Please note that Hilary Wynne is a blog guest, not a Romance Refined client.
Rachel: Thanks for sitting down with me, Hilary. How long did it take you to write and revise your various drafts, and did you have anyone read those drafts before the manuscript started professional edits?
Hilary: I spent four months writing Stay. I self-edited and revised along the way, so that is inclusive of the four months. I was releasing sections to a few beta readers along the way, so the early drafts were pretty rough when they were initially being read. Altogether I have a group of five people who I talked to about the story and who read the manuscript pre-editing.
Rachel: Five sounds like a great number. Not too many cooks in the kitchen, but enough to get a varied spread.
How tightly do you hold onto your original plot and character ideas, even if you feel they aren’t coming together?
Rachel: That’s good advice. I think all too often writers feel the need to battle writer’s block with a specific scene in mind to overcome, when really, writing anything should be the goal.
What is the biggest difference between your original idea/draft and published book, and how difficult was it for you to make the decision to change that element?
Hilary: I changed the ending. It still is somewhat of a cliffhanger, but it was very drastic in the original version. It didn't take much convincing to make me change it. The protests from the beta readers and editor were enough to make me see the error of my ways.
Rachel: When you delete good material for the benefit of the overall story, do you save those deleted lines/scenes/characters for posterity or for use elsewhere? Care to share an example?
Hilary: I did move an entire steamy scene from book one into book two. It was suggested by three beta readers to scale back on the number of sex scenes. I was able to remove it without causing a big hole and because I liked it, I used it in the next book. I'm not sure it would be appropriate to share that scene here! There might have been a few other lines here and there that I moved into book two. As you can see by my word count of 150k, I'm not big on deleting much.
Rachel: Let’s talk a bit about self-publishing now. What made you decide to hire an editor?
Hilary: I knew right away I needed help the first time I printed out a few chapters and read them. There were so many mistakes. It's so hard to self-edit because each time I tried I became more focused on the story than then technical issues. I would recommend everyone use an editor.
Rachel: Naturally, I agree! How did you find your editor?
Hilary: That's a long story. For my first book, Stay, I found a freelancer online. It didn't go well and I was forced to hire a second editor. I used the services of my self-publishing company and unfortunately that didn't go well either. It was a long road to get it release ready. For my second book I am using a totally different company, Standoutbooks. I've been working with them for months on various other writing related services and I'm very confident I will be very happy with the edit.
Rachel: Yikes, that’s a rough start to your publishing journey. I'm glad you're happy with the company your working with now. What do you think caused the difficulty elsewhere, and what advice would you give other authors seeking a freelance editor?
Hilary: This is a great question. It's hard to decide who to use and what you really need. There are so many different names for services offered and after a few misses I was so nervous about the process. It's really important to ask a lot of questions so you know exactly what you are paying for, and I can't stress enough the importance of having a good rapport with your editor. This was by far the most stressful part of my whole writing journey.
Rachel: I absolutely feel for authors trying to figure out editing jargon and apply it to their needs, because until they know better, how are they meant to know what their expectations need to be? It doesn’t help that there is no universal editing terminology that all editors agree on, though there are fundamental similarities. This is why I have a detailed breakdown on my own website to explain editing terminology and what type of work is accomplished at the different levels of editing. Authors should always ask each individual editor for their own definitions, though, and always get a sample edit to get a feel for an editor’s personality and editing style.
Aside from the business side of things, did you learn anything from editing this project that you’ll be putting into practice when writing and revising your next manuscript? What was the most difficult part?
Hilary: I learned a lot. I use the word that way too often, so I go back and check for it – very carefully. I also make sure that I'm not overusing any adjectives. I tried to pay more attention to my grammar and my wordiness. The second manuscript was actually longer, so that might have been a fail on my part, but I tried. I'm sure my editor will help straighten it all out. The waiting was the hardest part. I'm an impatient person and the minute I finished writing Stay I wanted it released. The editing of a 150k word novel takes time. I had it done twice so the wait was extra long.
Rachel: Is your book targeted at a specific audience (US vs. UK market, for example), and if so, did that influence editorial decisions?
Hilary: It is an adult romance novel, so my audience is anyone over 18! I did have concerns having it edited by someone in the UK because I use a lot of urban American English. I didn't use my current editor the first time around for this reason because she is in the UK. That was a mistake and short-sighted on my part. A simple conversation could have taken care of any concerns I had.
Rachel: It’s always great to find an editor comfortable editing both British and American English. (I love doing both, personally!)
Did you hire any other professionals to give your book the best marketing edge possible?
Hilary: I did hire a designer to help with the cover and the self-publishing company I used did the typesetting and formatting. I used Standoutbooks for my marketing and author platform.
Rachel: Do you have any funny errors that editors or readers have pointed out?
Hilary: Is there anything funny about errors. :)
Rachel: Maybe not from an author's perspective, lol! Thanks so much for being my guest today and sharing some valuable insight.
Alexa is beautiful, independent and hard to resist for serially unattached Julian. Neither one is looking for a relationship, but their palpable chemistry and instant emotional connection is too strong to ignore. For the first time in years, Julian is interested in more than just sex. He wants a relationship with intoxicating Alexa, but it's not that simple.
Not only are Julian and Alexa struggling with the intensity of this new relationship, but they also have to contend with Luke, Alexa's best friend, whose own love for her leaves him willing to do anything to convince her that Julian is not the man for her. Luke's determination and Alexa's secret past threaten to tear Julian and Alexa apart as she struggles to open her heart to love.
Julian and Alexa embark upon a roller-coaster ride of emotional and physical passion that both pulls them apart and holds them together. Despite their affinity for each other, Alexa fears that Julian will leave when he learns about her past and Julian is unsure he can love a woman who in so many ways remains a mystery, a woman who keeps threatening to run, a woman who can't decide if she is going to STAY.
Release date: November 17, 2013
Format: ePub, Mobi, paperback, hardback