. If Those Who Trespass was going to be read, it was going to have to be now or post-graduation.

You mention in your bio that you like to blur the lines between Christian and secular fiction. What does that mean? Will people who aren’t Christians find Those Who Trespass preachy?

Great question...let me see if I can answer it.
The genre of "Christian fiction" is known for prioritizing the salvation scene and the absence of bad words. Secular fiction is a little more concerned with real than clean, yet often ignores the existence of God and Christianity {not so realistic, given that more than three-quarters of America claims to be Chrstian}.                                 
In blurring the lines, I hope to write a dark, gritty, and real story {a la secular fiction} that comes from my heart...which means it will probably include Jesus {a la Christian fiction}. Honestly, I think the whole "Jesus in this genre"/"no Jesus in this genre" thing is becoming pretty dated. Authors like Sara Zarr, Ted Dekker, and even Veronica Roth are already breaking out of their boxes.

That said, Those Who Trespass was never meant to be preachy or even to have a message. It is first and foremost a suspenseful, romantic story, meant to entertain. I did my best while writing to make sure that every line applied to the story; if it didn't, I cut it out, Christian or not. The problem with a lot of "Christian fiction" is the focus on Christian before fiction, and I worked hard to avoid that. If it doesn't have to do with secrets, spies, or romantic tension, I deleted it.

What is your dream response from a reader who’s finished Those Who Trespass?
The ultimate would be for someone to tell me they couldn't put it down and missed their bus stop/class/sleep because of it. :) But if we're looking for a serious answer, I think it would be mind-blowing to hear from someone who relates to Jenn's guilt and wants to know if forgiveness and love is possible outside of books.

And now that you’ve finally got a book on the shelves (both virtual and IRL), what are your plans for the future? Will there be a sequel? Or another book? 

Well, I somehow got myself into this crazy, time-sucking thing called college, so there won't be any new novels all that soon. I do have a sequel in mind for Jenn Alistor, because I'd love to explore the "what happens next" between her and Clayton. It already has a title and a basic all I need is time, haha!

Ugh. I think every writer can empathize with that! Thanks for dropping by Melody. I wish you the very, very best luck with Those Who Trespass! Come back again soon and tell us how it’s going!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are an amazing critique partner and friend, and I'm immensely honored to know you and be here! {Not to mention the sneak peeks I've gotten of your coming-soon novel...the YA world is in for a major treat come November!}

*Blushes. Palms Melody twenty bucks*

Ahem. Those Who Trespass is available TODAY for Kindle here and coming soon in paperback. If you're a YA fan, get out there and buy it! You won't be disappointed. If you want to wait for the paperback release (next week, I think?) you'll want to head over to the Goodreads page and add it to your "To Read" list.

Don't Forget: If you have any questions for Melody about Those Who Trespass, self-publishing, or physics, you can ask them in the comments here! 

Melody Valadez enjoys blurring the lines between Christian and secular fiction. She lives with her family in the Texas Hill Country and is most often spotted writing stories, worshiping Jesus, and majoring in physics at The University of Texas at Austin.

Find her {and her blog} online at

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Introducing: THOSE WHO TRESPASS (!!!)

Okay, friends. I don't usually do this, as you know, but there's a book coming on the market next week that I am literally squirming with excitement about. It's called Those Who Trespass and it's written by Melody Valadez.

I had the pleasure of "meeting" Melody a couple years back, and critiquing an early version of TWT. I was, without any exaggeration, blown away.

Of course, then Melody went and semi-finaled earlier this year in the Amazon Break-Out Novel competition.... Suffice it to say, I wasn't surprised.

Oh, and Publisher's Weekly agrees with me, calling the book, among other things, " adrenalin rush in book form."

So, it is my great pleasure to reveal the cover today. Check this out, my peeps:

Seventeen-year-old Jenn Alistor is a murderer.

For months, she and her brother, Jake, have stayed one step ahead of the FBI. Now Jake is missing, maybe even kidnapped, and Jenn's last hope is a risky deal with the feds: if they'll help her find her brother, she'll turn herself in. But their so-called help comes in the form of 21-year-old Clayton Ford—brother of the guy she killed.

Lives aren't the only thing at stake any more. This is Jenn's one shot at forgiveness. But she has to choose.

Time is running out.

Tune in next week when it goes on sale and I get to interview Melody about her book!

