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Can You Believe It?

Despite readers’ presumed desires to suspend disbelief, try to keep some rational sense of reality cohering your storyline by Marie Valentine, editor Not true! No way that could happen. Sorry, I’m not buying it. If these phrases cannot be squelched in your mind when revising your manuscript, take note. Readers might forgive an author if …

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On Pacing: Superspecific Settings Are Not Needed

Place your characters in an environment and let them be by Marie Valentine, editor Sometimes writers are pace driven and have a story they simply need to get out. Often their characters are floating in space, meeting midair without a notion of physical dimension. Time and place have been forgotten. To these writers, I suggest …

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On Pacing: Don’t Do Dead-end Dialogue

Making sure your characters’ language makes an impact by Marie Valentine, editor Imagine an agent looking for the next big thing. She sits down with her coffee and red pen and flips open a fresh manuscript to the following interaction: The phone rang. “Hello,” answered Don. “Hi, is Mark there?” said a voice. “Sure, who’s …

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Brand Name-Dropping in Fiction


By Caroline Hiley Novelists are often counseled to be specific with details, choosing one or two arresting ones to give a strong sense of a person, place, or thing. These focused items, often dubbed “salient details,” can powerfully and succinctly convey information better than the dreaded “info dump,” which tells too much and invites readers …

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On Pacing: Beware Excess Character Description

Keep your story moving by recognizing when too much information (TMI) is weighing down the action by Marie Valentine, editor It’s easy to get sucked into overwriting the details of a character’s physical appearance. Most writers like to describe, which is why we write: detailing people is fun. But we need to rein it in …

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A First Time Finalist’s Awestruck Days at a National Romance Writers of America Conference

writers awards

With Theodora Bryant and Cara Crescent Cara Crescent: What is it like going to a Romance Writers of America’s National Convention when nominated for two awards? It’s a little different! I hadn’t expected it to be, I wasn’t up for a Golden Heart or a Rita, after all. I can’t imagine what a whirl-wind conference …

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The Novel As Art | Is It Good Enough?


By Caroline Hiley, Novel Copyeditor More artist angst is caused by this question than any other: Is it good enough? This question is unanswerable because it’s incomplete. The true question is, Is it good enough [for what]? For novelists that usually means, Is it good enough for publication? Even that is unanswerable, because “for publication” …

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On Pacing: Avoid TMI in Plot

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Keep your story moving by recognizing when too much information (TMI) is weighing down the action by Marie Valentine, editor Consider this first paragraph of a hypothetical novel: Johnny woke up in the hotel bed. His grandparents Merv and Jude were going to be buried today. They died in a tragic helicopter accident while on …

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Facts and Emotions


By Karin Graham Sometimes we editors have to distance ourselves from a manuscript. Sometimes that happens when the scope of work requires a lighter touch from the editor than would best serve the manuscript. For example, a manuscript might be difficult to follow, sparse in its citations, have links that don’t work, or a structure …

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Copy and Line Editing


George di Pietro | Book Editing Associates What’s the difference between copy editing and line editing? Where does one end and the other begin? I’ve been asked these questions by clients, potential clients, and even fellow editors. I provide both services, so I think my experience offers some practical insights. Copy editing generally is considered …

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Identity, Ethnic and Otherwise

identity illustrated with profile head filled with mosaic pattenrs

George di Pietro – Writer, Editor, Proofreader Book Editing Associates As a writer and editor, I am fascinated by identities — why and how people adopt them, and how they express them socially and politically. Two of my specialties as an editor and writer are ethnic and sexual identities. I find these subjects intellectually stimulating, …

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Dissertation Tips: How to Write a Proper Introduction

How to write an introduction

By David Henderson, APA Dissertation Editor When writing a dissertation, thesis, or some other academic text, the introduction is, of course, the first thing a reader will lay eyes on, besides the title and abstract. Not only does it provide an overview of the rest of the work, but it sets the tone and creates …

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Tips for Writing a Memoir, Part 1

by David Henderson Memoir is one of the most popular genres among first-time writers. What story does one know more intimately than one’s own life? Still, writers who tackle memoirs often do so on the mistaken assumption that such a text might be straightforward and simple because it draws from the material of their own …

