Seven Tips for Preparing a Happy, Shiny Manuscript

ID-100120249My fellow authors, I love editing your manuscripts. I truly do. I can’t even believe it’s my job! I’d ask someone to pinch me, but I bruise easily.

As much as I enjoy being an editor, what slows down my process is a manuscript that has not been properly prepared as a submittable draft. It’s important to think of me the same way you’d think of a publisher—send me your absolutely best draft ever. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes. I’m an author, too. Self-editing is hard, I know. But this post includes some things you can do to make your manuscript shine.

Remember! A draft that’s in poor shape could cost you more money, because the editor will most likely have to do several editing passes. If you’re on a tight schedule, this could also result in missed deadlines.

Manuscript health checklist

Here are the tasks I want authors to perform before sending me their work. You can also use these tips if you’re submitting to a publisher.

  1. Format the manuscript with a commonly-used template. I have noticed publishers often prefer the William Shunn style. (You can choose Times Roman 12pt or Courrier 12pt fonts when submitting to me, but please note any publisher’s specific guidelines.)
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  2. If you download the Shunn template you should be fine, but if you’re creating a similar template, remember to set your paragraph styles with indents and not tabs. Do not add extra hard returns for paragraph spacing. Use the style formatting options to set the space between paragraphs. Also, set the line spacing to double. Scene changes are marked with a centre-aligned hashtag (#).
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  3. Understand how to punctuate dialogue. Here’s a good post about it from The Editor’s Blog.
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  4. Read your manuscript out loud, or have it read to you. You would be amazed how clunky dialogue can sound when it’s read aloud. Also, if you use apps that read your manuscript for you, and you visually follow the story while listening to it, you’ll find typos or awkwardly worded sentences that didn’t previously register. I normally convert my manuscripts to epub format and use the Read Aloud feature on Google PlayBooks, but you can also set voice features on Apple.
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  5. Have other people review your manuscript. Beta readers are essential. Good ones will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
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  6. Be honest with yourself and see if you have a repetitive habit, such as a phrase or sentence structure you write way too often, or what are known as “useless words.” This article from The Writer’s Circle discusses the most commonly overused and unnecessary words. (Confession: My manuscript was filled with “really” and “just.”)
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  7. Spell check and grammar check. Seems silly to include these, but they’re a must.

I’m sure I could think of more things, but if these seven items were checked off the list, I’d be a happy editor. A manuscript in good tick helps me concentrate on the flow of the story and pinpoint things that have been missed. No one editor can do a perfect job, but the fewer the mistakes when I receive the manuscript, the better I am at capturing those remaining.

Just another quick note before I go. Don’t think that by doing these things you won’t need an editor. I followed these tips for my book, and the three editors I had with my publisher still spotted stuff that needed correcting. It’s always good to have a fresh and professional set of eyes. We editors want to have your back and we do care that your book turns out well. Your impression as an author reflects on our work, too. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

So, happy self-editing. I look forward to working with you!

/cg

(Image: Hand Typing Computer Keyboard Stock Photo)

New web client: Jamieson Wolf

Lust and Lemonade book coverWe are tickled as pink as pink lemonade to be hired by Canadian writer and poet Jamieson Wolf, author of over 60 books, including his latest, Lust and Lemonade(It’s like an LGBT Sex & The City!)

Jamieson is looking to combine his blog and his current author website, and we’re more than happy to help him with that. We’ll also redesign the new website with a bright look and feel, to match the exuberant personality of its author.

So excited to be working with you, Jamieson!

New web client: Creative Ottawa Nerds (C.O.N.)

C.O.N. LogoSome of you might not know that this Madam President loves crafts. Dynamic Canvas Inc. even has a crafting division called Cait Cards. The best craft fair I’ve ever participated in was the C.O.N. Holiday Craft Fair in November 2016.

Not only are C.O.N. craft fairs well-managed with great table fees, but they also have heart—part of the proceeds go to local charitable organisations. And if that isn’t cool enough, all the artisans are proud geeks selling geeky wares (myself included). The crafts are so much fun that I might have left my table to buy a few things!

This week I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to work on their website. We’ll make it secure and include web forms, as well as give it a slight face lift. We’ll also add more content to the website, so everyone can know how awesome C.O.N. is!

I’m stoked! These are good people who I am thrilled to call my clients.

/cg

New web client: CAATS—Computer Assisted Analysis Techniques and Solutions

CAATS-logo-xparent

Our latest client is Dave Coderre, president of Computer Assisted Analysis Techniques and Solutions (CAATS).  CAATS offers consulting, training, articles, and books about the use of data analytics. We were so glad for the opportunity to work with Dave on revamping the CAATS website, and adding a secure e-commerce component for his books about data analytics.

