KRISTEN HAMILTON, FICTION BOOK EDITOR

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KRISTEN HAMILTON, BOOK EDITOR

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Can You Traditionally Publish after Self-Publishing?

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on October 30, 2019 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)


Although the majority of my author clients choose to self-publish their book, there are still a fair amount of authors who want to keep their options open. These are the authors who still aren't 100% certain whether they want to pursue traditional publishing or self-publishing. Can you traditionally publish your book after self-publishing it? The short answer: In most cases, no. Here's why.


If you've self-published a book, things can go two ways: either you'll sell many copies (via a great storyline, expert editing, and superb marketing) . . . or your book won't sell many copies. Whether or not your self-published book is a success will depend on your chances of being picked up by a traditional publishing house.


In most cases, your self-published book must be a hit for traditional publishing houses to consider representing your work—think selling 70,000 copies, as literary agent Michelle Brower says. Yes, your self-published book has to be that successful in order for a traditional publishing company to consider picking it up. 




Taking a Shot at Traditional Publishing

To be picked up by a publishing house, first you'll have to craft a query letter and secure agent representation, then the agent will secure your book a deal with a traditional publisher. You'll need to prove that your book has market potential, and having an online presence is a great help to securing your book deal. Again, this option is advised only for big-selling self-published books.


When you craft your query letter, you must be upfront and mention that the book is, or has been, self-published. In most cases, publishers will frown at knowing that the book has already been available for sale. This is because, generally speaking, the publishing company wants to make as much money on the book as possible, and will shy away from books that have already been available to the market. But if you can convince the publisher that your book is—and will continue to be—a seller, you have a shot at traditional publishing.




Rebranding for a Second Chance

But what if your self-published book hasn't sold more than a few copies? If you've self-published your book but sales haven't been great, and you want to pursue traditional publishing instead, you have options.


Step one: Immediately unpublish the book (you can do this on the Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard, or on whichever platform you self-published your book). In your query letter, you need to mention that the book has been self-published at one time, but is no longer available to the public. This method works best if you also choose to make big changes to the book, such as changing or improving the story, or publishing under a different title or author name (known as rebranding).


If the book hasn’t sold well before, agents and publishers want to know why—and they want to be assured that things have changed and the book will sell this time around. These are good things to mention in the query letter. 




The Bottom Line

There are so many self-published books on the market today that it's difficult to stand out and sell thousands of copies, and the vast majority don't have a chance at traditional publishing. (For the self-published books that don't sell, unfortunately it's unlikely that traditional publishers would be interested in representing your book.)


But . . . there have been a few exceptions to this rule, of course, like Hugh Howey’s Wool (great book, by the way!), which was so popular as a self-published book (selling 30,000 copies in a month, becoming an Amazon bestseller in several categories) that it was picked up by Simon & Schuster, republished under their brand, and is now being jockeyed for movie rights


While this is the type of fairy-tale ending every self-published author wants, though, the key word here is RARE—as in, once you self-publish the book, it’s rare that a traditional publishing company will be interested in your work.


Proceed with caution! Usually, self-publishing means never looking back.

 



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Basic Rules of YA Novels

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on October 27, 2019 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)


As a fiction book editor, I work with a range of topics and subjects, but one thing is usually a constant: most of my author clients choose to self-publish their book. In the self-publishing world, you don't have to follow the norms of genre writing to a fault, but it's recommended to stay within or close to the guidelines.


Some examples of Young Adult (YA) novels I've edited include Bohermore by Jennifer Rose McMahon, Roselynn by Jennifer Lynn Wines, The Foreigner by Maurice Belfonté, The Power Within by Jackie Nelson, and Time Twisted by Kelly McIntire.


Here's what you should aim for if you're writing YA novels:


    • Your target audience should be boys and girls ages 12-18. Do your research—read, read, read other books in this genre. Depending on which subgroup you're writing to (i.e., girls ages 12-15), the tone, style, and content of your book will be very specific.


    • YA books often discuss real-world issues that are affecting that age group, including sex and drugs.

 


Word count: 40,000 to 75,000

 

YA subgenres include:

    • romance
    • fantasy
    • historical fiction
    • mystery
    • thriller
    • horror


Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Basic Rules of Science Fiction Novels

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on October 27, 2019 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)


As a fiction book editor, I work with a range of topics and subjects, but one thing is usually a constant: most of my author clients choose to self-publish their book. In the self-publishing world, you don't have to follow the norms of genre writing to a fault, but it's recommended to stay within or close to the guidelines.


Some science fiction novels I've edited include Brain in a Jar by David Shaw, Pina by Bernadette Richards, Solar Winds: Providence Ends by Bryan G. Shewmaker, Time Without by Veronica Tabares, and Asymptote by Larry Skelton.


Here's what you should aim for if you're writing science fiction novels:


    • Sci-fi books tend to explore alternative possibilities or universes. You'll have to do a lot of world-building, which is why sci-fi books tend to be higher in word count. These books can mirror reality, but some aspects of the world we know may be changed.


    • Don't go too fast. Especially if your novel takes place in a strange setting, don't overwhelm the reader with information dumps or sharing too much information too quickly. Slowly draw your readers in with a nice balance of questions (which will build intrigue and propel the reader through your book) and information (which will help your readers build a foundation with the world and characters in your novel).


    • These books are often philosophical and have thoughtful commentary. Make sure that you are always clear in your writing; avoid ambiguity as much as possible. Make sure the main points your book makes are clear and concise.


Word count: 90,000 to 120,000


Sci-fi subgenres include:

    • hard sci-fi
    • soft sci-fi
    • cyberpunk
    • alternate history
    • space opera
    • military sci-fi


Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Basic Rules of Thriller/Suspense Novels

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on October 27, 2019 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)


As a fiction book editor, I work with a range of topics and subjects, but one thing is usually a constant: most of my author clients choose to self-publish their book. In the self-publishing world, you don't have to follow the norms of genre writing to a fault, but it's recommended to stay within or close to the guidelines.


Some thriller/suspense novels I've edited include Love Sick by Autumn J. Bright, Storm by Gurpreet K. Sidhu, and Cornered by Alan Brenham.


Here's what you should aim for if you're writing thriller/suspense novels:


    • Characters must be well-developed. Readers must care about your characters' well-being in order to stay engaged with the story. All characters need to have clear motivations.


    • Plots must be written tightly—no room for flowery prose or unencessary detail here.


    • Suspense is key. Leave scenes hanging to create tension.



Word count: 90,000 to 100,000


Thriller/suspense subgenres include:

    • action
    • conspiracy
    • disaster
    • crime
    • eco thriller
    • political trhiller
    • erotica
    • legal thriller


Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Basic Rules of Historical Fiction Novels

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on October 27, 2019 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)


As a fiction book editor, I work with a range of topics and subjects, but one thing is usually a constant: most of my author clients choose to self-publish their book. In the self-publishing world, you don't have to follow the norms of genre writing to a fault, but it's recommended to stay within or close to the guidelines.


Some historical fiction books I've edited include The Final Departure by Epp Marsh III, Full of Grace by Weldon B. Durham, and Louisa’s Journey by Carol Otter.


Here's what you should aim for if you're writing historical fiction novels:


    • Details are important! Make sure your characters' mannerisms, habits, and clothing are accurate to their time period. A person's behavior should be dictated by the time they live in. Make sure you do your research.


    • Pay attention to things like transportaion, food, and social customs to make sure they're true to the time period and region. Take your time with sharing these details to truly bring your story's setting to life.


