frequently asked questions
Just the facts, man.
Is this work publishable?
Only a publisher can answer that.
We can make comments on narrative arc, character strengths and weaknesses, point-of-view choices, the quality of rhythm and tone, setting, dialogue, the balance of scenes and summary, etc. but we can't tell you whether or not it's publishable because A Story to Tell is not a publisher.
Our writers, editors and story coaches start with you and your work wherever you are. The business is unique in that we listen to your thoughts, questions, worries and dreams, and advise where to take your project from there.
Our clients often return after weeks and months of 'home' work, say, developing their plot structure or refining the expression of their main idea or redrafting a short story, to then take their novel, business book or short story to the next stage. At other times we work intensely with clients flinging drafts and redrafts to and fro daily, if not hourly, to meet a report, competition or publishing deadline.
Whatever the project you have bubbling away, be sure that ASTT staff will listen to you and respond to your needs. We're big enough to have a suite of staff who can cover every genre (even those not yet devised!) and we're small enough still to care about each and every client that steps through the (virtual) door.
We're happy to answer any and all questions no matter how naive. And the first twenty-minute consultation is free! So, get in contact with us to see if ASTT is the right fit for you and your precious words.
What do I need to provide for you to quote?
Each of our services is personal according to the needs of the author and the work. So we don't provide ballpark guesstimates and we don't do hourly rates.
We do provide solid no-obligation proposals that cover approach, cost and timeline. This is what we need from you to create a proposal for working together:
- What’s the current word count?
- How many drafts have you completed?
- Has a professional editor already looked at any aspect of the work?
- Does the work fit into a particular genre? (No problem, if not. We love working in new and cross-over genres.)
- Do you have a timeline for completion of the work?
- What are your goals for the work? (They needn’t be lofty at this stage, but if they are — do tell!)
- Please provide a 5000-word sample.
(Note: we would prefer to read the entire work before providing you with a proposal, but some first-time authors would rather send a smaller sample. Note: we always maintain confidentiality.)
How do I prepare my work before sending it to you?
Unless otherwise specified, we like submissions to be formatted thus:
- Word format
- One-and-a-half spaced
- 12-point font, Times New Roman
- Pages numbered
- Word-count listed.
In a separate Word document, list any questions or concerns you have about the manuscript in its current form. So that we’re reading the manuscript afresh, we won’t read these questions until after we’ve read and appraised the manuscript. But we’re happy to address these in our appraisal of your work.
I'm not sure which service I need - can you help?
That's what we're here for.
We're good at asking questions and listening to the answers to help you take your next step with confidence. We can help you plan the entire project, if that's what you need. Our contact details are below. Do get in touch.
I've got an idea for a book - can you guide me?
Sure! We enjoy teasing out an author's initial ideas.
Usually we use mind-mapping (brain-storming) as a starting point, but we can start wherever you're up to. If you're comfortable with mind-mapping, you might want to run yourself through this process and then get in contact to engage us to help you make sense of the myriad ideas you came up with. We'll organise them into a plan to follow. This is the first step to writing a book.
During this process you might realise that you:
A. Are willing to and capable of writing your first draft
B. Want some help to organise your thoughts or motivate you to meet milestones
C. Have no interest in writing the book yourself and are keen to get us to ghostwrite
D. Will need some support to write. (After all, this is your first book!) You might be interested in our collaborwriting service
E. None of the above. Get in contact!
How do I write a book?
Hmm, that's a good question.
How do I publish a book?
Publishing books has become so much more accessible in the past decade...
This means the world is full of books! Some are better than others... Make sure yours is one of the best by seeking professional advice early and often.
What is editing?
Editing is the overall term used to describe the process of improving writing.
A good editor improves your writing while maintaining your unique 'voice' (style). A good editor listens to your goals and then adds the benefit of their experience to the mix. A good editor suggests improvements but doesn't force the author to accept them.
Editing can be divided into three main areas:
What is structural editing?
When you write anything beyond a few pages, it can be hard to see what's going on in your work. You're too close to it.
Structural editing is the great untangler. If your ideas are not yet coherent, they will be after a structural edit.
A structural edit (also known as substantive edit) will identify and analyse broad story elements in your memoir, business book, novel, short story, essay, poetry or short-story collection.
