Exterminating Breeding Typos – Guest Post – Randy L. Scott

Randy L. Scott

Randy Scott is an independent author I’ve enjoyed visiting with at both Sierra Writers meetings and at the 2019 Sierra Writers Conference.

Randy’s guest post shares his editing process, tools, techniques, and tenacity. Randy has written and independently published three contemporary action adventure novels.

Knowing that Indies have a reputation for producing typo-riddled work, Randy’s aim is to raise reader expectations.

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I’ve read the blog posts, listened to the podcasts and watched YouTube about the business of writing and publishing.

One of the consistent complaints readers have about many self-published books is the editing – or lack of.

My day job is in a hospital, in a department where many ‘out-patients’ are seen. There is a waiting room where, you guessed it – they wait. Whenever possible, I engage with these folks about their reading material choices. When I ask if they read self-published or independent authors, the overwhelming response is they avoid them. “After the fifth or sixth typo, I put the book down and don’t go back,” is a common reply.

Tracking Down Typos

I consider myself a typical consumer of books; well-read across genres. Nearly every traditionally published novel I’ve read over the past dozen years, even from famous authors, has a few mistakes.

My typo standard; a few is okay, a dozen is sloppy.

When I embarked on my self-publishing journey, I knew that we are blind to our own mistakes and professional editing is mandatory for a professional result.

I ran the manuscripts through ProWriting Aid, the grammar checker on steroids. After line-correcting the manuscripts, I sent them to a professional proofreader for final nit-picking. I felt confident that the proofreader would have an easy job.

In my disillusionment, I thought I would be paying a lot of money to root out the few typos that escaped the eyes of my line editor.

Turns out the proofreaders earned their pay – and then some. They returned my manuscript with shit-tons of red flags. Well… okay… I drop my head, swallow my pride and get back to work making those corrections. Finally, it’s completely cleaned up and I make the ebook available for free to my friends and followers on Facebook.

Here’s what happened; the feedback is good. I’m a happy camper. I submit the manuscript to Amazon for both Kindle and paperback versions. I also submitted it to Draft2Digital, who will distribute to the other ebook stores like Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, Scribd and more. Yippie, it’s out there in the world and I’m a published author! Life is good my friends.

Then the comments rolled in from those who received the paperback copy; ‘I found a few typos and transposed words. Do you want me to pass them on to you?’

‘Yes, please!’ I reply to all. I also asked those friends who had the paperback to ‘mark up the book, dog-ear the pages where the typos are, pass it back and I’ll give you a new, clean version when I’ve made the corrections.’

Holy Cripes! I’m shocked. Shocked, I say, when I see all the dog-eared pages. I was hoping and praying they are mistaken or merely quibbling over style and word choices.

It’s a sad day when I see they are right and I’ve still got a couple dozen errors in my one-hundred thousand word manuscript.

Little ones, mind you, but mistakes nonetheless.

Amazon Book Proofs for Proofreading

Amazon offers ‘Author’s Proof’ copies. I give those ‘cheap’ copies to my second volunteer team. Within a week, they are ready to return them – all dog-eared and marked up. I’m happy to buy them lunch, or a bottle of wine to thank them for their ‘volunteer’ help.

It’s a chore to find a good team of professional editors – that you can afford. It’s a chore to find qualified friends or acquaintances who will take that last step for quality, to read your work and mark it up – after you’ve already paid the pros. For me, it’s worth it. I put a lot of thought and time into my stories.

I don’t want to be an author who has reviews noting how poor editing was distracting to the story.

Jumping the Gun, Impatience has a Price

Now I can hear you saying; “But you paid a ‘professional’ proofreader. Shouldn’t they have found all those mistakes?”

Yes. I agree. I wish they would have.

I discovered that one of the drawbacks of self-publishing; not having a large team of seasoned editors.

It’s up to all of us who are self-publishing, to go the extra steps and pay the extra dollars to get the job done right.

I paid for all the stages of editing, but I was in too much of a hurry on those first two books. I’m fortunate to have local friends good at finding typos, and an aunt who tackles proofreading like a rat terrier on a mission from God.

Post-Publication Changes

Thank God for print-on-demand, I don’t have a basement full of my poorly edited novels, and thank God only a few people have bought the books at this point.

My saving grace— it is easy to make changes today – even after publication.

I did a ‘soft’ launch, choosing to wait until I have the whole series complete and out the door before investing advertising. In retrospect, that was a wise move.

I zip through the dog-eared pages to find the circles and arrows pointing to the misspellings or transposed words while I am scrolling through the manuscript on my computer. I make all the corrections within half an hour and reload the manuscript into my formatting program, Vellum. New files are spit out for the paperback, and the ebook versions for Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc.

