Episode 86B – Amanda Desiree – Working with Editors

Overview

Amanda had an interesting experience getting her book published through Ink Shares. She discusses how important it is to choose a good editor and listen to your editor.

She first entered a contest where the books were basically crowd funded. She won and feels they did a great job helping her finish publishing her book.

She also has tried dictation and shares her results with working that way.

YouTube

Transcript

[00:00:45] Stephen: All right before we get to the second half of the interview with Amanda, where we talk a lot about editing. Uh, working with editors and the company she went through to get her book published. Uh, let’s hear from Emma. She right now is [00:01:00] running a masterclass. So if you listen to this, you may want to go check out her masterclass.

There’s a lots of authors in there that have some great information to teach you. I’ll put a link in the show notes, but, uh, let’s hear from Emma and then we’ll get right to the interview with.

[00:01:16] Amanda: Hi, I’m Emma Desi. And I host turning readers into writers, a podcast for first time novelists each week I interviewed debut authors, editors, publishers, and even number one best sellers who help you find the time and confidence to write your own first.

Together, we’ll keep you inspired, motivated, and educated on all things, writing, editing, and publishing. So head on over to Emma, desi.com, where you’ll find everything you need to know to start and finish your novel.

[00:01:51] Stephen: So before we get started talking about our topic, uh, which I have several questions on, um, what are some things you have learned with your [00:02:00] first book that you’re doing differently with your next couple of.

[00:02:06] Amanda: Um, my first book was published almost by chance. I entered it in a contest that a hybrid publisher was offering. Um, having had the chance to work with a hybrid publisher. I think I’d like to have a chance to self publish one of my books to see. How it would feel to have a little more control over the books.

Um, the publisher that I worked with did make a lot of points about the marketability of the book that I hadn’t considered. They brought up issues about manuscripts that might make it difficult to create an audio adaptation. It talked about audience expectations and how to pitch the book to read her.

And those were all things that I never thought about. I’m looking at the book from the artistic perspective about the story. I want to tell him, not necessarily thinking about. The nitty gritty features. So now that I have a little bit of preface to what goes into marketing book, I’m [00:03:00] going to be a little bit more aware of those issues as whether I end up self-publishing it, or whether I publish it traditionally.

Um, but I’m going to have to think about how those factors are going to impinge on my narrative.

[00:03:12] Stephen: Okay, well, let’s talk a little bit more about anxious, cause I’m not familiar with them and they sound like something, uh, other others may be interested in. So you said they do a, like a crowdfunding. So essentially they have a whole big list of books and the ones that get the most attention and votes are the ones they help promote and get out into the world.

Does that sound okay?

[00:03:35] Amanda: I don’t know that Inc shares does a promotion. I think the authors have to do the promotion. I know another author, uh, socially who had his book picked up buying shares last year after he did a crowdfunding campaign. So he had to reach out to all the people in his social circle and his professional circles and make them aware of what he was offering.

Uh, the public has to come in. And show interest in your book by pre-ordering a book. I think they have a new [00:04:00] feature now where you don’t necessarily have to pre-order, but you can just express interest in the book. And when you get enough people who demonstrate that they’re willing to buy the book, initially there is an audience for it, then shares will.

To fund it for you and they’ll do the editing, the design of the cover or the layout they’ll do the marketing shares has a lot of good contacts in different media companies. They do have a way of getting books into major brick and mortar stores like Barnes and noble. Uh, so that was what attracted me to the publisher initially, because I am not a marketer and I really didn’t want to have to deal with that aspect of the book publishing business.

So having a company do that all for me sounded very

[00:04:39] Stephen: attractive. Right, right. And I assume then there’s a, uh, agreement or whatever that they take a percent, uh, and you would get a smaller percent than if you put it out on your own. Is that correct?

[00:04:54] Amanda: Anytime you set up a project with ink shares, you do have to agree to the [00:05:00] terms.

They have a very short document called the publishing contract that lays out the terms that you described, how you break down the author’s share of the profits. Exactly what type of working share will do to create your book and to market your book. They also talk about media adaptations, film adaptations, foreign licensing rights, uh, the major things that you would be concerned about as an author.

For the contest, they work a little bit differently because there’s no crowdfunding or maybe not sufficient crowd funding to have the book publishing shares will do the financial batting itself. And they do issue with different contracts, uh, to talk about how the author will pay for. The publication costs before the royalties kick in.

So depending on the route you pursue, whether you get the crowdfunding or you get the contest winning, uh, you may have slightly different terms with being shares.

