Guest Post: Rachel Haimowitz on Work-For-Hire Part I

A few months ago, I got the opportunity to read and review Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz (see review here). I hadn’t had much success with M/M romances until this story. Awesome read! Today she’s joined us to give us a leg up on self-publishing. 🙂 Thank you, Rachel.

So You Want to Publish a Novel . . .

Anyone who’s surfed round the writing blogosphere this past year has no doubt heard quite a bit about self-publishing. Via Amazon.com’s digital text platform, B&N’s PubIt!, Smashwords, Createspace, and specialty stores like AllRomanceEbooks opening their doors to indie and self-pubbed authors, anyone with talent, marketing skills, and the right presentation has a shot at becoming the next Amanda Hocking . . . or at least at paying the cable bill each month with your royalties.

But what I haven’t seen in my online trawling were posts addressing the how of it. And I don’t mean how to write a novel, or how to use PubIt!, or how to leverage Smashwords for file conversion. I mean how to hire a good editor, a good cover artist, a good layout artist, a good proofreader, maybe even a good marketing consultant. And if you think you can get away without any one of these things (except the marketing consultant—you can self-educate pretty quickly to do that job if you’re willing to put in the time), then you’re kidding yourself. You might sell a dozen poorly edited or poorly presented copies, maybe even a hundred, but those customers won’t come back for your next book, or recommend the one they bought to friends. Packaging a book is a team effort. I’m here today to talk about how to find that team.

Working Both Sides of the Fence

This is the point at which I, as a reader, would be wondering, And just who the heck are you? So, a little bit about my experiences in this regard:

Though I’ve published with three houses, I also chose to self-publish some contemporary BDSM stories in a book called Sublime: Collected Shorts. I gave away a thousand free copies in its first week, then began selling it for $2.99 via Smashwords (where I did all my file conversions to multiple formats), Amazon, B&N, and AllRomanceebooks.com (ARe). Since its January release, I’ve sold a modest 250-or-so copies—nice pocket change for not having to split my income with a publishing house. I blame the vast majority of these sales on artist/author L.C. Chase’s excellent cover.

On the other side of the fence—that of a freelancer doing work, rather than an author seeking to hire—I have been copyediting, developmental editing, proofreading, and project managing for almost a decade. I’ve done substantive edits on two self-published projects that went on to land six-figure publishing contracts with major houses (Don’t Get Caught with Your Skirt Down by Jill Keto, and Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness by Ellen Dolgen). I’ve hired subcontractors (researchers, outliners, rough drafters, proofreaders, transcriptionists, etc.) with client permission when my own schedule was overloaded or the client needed fast turnaround. I know my way around the freelance marketplace as both an employer and an employee.

Who You Need

Developmental Editor: If you’re planning to self-publish, the first thing you need is a good editor. No, make that a great editor. And I don’t mean someone who will just find all your typos (although make sure you get a person to do that too, because nothing screams “AMATEUR!” to readers like a book full of misplaced commas and dangling modifiers). I mean a developmental editor: someone who will gut your story on a structural level, point out issues with character, plot, flow, pacing, tone, POV, word choice, authorial voice, authenticity, logic checks, the whole nine yards. This may involve you restructuring the whole story, reordering things, cutting whole chapters or even whole characters or plot points, etc. etc. Even the most seasoned authors need this kind of help; unless you are some rare unicorn of an Olympic-class talent who has worked and trained for this your whole life, don’t assume you’re somehow magically above it.

Copyeditor: Once that process is done—and don’t rush it, it can take weeks or even months to do right—the next step is line edits. The bones of your story are all nice and shiny, and now it’s time to smooth out the musculature atop those bones. A line (or copy) editor will go through with a metaphoric (or actual) red pen and address issues in your text sentence by sentence. The idea here is to fix issues without stepping on the author’s voice or style, so a good copyeditor will write a great many queries (for instance, “This is your eighth sentence fragment in as many paragraphs; is it a deliberate style choice or an oversight?”). They’ll also fix the obvious things without querying (for instance, changing “two” to “too”—a mistake that neither your spellchecker nor a proofreader would find). Whether the copyeditor queries or simply fixes issues in between (things like word choice, non-conventional punctuation or sentence structure, extra “that”s, head-hopping or other POV slips, etc.) will depend on the rules you’ve established and the level of trust between you.