It takes only a moment to log into Draft2Digtial. I delete the old version, no questions asked, and the next person who orders my ebook, gets the new, cleaned-up version. Easy peasy.

The only delay is with Amazon. They have to review the new manuscript first. The Kindle version is typically replaced the same day. The paperback, print-on-demand copy can take up to seventy-two hours to be replaced.

Taking Extra Steps to do the Job Right

As I write this article, two of my three novels are finally, completely finished and published. I learned that I put them on the market one step too soon.

I needed another proofreading team after I paid the professionals, to give the books a final good scrubbing.

On this last book, my final volunteers discovered typos that got past the pro! Here’s my estimate of what they found;

  • 1st guy found about 30
  • 2nd person found about 20, 10-15 unique ones the first guy didn’t find
  • 3rd person found about 10, 5 unique ones the other two didn’t find

And I found a few more while I was putting in their corrections! It’s like the little bastards breed as soon as you close a file!

My diligence is paying off.

Finally, on the third book I’m getting it right.

At the time of article publication, all three Dream Messiah books will be available for purchase on Amazon

Summary of Randy’s Editing Process

  • Developmental Editor (paid)
  • Volunteer Beta readers
  • Line Editor (paid)
  • Proofreader (paid)
  • Volunteer proofreaders
The Superstition Mountains, Arizona Photo Credit: Scott Taylor

Check out Randy’s Dream Messiah Series

The genesis for the Dream Messiah saga came while Randy hiked across Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.  In his head, he saw the story of a young Alaskan man being taken into the Dreamtime of another culture and finding his home.

Freedom, Randy Scott

FREEDOM: Jake Barnes is worried about his ‘crazy seeds,’ mental afflictions and psychotic episodes that run in his family. After burning bridges and making enemies, he hitchhikes to Alaska to build his dream–a cabin in the wilderness where his biggest fear is the grizzly bear stalking him.

Jake…..turned mountain man falls for Kat, a strong-willed woman who is going to be the mother of his child. Jake soon learns that escape from the difficulties he ran from is impossible.

After their child is born, Kat has her own agenda.

Jake falls into doubt and self-pity while sensing that his life and grasp of reality are spinning out of control.

His sourdough, survivalist neighbor tells Jake of a primitive, nomadic tribe, the Punan Dyaks, on the island of Borneo, with a Dreamtime messiah prophecy. He also advises Jake to take a path of ruthless action.

While more than one person wants Jake Barnes to burn in hell, another hand is guiding him into baptism by fire.

 

Into the Fire, Randy Scott

INTO THE FIRE: Jake made more than a few mistakes while trying to raise his infant son. The last incident earned him a seat in the back of a state trooper’s car. Jake’s prayers for a normal life are crushed as his incarceration turns from bad to worse. A crime boss’s story of torture and disfigurement cements Jake’s path of survival by the rules of ruthlessness.

Jakes crazy seeds are sprouting thick as mushrooms on a cow pie. Death follows him like dark cyclone clouds of a voodoo curse.

The woman Jake falls for may be his undoing.

At the crossroads, Jake must decide if he can commit an act utterly heinous and abhorrent–if it will buy his freedom, or is freedom just another word–for nothing left…

AWAKENING: Jake Barnes wasn’t sure if he was bargaining with an angel or the devil when he struck a deal with the powerful Mr. Stevenson. Nine people are now dead in the wake of Jake’s actions.

Awakening, Randy Scott

Jake has completed his part of the bargain as Mr. Stevenson’s Hammer of God: as the old Jake Barnes dies and he takes on a new identity as Gabriel G. He’s learned the hard lessons, and the rewards of ruthlessness.

Still not sure if he’s psychotic or being guided by mysterious forces, Gabe escapes to Bali for a meet-up with another character from his past. Together they trek the uncharted territory of Borneo in search of the Punan Dyaks and the truth behind the Dream Messiah. Who will be their savior? How many more will die in this quest? Will the circle be…

Randy L. Scott lives and works in Nevada City, CA.

Resources:

Randy’s Website

Randy’s Amazon Author Page

Independent Author – More manuscript editing articles

Little Mountain Publishing – Helpful tools & resources for every stage of writing, editing, and publishing

Pinterest – Editing Tools board

ScoreIt! a Writers Resource

One of the most difficult tasks for any author is stepping away from their work and giving it a critical product-based assessment.

Here’s an app that takes some of the guesswork out of audience identification.

ScoreIt!™’s engineering leverages the cutting edge science of stylometry, artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify underlying patterns of language structure in any given text. Statistical analyses are then applied to identify those significant patterns that define one author’s writing style as compared to another…. In broad terms, each submission is evaluated and weighted for its 1) grammatical construction; 2) authorial vocabulary; 3) expressive complexity and 4) use of function words.”