[00:05:54] Stephen: Okay. Okay. And you sound like you’ve been happy with them though for the work that they have.[00:06:00]

[00:06:02] Amanda: I think they did a beautiful job with Smithy. Although I will say that it was a bit of a bumpy road to get to the, the final version of the book. I think because a lot of the authors who come to ink shares don’t have a finished. Maybe they just have a really good idea and a few enticing chapters. I think Inc shares is accustomed to having more creative control over the product.

When I entered snippy in the contest, I did have a complete manuscript and I had a complete manuscript, I think Inc. Shares. More intrigued by the concept of the book then by the execution. And from the beginning, they tried to have me make some pretty major changes to the book. I wrote the book in an epistolary format.

I was told that I ought to rewrite it completely as a straight narrative. Maybe have some sections. As a distillery, um, as a diary or as a letter, but not the entire thing. And I considered the idea and I reject because I chose this delivery style for a reason, for one [00:07:00] thing, I wanted to create a sense of realism as if it’s really worth studying that it happened.

And you’re looking at all the documents about it. I also wanted to create mystery about the characters, who is a reliable narrator and who is not a filtering the story through individual characters perspectives gives me the opportunity to do that and writing it as a narrative wouldn’t necessarily allow that, um, other changes that ink share suggested.

And more to push the book more heavily into the overt or category that really wanted me to build up the goals. They really wanted me to build up the dark history of the house. And for me, I wanted to make the possibility of the ghost and ambiguous factor. You don’t know if there really is a spirit or if the characters are imagining that there’s a spirit or a Smithy may even be manipulating his keepers into thinking that there’s a spirit.

Maybe the Chimp is responsible for all the mystery that’s taking place. So we did have some lengthy [00:08:00] discussions about the creative direction of the story. Uh, I was really surprised by having shares was trying to rewrite the book in some ways. And I wondered why did they choose my story for the contest if they weren’t completely happy with it.

But again, I think they’re used to looking at. The samples and not knowing if there is a finished product, because I did have a finished product. My story was already set and maybe. As malleable as they were used to seeing, but we did end up coming to a compromise and we did agree on the final version and they did a beautiful job with a publication.

It looks like a lovely book. They had a great cover artist and they were able to secure some, some influential reviews for me. So I’m happy with the work that they’ve done.

[00:08:48] Stephen: Yeah, it sounds like it. And I actually liked that because you hear a lot about these vanity presses that try and rip people off and they don’t do anything.

They say they provide [00:09:00] editing and people get back a book and they say, no, this is great. Just the way it is. So there’s no editing whatsoever. And personally, I think some of my best learning. And growing as a writer has been when somebody has gone through and provided me some sort of feedback, whether an editor or, you know, another author or something like that.

So it sounds like you learned a lot and got a lot from what they gave you. Even if you didn’t go with it, at least they were giving you a reason, this is why you should do that. And you could think about it. Okay.

[00:09:33] Amanda: Yeah. Some of their feedback was. Shaped by marketing factors that I hadn’t considered when I wrote certain sections of the book that were based on filmed evidence of what the chimpanzee was doing.

I wrote it as a screenplay. I was taking a screenwriting course at a local community college. And so I did most of my writing for the. In the class sessions. Um, the editor told me that it would be very difficult to [00:10:00] record an audio book using that format and suggested that I change it to a narrative.

Actually, he initially suggested that I should change those sections to one of the characters. Viewing the film, but I didn’t want to do that because I didn’t want to filter those things through a character’s perspective. I wanted those recordings to act as the objective evidence to just show what’s happening on the camera, without anybody in interpreting it, let the reader determine what’s going on.

Another factor that was brought up with the length of the chapter. Some of the chapters are fairly lengthy. Others are short, just a few paragraphs or under a page. And I was encouraged to cut those chapters because it would make the audio book run more smoothly. And my response was, but those chapters have meaning.

I wrote them for a reason. I just, I don’t listen to audio books myself. So I, I never thought about. What goes into the recording of a book or what makes a good audio book and they were bringing up points that never would’ve occurred to me because I don’t have that

[00:10:59] Stephen: background. [00:11:00] Yeah. Uh, I think that’s interesting, uh, that they did that.

So are you using them for your next couple books?

[00:11:10] Amanda: I do have another manuscript that I’ve submitted to them. When I wrote Smithy, it turned out to be a very lengthy manuscript, and I made the decision to split it into two books. At the time that I was shopping around, a lot of publishers wanted to look at trilogies or series. So I offered Smithy as a two book series.

