Today I welcome author Z. Allora to the blog to talking about the editing process.
1) Tell us a bit about you and your writing
I write rainbow romances involving BDSM and contemporary about characters who are on the fringes and edges. I explore different orientations like demi-sexual, pansexual, BDSM-oriented, etc. as well as writing about people scattered along the gender spectrum. My goal is to validate everyone’s experience.
I partner with Dreamspinner Press on most of my work, but I’ve done some self-publishing for the books that need more of a niche audience. Like I’ve just re-edited and re-covered my Club Zombie series, polishing the book for their first release on Kindle Unlimited later this summer.
2) What do you enjoy most about the editing process?
Polishing my words and stories so everyone can enjoy my Z. speak. Each round from rough draft to beta readers/critique partners to editors to proofing the manuscript becomes more of what is in my head. The process is thrilling. I’m so appreciative of all the wonderful people who spend time on my work to make sure I’m getting all my words on the page.
3) What do you find hardest about the editing process?
Sometimes when someone finds something I’ve missed a thousand times or something I didn’t mean a certain way gets picked up I’m happy, but I feel incredibly stupid for having missed that.
4) What are your general thoughts on editing as part of the overall publishing process?
Authors should understand what their priorities are. Is it to write a bestseller or to write your heart song. I define heart song as the story you long to tell but you don’t know if you’ll find the audience for it.
Yes, I know everyone wants to do both… Awesome, but only a handful of authors are able to do that. Everyone else needs to understand the consequences of their decision.
If you’re writing in a popular genre and sub-genre, which is consistent with your brand, chances are you will do as well as you do with other such books in your backlist.
However, if you’re writing your heart song, that may only be read by your core fans, then you need to be okay with that. Granted it might be a huge hit, if so great, but the reward for writing exactly what you want is just that: writing exactly what you wanted, not caring about the market or your intended audience.
5) What are your top editing-related tips for authors?
A) Listen to your trusted beta/critique partner/editors. Take a day or a week to sit with the feedback given to you. See what makes sense. Ask them clarifying questions. (Keep in mind these are the people who don’t want you kicked in the teeth in reviews. Remember you trust them. That’s why you have asked them for feedback.)
B) Paint with paragraphs. Most readers don’t like long paragraphs with a ton of stuff happening. It’s difficult to keep it all straight, and skimming can result. (Keep in mind if you write romance, you want the readers come to with you on a journey of love and excitement, so they need all the important parts.)
I love white space. It moves the reader and allows them a moment so the action or dialogue can have impact before moving to the next thing.
C) Sex scenes are about connection and love (usually if it’s a romance). This isn’t about you and what you do or don’t do in the bedroom. Allow the characters to be themselves.
D) Read dialogue out loud. (Keep in mind where they are from, where they live, their educational background, as it all impacts their word choice and how they speak.)
E) Know your brand and your audience. No matter how awesome a hamburger joint is, it’s not going to do well in a vegan town… It’s not about the burgers; it’s the wrong audience.
Don’t try to force a romance reader to choke down non-happily-ever-after (unless you’re branding yourself as such). Fulfil your contract with the reader to the best of your ability. Brand yourself accurately.
Z. Allora never expected to share her words with anyone, but things don’t always work out as planned. Growing up in Upstate NY, she was a tomboy: playing basketball in the park, twirling a rifle in color guard, but composing stories filled with angst in secret.
Z. didn’t always believe in romance, although before giving up on happily-ever-after completely, she took out a personal ad in a college newspaper. On October 20, 1987, at 5:08 PM, she found what she didn’t think existed, and married her best friend five years later.
A bit of an overachiever, Z. received three bachelor’s degrees (Psychology, English, and Philosophy) and a master’s degree in Psychology. She loved enhancing the quality of life of people in her residential and day programs, but her love’s job swept Z. overseas to Singapore, Israel, and China.
While living in China, she discovered M/M romance and a new world opened. The magic of the genre gave her new insights about herself and those around her. When she saw protests in Malaysia by parents who genuinely believed watching a singer could make their children gay, the ignorance was too staggering to ignore. No longer content to keep her words to herself, she published her stories hoping to add another voice to foster understanding and to promote equality.
Z. believes each of us is wonderfully unique and deserving of a happily ever after. Regardless of where we are in the infinite spectrum of gender identity, orientation, or sexuality, our differences and similarities should be both respected and celebrated.
Even though Z. identified as nonbinary of the transmasculine variety, Z. has kept her original pronouns and presents as female (according to the current gender constructs).
One of the biggest goals of her writing is to validate everyone’s individual uniqueness. There’s an infinite spectrum within each stripe of the rainbow and Z. wants to explore them all.
However, Z. will never apologize for having too much yaoified smexy goodness in her books. She teases that plot is simply the words between the sex scenes (though that’s a bit of an exaggeration). Sex is one of our most important and basic forms of communication, and she feels it’s a vital part of understanding her characters.
Z. Allora truly believes this rainbow romance is changing hearts and minds, and will continue to speak out for love for all of us.