Why You Still Need an Editor After Multiple Books #2

A question that often comes up for seasoned authors: “do I still need an editor? I have x number of books under my belt now. Surely I can self-edit to save money and time.

Famous authors like J.K. Rowling, R.A. Salvatore, Stephen King, etc. still use their editors. Why? They’ve written multiple books and have been writing for years. Shouldn’t they be self-sufficient by now?

Writing a book and editing a book is not the same thing. That’s why an extensive process has been created for publishing. Yes, your work will definitely improve over the years if you continue honing your skills and pay attention to some of the things your editors suggest. There will still be mistakes that another pair of eyes need to catch.

You may be thinking at this point of the article that “It’s okay. I’ll have my best friend or family member read over it and it’ll provide a professional result.” This is often not the case. Even someone who reads books extensively or has an actual college degree in English won’t be able to catch all of the mistakes. Degrees are a piece of paper awarded to someone who completes courses. It doesn’t show their experience or dedication to the work.

Normally, there are three stages to editing: Structural/Developmental, Line Editing, Copy Editing. Laid out like that, it looks easy, but it’s far from simple. A manuscript is normally read through and edited a minimum of five times. Professionals who have studied current genres, story structures, sentence structures, etc. are worth having edit your story and getting it to a traditional publishing level, whether you are attempting that route or self-publishing. Readers expect professionalism and will stop reading after finding mistakes in the book.

But that’s okay. I’ve already established a reader base.” It’s extremely easy to lose readers once they realize your future books are not up to par with the others. The more books you release, the better they are expected to become. Not the opposite.

Continued from
Why You Shouldn’t Withdraw Your Submission Early

To be continued in a later blog post called
Why You Should Keep Improving Your Skills…

Why You Shouldn’t Withdraw Your Submission Early #1

After being in the business for so long, one ends up seeing multiple dreams being squashed or coming true. One of the worst things is getting in your own way and causing everything to crash and burn. This has occurred many times and as such, has warranted this article.

Many publishers have the option of manuscript and anthology submissions. When someone submits to both outlets and one gets rejected, the automatic response is to withdraw all submissions from that publisher. This is the wrong way to do things. Just because one thing was rejected does not mean everything will be.

There are so many possibilities as to why it was refused. Some of the most common reasons is it needed more editing or that story didn’t fit in that particular anthology. No matter the reason, none is cause to withdraw all of your submissions. More often than not, the publisher is planning on accepting one even though another was rejected.

The reason many authors are not successful with traditional publishing is because they don’t follow submission guidelines and once refused, they automatically give up. “Self-publishing is such an easier way to go” has been a saying going around writing communities. It may be easier, but you will never have the same opportunities that traditional publishing gives. And so, the story that was rejected due to poor editing is uploaded for self-publishing without further improvement and gets nowhere with sales.

The worst of all is that, more often than not, the author never continues improving their writing. Critique is the most important way to continue honing your writing skills. If you think you’re already the best and have nothing further to improve, then you’re already in the wrong mindset.

To be continued in a later blog post called
Why You Still Need an Editor After Multiple Books

Author Interview with Jarrett Mazza

Dragon Soul Press took time to interview Author Jarrett Mazza, featured in Reign of Queens, Lethal Impact, and Rogue Tales.

1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It was my eighteenth birthday and my parents gave me a laptop as their main gift. Realizing that I now had a tool to create stories, I decided to finally act on my creative impulses and began writing scripts, comic books, and novel synopses. However, it was in my second year of university, and I was a huge fan of comics, superheroes, movies, and literary novels, that I began my very first short stories. I didn’t think anything of it, at first, it was just fun, and exciting. Three years later I had my first story published, one year after that my MFA, and the rest just escalated from there. I consider myself a writer the same way I consider myself to be human. I breathe, I eat, and I live, and I’m a writer because I write. It’s part of who I am now, one of the best parts, something I need, desire, and I’m glad I have it. I can’t imagine a life without writing, and I just continue to do it because I can.

2. What comes first, the plot or characters?

It’s combination of things. I think about the story and then the characters, but most of the time, it just all coalesces on its own. I don’t overthink the process. I just do the work, put in the time, and I create.