    • Show, don't tell the story. The best historical fiction novels are those that immerse the reader in a believable setting. Make sure you're showing the scenes as much as possible through your characters' eyes. But don't overshare information to the point that it feels like reading an encyclopedia! ;)


Word count: 85,000 to 100,000



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Editing Packages: A Step-by-Step Guide

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on October 27, 2019 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)


My editing packages are very popular among Kristen Corrects clients: the vast majority of my clients opt for one of my editing packages:

 

  • The Basic: line editing and proofreading—two passes over the manuscript
  • The Standard: manuscript ciritque, line editing, and proofreading—three passes over the manuscript
  • The Ultimate: developmental eiditng, line editing, and proofreading—a total of four passes over the manuscript


Each of my editing packages is a multi-step process, starting with first contacting me and getting on my schedule. To help new and potential clients understand the process of working with me, here's a step-by-step outline of how each of my editing packages work.




The Basic: line editing and proofreading


STEP 1: Contact me to determine what editing services are best for your book, then get on my schedule. I’ll provide you with a schedule of dates for when I’ll be line editing and proofreading your manuscript.


STEP 2: Final tweaks. As your schedule date approaches, continue working on your manuscript for as long as you’d like. When it’s two weeks to start date, I’ll send you a reminder email.


STEP 3: Line editing pass. In this editing pass, I’m focused on improving sentence structure, looking at the logic and clarity of scenes, maintaining consistency, rhythm of sentences, and breaking up too-long paragraphs. It makes sure, for example, that each character has consistent actions, or that the spelling of a name or place doesn't change. If something is muddy or hard to understand, I will ensure it is clear and reads easily. Line editing also formats your manuscript to be ready for publication as a Kindle ebook.


STEP 4: Proofreading pass. Proofreading is the last step in the editing process before publishing. It focuses mainly on word choice, punctuation, spelling, and grammar, and is basically a final read-through to make sure your book doesn’t have any surface errors. Once proofreading is complete, your book will be ready for self-publishing immediately, or to be sent out to agents/publishers.


STEP 5: Ready for publication! After proofreading is complete, I send the manuscript back to you—it’s done with editing and is ready to be sent out to agents/publishers, or to be published as an ebook.




The Standard: manuscript critique, line editing, and proofreading


STEP 1: Contact me to determine what editing services are best for your book, then get on my schedule. I’ll provide you with a schedule of dates for the manuscript critique, the revision period, and the editing passes (line editing, followed by proofreading).


STEP 2: Final tweaks. As your schedule date approaches, continue working on your manuscript for as long as you’d like. When it’s two weeks to start date, I’ll send you a reminder email.


STEP 3: Manuscript critique phase begins. I’ll start critiquing your manuscript! In this process, I read through your entire manuscript, adding comments and suggestions for improvement where necessary. I’ll then write a 10-page report that details the issues I saw.


STEP 4: Revisions. Back to you! After I send you the manuscript critique and report, your job now is to implement whatever suggestions you see fit, based on my recommendations in the manuscript critique report and my comments directly on the manuscript. Please send the manuscript back to me before the line editing start date, or let me know as soon as possible if you’ll need more time.


STEP 5: Line editing pass. In this editing pass, I’m focused on improving sentence structure, looking at the logic and clarity of scenes, maintaining consistency, rhythm of sentences, and breaking up too-long paragraphs. It makes sure, for example, that each character has consistent actions, or that the spelling of a name or place doesn't change. If something is muddy or hard to understand, I will ensure it is clear and reads easily. Line editing also formats your manuscript to be ready for publication as a Kindle ebook.


STEP 6: Proofreading pass. Proofreading is the last step in the editing process before publishing. It focuses mainly on word choice, punctuation, spelling, and grammar, and is basically a final read-through to make sure your book doesn’t have any surface errors. Once proofreading is complete, your book will be ready for self-publishing immediately, or to be sent out to agents/publishers.


STEP 7: Ready for publication! After proofreading is complete, I send the manuscript back to you—it’s done with editing and is ready to be sent out to agents/publishers, or to be published as an ebook.



 

The Ultimate: Developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading


STEP 1: Contact me to determine what editing services are best for your book, then get on my schedule. I’ll provide you with a schedule of dates for the developmental editing, the review period, and the editing passes (line editing, followed by proofreading).


STEP 2: Final tweaks. As your schedule date approaches, continue working on your manuscript for as long as you’d like. When it’s two weeks to start date, I’ll send you a reminder email.


STEP 3: Developmental editing pass. This is a two-part editing service. In the first pass, I read your entire manuscript, focused on big-picture issues like character development, overall story arc, tone and quality of writing, plot holes, and so on. In the second pass, I go back and make all changes as necessary to bring your story up to market standards. During the developmental editing process, it is likely I will add some material (enough, but not so much as to compromise your writing) to fill in the holes as necessary.


STEP 4: Review period. Back to you! After I send you the developmentally edited manuscript, please take your time in reading over the big-picture changes. Feel free to add changes or reject any of my edits as you see fit. Please send the manuscript back to me before the line editing start date, or let me know as soon as possible if you’ll need more time.


STEP 5: Line editing pass. In this editing pass, I’m focused on improving sentence structure, looking at the logic and clarity of scenes, maintaining consistency, rhythm of sentences, and breaking up too-long paragraphs. It makes sure, for example, that each character has consistent actions, or that the spelling of a name or place doesn't change. If something is muddy or hard to understand, I will ensure it is clear and reads easily. Line editing also formats your manuscript to be ready for publication as a Kindle ebook.


STEP 6: Proofreading pass. Proofreading is the last step in the editing process before publishing. It focuses mainly on word choice, punctuation, spelling, and grammar, and is basically a final read-through to make sure your book doesn’t have any surface errors. Once proofreading is complete, your book will be ready for self-publishing immediately, or to be sent out to agents/publishers.


STEP 7: Ready for publication! After proofreading is complete, I send the manuscript back to you—it’s done with editing and is ready to be sent out to agents/publishers, or to be published as an ebook.


Please read my guide for information on sample edits, editing packages, rush project options, and the scheduling process.


Questions? Ready to get on the schedule? Contact me!

 

How to Nail Your Book's First 5 Pages

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on October 3, 2019 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Your book's beginning—specifically, the first five pages—are the most important for your novel. Why? The first few pages of your book set the tone for the entire novel. Readers who aren't sure if they want to buy your book will start reading at Chapter 1 and, if your story doesn't capture their attention, they'll put it down and move on. 

Making sure your story captures readers' attention with likeable characters and an intriguing opening scene is, therefore, of paramount importance.

It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your book is if the first five pages aren’t done well. Especially with tools such as Amazon’s “Look Inside!” option that allows readers to read the first few pages of your manuscript to see if they’d like to buy it, it is more critical than ever that the first five pages are pure gold. If you decide to do the traditional publishing route, this is even more true. Countless times, I have witnessed books sent to the publisher’s “slush pile” because the first five pages were not intriguing enough.

But writing a powerful first scene isn't always so easy. Let's talk about a few effective ways to create an awesome first scene that sets up, foreshadows, or introduces your book's overall plot.



Create Your Opening Scene

The opening scene is where readers are just starting to get to know your characters, the problem they're facing, and your book's overall plot goal. These first few pages are so important to get the balance of raising intrigue, providing information, introducing characters, and setting up your book's plot goal.


