I’ve decided to blog a writing tip or two per month. You can learn what’s sparked this new feature on my blog here. I’ve been receiving emails and Facebook messages from aspiring unpublished authors seeking advice. Or to read their work. Of course I said yes! Right now I’m in the final throws of preparing my fifth and sixth e-books and paperbacks, that will be released in July. So this month I’ll give my take on the dreaded editing, as that’s where I’m at. Remember this is just my take, I don’t claim to be an expert, just offering advice.
For me this is the part that kills me every time. I seek perfection and quality. Trust me, I have learned it’s a marathon not a sprint, when it comes to writing a book that reads well. I’ve learned a few tricks to get there with less headache, and save myself the re-uploads of updated versions either by myself or the publisher. Before I send my manuscript to my editor or Beta Readers, I do a hardcore read through and self-edit. Here’s what I do.
- Let it rest… my brain, eyes, creativity and manuscript. Once I’ve typed the last word, in the last paragraph, in the last chapter, on the last page and I think I’m done, I Leave it for at least two days. A week if I can fight the urge. I Go back in with fresh eyes and read my work. Never read while tired, hungry, pissed off or all three! Here is what I look out for.
- Spelling, grammar, typos, punctuation etc.
- Plot inconsistency: Do I start off with X and then move over to Y?
- Words that I’ve used a lot.
- Fact checking.
Something to have in mind when you re-read your work is, you’re too close to the story you wrote it. You’ll never catch everything and so you MUST USE AN EDITOR AND/OR BETA READERS. I know, it’s an additional cost if you self publish, it slows down the process to publication, you think that you can do it on your own? Right I get it. Editors don’t have to be expensive to be good. All they need is a keen eye for detail, sharp and not lazy.
Who and What Makes A Good Editor?
This is my personal view…Not these people:
- Your best friend.
- Your mum or dad or close relative.
- Your neighbour or anyone too close to you.
But why Kim??
- They love you, so naturally they will love your work. Even if deep down they read it and hated it. They are less likely to say. They won’t give you the honest objective view you need AS AN EDITOR.
What An Editor Can Do & Who Is A Good Editor:
A good editor will : (these are just a few things).
- Check the standard things like grammar, spellings, format etc line for line and word for word. How well they do this depends on their standard of working.
- Check facts.
- Help enhance your story with feedback.
- proof read.
- Tell you what is and is not working in the story for them as a reader… honestly!
- Is probably a writer themselves.
The points in red are why I personally would not ask one of my sisters, or mum to edit my work. Even if any of them were writers, they are too close to me. They can proof read and comment of course, but editing is more than this my friend. Personally, I need an outside critical view. I’m not saying don’t bounce your work off family and friends, but have an actual editor you have a professional relationship with. If you use any of the people I listed above as your editor, hey each to their own. All I’m doing is giving my personal view, experience and why I would rather a total stranger rip my work to shreds, then someone who knows me well.
What To Keep In Mind During The Editing Process:
- It’s your book, your story and you are in the driver’s seat. What you say goes. Take what is helpful, and disregard anything you feel tries to change you, your writing style or overall happiness with the final story.
- Your editor does a different job to you. They are not there to re-write the story, they are there to perfect what’s in front of them. .. so make sure it’s good.
- Grow some thick skin. It won’t come straight away, but as soon as you know who you are as a writer it will happen. Be confident, but never arrogant.
Kim’s Top Tips On Selecting An Editor:
Who not to select…
- If they don’t have a high standard of work once you’ve worked with them, sack them. Straight away, no questions asked. Never compromise the quality of your work with a piss poor editor no matter who they are! And if your publisher’s editor or standards for working does not cut it… don’t publish with them. If they are sloppy forget it. I’ve been there and parted ways happily. Remember writer it’s your name, your rep, your brand. Readers are not trying to hear “but I had a bad editor before I published” that’s YOUR responsibility. Save yourself the 1* review, due to your editor’s bad practices or lack of practices.
- If they can’t work to deadlines you both agreed and it was realistic, sack them. Straight away no questions asked.
- If they overcharge walk away.
- If they don’t read the genre you write, do you think they will take the time, care, enthusiasm and love needed over your work? Maybe not. Think about this carefully. There are benefits to an editor that loves your genre.
- If they don’t read … don’t even go there.
Who to jump on!
- Someone you click with as a person and gets you. I love my editor she rocks.
- Someone as meticulous, picky, and perfection seeking as you… or worse! This can be a pain, when you see all the red pen marks on your work. But take the necessary and mull over the other comments. Also all those red pen marks help you grow as a writer. I hate it when I get my work back, with the same damn comments. Or I made a typo on the same words in this book, as I did the one before for example. That tells me I’ve not learned something or grown as a writer.
- Someone who writes themselves. But not always needed, it’s a bonus.
- Someone who reads themselves.
- Someone who gets your work and writing style, and won’t try to change who you are, just enhance who you are.
Editors don’t write the best sellers, the page turners or the five star review books….you do writer so always come with your A -game. Don’t write half hearted, and think “oh my editor will help me make the story better.” No! It’s down to you, they do a different job.
Always have heart when writing and be true to you, forget those that don’t get it or you. There’s a reader out there for you.
Your editor is there to enhance the natural you, that’s all. The perfection of your creativity so it’s readable, is all that comes from your editor’s nit picking and red pen.
I hope this is helpful and pretty to the point. If I’ve missed something or you have a comment, let me know. Leave a comment.