Mademoiselle Français: éditeur extraordinaire

Not too long ago I wrote a blog bemoaning the challenges of find a good (and reasonably priced) copy editor. Several of you came through and messaged me with recommendations for which I am extremely grateful. As a result, I’m happy to say that I not only found a wonderful editor to take on my project, I actually have a finished project! I can’t say enough about the extraordinary Ms. French and would recommend her services to anyone in the market for editing services.
I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous at first. Editors aren’t cheap and testimonials are a dime a dozen. I scoured the web for hours looking for reputable and reasonable services, and the more I saw the more concerned I became about getting a good value for my money. I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for and if something seems too good to be true, well, you get the idea.
Still, I didn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars because:
1) I don’t have that kind of money for editing services
2) I was concerned that I might be overpaying for the quality of work.
Ultimately, I ended up selecting an editor that came to me through a personal referral and I couldn’t be happier with the results! Ms. French was extremely professional and invested a considerable amount of time explaining both her background and her process to me so that I’d be comfortable with the arrangement before proceeding. She also delivered the project on time and on budget which was almost as important to me as getting quality work.
I’m really excited about the results and can’t wait to share with everyone! I’ve still got one step to go before I can officially call myself a published author: cover art.
Wish me luck!

Impatience Is a Virtue Too

Snapple Real Fact #926: George Washington was the only unanimously elected President.
(I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty sure I could accomplish this amazing feat too. If only I had the time.)
Okay, so back to patience, or my lack thereof. All my life I’ve been told that patience is a virtue, to be more patient, that good things come to those who wait, blah, blah, blah. Yep. That’s right. It went in one ear and out the other. I meant to listen (I really did!), but it didn’t seem like particularly good advice at the time. Still doesn’t.
I’m more of a ‘take the bull by the horns’ kind of girl. If you want something, go get it. Make it happen. NOW. Because really, what’s the point of waiting? Sometimes you’ve just got to step up and take the initiative.
Take Sean Combs (a.k.a. P. Diddy) for example. (Yes. I realize there are numerous examples of self-starters throughout history who’ve had an amazing impact on our lives and the world at large, but I’m going to cave to the MTV generation for a moment. Not because I’m especially enamored with P. Diddy, but because he makes a great point. Stick with me for a minute.) Maybe you didn’t know this, but Combs is credited with dragging himself out of the Harlem projects with hard work, perseverance, and what my dad calls intestinal fortitude (yes, I mean guts).
When asked about his success, Combs said:

“I’ve never been surprised about what happened to me. I’ve put in hard work to get to this point. It’s like when you become a lawyer – if you’re bustin’ your ass, you’re not surprised when you get your degree. I came in to win, you know. This is why I stay up late while other people are sleeping; this is why I don’t go out to the Hamptons.”

I’m not going to be the next princess of hip hop (ask anyone who’s had the misfortune of hearing me sing), but that doesn’t mean I won’t be a published author. I know what you’re thinking. If it were that easy, everyone would do it. And what happens if I can’t find an agent who believes in my work as much as I do. Will I give up? Will I query myself into a coma? Will I just keep waiting for something to happen?
Unlikely. As I said, I prefer action. Swift and efficient. I may be new to publishing, but I’m not new to hard work, brand management, or marketing.  I’ve got a whole arsenal of tools and talented folks in my back pocket, not to mention a plan. As I sit here today I am fortunate to have a very creative graphic designer working on cover art for my book and a well-trained and experienced editor reviewing my manuscript. Why? Because I haven’t ruled out self-publishing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not done querying (I didn’t get where I am today without a reasonable amount of patience!). I would L-O-V-E being traditionally published. Not only would my words be available for millions of readers to enjoy, it would free up my time to do what I love most: write. Instead of being a jack of all trades, I would have a team of professionals to ease the burden. But I’m also a realist; a realist who is determined to make my dream a reality.

J.J. Bonds

Books, Books, Books

Snapple Real Fact #912: Meteorologists claim they’re right 85% of the time.

