pathways to publishing > FAQs

 

 

Hilary Kerr, one of Laurel Cohn's clients


Hilary Kerr
Look to See – The Art of Drawing
(Look to See Press)

Manuscript development
Editing
Design and layout
Project management

‘After working for ten years on my manuscript ‘Look To See — The Art of Drawing’ I had almost reached the point of throwing it in the garbage and taking up bowls or bridge to fill my time. Then I met Laurel Cohn and suddenly everything seemed to fall into place.  Laurel advised, discussed, altered and organized the text and the images to a beautiful cohesive whole. Through Laurel’s skills and wisdom she taught me so much as she has prepared the manuscript to be sent to the printer for publication. Thanks to Laurel, not only do I have a beautiful book, but my computer skills and confidence in my work have grown enormously.’

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‘I had been sitting on the draft of my second unpublished novel for about two years, when I finally took the plunge and sent it for assessment to Laurel Cohn, who had been recommended to me by the Northern Rivers Writers' Centre. What I received from Laurel was far beyond my expectations. She had taken great care with the detail, but more importantly, she gave me signposts and directions for making the novel more cohesive and complete. I now have a much clearer idea of what I need to do. Laurel combines a respect for the writer and the work with well thought out constructive criticisms.

Sandra Heilpern

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‘Laurel Cohn reviewed my memoir manuscript. In the edits, her report and subsequent discussion she delivered value in excess of what I'd hoped. Her technical ability, e.g. with structure, language, style, , grammar, was spot on and greatly enhanced my work. In addition Laurel understood the essence of my work better than I and her guidance helped me to adopt a more relevant and effective point of view and voice.’

James Webb

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Lisa Walker
Liar Bird
(HarperCollins)

Manuscript assessment

‘I love how you have gone to the heart of the story, which was eluding me. I knew there were some themes there, but having them articulated strongly by you is almost a revelation. I now feel very inspired to progress to the next stage of rewriting. Thank you also for your encouragement and detailed feedback. I had really lost my way a bit with this story, but think I’ve found it again. I will press on!’

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‘In these days of what I call "typus excessus”, it's not the literary novel that's suffocating; it's the ability to read accomplished works of fiction. Good readers are hard to find – much harder than what are so often considered (wrongly) as "good writers."  You, Ms. Cohn, are not only an exceptional reader, but you have something more. You speak the writer's language.’

Zireaux

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Denise Greenaway
Finding Artemisia
(Balboa Press)

Manuscript development
Editing

'Laurel Cohn is reliable, punctual and goes out of her way to be available. Her editing skills are as sharp as a bird's beak, pecking at weak stitches, revealing gaping holes : at times unravelling, at other times tightening the very threads, but never, never, missing a dropped stitch.'

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‘Thank you for your work on my manuscript. I loved your capacity to work with the detail yet always with the bigger picture of where I was going clearly in mind. I had gone as far as I could on my own and felt, until I did the process with you, that I had run out of steam for the time being. With your guidance, however, I feel both equipped and inspired to move forward without the break I thought I needed.’

Nola Webb

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Jamie Mushin – Quit for life

Jamie Mushin
Quit for Life
(Penguin Books)

Manuscript development
Editing

‘Laurel worked with me as an editor for my first book, a non-fiction book about quitting smoking. I found Laurel to be easy to communicate with, very clear in her thoughts and prompt with her responses to any questions I had. She edited an early draft of the manuscript, and gave me valuable feedback on structure, grammar and the style of my writing. I found her comments to be insightful and relevant, and an important basis for writing the next draft of the book. I would happily use Laurel's services again.’

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‘We authors are solitary creatures, laying down our words - line after line, day after day - on a wintry Antarctic landscape, where our little black penguins strut their stuff… Dr Seuss rejects, or ‘Monet starts writing’… and always moving. After a long icy winter, and a hundred thousand bobbing penguins, we need a good editor; someone with a nice touch – who cares when the snow turns red… Laurel Cohn knows how to shove penguins better than Shackleton ever did, and Scott, and Mawson.  Thank you Laurel Cohn, you are a writer’s editor; the best.’

Chris Dewhirst

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‘At my first meeting with Laurel we discussed the range of topics I wished to write about and we agreed on a logical order to present them. My homework was to review my collection of notes and research and develop detailed chapter outlines. At my next appointment Laurel reviewed a brief chapter overview from both the reader’s and writer’s perspective. What was I really trying to convey and would this be obvious to the reader? Laurel is practical and motivating in her approach; somewhat intuitive too. I enjoy working with Laurel as I know she understands what I am trying to achieve in completing my first book.

Sallyanne Pisk

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‘It is 3.30am and I have just completed editing my manuscript. Before I catch a few hours sleep I wanted to thank you for setting me on the right track. Your service turned out to be invaluable. I hadn't been aware of how many mistakes I was making until you pointed them out. As you know, I have held an aversion to editors because in the past I have received only harsh criticism in my dealings with them. Your criticism (guidance) was at all times constructive and encouraging. I will send you a copy of my book when it comes out.’

Jodi Lantz

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‘I just want you to know my appreciation of your honesty about my work and the depth and length you went to in its worth. All of your points are valid to me and you taught me some valuable things to avoid and consider changing. Thank You Once Again.’

Goran Zivanovic

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Frequently Asked Questions

At Laurel Cohn Editing and Manuscript Development Services we want to help you realise your publishing goal. Here are some questions writers often ask us.

Please feel free to contact us if you want to know more about a particular topic.

EDITING

ASSESSMENT

FORMATTING MANUSCRIPTS

E-BOOKS

COPYRIGHT AND LEGAL ISSUES

EDITING

What does an editor do?
The main role an editor plays is to guide the writer (fiction or non-fiction) to realise on the page the full potential of the story they are compelled to tell; to keep them on track to reach their intended destination of publication. There are different levels of intervention an editor may have with a manuscript that correspond with the different types of editing: structural and stylistic editing, copy editing and proofreading.
Read more about the editor's role
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Do I need an editor or a manuscript assessor?
There is a considerable overlap between what an editor does and what an assessor does (partly because most assessors are editors), but our experience of working with authors preparing a manuscript for submission to an agent or publisher has shown us that although we often get calls from writers who are looking for someone to edit their work, the first step in the process is an assessment. There is no point paying for a detailed edit of your work (attending to sentence construction, etc) if the story-line is flawed, or, for example, if there are serious problems with character development.
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What genres do you edit?
We are experienced in working with fiction (literary and popular), narrative non-fiction (e.g. memoir, travel), general non-fiction (e.g. reference, educational, how-to books) and children's books. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the genre of your manuscript.
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Do you edit submission packages for publishers and agents?
Yes. We often look at submissions writers are sending to a publisher or agent, which usually comprise a synopsis and the first three chapters. We can certainly give you valuable feedback on how successful your submission may be, and why. Fees are calculated on word length. Please contact us for a quote.
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How much does it cost to edit a manuscript?
Depending on the state and length of the manuscript, editing costs can be anywhere from $500 to $5000. There are some people offering very cheap services online, but most of them are not professional editors. Please contact us for a quote.
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Will my work find a publisher after you have edited it?
Perhaps surprising to some, whilst editors are an integral and vital part of the process of birthing a book, we are not miraculously able to turn an unpublishable manuscript into a bestseller. We can offer you all the guidance and skills needed to help you produce a high standard publication, and many writers we have worked with have been successfully published, but not everyone will get there.
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ASSESSMENT

How much will a manuscript assessment cost?
Assessment fees are calculated according to word length. Please contact us with your word count for a quote.
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Do you assess all types of manuscripts?
We are experienced in working with fiction (literary and popular), narrative non-fiction (e.g. memoir, travel), general non-fiction (e.g. reference, educational, how-to books) and children's books. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the genre of your manuscript.
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Do you assess excerpts of a manuscript?
Yes, we do, bearing in mind that we are unable to give feedback on larger structural issues or development of story line and characters if we do not read the full manuscript.
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Can you tell me whether it is worth continuing with my project?
This is not a question we can simply answer. We can draw attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the work, help you to distill the essence of the story, and give advice on how to proceed with the next draft, but only you can decide whether you want to undertake the required work, whether you are passionate and committed enough to keep going. Writing is a craft that requires practice and patience. There are no short cuts, but an editor can help by whipping out the map and pointing out where you are in relation to where you want to go.
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Can you help me get my work published by a trade publisher?
We have some contacts in the publishing world, and if we feel a manuscript will interest a certain agent or publisher, we will use those contacts to help the writer. However, most writers we have worked with have made their own connections with publishers and agents.
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FORMATTING MANUSCRIPTS

