I Wrote the Book on Editing

After All These Years, I’ve Got Stories

Editor Elizabeth M.S. Flynn Book on EditingThe proof copies of She Nodded Her Head Up and Down In Agreement: How Just a Second Thought Can Help Your Book have arrived!


After all these years, I’ve got stories. So I wrote a book on editing. Not so much editing as helpful hints that authors should keep in mind as they’re sending their beautiful words and intriguing characters out into the world.

I’ve entitled it She Nodded Her Head Up and Down In Agreement: How Just a Second Thought Can Help Your Book. As you will conclude — because you’re clever enough to draw conclusions or you wouldn’t be a writer reading this blog — I’ve captured decades of work as an editor to share some of the very obvious traps that my otherwise wonderful clients have fallen into. Things like having a character squint her eyes (is she going to squint her foot?), kiss with his mouth (what else is a he going to kiss with, his foot?), showing when you should be telling (yes! it happens!), wetting his appetite (no, just no!), baiting breath (worms? really?) — these are things you couldn’t care less about, but I absolutely could care less about. In fact, I care a great deal about these things. And that’s why my clients continue to hire me.

These little tidbits will soon be for sale in book form at Amazon and all the other places. First, you can win one in a raffle at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference, where I’ll be presenting (I’ll write a separate post about my topic, which is key to the conference). I hope I’ll see you there — and I hope you win!

Heather Redmond’s A Tale of Two Murders Is Two Times Two Elizabeth M.S. Flynn Tales, Too

Editor Elizabeth MS Flynn as author Eilis Flynn with client and co-author Heather Hiestand.

Authors Heather Hiestand and Eilis Flynn at Third Place Books and their book, “Wear Black.” There’s more to this story!

Last night I attended the Third Place Books author event in Lake City Way for Heather Redmond’s A Tale of Two Murders. There’s two things to everything to be said about it!

First, I’m affiliated with Heather two ways — as co-author (on Wear Black, which we’re holding here) and as editor for her independently published works.

Second, Heather writes with at least two pseudonyms — Heather Hiestand (the name on what she’s written with me) and Heather Redmond — the name she’s using for her successfully launched Charles Dickens murder mysteries.

Third, yes, although I edit as Elizabeth M.S. Flynn, my pen name is Eilis Flynn. I’m sure you’ve found some of those books. I hope you’ve found them enjoyable. I’ve just reissued the book of my heart, Festival of Stars, a multicultural romance based on a beloved Japanese folk tale.

Fourth, (although you’ve figured this out) I’m both an editor and a published author. So I have a pretty good idea what authors go through and bring all of that experience to bear on any project I edit.

So that’s four twos. Is that too much?

Your Indie Editor and You: Presentation June 2, 2018 at the White Center LIbrary

Indie Editor

Tools of the indie editor trade

Indie editors are an essential part of indie publishing. It’s not just about writing your story. (Still, hurray! You did it!) But, before you publish it, you need to have it edited. This is not optional! You will need a developmental edit as you’re blocking it out. You will need line edits for content, style, and language. You will certainly need copy edits to ensure your beautiful manuscript is clear and error-free. At all stages, format is important — first, so your manuscript can be professionally edited; then so your manuscript can be published cleanly by the online publishing platforms. You’re up to the task, but it does require taking a hard look at your work. Again. Here’s how to work with your editor to polish your story into a gem. And — there’s even a handy checklist! See you there!

Saturday, June 2, 2018 10:30 am at the White Center Library
1409 SW 107th Street | Seattle WA 98146

Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America

Can’t be there? Send me an email and I’ll send you the checklist!

There Will Be Dragons — In Everett!

I’ll be bringing the Silk Road to Everett on Saturday, May 19! I’ll be discussing the Dragons of Asia (no, it’s not a band name — but maybe it should be!) when I present to their regular Saturday meeting at Lombardi’s of Everett. The Silk Road…And Beyond is a series of workshops I’ve been giving over the years (often with the assistance of the award-winning western romance writer Jacquie Rogers) that show how familiar ghosties and ghoulies have counterparts around the world, traveling the same paths as we humans.

Evergreen RWA meetings: https://www.evergreenrwa.org/upcoming-meetings/

Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant Everett: http://www.lombardisitalian.com/home/

Interested in the book? Check it out at Amazon: Dragons Along The Silk Road…And Beyond

First books in the series (Ghosts Along the Silk Road…And Beyond):
Paperback | Kindle Edition

Why You Should Hire An Editor #1,248: Speech-Recognition Software

One of the tools now available to writers is speech recognition software, and it is a boon. It also turns out to be faster: a study by Stanford University, the University of Washington and Baidu, the Chinese Internet company, showed that for handheld devices the spoken word was three times faster than entering on a small keyboard.

Franck Dernoncourt, a research scientist at Adobe Research, has said that the average typist works from 50 to 80 words per minute, but that the speech recognition rate is more than 100 words per minute. If you consider that a TED talk averages 163 words per minute, you can see why writers are turning to speech recognition software like Dragon or LilySpeech. I have clients who use this and are very pleased how quickly they can move through their manuscripts.

But… just as anybody who has picked a fight with Apple’s Siri knows, speech recognition isn’t perfect.

And the software errors I catch can be very amusing.

