How To Find The Right Editor For Your Book And More Editing Questions Answered

These days I’m objecting to the term ‘self-publishing,’ because we all need a team to put a great book out into the world. This is not something you do by yourself.

editingI currently work with a number of people to publish my work, but the one person who I have to trust the most is my editor.

Finding an editor is a bit like dating – you have to try a number before you find someone who is the best match.

I’ve been through a number of editors in the last few years, and I’m thrilled to now be working with Jen Blood, who is a brilliant editor but also writes the same type of thrillers as I do. She gets my style of writing, and she understands my violent streak and doesn’t try to rein in what makes me me. What she does do is help me to craft a better book by suggesting structural changes and then doing detailed line edits. Jen is my type of editor – of course, that doesn’t necessarily make her the right person for you! Here’s a list of resources for you to check out if you need to find an editor.

As I get so many questions about editing, I’ve asked Jen to answer some of the most common ones. Over to Jen!

What are the different types of editing that authors should consider?

In addition to the job of the final proofreader, there are three primary types of editing: Content, copy, and line editing.

Content editors are concerned with the big picture in your novel. Structural issues like plot holes, wandering timelines, character inconsistencies, excessive exposition, lagging pace… All of these fall within the purview of a quality content editor.

Copy editors do basic fact checking and help with the readability of your novel, ensuring that the prose is smooth and the style consistent. Line editors focus on punctuation, grammar, verb tense, spelling, and all those niggling things that drive most sane people mad.

At the end of it all, the proofreader takes your final, final, final manuscript and ensures that every comma, colon, and umlaut is exactly where it should be.

In most instances today, you’ll be able to hire one person to do both copy editing and line editing for one price, and there are content editors out there who perform all of the above, though they are rare. Personally, I have a graduate degree in popular fiction and have spent most of my life deconstructing plot and pacing, so content editing is my specialty, but I’ve also worked for over a decade as a copy and line editor for traditional publishers, businesses, and individual authors. Consequently, I offer all of the above through Adian Editing.

What if I want an agent or traditional publisher? Should I get an editor then?

Absolutely! There will never be a tougher audience for you to try and sell your book to than an agent or publisher. Back in the good old days when publishers could afford editors for their authors, this was less of a concern. Today, however, it’s up to you to present a publishable manuscript to the agent or publisher right out of the gate. A good editor is crucial to that process.

How do you find the right editor/s for your book? How do you know they’re any good?

(1)   Ask yourself what you’re looking for.

Do you just want a line editor to make sure you’ve got everything in the right place and you haven’t made any egregious punctuation or spelling errors? Do you need a content editor who will address big-picture issues? Are you looking for someone who follows all the rules laid out in the Chicago Manual of Style, or are you hoping for an editor with a more creative flair? Are you hoping to learn something during the editing process, or do you just want to send your manuscript off for editing and be done with it? There are no wrong answers here, but you should have a clear sense of what your goals are in the process before you begin contacting editors.

(2)   Don’t go to the yellow pages.

Rather than doing a general Google search, ask writers you respect whose work has been well edited for recommendations. Visit Writer’s Digest, the World Literary Café, or other popular writing sites, and visit the message boards there. There are frequently areas where editors can advertise their services. Keep in mind, however, that there is a difference between advertising on a site and being endorsed by them. Just because an editor is listed on a particular website doesn’t automatically mean they are great at what they do. Due diligence on your part is still crucial.

(3)   First contact.

When you have two or three or five names of prospective editors, check out websites and contact them to find out if they are taking on new clients. You should receive an answer within two to three days at the most (remember—editors are busy people, too, but they should get back to you in a reasonable time frame regardless). Find out whether they specialize in content, copy, or line editing, what genres they are most enthusiastic about, whether they offer a sample edit, and—of course—what their rates are. Many editors will offer either a free sample edit of your first chapter or one for a small price, say $25.

(4)   What to expect.

During your initial contact with a prospective editor, don’t expect them to wow you with some kind of incendiary insight into your work and how it’s about to set the world on fire right out of the gate (though wouldn’t that be nice?). Settle instead for prompt, courteous, professional responses from an editor who takes the time to find out a little bit about you and your work. I have a standard questionnaire I send to anyone interested in my services, which gives me an opportunity to get to know the client and ensure that we’re a good fit and our expectations for the process mesh. You want someone who shows at least a little bit of enthusiasm for you and your work.

(5)   What to look for in a sample edit.

If you are able to find an editor who offers a free or inexpensive sample edit, take them up on it. There are a few things you should look for when the sample edit is returned. First and foremost, is it back to you within the time frame the editor promised? Missing that first deadline is a giant, flashing red flag. Your editor may be the best on the planet, but if she consistently misses every deadline you give her, the experience is bound to be frustrating. Once you have the sample back, what kind of changes have been made or suggested? Does the editor offer insights you may not have thought of before? Does she give you a reason for why certain changes have been made? Is she enthusiastic about your work? These are all signs that you’re on the right track in your quest.

What is the price range for editing? What should I expect to pay? How do I know I’m getting a good deal?

