Author spotlights (like this one with Kris Spisak, author of The Novel Editing Workbook: 105 Tricks and Tips for Revising Your Fiction Manuscript from Davro Press and Get a Grip on Your Grammar from Career Press) are a great way to learn how authors are finding success.
Kris Spisak wrote her first book, Get a Grip on your Grammar: 250 Writing and Editing Reminders for the Curious or Confused (Career Press, 2017), with a goal to help writers of all kinds sharpen their craft and empower their communications. Her "Words You Should Know" podcast and Grammartopia® events follow the same mission, as does her latest book, The Novel Editing Workbook: 105 Tricks and Tips for Revising Your Fiction Manuscript (Davro Press, 2020).
A former college writing instructor, having taught at institutions including the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, Kris is now an active ghostwriter, speaker, and freelance editor. She is a member of James River Writers, the Alliance of Independent Authors, and the Women's Fiction Writers Association. Learn more or sign up for her monthly writing tips newsletter at KrisSpisak.com.
In this post, she shares her experience writing and publishing The Novel Editing Workbook: 105 Tricks and Tips for Revising Your Fiction Manuscript with Davro Press.
Dive into the world of writing and learn all 12 steps needed to complete a first draft. In this writing workshop you will tackle the steps to writing a book, learn effective writing techniques along the way, and of course, begin writing your first draft. In the workshop, you will be able to finish either a decently developed half draft (of half of your novel) or a rough "in-progress" full draft. However, you'll learn all the tools needed to complete the full first draft. At the end of this workshop, you will have accomplished every writer's goal—an "in-progress" working first draft.
Name: Kris Spisak
Literary agent: Lisa Hagan
Book title: The Novel Editing Workbook: 105 Tricks & Tips for Revising Your Fiction Manuscript
Publisher: Davro Press
Release Date: February 6, 2020
Elevator pitch for the book: Finishing your book is awesome, but finishing your editing is what makes all the difference. The Novel Editing Workbook is your resource to make it happen.
What prompted you to write this book?
There are countless reference books on how to write a novel, but few exist on how to edit one after you've pulled that full rough draft out of yourself.
As a freelance fiction editor for over 10 years, I have been building my collection of editing advice for a while. I love teaching workshops at writing conferences on this topic, and it was at one of these conferences where I realized that while my first book, Get a Grip on Your Grammar, covers a lot, there was so much more I still wanted to say. There is a storytelling chapter in that book, but a single chapter can only review so much. I wanted to dive deeper into the ideas that can really transform a novel in the editing stage.
Today's publishing environment is competitive and crowded. Writers need to make sure their manuscripts are in the best shape possible before attempting any next steps. I knew I could create a powerful resource, and once the idea bit me, I knew I had to find a way make it happen.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication?
The ideas within this book have been taking shape for years—growing out of conversations with my editing clients and workshops that I teach—but the actual drafting of this project was fairly condensed, just several months. This was much faster than my last book, but then again, most of my content was already written this time (what a wonderful discovery that was!). It just had to be reconceived in another format.
An early beta-reader was invaluable during this process. She pointed out organizational missteps that I hadn’t considered when transitioning these ideas from workshop content to workbook form. Later, when I passed on my completed manuscript, I really enjoyed the feedback—both the enthusiasm and the questions tossed back my way.
I might be an editor, but I have no ego when it comes to having my own work edited. I absolutely love working with professionals. Expert eyes can always make a writer reconsider their choices, challenging them and not letting them get away with things. I might not agree with every note, but it often leads to great conversations that ultimately empower a manuscript even more.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
The excitement level for this collection of editing exercises shocked me. I, of course, love this level of examination—tweaking and cajoling and manipulating the words on the page until they are exactly the vision the author first imagined (or better)—but I didn't realize how many other new and experienced writers would also be thrilled about it, telling me how it smoothed out or revolutionized their own editing processes. When blurbs started coming back, I was floored and overjoyed.
Apparently, everyone needs editing help, no matter where they are in their career.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
This was the first major project that I tackled with speech-to-text software, something I once swore would never work for me. When it comes to writing fiction, I still believe it wouldn't be the right fit for my personal process, but because this book came from material I've always taught in fiction workshops or reviewed one-on-one with my editing clients, speaking felt more natural than writing.
Of course, it's hardly a perfect process, and my editor hat had to come into play in a significant way; however, my first draft was a reminder that there is no correct way to write a book. There are countless methods and countless tools one could use. It all comes down to an attention to detail in the editing process to ensure the manuscript is capturing exactly what a writer wants (though, I'm guessing my call out of the importance of editing was something you saw coming).
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
A novel isn't finished the moment you reach that final punctuation mark on the last page, and editing is so much more than checking for typos, grammar mistakes, and punctuation flaws. Editing can and should go much deeper. When a writer dares to take their manuscript through a heavy editing process, including a macro-edit (big picture edit), micro-edit (sentence level edit), and that final proofread, a project's possibilities expand dramatically.
Writers can be brilliant. Stories can make us laugh, cry, think, sit on the edges of our seats, and so much more. But writers are human. Sometimes, we get impatient with the process. Sometimes, we don't even know where to start when it comes to revision. The Novel Editing Workbook is a writer's resource to transform that first draft that trickled out of your fingers and onto the page, turning your story into the book you want it to be.
If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?
The writer's life is one filled with creativity, sure, but there are so many other skill sets you need to practice before bringing your books to your readers (or literary agents and publishers). Keep going. Keep writing. Keep learning.
Persistence and determination can have amazing results!
If you're an author who would like to be featured in a future post, send an email to Robert Lee Brewer with the subject line "Author Spotlight" at firstname.lastname@example.org.