The Editing Experience and An Apology

So my first excursion into the world of professional editing is complete. Charlie Bray at The IndieTribe has completed re-edits of my first two books An Agent’s Demise and To The Survivors. Now they are both updated on Kindle, Smashwords and on Lulu for the hard copies.

Firstly an apology:

Sorry fellow authors and Readers.

I wish I could have afforded to do the edits before I launched the books to avoid the review criticism. How many sales lost? Then, there is my criticism adding to the overall criticism of self pub books. I cannot reverse the past, just fix the future.

What have I learned from the experience? Lots of things:

  1. Fresh eyes spot all sorts of issues that readers and I had not seen. Luckily, not plot inconsistencies although I had one character re-appearing when a sentence before they had left the scene. I had not noticed and I hope no readers had. Now fixed.
  2. It is so easy to get caught up in the story and miss the odd tense issue
  3. My biggest problem though was punctuation in my grammar. Run on sentences, no commas. Some is clearly style and how I was listening to the words in my head, but now redone; hopefully to the satisfaction of my future readers.
  4. There is still a lot of conflicting advice especially on dialogue style and contradictions with old advice and education I received.
  5. Also I still have a frustration with using conjunctions to start sentences especially and and but. Less of an issue with some but I know it may be technically correct I just think it looks wrong.
  6. The software (Scrivener and Word in my case) is just not accurate enough and almost entirely useless in dialogue. This is where punctuation has to be used to cause pauses and hesitations for how the character is speaking regardless of correct grammar rules. People do not speak in correct grammar. Making written speech comply just looks clunky. Few people converse in a grammatically correct manner.
  7. Don’t get me into a discussion on English dialects, reginal variations of US, Aus,Can etc. spelling. In the end I don’t care what the Chicago Manual of Style says, which is frequently quoted on discussion forums. It’s English! Now I have my nationalistic rant out of the way let’s move on.

So to the other side of the coin Finance

The outstanding issue, is their a return on the editing investment. I won’t know that for ages. The costs are not easy to cover when only selling a few books per week. Covering £1,000 of editing investment needs nearly £1500 of sales on Kindle at 70% and at an average £3.00 per kindle book needs 500 sales just to break even.

Now I’ll have to advertise again to try and generate interest, more cost to be covered.

Will I do the editing route again – yes because I want my books to be free of that criticism, but it’s still a lot of money to find, to blow on an egotistical journey.

The Blog I Should Be Writing

The blog I should be writing was written in 2014

I should be writing a blog. A blog that allows me to link to my books in some way or adds to the greater good (IMHO) with a commentary on passing affairs.

Yesterday, I had an idea about writing one describing the reasons why I have given up playing golf – perhaps another day.

I could add more on a whole variety of subjects that I would like to write about, Scottish Independence, the NSA, more on the hacking trial, even the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight. Lots of things to talk about. Instead what have I done? Editing of my sequel to An Agent’s Demise (managed to get a link in somewhere). I have lost track of how many times I have read and re-read sections, trying to hone the plot, justify character’s actions and get rid of the allowed for aloud stupid mistakes. I of course have written about this before, here, but, now I have an editor. I hope I have also learned some rules even though some go against what I was taught years ago.

For example starting sentences with conjunctions like and and but is apparently allowed (not aloud). I was always taught to use two spaces after a full stop (not a period – sorry USA it’s called English for a reason) but apparently that means I am a dinosaur left over from the typewriter age. Professional publishing with its typefaces never used two spaces anyway, allegedly. Now we have serif and sans serif fonts to worry about. With an ebook the publisher has no control over what font the reader uses on whatever screen resolution, in whatever colour (It has a u in it WordPress, Goodreads, et al) or not is used. The quick brown fox Microsoft Word test is always fun in different fonts.