Another essential function of the copyeditor is to enforce uniform style. This doesn’t necessarily mean CMS (Chicago Manual of Style)—though that’s the style guide of record for most fiction presses. What it does mean is that your manuscript must remain consistent to itself, whatever style you choose or adapt or even invent. Want to use “towards” instead of “toward” even though you’re American? Fine; a good copyeditor will make sure you spell it the same each time. Have your own made-up fantasy language or a habit of spelling out the number three instead of using a numeral? Again, fine; a good copyeditor will enforce that internal rule. Any copyeditor worth her salt will even make something called a style sheet—a list of every non-conventional usage in the document—to facilitate consistency.

Sound like a giant pain in the ass? Now you know why you need professional help.

Proofreader: The last editorial step is proofreading. A proofreader generally does nothing but ensure proper use of punctuation (not grammar—that’s for the copyeditor) and formatting. She’ll make sure your commas are inside the quotation marks (unless you’re in the UK, in which case she’ll make sure they’re outside), make sure all your scene breaks and chapter breaks are handled with the same number of blank lines or centered asterisks or whatever you’ve chosen to use, make sure your footnotes (if you have them) are formatted correctly, make sure the page numbers in your table of contents line up to the correct pages on which your chapters start, etc.

Sometimes, you’ll find an editor (like me) who can do all three of these jobs. More frequently, you’ll find it’s best to hire different individuals for different jobs. Sometimes it’s a matter of qualifications (the best developmental editor in the world might not be able to line edit or proofread to save their lives), and sometimes it’s a matter of cost (a qualified developmental editor will charge three to five times as much per hour as a qualified proofreader). Often, it’s a matter of both.

Tune in for Part 2 to learn about layout and cover artists, and how much you can expect to pay for artist and editor services. And if you have any questions about what I’ve discussed so far, or wish to add to (or argue with) my information, please leave a comment. I’d love to discuss!

 

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Rachel is an M/M erotic romance author and a freelance writer and editor. She originally dipped her toes into cable news and book publishing, decided the water was cold and smelled kinda funny, and moved on to help would-be authors polish and publish, write for websites and magazines, and ghostwrite nonfiction.

Currently she has a contemporary BDSM collection (Sublime: Collected Shorts) and two M/M erotic romance novels (a high fantasy adventure titled Counterpoint: Book One of Song of the Fallen, and a modern-day slavery alternate universe story titled Anchored: Belonging Book One) in print. Her third novel, Crescendo: Book II of Song of the Fallen, will release in the fall of 2011 with Guiltless Pleasure Publishing; and her first novella, an M/M cyberpunk story co-written with Aleksandr Voinov titled Break and Enter, will release with Samhain Publishing around December of 2011.

You can find Rachel at RachelHaimowitz.com, tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Rachel-Haimowitz.blogspot.com. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.

Character Interview: Carl Whitman from Anchored + Giveaway[CLOSED]

If you haven’t stopped by Rachel Haimowitz’s blog, do so! From January 14-24, 2011, she’s having her blog tour for Anchored: Belonging Book One. Anchored releases on January 17, 2011, from Noble Romance Publishing. To celebrate, Ms. Haimowitz is throwing one heck of a party and giving out nearly twenty-five free books!

Network news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company who’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.

Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason a man would pay so much for what little free time he has, and it’s got nothing to do with his knowledge of current events. But he’s never been made to serve like that before, and he fears he won’t survive the experience with his sanity intact.

He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him time and again when it comes to ordering Daniel to bed. Daniel knows what Carl wants, but it seems as if Carl isn’t willing to take it, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, love just might flourish where once there’d been only fear and pain. Can Carl become the anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, or will he end up the weight that sinks his slave for good?

(WARNING: This book contains potentially triggering subject matter, including a violent on-screen rape. Please take heed.)

Today Carl Whitman, the talk show host who leases Daniel, is here to chat up with us for a bit.

Reena Jacobs: Thank you, Mr. Whitman, for joining us today. I imagine you have a pretty busy schedule.

Carl Whitman: My pleasure. Always happy to chat with a fan.

RJ: I bet your introduction into broadcasting differed significantly from Daniel’s. Tell us a little about how you became a news anchor.

CW: I’m actually a late-night talk show host, although I did get my start in news. Radio, to be specific. I studied broadcasting at NYU, did a 30-minute radio show on the college station my junior and senior year. A lot of current events, a lot of football talk, the occasional interview. Took an internship at a local radio station the summer after my senior year, and ended up staying on there for three years. I was the guy who did the Local News on the 15s, you know? Mostly reading wire reports, but every once in a while I’d get to interview a local celebrity or politician. After that, let’s see . . . Moved on to sports reporting with the local evening news, then got a gig morningside as a co-host on the local morning show—slightly bigger market, went from Philly to New York—and it all just sort of took off from there.

