SIGRID MACDONALD: AUTHOR AND EDITOR
- Copy Editing
- Manuscript Evaluations
- Book Promotion
- Self-Publishing Advice
- Sample Edits of 1000 Words of Text for $40
Have you just completed that special manuscript? Months or even years of research, toil, and overcoming roadblocks are finally behind you. Your book is finished—almost.
Stephen King recommends giving a manuscript to a trusted reader once you’ve reached the point where you've written all that you can. After receiving important feedback from your reader, it's time to hire an editor.
THE ROLE OF THE EDITOR
What constitutes a good editor? It depends on what you're looking for. Some people only want to have their work checked for basic spelling and grammatical errors. Why is that necessary, you might ask, in the age of spell-checkers? A spell-checker can only determine if a word is misspelled, not if it’s being used out of context. For example, if you wanted to say, "My aunt came over for tea," but you wrote, "My ant came over for tea," the spell-checker will accept that as being correct. Likewise, it will consider both "everyday" and "every day" to be spelled properly. That's true but "everyday" is an adjective whereas "every day" is a noun preceded by an adjective.
Other people want a more comprehensive copy edit. They tend to use the same words repeatedly, yet their work would sound much fresher with synonyms. Some sentences are constructed awkwardly or phrased in the passive tense. Often writers use too many adjectives or adverbs. An editor can easily turn those problems around by forming active sentences with strong verbs. Last, new writers may be unsure about the flow of their ideas. They want a critique of their manuscript. With fiction, they're looking for tips on character development, background setting, and plot resolution. If the book is nonfiction, writers often need a professional opinion as to whether or not their language is understandable, their concepts are clear, and their research is up-to-date.
Editors are usually familiar with several different types of English. I grew up in New Jersey, so I use American English as my default, but I've lived in Canada for almost twenty years, so I'm familiar with Canadian spelling (e.g., I spelled “nonfiction” the American way. If I were to have written that as a Canadian word, I would have written "non-fiction"). And I’ve edited at least six books for authors in the United Kingdom; therefore, I know British spelling, as well as Australian.
In addition, I rely on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as well as Collins Gage Canadian Dictionary; generally, I use my own good judgment for punctuation, but I own a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and use it whenever clients request me to do so.
Good editors care about the outcome of their clients’ books. They take the time to chat with authors on e-mail, on the phone, or in person if possible, to determine exactly what the writer wants from the editing process.
Good editors also empower their clients; they give them confidence and direction, and add polish and professionalism to a manuscript.
WHAT AN EDITOR SHOULDN'T DO
An editor should never change the voice of the author. We all write differently. Just because someone uses a style that is completely foreign or even unpalatable to the editor, the editor must correct obvious errors, eliminate redundancies, or make developmental suggestions while maintaining the original tone and message of the writer. If people tell me that their book no longer feels like their own since it’s been edited, I suspect that the editor has inadvertently imposed his or her own style of writing on the book.
COMBINATION AUTHOR AND EDITOR
I’m not only an editor; I’m also an author. I know what it's like to work for a year or two on a book and feel nervous about giving it over to a stranger. I’ve written three books and numerous articles that have been published in American periodicals such as the Women's Freedom Network Newsletter in Washington, D.C., and the popular magazine, Justice Denied. In Canada, my works have appeared in the national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, as well as The Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario's Newsletter, and Carleton University Women's Center's periodical entitled 52%. I had an article published in the Toastmaster (Toastmaster International's magazine), which went out to more than 250,000 people in eighty countries, am a frequent contributor to True North Perspectives and She Unlimited magazine, and recently had a dark piece published in a horror mag.
Consequently, I understand the world of publishing and marketing. Writing a book is only half the job! Marketing, networking, and promoting comprise the other half.
Writing a book is a major undertaking. It takes a great deal of determination, hard work, and confidence for a first-time author to bang out a book. I'm there every step of the way to help.
"As a new author, I felt very blessed and fortunate to have had the experience of editor Sigrid Macdonald guiding me through my first work. This being my first book, I was simultaneously intimidated and overwhelmed. After I miraculously contacted Sigrid, she helped me reach a level of comfort that gave me the confidence I needed to proceed with writing my manuscript to the very end.
After the release of my novel, I became interested in editing and have since edited 80 full-length books, and numerous articles and websites, as well as curriculum vitaes and biographies. I've worked with several publishing companies in North America and England.
Many of my clients have English as a second language; thus, I'm accustomed to helping writers clarify exactly what they want to say in a language other than their native tongue.
I've also worked with the visually impaired who face a different challenge from those who are fully sighted; those with Parkinson's or post-stroke who have trouble articulating their thoughts; a man who spent twenty-three years in prison, and I once edited and published a book of memoirs for a client who was 103-years-old!
