This is the new year

It’s extra hard for me to come back after the holiday break this year. My deadlines were mostly wrapped up before Christmas, the rest were wrapped up before New Year’s, and potential clients also took time off for the holidays instead of sorting through résumés. It was blissfully easy to sleep all I wanted… or stay up late reading.

So when the first work week of the year was slow, I spent it plotting all the various systems I’d use to clean my house and keep it shipshape. Really this time. (Tried the KonMari method? I’m skeptical. How can books be clutter? And it doesn’t appear to mesh well with the homesteading projects I’m also looking into, because anything is possible in the new year.) And I’ve started working on some of those major cleaning projects, too. You should see my office now.

Please send work, is what I’m saying, really. I’m convinced that I do my best, most meticulous editing when I’m putting off housework. If you’ve been thinking about contacting me about a project, do it now and you will have my undivided attention, plus the benefit of (almost) all the time in the world to look up arcane details or find style decisions for intricate references.

Bits and updates

Happy Friday! I’ve got a few interesting bits and updates from the past week-ish.

As I mentioned on Facebook, I have an immediate editing slot open for a completed, unpublished novel, preferably romance. (I read historicals, the occasional paranormal, and contemporary romance; my past fiction work is all contemporary fiction, romantic elements optional.) Hit me up! The newly updated Rates page now includes pricing for fiction under 40k words. Quotes and sample edits are always available for novel-length works.

If you’re working on a NaNoWriMo novel: YAY!! Go you!! But hold that thought re: getting it edited. I’ll have a post up tomorrow talking about why.

My post Don’t get suckered: National Association of Professional Women went up almost three years ago and still draws comments from women who say that NAPW is up to the same tricks. Journalist Nikki Gloudeman’s new post at The Establishment, Anatomy of a Scam: The National Association of Professional Women, is a deep dive into the experiences of former members and whether they think membership is worth it (spoiler: no), who exactly runs the organization, what it’s like to work for NAPW (spoiler: awful), and what the future holds. My post is linked in the piece, and I chose not to be interviewed for it because anxiety gets the best of me sometimes, but nevertheless, this is an excellent piece. Recommended reading.

Lighter recommended reading: this Tor.com post on How Huge Door-Stopper Fantasy Novels Get Made, with plenty of photos showing the hard covers getting foil stamped, the pages being printed and bound, and the cover and dust jacket added. (You’ll have to add your own somnolent How It’s Made narration.) The post returned to me the term signature. Presses like this one print books in signatures, or chunks, of 32 pages. A half-signature is 16 pages.

Folded and cut signatures. (Photo via Tor.com)
If you’ve ever read a book that had a bunch of blank pages or an unexpected Notes section at the back, it’s probably because there were pages left in the sig or half-sig, so the publisher either left them blank or added the Notes heading. The pricing of a print run is also based on how many signatures each book will take to print. Months ago, I read some romance-related post (at Cooking Up Romance? Smart Bitches Trashy Books?) that wondered why category romances run exactly 192 pages, and I can tell you: it’s because 192 pp = 6 sigs. If a book ran even a page longer, it’d cost more to print; much shorter, and you’d have to argue to call it a novel, I suspect (back-of-the envelope calculation puts 192 pp at 48k words). But at the time I could not for the life of me remember the term signature. Now that I remember, of course, I don’t know where I read the question. (I ran into the other room and shouted at Matt, “Signature!! The word is ‘signature’!” He was just confused. It didn’t help either of us.)

Updates to my post on NAPW

I just posted the following as an update to my post Don’t get suckered: National Association of Professional Women:

There have been so many more comments on this post than I ever expected (almost 200 as of this morning)! If you did purchase a membership at any level in the National Association of Professional Women, I can’t offer specific advice beyond what I’d recommend for any other purchase: contact NAPW for a refund and to cancel your membership. Contact your bank or credit card company and ask to stop the charge if it hasn’t gone through yet, or if it has, ask the customer service rep what your options are. Several readers have mentioned automatic renewals without clear notice — commenter Kim Hales said in December 2013 that text authorizing the renewals is hidden in new/updated terms and conditions that NAPW members must accept in order to login to the members-only area of the website, where you’d need to uncheck a renewal option — so if you’re already on the phone with your bank or credit card issuer, ask if you can prevent that specific renewal charge. NAPW may also have a policy disallowing cancellation within 30 days of the membership’s renewal date.

Many readers have mentioned the misleading ads NAPW has placed on LinkedIn. Yesterday, commenter Karin posted the text of the support ticket she submitted to LinkedIn and the reply she received, in which an Ads Support Specialist promised to “investigate the advertiser in question.” LinkedIn’s advertising guidelines prohibit deception or lying. Since NAPW does have a free membership level, I don’t think advertising a free membership is lying per se, but I do think this tactic is deceptive. If you’re on LinkedIn, you can submit a support ticket here.

Other readers have mentioned NAPW’s Better Business Bureau rating, which seems to have tanked over time. Commenter Glenda said in August 2013 that the LinkedIn ads touted NAPW’s A rating but that, according to the BBB, NAPW was not an accredited business. As of October 2013, NAPW still had a high rating, but commenter Lil W. said in December 2013 that NAPW had an F rating then. Last week, commenter Gabby said that NAPW’s Wikipedia page had a “Controversy” section that mentioned a C rating from the BBB. Here’s the text of that Controversy section as it appears today:

As of January 2014, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported 256 customer complaints against NAPW since 2011. Based on these complaints, the Bureau issued the company a C rating (on a scale of A+ to F) for its “failure to resolve underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints”, among other factors cited in their review of the company.[10] Dozens of consumer complaints were also filed against NAPW with other complaint bureaus, reporting fraudulent practices. In response to BBB’s inquiry regarding what measures the company was taking to resolve “underlying issues”, NAPW reported that the “trend” of complaints reported to BBB was heavily due to online “negative PR” rather than customer experience.[11]

My post here tends to rank highly in Google searches for the National Association of Professional Women, with or without the word “scam” included. NAPW has not contacted me about my experience (or for any other reason). I don’t think I or my blog really register with them.

The BBB gives NAPW a D rating today, for reasons that match my experience and those of almost all the commenters below: “Many consumers tell BBB that they are misled regarding membership prices, membership levels, and additional fees for processing and set-up. For example, consumers reported seeing an ad for free membership for NAPW on LinkedIn. However, these consumers claim that when they contact NAPW to take advantage of that offer, they find out that joining is not free. Some consumers also allege that they were subjected to high pressure sales tactics by company representatives to join the organization even before they understood the costs or benefits. Other consumers that originally agreed to join the organization but opted afterward to cancel the membership say that they have difficulty reaching any company representatives to seek a refund.”

I’ll continue to update this post with more news as it develops.

Happy New Year!

Times Square ballIt’s the first Monday morning of 2014! The lights are off the tree, the ball dropped in Times Square, and the eggnog is gone (the nonalcoholic kind is my annual holiday indulgence). Instead, I’ve started cooking double again to fill the freezer and baking to fill the cookie jar. We’re safe and warm chez moi and ready to be snowed in, wrapped in fleece against the extreme wind chills outside.

I’ve been sprucing things up here and there around the site. My résumé (PDF) is a little shinier and pages have been reworded, revised, or just tweaked.

The New Year heralds that long stretch of work without many holidays until Memorial Day. I’ve filled in a bit of that time but there’s still some space in my schedule. As always, e-mail editing@lastsyllable.net to discuss a project with me.