December 30, 2012

Cedar Street Editions





One of my projects this year was to continue to learn more about the art and science of e-publishing, and what better way than to set up a new publishing company and turn some of my out-of-print mystery titles into e-books?

 The company is Cedar Street Editions and my first title, recently released, is Gaudí Afternoon, originally published in 1990, under the name Barbara Wilson.

Even though I have a background in publishing and had done one e-book before––An Editor's Guide to Working with Authors––I needed professional help, especially with an older novel that only existed electronically on a floppy disk somewhere in a box in the garage (or a landfill). I found such help with the wonderful folks at eBook Architects. The first thing that appealed to me was their no-hype website with good information. I was impressed too that they made of a point of being committed to quality. I sent them a copy of Gaudí Afternoon. There’s a more recent edition with Judy Davis looking perplexed on the cover (from the movie that was made of the book), but I wanted to use the original, with the bright and lively design by Clare Conrad.
In about a month I got back from eBook Architects a Word document scanned from the original pages for proofreading. There were a few of my errors (“desiccated” is now spelled correctly if anyone is interested), and a few of theirs in formatting italics. While waiting for the scanned document I bought ten ISBNs, since I plan to go on with this venture, and set up a website for Cedar Street Editions. Once I sent the corrected copy back, it was only about a week before I received the digital files, formatted in versions for Kindle (mobi) Nook (e-pub) and a variation of the e-pub files for Google. I knew a bit about this from my first book and already had vendor accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There were again a couple of glitches when I uploaded the files to the devices; eBook Architects took care of them immediately.
I uploaded the new files, described the book, and filled in some information. And, amazingly, Gaudí Afternoon was available for purchase online. I was thrilled at how straightforward and relatively easy the whole process was. As most writers know, it’s hard to get out-of-print books re-published and, although there are plenty of my mysteries floating around online and in second-hand stores, there’s no income for me in that. Meanwhile Google has been and is planning to scan as many books as it can. They had already scanned Gaudí Afternoon, according to the Authors Guild, which has been trying to inform and protect its members (and to come to an agreement with Google) for quite a long time. Since I’m interested in publishing, in having my books available, and in making a bit of money from my labor, e-publishing strikes me as a good solution.
As an editor I now also feel I have a better handle on how e-publishing works—something that can only help when advising other authors how best to proceed through the thickets of information about self-publishing options.

~Barbara Sjoholm

"Join globetrotting Spanish translator and amateur detective Cassandra Reilly in this high-spirited comic thriller set in Barcelona. While translating a magic realism novel about the search for a lost mother, Cassandra gets a call in London from femme fatale Frankie Stevens. Frankie's husband Ben has vanished without a trace, but Frankie thinks he's in Barcelona--and she wants Cassandra Reilly to find him. The first of the Cassandra Reilly mysteries."

Winner of a British Crime Writers’ Award for Best Mystery Based in Europe

Winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery




December 3, 2012

Introduction to Developmental Editing January 2013



Announcing the next upcoming online class, Introduction to Developmental Editing of Fiction and Creative Nonfiction 
January 9 – February 27, 2013

This in-depth introductory 8-week course focuses on learning to analyze the structure of book-length manuscripts and to communicate your analysis to the author. Weekly online lectures address elements of fiction and memoir that overlap: Theme, storyline, characters, scene and summary, dialog, and narrative shape. Weekly written assignments build on the lectures. Participants will read two published or self-published works of fiction and narrative nonfiction (suggested titles provided on request) and practice looking at them from a variety of angles, taking notes in a systematic fashion, and crafting sections of an editorial letter that deals with the big picture.

Here’s what an editor from the most recent Introduction class told me, “Thanks for a great class, Barbara.This was a really clear example of getting as much out of the class as I put into it! Once I dug into each of the assignments, I was really excited about the process and felt really good about your lectures, your assignments, and your notes regarding my assignments. So many many thanks.”

If you'd like to expand your skills as an editor and explore what makes fiction and creative nonfiction work, think about joining us. Like many of our classes at the Clinic, this one is open to editors with all levels of experience. We welcome writers with an interest in self-editing or learning more about the elements of their craft. For more details, including reasons why editors and writers take this class and for a FAQ sheet, check out our website.

This class will also be given in April, 2013.


~Barbara Sjoholm

To register or ask for more information: classes@authoreditorclinic.com, by January 4, 2013


September 21, 2012

Pamela Greenwood on Editing YA




What makes it YA?

Translation: How can I help my client evaluate a manuscript in terms of its potential as a book for the young adult marketplace?

Recently an editor colleague posed just question to me. Her client had written an adult novel, but a friend of the client had suggested it would attract a young adult audience. My colleague asked: “How much sex is allowed in a young adult novel? This one has a fair amount of ‘fooling around,’ though only one true lovemaking scene. Would this disqualify it from young adult status?”

The short answer is probably not. One sex scene would not automatically bump the story up to the adult market. But there’s a lot more to it, for editors, librarians, parents, and teens themselves. The label “young adults” represents a wide age range: preteen through high school, though the upper end is open. Many YA books are of interest to adult readers (not just those with vampires or Harry Potter in the cast of characters). And many adult books are widely read by teens; in fact, you can find discussions of crossover books on various websites. Here’s a list that might interest you: http://www.bookbrowse.com/browse/index.cfm?category_number=128

I’ll be teaching an online focus class starting October 16 on editing young adult fiction for editors that will include what’s appropriate regarding sexual content, asking these kinds of questions: How does it work in the scope of the theme? What effect does it have on the characters? Does it change the trajectory of the plot? Another important consideration for young adult authors is creating an authentic teen voice, and how that grows out of the character’s experiences and motivations. Ask: Is that voice as believable in the fooling around scenes as it is in the other encounters the characters have and in the decision-making reflections?

There’s more information on this four-week class and registering at the Author-Editor Clinic website. 

--Pamela Greenwood

September 18, 2012

"The tyranny of the linear"--working with chronology



This week in the Introduction to Developmental Editing class we've been working on the issue of chronology in personal memoirs and fiction (especially novels that imitate memoirs). In my current lecture I included a quote from Sven Birkerts’s book The Art of Time in Memoir that I've found enormously helpful:

“…writers just starting to work with memoir often have a real difficulty with this crucial distinction between event sequence and story. The impulse to tell sequentially works with gravity-like force, generating structures that sag from the tedium of ‘and then and then…’ recounting and produce dense thickets of ostensibly relevant information. The writer gets the dread feeling that everything belongs, that important moments only make sense when all the facts have been presented. Every first-time memoirist comes up against it—the demon of infinite regress. To get this, you have to know that.”

I suggest, in our work as editors, that we often see two different sides of this problem with event sequencing. Sometimes a manuscript is too sequentially structured: it bulges with details, both essential and unimportant, and marches along from date to date in mind-numbing rhythm, what Birkerts calls “the tyranny of the linear.” 


Sometimes, on the other hand, in an attempt to make the narrative more compelling or dramatic, the author has told it in a nonlinear or non-chronological fashion that can be hard to follow if not done well. The memoir or novel may shift from present to many different pasts trying to capture certain themes. The author has moved around in time to such an extent that we're confused trying to follow the when’s and then’s. 

If you're interested in thinking about how to work with writers and how to think about issues like plot, pacing, and chronology, another 8-week introductory online class begins October 3 and runs through the end of November. The editors in the current class are from all over North America and have many different backgrounds. It makes for interesting discussion. The registration deadline is September 28. Email us at classes@authoreditorclinic.com for more information.

--Barbara Sjoholm