There is a huge price range for editing services these days, but in general for a quality edit you’re looking at between .75 – 2 cents per word for proofreading, 2 – 4 cents per word for copy editing and/or line editing, and upwards of 2 – 6 cents per word for a good, qualified content editor. You’ll want to find out up front if the cost includes revisions, or if you’ll have to pay extra for the editor to look at your work again once you have made changes. As for whether or not you’re getting a good deal, ask yourself what you hope to do with this novel. If you want your book to sell, whether to a traditional publisher or by publishing it yourself, how well do you think your unedited manuscript will do? A good editor can mean the difference between critical accolades and scathing reviews. How much is that worth to you?

I don’t have much money and editors are expensive. What should I do?

Editors can be pricey, there’s no way around it. If you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel and just don’t have the cash, look to your peers. At the very least, you need to have a circle of beta readers who will go through your work, and in exchange you can offer to do the same for them. Some editors—including myself—will offer a partial edit of the first few chapters of your novel for a reduced price, providing you with at least a starting point so that you have an idea what to look for yourself in the remainder of the manuscript.

If you have a valuable skillset like graphic design, web design, or marketing knowhow, you might offer a bartering arrangement with an editor. Or, visit a nearby university to find out if there are any qualified students (or professors, even) who would provide an inexpensive proofread or copy edit. There are ways around the cost issue, so never let money—or the lack thereof—be your reason for putting out a subpar novel. You’ve written a book, the equivalent of running the marathon of your life. Hiring a qualified editor means the difference between you limping across the finish line or soaring past the competition.

What if I disagree with what the editor says? How much of their advice should I take on board?

Ideally, your editor is seeing your work after (or at the same time) you’ve had two or three trusted beta readers go through the manuscript. If, however, the editor is the first person besides yourself to read the novel and they return it to you with suggestions you believe are completely off the mark, you can do a couple of things. The first is to give the unchanged manuscript to the aforementioned beta readers. If they come back to you with the same suggestions, you’ll know that your editor may have a point, much as you might not want to see it.

Then, ask the editor about the reasoning behind their changes. Is the story lagging? Was there a plot hole you forgot to fill in? Or do their changes feel more about stylistic differences related to your unique writing voice? If that’s the case, it is a much more subjective issue, and I recommend making a list of the suggested changes with which you disagree. Then, talk to beta readers or fellow writers who know your work. Don’t approach this as a b**chfest where you go off on the editor and your friends assure you that you’re a genius. Instead, approach them with, “My editor has some changes I’m not sure about. Can I run a few things by you, and see if you’ve had similar reactions you might not have noticed, or if they’re off the mark? I just want the novel to be the best it can be.”

As for how much advice you should take on board, I don’t know any author who takes every single suggestion their editor makes. The choice is yours with respect to stylistic changes, but hopefully your editor isn’t doing a lot that you feel impacts your writing style, anyway. Simply look at the editor’s reasoning behind some of the more significant suggestions they’ve made, weigh the validity of their argument, and then make your decision. We’re not gods, we’re just editors. You won’t get struck down if you choose to pass on a few of our ideas. J

My manuscript came back covered in red ink/littered with Track Changes. I’m really upset by the comments. How do I cope with the difficulty of being edited?

Okay, here’s the sad fact: If your editor is not returning a manuscript covered in red ink/littered with Track Changes, you need a new editor. That’s our job. Our number one goal is to make your work look brilliant. We aren’t judging you, we aren’t trying to make you look bad, and we certainly aren’t saying your writing isn’t fabulous. We’re saying: “Hey, good manuscript—here are the things you can/should do to make it even better.” Because that’s what you’re paying us to do.

It’s hard to divorce yourself from the emotional element of producing this creative work, and to begin to view your novel as a product (I know—I used the ‘P’ word) rather than the flesh of your flesh. The editing process, however, is a great place to start doing that. How are you going to handle negative reviews from readers if you can’t handle constructive criticism from someone you’re paying to give it? Take a deep breath, recognize that all writers go through this pain, and try to listen objectively to what your editor is saying about your work.

With that said, you should never feel like you are being persecuted, diminished, or mocked by your editor. This is an important relationship, and you should feel first and foremost like your editor is in your corner. She wants you to succeed. She loves your work. She is enthusiastically plugging your books when they come out, and talking to you about your characters like they are mutual friends. You don’t have to be BFFs who hang out online every day—in fact, chances are slim that that will be the case—but you should definitely feel a high level of trust and mutual respect. If that’s lacking, it may be time to look for someone new.

Do you have any comments or further questions about editing and editors? Please do leave them below and join the conversation.

Jen BloodJen Blood is the bestselling author of the Erin Solomon Mysteries, and owner of Adian Editing, where she offers comprehensive content and copy editing services of plot-driven fiction, as well as writing coaching and classes on writing and self-editing. She has worked as a freelance editor for Random House, Aspatore Books, Hyperink Press, Maine Authors Publishing, and individually for a long list of independent and traditionally published authors. Jen is currently accepting new clients, with a few spaces available through the end of summer and into the fall. Visit to learn more about her services, or contact her at to schedule a $25 sample edit of your first chapter.

