Common Manuscript Challenges

on 14 July 2 Comments

If you face any of the following challenges after you have drafted a manuscript, you are not alone. They are very common in drafts that I see as a content editor.

Even if I wasn’t one, I would always recommend that authors use a content editor to help produce a professional, polished manuscript. It’s often easier for someone who hasn’t been so close to the manuscript to spot these issues. It can be  hard to see the forest through the trees, so to speak! And, content editors who are trained as journalists have also been conditioned to ask questions that help them see the “holes” to get to the “whole” story!

Sorry—this pun loving journalist at heart couldn’t resist an analogy and a pun!

Now back to the challenges. Unedited manuscripts may have the following content challenges: 

  1. A disconnect between the vocabulary and your intended audience—It’s a common and noble goal of writing to help others who are younger or not as far down the road as you are. People naturally speak (and write) more naturally to those who are most like themselves. For example, an engineer or software developer tends to write in terms that can be too technical for non-mechanic types who want a how-to book. A pastor who is entrenched in theological terms wants to write to those who have just found faith, but their natural terms are only understood by those with a theological background…you get the drift.
  2. Holes leaving out details necessary for understanding—You may be missing key facts, like the where, when, how, why, etc. because your brain fills in those details. It’s just like in a conversation with a spouse, friend or coworker—something that seems obvious to you may not be immediately understood. This mishap in communication is certainly frustrating, but in a conversation, you have a chance to fill in the gaps. In a book, you don’t have that opportunity. The editor tries to anticipate misfires to ensure that readers understand what you are saying.
  3. An overabundance of flowery description because you like how it sounds—It may sound pretty to be read, but sometimes flowery description prevents readers from getting to the point soon enough, and you lose their attention. Removing unnecessary words is the best practice 95% of the time. For lengthy romance novels or period pieces, you have a bit more freedom. Those readers want to escape and have the scene set a bit more.
  4. An incohesive order and lack of flow because a book wasn’t outlined. Even if you do an anthology, the book needs to have some apparent structure. It can either be alphabetical, by topic or in chronological order. But, a readers need to understand the flow. As a writer, sometimes, the words just come, or you have a word count goal to meet. It’s not the end of the world if you didn’t outline your book, but it will require more sculpting later. By the time you publish your book, though, every idea needs to build on the last one.
  5. A chapter that doesn’t fit into the book’s message as a whole. Each chapter should be cohesive enough to stand alone if read separately. Just like you, readers may read a book over long haul, and they aren’t going to go back to a previous chapter.
  6. A chapter that isn’t cohesive enough. This problem can also happen when writing just flows. The writing might not have begun with a lead that connected to the headline and ended with a conclusion. An editor can help you “wrap” your chapter so it is a self-contained package with a clear beginning and an end.
  7. Unconnected points. In any narrative text, you have to connect one point to the next, or the writing is choppy. Adding transitions is one of the content editors biggest jobs. I liken it to connecting newly built houses with driveways and roads to make a subdivision.
  8. Missing applications or take-aways at the end of a section or chapter. These items are especially helpful in non-fiction how-to or self-help books.
  9. Lack of visual elements or unrelated visuals like call outs, infographics or photos where they could helpful to emphasize what your text is saying. Conversely, some people are graphic happy these days, and they add charts, but they don’t set the stage or context of the graphic. It needs to relate to and enhance the manuscript, not just be thrown in there to have one.

I hope this list helps you see what content editors are looking for! It’s a bit long—and there is definitely more, but I hope it helps you understand the value of investing in content editing! 

Like anything, you can try it yourself, or you can delegate it to a “pro.” If you would like help, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me!

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Why Do A Group Blogging Challenge?

on 11 July 0 Comment
I'm so thankful for this group and the blog challenge!
I’m so thankful for this group and the blog challenge!

It’s really late on a Sunday night. I started writing this when there’s only a couple hours left to get in on this particular 30-day group blogging challenge. I’ve had an incredibly busy few weeks with an overload of work. It’s summer—with school out, it’s the time when friends and family are available for out of town visitors—or they want to come to you. In addition to a large freelance workload, our schedule has been very full with out-of-town visits and visitors to our home. So, why would I decide—completely last minute—to add a 30-day group blogging challenge to my summer schedule?

