Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Manuscript, Publication

Do you need an #editor? #authoradvice #indieauthor #indiepub #selfpub #amwriting #amediting #writing

In today’s article, I’m going to talk about the different levels of editing available and how an author should decide which one they need to work with.

First, lets look at the different levels of editing available. 

There’s a detailed breakdown here but here’s an overview:

Structural/Developmental Editor: Will look at the big picture elements of your manuscript. Plot, characterisation, point of view, pace, and narrative.

Line Editor: Sentence level elements including: word choice, clarity, consistency, conciseness, dialogue, grammar, and syntax.

Copy-editor: Sentence and word level elements including: paragraphs, dialogue, spelling and punctuation, consistency in minor plot/character details, and clarity.

Proofreader: Sentence, word, and layout: basic formatting, dialogue punctuation, chapter sequencing, and indentation.

Many freelance editors will offer one or two of these services, and will perhaps combine two of them, but I’ve yet to meet any who offer all four levels. Typically, a line and copy-edit can be combined, and maybe a copy-edit and proofread, but a developmental/structural edit should be done on it’s own.

Now let’s look at some of the areas an author may find they’re struggling with:

  1. Punctuation
  2. Overwriting – too wordy
  3. Characterisation
  4. Grammar
  5. Plot development
  6. Narrative point of view/head hopping
  7. Consistency in formatting and layout

The type of editor you need will depend mainly on the issues you have, using the examples above, here’s who you’d need to call on to help:

  1. Line Editor / Copy-editor / Proofreader
  2. Line Editor
  3. Developmental/Structural Editor
  4. Line Editor / Copy-editor
  5. Developmental/Structural Editor
  6. Developmental/Structural Editor / Line Editor
  7. Line Editor / Copy-editor / Proofreader

As you can see, not all editors specialise in all areas and you need to find out what the specific editor offers in their package.

‘What if I don’t know what my problems are?’

It’s easy for someone in the business to say you need A, B, but not C, but that doesn’t always help the author if they don’t yet know what their sticking points are, after all, you can’t mend something if you don’t know it’s broken! A tiny gap and huge hole are very different things!

Consider this; an author skips a copy-edit as they’ve been told it’s the big picture elements that matter most, not a few typos. But what if it’s not a few typos? What if the novel has a wonderful and captivating plot, is beautifully paced, and full of characters your readers instantly fall in love with them, but on a line level, it’s so full of spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes all the good stuff is lost inside it and it’s too unpleasant to read?

Or, on the flip side, the author has been meticulous with their line level editing and proofreading, the sentences flow with no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mishaps but the characters are one dimensional, there are plot holes galore, and the reader is left with nothing but unanswered questions.

It’s such a minefield for authors, especially newbies! The best advice is to find some beta readers you can trust to provide honest and constructive feedback, or have a professional critique done on your manuscript. There’s also the possibility that a sample edit from a freelancer will help shed some light on where you may need assistance.

So, how do you know when you’re ready? 

I love how Jane Friedman explains it:

[N]ever hire a copyeditor until you’re confident your book doesn’t require a higher level of editing first. That would be like painting the walls of your house right before tearing them down. (‘Should You Hire a Professional Editor?‘)

This is such a brilliant way to look at the editing process. There’s no point in having all the typos dealt with if your plot and characters aren’t doing what your reader needs them to do.

Therefore, there is a specific process and it’s not based on importance but on logic.

Start your editing process with the big picture elements. Whether a professional critique or feedback from trusted beta readers, get all the structural elements in place. If no issues are identified, brilliant! If they are, however, that’s great too as you can deal with them, either yourself or with a professional, before they are brought up in reader reviews.

Once you have the big picture elements sorted, you can look at the line and sentence level mishaps. I would always recommend an author employs a professional at this stage as although they may not be a specialist in the big picture elements, they will know whether there are big picture issues there which need addressing. They will guide to getting your work into great shape, and will advise if there are further needs.

I offer two main services, the Big Difference Edit which combines line and copy-editing, and Little Tweaks Proofread which combines copy-editing and proofreading. I also work with authors on a Step by Step  and Consultancy basis

Your copy/line editor should be able to pick up other elements relating to the proofreading, but don’t expect miracles. They aren’t Superman and at this stage, there are likely to be more revisions to the manuscript during which further mishaps can be introduced. For more on this, read here!