Contact Info:

Twitter: @jenblood

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Nic McPhee

Digital Only Deals, Translating Into German And The Launch Of Desecration-Verletzung.

The adventures in translation continue apace … and this one is a little different!

Desecration VerletzungToday, I’m excited to announce the launch of Desecration-Verletzung in German, which is part of a debut set of crime/thrillers from a new German digital-only imprint, Midnight by Ullstein. This article includes my thoughts on working with a publisher as well as an interview with my translator.

Digital Only Deal for Desecration with Ullstein Midnight

As part of my 50:50 royalty split deal with my translator, Hans Maerker, we discussed the possibility of pursuing a traditional deal as well as self-publishing. When the opportunity came up to work with Ullstein Midnight, a new digital imprint of a well-known German publisher specifically for crime and thrillers, we decided to go for it. I can’t go into specifics on the contract but here are some thoughts from the process:

  • midnight ullsteinWhile I wouldn’t necessarily be interested in a digital only deal for English language, it makes sense to work with an established publisher with great relationships and merchandising opportunities in a new territory and language. After talking with the great team at Midnight, I was keen to work with them to see what we could accomplish, given that J.F.Penn is unknown in Germany. I believe being an indie author is about making decisions that benefit your business, and partnering with publishers can definitely be worthwhile. I’ve had several skype calls as well as email conversations with the Midnight team and I’m impressed with their energy and willingness to try new things. That’s the kind of partner an entrepreneurial indie wants!
  • The process involved an extra layer of editing, which was great in terms of quality control and also made sure the book fitted the ‘voice’ of the new imprint. You can never get enough editing imho :)
  • The title is interesting as it is an English word and a German word together. Germany has copyright on book titles, so many international books use English words in titles. Verletzung can mean ‘violation’ which was my original title for the book anyway, so I’m pleased with it.
  • The cover design was redone and I did have some input into the process. I actually like this cover a lot!
  • Lesson learned: When I self-publish for free on the digital platforms, I just click ALL when it comes to countries for distribution. Traditional publishers don’t have the easy choice to just click the ALL button as there are more costs involved, so although Midnight have all the digital rights to German, the ebook isn’t available in Canada, or Australia for example. The thinking is that there aren’t enough German readers in those countries to warrant the cost of distribution. This surprised me, as of course, this is all free for indie authors and distribution has no overhead for us. How lucky we are!

With all these translation adventures, the view is more long term and I would expect to report back on how it’s all gone in a year’s time. Still to come in 2014, the Italian version of Desecration and possibly the Spanish Desecration.

Interview with Hans Maerker – translator for Desecration-Verletzung

You can also read this interview in German on Hans’ site here.

Hans Maerker

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing & translating background

I was raised in Germany, but my grandmother’s sister – who lived in the same house with us – was British. She exposed me to English when I was a little boy, and so I grew up with both languages. It helped me tremendously during my engineering career in aviation later on. Aviation requires precision, and I never liked to do things half-hearted anyway. It was a perfect combination. I was all over the globe, needed to immerse in English whenever I was outside Germany, and one lead to another. Prior to Airbus, the civil aviation scene was dominated by American aircraft manufacturers. So, I went to Berlitz, perfected my English, and focused on American English ever since. My passports looked like impressionistic paintings with all their stamps over the years.

Being in Quality Control shaped my ability to write precise reports and to do in depth research. I had friends in Singapore, Australia, and America over the years. I lived like a cosmopolitan, but that changed when I finally left Germany and moved to America. That’s where I met my wife, and worked as an avionics instructor for an US airline. The airline changed their aging fleet at that time, and that required not only teaching aircraft systems in a classroom, but those maintenance technicians needed training manuals for the new aircraft types as well. It was a totally different ball game but I had the knowledge, and felt the satisfaction, writing gave me. Even if it was technical writing and editing. It never changed from that moment on, and shaped me as a writer.

Returning to Europe after so many in the States happened just at the time when Germany changed the grammar and punctuation rules. I was thrown in the middle of it and had to learn the new rules. It was sort of a forced brush-up course on my mother tongue, but definitely benefitted my knowledge about its correct usage. My wife’s mother tongue is American English, and so we stayed in Germany for a while, but eventually moved to an EU country where maltaEnglish is spoken and German needed. That’s how we ended up in Malta, where we currently live.

What are some of the particular challenges about translating from English into German?

It depends on what needs to be translated. Technical instructions, actually any non-fiction, is more or less cut and dry translation, where you have to be precise in every shape and from. There is not much room for interpretation.

That’s completely reversed when it comes to fiction. Every language has its own special phrases and usage, to express the same thing. You need to be aware of the country, the habits of the people who live there, and more. Fiction lives off emotions and tension, created by the author. Having a dictionary next to you, or on your computer, doesn’t cut it as a translator. Sure, you can translate any fiction that way, but you risk to have a dull and boring story.

The ideal situation for fiction and non-fiction is, to have lived in this environment yourself. That you’ve talked to the neighbors, waited in line at the post office, or got stuck in traffic on an highway. The feeling and understanding for this different environment, its people, and their use of the language is something that shows in your translation of a story. No language school and no dictionary can teach you this experience. In my opinion, a good translator should have global experience, and not just doing the job after learning the ropes at school.

