Free For Nothing

Gots another free story for you. Had one up yesterday for Sample Sunday and there’s one up today at Dark Valentine Magazine. Called “Dry As Dust”, it’s a creepy one.

I’m also guest ranting… er, posting on Karen Syed’s Life As A Publisher. The topic is bad literary fiction, but it goes for bad fiction of all sorts and styles, as well.

And another thing: I was doing my rainbow edits–where one highlights problem words and then goes through and rewrites to eliminate them where one can–and came across some places in which I left out an open quote or close quote. More important was the place in which I had left out a big chunk of text. Yes.

This was a book WHICH HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED. I took the manuscript I sent to Echelon from the one sent to me as published by a previous publisher. Looks like SOMEONE didn’t look at her proofs very carefully before. Fortunately, I had backup files so old they’re on little old floppy disks in txt format, so I was able to recover the lost bit.

When you get your proofs, read them. Carefully. It isn’t that you don’t trust your editor or typesetter. It’s that the quality of the proof you turn in as ready to go is YOUR responsibility. Don’t embarrass yourself the way I did.

WRITING PROMPT: If you have a finished story, read it again as if someone else had written it.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Free For Nothing

  1. Bodie P

    February 28, 2011 at 11:07am

    You raise an excellent point, Marian. The perception is that publishing a book is a linear process: Writing, editing, rewriting, line editing, final corrections, typesetting, galleys, printing. Taint so. It’s recursive, which means that things tend to circle around–and they should.

    I urge my writers to not only read their own manuscripts carefully once they’re typeset, but to have their editors do a fresh edit. Reading a typeset document is very different from reading a text document. Writers and editors tend to catch all sorts of things in that first edit. I no longer even estimate a typesetting job without allowing for major edits the first time around.

    To deny writers that opportunity to really fine-tune a book seems like hamstringing the process to me, and I do everything I can to get my writers to take full advantage of it. Take the extra time, put in the extra work, even pay your editor for an extra review.

    And then, before you sign off, have your line editor double-check the last couple rounds of revisions, even if you have to pay extra for it. Things Happen In Typesetting. Sometimes text gets lost (Marian? Marian?) Sometimes it gets duplicated. Sometimes characters default. Sometimes changes get overlooked. Even though by that time everyone is sick unto death of the little thing you’re publishing (including you), make them do that final review. I’m not talking about a complete rewrite; that’s not the time to be correcting anything except typesetting glitches or outright errors. But getting that last version read one last time by someone, ideally with reasonably fresh eyes, is incredibly helpful.

    I can tell you that the publishers I typeset books for all hate doing that last check like anything. So do I. But we’ve all come to realize that sending a book out without that final level of checking is liable to bite us in the butt at galley time.

    Bodie P

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 28, 2011 at 9:40pm

      You’re so right! When I got the proofs for EEL’S REVERENCE, I caught all kinds of glitches. My blessed publisher sent the corrected proofs back to me–and I caught more! She sent those corrected proofs back, and I said, “Let’s just go. I’m afraid to look at it again.” I wouldn’t have done that if we hadn’t been behind schedule with it already, due to one thing and another. When I get the proofs for FORCE OF HABIT, I’m going to go over them a couple of times, then get my editor daughter to line-edit for me.

      The good thing about all this immersion in the manuscript is, by the time a book has reached this stage, a writer is usually three or four projects past it, and can use the refresher. It would be embarrassing to be doing promo for a book and be asked a question and not have a clue! 😀

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