Remember! Your editor, at any stage in the process, isn’t a ghost writer. As literary agent Rachelle Gardner explains:

Using a freelance editor can be a great idea – if you use it as a learning experience. You need to do most of the work yourself. I think it’s wasted money if you’re counting on someone to fix your manuscript for you. The point is to get an experienced set of eyes on it to help you identify problems and figure out how to fix them. (‘Should I Hire a Freelance Editor?‘)

There’s no doubt you need to have at least one professional editing pass on your manuscript. Please do not rely on a spellchecker:

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word

And weight for it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its really eve wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

I am shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect in its weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

(Sauce unknown)

As you can see, there are many mistakes which won’t be picked by standard spelling checkers.

So what now? 

You know you need an editor, but how do you find one you can trust?

Word of mouth is the first place to start. Ask in the writer groups you belong to, (if you’re not in any groups, but would like to be, let me know) who do other people use? If you’re not in any groups yet, you’re left with Google.

Always speak to more than one editor, and to help you determine they know what they’re doing.

Here’s what they should be asking you: 

  • What genre is your manuscript?
  • Have you already identified any problematic areas?
  • What are your publishing aims?
  • What have you already done with the script?
  • Where are you on your journey as an author?
  • Do you have a deadline for this?

Here’s what you should be asking them: 

  • What levels do they specialise in?
  • Do they have experience in your genre?
  • What style do they follow?
  • Do they have references and testimonials?
  • What books have they edited?
  • Have they worked with indie authors before? Publishers?
  • What are their costs and payment terms?
  • What timescales can you expect?
  • Do they offer a free or paid for sample edit?

All editors will be able to answer those questions for you. If they can’t I’d be tempted to move on to the next person on your list. Full transparency at this stage is vital, you don’t want to end up in a position where you choose your editor, get your heart set on them, only to discover they charge twice as much as your budget will allow and aren’t free until February 2019!

So, there you have it. 

You are now in a position to make a fully informed decision on which editor you need, you understand the roles played by both the author and the editor, and that full transparency by both parties can and will lead to a wonderful working relationship.

Best of luck with your project!

If you’d like to have a chat with about your project and my services, please do drop me line, I’d love to hear from you!


Author Advice, Cheat Sheet, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript

Formatting dialogue in fiction writing #dialogue #fiction #amwriting #amediting #authors #advice #grammar #punctuation #indieauthor #selfpub

One of the most confusing elements of writing dialogue is how to format and punctuate it properly.

There are so many perceived rules and regulations it can become a nightmare for authors to remember what to do and when.

I’ve broken it down into three simple steps:

  1. Every new speaker needs a new paragraph
  2. What the character says stays on the same line/paragraph as what they do
  3. Only use a comma if the dialogue is followed by a tag, otherwise, use a full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark

Easy! Look:

Emma and Paul were watching TV. ‘Come on,’ Emma said.


‘Let’s go to the pub.’ She grabbed his hand to pull him off the sofa.

‘I’m not sure I’m in the mood,’ Paul said. ‘Shall we go tomorrow instead?’

Only the words spoken and punctuation marks are placed inside the quotation marks. Other parts of the sentence – dialogue tags, actions, and thoughts – go outside the quotation marks.

Dialogue always starts with a capital letter, regardless as to its place in the sentence, although interrupted speech is lower case when it resumes – see the later examples.

Next I’ll show you the most used combinations of speech, tag, and action with their correct format and punctuation. There’s a printable version of this list so you can keep it to hand.

One line of dialogue with no tag: the whole sentence, including punctuation, is enclosed in the quotation marks:

‘I love you.’

One line of dialogue with tag: The dialogue is enclosed in the quotation marks with a comma within them. As the tag, he said, is part of the sentence, it is not capitalised. The full stop ends the sentence:

‘I love you,’ he said.

One line of dialogue with tag first: The comma is still needed to separate the speech from the tag but comes first in this instance and the full stop ends the sentence within the quotation marks:

He said, ‘I love you.’

One line of dialogue with tag and action: The dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks, a comma follows the dialogue and before the closing quotation mark, this is followed by the tag which is separated from the action by a further comma. A full stop ends the sentence:

‘I love you,’ he said, hoping she had heard him.