(Am I the only one who has a hard time believing this? The crazy weather this week has me seriously doubting the accuracy of this stat. Maybe I too can claim to be right 85% of the time!)
Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter with friends and family!  I had the opportunity to sneak away for a few days of much needed R&R with the Atlanta family and have been doing a lot of editing and reading (both of which have kept me from blogging). I’ve reached what I’ll call the ‘final’ version of my manuscript, but find myself with many questions (or maybe it’s really just self-doubt). Is my story good enough? Are the characters well developed? Should I make another pass at it? I guess the reality is that I may never know for sure since opinion is subjective and it’s difficult to really pinpoint what makes one book a success over another.
However, I’m really lucky to have a couple of very vocal beta readers for whom I’m grateful (although sometimes I secretly wish they were a little harder on my work). It’s difficult not to read professionally published books and compare. Every now and then I come across a passage that I wish I’d written. You know the kind. The ones with amazing imagery that yank you head over heels into the story. Or the ones that leave you depressed. Not because the story line is sad but because they’re over.
I’ve also been reading a lot of independent books lately which are self-published. It’s been both inspiring and eye opening. First and foremost, I commend each of the authors who’ve had the courage to self-publish, making their work available to the masses when traditional publishing houses have opted to pass. Not only do I find the stories refreshing, the price points are right ($0.99-$2.99).
Never read an indie author? You should. They’re everywhere. There are a lot of good stories out there that I would have otherwise missed. They’re easier to find than you might think (check out my links). Indie books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, you-name-it. Yeah, there’s some crap, but that’s where the reviews come in handy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the organization and depth of some of the books.
In fact, I just read Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, a paranormal romance, by H.P. Mallory. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the most discerning reader, but I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. Good plot, fluid story line, no WTF moments. All in all, a good read. Yes, it’s light and fluffy, but I wouldn’t expect anything different from PNR.
I found the book on GoodReads.com. If you’re an avid reader, I highly recommend checking out the website. Frankly, I wish I’d found it sooner. It’s a great place to find new authors, new releases, and to just generally talk books. I’m a little shy about chatting on-line, but love having the ability to get reviews for books from trusted sources. Especially books I’d never find on the shelves of the evil-empire (or other big box stores) in the face of diminishing bookstores.
Read anything good lately? Leave a message below. I’m always looking for new series and authors!
Last, but not least, I want to thank everyone for the editor recommendations. I appreciate the help and will likely be pursuing a few of these options in the coming weeks.
J.J. Bonds

Calling All Editors

Snapple Real Fact #830: The average human dream lasts only 2 to 3 seconds.
(Found under the lid of my Snapple Papaya Mango Tea – Inspired by India and The Amazing Race)
Let’s hope my dream lasts a little longer than average!
So what’s the deal with the Snapple Real Fact? I drink a lot of tea. I mean a lot. I’m not that picky either: sweetened, unsweetened, peach, black with lemon, raspberry, white blueberry, infused with pomegranate, Long Island. You name it, I probably drink it. Lately I’ve been on a Snapple bender so I thought it would be fun (and maybe even educational) to start each post with that days Snapple Real Fact.
Now back to business. I put the finishing touches on my manuscript today and am ready to move into the next stage of production: editing. Turns out, editors don’t come cheap. My first quote came in at $1,700. Yikes! I knew it was going to be pricey, but I wasn’t quite prepared for that number. (Good thing I was at happy hour when that one came in. It helped take the sting off a little bit!)
My dilemma is twofold:
1.       Should I invest that kind of money in an editor at this point?
2.       How do I know I’m getting my money’s worth?
I believe in my work. It’s good and would definitely be classified as commercial. I’ve gone through the manuscript three times to scrub it for grammatical and syntax errors and all that good stuff. Unfortunately, I’m also a realist who’s at least marginally self-aware. I’m comma happy. What I need most is a grammar guru.
I’m confident I could find cheaper editors, but how do I know if they’re really any good until it’s too late? They’ve all got piles of testimonials on their websites, but frankly most of them don’t instill a lot of confidence in me.
Here’s the deal… I’d love to be able to go cheaper, but I’m sure it’s a case of ‘you get what you pay for’. I’m going to keep searching for the time being.  If you know anyone who’s got an English background or experience with copy editing (and who might be looking for some freelance work), feel free to drop me a line.

J.J. Bonds