Monday, August 19, 2013

When Your Dream Becomes Your Day Job

I've heard it from so many authors. I thought I was prepared for it. I even thought I had plans in place to combat any problems. And yet, as I sit down at my computer and watch the calendar tick down towards November (release date is tentatively set for November 4th) I find myself at a loss.
Writing now has deadlines. It has quality control requirements. I can't decide to "tackle that scene tomorrow" because tomorrow is the deadline for getting my blurb out to marketing professionals for assessment.
In short, my passion has become my job. And even though I wouldn't choose anything different, it doesn't change the fact that I now have to be creative on tap.
That's a unique challenge.
As I said at the beginning, I'd been warned that this would happen. But apparently knowing this was coming hasn't changed my brain's tendency to panic every morning when I sit down at the computer. Instead of losing myself in the story, I'm preoccupied with whether or not my edit notes will come back on time. Or wondering if I remembered to include that crucial scene in the new version which has been so heavily revised it's almost a different book. Or whether I'll have the final edits done in time to get the manuscript to reviewers...
My point? My point is, just like me, your day will come when writing is a job, with all the responsibilities and restrictions that entails. And now that you've read this, you'll be forewarned too.
So when the day comes... Just don't give up. Sure, it takes discipline and commitment. But it's worth it.
It's worth the hundreds of hours of practice and study. It's worth the thousands of hours of writing. It's worth pushing over this final hurdle. Because on the other side is a reader reaching out to pick up your book and read it. Someone who's going to share your world with you.
This is the time that makes or breaks your book (my book!).
Keep going. Don't shy away from the hard work. It's worth it.
Your Turn: Have you experienced times when writing is a job and it's hard to find inspiration or be creative to deadline? Any tips for making it through the fire?

Friday, August 16, 2013

A SELF-PUBLISHING JOURNEY: The Risks of Getting it Wrong

A few weeks back I wrote about the title of my book, how it needed to change and that I'd chosen the new title SHATTERED.

I can only say thank you to the friends kind enough to point out I'd made a mistake. I must have narrowed my search parameters too low when I was researching current titles because there are in fact a dozen or more other books in the kindle store with this title.

What a relief to find out my mistake before it was too late!

(If it matters, I'm going through the nomenclature process again. Currently leaning towards "Breakable" - but I'm not committing...yet).

But this highlights for me what probably has to be the primary danger in self-publishing: Because I can move quickly, the temptation is to do so. To dive in and make decisions on the fly and generally skip the quality-control.

I always knew this was the risk in self-publishing, but I thought being aware of it made me immune. I was wrong. One little mistake in setting up my search parameters on Amazon and I almost chose a title that would have been far more likely to get lost in the shuffle than my original (which also has more twins than I thought).

So how do I avoid similar mistakes in the future?

1. Gather a trustworthy team and be open to listening.

I had two blog readers and one dear friend who ran out and did some research on my title on my behalf, then made sure I knew what they'd found. I've got two writers, an editor and two readers currently reading my manuscript. I know without fail they're going to catch mistakes I've made, continuity issues, clunky sentences...the list goes on.

The point is, if I'd kept the whole process to myself my book wouldn't be as good - and my title would probably stink. Because without them I probably wouldn't ever have double-checked. Which leads me to point number two....

2. Double-Check.

Even if you're SURE it's right. Even if you're sure you already checked that it's right. Double check, triple check, and then ask someone else to double-triple check for you. And choose random details to check up on.

Do you know which dates your reviewers need the manuscript by? Do you have them correct in your calendar? Do you have a buffer of time in case you mess up, or their requirements change?

Do you know the different royalty rates for the different platforms? I got a rude shock to discover that my book would only earn 35% royalties on the Nook - and that I wasn't allowed to set the price differently to try and recoup it.

Do you have a proofreader, or someone to check your grammar and punctuation? You might think you know all the rules, but we all make mistakes...and we all miss details at times.

3. Take your time.

I think this is probably the hardest part of all this. Without long deadlines and the inexorably slow process of the traditional publishing machine, I'm free to rush. I've already regretted it once. What might I throw out into the public forum next time? It's so important not to let myself get caught up in the excitement of what's coming. Or worse, get tired and lazy and just skip that little step, or tell myself it will be fine if I don't do that seek and destroy mission on my last four over-used words and phrases because, let's be honest. Will anyone really notice? (Answer: Yes. Someone will. And it will inevitably be the kind of person who is irritated by writers who do that...).

That's all I can come up with right now. I'm writing this down to remind myself because this is advice I need to heed myself.

Remember: When we put a book out there, no matter how much we love it, to our readers it's a commodity. A product. It serves a purpose. And if it is unsatisfactory or unprofessional, we risk missing or alienating readers who might otherwise have enjoyed the story.

So, when the temptation arises to keep everything to yourself, or to hurry through the process, remember: None of us are perfect. But we have an opportunity to put the near-perfect world out there for the right reader. Don't be your own worst enemy!

Your Turn: Have you ever made a mistake with published material? Any advice for those of us just embarking on the journey?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Used Grammarly Because it Makes My Writing Gooder

NOTE: I want to be completely up front about this: Grammarly contacted me and offered me a free month of premium membership to try their service, along with an Amazon voucher if I chose to promote it.