The tag and action can come first:

Moving closer, he said, ‘I love you.’

Tag interrupted dialogue: The same sentence of dialogue can be interrupted by a tag and an action:

‘I love you,’ he said, ‘and I always will.’

‘I love you,’ he said, pulling her close, ‘and I always will.’

Question marks in dialogue: The question mark goes inside the quotation mark and there is no comma. The tag doesn’t need a capital letter as it is still part of the same sentence, the same goes for exclamation marks:

‘You know I love you, don’t you?’ he asked.

‘I love you!’ he shouted, running after her.

Dialogue interrupted by dialogue: If a character interrupts another midsentence, an em dash is used:

‘I love you—’

‘No, Paul, you don’t.’ She held up her hand to stop him continuing.

Trailing dialogue: If a character starts to say something but the speech trails off before they complete the sentence, ellipses are used:

‘I love …’

Names in dialogue: always use a comma before and/or after the person’s name who is being directly addressed:

‘I love you, Emma,’ he said.

‘Emma, I love you,’ he said.

‘Paul loves you, Emma, you know that.’

‘He loves you, Emma, more than he loved Sarah.’ (note there is no comma before Sarah as she isn’t being directly addressed).

This may seem complicated at times but following these ‘rules’ will make your dialogue punctuation and formatting correct 99.9% of the time. There are other combinations, for example, paragraphs and longer speeches, but I’ll keep it simple today and share the others with you at a later date.

You can download a copy of these examples by clicking here: Creating Perfection – Formatting Dialogue – Print Out

I hope this helps and do let me know if you have any questions.

Have a super day, keep writing!

Author Advice, Case Study, Editing Assistance, Self-Publishing Author Case Study

#IndieAuthor Trevor Lince joins me to share his #SelfPublishing Journey @Room119tflince #CaseStudy #IndiePub #AmWriting #AmEditing #Writing

I’m shining the spotlight on indie author Trevor Lince today.

Who are you and when did your journey begin?

I’m Trevor Lince and believe it or not I have only ever read eleven books in my life. About three years ago I had a series of dreams and after banging on about them over dinner to anyone who would listen, in Jan 2017, I decided to write a novel.

Tell us about where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish, etc.

Published Room 119 in December 2017. The Funicular is almost done should be out by June.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

Did I have another choice? To be honest, I have a good job so a spare time thing really which appears to have taken over my life.

What’s the best thing about self-publishing?

Freedom and making your own calls.

And the worst?

The constant self-promotion on social media to even get one sale.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?

Great question, I would have done lots different not the book, but I would have been a lot more active before the launch and had a bigger social media presence takes ages, growing now though.

If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?

Nothing really, better description and subtitle to use keywords to target amazon searches I suppose.

Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?

Maybe a bit about getting reviews, look after your bloggers and get on fab sites. And interact, people like you to join in their stuff too. It’s not all about you.

Nothing more, really. I quite enjoyed it … I am an IT geek though.

You can keep up with Trevor’s news by following his social media accounts:

Twitter @room119tflince

Huge thanks for joining me, Trevor! Best of luck with the rest of your journey.

If you’re an indie author and you’d like to share your journey, follow this link.

Trevor’s debut novel, Room 119 is out now, here’s the blurb …

Room 119: The Whitby Trader: A Gripping Mystery Thriller by [Lince, T F]

High-flying trader Dean Harrison has it all – the London penthouse apartment; the fast car; the beautiful wife. But when the threads of Dean’s life start to unravel, they do so with alarming speed.

Following the advice of a frail stranger, Dean sets off for Welnetham Hall Hotel and is plunged into the mysterious world of Room 119 – a world where nothing makes sense. How does everyone in the hotel know his name? Why does he travel there on a train line that shut down over fifty years ago? And who is the sinister man in black who pursues him wherever he goes?

As he gradually pieces together the puzzle of Welnetham Hall, Dean is forced to re-evaluate his life and realises that nothing is more important to him than his wife and daughter. Desperate to get back to them, he vows he would lay down his life for the people he loves.

It’s a promise he may have to keep.