  • Option 1: Introduce the story idea. Let's reference Peter Benchley's novel Jaws. In the book—just like in the movie—a woman goes out for a late-night swim and is eaten by a great white shark...and thus, we have the story idea of Jaws, that a shark terrorizes a seaside town.

  • Option 2: Foreshadow the story idea. For an example, I'll take Paula Munier's example of Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of AJ Fikry in The Writer's Guide to Beginnings.
In the opening scene, 31-year-old book saleswoman Amelia Loman is stepping off the ferry to Alice Island, on her way to her first meeting with AJ Fikry, owner of Island Books. She takes a call from Boyd, her latest "online dating failure," determined ot let him down gently; only he's insulting, apolgetic, and finally, weepy. Finally, she tells him that it would never work out because he's "not much of a reader." She hangs up and remembers her mother's warning that "novels have ruined Amelia for real men." And as she nearly walks right past the purple Victorian cottage that is Island Books, Amelia worries that her mother might be right.

In this scene, the foreshadowing is subtle but clear: Amelia needs to a man who reads, and she's about to meet one who may seem unsuitable in nearly every other way.

  • Option 3: Set up the story idea. In Jeannette Walls' memoir The Glass Castle, the opening scene depits Jeannette sitting in a taxi cab, wondering if she had overdressed for the evening, when she looked out the window and saw her mother digging through a Dumpster. In describing the encounter with her mother, she sets up the rest of the story about her horrifying childhood.



Some tools to help you write your opening scene
Look, I get it: Writing the opening scene of your book isn't always the easiest thing to do. There's so much to tell—the backstory, the characters, the current scene... Here are some tools to help you write your opening scene:

  • Description. Describing the setting is important for readers to be able to understand what's going on. Your opening scene might be in the kitchen of someone's home, in the middle of an enchanted forest, or on a rocket in space. No matter how large or small your opening scene is, it's important that you convey it effectively. Show the setting through your characters' eyes, and avoid "telling" or summarizing too much.

  • What's at stake. It's critical to set up the stakes of your story right away to make the book get off to a quick start. Readers like to know why they're reading the book. This means that if you don't clearly share what drives your main character's motivations (i.e., what he or she will lose if he doesn't achieve the book's plot goal), your readers won't be as engaged as they should be.

  • Backstory talks about what happened before your story starts. Some authors prefer to format backstory in italics, others choose to add a section break above and below this section to separate it from the regular text, others include it in the story without any special formatting. I recommend authors keep a book's backstory to about 4 pages (1,000 words) max, and don't dive into the backstory right off the bat. Give readers the chance to spend a few minutes with the story's protagonist in the opening scene. Readers should have a solid understanding of what's going on in the "front story" before taking them back.

  • Inner thoughts are a great way to show what your book's main character is thinking. When formatted in italics (the standard), this also makes for a nice variation of text on your page (regular text, text in italics, and dialogue). In a similar way, dialogue can move the plot forward and show character development.

  • Clarity. Remember, readers are entering your story for the first time—so take things slow and don't overwhelm the reader. Thrusting too much information on the reader all at once, using ambiguous or unclear writing, or not creating enough intrigue will prevent your readers from getting into the story as much as they could.
Your book's first five pages need to be a mix of introduction (with a clear description of the opening scene), and character development, intrigue (i.e., raising the stakes), and this is a difficult balance to make. If you'd like help with this, contact me for a First Chapter Critique service to see how you're doing.

 

 




Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


The Best Things about Being a Book Editor

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on September 30, 2019 at 2:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Ah man, I love my job. Really, the whole thing just kind of fell into my lap—it was kind of tragic, how I started my business—but it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

It was 2012. I was two months away from graduating Boise State University with a degree in English and writing. My original plan was to go into some writing field, probably for the newspaper, although I knew it was a dying industry. But in a creative writing course, our task for that entire semester was to critique and edit others' work. Each week, one student in the class was assigned to bring in a short story, and the rest of the class would edit it and provide suggestions for improvement. I was hooked. The entire focus of the semester was to have the opportunity to be a part of a writing community and improve your work, but I had found my passion: editing others' work.

I was working at a local car dealership, writing descriptions for the vehicles that would appear on the dealership's website. I loved the structure of the office setting (sitting at my desk had me feeling so professional), but unfortunately it didn't last long: After being there only 6 months, the dealership was making cuts and I was laid off.

I went home, distraught. This was my first job in the writing industry, in my career, and I was officially unemployed. My then-boyfriend (now-husband) handed me a book, Freelancing for Dummies, and told me to just read it. I was sitting on the couch, unemployed. I had nothing better to do. I opened the book and started reading.

Two days later, on a Sunday in late September, I started my business. It was the start of a long journey. So many late nights, early mornings, and a ton of hours invested in my business.

That was seven years ago, and I can confidently say that being a freelance book editor is the best career path. (Okay, I'm biased, but still.) To celebrate seven years in the business, I'm sharing seven of the best things about being a book editor.




1. I love when people ask me what I do for a living. My husband is a wholesaler, so when he tells them about his job I can see their eyes start to slowly glaze over. (LOL, and I can't blame them.) Then, people turn to me, and when I say "I'm a book editor," the majority of people just light up. "Oh, really?" they say. "How does that work, exactly?" And then I get to bask in their interest—people who really like to read are more interested than others—while I tell them about the process. ("How do authors find you?" and "Do you work for a publishing house?" are the most common questions.)

2. I get to set my own hours. I'm big on schedule, so I usually follow a normal timeframe (at work by 9:00, lunch at 12:00, off by 6:00), but if I had a late night before and need to sleep in, not a problem. If I'm just not feeling like working on a Monday, not a problem. If I want to take a few hours off to catch a matinee, not a problem. And working in PJs? You betcha.

3. Hello, introversion! I'm a major introvert, and I seem to be getting worse as I get older, so being a book editor (work from home!) is absolutely perfect for me. Interacting with clients on Facebook, via email, and the occasional coffee date is A-OK.

4. I get to read for a living. I mean, come on. What better job is there than that? Sure, there are some books that come across my editing desk that I just don't dig as much as I'd like, but the majority of the books I read are so good. So. Good.

5. I'm making a difference. Yes, I just said that the books that cross my editing desk are normally "so good," but when it comes to grammar, sentence structure, or simply making the story just a little bit better with feedback, I'm all over it. Being able to hold a published paperback after spending weeks wading through edits is such a reward.

6. I get to help authors shape their writing style. There are so many gray areas in writing. Should you italicize or quote? Em dash or comma? There's no one right or wrong answer, and that's a BIG part of what makes my job so fun.

7. I make real connections with authors. So many times, brand-new authors come to me with absolutely no knowledge of the publishing industry. To me, it's so fun to educate first-time authors on the nuances of publishing, whether they're pursuing self-publishing or traditional publishing, and I love the look in authors' eyes when they know they have someone in their corner. In fact, a lot of authors I work with end up being friends. And that, folks, is the best thing of all.

Rest assured, I'm living my best life as a book editor. Here's to the past 7 years, and many, many more!


Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Publishing Traditionally? Why You Still Need Editing

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on September 4, 2019 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Between self-publishing, independent publishing, and traditional publishing, there are a number of ways to get your book published. The majority of clients I cater to are self-publishing authors, but I still work with a fair number of authors whose dream it is to be traditionally published. 


Many of the authors I work with who seek traditional publishing ask me if it's necessary to have their book edited when it will presumably be edited by the publisher's in-house team of editors.


