| Great StoryTelling Network Newsletter
Volume 14, Issue 3 – 15 March 2018
After the last newsletter was sent out, I received an email from a subscriber asking me about editors he could work with. This gave me the impetus to write about my journey so far with editors, agents and publishers with regard to ‘the novel’. As I’ve said in the story below, although I can now laugh at some of what happened, there was a time I was in tears for days.
While I’ve shared a personal account, Rohi has responded by sharing how a writer can prepare his/her manuscript for publishing on Amazon.com.
I hope that you can laugh along with me and also learn from Rohi. Ultimately, I pray you’re inspired to continue sharing your stories.
[Full disclosure: Some of the links in this story are affiliate links which means that if you follow them and buy the stuff, I get a percentage of the payment made with no extra cost to you.]
During the opening monologue of the 2018 Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel spoke about the discrepancy in the payments made to Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams in a movie. The fee for the actress was paltry while the actor received a huge sum of money. They had the same agent and Kimmel said, “[I]f we can’t trust agents, who can we trust?” This reminded me of what I call the ‘Edi-Mission Process’ which involves interactions with agents, editors and commissioning publishers. Today, I laugh, but there was a time I did nothing but cry.
There are also two reasons why I choose to share these stories with you now. First, is that a subscriber wanted a recommendation for an editor he could work with. Second, I’m ready to venture back into self-publishing ‘the novel’.
Broadly speaking, the editing process can be divided into three parts which are writing and preparing the manuscript for editors, editing the manuscript and where I am now.
Perhaps, some background is necessary. I completed the novel in 2010 and started the submission process. By 2012, since there was no response, I decided that something wasn’t right and reworked the novel from scratch. Then, life happened. Between 2013 and 2016, I lost seven people (including the dog) and didn’t have the heart to work on it. I spent 2017 picking up the pieces of my writing life and now that we’re in 2018, it’s time to look again at this project. Quite simply, the novel deals with issues that arise because of two concurrent legal jurisdictions.
Round 1 of Edi-Mission Process: Font, Spacing and Numbers
The biggest problem with the novel was its plot and structure. The one resource that helped me was James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish. I learned about Doorways, Disturbances and the amazing power that comes from putting things in the right place.
Round 2 of Edi-Mission Process: Being Insulted
Before that, you may ask why the UK and not the US? Well, I was trained in UK English and write in that manner (meaning I write ‘colour’ rather than ‘color’). It seemed easier.
The half that wasn’t a mistake was because the editors identified a fundamental issue and asked me a simple question – why was I highlighting this jurisdiction issue in the first place? The answer is something Malaysians take for granted which the British, with their single legal system, can’t understand. I worked the answer to this question into the novel.
The half that was a mistake related to blindly working with an editor because he was ‘supposed to be the best’. This editor insisted that I change my story fundamentally by removing the legal issue altogether and concentrating on a murder-mystery instead. I told him that it didn’t make sense as if I did, all my fellow lawyers would laugh at me. He then said two things that still annoy me. First, no one cares what Malaysian lawyers think. Second, I should insert a ‘white’ element in the story (such as a half-Caucasian character or make the setting somewhere in Europe) so that it would appeal to British readers.
Desperate to please the editor, I tried to do what he asked. But the story didn’t make sense at all and he scolded me for not following his ‘strictures’.
After shedding some tears and paying his demand for full payment (including all bank charges and fees), I reached out to writer friends. One explained something important to me: When an editor avoids addressing the queries you’ve raised and starts picking on nitty gritty, he does not understand the novel. Unwilling to come across as stupid, he’ll pick on your abilities as a writer. More often than not, he will go back on what he’s said previously.
Here’s a perfect example. One of the characters in the novel is Papa Aunty. In the opening pages, I explain that ‘Papa’ is a Tamil word that roughly means baby. In fact, my grandmother’s nickname was ‘Papa’. A year ago, the editor had said he loved these exotic names. When I couldn’t follow his instructions, he wrote to say that British people would be confused by the use of the word ‘Papa’ for a woman.