3. How do you come up with the titles to your stories?

That’s totally a last-minute thing. Most of my work is untitled while writing, and then when it’s done, I conclude with something, generally, I could not have created prior to its conclusion. It can be aggravating to keep changing, and sometimes, I don’t know what the title is going to be. I like thinking about it, though. The brainstorming can be quite entrancing.

4. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

Absolutely not. I am a fountain of perpetual creativity. I usually do dive in right away, and Dragon Soul Press has actually made that easier. There’s so many submission calls, I don’t have time to think about them all. I just love the content and I want to attack it as soon as possible. It’s great to just jump in, propel the narrative, and see where it ends up. I’m lucky to have been welcomed into DSP. I will be writing stories for them for as long as I am able.

5. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Nothing. Difficulty in writing is the rejection and the uncertainty, but hey, that’s the game, right? Can’t let it get you down. I just keep my head down and fight, and I like to fight, so I feel like I’m in the right place even when things aren’t going well.

6. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Wow. Tough question. I have so many influences, but my favorite author is Craig Davidson. I love his work so much I could sleep with all his books under my pillow. Also, Michael Chabon, Greg Rucka, Stephen King, Scott Snyder, Lucy Snyder, Andrew F. Sullivan, Zoe Whittall, and Amy Stuart are awesome as well. Books, it’s all about Cromac McCarthy’s collected works, On Writing, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, The Fighter, The Road, Jim The Boy, The Shining, Watchmen, and anything coming out of Wolfpack Publishing right now. I love it all!

7. Who is your favorite character you’ve written?

Too many to count, and too hard to determine. I love them all. Depending on the day, I gravitate to each. I’m just glad I have all of them.

8. Which of your stories were the most enjoyable to write?

So long as I’m writing, I’m happy.

9. What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

Success, to me, means fulfillment and progress. Do I feel fulfilled and am I progressing? If so, then to a certain degree, I see myself as successful. I have many visions of a future with writing a part of it, but I prefer not to structure what lies too rigidly. It’s not that kind of job, unfortunately. I just want to be able to do it, and if I can, and if it’s about something, for something…then I’m a success. Also, I need to be surrounded by people I care about. I can’t enjoy any success if I don’t have people who care about me. I’m lucky to have them too.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

I am on all social media and if you Google me, you’ll see links to my website as well as my published work.

Author Interview with Jo Niederhoff

Dragon Soul Press interviewed Jo Niederhoff, an author in the Rogue Tales, Dragons & Heroines, History, Space Bound, and Spirit anthologies.

1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since about as long as I knew stories existed. I told my parents about the fairies that lived in my walls, and about my imaginary babies. I’ve been writing well since high school, when I joined a writing club and started getting feedback on my stories.

2. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Editing, definitely. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but it’s so much easier to put words down on paper than to go through and reshape them.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I can write just about anywhere. I often have stories running in the back of my mind, which does sometimes mean I miss out on other things happening around me, especially the radio going while I’m driving.

4. What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

To me, success means feeling good about my life as a whole. I would much rather be a small-time writer who is happy every time I sit down at the computer to get some words down than a best-seller who feels like writing has become a chore.

5. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Daydreamer, sarcastic, fidgety.

6. Who is your favorite character?

Of my own, it would have to be a so-far unnamed girl from a novel I keep toying with, about the people left behind in fantasy novels. Her brother vanishes into a traditional fantasy adventure, but the novel would focus more on how she and her family deal with his disappearance. From others’ works, it would have to be Lois Lane or Cordelia LeHane from Amberlough.

7. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I’m actually working on a non-writing project which is really exciting; I’m studying to become a speech pathologist. It’s very interesting, but also a little stressful.

8. Who is your favorite author and why?

R. F. Kuang. The Poppy War tore me apart in the best way and showed me what historical inspired fantasy can be at its finest.

9. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I do lots of community theater acting, but I also enjoy learning more about all sorts of things (mostly history and biology, but I’m trying to be rounded out with some hard sciences), and I have a quilting project I work on every now and then.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

I have Facebook, but I’m on Twitter much more frequently, even if half of what I write there is utter nonsense.

Author Interview with John Greville

Dragon Soul Press interviewed John Greville, a History and Reign of Queens anthology author.