Why did you want to translate Desecration? And were there any surprises on the translation journey?

I think it was a combination of several facts. One was that I like crime or thriller stories. It’s because of the puzzle that needs to fit logically together. The other fact was that dark and extraordinary mood. The way how Jamie coped with her own emotions and problems.

As for surprises, yes, there were a few. However, they were more on the intellectual side, and not technically related. Pretty soon, I was deeper in this story than I expected. I basically immersed in the story, lived through Jamie’s emotions, and felt them while translating.

Why did you want to do a royalty split deal with an indie author? What are your tips for translators who want to do this kind of thing?

Two good questions. The first one is based on an emotional decision. I believe in myself and feel confident to tackle difficult situations. Those are the benefits when you’re around the block for a while. You know, you’re not only willing to give your best but you’re capable of doing it. If you do any work without really standing behind it, then it can turn into a disaster. No success, no payment. You work on a profit base, and that’s a challenge. It’s fair to your client too, but requires that both ‘click’. It’s based on trust and confidence on both sides. The chemistry between author and translator need to match. That’s not always given.

As for some ‘how to’ tips for other translators, I would say to them, ask yourself first whether you’re an entrepreneur type. Full time freelancers usually are, otherwise they wouldn’t make a living. Go for those authors who write the stories that you would like to write yourself. Look at the author’s website or blog. Read up on their history, and see whether you both have something in common. Trust your feelings in such a case, and approach the author. The final decision comes when translator and author communicate with each other.

How should indie authors find a good translator for their book? How do they evaluate it when they don’t speak the language?

That’s the most tricky part. Not so long ago, I read an article about the small world of translators. Never really thought about it until then. Usually it goes the other way round, and translators are approaching authors or work through word of mouth reference.

The worst part is probably the evaluation. References don’t mean a thing, as every non-fiction translation is different because of the author’s different style. Best evaluation might be the route similar to editing. I would ask for roughly five pages of a translation sample, and hand the translator a more difficult passage of my manuscript. If you don’t know the language, then you have to hand those translated samples to some experts for an evaluation, and rely on their opinion. If the difficult passage got translated to your satisfaction, then the easier ones will pass the test anyway. However, this can be an iffy situation already. Hand the same [fiction] translation to three experts for an analysis, and you will get three different opinions.

How do translators work with authors during the translation process?

It depends where they are located. Most of the time, author and translator live far from each other. Yet, in our digital world, this is no problem anymore. The standard communication routes are email and Skype. The more important one is probably email, as it is quick, can be sent at any time, and allows attachments.

You can find me at and on twitter @h_maerker


Hans and Joanna both use Filofax diaries!

Note from Joanna

I found Hans brilliant to work with as he has a strong work ethic, translating faster than anticipated to meet the launch deadlines for Midnight. He’s also very organized and responds promptly to emails and work requests. I’ll admit to a little control freakery in my approach to my business, but our emails and skype calls made me feel confident that this project would go well.

We have also kept honesty and openness as our guiding principle around feedback and money discussions. Critical in any business relationship! I schedule most of my meetings months in advance, and Hans was comfortable with that – we even share the same habit of using an old style Filofax as our diaries.


Der Tod ist erst der Anfang!

desecration germanDie junge Frau ist reich, schön – und tot. Inmitten der alten medizinischen Ausstellungsstücke des Royal College of Surgeons liegt ihre sezierte Leiche sorgsam aufgebahrt. Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke sucht einen ungewöhnlichen Mörder und ahnt, wieder einmal muss sie bei ihren Ermittlungen ungewöhnliche Wege gehen. Denn sie hat nur eine einzige Spur: Eine kleine antike Elfenbeinfigur, die neben der Toten gefunden wurde. Nur Blake Daniel, Hellseher wider Willen, kann Jamie jetzt noch weiterhelfen.

Als ein schrecklicher privater Schicksalsschlag Jamie zeigt, wie nah der Mörder ihr mit seinen makabren Phantasien schon gekommen ist, ist es beinahe zu spät. Denn je tiefer Jamie und Blake in eine dunkle Welt aus Grabräubern, Missgeburten und rituellen Zeremonien tauchen, desto gefährlicher wird es für ihr Leben …

Jetzt kaufen

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Midnight Ullstein

Do you have any questions or comments about publishing in German or any suggestions for marketing ideas? Please do join the conversation and leave a comment below.

Filofax image: Flickr Creative Commons Heudu

The Arc Of The Indie Author Journey. From First Book To CEO Of Your Global Media Empire

When you first have a yearning to write a book, you’re not usually thinking of running a global media empire!

winding roadSo don’t worry if you’re not ready to assume the mantle of CEO of your own business just yet.

You don’t have to know everything now. You can learn on the job. We all have to. None of us are born with the knowledge of how to do these things – we just find out along the way.

This is the story arc of the author’s writing and business life as I have experienced it (so far) and the main challenges at each stage, as well as how to overcome them. I’m currently writing a business book for authors, and this is an excerpt from the work in progress.

