Editing: One Of My Superpowers

Day after day, month after month and year after year, I have shaped my life around words. (And my words around life.)

I have taken, and continue to take, many, many courses, classes and workshops. I have been edited myself, and read books and articles about using words, and written and edited hundreds of pieces of writing. I have learned from it all.

And in the course of doing all that, I have become a strong wordsmith.

Editing is one of my superpowers. It’s not as flashy as scaling skyscrapers or similar, but it does come in handy.

Leslie Lang, Writer, Journalist, Author, Family History, Personal History, Memoir, Hawaii, Big Island, Talk Story Press, Editor, Editing

A Truth: If you are self-publishing a book, you must — in order to be taken seriously — spring for two things: professional editing, and professional book cover design.

I don’t do cover design, but I can definitely help with editing.

This article, showing what are purportedly some actual errors that got into print due to a lack of editing, is eye-opening. What if this were your book?

“An Australian publisher has destroyed 7,000 copies of a cookbook after a recipe called for ‘salt and freshly ground black people.’ The recipe, for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto, was meant to call for black pepper, but a typo led a computer spell-checker program to insert the erroneous word.”

That is an over-the-top example of the importance of editing, true, but much less dramatic errors will also cause readers to discredit you and your book.

This Huffington Post article ‘Honor Your Readers, Hire an Editor’ lists some of the comments at Amazon.com about one self-published book that wasn’t edited well. Horrifying.

Your spouse, the English major, or your friend that’s really good with words might help you with earlier drafts. But trust me: Once you’re getting serious, you need to hire a professional editor who knows the business.

From Go-Publish-Yourself:

It’s the Book Editing, Stupid. Why You Need a Good Book Editor

If you don’t spend time and money with a good book editor, everything else you do to publish and market your book won’t matter. A poorly edited book is a waste of time and money. Every dollar you spend promoting an error-prone book might as well be spent in Vegas. Read the rest

From www.forbes.com, Business section:

Thinking Of Self-Publishing? Ben Galley Has Some Advice

…Objectivity and professionism are key, Galley said, emphasising the need for self-published authors to take care over the editing of their manuscript:

Editing is an imperative. It is what will set you apart from other self-published authors out there. Self-publishers think they don’t have to put the work in, that people will be forgiving, but that’s wrong. You have to be as good as, or better than, traditionally published books, and traditional publishers’ editors are very good at their job.

“Editing is the key to being taken seriously. You can do one or two rounds of editing yourself, but then you have to give it to other people because you’re not objective enough to take it to a professional level.” Read the rest

Hawaii self publishing book editor More on the importance of hiring a professional editor herehere and here. I could go on.

I edit self-published books (and other works) often, and am happy to help you with yours. Here are some comments I’ve gotten just this month from editing clients:

• “Thank you for your help on this project! Your work is first class. I think you’re awesome.”

• “I must say I am absolutely impressed with your thorough work. Thank you again for doing this for me.”

Are you self-publishing a book, or working on another type of writing that you want to ensure is as polished as possible?

I’m happy to talk with you about how we would work together. You can reach me at 808 964-1494 or leslie@leslielang.com.

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Post-Hoopla Report

Leslie Lang, Talk Story PressThe hoopla of the holidays has died down, the week-long flu my family “enjoyed” shortly after New Year’s has ended, and here we are.

I enjoy the holidays, but am always ready to get back to Real Life when they are over. (I did not much enjoy the flu.)

We’re on to a new calendar with what always feels like a new, fresh start. The fireworks are over and now it’s about sitting down and achieving. Anything is possible!

I started the New Year – or ended the last one, actually – by reorganizing. I repurposed a couple rooms in my home and switched them, meaning my Talk Story Press office ended up in a new spot and got a major restructuring at the same time. It’s a better situation and I like it.

As I moved things, I cleared through all my office files, while also rearranging them so they are more organized for how my work has evolved. I’m happy to have done this. When my space and work is well-organized, so too is my head.

And now I’m back to it. My plate is filled with:

  • Writing/editing/consulting for businesses (for instance, I still manage and edit the active Hamakua Springs blog, and do ghostwriting/social media/other writing for businesses, as well),
  • Editing (at present I’m editing a memoir for an interesting, long-time Hilo resident, and a small self-help book for another client)
  • Writing the occasional magazine article, and
  • Working on personal and family history projects.

The personal and family history projects are always so interesting and satisfying. I’ve just finished interviews with an older woman whose son and daughter-in-law have commissioned a book about her life. Interviews with her reveal that her father had fought for Japan in the “Russo-Japanese war” before immigrating to Hawai‘i during sugar plantation days; and that her parents always worried about being shipped off to a concentration camp during World War II (fortunately, they were not).

Another project in the works is a book I’m doing for a client whose father died unexpectedly. By interviewing his siblings, mother and daughter, I am creating a narrative of her father’s life; put together with photos, it will end up as a lovely, printed book.

I have a couple projects for my own family in the works, as well. For decades I’ve gathered family stories and pictures and done genealogical research, but it’s no good to anyone if it’s just scraps of paper in a file drawer (or two), right?

That’s why I’ve gone into this personal and family history business with such delight. I find it very satisfying to help a family capture the stories that tell how it all unfolded to get them where they are now.

Because otherwise, anything you know about where your family came from, and how your grandmother came to be the person she is, and all the rest of it, it all just sort of poofs into the air and is gone when you are.

Maybe your father has told you a handful of stories about his childhood; but how many stories? Four? How many of those you pass down? One? None? It’s not too late.

Do you know where your grandparents came from, and why? Maybe your children aren’t interested now, but they might be later in their lives, when there’s no one around anymore to tell them. Or their (future) children or grandchildren might want to know – and even if you never meet them, they will know you and love you for having preserved that information for them.

Taking raw material and turning it into a published book that can sit on a shelf, available to anyone who’s interested as it passes through the generations – this is a delight. Whether it’s for my family or someone else’s, it feels so good to preserve these stories of ours.

If you’d like to hear more about my writing, and maybe read an occasional bit from a current project (shared with permission), please sign up for my quarterly newsletter. There is a Talk Story Press newsletter coming out soon. And never fear, your email address is always safe with me. I’ll never share it.

Also, once in awhile I offer a special deal on a personal history project through my newsletter, so sign up at right to keep in the know.

How about you – are you all organized and rejuvenated for a new year? Is it time to work on a part of your family history, or the story of a parent or grandparent, that needs to be preserved and printed? I’d be happy to discuss how we could work together in 2013.

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Copywriting: ‘Leave My Prose Alone’

An interesting look at copyediting, written by Carol Fisher Saller.

pencil004“Leave My Prose Alone:”
The Resistant Writer

“Please tell the copyeditor to leave my prose alone.” That’s an actual author request I encountered in a newly arrived manuscript. I looked at the first few pages. The content was complex, phrasing idiosyncratic, punctuation random.
A more mature and compassionate person would have recognized a writer who’d been frightened and damaged by a previous copyediting experience. That person would have recommended assigning him to an especially sensitive manuscript editor—perhaps to my colleague who adopts greyhounds. Instead, in a huff, I suggested we fling that puppy to our most junior assistant for a once-over typo check….

Read the rest here.

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