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Architecture Lessons

Getting the Details of Your Dream World Story Right by Hannah Earthman An early dream world we witness in the movie Inception flops because its architect failed to get the carpet right; when the dreamer is pushed to the floor, his cheek touches the carpet and his attention is then locked on the difference between …

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Accept, Reject, or Delete

by P.S. Rosenbaum, Ph.D. Dismay is not an uncommon response of a student-scholar on first encountering an academic editor’s markups on a thesis or dissertation. Some edited manuscripts have literally hundreds of so-called “redlines” (i.e., deletions and additions), not to mention dozens of Comments ranging from simple reminders to detailed recommendations for major structural change. Some …

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The Pesky Details

On Capitalization and Punctuation by Floyd Largent Want to make an otherwise brilliant manuscript seem dull and amateurish? It’s easy: just fail to use the proper punctuation, and play fast and loose with capitalization. Those may seem like pesky details to some, but to those of us who make a living with words, it’s a …

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5 Ways to Create an Effective Author Website

by Hannah Earthman, editor The inflexible reality of the self-publishing boom is that author websites are everywhere. Whether you’re publishing through traditional channels or independently launching your book as the flagship product of a one-person press, you need a website that immediately grabs the casual visitor’s attention—in a good way. Your author website can either …

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Why Editors?

by Karin Graham Recently, the New York Times notified their editorial staff that they were going to lay off buy out half of them. So the editorial staff published an open letter to Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joe Kahn. In it, they describe some of what we editors actually do. In fact, we feel more respected by our …

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The Author/Editor Dyad

by Caroline Hiley Everyone who creates a work of art, literary or otherwise, needs an editor. Why? Because creation involves different mentalities than craft; and rare is the artist who has the left brain/right brain balance to be creator and audience at the same time. All the arts employ someone whose job is to complement …

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Behind Closed Publishing House Doors: How Publication Decisions Are Made

by Rachel Stone Did you ever wonder how or why publishers publish what they do? As an industry insider—executive, manager, and editor for over 35 years—I can give you the lowdown. Actually, it’s what you think it is, and the answer is pretty simple: MONEY. These are some of the questions publishers ask themselves when …

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Simultaneous Submissions: What’s the Deal Here?

by Floyd Largent The modern writer is as much artisan as artist, creating entertainment and elucidation from little more than imagination, research, and electrons. But creation may be the easiest aspect of the writer’s life, especially among those who write short stories “on spec,” with no guarantee of publication. Next comes the harsh and often …

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The Power of BookScan

by David Alan  A few years ago, a writer asked me about the potential salability of his Kansas City Chiefs trivia book. I politely told him that publishers likely wouldn’t be interested, and that he’d have a much better chance selling a Green Bay Packers book. I knew this because the publishing company I worked for, …

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Top 5 Reasons You Need a Professional Beta Reader


Book Editing Associates A beta reader, at the behest of an author, reviews and provides feedback on a work of fiction before it is submitted to agents or publishers. Beta readers, like “beta testers” in the software industry, look for inherent flaws in a product before it is released. Beta readers might be authors’ mothers, …

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How to Get Published

by Amy Bennet, Book Editor, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror I work with a number of writers at the beginning of their careers, maybe with their first novel, or the first novel they’re ready to shop around, and they often ask how they can get started with publishing. Many writers would like to get an agent and/or a …

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How to Scare Your Readers: Part I

by Hannah Earthman, editor Writing horror is interesting: you’re basically inviting strangers to listen as, for hours, you try to scare the hell out of them. And best case scenario, when you’re finished with them, they’ll anxiously await the next time they can pay for the privilege of being scared by you. Honestly, the whole …

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How to Structure Your Nonfiction Book

by Sarah Anderson, editor Structuring your nonfiction manuscript can sound scary, but really, it can be easy. It’s all a matter of finding the best way to think it through. A technique that works well for self-help books can be useful for any nonfiction. Self-help writers know their topics well, but they are usually not …

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Prolific Novelists on How It’s Done

by Caroline Hiley Writing one novel is hard enough. But how about 50, 100, even 500—all of them published, and with more to come? We asked six super-prolific writers for their secret and were unsurprised to learn that there is none. It’s all about work and passion. For each of these authors, writing is a calling …

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