I’m rambling again, I still have another five chapters to edit in An Agent’s Rise before a Beta Reader test then an edit or three. I’m also waiting the return of To The Survivors from a professional edit of the MS. Then I have The Persuasive Man to send off and The World of Fives. I think it’s ready, having incorporated some Beta reader feedback. Maybe one more read through, then I’ll have to start Part Two of the series. I was again asked if I would write a sequel to To The Survivors. I am still not sure, I have to have an idea for the sequel, where does it go? The story I mean, I’m in need of inspiration.

Then maybe in a month or so I may be ready to publish my fourth and fifth books, different genres once more. Cover design, formatting, uploading (Smashwords I’m looking at you) then marketing. I was not going to do any links but here I am. A page of non-blog rambles with links to all my current and next two books neatly embedded. Anyone would think I had done that deliberately. Now where’s those badly used discarded golf clubs, I hear there are good prices for scrap metal!

Brooks et al Trial Coverage

Rebekah Brooks‘ et al trial coverage in 2014 later blogged here

Brooks Coulson

I’ve been following the Hacking phone trial with considerable interest. It would not be prudent to comment on testimony or my opinion on the evidence submitted so far. After all I may have undue influence on a juror. I don’t but for the avoidance of doubt I have no direct connection with any participant. For any direct comment I strongly recommend the coverage provided by The Drum, which has excellent and thorough trial coverage.

Where though is the coverage in more mainstream media. The trial which produces revelations almost daily has rare coverage on the BBC, ITV or C4. Sky I would expect to be circumspect given the Murdoch connection but they are supposed to cover news and given the 24hr nature of BBC News 24 and Sky News surely they could provide some analysis and reporting rather than another fifteen reporters in Sevastopol plus the John Simpson and Panorama crews, all repeating the same thing.

Anyway back to Hacking. The trial has raised some serious issues (as did The Leveson Inquiry) regarding freedom of speech and the conflict in my own head between the type of coverage required to uncover corruption in public officials (Expenses scandal etc.) and the right to a private life. Why does anyone care who Hugh Grant has sex with or whether he was paying for it.

As only Rebekah Brooks of the defendants has appeared on the witness stand it is of course to early to judge any evidence, but what has become clear at Leveson and this trial is the culture, attitude and approach of a national newspaper and its reporters. The absence or non-enforcement of management controls has also been highlighted. None of the defendants are on trial for being bad managers, but the lack of financial controls at the papers should send most Financial Directors spinning to an early grave. What the jury believes is of course a matter for them and the evidence presented to them. Which stories are and are not printed in newspapers broadcast or otherwise reported is a matter for all of us. Outside of true police states, what we see and hear is decided by a small elite deciding what stories get column inches or broadcast time. The Internet has multiplied the availability and direct access of reporting to unbelievable levels yet so much remains drivel. So much is repetitive and shows no insight. With all the news in the world why is 24hr TV on an almost totally hour by hour repeat. You can click on Sky News anytime of day and see the same clips repeated over and over again regardless of what else has happened. With the advert repeats it is a continuous dose of Deja Vu and none of it is about the Hacking Trial and the behaviour of one or more News International Executives.

Of course I am unusual in that I am concerned about freedom of speech whether it is censorship, snooping, police misbehaviour or the actions of newspaper reporters. What do all these stories have in common? They all reflect the closeness of a political and media elite all feeding like cannibalistic vampires off of each others actions, whilst trampling over the rights, opinions and feelings of their victims, Whether it is the family of Milly Dowler, Stephen Lawrence or one of the victims of misreporting, misbehaviour or misdeeds. Our press and mainstream media, failed to report accurately, failed to check their facts and allowed statements by police and others to be misused or believed regardless of the evidence. The press paid for many of these stories bribing public officials in the process. A picture of a royal at a party more important than the corruption that paying for the story exposed. The same press baying for MP’s blood over expenses whilst casually shipping thousands to their contacts for a snippet of gossip or paying a self confessed phone hacker thousands to keep quiet or a publicist to settle out of court.

Now some of these executives are dependent on the very legal system they have done so much to undermine and ignore. I wonder who the jury will believe.