I often deal with first-time authors who are bright, enthusiastic, and talented and eager to see their books in print. And, of course, I assist experienced authors who know that editing their own material can spell disaster.
Editing is both an art and a science. Some things are indisputable; words are either spelled correctly or incorrectly. But many other issues related to punctuation, grammar, and style are individual.
Technology now allows me to make corrections directly on a document and return it to you via e-mail, and it enables you to accept or reject those changes. That's the wonderful world of Word's tracking program, which highlights any alterations that I make in red, so you find them immediately, and can accept the spelling and grammatical changes, but perhaps reject a synonym I chose that didn't fit quite right for you.
READ MY TESTIMONIALS
A basic copy edit includes a review of spelling, grammar, sentence structure, syntax, punctuation, and typos.
A substantive copy edit includes a basic copy edit, as well as checking for repetitive words and phrases, inconsistencies, unrealistic dialogue, awkward sentence structure, wordiness, and any other red flags that could reduce the effectiveness of your delivery. Either a member of my team or I will let you know if your book is finished, or if it needs to be tweaked or rewritten in certain areas.
Is your book salable? Sometimes it’s hard to know because you can’t assess your own work. I offer an evaluation service where I critique your manuscript, and provide you with a report highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. For fiction, I look at character development, dialogue, background and setting, plot resolution, and credibility. For nonfiction, I examine flow, organization, consistency, and redundancies, as well as up-to-date references. And I critique short stories and articles as well.
QUERY LETTERS, SYNOPSES AND BOOK PROPOSALS
The thrill of completing your manuscript is fleeting once you realize that now you have to compose a letter to publishers. How will you even find a publisher? What will you say? How can you make your letter stand out from all the rest that wind up in the garbage pile?
Publishers often require a synopsis of the book, as well as the first three chapters. In order to summarize your 275 page manuscript in one page, you'll need to be clear, concise, and emphatic. You want to highlight the best parts of the book and grab the publisher's attention instantly.
IS SELF-PUBLISHING AN OPTION?
For years, writers felt inferior when they published their own works. They were told that if their writing was good enough, it would be accepted by a traditional publisher. Often it was hard to obtain reviews for self-published books. Fortunately, this stigma is disappearing. Smart people realize it could take months or years to submit a manuscript to conventional publishing companies, only to be rejected in the end.
Why not do it yourself? Finish your book and get it out there. Make higher royalties than you could with a company.
Sounds simple, but there is much to know about navigating the complicated self-publishing highway. Should you use iUniverse, Lulu, Author Solutions, Trafford, Smashwords, or a local printer? How much will you have to pay for shipping? How can you sell your book on your website? What about e-books?
I’ve been publishing books for myself and for clients for eight years. I know the ins and outs, and can recommend the highest quality, least expensive options. And I'll customize a program just for you. I also have great contacts who can do page formatting, headers and footers, and create awesome cover art!
If you decide to self-publish, let me do the driving.
- Book Coaching
- Marketing Consultation
- Résumés, Query Letters, Synopses, and Book Proposals
- Self-Publishing Advice
Level I — this involves correcting your spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and typos. 1 cent per word.
Level II — this involves all the above including substituting synonyms for repetitious words, and changing passive sentences to active once. 1.2 cents per word.
Level III — this involves a line-by-line analysis of your prose. Are you too wordy? Do you contradict yourself? Are people confused by what you say? Do you write passive instead of active sentences, or use too many acronyms that may be unclear to readers? This comprehensive edit ensures that your manuscript is well-organized, readable, clear, consistent, and salable. It is particularly good for people with English as a second language (often their verb tenses don't match), and it is the royal service of choice for anyone who wants the best manuscript possible. 1.5 cents per word.
Level I — a basic critique of your work, along with a short report indicating strengths and weaknesses as well as noting areas where you could improve your material. 1 cent per word.
If you plan to proceed with a copy edit, I highly recommend the evaluation beforehand rather than afterward. Many people simply want a critique without an edit, and some people want an edit without a critique. Choose what's right for you.
* Please note that I do not do page formatting, but I can refer you to someone who does, and I prefer to receive your completed manuscript when I start work. I will not accept revisions to the manuscript after I have begun, except at an additional charge.
If you want me to ensure that the titles of books or movies or cities you refer to are spelled or phrased correctly, I would be happy to do that for $40 per hour.
This is a common phenomenon for editors and my colleagues have confirmed similar experiences, particularly in long documents. We are good, but we're not machines!
DO YOU HAVE A DISABILITY?
"When I first found Sigrid from a Google search, I was scared to send her my first attempt at writing because it was from a woman who had a mental and physical handicap as a result of a stroke at birth. The book was wordy and sometimes the intent was barely understandable.