RJ: I’m curious about your childhood and your interactions with slaves. Will you share with us a bit about that?

CW: I grew up pretty solidly middle class. My parents couldn’t afford their own slaves, but I remember they used to rent a woman from a couple down the street, have her come in and clean once a week, maybe send her out to do the grocery shopping if they were really busy. And they hired slave babysitters for me and my sister from an agency. Since my dad worked a lot of late nights and my mom was getting her Master’s degree in the evenings for a few years, there was a lot of babysitting going on. So in a way I guess they were a part of our household, and of course they’re just everywhere in restaurants and stores and whatnot. I always knew they were important resources, and my dad raised his kids never to be cruel to a slave—a lot of times they just don’t know better, or just don’t understand; it’s pretty uncommon to see one being deliberately willful. Like dogs, you know? They trust you, and they count on you for their care and safety and affection, and in the end, they really only want to please you. That’s a lot of responsibility, and you need to take it seriously. Which is why, to be honest, I hadn’t ever really given serious thought to owning my own slave until my career really took off. Suddenly I had no free time anymore, but more money than I knew what to do with. Seemed smart to stop renting someone from an agency and just get my own.

RJ: How did you discover Jane?

CW: So I’ve got this thing, right? This allergic-to-gluten thing. Makes it kind of hard to eat out. But there was this little restaurant down in the East Village, place called Lefties, they serve the most amazing gluten-free food. I’d go down there maybe once, twice a week, every week, and one day when it’s not real busy, I ask the waiter if I can’t give my compliments to the chef. So he brings her out, and it’s Jane, this quiet, polite little southern belle. And then I see the bracelets and realize she’s a slave—well, plus, you know, the whole “Yes sir” and “No sir” and “Thank you, sir” bit she had going on, never looking me in the eye and all. But anyway, this is around the same time the money’s piling up and my time is dwindling and I’d made up my mind I needed to buy someone. She didn’t come cheap—the owner was pretty fond of her, and frankly I don’t blame him—but we shook hands on it that night and I came to pick her up the next day.

RJ: What was your rationale behind keeping Jane’s husband?

CW: Husband, eh? I mean, I know I got them rings, but you do know slaves can’t marry, right? But anyway, why I kept Dave? *shrugs* They’re in love. And yeah, sure, maybe it’s true that slaves don’t feel love like we do, but still, it woulda been cruel to pull them apart. And I told you what my dad taught us about never being cruel to a slave. Anyway, Dave’s not such a bad investment. He’s got good skills, and he’s eager to please; the agency finds him a lot of work.

RW: Would you ever allow Jane to have children of her own?

CW: I gotta be honest, I really don’t want a baby in the apartment crying all hours of the night. Besides, I get the impression Jane doesn’t want kids. Don’t know why, but she always gets this look when she sees other people’s babies, you know? Like it makes her sad. All I know is, she asked me if she could go on the pill, and I got it for her. If she comes to me one day and says she doesn’t want it anymore, well, I guess we’d deal with it then. Maybe if I moved to a bigger place, somewhere I wouldn’t hear the kid or trip over its toys . . . I mean, it might be kind of nice to have a little critter around.

RJ: Tell us about the first time you saw Daniel.

CW: Hm, well, I guess it was . . . six or seven years ago, maybe? He was a foreign correspondent then with InfoGlobe, just starting to break out into the spotlight. Fuck, he was pretty, and smart, too. They knew they really had something special there.

RJ: When did you first realize you had the hots for him?

CW: *laughs* Oh, I dunno, the instant I laid eyes on him? I mean, seriously, have you seen the guy?

RJ: What draws you most to Daniel?

CW: I know I should be mature here and say “his brain,” but . . . I mean, not that it isn’t a lovely brain, because it is; he’s smart, he can really be hilariously funny when he lets his fucking hair down and relaxes, he’s lightning-quick on his feet, a little flirty—and mind you, I don’t even think he realizes he’s doing it. Guy just oozes charm. He’s got a big heart, too, so appreciative of the tiniest little things. And he certainly doesn’t hurt to look at, either, if you know what I mean.

RJ: Is there anything about Daniel you’d change?

CW: Sometimes I wish he weren’t a slave, you know? But it’s not as if manumission is even legal in this country, so even if I owned him I couldn’t make that choice. Anyway, poor kid would have no idea how to take care of himself. But he’s just so skittish sometimes, and there are things I’d love to do with him, places I’d love to take him, where those damn bracelets just get in the way.