1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

As a child in Baghdad in the early 1950’s, I was drawn to the small diaries sold at the upscale department store, Orosdi-Backs, on Rashid Street. The diary had a little pencil that sat in the hold along the spine. I scribbled in the tiny books, and felt some level of satisfaction. Later, in 10th grade, I read a short story by Thomas Mann, “Tonio Kröger,” about a young man who desired a normal life, and as a boy and teen was attracted to normal, popular peers. But he never really fit in, and his sensitivities were also trampled by the oblivious crowd. He became a writer, an artist, and I immediately identified with him. I was also transfixed by Hermann Hesse’s novel Der Steppenwolf, also about an outsider. In 11th grade I started writing poetry, and in college much better poetry and short stories. Finally, as a freshman at Berkeley, I discovered Tolkien, and devoured Lord of the Rings. Fantasy and SF became my reading passion, and ultimately, the landscapes for the stories I wanted to tell.

2. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Believable and compelling characters facing mounting challenges are vital, otherwise readers will lose interest. The depiction of setting is also critical, particularly in SF/F. The detailed world building of LOTR and the Earthsea trilogy, along with Dune, early favorites of mine, formed the foundations of the epic nature of the stories. Clean, crisp prose that supports the action of the characters also matters. I dislike overwritten scenes. I agree with Elmore Leonard: “I don’t want the reader to be aware of me as the writer.”

3. Describe your writing space.

I have a small foldout desk which supports my laptop. On the shelf above the desk sit my collection of dragons, including a spectacular specimen of an alebrije, a piece of Mexican folk art. Stretching to either side are my book shelves, overflowing with books, nick-nacks, scattered notes, and, for good measure, a couple of ornamental daggers. I occasionally plug in my head phones to listen to ambient noise of waves breaking on shingle or sand. Music I find too distracting.

4. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

The first draft is the most painful for me. Watching myself set down the crappy words and sentences that are parodies of what I have in my head is excruciating. I am constantly reminded of William Gibson’s advice: “You must learn to overcome your very natural and appropriate revulsion for your own work.”

5. How do you do research for your books?

It depends on the story. For my fan fiction novel set in Middle Earth, I combed through Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle Earth volumes to make sure I was within canon for the stub I was expanding on. For my own invented world, I studied different forms of government, economies, religions, cultures, mythologies. World building is intense, and I like to have a solid basis for my inventions. For the story published in Reign of Queens, I drew on my own memories of traveling through Wales, memories I also drew on for my story published in the forthcoming History with Dragons anthology. I also collect books on arcane topics such as the Tarot, witchcraft, shamanism, etc. I was struck by a piece of advice from a talk Connie Willis gave, when asked a similar question. She said it only takes a few telling details to place the reader in a particular time and place, and refrain from filling in the entire setting.

6. How do you handle literary criticism?

I welcome feedback. I have several beta readers whose comments have been invaluable. I also hired an editor to savage my prose. Humbling, but necessary. The give and take in writer’s workshops has also been important for my growth as a writer. I have learned as much giving feedback as getting it. It can be painful at times, but without it, I wouldn’t grow my craft.

7. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have completed three novels and several short stories. Two of the novels were inspired by works I love: LOTR and The Seven Samurai. Three of my short stories reflect my various childhood heroes: Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Peter Pan. I have a special fondness for my fan fiction set in Middle Earth, where I set out to tell the story of a character mentioned in passing by Tom Bombadil. I wondered about her for years before gathering my courage and writing her tale.

8. Who is your favorite character?

Oddly enough, I only have one character who so clearly channeled himself through me that I felt I was basically dictating his story. He is Gyrax, a clumsy jewel thief, who is released from hanging to do a special job in my novel Seven at Bay. For some reason, his Han Solo type wise-guy persona must represent some shadow self in my subconscious.

9. How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

I have several stories and one novel that exist in notes and bits of scenes. The one that is easiest to describe is a prequel to my current WIP, and describes the exodus of a people who leave their idyllic home city rather than succumb to the predations of an avaricious despot who covets their valley. Some 50,000 folk travel over a thousand miles to the north, seeking a land where they can prosper in peace, led by a young priestess who has a vision of their new home.

10. Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

My pen name, John Greville, comes from a nineteenth century house I lived in during my two years in London. The address was 2 Greville Place. It was a marvelous Gormenghastian dwelling, with nooks and hidies, perfect for my teenage day dreams.

11. Where can readers learn more about you?

On Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon.