Workshop schedule for the next 6 months, with Early Bird discounts if you sign up now

We’re half-way through our first week in my flash fiction workshop, and it’s going so well. I’m spending a lot of time on lessons, suggestions, and critiques, but it’s worth it to see reactions like these from my students:

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Don’t you wish you were taking it with us?

By request, I’ve updated my workshop schedule for the next six months. I’ll be offering three courses:

January 2015

“Editing 101″ – Definitions, editing marks, using (and creating) style sheets, important style manuals, levels of editing, and fact-checking. The basics of copyediting: concepts and skills necessary for line editing (also called copyediting), relying mainly on the Chicago Manual of Style,16th ed; editing vs. proofreading; tips for spotting tricky errors. The basics of developmental editing: what it is and isn’t, including the specifics of developmental editing in fiction. We’ll also cover rates, and working with clients, including querying about edits, maintaining an author’s voice, and related services. (Read more here.)

$75 for 4 weeks if you enroll by 11/30/2014: Sign up here (limited class size — already 1/3 full)

March 2015

“Plotting the Short Story” – By request! We’ll cover how to fit a whole story into different lengths: flash (1000 and under), mid-length short story (about 4000 words), and longer short stories (up to 6500 words). What do you put in and what do you leave off the page? Fundamentals of storytelling, prepping (including outlining, character arcs, and plot twists) and editing (including how to recognize the different moments of your story so you can move them around) are also covered.

$50 for 4 weeks if you enroll by December 31, 2014: Sign up here (already 1/5 full)

April 2015

“Nuts and Bolts of Submitting” – market directories and submission trackers, finding the RIGHT market, reading submission guidelines, meeting submission guidelines, when to query, how to write bios and cover letters, how to read rejections, and figuring out when to resubmit, revise, or trunk your work.

$50 for 4 weeks if you enroll by January 31, 2015: Sign up here


New: Pay What You Can For Editing

Over the last few years as a freelance editor, I’ve raised my rates from my introductory offer to a level in keeping with both the quality of my work, and industry standards. As a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and in my contracts with institutional clients, for example, my rates are competitive, fair, and most importantly, accurately compensate me for the decades of experience that I bring to each project. It took me a long time to feel comfortable asking to be paid a decent wage, and I know I deserve it.

But at the same time, I also know that I lose potential clients who can’t afford to pay a professional editor, and who instead have to turn to people who don’t have real editing experience, or not much of it, just because they’re cheap. Worse, some authors skip the editing process all together. I love speculative fiction, I love the genre community, and I have stressed – a lot – over the conflict between paying my rent and helping those who could really use it.

I’ve recently introduced new editing packages to further tailor what I’m offering to a client’s needs, in hopes that no one is paying more than they should. I’ve been taking clients with budget constraints as they come to me, without advertising, whenever I can. I’ve offered sales, and I’ve quietly told friends and clients that if they know someone in trouble, send them my way and I’ll give them a deal. Still, I worry that I’m excluding authors who didn’t know that I’d help if I could.

So I’m introducing a new program: Pay what you want for editing services.

Tell me everything you can about your project, and what you can afford to pay for it. I’ll get you on my waiting list, and when I have a cancellation or open spot in my calendar, I’ll go down the list, first come first serve. You’ll get exactly the same services you would have if you had booked at my usual rate, but at a cost you can afford.

Of course, there’s a limit to how many low-cost clients I can take on in a single month. You may have to wait a few weeks, or even longer, before I can fit you in. And if you come to me with a ridiculous offer, I’ll be honest about immediately turning you down. $50 to copyedit a 150,000 word manuscript is probably not going to happen, since that’s a solid week’s worth of work, or two (depending on the quality of the writing before I get to it). But I’ll take every job that I can. Shorter projects may even sneak into my schedule more quickly, if I’ve got a free evening.

I want every author to have a chance at a professional edit for their work before they send it out to a publisher, or publish it themselves. Writing is hard enough. You shouldn’t have to revise it alone.

If you’re ready to get started, fill out the contact form below.


Sign up now open for new online workshop! “Editing 101″, begins Feb 15, 2015

Beginning mid-February, I’ll be teaching a 4 week intensive online workshop on the basics of editing. Like my other workshops, it will be held entirely online. Lectures will be sent out as PDFs, class discussion will take place in our private forum, and assignments will be due each week. This format allows students to participate on their own schedule, whether they’re working around a job or family commitments, or are logging in from anywhere in the world. During the workshop, we will cover: Identifying parts of a story, styles, tenses and perspectives, narrative arcs, and other elements that are potentially affected by the editing process. Definitions, editing marks, using (and creating) style sheets, important style manuals, levels of editing, and fact-checking. The basics of copyediting: concepts and skills necessary for line editing (also called copyediting), relying mainly on the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed; editing vs. proofreading; tips for spotting tricky errors. The basics of developmental editing: what it is and isn’t, including the specifics of developmental editing in fiction. We’ll also cover rates, and working with clients, including querying about edits, maintaining an author’s voice, and related services. I expect this to fill up quickly, so I’m posting it now for people who read my blog/Twitter/Facebook to get a jump on enrolling before I advertise anywhere else. Like with my other workshops, I’ll cap the number of students so we’re not too crowded.

Enroll now for only $60


If you’ve wanted to know more about editing so that you can polish your own work, or you’re thinking of branching out into a little freelance editing, this is the workshop to get you started.


Editing Sale!

I’ve got to get Issue Two of Lakeside Circus out, which means paying our contributors. We’re not yet fully funded through our subscriptions, so I’m running a brief sale on my editing services.

50% off any single project up to 40,000 words and 25% off any project over 40,000 words

This is a first-come, first-serve, sale. To take advantage of it, you must book and pay the deposit on your project. (Projects under $100 are payable in advance; all others require a 50% payment before the project begins, with the remainder due on a schedule agreed to by both parties.)

You can learn more about my services and usual rates here, which includes a contact form. Want to know what others think of my work? Today’s praise from a client:

I have enjoyed working with Carrie Cuinn, tremendously.  Her work ethic, professionalism and editing skill are second to none.  When presented with extremely tight deadlines, she came through and provided us with exactly what we were looking for.  I look forward to working with her again in the future on many different projects! – Howard S., Animal Media Group


Proofing and Edit Marks: A Primer

As technology advances, we often lose the manual skills that tech is meant to replace. Even knowledge fades away as new techniques are developed. How many of us have the Dewey Decimal system memorized anymore? Know how to rebuild a carburetor? How about canning your own jellies, sewing a quilt by hand, or raising chickens*? If we’re lucky it becomes trendy to “revive” these skills (in the same way that some of us collect “artifacts” like Depression-era glassware and vinyl records**), but many less popular bits of information are lost.

The problem is, we often discover that we still needed what we thought we’d outgrown — usually at the worst times. Because of this, it becomes important to save the bits of history and knowledge that are part of lost skills, even when we’re told some new advancement means we don’t need to know how to do that thing anymore. Otherwise, the information is lost, as far as the general population is concerned.

One of the skills we’re not taught anymore is how to read and use editing marks. I’m referring to the little symbols editors use to mark-up a hardcopy document for editing. Before Track Changes became the editing go-to method, we used to transform a clean, white, sheet of paper into a tangle of red ink reminiscent of a football playbook, using these symbols.

In fact, it’s often faster to edit on paper this way than it is to use the track changes feature in a Word document. Depending on what the recommended edits are, it’s sometimes easier to clearly see the suggestions. Since Adobe lets you markup a PDF in the same way, making it possible to proof digital documents already in their print layout, even if you’ll never receive old-school paper edits again, there’s still a reason for you to know these symbols.

Better: knowing how to use and read these marks will let you keep working even when your internet is down, your laptop goes missing, your desktop computer suffers the blue screen of death, or you suddenly realize your deadline means that you have to finish those edits in the 45 minutes before your next panel while your editor sits next to you marking up pages a moment before she hands them to you to read.

Editing marks are a little different from proof marks, because copy editing is about looking for errors in spelling, grammar, or semantics. Proofing a document should keep an eye out for those errors, but is largely concerned with whether the document is ready to go to print. Is it clean, formatted well, and set properly on the page? Did any new errors get introduced after the final editing pass? Do slight changes need to be made from the organic placement on the page to fit traditional publishing rules (like whether a single word is left over on the next page, or if a sentence breaks in a way that gives it an unintended meaning)?

Editing marks will suggest changes: substituting, deleting, or transposing words; changing or adding punctuation; asking for clarification; requesting a return to a previous version.

The following list of marks is taken from figure 2.6 of the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style:


Click for the larger version.

Note that it includes the same marks as you’d find in an edit pass, but also has symbols for typesetting changes. Other editing marks include:

en En dash.
em Em (long) dash.
sp Spell it out.
awk. Awkward phrasing.
dang. mod. Dangling modifier.
mis. mod. Misplaced modifier.
>frag. Sentence fragment.
wc Questionable word choice.
ref. Faulty or ambiguous reference.
r-o Run-on sentence.
c-o Comma splice.
S-V agr Subject-verb agreement.

There was a time when elementary school students all across the nation were taught how to proof their own work in this way. I wasn’t exposed to them until high school, but my English Composition teacher made sure we knew. At that time, though, it was clear we were among the last to learn this skill as part of a public school curriculum. Given that we’ve dropped these marks from our standard education here in the US in the last few decades, these proof marks might seem to be an invention of early 20th century grammar school teacher. Brought in to codify white American middle-class English in the same way as Strunk’s Elements of Style

In fact, they were developed around the same time as the printing press. From A Census of Print Runs for Fifteenth-Century Books***:

According to the contract of 22 May 1499, Beroaldus provided the paper, the copy, proofreading and correction, and promised to promote the edition during his lectures on the text at Bologna University. This document was cited but not transcribed in Albano Sorbelli, Storia, della stampain Bologna (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1929), 61, citing the original in the “Archivio notarile di Bologna, atti del notaio Agostino Landi, 22 May 1499.”

Early editions are full of these marks — along with the frequent request by printers and proofreaders for an author to strike a particular word from their vocabulary… ever again.

See? Some things never change. Forgetting the use and meaning of these marks means forgetting 500 years of editing shorthand which served us from the dawn of the Information Age. I can’t be the one to let that go. Can you?

Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll answer whatever I can.

* Yes, I can do those things.

** This is me, too. My car even has a cassette deck. But I don’t have a hipster beard. I had to draw the line somewhere.

*** by Eric Marshall White, Curator of Special Collections, Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, 2012.