Text-To-Speech (TTL) as Editing Aid for Writers

No Wasted Ink

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As authors, hearing your manuscript read out-loud is an important step in the editing process. By listening to your text, minor glitches in your writing stand out and are more easily corrected. While many of us do read our work ourselves, it is often better when someone else reads your work so that you can focus your attention on errors and making a note of them on your manuscript.

Personally, this is one of the reasons I like to read my work at critique groups. It allows me to not only gauge the response to my work on other people, but I also get the benefit of the read. However, there are times when a critique group is not available or when you wish to listen to long passages of your manuscript. For those times, I recommend a text-to-speech program.

A Text-to-Speech program converts your typed text into speech. Most…

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AutoCrit Automated Editing — An Author’s Best Friend

AutoCrit is an easy to use, automated, online substantive editing tool for fiction of any length, be it flash fiction or an epic novel. It can be used at any stage of the writing process — from the first draft to the last — to help identify common weaknesses in your writing and any areas that may need your attention. And it’s awesome!

The aspects of your writing that AutoCrit examines relate to sentence craft, not grammar — it isn’t a copyediting program. It doesn’t flag misspelled words and punctuation mistakes.

When you upload your text, it generates instant reports on your story’s pacing, dialog, word choice, repetition, strength of writing (overuse of adverbs, passive voice, showing vs telling, cliches, redundancies, and filler words), and a comparison of your work to successful fiction.

When it locates potential problems, it lists them in the sidebar and highlights them in the text in the main window. It doesn’t make changes, or recommend any specific changes to make, it just suggests the number of any given problem to remove. It allows you to make changes to your text while you are in AutoCrit and to export the edited text to you computer, if you like.

Because To Thee is This World Given has circular structure, where the first and last chapters, second and second to last chapters, third and third to last chapters, and so on, are mirrors of each other, I needed to be able to evaluate each pair of chapters side by side, so printing the reports out and making the changes in the manuscript by hand worked best for me.

I’ve posted a sample of one of the reports from the 3rd draft of To Thee is This World Given here, so that you can see a real world example (the changes made to the 3rd draft with the help of AutoCrit became the 4th draft, which was the first draft sent to a human editor).

This sample report illustrates why you still need a human editor — the section evaluated was all dialog. AutoCrit can’t distinguish between dialog and narration, and since people tend to speak in the passive voice using a lot of filler words and vague pronouns, dialog will often be “red flagged,” even if it is okay.

There are three 12 month subscription plans available: for $60, you can evaluate up to 1,000 words at a time; for $96, you can evaluate up to 8,000 words at a time; and for $144 you can evaluate an unlimited number of words at a time. You can use any level repeatedly over the duration of the subscription, so while there are limits on the number of words you can upload at any one time with the first two plans, over the course of the year all three programs allow you upload an unlimited number of words. You can try it for free here.

I chose to go with the $60 / 1,000 word option, both because I was skeptical whether the program would be worth it and because I wasn’t sure how unwieldy the longer reports would be. The service so greatly exceeded my expectations that it’s hard to put into words how satisfied I’ve been with it.  AutoCrit is the best $60 I have ever spent.

One final plus — AutoCrit can help you gauge a prospective human editor’s competency. In the future, I plan on requiring potential editors to provide a sample edit of around 1,000 words that I can compare to an AutoCritted sample.

Wendy Van Camp on her blog, No Wasted Ink, also reviewed AutoCrit and provides a nice comparison of it to a few other automated editing services.

You might also like my proofreader, Chereese.

For an account of my experiences with Kirkus Editorial services, go here.

 

Design For Writers — Great Covers, Great Service, Great Experience

The cover art for To Thee is This Word Given was designed by Andrew at Design For Writers.

The final design was the culmination of a 3 month collaboration between myself and DFW.

When Andrew presented me with the first pass proofs, I was impressed with how he well had captured the essence of my book.

Going into the process, I did not have a clear idea of what the cover should look like, only that it needed to be somewhat enigmatic and not stereotypically post-apocalyptic, because the story, while placed in a post-apocalyptic setting, is not stereo-typically post-apocalyptic.

I wanted a cover that could appeal across genres. A cover that could appeal to those who would not normally consider picking up a post-apocalyptic novella.

The covers that I referred Andrew to were almost all from literary titles such as Fiskadoro and Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge.

The process at Design For Writers is geared for success — they have a very lengthy, in-depth intake form, which not only elicits information, it forces you to think seriously about what your story “looks” like and what emotional response you want your cover to evoke.

Their attitude is also geared for success — they are responsive, they listen, and they respect their clients’ feelings, wishes, and input.

I had a great experience working with Design For Writers. If you are looking for a cover designer, drop them a line at hello@designforwriters.com.

You might also like my proofreader, Chereese.

For a review of Kirkus Editorial services, you can visit my post here.

And for a review of AutoCrit’s online editing service, go here.

 

Need a Proof Reader? Try Chereese at GrammarRulesAtoZ

Because of complications with my editing service, Kirkus Editorial, which put me behind schedule, when I received my 1st pass proofs for To Thee is This World Given from 52 Novels (my eBook formatter and print book interior designer), I had to find a competent proofreader on short notice, who would agree to do the work at a reasonable price on an expedited schedule.

Chereese with GrammarRulesAtoZ came to my rescue. Not only did she reply to my inquiry within twenty-four hours, she had my proofs back to me in four days and only charged $150.00 (her rate is based on a flat fee of $1.50 per each double-spaced, twelve point font page).

Cheresse was great to work with and the process was simple and straightforward — you just email your manuscript to her and when it’s ready she will forward you an invoice via PayPal and send you your edited manuscript upon receipt of payment. GrammarRulesAtoZ has a no-frills website, but the service is competent and professional.

I also recommend AutoCrit, which is an automated online editing service. While it does not offer copyediting and is not a substitute for a human editor, it is has been indispensable to me for early round substantive editing, and I can’t recommend it enough. You can learn more about it here. 

Another post you might find helpful is To Lie or To Lay, That is This Question, which provides a quick guide for how to keep lie and lay straight.

To learn about my cover designers, Design for Writers, go here.

To learn more about my experience with Kirkus Editorial, see my post here

Finally, you might also enjoy my post, Publishing: Odds and Ends and Lessons Learned