Stage 1: “I want to write a book”

You’ve always been a reader and now you’re reading all the ‘how to’ books on writing. You’re attending seminars and conferences on writing. Perhaps you’re writing lots already, or perhaps you’re learning about writing without doing it yet.

Maybe you’re scared that what you write will be terrible. Maybe what you’re writing is terrible. But you know you want to be a writer, and you’re going to put in the effort to write that first book. You have a huge learning curve ahead but you know you will persist.


Actually writing and finishing a book. You can read all the books on writing but until you actually sit down and write, you won’t get black on white and you’ll never finish a book.

How to overcome it:

  • birdbybirdThe realization that ‘it’s OK to suck’ in your first draft (as discussed by Mur Lafferty in her podcast, I Should Be Writing and in this interview). This is also the theme of ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott, where she advocates writing “shitty first drafts.” My own metaphor for this is Michelangelo’s statue of David – Michelangelo said he saw David within the marble and he just had to cut away the excess and then polish it until it was perfect. Authors have to create the block of marble with that first draft and then editing and rewriting will shape the statue. Creating that block is a hell of a lot of work.
  • Do timed writing exercises, in a class if you don’t have the discipline to do this alone. Set word count goals. Do NaNoWriMo. Use Write or Die software. Do anything to get a first draft done. It’s hard work people. Writing a book is not easy, otherwise everyone who says they want to write one would actually do it!
  • Go through the learning curve while actually writing. Don’t read a book on self-editing until you’re actually editing. Invest in a professional editor to help you with your writing. I learned far more from paying an editor to work on my manuscript than sitting in classes talking about other people’s work. You also need to write a lot. You won’t improve unless you write more.
  • Learn about editing and your publishing options – but don’t obsess too much about the latter until you have at least a first draft. I often get questions about publishing from people who haven’t even starting writing yet!

Stage 2: “I am a new author”

Champagne to celebrate the launch of my first novel!

Champagne to celebrate the launch of my first novel!

You’ve learned the process to get from words to first draft to finished product, and you’ve worked with an editor to improve your book. You’ve learned how to self-publish, or you’ve made it through the lottery process of agent and publisher. You’ve got the book out into the world

There are many people who say they want to write a book, but never actually get around to it. So congratulations if you have your first book!


Realizing that very people actually care that you wrote a book, and that you have to learn about marketing or no one will ever read it. Realizing that you’re not an instant millionaire and that the income from one book is not significant. Realizing that this is just the beginning of the next step.

How to overcome it:

  • Make a decision on whether there will even be any more books. Was the process of writing a book worthwhile for you? Are you brimming with ideas for a new one? Are you excited about being able to reach people with your words? Are you enthusiastic about learning more?
  • Start writing the next book. If you have the bug, the ideas will be plentiful and you’ll be ready to tackle the next book. You might need a bit of a rest, but after a while, you’ll get that itch again. So, get writing!
  • how to market a bookLearn about marketing. Unless you are one of the very few authors whose publisher will do ALL the marketing for the rest of your life, as well as for the first month, you will need to learn about marketing. I started to learn when I had two thousand copies of my first book sitting in my house. I had thought they would sell themselves, but of course, they didn’t! Most of them went into a landfill six painful months later. Don’t make my mistake! That initial failure kickstarted my own journey into learning marketing and over time, I’ve discovered I actually enjoy my marketing activities. After all, it’s about connecting with readers who enjoy the same things you do – your tribe.

Stage 3: “I am an established author”

Once you’ve written a few books, especially if they are within the same genre or category, you know approximately what you’re doing. It’s still hard work, but you understand the process.

hourglassIf you self-publish, you know the ropes and publishing takes very little time. If you have a publisher, the procedure is established and takes longer. You’ve got to grips with at least some aspects of marketing. You have a website and an email list. You get fan mail from readers.

Perhaps you still work a day job, and you’re wondering how to take it to the next level and become a full-time writer, or perhaps you want a side business that brings in extra money.


Balancing your time between writing more, marketing what you already have, real life and probably another job as well as family. Trying to decide whether to give up your day job for the full-time writer’s life, and potentially conflicting with family around this. You’re making some money but perhaps not quite enough to pay all the bills and have some comfort margin.

How to overcome it:

  • Use a diary/schedule to plan your writing time and focus on becoming more organized.
  • Get clear on your brand and what you are delivering to what customers. This will help focus what you write and produce.
  • Turning Pro Steven PressfieldEstablish criteria for going full-time e.g. Income level of $2000 a month from books before quitting the day job. Reduce your risk e.g. Downsize, save six months income, go part-time at work.

Stage 4: “I am the CEO of my creative company”

There is a tipping point where you go from being an author to running a business as an author.

You can now write for your living and you need to take the business side seriously, instead of your writing being just a hobby. The penny drops around rights exploitation and you realize how far your work can go through the opportunities available to authors now.

Whatever the catalyst, you decide to take control of your financial destiny and career as an author.

This may mean you go full-time as an author-entrepreneur, or you allocate a proper chunk of time to the business. To step into this phase means you are seriously about being an author-entrepreneur. You assume the CEO role – you’re in charge.