Here are a few quick reasons:

  • I believe that God orchestrates all circumstances at particular times for particular reasons. I don’t always understand the timing or reason at the time that I commit to doing something, but I do know that I have seen the blessings looking back. I have seen a larger picture unfold about why the timing was incredibly important for the domino effect of other events in my life that were about to unfold. So, if I pray about an activity and have peace about doing it, and my husband is in agreement, we move forward. You can read my husband’s blog—he is also doing the challenge, writing as I write now—at
  • I know that adding structure helps me achieve goals. I really dislike feeling pressure. I prefer to let things ruminate over time, with a plan solidly in place. However, I’ve also found that starting something helps me crystallize my plans—even when I’m not sure what my specific goals for that time period are yet. I do know that I have the larger goals of growing my business, generating inspirational and income-producing content and continuing to hone my craft as a professional writer, editor and marketer.
  • I want to help other small business owners who understand the importance of effective communication and knowledge sharing. I’m not sure how business owners will join this challenge, but I do know that I’ve learned so much from connecting with others. I really appreciate gaining knowledge from others who are willingly share their successes and failures. And I like sharing as well. It’s a win-win. Whether we are in the same field or not, we have a common shared experience of creating something for a purpose larger than ourselves.
  • I’m interested in people and what they are doing. As a writer and editor, understanding your audience is critical to getting your message across. Reading what people from various backgrounds want to write about helps you understand your potential audience. What are their interests? Their struggles? Their triumphs? Their fears? Their hopes and dreams? All of the insights help you generate more relevant, inspirational content.
  • I have experienced that adding discipline in one area of my life spills into another. When I have done fitness challenges, I was more productive in all areas of my life. Also, the last time I did a blog challenge, in addition to learning how easy it is to write more consistently for fun, I learned much about WordPress and building my own Websites and creating social media graphics. I also made made progress on one future book…just for fun. It will share insights about God, life and business that I’ve learned from Clive, my cat. Check out that blog here.

Perhaps it’s time for you to join a challenge. How much you are able to get done may surprise you—and you never know where or what may unfold next.

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Living “Pro”— 
3 Surprises and 4 Take-Aways from a Recent Conference

on 29 April 0 Comment
The amazing entrepreneurs at 2 x 4 Live. My hubby and I are standing at top left.
The amazing entrepreneurs at 2 x 4 Live. My hubby and I are standing at the top left.

Attending business or industry-related conferences is a critical component of keeping your “pro” skills relevant and up-to-date. Earlier this month, I was blessed to attend one of the most informative and inspirational events that I have ever been to.

I initially decided to go to this particular event, called 2×4 Live, because one of my clients co-created it. She and her three other colleagues—all of whom are seasoned business women in their fields—would be the keynote speakers.

I would have a chance to learn from leaders with a combined total of more than 50 years of entrepreneurial wisdom!

Although, I have about 20 years of experience working for large corporations or non-profits in the editorial world, I am fairly new at running my own business. So, for me at this point, it made more sense to invest in a business conference rather than an industry event.

As I expected, the speakers’ messages were amazing, and chalked-full of practical how-to information to move my current business and new business ideas forward.

And, the conference also blew away my expectations in a few unexpected ways:

  1. I benefitted from hearing wisdom that will apply to my business challenges well down the road, but I received the extra blessing of planning for those situations now.
    I could not have predicted how much I would learn from my fellow attenders/entrepreneurs. They had questions that I, as a relative newbie in entrepreneurship, would not have thought about asking. People around our group were at all different levels and had various types of expertise.
  2. The commraderie and the friendships formed faster than I could have imagined—we had a new community less than 48 hours after we met. People talked about future get-togethers and extended invitations to visit in their homes. 
  3. My husband got to come with me unexpectedly; having two minds collaborate to apply what we learned will be so much more productive than if I had been on my own. We also felt blessed to share the story of our adventures—from how we met later in life to how we grow closer together as we explore God’s magnificent creation. You can read about some of those adventures on my husband’s blog, Hiking with Your Honey. He shares lessons from the trail that apply to marriage, relationships and life.

So, what are my additional “pro” take-aways?

  1. Be openminded, and you will learn from people and places you had never thought of. I had no idea how much I would learn from people, 95% of whom are in a completely different industry. But because many of them are writing books, they may become clients.
  2. Follow leaders and do what they do. I went to this conference mainly because someone I respect had created the event and was speaking.
  3. Keep learning and interact with others along the way. I personally feel more comfortable learning anonymously to a recorded teaching, but I know something much more powerful happens in personal interaction. Online live events or phone calls are a great start, but try to plan to get away at least once a year—or even more often, if you are able to. I know I wouldn’t have even thought of starting my business without my writers’ group. So, find a group of people with common interests locally that you can have face time (not just screen time) with. These are often available through churches, through, Facebook and other sources.
  4. Record whatever you learn, and type up your take-aways shortly after you return. I believe that God orchestrates every step I take, and I don’t often understand the timing of circumstances right away. But, as I go about my daily life, being diligent to complete the tasks in front of me, the dots start to connect. I begin to gain understanding and I start to see the pieces fit together.

Be blessed in your own “pro” journey!


P.S. If you are considering writing a book or if you are nearly finished with one, you would benefit from taking an upcoming phone in class “An Overview of the Editing Process,” Monday, May 9, 2016, at 8 p.m. EST. I am co-teaching this class with the client I mentioned above, Kayla Fioravanti, a experienced serial entrepreneur, who owns Selah Press

If you register before May 1, the class is only $7.

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