So, do you still need to get your book edited even if you plan to publish traditionally? Yes. Here's why.




Simply because the market is so saturated and agents and publishing houses are often inundated with manuscripts, it's a real benefit if the manuscript is completely edited before querying. This is because of two reasons:


    1. This shows the agent and the publishing house that you're a serious author.
    2. Book manuscripts that require less work to get to publication (i.e., those that have already been edited) might be more likely win out over those that are less edited or not edited at all.


There are many gatekeepers in the way to getting your book in front of the acquisitions editor at a Big Five publishing company in New York City (Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster)—your goal here is to get past as many of them as possible. And that means putting forth a professional, polished book with a great story concept. Hiring a book editor before you start querying gets you there.


Agents come across a lot of manuscripts that authors submit to them—many of which have already been edited (by independent or freelance editors like me).


Most publishing houses do not do major comprehensive editing anymore; these days, that’s up to the author to take care of. Best case scenario, an agent might indicate their interest in your manuscript but request that you have it edited. Worst case scenario, an agent might choose to pass up your manuscript to work with one that is similar but is already farther along in the process (i.e., has been edited).


Getting Your "In"

Before we talk about traditional publishing statistics, let's take a look at the process of getting your book into the hands of a publisher.


Most publishers won’t accept an unsolicited manuscript (a manuscript that is not represented by an agent), so first you’ll have to find an agent by writing a query letter then submitting it to agents.


Finding an agent takes a while—as agents are notorious for not responding for usually 6-8 weeks—and then securing a publishing deal is usually even longer. If you pursue the traditional publishing route (which is well worth it!) be prepared to wait a while. (Realistically, it usually takes months, if not over a year, before authors find a publishing home for their manuscript.) It’s a waiting game, always is.


You can find a database of book agents at AgentQuery.com.


In this process, prepare yourself for a lot of rejections. It’s nothing personal—in fact, a ton of very well-known books today were rejected dozens of times before they were eventually accepted somewhere and published. Don’t get discouraged. It takes a long time for everyone.


Understand the querying process? Let's move on to traditional publishing statistics.




Just how tough IS the market?

You guys, breaking into the traditional publishing market is tough. Really tough. On any day of the year, 500,000 proposals and manuscripts are circulating the United States. From this number, 40 percent of queries are rejected for being poorly written or unprofessional.


The odds against you are high, unfortunately. As literary agent Michelle Brower said in a Huffington Post interview:

"I receive about 15 query letters daily and request between 10 and 15 full or partial manuscripts in a year. The maximum number of authors I sign out of my slush pile per year is four. That would be maximum; I usually only sign between two and four."

That means she receives about 3,900 query letters each year, and of that, she signs four books. Four.


Get Your Book Edited

All this is to say that the market is tough—very tough—to break into (especially if you're a new, unpublished author). You need to do everything possible to make your manuscript attractive to an agent: create an intriguing and professional query letter, have your author website and social media platform already set up, and yes, get your manuscript edited. 


The good news is that even if you invest all this money in editing and you ultimately decide that you don’t want to wait for traditional publication, you can still self-publish your book. And since your book has already been edited, it just comes down to a matter of getting a good book cover design, writing a blurb (borrowing material from the query letter usually makes for a good blurb), uploading your book, and hitting publish. 



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


How to React to a Bad Book Review

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on September 3, 2019 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)


If you’re a self-published author, it’s going to happen eventually: You’ll get a negative review on your book.


What a drag, right? Feelings of self-doubt come rushing in. You might start to wonder where you went wrong and what you could have done differently. This happens to everyone, unfortunately, no matter how well your book is done. The fact of the matter is that you’ll never be able to please every reader.




It's normal to feel bad if a reader leaves a negative review on your book for whatever reason (they didn't like the story, they thought the characters were too predictable, etc.). What matters is how you take it and grow from it. If the bad review offers constructive criticism, try to learn from it. As you grow as an independent author, you will start to learn what your reader base likes (one of my clients, for example, had a ton of comments on her first book that the characters didn’t have enough chemistry, so in the books she’s writing now, she’s making the chemistry much more palpable).


It's also important to look at the big picture: Does your book have 54 good reviews and 1 bad one? If so, chalk it up to a difference in opinion. Let it go. Remember, you'll never be able to please every reader. The only thing that matters is that you make the majority of them happy. :)


So how should you react to a bad book review? Realize that your work won't be for everyone, then read all your positive reviews. Those are your readers.



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


No Book Will Ever Be "Perfect"

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on August 24, 2019 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)


“Even after it’s printed, something will drive me crazy." I’ve heard this line from so many authors, especially those who are publishing a book for the first time. Many first-time authors find it difficult to stop making minor tweaks on their book, even after it's been edited.


A lot of first-time authors ask me how they can get over the fear of publishing a book that isn't "perfect."


Well guys, sorry to break it to you, but there's no such thing as a perfect book. Especially not to the author.




So, authors, how do you deal with these concerns that your book won't be perfect? You just have to make your book the best you can (and that means recruiting a competent self-publishing team: a book editor, a cover designer, a book formatter), then send it out into the world . . . and hope for the best. Remember, not everyone will love your book—you just have to make sure you please the majority of your reader base, and let the hate roll off your back.


Hmm, kind of seems like having a child, doesn’t it? :)



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


How to Slow Down Time in an Action Scene

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on June 13, 2019 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

When you're writing a high-stakes action scene (like a shootout between your character and the bad guy, for example), one of the greatest disservices you can do to yourself as an author is to write the scene so that the pacing goes too quickly. What do I mean by this? Let's use an example.

Detective Collins peeked around the corner, his chest rising and falling with each heavy breath. He had called for backup, but the other units hadn't arrived yet. He was alone. When he saw the man he had been pursuing, hunched over in the alleyway, his heart gave a squeeze. It was now or never. He had to apprehend the criminal.

He took a deep breath and stepped around the corner, drawing up his weapon and squeezing his trigger finger. Three shots fired off in rapid succession. His adversary dropped, dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Now, don't get me wrong. There's technically nothing "wrong" with this action scene—in fact, there's sensory information in there, a big part of showing versus telling a scene in fiction. But the end of the scene, especially, feels rushed and incomplete. Could it be better? You betcha. How do you do this? You slow down time.




Slowing Down Time

There's an interesting thing that happens to humans when we're in conditions of extreme stress, most commonly in life-or-death situations. In fact, police officers who have been involved in shootings all recite similar stories: They experience heightened visual clarity and tunnel vision—they become super focused on the threat—alongside diminished sound (unimportant sounds might appear muffled, or their heartbeat might be thrumming in their ears) and the feeling that time has slowed down.


"This is how the human body reacts to extreme stress," author Malcom Gladwell writes in Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, "and it makes sense. Our mind, faced with a life-threatening situation, drastically limits the range and amount of information that we have to deal with." This narrowing of senses essentially allows police officers to focus on the things that really matter, the threats to eliminate and the actions that will keep them alive.


Check out this excerpt froom David Klinger's book Into the Kill Zone.

When he started toward us, it was almost like it was in slow motion and everything went into a tight focus... When he made his move, my whole body just tensed up. I don't remember having any feeling from my chest down. Everything was focused forward to watch and react to my target. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Everything tightened up, and all my senses were directed forward at the man running at us with a gun. I couldn't tell you what his left hand was doing. I have no idea. I was watching the gun. The gun was coming down in front of his chest area, and that's when I did my first shots.