Challenge: Learning business skills so you can work on your business, not just in your business. Juggling the writing, the marketing and the production side, as well as trying to think about strategy, release schedules and more. Trying to keep track of all your products, the rights you want to exploit, the multiple projects you have going at once and keeping an eye on other opportunities as well as managing the contractors who work for you on various things.

How to overcome it: I’m currently writing a book about this level of the author journey, and stems from my own attempts to manage the challenges, but there are some overarching principles.

  • Get clear on exactly what you want for this business and your life. Look after your physical and mental health as well as your business. Say ‘no’ more so you can focus on your core target market and what enlivens you.
  • Establish your professional team. You need a team in place at this stage, and preferably an assistant, or someone else full time in the business as well as contractors. One of the first people I hired was a book-keeper to help me with the (dreaded) accounts!
  • Streamline your processes. If you have a production plan and you know what books are coming, you can book editors, cover designers in advance and tell fans what to expect. If you know where all your revenue streams are coming from, you can make sure all are reconciled to sales. If you manage your time, you can juggle being creative and being an entrepreneur.
  • Learn some business skills. Check out The Business Rusch posts by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and watch this space for my new book coming in the next few months! If you want to reach this stage, or you already have and are finding it difficult, I’d love to know what your specific questions are, or anything you definitely need covering in the book. Please click here to add your questions or comments and I will use them to shape the final content, as well as naming you in the Acknowledgements if your contribution is used. Or you could add a comment below. Thank you.

Do you agree with these stages on the author’s journey? Where do you fit right now and where would you like to get to? Please do join in the conversation and leave a comment below.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Daniel McDermott

Writing Thrillers And Lessons Learned From Forty Years Of Writing with David Morrell

Most authors dream of creating a character that escapes from their books and becomes part of popular culture. Today I’m interviewing David Morrell, who created Rambo and whose writing career has spanned four decades, and we get an insight into David’s research process, his work ethic and his mindset.

In the intro, I mention my research trip to Barcelona and you can see the pictures on Flickr here; I also mention the launch of Pentecostés in Spanish and the Spanish book trailer that promotes it. Coming this month are also the German version of Desecration, and Delirium, plus I am off to New York for Thrillerfest, so expect a roundup of that mid July.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

David MorrellDavid Morrell is the multi-award winning and many times bestselling author of 35 books, as well as many short stories, essays and collaborations that have sold millions of copies and are available in many different languages. He has a Phd in American literature and was a Professor of Literature at the University of Iowa. His novel ‘First Blood,’ became the Rambo franchise, his latest novel is ‘Murder as a fine art,‘ a historical thriller, and today we’re talking about his book for writers, ‘The Successful Novelist,’ recently updated and released in ebook format as well as print.

murder as a fine artYou can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • The themes that David returns to in his writing
  • A thriller author who actually lives a thriller life. On taking research to extremes
  • On the inspiration for Murder As A Fine Art
  • David’s writing process
  • The precariousness of life. Don’t spend time writing books that are aren’t worth writing.
  • Writing a letter to yourself before you start a book
  • Screenwriting and Rambo
  • Movie contract clauses you should watch out for
  • The business of being an author. Even after so many years, David spends an hour a day on marketing
  • On The Architecture of Snow and publishing
  • Longevity in the business

You can find David at and his books at all stores. You can also connect with him on Facebook/DavidMorrellAuthor

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Self Publishing In Spanish, Tips For Translation And Launch Of Pentecostés. Thriller de la serie ARKANE.

Last month, I shared the publishing and marketing experience for the German version of Pentecost, and today I’m super excited to announce that Pentecostés is now available in Spanish!

PentecostesYou can buy it on Kindle now, and coming soon in print and on other ebook stores.

In this article, I explain why publishing in Spanish is a good idea, and my translator, M.P.Amador shares her experience and tips, plus we outline our marketing ideas and reveal the Spanish book trailer. I’d also love to hear from you if you have any experiences or tips for marketing Spanish language books, so please leave a comment at the bottom of the post. Gracias!

Why publish in Spanish?

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, with over 400 million native speakers. It’s mainly spoken in Spain, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela, as well as Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara.

For the ebook market specifically, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US, which is the most mature ebook market. There are also specific ebook stores for Spain and emerging markets in the South American countries.

The number of ebooks in Spanish is considerably less than in English, so it is a smaller pond. There are 97,702 Spanish ebooks on as I write this – and only 3928 in the Crimen, Suspenso y Misterio category.

The store looks quite different, and of course, South America is a developing digital market … so this is a just a start. But think ahead 5 years … what will the market look like? You know that saying about the best time to plant a tree …

Interview with M.P.Amador – Translator for Pentecostés

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing & translating background

Paola AmadorI was born in Ecuador but I have lived in several countries. I am an Economist with a graduate degree in Environmental Management from Yale University. I’ve always loved reading, both fiction and non-fiction books. I’ve been making up stories, especially for children, since as long as I can remember, but have only written a few down. I never thought I could make a living out of a ‘hobby’. While working on other jobs, I started translating documents from English to Spanish for some friends, after which I continued with technical documents and a short non-fiction book, all of them environment-related.

