Woman typing on laptop on a wooden desk, with a coffee.
Editing, Tips, Writer's cramp

Editors aren’t your friends. That’s a good thing.

What makes me laugh about the title of this article is that I am friends with many of my clients. However, when I’m editing their work, I put away my friendship hat and don my editor’s cap. Once my red computer glasses go on, I’m all about making things professional.

While it’s great to have buddies who will encourage your writing no matter what, if you’re an indie author who’s serious about publishing a polished product, you need an editor. I’m not saying this because I want more clients; I’m an author myself, and I cannot edit my own work like someone else can. The reality is that after a while, you don’t recognize your own manuscript’s flaws anymore. You’ll perceive what you’ve intended to write and not what you’ve actually written.

Editors who are worth paying for will be on board with you, so you have a shared vision of making your manuscript the best it can be. That might come with a sting at times. I’ve had to deliver news where I needed to request a resubmit, because there was too much to change. Sometimes there’s homework the author must do to get a manuscript editor-ready. (By the way, I wrote Seven Tips for Preparing a Happy, Shiny Manuscript to help authors with this!) Other times, I’m marking up my findings and adding comments in the margins when I need to question things, make suggestions, or explain my reasoning behind changes that I think should happen.

My job is to tell you what your friends might not want to say. You want that, trust me, because if I spot things, then most likely people who aren’t your friends will notice, too. The last thing an author wants is for someone to leave a bad review or put away your work altogether because it read poorly. Unedited pieces often become distracting to readers.

I do know that it’s expensive to hire just one editor, even one who has reduced rates. But these days indie authors are using crowdsourcing tools like Kickstarter to help raise funds to pay for their team (editors, proofreaders, interior layout designers, and cover designers). I’ve seen successful Kickstarters and think they’re an awesome idea. My client, Dianna Gunn, ran a great one for Moonshadow’s Guardian.

Writing takes a lot of time and effort. Your manuscript becomes your baby. Best not to do shortcuts but have it professionally edited. It’ll read so much better and hopefully will lead to shares and positive reviews!

So, if you have a friend who’s an editor, make sure they are committed to putting their professionalism above stroking your ego. Like I said, sometimes editorial comments can throw you off guard, but a good editor will deliver the news in a constructive and helpful manner.

Don’t be afraid to ask for references! You want to make sure other authors have been happy with the editor you’re considering. A serious candidate will be happy to supply you testimonials from their clients.

Even if they’re your friend.

Cait Gordon
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance 2019). When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Cait has also recently teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)




ID: Woman at desk (with a cell phone, and a cup of tea) writing in a notebook.
Author Life, Editing, Writer's cramp

Indie Authors Are Real Authors

Last week I felt rather dismayed to read about a writer on Twitter who felt they needed to defend their position as being a real author. They are an independently-published (indie) author, and I can’t believe there’s still this ongoing debate as to whether indie authors are as “valid” as traditionally-published (trad) authors.

Actually, I wasn’t dismayed; I was downright upset.

My books were published by a small press, so I suppose I’m technically a trad author, but what if I hadn’t been signed by Renaissance? Would Life in the ’Cosm not be a real book just because I would have published it myself? If the book and myself weren’t real, then what were we? Imaginary?

As an editor, I mostly work for indie authors, or those who have had both indie and trad published works. Let me tell you, if they are hiring me, right from the start you know they care about their work. Anyone who employs one or more editors wants to publish a good quality product. And it’s not just editing that comes into the equation. My clients have even budgeted for cover and layout designers. One client told me they wanted to know exactly who they were working with, and fiercely chose to independently publish their book.

Are there “self-pubbed” authors who release poor product? Sure. It happens. But painting every indie author with the same brush is dead wrong, in my opinion. They work hard at writing, gathering their team, raising funds through kickstarters, and promoting their work. They are more real than a lot of people I know, and I admire the work ethic of my clients and other indie authors I know—immensely.

They’re rock stars, really.

