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EVOCATIONS - Army crawling through muck

EVOCATIONS - Army crawling through muck
By Elizabeth Sumner Wafler • Issue #10 • View online
That just about describes what I had to do to make GEORGIE GIRL available for sale through Barnes & Noble. Because I published the book through Amazon and they are B&N’s biggest competitor, you wouldn’t believe the bureaucratic red tape, forms, and emails required to make it happen. But it’s a fait accompli!
If you enjoy browsing your local B&N–and who doesn’t with a Starbucks cup in hand–you can ask them to order copies into the store. From home, one can order online from When Porter starts traveling again, this means I’ll be able to arrange book signings at B&Ns in lots of cities! Maybe yours!

Have You Flirted With the Idea of Starting A Side Hustle?
If I can do it at my age, anyone can! Here’s the piece I wrote for the DIY MFA (do-it-yourself master of fine arts) blog last week.
By Elizabeth Sumner Wafler
2019. My literary agent was subbing my third manuscript to acquiring editors for publication. I had just completed manuscript number four with the help of a book coach to whom I paid upwards of a grand. As I pondered its publication path, I decided I needed a side hustle to bring in some bread. Something I could do to share what I’d learned about writing with other writers. Something I could do from home. In pajamas and pigtails if I wanted.
I’d retired from a twenty-year tenure in teaching to write full-time. (How I had the temerity to think I could do that is another story worth blogging about.) Though I’m lucky to have a husband who pays the bills, my piggy bank was silent.
 I had four books under my belt and an agent. But what of value could I offer other writers?
I’d worked with editors on various things and learned (from my very first one) how the back and forth mark-ups and comments could be fun, even hella hilarious. She once declared she’d buy me a pink pony if made a certain change. She rewarded me with “keyboard smashes” when I really knocked her socks off (e.g., 2xr0vcpz5qmv9bjfgddtbzj!!!)
But could I be an editor when I’d majored in education and had no MFA?
I punched up my critique partner, who had majored in English. She had just finished a book. I asked her if she wanted to start an editorial business with me. “We’d call it Four Eyes,” I said, “because four eyes are better than two.” She loved the idea but with a daughter’s wedding to plan, she was up to her eyeballs in seating charts, uninspired caterers, and tulle.
I’d go it alone and maybe she’d join me later. But what would my focus be?
I didn’t want to spend weeks chained to my desk doing developmental edits, or line-editing entire manuscripts. I had to focus on something specific, a task I could accomplish in a day, something I was really good at.
So, what was my gift/the specialty of the house?
I looked back at files stuffed with editor comments. I listened to readers. They described my writing as:
·     grotesquely gorgeous (This fave still makes me LOL.)
·     lyrical, lush, and filled with emotion
·     peppered with striking alliteration that creates rhythm and mood, and is rich, relatable, and vibrant (I’m a card-carrying slut for alliteration.)
·     describes place and setting that makes me feel like I’m right there in every scene.
·     refreshing in a dark, dystopian market
·     full of description that paints a visual picture
·     emotionally charged and thought-provoking.
It all boiled down to imagery.
My most favorite part of the process. The part when I was revising. When I got playful with words and sentences and the magic happened. When I slapped my palms on my desk, and shouted to my snoring office assistant, “Mirabelle! I’m a genius! I’m going to make us rich!” In retrospect, I should have let sleeping dogs lie.
I started a list.
I had to let clients know precisely how I could help make their sentences pop, their synopses sizzle, give their pitches and queries a grabby, look-at-me quality. And help them with what had become instinctive for me with regard to plot structure and pacing.
·     Use rich imagery to evoke a stronger sense of place and/or time
·     Make your characters memorable by giving them personality and dimension
·     Create realistic, impactful dialogue
·     Learn to write a point of view that not only differentiates characters but is consistent and clear
·     Ensure you protagonist’s actions drive the story to the next event in each scene and chapter
·     Make sure your plot points tie back to the theme/point of the story
What would I name the service?
It was time to develop my brand. I contacted my first editor and ask her what one word described my writing. Without hesitation, she said, “evocative.” I looked at several definition sources:
·     bringing to mind an especially emotional response
·     recalling strong images, memories, or feelings
·     the action of eliciting a response
·     evoking a strong sense of time and place
Eeep! It was so me.
My branding had been perfect and painless.
With visions of business cards and banners boomeranging my brain, I needed a logo. I found a great designer on Etsy who had choose-your-own-color, ready-drawn ink pens. “Simple, but elegant, please,” I requested. And I think it is. I love handing it to people, except to those who raise a sly brow before I explain, “Not pro-vocative, e-vocative.” Some of them are disappointed.
But I still needed a logo for the editorial page of my website. I had really loved the name Four Eyes. But, wait! A glasses wearer, I could still be Four Eyes. I contacted the designer again and described exactly what I wanted. It was perfection.
The “M” Word
One of the words my mother said not to discuss in polite company. Money. It was time to put a price tag on all these thoughtfully considered services. I studied the sites of other editors and evaluated their pricing based on how long they’d been editing, their credentials, and affiliations. I made sure my prices came just under those of the least experienced. I typed up a table for the editorial page of my website, delineating what I would do and what it would cost.
I put it out there.
And advertised the hell out of it. On all my social media platform, pinning it to the top of my Twitter feed. I believe the value helped spread the word. I asked clients for a brief testimonial when our work was done. I didn’t even have to offer to buy them ponies. Then I posted the testimonials to my website as I’d seen others do. I had a blast working with these developing writers. I was an editor!
This year I raised my prices and no one batted an eye. I am an editor.
I love the final product!
I love the final product!
Inspiration of the Week:
My fabulously creative and darling daughter is here this week for a visit! Happy Mama.
My fabulously creative and darling daughter is here this week for a visit! Happy Mama.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Elizabeth Sumner Wafler

Writer. Quotidian reader. Editor. Christian. Podcaster. Past Director of Craft Education for the Women's Fiction Writers Association. Repped by the @KnightAgency.

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