RJ: Why did you lease Daniel rather than flat out purchase him? And are you considering purchasing him in the future?

CW: Hah! I wish I could buy him, but that man is so not for sale. Even if he were, I doubt I could afford him. Do you know how much it costs just to lease him?

RJ: We’ll we be hearing more about you and Daniel in the future?

CW: At the very least, you can see us on TV five days a week. And I’m afraid we’ve been in more than our share of the gossip rags lately too. God only knows why the press is so interested in our sex life, but there you have it, eh? You know what I think? I think they’re jealous.

RJ: Thank you again for stopping by today, Mr. Whitman. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on you and Daniel, gossip and all. 😉

You can find my review of Anchored here. Find out more about the men in Rachel Haimowitz and the men in her life on her blog.

Great news! Rachel Haimowitz has offered prizes to two lucky commenters! So what’s up for grabs?

  • 1 ebook copy of Counterpoint: Book I of Song of the Fallen OR of Sublime: Collected Shorts (winner’s choice).
  • 1 swag pack featuring cover art from Anchored and my other works.

The rules! We love rules, don’t we?

  • Leave a comment on this post.
  • Leave your email in the post, so I can forward your info to Ms. Haimowitz.
  • Giveaway ends Sunday, January 23, 2011.

So… want to keep on top of the Anchored Release Party? Here’s what’s happening.

Find Anchored at:

Amazon

The Book Depository

Barnes & Nobles

Novel Review: Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz

I think Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz makes my third M/M piece of work. I realized early with my experience with M/M writings that contemporary romance style plots don’t do it for me (this goes for the traditional M/F romances also). The novelty of a M/M situation doesn’t make the storyline unique enough to grab my attention. So when Ms. Haimowitz offered Anchored to me, I was quite a bit apprehensive. Try a few chapters of Counterpoint, she said. If you like it, you can come back for Anchored. Well, I tried a few chapters of Counterpoint. One thing for sure, it was outside my normal reads and had me intrigued. Had me asking, Uh… Ms. Haimowitz. Is that offer for Anchored still open? 🙂 Before we get down and dirty with the review, the blurb from Ms. Haimowitz’s Website.

Network news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company who’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.

Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason a man would pay so much for what little free time he has, and it’s got nothing to do with his knowledge of current events. But he’s never been made to serve like that before, and he fears he won’t survive the experience with his sanity intact.

He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him time and again when it comes to ordering Daniel to bed. Daniel knows what Carl wants, but it seems as if Carl isn’t willing to take it, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, love just might flourish where once there’d been only fear and pain. Can Carl become the anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, or will he end up the weight that sinks his slave for good?

Warning: This book contains an on-screen rape.

First thing I found was Anchored is set in an alternative time-line where slavery is prominent in the present world. Hmm… that was different and enough to keep me reading. Okay, so this was a fictional piece of work. However, reading about slavery in history books in the classroom truly doesn’t do justice to what it means to be a slave. Ms. Haimowitz did an excellent job of showing the classes, privileges, and rights (or lack thereof) between the slave and free class. Myself, as an American living with quite a few privileges, it’s easy to take for granted the many haves while getting pissy when I have nots. For instance, I’ve been known to spout off like I’ve lost my mind when I know there’s no major consequence lurking around the corner. Let a slave from Anchored try that.

So characters: Daniel (MC) was a true slave and played the role. He had a few moments when he pushed boundaries, but for the most part was easy to reel back in. At times, it was truly sad. I felt for the guy. Daniel wasn’t a protagonist who exuded strength. He was broken in a way which lent itself to a sympathetic audience. His life wasn’t perfect, but he dealt. It even got me a little misty-eyed a few times. The realism was something I understood.

Carl, Daniel’s co-star, was patient but still a master true and true to the end. He reminded me of bible teachings where slaves were released in the seventh year. But if the slave had a good master, he/she might not want release, so sold himself back into slavery to avoid the stress which came with being free. Carl was that kind of master. He wasn’t perfect, but he cared enough that his slaves knew it could be worse elsewhere. By the way, if you stop by after 7 am EST today, Carl agreed to do an interview with me, and Ms. Haimowitz will be checking throughout the day. 🙂 So don’t miss out.

Now the villain, Mr. Foster… he was a mean one. I love villains I can hate with a passion. I can’t help but want to learn more about him. How did he get to be so wicked? Mr. Foster had very small parts, but those parts played a significant role in the overall interactions between Daniel and the other characters. Gosh, I’d love to read a story about him with him as a main character or co-star.