I wondered if British readers were, in fact, so dim-witted that they can’t fathom a world where one’s grandparents are referred to something other than Grandpa and Grandma. I mentioned this when I contacted the people at www.writersworkshops.co.uk. In particular, I wanted an editor who would help me make this story understandable to the reader, not change the focus so it was a commercial success.
I was so lucky to be paired with fabulous editors like Debi Alper and Susan Davis. I also signed up for the self-editing course. By the end of 2014, I was ready to begin the submission process again. But, as I said, life happened.
Round 3 of Edi-Mission Process: Level Playing Field
While I am delighted by this success, I am aware that my desire to have the novel published in the UK is no longer as intense, especially when I receive comments and feedback like the ones below.
The least they could have done was to get my name correct. Or worked on their grammar and punctuation.
Two months ago, I was grateful to be rejected by a particular publisher because the day after I received his email, I learned that he was publishing the memoirs of a politician the world hated. Imagine! The politician and I could have had the same publisher, much like Wahlberg and Williams having the same agent.
Laughter aside, here’s what I’ve learned from all this:
Ultimately, it’s wonderful to work with agents and publishers because our combined resources allow for a project to reach far more of its potential than going it alone. This, however, should never be at the expense of insulting each other.
I would love to know your stories of working with editors, agents and publishers. Please share them. You can send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or place your comments in the box below.
Once you have done the incredibly difficult task of completing your first book, you need to decide where to publish it. Let us assume that you have decided to save yourself the time, money, energy, and stress of trying to persuade a traditional publisher to publish your book. Instead, you take the first definitive step to name, fame, and gain and publish it yourself. Kudos! Onward.
Since this is your first book and you don’t have much of a fan following yet, other than family and friends (if that), it’s best to rely on Amazon to publish and distribute your book. Amazon is the world’s biggest bookstore and it’s open 24×7 worldwide. More importantly, you can publish your e-book (Kindle book) for free. You can also update your book as many times as you like, again for free.
And the best part? You don’t have to wait for weeks, months or even years to get your book published. You can get it published on Amazon as soon as you prepare your book for publication. That’s what you are going to do right now. So fasten your seat belt and let’s get going already.
So what do we want to achieve at the end of this preparation process? Same as Apple—elegance and ease of use.
The most important part of the preparation process is to make sure your book does not have any spelling and grammatical errors. Have zero tolerance for any typos. Use Word’s built-in spelling and grammar checking tool, but proofread your file manually as well. Ideally, print out your document and read it aloud.
Now save your digital book as a new file with doc or docx format. The two main principles of preparation: keep it simple and keep it consistent. For example, we don’t want too many fonts in our book and we don’t want different spacing between lines and paragraphs in different parts of your book.
The most effective way to simplify this whole process and to maintain consistency is to apply styles. For example, I apply
Then you can be sure that all the elements in your book will be consistent.
Important: Don’t forget to insert a manual page break after each element of the front matter.
The Ultimate Guide to Walking Meditation
[Insert manual page break]
Copyright © 2018 Rohi Shetty
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form by any means, without permission in writing from the copyright holder, except for brief quotations in a review or on social media.
Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
Published by Happy Books.
Preface, introduction, and foreword
After you’ve created your front matter, you can format the rest of your book.
Inclusion of images
If your book has a lot of images, it can be viewed in color by readers using the free Kindle apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android. Otherwise, images on Kindle are displayed in 16 shades of gray.
The placement of hard returns in your manuscript can affect the design of your book. Hard returns indicate where you want new paragraphs to start or line spaces added. You shouldn’t use hard returns at the end of every line. Use hard returns only to start a new paragraph or to create an extra space between paragraphs (for example, to start a new section within a chapter).
Table of contents
On a PC, you can use Word’s built-in Table of Contents tool. On a Mac, you’ll need to create a Table of Contents manually using the Hyperlink and Bookmark functions. For more help, click here.
Text boxes and shapes
Back matter (optional)
Saving as filtered HTML
When saving the Word file as html, all the images (if any) in the Word file will be extracted and stored in a separate folder. This folder will be saved in the same location where the HTML file is saved.
Uploading your eBook for sale on Amazon
For more information on publication of your book on Amazon, refer to this Help page.
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