The book that’s been published in April is the first part of the initial book that I wrote. So I’ve submitted the second half to eight shares and we’ll see what they decide to do about it.

[00:11:38] Stephen: Okay. And if not, are you going to self-publish the second hand still to keep them connected?

[00:11:45] Amanda: Oh, I, oh yes. I intend to do that.

I definitely want the rest of Smithy’s story to get them.

[00:11:50] Stephen: Okay. Um, and you mentioned earlier that you did dictation, uh, and fairly early and young, uh, on [00:12:00] cassette tape, even. I love that. Um, so do you still do dictation.

[00:12:06] Amanda: Yes, although I didn’t do it for Smithy, I typed most of that at the computer. Um, but my secret of the turn of the screw was largely dictated on the cassette tape.

My king Kong book was largely dictated on the cassette tape and then I ended up transcribing it and reviewing it and tightening it up. Nice and grammatically accurate and then brushing up the scenes that I think need a little bit of work. But one of the advantages of dictating onto cassette is that I can get my ideas out right away.

A lot of what goes into the story ends up being a very off the cuff, very improvised. So I can get through the book fairly quickly just by vomiting the words onto the tape, if you will. Um, and then the real work comes with editing it after the. As opposed to me sitting at a computer, looking at a blank page for half an hour, trying to think about what to type right.

When the cassette is running. I just got to say what comes to my mind?

[00:12:59] Stephen: And [00:13:00] that’s kind of what I hear a lot with dictation, that it gives you the framework either very basic or, you know, most of it. And then you edit and get out the rest of the story. It’s kind of like, you know, polishing the clay, I guess, uh, afterwards.

[00:13:17] Amanda: That’s a good way to

[00:13:18] Stephen: describe it. So, um, besides the dictation now, do you type, you listen and type it, or do you have auto transcribe, uh, take care of that?

[00:13:31] Amanda: I did invest in a transcription program last year, prior to that, I would have to type everything from the cassettes. And when I worked in a law office that had dictation machines, it was easy to do that.

I could stay late after work and put my cassette into the tape and then, and then type away I could operate the machine with my feet and type with the keyboard when I’m at home. Frequently stop and start the cassette as I’m rewinding it and replaying it to type what I say. Uh, the dictation program, unfortunately, does not seem to respond to my voice very [00:14:00] well.

So I’m probably going to have to go back to typing up the cassette myself. I would see a lot of typos and a lot of missed words. So either I need to learn how to elocute better or I need to find a different program.

[00:14:13] Stephen: Um, well I was going to ask what software you use, but, uh, that would be something I’d recommend.

Service out there called otter.ai, O T T E r.ai. And you could take your files from the cassette and record them onto the computer, and then just drop that audio file onto a. Otter AI and it’ll transcribe it. Uh, I I’ve had very good results with it. So something to check out. That

[00:14:45] Amanda: sounds great. I’ve never heard of Otter.

Most people that I’ve seen in writing communities talk about a program called drag. But I know that there are a number of different softwares out there. And then you can also just talk to Siri and hope that Siri can understand what your

[00:14:58] Stephen: right. Well, I know [00:15:00] Otter AI is big, but there’s another one called descript, D E S C R I P T.

And you can, that’ll do transcription, but also Google has live transcribe. You know, transcribe as you’re talking. Um, so that might be something to look at. It has an app that runs on your phone. Uh, there’s a lot of options nowadays and dragon, I think, is losing ground. It was the big one for many years, but I think there’s a whole lot of other options now, too.

So something to check out. Well, thank you for the recommendations.

[00:15:33] Amanda: I’ll definitely look into those.

[00:15:35] Stephen: So what other software do you happen to use? Do you use word or Scrivener or what do you use for your other writings?

[00:15:42] Amanda: Oh, I have the basic word program.

[00:15:44] Stephen: Okay. I know a lot of people, but it seems to be most of the authors I talk to it’s either word or Scrivener.

Um, a few have used like Google, but mostly word in Scribner. Everyone sticks with the basics. [00:16:00] So, what are you or eight share doing to market your book? What are some things you’ve done?

[00:16:08] Amanda: ANC shares reached out to a lot of good reads, uh, readers, good reads reviewers and sent out galleys in the month prior to Smithy being published.

So I got a lot of advance reviews that way. They also circulated the book among, uh, different literary and horror magazines. I, I got. Started reviewing the library journal in April. I also had review in nightmare magazine and horror DNA, um, Inc shares. It has also helped to arrange a book signing. I had a book signing at dark delicacies in Burbank, which is a very well-known or genre, uh, store and not just books.