I didn't hear a thing, not one thing. Alan had fired one round when I shot my first pair, but I didn't hear him shoot. He shot two more rounds when I fired the second time, but I didn't hear any of those rounds, either. We stopped shooting when he hit the floor and slid into me. Then I was on my feet standing over the guy. I don't even remember pushing myself up. All I know is the next thing I knew I was standing on two feet looking down at the guy. I don't know how I got there, whether I pushed up with my hands, or whether I pulled my knees up underneath. I don't know, but once I was up, I was hearing things again because I could hear brass still clinking on the tile floor. Time had also returned to normal by then, because it had slowed down during the shooting. That started as soon as he started toward us. Even though I knew he was running at us, it looked like he was moving in slow motion. Damnedest thing I ever saw.


Could you imagine being in that man's position—literally, in a kill-or-be-killed situation? I sure couldn't. But, well, you're the author, so this is your job!




Putting it All Together

Let's take a look at that scene again, except this time let's incorporate some of the most important elements that result from human adrenaline:
(1) heightened clarity and tunnel vision,
(2) diminished sound, and
(3) slowed-down time.

Detective Collins peeked around the corner, his chest rising and falling with each heavy breath. His heartbeat pounded in his ears, but his vision was crystal clear. He had called for backup, but the other units hadn't arrived yet. He was alone.


The man he had been pursuing stood hunched over in the alleyway, looking down at something. It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was the weapon in his hand.


Collins took a deep breath, relishing the sting of the icy night air in his lungs. It was now or never.


He stepped out from behind the wall, drawing up his weapon and squeezing the trigger. The criminal turned, raising his own weapon, his eyes flashing with hatred and his finger tightening over the trigger. Collins had a moment of panic—was the safety off? What if his aim was wide?—but the weapon bucked in his hand as three shots fired off in rapid succession.


His adversary was thrown backward with the impact of a bullet, falling motionless, as if in slow motion, to the cobblestone street below him. The gun skittered off to the side, no longer a threat. The man lay dead from a gunshot wound to the head.


See the difference? It's subtle, but so effective.


Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


The Ultimate Checklist for Self-Publishing Your Book

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on June 10, 2019 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)


The majority of my author clients are first-time, self-publishing authors. This is a compilation of all the advice I've given to self-publishing authors in the months leading up to their first book's publication. Let's go!




Before writing your book



  • Find your book's target audienceOftentimes, your book’s main character is a direct reflection of your target audience.

  • Outline your book. Outlining your book and having an idea of the major plot points will save you major headaches later down the line. If you plan to write a series, outlining the series as a whole will be a livesaver when you're in the middle of drafting.

Once you've finished outlining, start writing your book!




During writing your book

  • Compile a list of beta readers. Beta readers often give authors valuable feedback that drastically improves the story.

  • Be aware of rules for your book's genre. Try to keep within set parameters for word count and common tropes within your genre.




Once you've finished the first draft 

  • Let the manuscript breathe. You should completely finish writing your first draft before you move on to self-editing and revisions. Once you finish your first draft, leave it for a couple weeks before picking it up again. Your brain will need the break, and you'll find that you'll be able to look at your own work with a more objective eye.


  • Send your book to the beta readers, and implement the most common suggestions for improvement.


  • Contact a book cover designer and formatter to get on their schedule. If you want people to take your book seriously, you need to put out a quality product.

  • Choose your publication date. You'll need to give yourself plenty of time to look over your manuscript after you get it back from the book editor, as well as wiggle room to make changes to the book's formatting and cover design. You don't want to be rushed during this process!




10 months before publication


  • Establish your author website and social media pages (including Amazon and Goodreads) and make sure you regularly update them. Include important links to buy your book, an author bio and picture, and a blog. Above all, make sure your website looks professional and easy to navigate. You can purchase a URL and build your own professional-looking website for a few bucks a month.

  • Have a professional author picture and author bio that is the same across all platforms. Being consistent is the number-one way to present yourself as a professional author, and will make it easier for fans to find and recognize you.

  • Write a new blog post at least twice per month to drive traffic to your website. Your blog posts can be short (even 250 words will do), as long as they're consistent. Make sure what you publish is relevant to your book, your writing life, or your genre. Post reviews of all books you read that you rate 3 or more stars. (If you don't have anything nice to say about a book, don't post the review!) How did this book make you feel? Be a generous reviewer, and people will be generous with reviewing your book. Above all, remember that writing a book is an art—so don't publicly slam a book if it's simply not your style.

  • Set up an account with MailChimp. Interact with your fans with an e-mail newsletter sharing info on book discounts, upcoming promotions, giveaways, etc.

  • Prepare your elevator pitch: 50 words, 30 seconds. You can use this for pitching your book to reviewers and book agents.

  • Build a media list for publicity/press release. Who do you want to contact about your book's upcoming release? Free press release websites include prlog.org and 1888pressrelease.com.

  • Contact key reviewers in your genre. Kirkus Reviews offers discounts on their Facebook page. You might also want to consider reach out to book review bloggers to review your work.



8 months before publication

 

  • Purchase an ISBN if desired. Authors who want to expand their writing career and sell their book on multiple platforms should purchase an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for their self-published book. 

  • Register your work with the United States Copyright Office. The moment you put anything on the paper (printed or electronically), it’s copyrighted to you, and nobody can take your work and claim it as their own. But to give yourself better protection, you can officially register your work at the United States Copyright Office. 


  • Maintain your social media presence. Post content that is relevant: asking for feedback on a scene you've just written, sharing snippets or character background stories, or talking about writing goals.





6 months before publication

  • Announce your book's release date to start drumming up excitement among your new fans.

  • Wrap up the final revisions on the cover design with your cover designer. Good cover designers will be able to provide you with ebook and paperback covers, as well as promotional (digital) items like a banner for your author Facebook page. Make your book's cover release a big deal! Share it everywhere.

  • Do a Facebook likes campaign to build your fan base. Be careful, though: Facebook's new algorithm devalues posts that have a link that takes people outside of Facebook, and will make these posts visible to fewer people. Share relevant links in the comments or use video to encourage people to visit your website.

  • Share releases of other books in your genre. Start putting good karma out into the universe and it'll come back once you release your book. The self-publishing world is a supportive community—be a part of it!

  • Send your book to the editor. If you like, write and include the dedication, acknowledgments, and about the author. The dedication and acknowledgments goes in the front matter of the book; the author bio goes on the last page of the book.

  • Write the blurb for the back of your book. Write about the main problem your character faces. Be sure to write the blurb (back cover description) in present tense. Remember that Kristen offers blurb writing as a service, so if you can’t get it just right, just ask!



3 months before publication

  • You should be getting your book back from the editor around this time. Take your time in looking over the changes. Read your book to make sure there aren't any residual errors (yes, book editors make mistakes sometimes, too!) and that you're happy with your final product.

  • Send your book to the formatter and the printer if you're doing a paperback version.

  • Share pictures of advance reader copies (ARCs) once you receive your paperback book. These advance reader copies are usually given to reviewers (like Kirkus or book bloggers) or book contests.

  • Give your ARCs to reviewers or book awards/contests. This might cost money, but it's an investment in your author career. Check out the Alliance of Independent Authors rating of award websites/contests.
  • Drive pre-orders with ad campaigns: "If you loved [popular book in your genre], check out my book."