In business and non-fiction writing, structural editors look at broader issues, such as organisation of information, missing elements and clarity of argument. In fiction and creative non-fiction, structural editors appraise and advise on writing craft, such as character, plot, setting and scenes. We always note the strengths, while focusing on areas of improvement to enhance the story. We ask questions about believability, connections and consistencies.
A substantive edit is useful early in the drafting process. It's no use crafting lovely sentences and creating fabulous characters only to discover that they just don't seem to fit!
What is copy editing?
Also known as line-by-line editing, copy editing makes sure you're saying what you think you're saying and in the way you want to say it.
Copy editors ask questions of the author to ensure that each word, sentence and paragraph is expressed as clearly as possible. Among other things, experienced copy editors ask:
Can this sentence be expressed more concisely?
Will the intended audience engage with these words?
Does the reader have all that they need?
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is a final thorough check over your work before publishing.
Proofreaders check for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors and generally make the changes for you. Sometimes, editors will flag the errors and the writer makes the changes. The latter approach helps you learn about any tics or mistakes you make regularly.
Don't skip this stage. It's the last look before you send your work into the wide world. So it matters. Get it done professionally.
Does my writing need a proofread before publication?
Yes! (But as professional writers and editors, we would say that, wouldn't we?)
Honestly, after all the planning, thinking, writing and structuring, not to mention the blood, sweat and tears, it's worth the relatively small investment to pay a professional editor (not your mate who was a good speller at school) to cast their beady eyes over your precious words.
What is typesetting?
Typesetting is the arrangement of the data (text, illustrations, captions, contents and headings, etc.) into a print-ready format.
A few decades ago, it involved manual shifting of blocks of type. Now it's a computer nerd with an eye for detail arranging it on screen.
What are page proofs?
When a book is formatted and ready for printing, it's important to check the document that's about to head to the printer.
This is your last chance to check errors before your book is printed! Among other things, the editor is checking that page numbers match the contents page, headings are consistent and each line wraps around the way it's supposed to.
What does a ghostwriter do?
Ghostwriters write material on behalf of a named author.
Based on your intention for the work, we explore existing notes, diaries, articles, blogs, interviews, etc. to come up with a plan to write that book or article or series of blogs. Depending on the needs of your project, we'll fill any gaps through interviews and/or further research. Read more.
(Note: we ghostwrite fiction as well as non-fiction.)
What is collaborwriting?
Collaborwriting involves the author and editor/story coach working closely together throughout the project.
It's flexible according to need. For example, initially you might need coaching to improve the clarity of your writing. In this case, a story coach would use examples from your own work to step you through how to improve. Over time, we might plan for you to do more of the writing while the story coach does less. This is just one of the ways we can work. Read more.
I need a ghostwriter. How much will it cost for you to write my book?
You've identified that you've got the idea and the background, but lack the time, skill or interest to write the book.
Among other things, cost depends on a few things, like:
- How well developed the concepts are
- How much writing you've done yourself
- How much of this writing is quality writing
- How long you want the final tome to be
- Your capacity to meet agreed timelines.
How much will it cost to edit my book?
The question about a piece of string comes to mind!
Costs depend on what's involved, and each project is different. (That's what we love about our work.)
To give you an idea, we ascertain approach, cost and timeline through asking the following questions:
- Does the book follow a logical structure?
- Is the book written for its intended audience?
- Is the author meeting their intention for the work?
- What's the word length of the work?
- For non-fiction - how well developed and organised are the ideas?
- For fiction - how well developed are the elements of craft (character, plot, setting, point of view, etc.)?
We always provide a solid quote for your work (no creeping hourly rates here). Get in contact for a no-obligation quote.
Do you charge an hourly rate?
Because every person's work is unique, we prefer to provide an obligation-free quote based on the sample you send us.
Do you offer payment plans?
As writers, editors and story coaches committed to helping people tell their best stories, we offer payment plans for people with low cash flow.
My work just needs a proofread - how much will it cost?
With your permission, we'll check your work to see that it does just need a proofread.
Sometimes people think (hope!) their project is further down the path to publication than it is. The final decision about the service you want is always yours, but as professional writers and editors, we're obliged to flag any thoughts or concerns with you before you decide.
Do you keep my work confidential?
Our reputation would not last long if we were to compromise our clients' confidentiality. We value the effort you have made so far and respect the trust you place in us.