"Sigrid took my manuscript under her wing and performed magic. In a timely manner, she worked with me, shooting e-mails back and forth, asking if the revisions met with my approval, and exhibiting more patience and understanding than I'd ever seen before. She took a novice writer's attempt and made it into a polished, interesting book, one that readers would not likely put down.
"She did an excellent job and I'd recommend her to others. There's not one thing that she could improve upon."
Many of my clients are afraid to hand their work over to someone else because they're not sure if it's good enough. Or conversely, they’re overconfident—they think their book is on its way to Oprah when it still needs a lot of work to make it marketable. And everyone who contacts me wants to know where to go after the editing process. How will they publish their book? Should they approach publishers directly or go through agents? Is there a downside to self-publishing and are the self-publishing companies all the same?
I offer one-stop shopping.
First, I specialize in copy editing so that I'll polish and perfect your language and sentence structure, remove redundancies and repetitions, and eradicate typos and problems with spelling, grammar, or punctuation.
Second, I offer a comprehensive critique of your manuscript, which will make it more salable.
Third, I have assistants, associates, and a number of important connections in the publishing field who will provide you with all the help you need to publish a book. Because I'm part of a team, you won't be left hanging after I've edited your manuscript. You don't want to randomly type in publishers' names or genres into Google in the hope that you can find someone who’s looking for your type of manuscript. I'm familiar with publishers who are looking for general manuscripts, sci-fi material and fantasy, children's books, feminist or women-related novels, and publishers who prefer Canadian authors. And I know the best self-publishing companies, which will save you money and aggravation in the long run. Twenty-five of my clients have found traditional publishers!
My colleague Anita Flegg, author of Hypoglycemia: the Other Sugar Disease, operates an editing business called The Sharp Quill (http://www.sharpquill.ca/). She is an accomplished technical writer, book coach, editor, and manuscript evaluator; Anita has a particularly keen eye for detail, is focused, and very organized. I also work with Jean-Noel Bassior in Los Angeles (see below), a well-renowned journalist with two decades of experience in mass media. She can help you write a dynamite query letter and book proposal that will make publishers take notice. And she is a fantastic book coach.
Can I guarantee that publishers will accept your work? Absolutely not. Beware of anyone who makes that kind of promise. It's not realistic because generally speaking, editors don't have that kind of power. But highly-skilled editing in conjunction with an excellent book proposal, a super website, a social media presence, and a great marketing plan will vastly increase your chances of being picked up by a publisher.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller, well-renowned author of The Lieutenant's Wife, will brand you—enable you to clearly identify what makes you and your book different from everyone else's, and discover the best way to promote yourself; Phyllis is a master at helping people best utilize social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and her company builds marketing-driven, author websites that you can manage yourself. Get her FREE report "Twitter, Facebook and Your Website: A Beginning Blueprint for Harnessing the Power of 3 for Your Business" (or book) at http://www.millermosaicpowerof3.com/.
Start with me and watch your rough manuscript blossom into a polished book with an engaging book proposal, synopsis, and query. It will then metamorphize into your own individual baby with a special message; you’ll learn how to deliver it directly into the hands of the right publishers, and zoom out onto the Internet with a specific, targeted marketing plan geared exactly to your intended audience.
Susan Levin of Speaker Services will teach you everything you ever wanted to know to become a fully professional public speaker (more info below). If you want to learn more about how Speaker Services can help you to market yourself and your books, Susan is your woman.
DO YOU NEED A GHOSTWRITER?
If you need a ghostwriter, I recently made a connection with a woman in the
You've finished your book and you're ready to hit the ground running. But wait! Who do you approach? How do you find an agent or publisher who is right for you? Is your query letter dynamic enough? What about writing a book proposal—what should you put in and what should you leave out?
Jean-Noel Bassior is an expert in this field. She's a journalist with twenty years’ experience writing for major publications such as Redbook, McCall’s, Parade, AARP The Magazine, Woman’s World, New Age Journal, Complete Woman, and many others. Her work has been syndicated worldwide by The New York Times Syndicate, Knight Features (London), and other agencies. And Jean-Noel is a contributing editor to AARP The Magazine, as well as the author of Space Patrol: Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. She's done numerous celebrity interviews with people like Celine Dion, Mike Wallace, Larry King, Ed Bradley, Shirley MacLaine, Sarah Ferguson (Duchess of York), Goldie Hawn, Tony Bennett, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lorraine Bracco from The Sopranos.
Now Jean-Noel can help you to focus and perfect your manuscript, so that it's professional enough for mainstream publishers. Or if you choose to self-publish, Jean-Noel can lead the way.