  • Post short videos (60 sec max) of events: reviewing your manuscript (hopefully edited by a good book editor!), attending local book/author events, etc.

  • Make venue arrangements for book signings, such as at Barnes & Noble or local bookstores.




1 month before publication

  • Share early reviews of your book once they start coming in. If your book has placed or won awards in any contests, share, share, share! Contact your cover designer to see if he/she can add a "sticker" to your ebook cover to show awards won.

  • Give ARCs to people in your writing group, Little Free Library locations, and local libraries.


  • Update your website with a sales page and press kit pages.

  • Write your launch day press release. Also, pre-write social media updates promoting your book. This should be something valueable, like a tip, a quote, etc. You'll want to do this in advance, because publication day will be crazy busy! 

  • Start counting down to your book's publication date on social media.

  • If you've contacted local media sources (i.e., the radio or local news channels), share their broadcasts with your followers.

  • Set up an interview (i.e., local radio or news channels, or with specific genre groups on social media) if possible.

  • Upload your book on Amazon and Goodreads. Amazon Kindle usually takes about 12 hours to look over your file to make sure it looks good before publishing it on their site. Set up a pre-order option on Amazon.

  • Encourage people on your newsletter to mark your book as "Want to Read" on Goodreads. This makes your book more visible on Goodreads, further expanding your book's reach.



Publication day
  • Announce your book's release everywhere. Contact your beta readers, post about it on your social media accounts at least 2-3 times per day for the first three days of your launch. Create an Instagram or Facebook story following you around on launch day. Today is when you'll submit your press releases and publish your pre-written social media updates.

  • Hold a launch party. This can happen at a local bookstore, online, or both (thanks to Facebook Live!).

1-3 months after publication day
  • Send thank you notes to people who helped promote your book (i.e., advance reviewers, interviewers, etc.). Keeping your book at the top of their mind (while also being respectful of their time) will help keep your sales high.

  • Schedule and hold a Facebook Live event (promote this beforehand!) or live Twitter chat to answer fan questions.

  • Update the Events page on your website with events you'll be attending/hosting/featured in, like local book signings.

  • Continue to seek and share reviews for your book.

  • Continue to post on your blog and social media pages regularly. Just because your book is published doesn't mean your job here is over. Marketing is a critical part of being a self-published author.

  • Host a giveaway for your book to keep it relevant. You can set up a giveaway on Goodreads here.



3, 6, and 9 months after publication day
  • Attend book fairs and festivals. Socialize and talk to authors and attendees. The authors who are most prominent in their local community are those who sell the most books.

  • Reach out on social media to engage book clubs. You can write up discussion questions for book club meetings, attend Skype meetings with groups, or attend local meetings in person. And what better way to spend an afternoon with people who love your work? (Talk about humbling!)

  • Start to post about things other than only your book on social media. While readers will enjoy hearing about your book, your page should now function as a hub for readers to get to know things about other books in your genre. Your goal should be to share 80% of others' content and 20% of self-promotion. Trust me, this is a tried-and-true formula; there's a reason it works.
  • Launch another book giveaway/contest.

  • Consider releasing new versions of your book, like audio. Each version you release should have its own launch party to keep your book relevant and at the top of everyone's minds.

1 year after publication day
  • It's your book's birthday! Celebrate with a "birthday party" by putting your book on sale. Host an Amazon or Goodreads giveaway.




Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Types of Children's Book by Age

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on April 23, 2019 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Although I generally edit fiction books for adults, I'll take on the occasional YA (young adult) and children's book, ranging from picture books (like Jenny Hoskins' Brave Enough to Fly) to middle grade (Adventures in Fairy Meadow by Kelly McIntire) and all the way up to young adult (The Power Within by Jackie Nelson).

While YA books can be arguably similar to books for adults, children's books are typically a whole different ballgame. Let's talk about the different types of children's books, and what each should include.



Picture Books (ages 0-5)
A picture book—one that incorporates illustrations to tell a story—are designed for early readers, and typically have around 500 words. When all is said and done, these books generally have around 30 pages filled with beautiful illustrations. Check out Dr. Seuss books like The Cat in the Hat or the popular Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. For something I've edited, check out Here Comes the Tool Man! by Lauren Olsen, or With My Hands by Ranine Brown.

Early Readers (ages 6-10)
After they move on from picture books and before they get into middle-grade chapter books, kids in this age group are generally reading early readers books. While these books have more words (2,000 to 5,000 words, generally), they still rely on illustrations to supplement the story—although not to the level of picture books.



Middle Grade (ages 8-12)
Now we're going places! Middle grade books (about 30,000 to 50,000 words) are almost entirely comprised of words on the page, and illustrations rarely make their way into these books. Here, books are broken into chapters—although it's wise to keep them short so young readers don't get overwhelmed. At this stage, middle grade fiction has more nuanced themes dealing with family, rebellion and typically portrays adults as the role of a villain. Check out Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan or Diary of A Wimpy Kid, or for something with the Kristen Corrects touch, Justin Kirkland's JB Pumpernikel and the Not-so-Fun Funhouse.

Young Adult (ages 12+)
This last group is catered to the oldest children—preteens and teenagers—and is the last group of books before kids dive into adult fiction. (Personally, this is my favorite sub-group to edit within children's books.) Generally, YA books range between 50,000 and 100,000 words, and deal with topics pertinent to today's teenagers: angst, teen love (check out the wildly popular The Fault in Our Stars by John Green) or even heavier topics such as social issues (although these are typically portrayed in a fantastical setting, such as in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games). For some Kristen Corrects-edited gems, check out The Hope Grid by Susan B. Roara or Butterfly Red Sky by Aubrey Moore.


Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


How to Tell if Your Book Needs Developmental Editing

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on April 20, 2019 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)


As a fiction book editor for self-publishing authors, I'm constantly interacting with authors who are brand new to the world of book editing and publishing. And while I'm always doing free sample edits to help determine what type of editing your manuscript needs, it's not always easy to diagnose a need for developmental editing.


Developmental editing looks at the book as a whole and focuses on improving character development, overall story structure (including fixing loose ends), pacing, perspective, narrative style, and your story’s organization. During the developmental editing process, I add material (enough, but not so much as to compromise your writing) to fill in the holes as necessary, and delete material (this varies from sentences to paragraphs to large chunks of text, depending on the content and whether that material is relevant to the overall story). While other editing services (line editing and proofreading) will get you a beautifully written book, only developmental editing will get you a properly developed storyline—which will appeal to your readers.


Developmental editing focuses on:


    • Momentum and pacing
    • Plot consistency
    • Overall structure/structural choices
    • Story organization
    • Tying up loose ends
    • Tone and voice
    • Tense issues
    • Point of view and narrative perspective
    • “Showing” versus “telling”
    • Deleting superfluous material
    • Adding material where necessary (setting description, character development, dialogue)




Most of developmental editing focuses on these big-picture issues, which aren’t always visible in a small 1,000-word sample edit. Therefore, to diagnose a need for a developmental edit, I ask authors the following questions:


    • Are you happy with your book's level of character development? Are your book's characters fully developed and feel like real people?


    • Does your book's overall plot start early in the book, and is clear all the way through? Do you have any concerns with your book's plot development?


    • Are there any slow or boring chapters in your book?


    • Does your book's overall message come across clearly?
 

If you have the interest and funds to pursue a developmental edit (or, to save some money, a manuscript critique—as long as you’re willing to do some hands-on work to offset the cost), it absolutely wouldn’t hurt to include. And, besides, every pass over the manuscript is an improvement.