It wasn’t until recently that I started jotting down ideas, short stories, and sharing them with my children. I also experienced a renewed interest in drawing and illustrating my ideas and stories. My passion for all this was growing every day, so I started following blogs about writing, publishing, marketing, drawing and illustration, reading and learning everything I could. That is how I found Joanna and this adventure with her began. This is actually my first time translating a fiction book, and so far the process has been challenging, exciting and rewarding.

What are some of the particular challenges about translating from English into Spanish?

I found translating words and phrases that are country or language-specific to be the most challenging. It’s not about translating words but ideas. So, you have to make sure that, even if you are saying things in a different way, you are communicating what the author originally intended. For me, technical documents are much easier than literary books, although the latter ones are a lot more fun.

Translating the names of famous places and people can also require some research, when you can’t just use a regular translation or their equivalent in Spanish, but you need to find out if there is a specific name being used in the language of your choice. In Pentecost for example, is the Apostle James Alphaeus known in Spanish as ‘Santiago el Menor’ or ‘Santiago el Mayor’?

Why did you want to do a royalty split deal with an indie author? What are your tips for translators who want to do this kind of thing?

My tips for translators: First, get to know the author: follow them, read their blog, listen to their podcast if they have one, read/listen to interviews. Make sure you like them, what they say, and of course, read their book so you know if you like it. If you don’t like the book (or books), I wouldn’t recommend translating it. You have to remember you will be working on it for a long time, not only for the translation itself, but also for promoting it, so you have to believe in it.

I had been following Joanna for quite a long time before I contacted her: listening to her podcasts, reading her blog, getting to know her work. I started following her because of TheCreativePenn, and when I learned she was a fiction author I visited her author website and followed her there too, because I liked what I read. One day, I read a post where she was asking for translators, and I decided to give it a try. Knowing who she was and what she did beforehand made this decision really easy for me; she wasn’t just ‘another indie author’, she was an author I liked, and with whom I could imagine myself working with. If I wouldn’t have known her or her books, I don’t think I would have approached her.

Why did you want to translate Pentecost? And were there any surprises on the translation journey?

I wanted to translate Pentecost because I already knew and liked Joanna and her work. I knew I would like working with her and translating the ARKANE series, plus I believe her books have a lot of potential. I also have an additional incentive, which is learning about the writing, editing, publishing and marketing processes from a great teacher; I hope I can use all that knowledge for my own books one day.

The only surprise was that after giving the book a more profound read, I wanted to investigate and actually see the sites it described. Since I couldn’t travel to all those places, I started looking for pictures on Google, and before I knew it, I was spending so much time looking for more information and pictures of those places, just for fun. Nonetheless, all this ‘research’ allowed me to understand why Joanna decided to use those places for the story.

How should indie authors find a good translator for their book? How do they evaluate it when they don’t speak the language?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a clear and concise answer for this question. If you do an internet search, you could find independent translators as well as translation companies and services. Some translators even offer samples you can read. The problem with this, as well as with approaching people who have translated books for publishers, is that they are used to charge in advance for their translation, so you may have to consider the possibility of an upfront payment. You might be able to find someone interested in a royalty split deal from these places though. The other option is to post an offering on your website/blog.

If you don’t speak the language you want your book to be translated to, there are a few things you can do to evaluate your potential translator. If the person you want to work with is a known translator, you can ask for references. If it’s someone you found on the internet or who approached you on your blog, ask for a sample of their work. Then you can have someone you know and trust (friends, family, colleagues…), and who speaks the language, read both the original and the translated sample.

Above all, what I feel is more important than anything else is getting to know your translator – do a search on the internet, read their blog (if they have one), exchange emails, do an interview and conversation on Skype, and make all the questions you need to ask. Then, go with your feelings. Let your intuition guide you.

It is not a foolproof recipe, but if you are doing a royalty split deal, the translator will also be taking a risk by working with you. Translating a book is a lot of work, and they can’t be completely sure they will get a reward that compensates all the hours they need to invest. They will also want to know you and be sure they can trust you. After all, you need a good story but you also need a good translation, so mutual trust is not only a must but a necessity.

How do translators work with authors during the translation process?

I believe authors and translators need to work very closely. Fluent dialogue is key. There should be as many email conversations and Skype meetings as needed, where both the author and the translator can ask and answer all the questions that can arise during the translation. As I see it, there aren’t ‘silly’ questions when your goal is to do the best job you possibly can.

If you have a doubt, just ask. Asking doesn’t hurt. I lost track of how many questions I asked Joanna. Fortunately, she never complained for all the emails I sent her, she answered all my questions and I felt much more confident that my translation was expressing what she wanted to communicate with the story.

How have you found the publishing process? Is it as you expected?

Yes and no. It’s a lot more demanding than I expected, but it’s not that complicated if you have someone who knows what they’re doing. If I was doing all this by myself, I would have gone crazy by now. Fortunately for me, Joanna knows how to handle it and I can learn from her little by little.

Where can people find you online?