Plot wise: When I started this, I was expecting a bit of M on M romance. I got something entirely different. A powerful yank kind of different, but different good. I think it’s why I liked it so much. Personally, I found very little of this book erotic until the very end—not much guy on guy action. I was fine with that since I haven’t decided if M/M sex in books are for me yet. Still I found myself wiping the fog from my glasses at once time. One thing Anchored did have was a lot of emotional drama. That worked for me, because I’m all about my protagonists going through the fire. I often return to a comment Nalini Singh made on her blog about thinking about the worse you can do to your hero/heroine, then do it. Ms. Haimowitz certainly did that.

Overall, this was a great read. So good in fact, it almost made my 2010 favorites. What held it back? This was my first Happy For Now ending. And I’ve come to find out that I’m not too fond of those. I don’t have to have a Happily Ever After, but I definitely like closure. Now I’m not saying Anchored had a cliffhanger. It didn’t. This was a COMPLETE story. It just left me wondering, What will happen to Daniel and Carl now? So, if I were one to rate this, I’d say it’s a 5 star read which just barely missed the 2010 Favorites list.

Favorite Lines:

  • “My god, you’re like one of those shivery little wet dogs ridiculous women carry in their purses.”
  • The prod went off again and he thought, God, what I wouldn’t give to be someone else right now. Anyone else. Anyone at all.
  • What the fuck does that mean? Guys like him? He was a slave, just like the doorman. Just a damn slave.

Now this read isn’t for everyone. And it comes with a rough label. 🙂 Still, I highly recommend this to folks who enjoy works by Kitty Thomas but like the M/M flavor.

So… want to keep on top of the Anchored Release Party? Here’s what’s happening.

Find Anchored at: Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo

Anchored Blog Tour + Day 6 Winners

So tomorrow marks the first day of the Anchored Blog tour. Lots of fun and events. So I’m surfing through the series of updates I’ve received about the days to come, and find I have loads of info to share with you. 🙂 Now I might miss some things, but don’t fret. Rachel Haimowitz, author of Anchored, has all the information in a centralized location on her blog. 🙂

In her last email she had this to say, “Don’t forget to mention all the prizes; people love prizes, and we’ll be giving away thirty books throughout the course of the tour, plus hats, t-shirts, mouse pads, notebooks, keychains, cover flats, magnets, etc featuring the cover art.” Are you giddy? I am!

Carl of Anchored will be stopping here for an interview on Monday, January 17, so be sure to check back.

You might be wondering why you should care about this book. So let me give you the blurb for it:

Network news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company who’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.

Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason a man would pay so much for what little free time he has, and it’s got nothing to do with his knowledge of current events. But he’s never been made to serve like that before, and he fears he won’t survive the experience with his sanity intact.


He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him time and again when it comes to ordering Daniel to bed. Daniel knows what Carl wants, but it seems as if Carl isn’t willing to take it, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, love just might flourish where once there’d been only fear and pain. Can Carl become the anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, or will he end up the weight that sinks his slave for good?

(WARNING: This book contains potentially triggering subject matter, including a violent on-screen rape. Please take heed.)

Don’t miss out. Complete Anchored Release Party Schedule: http://rachel-haimowitz.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html

Speaking of prizes! We have some for you today. Day 6 of the blogoversary featured Lindsay Buroker, author of The Goblin Brothers Adventure and The Emporer’s Edge. A quick recap of the goodies she offered:

  • Your choice of an eBook (The Goblin Brothers Adventures – MG or The Emperor’s Edge – Fantasy) Plus a $25 Gift Card to Amazon. US only
  • Your choice of an eBook (The Goblin Brothers Adventures – MG or The Emperor’s Edge – Fantasy). International

And the winners are…

Sherri ~ Your choice of an eBook (The Goblin Brothers Adventures – MG or The Emperor’s Edge – Fantasy) Plus a $25 Gift Card to Amazon.

Kulsuma ~ Your choice of an eBook (The Goblin Brothers Adventures – MG or The Emperor’s Edge – Fantasy)

Congratulations to the both of you!

If you didn’t win, you can find Lindsay Buroker’s works on Smashwords and Amazon.

Emails have been sent to the winners who has until Monday, January 17, 2011 to get back to me. Don’t forget to pick up your consolation prize–Control Freak: Brandon’s Story at Smashwords. Use the coupon code HZ25V which is good until February 8, 2011. Enjoy! :)

Day 7 giveaway ends today, which includes free books from the Book Depository and Amazon. For a full list of blogoversary winners, check here.