While I hesitate to turn my nose up at free books, I wouldn't be writing this if I hadn't been impressed by the tools offered here. You can be confident I would have been telling you about whether there were freebies in the offing or not. Because I found it very, very insightful...

It's time for me to confess: My grammar sucks. There, I said it. *Slump*

Don't get me wrong, the title of this blog is a joke. but I never studied creative writing after high school. I've forgotten most of what I learned there beyond the basics (nouns, verbs and so forth). Everything I know now is based on my personal study of the craft of fiction. So, my punctuation is... okay (though I'm awfully prone to random commas, and overuse / poor use of elipses).  And I know how to use modifiers (most of the time). But I have a long way to go on general grammar.

I'd always imagined that to learn all those rules and how to apply them was going to require some kind of course, or personal instruction from a professional proof-reader. Instead, I think I'm going to start with

When I entered a blogpost and a chapter of my book into the program for proofing I'll admit to being skeptical. I've found the MS office grammar checkers to be, shall we say, less than satisfactory. But they know the rules, right? So how could any program be much better?

I'll tell you how: when I entered my work, the program produced a document which identified poor grammar and punctuation, typos, misspellings, incorrect word usages, etc, etc, etc. 

That's useful all on it's own. But here's where I personally found the real value of this program: 

I then had the opportunity to either scan the document and check each highlighted issue, or use the summary document to check all instances of similar problems. (I.e. each instance of using the wrong word. Or every time I'd used the wrong punctuation within a sentence - or each time I'd started / ended a sentence with the wrong get the picture). 

Within each and every issue the program highlighted, I could read the actual grammar rule which was being applied, see an example of the rule broken, and the rule applied correctly, along with an explanation of the terms.

In other words, didn't just grammar check, it taught me the rules and how to apply them in later work.

Now, like any computer-driven check, there were times that the software didn't understand what I was doing, so highlighted words for change that didn't need it. But frankly, the occurences were few and far between, especially when compared with the MS Word checker. I checked about 3,500 words in total. In all that, it highlighted 4-5 words incorrectly.

To my mind, that's a small price to pay to have my story proofed and grammar checked, along with personal instruction on the rules as they're applied.

Nick, the man behind, warns me that Grammarly shouldn't be used as a replacement for a professional proofreader. And I think he's right - a person who knows the rules AND understands story-telling is always going to be the best answer to these problems for a writer. But frankly, a proof-reader for my manuscript would cost me hundreds of dollars (perhaps even more than a thousand). That's money I don't have. is going to cost me $139.99 a year. And for that I can check every blogpost, every chapter of every book...even my promotional materials!

I don't exaggerate when I say this service is an answer to my prayers. 

Am I gushing? Okay, maybe a little... But I'm also being completely genuine. I'm excited about this tool, and am signing up. Because, as I noted at the beginning, my grammar could be gooder. Much, much more gooder.

Your Turn: Do you have any tricks or tools you use to help you in the proofing process? Have you ever used a proofreader? How did you find the experience?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rule # 238: Don't Judge While Writing. Get Fresh Eyes.

I've been writing seriously (read: aiming for professional status) for about four years now, and I've discovered a pattern that seems to ring true (for me, at least) at every stage of the writing process:

I can't judge the merit of a scene while I'm writing it.

It's happened again and again. I'm on a roll, working my way through a scene or chapter, and I'm feeling good. The words are flowing, the characters are open books, and I'm feeling like this scene is probably some of the best work I've ever done.


I'm working hard. The words aren't coming. I'm delving into my thesaurus way too often. I can't see more than a couple paragraphs ahead. And my characters are tight-lipped, not offering any help at all. Every word on the page is torn bodily from my brain, leaving a letter-shaped hole behind. I'm certain the work I'm doing is virtually worthless and only continue typing to get the crap out so I can go back and turn it into something with merit later.

In both cases, I shut the laptop lid, sure I know I've left behind.

And in both cases, I'm often wrong. Because when I go back and read it later I discover that the pulled-like-nails scene is actually lyrical and flows well. The dialogue dances. And that chapter I wrote on a roll? Well... *cough* Not my best work.

See, this is where the advice from an author I respect greatly comes in mighty handy. I'd only been writing for a few months when she told me:

"Just write. Get it out. Get it down. Then put it in a drawer for at least six weeks and work on something else. When you come back to it, you'll see it with fresh eyes."

Man, oh, man is she right!

Part of my problem is that I don't like working on more than one book simultaneously (though I do it, under duress). So the idea of walking away from that story smarts. Let it sit there? Don't deal with those characters? WHAT?!