For instance, one writer whose manuscript I edited wanted to describe how one character was mimicking another. The speech-recognition software, however, tripped up on the word emulate. Having one character immolate another would have certainly heated the story up. The software meant well – but didn’t capture the meaning.

More recently, a writer was describing a scene with brandy. Brandy is a lovely beverage. It is smooth, provides welcome warmth, and, depending upon the fruit from which it’s distilled, generates a lovely bouquet. It’s often served in distinctive glassware meant to convey that aroma.

Alas, the speech-recognition software my client used substituted the verb “sniffer” (which the character certainly could have been, inhaling the rich fragrance of the spirit) for the noun “snifter” – the correct name of the stemware containing the auburn liquid in question.

My favorite may be how speech-recognition software mangled a word common primarily to romance writers. The task for the software was further complicated by the author’s regionally specific accent – and possibly the Old West setting of the novel. That’s the only explanation I have for why “bustier” escaped the author’s lips – and wound up as “buzzard beak” in the manuscript I was editing.

Or maybe some cowboy in the Old West is actually excited when he sees buzzard beaks coming at him.

Writers – use whatever tool makes you do the work best and fastest. But remember that your editor is every bit a part of your finished product as is its cover, its copyright page, its binding, and its placement in your local bookstore or on Amazon.com.

Learn About Super-Hero Prose At Emerald City Comic Convention

Super-heroes don’t just fly on the big screen, hurl lightning bolts on your flatscreen, or leap giant buildings in a single bound in the panels of a comic book. I know; I’ve edited and written novels about them. (Did you know I was a proofreader at DC Comics back in the day? Or that I sold Superman stories — to Julius Schwartz, the editor who was Ray Bradbury’s agent — when I was in college?)

On March 1, I’ll be sharing that knowledge with attendees of the Emerald City Comic Convention in Seattle. I’ll be joined by other experts as we present Panel to Prose: Translating Super-Heroes from Four-Color Staple to Literary Trope.

Super-heroes have long been the near-exclusive purview of comics when it comes to print. With the recent massive success of movies adapted from the comics, super-heroes are enjoying wider appeal than ever before. Can body-suit clad heroes make the leap from glossy graphics-laden pages to prose novels? Is there a difference between the approach of the writer and editor? Are the readers different? Come to the panel and find out!

2018 Rates

Hope it’s been a good year for you. A productive year. A busy, productive year!

First of all, thanks for working with me. In this constantly shifting business of indie publishing, it’s always a challenge to make sure you keep up with the changes and make sure your books are produced in a timely fashion.

In order to do so, effective January 1, 2018, I have to revise my rates (sorry!). These reflect the broad spectrum of manuscript lengths. The breakdown is more equitable, allowing those with shorter manuscripts to pay proportionally less.

The rate structure for 2018 will include rush fees (starting with $100 above basic fee) as determined by me (usual turnaround is about two to three weeks). If you want it faster, I need to rearrange other projects already in the pipeline, so keep that in mind:

# Words in manuscript, rounded to the closest thousand, for line and copy editing, up to:

  • 20,000 words – $300
  • 40,000 words – $400
  • 50,000 words – $500
  • 60-80,000 words – $600
  • 100-120,000 words – $700
  • 140-190,000 words – $800
  • For manuscripts of more than 190K, drop me a line and we’ll talk.

Proposal and synopsis: $200 (3 chapters and synopsis; this rate would be adjusted down to $150 if I edit the entire manuscript)

Developmental editing: Up to three months, $800 (and if I end up doing both dev and line/copy edits, $1,000) (again, drop me a line and we’ll talk)

Again, thanks for your business. Looking forward to working with you in the coming year!

Elizabeth MS Flynn

Looking for an editor to clean up your work?

You’ve come to the right place! I’m EMS Flynn, and I’ve been a copy editor for more than three decades. Are you looking to make sure your fiction, nonfiction, novel, article, or marketing piece is the cleanest and most concise it can be? I can help you. Over those three decades (and more), I’ve copy edited academic works, financial works, romance novels, literary short stories, high-tech manuals, comic books (well, that one was proofreading, which is very different), and more. I have a wide range of editing experience. Not only that, I’m a published author, so I’ve been on the other side of the process.

Now the numbers game…you’re nervous about having someone edit your work, and I don’t blame you. Just to make sure you and I are on the same page, you can hire me to copy edit your first ten pages or 1,500 words, whichever comes first (I call this a “shorty edit”). That’s enough for you to get an idea of my style.

Rough breakdown for 2017 rates: It’s pretty basic.

Short stories: $300. A short story is a work up to 30,000 words. More than that, we go on to:

Novella edits (about 100 pages or up to 40,000 words): $400

Full manuscript: $600 for 50,000-word manuscript on up

Nonfiction manuscript: $750 on up, depending on length

Proofreads: $300 to $500 for work that’s been published previously and you’re looking to self-publish.

I also offer line editing, which involves actually doing some story breakdown (content editing). The price for that differs according to work, so we’d have to discuss that after I see the material. Line editing doesn’t involve grammar or punctuation; it examines structure overall and problems with the story itself. I also offer developmental editing, for varying lengths of work.

Drop me a line at emsflynn@aol.com and let’s talk.