They also sell other types of collectibles. Uh, but it’s very popular out here in Southern California. And I was very fortunate to have a signing there in July. I myself have tried to reach out to the various libraries in my community. I’m, I’m [00:17:00] located at a nexus of multiple different cities. So. About six different library districts within a 10 mile radius.

And part of the pandemic, I was very active in the different libraries. I would attend library programming and book clubs put on by the library. So my first inclination was to go to the library, to do this myself and see if they would consider having a program. I did have a program earlier this month at the north Torrance library.

Uh, but that was the only one so far that’s that’s taken a bite. Um, some of the libraries that I visited did end up acquiring Smithy for their collection. So people are reading it that way. Um, but I haven’t really had much luck myself with getting libraries or even local bookstores to stock it. I went to the Barnes and noble across from my office.

First came out and they agreed to stock it. But when those books sold out, they didn’t replace them much to my surprise. I would think that if, if the merchandise is moving, you would want to keep it on the shelf, but not perhaps I’ll try again. Now that we’re in the Halloween season, maybe there will be more of an interest in reading some spooky ghost [00:18:00] stories.

[00:18:00] Stephen: Right. Did you at least get a picture of your book on the shelf at Barnes and noble?

[00:18:07] Amanda: I did. Yes. I got a picture of it on the end cap with a number of other, uh, much more popular horror writers. So for a little while I was on the shelf with Stephen King and, and Josh Malman and Grady

[00:18:18] Stephen: Hendrix. Oh, that’s awesome.

I think that’s pretty great. I mean that right there, uh, I, you know, Put that picture on my website. I, I carried my wallet probably.

[00:18:29] Amanda: Maybe I should do that. Thanks for that

[00:18:30] Stephen: suggestion. So you go and if you want to send it along to me, I’ll put it up on the show notes. When the episode goes live, that would be awesome.

Authors would love to see something like that. Give them a little inspiration that look, you can do it. And I hear Barnes and noble now having. Edict that the local managers can choose to put local authors and stuff on the shelves as opposed to whatever corporate dictates. So I think that’s great [00:19:00] opportunity for other authors.

I haven’t checked into it, but that’s what I hear.

[00:19:04] Amanda: Yes. So it’s interesting that you mentioned that now my book Smithy takes place in Newport, Rhode Island, not in Los Angeles, uh, but I visit Newport yearly. And on my last visit there in July, they did have Smithy stashed in their, not their local author section, but their local interests section that I was very thrilled to see it there.

I felt like I’d been validated, like I was accepted by Newport.

[00:19:25] Stephen: That’s great. I love that. Congratulations. Thank you. So, uh, before we get going, uh, and this has been a lot of great discussions, especially about ink share, which I think some other authors listening may be very interested. Uh, do you have any other advice for some new author out there?

Maybe struggling just to get their first book done and published.

[00:19:49] Amanda: As far as the writing goes, that’s just something you have to keep at it. I, I would write in the evenings after work, I would stay up until one in the morning sometimes trying to get my personal quota of [00:20:00] pages in, um, as far as submitting your book, I have.

Submitted to other publishers, other novels that I have, um, pay attention to what the publishers guidelines are, uh, look at to see what types of stories they are taking. If they mention that they’re not taking whatever you’ve written, don’t submit to them. Um, make sure you’re submitting to a publisher is going to be open-minded.

So don’t, don’t submit a short story collection to a publisher who only write, who only publishes a nonfiction for. Uh, and definitely pay attention to whatever the rules are as far as how your manuscript should look. If they say use a certain font or a certain size font, make sure you do that because I’ve heard of a lot of authors whose manuscripts have been rejected on first sight, just at the author can see that you didn’t, uh, follow the, the layout requirements.

[00:20:51] Stephen: Right. And that’s big if they get a hundred and you know, 90 of them follow the rules. The 10 that don’t, [00:21:00] they’re not even gonna mess with. So don’t be,

[00:21:02] Amanda: yes, I I’ve. I’ve heard that their goal is to get rid of management necessarily to find the ones they want to publish, but to eliminate as many as possible to winnow down that big slush pile.

So don’t end up in this

[00:21:12] Stephen: lush, right? Yep. All right. Great. Well, Amanda, I know. Rush home from work, uh, to do, uh, this interview. And I appreciate that, uh, that there’s inspiration for authors. They’re working full time and still writing, getting on interviews so it can be done. People can do it, uh, even in LA.

So I appreciate you being on is great talking to you. Thank you very much.

[00:21:39] Amanda: I will. Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure. I’ve really appreciated talking with you, Steven.

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