But when I manage to sit on my hands (or get them busy on something else), I always find when I read back later, I'm able to see the prose as a reader would, rather than the writer behind the story.

Don't forget, when we see our own worlds we see them in color and depth and with history. We know things about our characters and our stories that no one else will ever know. We understand every motivation and intent. We know every upcoming twist.

The trick to coming at a manuscript with fresh eyes, is that your brain has stopped anticipating. It's stopped looking for what's coming, and approaches the story at a much more basic level.

As writers our job isn't just to write what we know of the story, it's to write it in a way that lets the reader understand as much of what we know as possible.

And the only way to even get close to accurately judging how well you're doing is to read your manuscript with fresh eyes.

Trust me. It works.

Your Turn: Do you put your stories away for a time and read them later? How do you get "fresh eyes" on your books-in-the-making?  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Self-Publishing Journey: What Do I Do About Editing?

I always swore up and down that if I ever self-published, I’d pay for a respected, experienced editor to work through the process with me, just as I would with a traditional publisher. I still believe that is, without doubt, the best way to ensure success and a product an author can be proud of.

To that end, over the past couple years as I’ve considered self-publishing (and decided against it until this point) I’ve spoken with several agents and successful authors about who they have / would use if they were paying for their own editing, and a couple names have come up. I’ll put in a disclaimer here: I haven’t personally used any of these editors. But I was given recommendations by trusted sources, looked into self-published books which I felt were very professional and found out who the editor was, and researched and got samples of editing styles. If I had the resources, I’d use one of these:
Karen Grove
Consulting Editor
www.karengrove.com32127 Camino Rabago
Temecula, CA 92592
(951) 302-2763

The Bibliophile (Stephanie)

Emma Dryden
(Works with authors and illustrators)
336 Central Park West 3F
New York, New York, 10025
(718) 213 2127

With all that said, I just don’t have the cash. My family has moved across the globe in the past few months, relocating from New Zealand, back to my hometown, America. Neither my husband, nor I, are working, and likely won’t be until next year. Right now I just don’t have hundreds (let alone maybe thousands) it would take to hire top-notch editors like these.
So when I committed to self-publishing, it was with a sense of trepidation. What was I going to do to effectively replace that kind of professional advice?

Well…I’m lucky enough to be friends with some incredibly talented (and professionally skilled) authors. After putting my pride aside, I’ve called in a few favors and have a literal team of writers lined up to help me work through the editing process. They’ll provide substantive and line-edit notes. They’ll read like readers, and comment like writers. They are an invaluable resource, and my answer to the “what do I do about an editor?” question.
I want to be clear though, that I’m not talking about just any writers, any beta-readers. The men and women who’ve agreed to assist me this year are all either traditionally published, or have professional (read: people pay them) editorial and critiquing skills. They know what they’re about. They pull no punches, won’t hesitate to identify a flaw, and their own writing demonstrates strengths where mine is lacking.

They balance me and will be wonderful aids to my story.
In an attempt to recreate the editing process, I’ve developed the following plan:

I have two teams of four. I’ll provide my first round team with a revised manuscript next week. They have all agreed to get back to me within 3-4 weeks with their notes. I’ll then make the new changes and edits. That (hopefully polished) manuscript will then be submitted to four more authors – one of whom read the first version and can make comparisons / catch any mistreatments of the changes, and three who will read it fresh. Of those three, only one has read a previous version of the book (and that, well over a year ago, when the book looked quite different).
The idea behind this is to get balanced feedback: People who know what the book is supposed to achieve and can gauge it against previous versions; and people who are coming in fresh, with no idea how the story unfolds, and can tell me what their impressions are without any preconceived notions.

I’ve also ensured that the first team of authors are strongest in the substantive edits side. They’ll catch plot problems, continuity, characterization, structure, pacing, etc, etc, etc. The second team will focus more on the detail – grammar, punctuation, clunky passages, small tweaks needed to make the prose flow, or aid the reader in understanding the character.
As you can see, what I’m trying to achieve is a brain-trust that will, hopefully, when taken together, give me the same overall assistance as a professional editor.

In fact, who knows? Maybe they’ll be better!
I’m not going to broadcast the names of the very, very generous authors who’ve agreed to help me because I don’t want them inundated with similar requests. But if you’re reading this (and you know who you are), let me tell you that your help is my greatest blessing in this journey. Without you I know there’s no way I could end up with a final product I can be proud of.

So…once again I get to tell you what I think (and turn around and do something completely different). But in your own journey, I hope you’ll see that my conviction is, this editorial process is the single most critical portion of turning your book into a commodity. Without it, you risk alienating or disappointing readers. And that, my friends, is the death knell for any author.
Your Turn: Have you worked with a good, solid editor? Let us know who you used and what you’d recommend them for!