After putting my recent title through the ScoreIt! system, I was pleased with the results.

Read more about my ScoreIt! analysis and the Book Giveaway based on the data.

Paranormal Book Cover Design Elements

Hindsight and fresh ‘enchilada’ wrappers open the door to effective paranormal book cover design.

If a writer’s journey begins with an idea and a few words, it concludes with multiple themes stacked like warm blankets atop a winter bed, bound together with colorful character threads.  The entire package, encompassing thousands of hours and hundreds and pages is wrapped by a thin layer of decorated cover stock that is supposed to, pictorially, represent the whole ‘enchilada.’

Read the entire article here.

Turning Your Blog into an e-book

Back in 2012 when I had been blogging for two years, I had gotten to know the blogging community pretty well through top sites for bloggers like Copyblogger, which has since turned into a multi-faceted media and software company. I was struck at the time by the almost total disconnect between authors, who were learning…

via Attention Bloggers: The Future of Book Publishing Has Arrived — The Book Designer

Copyright Law and Public Domain

‘New’ ideas are built on top of what already exists. 

Artists, authors, designers, and engineers may look like they are alone when they are working, but every creative knows that the things they produce are aggregates— with their own personal flair mixed in.

Like the famous Sagrada Familia it has taken five generations of builders to bring Antoni Gaudi’s grand vision to light. 

In the internet age, creatives turn to the worldwide web for inspiration— be it for photography, soundtracks or clip art.

Too many people believe that everything online is free. It’s not.

If you use media without proper licensing or permission, you could face a copyright infringement lawsuit, or get flagged on YouTube for improper use.

As a creative, it is important to understand how copyright works, what is protected, and when something is available for free use.

Copyright laws, in general, protect a creation from being copied for the life of the artist, plus 70 years.  After that, the piece enters the Public Domain. (SBTEA)

Public Domain works are 100% free for private and commercial use and do not require attribution.

Lawrence Lessig’s lectures and books help artists safely navigate the muddy waters of fair use. He is largely responsible for establishing an ever-growing community of photographers, artists, illustrators, videographers and musicians who support creativity by contributing current work to the Public Domain.

Copyright Law recommended reading.

Click here for Lisa’s extensive collection of public domain images, music, sound,  and video clips.

Work and Play with Voice to Text – Part Two – Three Steps to Better Writing Efficiency

Use Voice to Text and Speech to Text programs to increase your writing efficiency and accuracy.

Step 1. Set Your Smartphone up to take Dictation.

Talk to your smartphone anywhere and have it type for you.

*Note: You must have a Google account set-up before beginning this tutorial.

Step 2. Move your Google Docs Text into your Word Processing Document.

Step 3. Edit your Document by Listening to It.

Listening and reading involve different parts of the brain. By converting your writing (or manuscript) into an audio form, you’ll catch different mistakes than you would if you edited it by reading alone.

*For manuscript editing and book processing, I recommend multiple editorial rounds that focus on different aspects. In this instance, I would do the reading edit first then follow it with a listening edit.

In the video below, I show how to set up the Narrator app. in Windows 10, so that it will read your manuscript to you.

Here’s a free most-used Windows 10 Narrator Shortcut List pdf.

Check out part one of Work and Play with Voice to Text for a fun how-to create a robot answering machine message.

 

 

Work and Play with Voice to Text – Part One

At my house, we laugh when a robo call comes in. If the caller ID shows a number we don’t recognize, we let the answering machine answer it.  Our machine plays a Robot to Robot message.

Nine times out of ten, telemarketers hang-up before the message completes.

Here are the steps to use voice to text technology to make your own robot answering machine message.

Step 1. Type Message on your Smartphone

Type the message that you want your robot voice to speak. You can do this in any program that allows typing. I used the Quick Memo app. If you’d like to use mine, here’s the script from my message.

share buttonStep 2. Share your Writing with a Text to Speech app.

The app. that I use on my Android phone is Voice Aloud Reader.voice aloud icon

Experiment with the rate, pitch, and volume settings to make your robot voice sound the way you want.

Step 3. Record your Robot Message onto your Answering Machine.

Hold your phone close to the answering machine microphone. Play the message in the text to speech app. while recording it on your answering machine.

 

The Robot to Robot message is a fun way to reduce interactions with telemarketers, but it doesn’t solve the problem of eliminating the calls.

To cut down on your telemarketing call volume, register your land line and / or cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry (US Only). It takes about a month before the registry goes into effect.

In part two of Work and Play with Voice to Text, I will show you how to use speech to text and text to speech programs to make your writing and editing more efficient and accurate.