Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Grammar Guide
Get Professional Services for a Professional Product

Regular visitors to The Dragon recognize that the Grammar Guide topics I post (almost) every week cover punctuation, style, spelling and use issues as well as strict "grammar." I lump all these concepts under one umbrella just to make the search category easy for you. Let me point something out for you here: Even though I use a light and conversational tone in these Grammar Guides, Writer's Guides and Promotional Guides, I'm giving you professional advice. I have a four-year degree and a 15-year career in publishing as an editor, publisher and public relations officer (often simultaneously) backing up the tips I'm sharing with you. For free.

Here's why that's important. Asking someone's teenager to edit your novel is not going to help you produce a professional-looking manuscript. Having the graphic artist you hired two or three weeks ago proofread your magazine at layout is pure insanity. Now, I'm not knocking graphic artists because I have worked with some of the absolute greatest in the field, but I recently had one sending "corrections" to my office to add serial commas into text and to put periods in quotes before attribution in her region's magazine. This is just plain wrong. The serial comma issue is forgivable because usually only journalists "get" that anyway, but when did this person last pay attention in an English class? You know what? It's not her job and her publisher shouldn't have asked her to worry about it. And it serves as a good lesson to speak about here at The Dragon: Hire a professional editor for editing work. Hire a professional proofreader for proofreading work.

Yes, there's a difference. Yes, I do both.

(And hire a professional graphic artist for layout work.)

When I had my pitch session scheduled for Choices Meant for Gods, I contacted a group online and found two readers who were willing to read the manuscript for me. Even though I had been in the publishing field for 13+ years at that point and had the above-mentioned degree, I was not going to risk handing a manuscript full of errors to a publisher. (I was going straight to the publisher—no intermediary.) Now, you might think that someone with my credentials would think her work was clean and ready to go, but I'm not naïve. Anything worth printing is worth having a second, third and fourth set of eyes peruse it.

Now, what frustrates the life out of me is that during the galley proofing stage of Choices Meant for Gods this spring, my publisher had me remove some of the Bellan scenes (good call on his part, by the way) and add some stuff at the end, so, at 1 a.m. one day, I diligently added two scenes to the last chapter that really do punch the ending into "coo-el" status. Unfortunately, I added my biggest pet peeve typo/grammar mistake to the very last page of my novel. I could scream. When I found it upon the book's arrival on my doorstep, I think my head spun on my shoulders aka The Exorcist. Sigh. But I guess that proves what I'm stating in this post: Get thee a professional proofreader to read your work, even if it's 1 a.m. on the day that you're going to press. Wake her up and say, "Read this. I just added it." Because it would have been worth it to me to pay her whatever fee she wanted to have her say, "Sandy, you moron, 'its' doesn't get the apostrophe here. You know better."

Use professional, respected, trusted resources to check and double-check your work, and when you're done, you'll have a document, term paper, novel or whatever that you can truly be proud of. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of accepting the services of someone substandard just because you're in a hurry or strapped for cash or in an area where there aren't a lot of providers of the service you need. This is the 21st Century and there are bulletin boards all over the internet where you can find professionals who will help you for reasonable fees. Save up the money, and then spend it on someone you've researched and asked a few questions about. You'll be glad you did.

(Sandy Lender has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fifteen years and is the author of the new fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, available from

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Blogger Laura M. Crawford said...

Great advice, Sandy! When I'm finished rewriting my novel, "Office Politics" can I hire you for a large, unreasonable fee to edit my novel?? Please? Pretty please??

No, I'm serious. When the time comes, I want you (or if you are too busy touring around on your yacht) someone you highly recommend for the job, deal? And no sugarcoating either! I want it straight! If is sucks, baby, then tell me it sucks! Nothing gets me madder than someone telling me I don't look "fat" in something when all of us know, I'm fat and I look fat in everything!LOL! (The South Beach Diet starts tomorrow, BTW.) :)


Laura :)

12:49 PM  
Blogger Sandy Lender said...

I'll need the downpayment now...

The job of the editor is not to tell someone that their manuscript sucks (the agent/gatekeeper did that and the ms never got to an editor); the job of the editor is to work with you to refine and polish and make your ms so fabulous that it blinds people with its gloriousness. Are you ready? You just bring that bad boy on down and we'll get it so shiny it makes some publisher weep. Yow!

Sandy L.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

5:31 PM  

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