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


4 Best Tips for Joining a Critique Group

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on April 13, 2019 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)


I’m just going to say it: If you’re a serious author, you need to be a part of a writers’ critique group. But if you’re an introvert like me, you might be a little hesitant in meeting with a group of strangers (they’re authors, too...but still!) and baring your writing.

 

To demystify the process of joining a critique group, I connected with children's book author Kelly McIntire, who has brought up her critique group many times in the years I’ve worked with her! She’s found her critique group to be uber helpful—and you can too, as long as you join the right one.


I interviewed Kelly about her writing/critique group, and picked out her best insights to share with you.




1. Find a good critique group.

It seems like writers' critique groups are a dime a dozen, but how can you make sure you've found the right one? You can use established online writers' groups like Scribophile, or you can find local critique groups at Meetup.com.


Not all writers' groups are created equal, though. Trust me on this—I've seen my fair share of groups that are not conducive to good writing, and have a negative vibe. Yikes! If you don't feel welcome or happy going to your meetings, find a different group. The goal here is to find other writers who offer constructive criticism. 


Your writers' group experience should be a positive one. As Kelly says about her group, "All of us are able to laugh at ourselves. They are smart, honest, and they hold me accountable to putting out the best work I am capable of. If my pages aren’t up to par, they let me know. If I’ve cut a corner, they call me out. They are kind, but demanding."




2. Be honest with your struggles. 

Not all writers' critique groups are focused on the workship format. A good critique group is also your community of support—so that means authors might have discussions about other aspects of the writing business. As Kelly says, "We primarily discuss the work we’ve submitted for critique, but we also talk about sales and publicity, roadblocks we’re facing creatively, and the difficulties we have marketing our products."


Seeing what other people are doing, and what ideas work, will help you on your path to creating a successful author business.



3. Pull your own weight. 

Usually, every time authors meet (this is usually once per month, but this varies by the group) they share their stories with each other. Often, writers will submit pages to each other before the scheduled meeting so everyone has an opportunity to critique each other's work.


When you're a part of a group, though, you have to make sure you're pulling your own weight by being a good critiquer yourself. "We all work very hard on our critiques to make sure that we’re providing the type of feedback that will make everyone else’s work high quality. They push me and I try to push them. They also make me write consistently. I know I have to submit pages every other week, so I make sure I’m on track with my writing."




4. Develop thick skin.

When other writers in your group are offering constructive criticism, sometimes you have a tough pill to swallow. The words you've written might not match your vision, as Kelly said. Sometimes someone might point out a big issue in your book, which might be tough to hear.


Above all, the atmosphere should never be hurtful or negative—this goes back to tip #1, Find a good critique group. As Kelly says, "There’s a lot of respect between us, and over time, we’ve become friends. When I submit pages to be critiqued or edited, I strive to make my work the best I can make it on my own. I then try to check my ego."




Being actively involved in a writers' group will help bring your manuscript to the level it needs to be, and developing that thick skin will help you be able to distinguish the sometimes-difficult choices you need to make when working with a book editor (ahem, like changing the entire narrative style, which I did on Kelly's novel, and which she took in stride like a champ). 


But the result will be so worth it. You'll make friends, get reviewers, and best of all, improve your book. And joining a writers' critique group works. Kelly's novel Time Twisted was in really great shape as a "raw" manuscript before I started editing it, and at the time of this writing, it has six 5-star reviews just a couple months after its publication. I count that as a WIN!



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


How to Work with Beta Readers

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on April 13, 2019 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)


When it comes to all the elements that go into a successful novel—good pacing, character development, plot progression, and the story itself, for example—there’s a lot that can go wrong. And while you can always hire a professional book editor to help strengthen your story, it’s always a good idea to enlist beta readers (one of my 3 crucial tips for self-editing your bookbefore reaching out to a book editor.


Since beta readers are crucial to your book’s well-being and development, it’s important that as an author, you’re taking advantage of this free help as much as you can, right? Let's talk about how to work with beta readers.



 

I'm a woman of my word, and in order to back up my claims I usually like to bring in others' input. For this post I talked with my client Christine Meram, author of the forthcoming An Unlikely Tale, who commented on one of my Facebook videos about how helpful beta readers are. Christine shared that she gets coffee or trinkets for them as a way to say thank you. What a great idea! I reached out to Christine to ask her about beta readers, and am sharing some of her experiences with beta readers here.



First things first: Are beta readers even helpful?

You betcha! At this stage in your writing process, it's super important to get as much feedback on your story as possible. Whether this is something minor (such as "I was bored in the middle") to specific, high-level feedback (like "Your main character's motivations needed more development during that scene on page 24), you're sure to get something good out of recruiting beta readers.


Beta readers often give authors valuable feedback that drastically improves the story. According to Christine, “My beta readers provide wonderful input and comments during my rewrite/revision process. A while back, I was working on a scene between my main character and antagonist. My beta reader suggested that I should throw one more or two more jabs between the characters to really get the tension across and how badly the relationship has crumbled. I tried it out, and it worked.” 




How to find beta readers?

When you're searching for beta readers for your book, try to recruit people from your book's target audience. They're likely to have read a lot of material in your book's genre, and will provide you the best feedback to what your book is missing compared to others on the market.


How do you find these beta readers? They're everywhere! If you're a part of a local writer's group or even an online writing community, that's a great place to start your search. If nothing else, you can look elsewhere for beta readers. Paid services like The Spun Yarn offer 3 beta readers for $99.


While you can recruit friends or family members to read your work and give feedback, be careful with this. Beta readers need to tell you the truth about your book, so...sometimes it's best NOT to recruit your close friends and family members to beta read your work, especially if they're afraid of hurting your feelings. A beta reader's feedback is worth nothing if they're not honest. (Ironically, that's why a lot of authors come to me for a manuscript critique: they fear that the feedback from their friends and family isn't 100% truthful.)




How many beta readers should you have?

Ideally, you should have a range of beta readers—at least 10 to 20. This way, you’ll have a better idea of the general consensus on your book. Your beta readers should not be able to talk to each other about your book—remember, you just want everyone’s individual opinion.


Still, a handful of beta readers is better than none at all. Christine has three beta readers: “Two from work and one is a college friend,” she says. These three beta readers have given her great ideas and feedback for improvement.



How should you send your manuscript to beta readers?

This is up to you! Because at this point your book is not published, most beta readers will read your manuscript as an electronic file. So, sending your manuscript to readers as an email attachment ususally works fine. You can also print out paper copies of your manuscript, but this is usually considered as less secure (see my article on book plagiarism and copyright infringement).

 

Most authors prefer to send their entire manuscript to beta readers to allow them to get the full effect, whereas other authors like Christine opt to send their beta readers a few chapters at a time. “I’ve learned giving too much of the manuscript at once is overwhelming. So a few chapters at a time works really well. Plus it gives my beta readers something to salivate for later.”




How should you thank beta readers?

While reading a new book is a pleasure, for beta readers, it can also be a bit of work—so if you are recruiting beta readers, a little thank you goes a long way.


Some ideas? From Christine: “I usually treat my beta readers with coffee, candy, Arabic tea and/or little trinkets as a little thank you for taking the time to read the manuscript. It's their reward for helping me out a lot. I always tell them they give me the reader's perspective on the manuscript and that is priceless.”



Final steps: What's next?

