Writing Books/editing


Dear Bobbie,
Since I am new to this business, I threw the question out there to see what would stick. I have answered your questions as follows

Congratulations on having nearly finished your book! I need some clarification of your questions before I can answer.

1. Dare I assume you mean proofreader,rather than proof writer? (I know what happens when I assume!)
I did mean proofreader, sorry.  

2. If it's a proofreader, the manuscript should be proofed after editing, not before.
You are right, that should be done at the end. Makes great sense.

3. What is the purpose of the letter you mentioned? Are you talking about a letter to the book editor, to an acquisitions editor, or what?
I need someone to go over the 400 page manuscript. I read about substantive editing. I think thatís what would be best for me as a first timer.
Is it a query letter or a cover letter? If a query letter or cover letter, entire books are written on that subject. Do check one out at the library or buy one, such as How to Write a Query Letter.
There is tons of information on this. Not ready for that yet, thanks.

4. When you say you will be looking for a book editor, do you mean an acquisitions editor? The term "book editor" usually refers to those of us who edit book-length manuscripts. If you are going to look for a book editor first (always a wise move), you may want to read my free report on how to choose the right editor for your manuscript. Find that free report and many others on my website, www.zebraeditor.com, under Tools for Writers.
Read it thanks. Nice informative website, BTW. Basically, I was asking how to approach an editor as internet research is pretty sparse on many.  I know calling is an option, but most often I would have to leave a message. That drives me crazy. After I do the research on editors, I wanted to draft a letter that describes my book and my desires to learn the process. I do not want to send out my manuscript and get it back all marked up without getting and giving feedback along the way.
I am a people person. I need to meet people that I work with. If that is not possible, then I need constant communication.  Below is the preliminary letter that I put together. Since you may be a prospective editor, you may critique that as well.  I hope I answered all your concerns, Sincerely, Dick Schlueter

Dear future editor,

  I've finished my 2nd draft of Blind Tomahawk, a futuristic techno submarine thriller with a touch of offbeat humor. With the world in the year 2025 about to erupt into a third world war, my collection of colorful characters are tested to the brink. I have created such an enticing, high tech submarine in the USS Cheetah that as a submariner I would consider re-enlisting to sail on her.

I want to give Blind Tomahawk the best chance at publishing and realize that a great editing can help that happen.  Book editing appears to be a sizable commitment in time and money so I want to choose wisely. I would like to find someone close, in CT or NYC if possible, as I would feel better meeting the person face-to-face.

  Although I work full time as a Senior Mechanical Engineer, I am gung ho about getting my book out there pronto. Always a great story teller, I started writing only to record my wacky adventures during the 60s; something to leave for my family. But I had too much fun. Nuke Punk evolved from that effort. With scores of mechanical inventions behind me, inventing characters, future technologies and adventures opened up a completely new and challenging world for me. Engineering coerces risk taking. I now love doing that with words.

  So please check out my website http://www.richardwschlueter.com . I sample of the book can be found there.

  You can get a feeling for my writing and a sample both books that I am working on and the two others in development.

  Thank you in advance for your consideration.

  Sincerely, Dick Schlueter

Richard W. Schlueter
84 High Street
Clinton, CT 06413
Home phone
Cell phone

Thank you for clarifying all my questions, so I could give a clear answer.

Your letter to potential manuscript editors sounds perfect, with one exception. You are in the driver's seat, not the book editors, in this case. The only thing missing, then, is a clear direction for them to follow, what those of us who have been in advertising and sales label a "call to action." I would then change the following: So please check out my website http://www.richardwschlueter.com . I sample of the book can be found there. (watch out for that typo!) to this:
Please check out my website at http://www.richardwschlueter.com to see a sample of my book. It has a total of (fill in the blank) words on (fill in the blank) standard manuscript pages. Please get back to me if you are interested in editing this book and give me the methods by which you work (electronic or hard copy, for example), a cost estimate, and the approximate turnaround time. Also let me know how much interaction I can expect with you during the editing process.

I will add this on a personal level. I've been editing book-length manuscripts for 20 years, and my evaluations are so thorough that rarely has a client needed to call, write, or visit for any further explanation. Visits are a waste of time for both author and editor, especially because editors get paid only for editing, not for personal meetings. I charge a consultation fee if authors simply want to come by and pick my brain, but few need to, after receiving my extensive evaluation. For that reason, my clients are around the globe; they don't have to be nearby. It's my opinion that any good editor would type up an evaluation so thorough that you would not need him or her to be nearby and spent personal time with you. Besides, you're less likely to remember what the editor said in a face-to-face meeting, but you'll always have the written report as a reference on which you can rely.

Your book sounds great, and you have the perfect background to write it. I wish you well, and I hope you'll consider using my editing services when you are ready to hunt for the perfect editor for you and for your book.

Here's to your success!  

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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