Can I send you an electronic version of my manuscript?
Yes please. A digital version is helpful for reference. However, for editing and assessment, we prefer to work on hard copy. This allows us to make notes and comments on the manuscript with ease, and in a way that is most helpful to an author. Authors outside Australia usually send an electronic version of the manuscript. We print this out, mark up the manuscript and send it back to the author. We do also edit digital versions on screen using software that allows for notes and addendums to be added along the way. For design and layout we need an electronic version of the manuscript with images in specific formats. Please contact us if you are wishing to submit an electronic manuscript.
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How do I format the manuscript for editing/assessment?
For both electronic and print manuscripts, please use the following formatting:
• line spacing: 1.5–2
• font: minimum size 11
• indent all paragraphs except the first paragraph of a chapter of new section
• do not insert spaces between paragraphs unless indicating a section break
• font: minimum size 11
• margins: minimum 3 cm all round
For print manuscripts:
• single side of the page
• unbound, with a large clip or rubber band around the pages
• include self-addressed stamped envelope for return of the manuscript.
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E-BOOKS

How much will it cost to publish an e-book?
Many e-book distribution and publishing sites promote the fact that there are no costs involved in uploading a book and having it available through their site. While this is true, it does not mean that publishing an e-book is cost free. A successful manuscript needs to be professionally edited, well designed and widely distributed and promoted. You need to factor in these costs when considering your potential income from an e-book.
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Do I need an ISBN for an e-book?
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is used to track sales and is a requirement of many online bookstores. If you have a print version of your book, you will need a separate ISBN for the e-book. Read more.
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Do I need a barcode for an e-book?
You only need a barcode if you intend the book to be available for sale in printed form through a bricks and mortar book store.
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Is design and layout important in an e-book?
That small image on the screen of your cover is an all-important invitation to the reader. Regardless of writing quality, a good cover will attract interest, a bad cover will put people off. Some writers will be able to come up with a good image and design on their own, but many won’t. Interior page design is often manageable by the author, depending on how committed they are to sitting in front of the screen and working through style guides and software that at this stage of the game are still not globally standardised. Some authors can’t get their head around it, and so employ an editor/designer to do this.
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How do I make my e-book available from online stores?
The major stores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple etc.) have specific requirements for accepting e-books. Consult the online store for more information. There are some online companies offering distribution to a variety of online stores. These distributors (and the stores themselves) charge the writer between 15% and 60% of the retail price for their services.
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How do I promote my e-book?
Like a hardcopy book, having a product ready for sale is not the final step. You need to let people know about it and direct them to where they can buy it. Most e-book authors have a website of their own, as well as using distribution services (like Smashwords) to have their books available through online stores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple etc.). There are domain name and hosting costs involved. Blogs and social networking all help to get word out about your e-book to people who are most inclined to buy books in that format.
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What if I want both an e-book and a printed version?
It is usually uneconomical for a self-publishing author to print less than 1000 copies of a book, and that’s a major financial outlay, as well as a major storage issue! An option that is available through some websites is Print-On-Demand (known as POD). You need to have your book print-ready (PDF files), but copies are only printed and bound when they have been bought by a customer. It is usually printed in the country where it is purchased and sent locally to the buyer. The print quality is often as good as a traditionally published book. The author sets the retail price, allowing for the printing costs (so profit margin is up to the author). The down side is that the unit price (cost per printed book) is quite high, but this model has the economic and environmental advantages of printing only those books that have a buyer and allowing an author to have a print version available without high up-front costs. Some online distributors of e-books don’t offer a POD facility, but others do, so shop around. Online distributors do not have exclusive rights to your work, so you are able to put your e-book up on several sites at the same time.
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COPYRIGHT AND LEGAL ISSUES

Can you tell me whether my publishing contract is okay?
You should get professional advice on any contract with a publisher from a lawyer with experience in this area or through a professional body that offers a contract advisory service, such as the Australian Society of Authors.
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How do I protect my copyright?
You work is considered automatically protected by copyright under Australian law. There is no registration of copyright in Australia or in most other countries (the U.S. is an exception). Through technological protection measures and contracts, you can limit other people’s ability to use or access your copyright material.
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What is DRM?
DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a technology that puts coded information into the data that makes up a media file (music, movies, e-books). This limits the way the media file can be used with the ideal of inhibiting unauthorised access or copying of digital content. Due to consumer pressure and successful efforts to decrypt the codes, this technology has largely been abandoned in the music genre – most online music stores (including iTunes) sell DRM-free music. The jury is still out on this according to some people in the e-book industry, and many others are clearly against it, arguing that if you make your material too difficult to access you run the risk of losing customers. Amazon had DRM built into its Kindle e-book reader but in January 2010 gave publishers the option to skip adding DRM to Kindle books.
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