After you get feedback from your beta readers, take some time to carefully consider their recommendations. If several of your beta readers are pointing out similar issues (i.e., “Chapter five went on too long,” “I didn’t like Troy’s reaction to Aqua after she revealed her secret to him,” or “I don’t feel like the story really started until page 30" ), this is a good indication that you should change something.


As always, keep in mind that you won’t be able to please every reader—but as an author, it’s your goal to write for the majority. If several of your beta readers are pointing out areas in your manuscript that need work, that’s a good indication that those areas need some work.


Your next step after the post-beta readers revision? Work with a book editor!



Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


FAQs

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on March 28, 2019 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

1. What genres of books does Kristen edit?
Kristen edits a wide range of books under the fiction genre, including general fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, romance, thriller, and mystery. She also commonly works with memoirs (creative nonfiction) and literary fiction. Above all else, she prefers plot-driven fiction, meaning the book should have a central conflict for the characters to overcome, and well-developed characters. Kristen does not accept manuscripts that glorify racist behavior, or general nonfiction works.

2. How should authors submit a manuscript?
Generally, authors send Kristen their manuscript as an email attachment, preferably as a Word file. First, Kristen has an email or phone conversation with potential clients to see if they'll be a good fit. Contact Kristen to start a conversation.

3. How much does book editing cost?
There are many factors that go into providing a quote for book editing. Kristen mainly works with manuscripts that are in the 60k-80k word range, and the cost can range anywhere from $1000 to $5000. See more details about the cost of editing.

4. Will Kristen refer authors to a literary agent?
Kristen is not affiliated with any literary agents, although she's happy to provide a list of agents who may be interested in an author's manuscript based on their information online.

5. Do you publish books?
Kristen is a book editor, not a publishing house, but she can help guide you along every step of the way—including pointing authors in the right direction with cover design and book formatter referrals. 

6. Can authors meet with Kristen in person?
Kristen is located outside of Boise, Idaho, so if you're a local author, Kristen would love to get together for a cup of coffee and a chat! If you're located elsewhere in the United States or world, Kristen can schedule a 15-minute phone call or Skype consultation.

7. What's Kristen's editing process?

Kristen offers three different editing services, each focusing on a different aspect of any manuscript. Each of Kristen's editing services are very different from one another, and therefore require separate edits. Developmental editing (or a manuscript critique) comes first to make sure your story's big-picture is solid. Then comes line editing, which focuses on improving sentence structure, checking for consistency, removing clichés or awkward phrasing, and improving clarity and sense of scenes. Proofreading is the last step, where Kristen focuses mainly on word choice, punctuation, spelling, syntax, and grammar to make sure your book doesn’t have any surface errors.


While some authors might be able to skip an editing service, Kristen always recommends authors not to skip the final proofread—otherwise, while your manuscript may be beautifully edited for style, consistency, or content, you may have petty grammatical or punctuation errors left over…which readers may pick up on, and which may bring your book negative reviews. Check out Kristen's blog post 8 Secrets of the Book Editing Process.


8. How long does editing a manuscript take?
It usually takes me about 3-4 weeks to edit a manuscript, but if your manuscript needs more work or is much larger, the process could take up to 12 weeks. Kristen books projects sometimes up to 9 months in advance, so be sure to get on Kristen's schedule early.

9. Who are some of Kristen's clients?
Kristen's clients are normal people. Some are authors who've self-published before. Others (most!) have never written a book before in their life. Kristen's clients come from all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common: they have a great story to tell. Some of those books have gone on to win awards and become Amazon bestsellers.

10. What if an author doesn't agree with Kristen's edits?
That's fine!  As the author, you're in the driver's seat, and while Kristen will make every edit in your book's best interest, it's your name on the byline and it's you who's in charge. Kristen works in 2016 Microsoft Word using Track Changes, giving you the power to individually accept or delete any of her edits.

How to Get Your Book in Barnes & Noble Stores

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on March 15, 2019 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (0)


What's the best way to spend a lazy afternoon? Browsing the shelves at a major bookstore like Barnes & Noble, a lot of readers would say. If you're a self-publishing author, the concept of getting your book on the bookshelves at any nationwide bookseller is a MAJOR win in your career. Securing a spot for your books on local bookstore shelves is a key move to get more sales and more readers.

The majority of my clients are self-publishing authors, which means that seeing their books on the shelves at major national booksellers like Barnes & Noble isn't always a guaranteed thing. Thankfully, the process doesn't seem to be that hard!

Hey Kristen,

I hope you're having a lovely evening! I just wanted to share some news with you regarding Storm . . .


I got this quick email from my client Gurpeet K. Sidhu (author of the self-published thriller Storm) one chilly January evening. Great news! The Kristen Corrects-edited Storm is now available at select Barnes & Noble stores across the nation. What's better, Gurpreet opened up to me about her process of applying for representation at Barnes & Noble stores. And now, dear readers, I'm passing that information to you!


It's true that Barnes & Noble online can fulfill pretty much any book order, especially if your book is in ebook format. But getting your paperback book on the shelves at local or national stores is a thousand times better (amiright?!). Let's break down the process of getting your book in Barnes & Noble stores in three easy steps.




1. Make sure your book meets Barnes & Noble's criteria.

Your book must have an ISBN, a bar code, and be available through a wholesaler like IngramSpark or Lightning Source. See more of Barnes & Noble's book submissions criteria here. You'll have to write a marketing proposal of how you, as the author, will be promoting the book.


2. Fill out the Publisher/Author Application for Book Placement Consideration.

Make sure you follow the instructions, and mail the completed application to the address on page 1. You'll have to mail a copy of your book along with the application. See the Publisher/Author Application here.


Then, you wait. According to Gurpreet, "You email them all the material they want AND mail in the paperwork along with a copy of the finished book. It takes them 3-4 months to decide whether or not they accept or reject your application." Trust me, the wait will be worth it!




3. If you're approved—do the happy dance!

If you have a good book product and your book meets all of Barnes & Noble's criteria, you'll be approved—success! Congratulations on this HUGE step in your author career.


Gurpreet's book Storm is available on the shelves at Barnes & Noble stores in her region—there are several copies at Barnes & Noble stores in San Jose, Redwood City, and Dublin.


Now THAT is what I call a self-publishing success story!




Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



 

 

Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Add-On Services

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on February 7, 2019 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (0)



Blurb Writing

The blurb, also known as the “back cover description” of a book, is essentially a sales pitch to the potential reader. When picking up a book for the first time, people read this description to understand more of what the book is about. This important summary should have the correct amount of information and intrigue to get the reader to purchase the book. An effective back cover description gives the author an advantage for another book sale. This option is best for self-publishing authors.

Rate: $150




Query Letter Writing

A query letter is the first contact between the author and a potential publisher or agent. As agents and publishers can receive upwards of hundreds of query letters and book pitches each week, it's important that your first contact with an agent is one that will make you stand out from the rest. An effective query letter boosts your chances of snagging agent interest, moving you one step closer to a book deal. This option is best for traditionally publishing authors.

Rate: $150



Book Synopsis Writing

A synopsis is a clear picture of what happens in your book, including the overall plot, characters, and narrative arc. Agents and publishers often request a synopsis before they consider representing your manuscript—so a well-written synopsis is a necessity! The industry standard for a synopsis is 1 page per 50,000 words. This option is best for traditionally publishing authors.

Rate: $400 for 2 pages



Ready to book, or just have a question? Contact me! Or, return to the Rates page.




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