BOOKS TO THE LEFT
Please note that I have links to several books on Amazon on the left-hand side of my page. Three of those books are my own, and the rest are those I've edited for clients. Some are excellent and I would encourage you to read about them or search inside the book on Amazon.
MY BOOKS: GETTING HIP, D'Amour Road, and Be Your Own Editor
"GETTING HIP is a personal account of one woman's recovery from a total hip replacement. From the painful deterioration of her joint, to making the difficult decision to have surgery, Sigrid Macdonald takes us with her on her postoperative journey. She discusses preparation for hip surgery, potential complications of the operation, and provides a detailed description of her rehabilitation. Also included are interviews with ten people worldwide who have had hip replacements.
"GETTING HIP is written with wit and candor. It offers useful tips for coping physically and psychologically with hip surgery, as well as important information about how to treat a new hip in order for it to last as long as possible." (Book jacket.)
"After reading this informative and reader-friendly book, you will have permission to vary from the expected norms and accept your own rate of recovery."
Wendy Rogers, Physiotherapist (BPT)
"All anyone needs to know about this procedure is here."
Una Holmes, Veteran of a Total Hip Replacement
Read more about GETTING HIP at Sigrid's Recovery: http://www.sigridsrecovery.blogspot.com/.
"Tara Richards is approaching forty. The thought fills her with dread. She is unhappy with her job as a rehabilitation nurse and disenchanted with her marriage, but lacks the courage to make a major life change. When her best friend Lisa disappears, Tara's life is thrown into turmoil. Has Lisa jeopardized her sobriety by going on a drinking binge, or has she been harmed by her partner who has a history of battering? Tara joins a massive search for her friend in conjunction with the police, her colorful women's collective, and a twenty-four-year-old man whom she finds particularly captivating.
"The characters are real and the story is profound. It is original with a roller-coaster ride that explores the reality of a social problem everywhere. Macdonald establishes D'Amour Road, the road of love, also a road to tragedy and unsaid mystery, as the search begins for Lisa.”
"In an auspicious debut novel, D'Amour Road, Sigrid Macdonald draws the reader into the free-flowing, associative thinking of Tara Richards, whose mid-life crisis is punctuated by a desperate search for her best friend, Lisa, her life sponsor, the one to whom she turns when she trips over life. Lisa's disappearance drives Tara headlong into the complex psychological and social dilemmas that define her mid-life crisis.
"With stunning originality, Macdonald thrusts readers into a non-stop ride that explores both the mundane and the soul-stirring themes that color the human landscape. In a well-conceived metaphor, Macdonald establishes D'Amour Road, the road of love, where Lisa's car is abandoned, as the focal point for the search for Lisa as well as the psychological search for Tara. Beginning with doubts about everything, Tara's search ends in certainties that are rooted in love and trust in herself: certainties that transform the old age of her youth into the youth of her old age."
Read more about D'Amour Road at http://www.damourroad.blogspot.com/.
Be Your Own Editor
Are you uncertain when to use affect or effect? Loath or loathe? Compliment or complement? Do you struggle with character development, or scratch your head when it comes to structuring nonfiction articles, proposals, or manuscripts? Be Your Own Editor offers a crash course in grammar basics, starting with punctuation, proper use of the dreaded apostrophe, and how to identify common words that are frequently misused. It moves on to ways of devising stronger characters and background settings, as well as organizing nonfiction material. If you know that the quality of your writing is good, but you question your grammar skills, and ability to fully develop your story, this short, reader-friendly manual is for you.
INTERESTED IN MY SERVICES? SEND AN E-MAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO SUBMIT MANUSCRIPTS AND SHORT STORIES
My turnaround time is generally four to eight weeks for a full-length book, and ten days to two weeks for articles. I accept manuscripts as e-mail attachments, on CD or disk, or as printed documents, and I can edit directly on the manuscript using a tracking program. I can also work on a hard copy of your book, if you prefer.
Please put something about your book in the subject title of an e-mail, so it isn't destroyed by my spam filter!
Don't forget to read what my clients have to say in my blog entitled "Sigrid's Testimonials." Several of my former clients would be happy to write to you, if you want further reassurance about my work.
CONTACT ME: email@example.com
Check out the Speakers’ Bootcamp—a five day intensive, which will catapult your speaking to the next level. It's hands-on, highly interactive, and includes branding, media training, storytelling, audience involvers, marketing strategies, plus a stellar template for designing your programs and talks. Not only that, but your investment for approximately sixty hours of coaching is unbelievably modest. Private coaching is generally $250 an hour. A three-camera video demo shoot is a necessity if you want to get paid for speaking. You must be in front of an audience, as the event planners want to see how charismatic and interactive you are before they hire you.
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