One of the worst things we can do in the writing community is to be snobs. That is so unproductive and well, icky. What I love is to see authors—whether indie, trad, or not-yet published—coming together with encouragement and support. I’ve met some wonderful people in the Canadian speculative fiction world and on Twitter. Some Twitter chats like #JustAddTea, #HappyWritingChat, #WriteStuff, #WeeknightWriters, and #StoryDam have really fun people in it. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and provide virtual support when one or more of us feels bleh.

But this putting-down thing? Don’t do it. It only makes you come across as snooty and frankly, is a career-limiting move. Remember that every writer you encounter is also a reader. Be kind, generous, and encouraging, and people will recommend you as a nice human. They might even signal boost your work to others.

But really, be nice without expecting that reward. Because as Major Frank Burns from M*A*S*H used to say, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”

So, say it with me: All writers are real writers.

Unless of course, they are imaginary. But writers in novels count, too, even though they’re not real.

Hmm. I’d better stop this train of thought before I get metaphysical…

Cait Gordon
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance 2019). When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Cait has also recently teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)


Editing, Recommendations, Writer's cramp

Back from my spring hiatus. Guess what I did?

I received some interesting advice from a professional last year: You’re always working on someone else’s book. What about making time for your own?

Being an author in my own right, I felt that was a fair question. I’d begun a prequel to my first book (Life in the ’Cosm) called The Stealth Lovers, and as this was an origin story about two beloved warriors, Xax and Viv, reader excitement only fuelled my desire to complete the novel. I can thank NaNoWriMo for the push to write about half of the manuscript in November 2017, but I had far to go.

Then my freelance editing job kicked in again in January 2018. I’d completed style edits for A Desert Song (Amy M. Young), Little Yellow Magnet and Life and Lemonade (Jamieson Wolf), and Moonshadow’s Guardian (Dianna Gunn). All great books, but four manuscripts in three months left me a little frayed around the edges. I needed a breather.

So, I consulted with another client who had no problem with rescheduling to June. That left me with April and May for my head-clearing break.

I coined it my writing-cation. I took April to set (and achieve) a goal of 25,000 words to complete The Stealth Lovers‘ ugly first draft. Then I made it prettier in May and sent it off to beta readers. (The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive with much-valued constructive notes.)

When June 1 came around, I felt refreshed! Funny, it might seem odd that I regrouped from words by writing more words, but penning a novel is very different than editing one. My clients expect a certain kind of perfection from my performance. As an author, especially doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April, all I have to do is get the words down. They don’t have to be pristine; they just have to map the story. And yes, even though there was some self-editing in May, it’s still not the same. I made the beta-reader draft as nice as I could for this stage of the game, but I knew more of a fine-tooth-comb editing would happen after I incorporated their feedback. My deadlines with writing are self-imposed, which also takes the pressure off.

So, I’m really excited about having another book in progress. I hope to submit it to Renaissance in the late summer or early fall. If you’re interested about my life as a writer, please visit my author page!

And what am I doing now? I just started editing The Rabbit Paperweight by Robin Elizabeth, who is a most wonderful and compassionate human. Her book has me riveted so far.

All my authors are massively talented. They make my job such a pleasure. I’m glad I work for them, but I’m also glad that I remembered to work for me, too.

Such is the existence of an author and an editor.

Editing, Proofreading, Writer's cramp

Wanted: manuscripts seeking a fresh set of eyes

Robin Elizabeth’s book about her journey through severe post-natal depression should be released in December 2016!

We’re thrilled to announce that Dynamic Canvas Inc. now provides editing and proofreading services. Cait Gordon has been dealing with words since she began her career as a technical writer [mumble, mumble] years ago. Her experience includes creating and adhering to style guides, copy editing, proof-reading, and understanding the publishing process. She has just completed a “proof-editing” of the upcoming non-fiction, Confessions of a Mad Mooer, by Australian author Robin Elizabeth.

Cait is also a published author! Her novel, Life in the ‘Cosm, is a comedy sci-fi about a little green writer who’s obsessed with the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance Press). Being an author helps her empathize with the needs of other writers and authors, who only want their baby to shine after it’s printed.

Why not give Dynamic Canvas Inc. a try? Our rates are reasonable and we strive to be the thorough second set of eyes every manuscript needs. Contact us today about your writing project!