Data Analysis book coverFor the CAATS website we will build an online shop using WooCommerce with WordPress. This solution integrates Dave Coderre’s blogs, books, and training information. Also with WooCommerce, we can create a bookshop where customers can browse the entire list of Dave’s books published both by CAATS and Wiley.

His latest book, Data Analysis for Internal Controls, Fraud Detection, Monitoring, and Audit, will be sold exclusively on the CAATS website as of July 2017. We wish him many sales and much success!

New author client: Stevie Szabad

StevieSzabad

Stevie Szabad

She says she’s a retired IT consultant, hockey mom, ‘base brat’, and military wife, but we’re glad Stevie Szabad is not retired from writing. We’ll be editing her nonfiction, Camp Follower: A Storied Life, which takes us from Stevie’s base-brat days through her adult years. We’re really looking forward to reading it, too!

Along with editing services, we will also give Stevie’s author website a makeover so readers can keep coming back for more of her flash fiction, camp-follower stories, and updates on her book.

You can follow Stevie on Twitter. (Spoiler: she’s a lovely person.)

New author client: Amy M. Young

Author Amy M. Young

This Dcan Diva is thrilled to be working with rock-fiction author Amy. M. Young on the first of a three-book series about the touring band, Torrent.

You can follow Amy on Twitter, Facebook, her website, and see her contributions as guest blogger on the Spoonie Authors Network. (She also did the logo for the Spoonie Authors Network!)

Dcan shout-out: Robin Elizabeth, Author

Robin Elizabeth is an author we’ve read and admired for her series, What Happens in Book Club, so we were thrilled when she hired us to edit her non-fiction, Confessions of a Mad Mooer, Postnatal Depression Sucks.

Providing copy editing and proofreading (or as we said on this project, proofediting) for Mad Mooer inspired us to add editing to the list of services Dynamic Canvas Inc. provides. Thank you, Robin, for lighting this particular fire under us!

Here’s the back blurb. We really encourage you to buy the book. It’s charming, heart-wrenching, and funny as heck.


What happens when a mother says she isn’t okay, and nobody’s listening?

book coverThat’s the situation Sydney mother, Robin, faced after the birth of her identical twin boys. She already had a needy toddler and a husband who worked long hours, but no matter where she turned, her desperate cries for help went unanswered. It wasn’t until her newborn twins ended up in hospital with bronchiolitis that the medical staff realised it was Robin who needed the most care.

The hospital diagnosed her with postnatal depression, or postpartum depression as it is known in the US, and sent her and the boys to a psychiatric hospital. Inside the Psychiatric Mothers and Baby unit Robin finally found her confidence, not only as a parent, but also as a writer and a worthy person in her own right. Her periods returned, too, but she didn’t consider that as much of a blessing.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer is her story, told with warmth, humour, and unflinching honesty. A must read for anyone who has been touched by postnatal or postpartum depression, and a fascinating read for any creative or performing artist who has ever struggled with their own mental health.

Dcan shout-out: Topsy Books!

Splash_TopsyLogoThis week we’re toasting Topsy Books and Livres Topsy, online bookstores that sell picture books and e-books for children, written by Canadian author Joanne Lécuyer.

Here’s what Joanne says about these books:

At Topsy Books, we believe that it’s important for kids to read books that touch upon important life experiences in a way that is imaginative, fun and non-violent. We use fantasy fiction as a backdrop for our stories. We have our characters face challenges and lessons and let them show us a positive way of dealing with them.

We love the colourful drawings, done by a selection of talented illustrators that Joanne hand-picks for her stories. These books are fun for the whole family to read together.

Joanne also does workshops to teach children about writing. Learn about this and more by going to the Topsy Books and Livres Topsy websites.

You can also follow Joanne or Topsy Books on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

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!

 

Dcan shout-out: Alternative Hosting

alternative-hostingThis summer we were thrilled to change host providers for our websites (this one, and Cait Cards‘) and for our client’s websites. We decided to support a local business whose rates were competitive and whose technical support was friendly and quick. They’re Alternative Hosting, located in the west-end of Ottawa. We highly recommend them.

We found the performance of the websites dramatically improved, and the best perk was the free SSL certs. It was great to have the Cait Cards online shop show the lock symbol beside the URL for each page. Alternative Hosting’s SSL certs also seemed to be superior to the ones we’d previously paid for! We want our customers to feel safe buying from us, and to keep coming back. We’re glad we made the switch.

If you want to turn your WordPress website into an online shop, please consider hiring Dynamic Canvas Inc. We will gladly recommend Alternative Hosting as your host provider, if you’ve been thinking of switching or haven’t one yet.