If anyone wants to contact me, they can do it at:

Twitter: @MPaolaAmador


The Author’s Perspective – from Joanna

I’m now working with five separate translators and some of them have a lot of experience, and a couple have very little with translating fiction. When I interviewed Paola on Skype after she contacted me, I was really impressed with her passion for creating and for learning about this new way of getting books into the world.

I want to partner with creative people who have an entrepreneurial spirit, and are willing to take risks on the journey – and Paola fitted the bill! Her questions through the translation process showed a deep desire to understand what I really meant, in order to use the right words to convey my meaning. Of course, I can’t read the translation (although I have started learning some Spanish so maybe one day!) but trust, on both sides, is a huge part of this game. We’ll see how it goes!

I do 50:50% royalty splits with the understanding the the translator is also a marketing partner – but of course, there’s no guarantee of making any money – especially as, right now, I have no existing audience in a new language. I am very honest upfront about the fact this could be sunk time with no reward, but I also see this as a long term project – so one of the most important things is being able to talk with your translator honestly. Control freak indie authors can have a hard time with this!

Marketing #1: KDP Select, Reviews, Categories and Keywords

As I have no foothold in the Spanish market at all, we’re using KDP Select as a way to try and get reviews and initial sales. After the initial 90 days, we will move the book onto iBooks, Kobo and Nook. I don’t use Select for my individual English books, but I think it’s a good idea when you are just starting in a new market with few other resources.

Researching the categories and keywords is difficult in another language, as Amazon KDP has categories in English on the publishing end, and of course, the Spanish language store looks different for US Spanish books as well as in the store. The keywords are also difficult, so Paola spent hours using the auto-complete on and to try and work out the best ones to use. We’re playing with them to try and get the best results in terms of categories and keywords right now.

In terms of reviews, we’re reaching out to our extended network, If you’re a Spanish reader, or book blogger, we have some review copies available, so please contact me if you’d like one, or if you have any ideas for marketing. There will be a print version in the next 6 weeks as well.

Marketing #2: Email list

This is not just one book – I fully intend to have lots of books in Spanish over time. I see translation as part of the trickle of income streams from multiple books over the years, so it’s important to gather emails over time. I’ve set up a page in Spanish here and made it prominent on my site. Lists take time to grow, but you never know what can happen and if lightning strikes, you need to capture as much of it as you can! Plus, there will be some people there for next time at least. All of this is a long term game.

Marketing #3: Book Trailer

I made the original version for Pentecost in English 3 years ago – you can read about the process of making a book trailer here. All I needed to do was switch out the English text for Spanish and change the links and the cover, and it was ready to go. I’ll be doing the same for German as well. I’ll admit to being skeptical about the efficacy of book trailers for selling books, but in an increasingly noisy text-blogging space, having a video to share on social media is a great asset and this didn’t take much time as I already had the material. So one big tip is to look at your English language marketing and see if you can duplicate it in another language.

Marketing: Other things

We’re going to put out a free short story that will link to the book, plus we will do a Goodreads giveaway when the print book is available. Then it’s just the usual rounds of trying to get reviews, interest from book bloggers, and putting out another book. We’re also looking for paid promotional opportunities, so if you know of any, please add a comment below.

Pentecostés. Thriller de la serie ARKANE

Un poder mantenido en secreto durante 2000 años. Una mujer que podría perderlo todo.

pentecostes spanishIndia. Cuando una monja es quemada viva en el ghat sagrado de Varanasi, y la piedra que llevaba en el cuello es robada, se desencadena una serie de sucesos a nivel internacional, en los que varios grupos irán a la caza de las reliquias de la iglesia primigenia.

Forjadas en el fuego y sangre de los mártires, las piedras de Pentecostés han sido traspasadas de generación a generación por los custodios, quienes han mantenido su poder y ubicación secretos.

Hasta ahora.

Los custodios están siendo asesinados y las piedras robadas por aquellos que pretenden utilizarlas para el mal en un mundo transformado por el fundamentalismo religioso.

Morgan Sierra, psicóloga de la Universidad de Oxford, se ve obligada a participar de la búsqueda tras el secuestro de su hermana y sobrina. Jake Timber, el agente de ARKANE, una organización secreta del gobierno británico que se especializa en experiencias paranormales y religiosas, la ayudará a llevar a cabo su misión.

Morgan deberá arriesgar su propia vida para salvar a su familia, ¿pero podrá mantener la lealtad de quienes la ayudan?

Desde los lugares más antiguos y sagrados de la cristiandad en España, Italia e Israel, hasta los confines de Irán y Túnez, Morgan y Jake deberán descubrir dónde están las piedras de los apóstoles. En una carrera contra el tiempo y ayudados únicamente por el conocimiento de los mitos de la iglesia primigenia, tendrán que cumplir con éxito su misión antes de que un Nuevo Pentecostés sea convocado, esta vez por las fuerzas del mal.

Pentecostés, el primer libro de la serie ARKANE, es una historia de suspenso y acción que explora el alcance y limitaciones de la fe dentro de los confines de la historia cristiana de los primeros siglos, la arqueología y la psicología.

Sample or Buy Now in Kindle format – coming soon in print and other ebook formats.


Have you published in Spanish or do you read in Spanish? Please share your tips and experiences below! Thanks