About the author …

Trev Lince originates from Marske-by-the-Sea on the north-east coast of England, but now lives in Darlington with his wife, Claire. Their daughter, Annie, is a very good guitarist and is setting up a band, playing every pub in the north-east that she can. She’s so rock and roll, living the dream while her father is approaching his mid-life crisis. A keen golfer and frustrated Middlesbrough FC fan, Trev gets to as many matches as work and leisure time allow. He writes in what little spare time he has, when not working as an IT Consultant for a major oil company in Surrey. Room 119 – The Whitby Trader is Trev’s first book and he really enjoyed the experience of writing it. Who knows? He may have a few more stories bursting to get out of his head. He would like to thank you for reading his debut novel.

Author Advice, Blog Post, Publication

#GuestPost Ideas for #authors #bloggers #amwriting #amediting #indieauthors #indiepub #selfpub #publishing

So, you’ve written and published a book and are now looking for ways to advertise it. You have contacted some bloggers and although they aren’t going to read and review for whatever reason, they have offered you a guest post spot on their blog.


But what do you write?

There’s only so many times you can tell the world who your inspiration was, or which books you read as a child.

Well, as an ex blog tour organiser, I created several guest posts for my authors to mix things up on the tours and I’m sharing them with you.

Feel free to download and use these, they have proven most popular with readers in the past as they offer an insight into your characters that they wouldn’t normally get.

A Day in the Life

Character Guest Post

Character Spotlight

I hope they come in useful!

Happy writing x

Competition, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Publication Ready

And the #Winner is … #LittleTweaks #AmEditing #AmWriting #IndieAuthor #SelfPub #IndiePub #Proofreading

I am over the moon to announce that, after very careful consideration of all the brilliant entries, the winner of my Little Tweaks Proofreading competition is …

Hannah Lynn!

Congratulations, Hannah.

Hannah’s debut novel, Amendments is out now and I can’t wait to start working with her on her next book.

Hugest thanks to all who entered the competition, it was a VERY tough decision and I wish you all the very best with your projects. Don’t forget, should you wish to book me for this service within the next six months, you will receive a 25% discount.

Congratulations again, Hannah!


Author Advice, Competition, Editing Assistance, Submission Package

And the winner is! Andy Paulcroft author of #PostcardsFromAnotherLife #Manuscript #Submission #AmEditing #AmWriting #Authors #Publishing

Thank you to all the authors who entered my competition to win a Submission Critique and Edit.

I am delighted to announce that, after careful consideration of all the entries, the winner is Andy Paulcroft!

Andy’s debut novel, Postcards From Another Life was released in December and I am looking forward to working with him to perfect his submission package for his second novel over the coming weeks.

All entrants will receive a 50% discount on this service, please check your emails for confirmation and the T&Cs.

If you’re an indie author, there’s still time to enter my Little Tweaks Proofreading Competition – the deadline for entries is Friday, 27 April at noon.

Congratulations, Andy. I can’t wait to start working with you!

Competition, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript, Publication

I’m giving one lucky #indieauthor the chance to #Win a #Manuscript #Proofread #SelfPub #SelfPublishing #IndiePub #AmEditing #AmWriting

It’s competition time!

I’m giving one lucky author the chance to have their manuscript proofread, as detailed in my Little Tweaks Proofreading service, free of charge!

All you need to do is email and tell me, in no more than 500 words, why you should win.

That’s it.

Entries must be emailed to: with the subject: I’m an Indie Author and I Should Win Because by [YOUR NAME] and your entry must be sent as a MS Word attachment. In the body of the email, tell me a little about you and where you are on your writing journey.

The competition closes at twelve noon on Friday, 27 April 2018 and the winner will be announced on Monday, 30 April 2018.

Your manuscript doesn’t need to be complete immediately, but you must be in a position to claim the prize within three months. 

All entrants will be eligible to a 25% discount on this service if booked and paid for within six months of the competition closing.

Here’s the small print:

  • The competition is open to any fiction author with a complete (novel, novella, or short story collection) manuscript.
  • The maximum word count is 130k.
  • The manuscript can be new and unpublished or one that has previously been published but is in need of attention.
  • The manuscript must be written in English (British or American English).
  • Entrants wishing to take advantage of the 25% discount must do so within six months of the competition closing.
  • Entrants will receive a confirmation email which must be kept as proof of entry for the discount to be applied.
  • Entrants received after the closing time will not be entered into the competition nor will they be eligible for the discount.

Feel free to share this far and wide!

Good luck!