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I consider the editing process to be absolutely critical to creating a professional finished product for readers.
It's also one of the most painful processes as we have to take feedback on our creative work. Trust me, going this process will help your manuscript immeasurably. In today's article, editor Cressida Downing outlines some ways to make the experience the most rewarding for you.
Self-published authors are often urged to get their work edited, to give it that professional edge – but it can be a costly and frustrating experience. Here’s how to get the most out of your editing experience.
1. Don’t pay your editor to pick up your (literary) dirty socks.
As a writer, you’ll know if you’ve scattered your work with careless errors, but if you leave those in for the editor to deal with, you’re taking their time and effort away from other work they could be doing on your text.
You’re paying for this service, don’t waste it getting them to do your dirty work. To labour the analogy a little further, clear the floor so they can spend their time mopping it properly.
2. Make sure you’re getting the service your writing needs.
Authors tend to want to get their work line-edited. There’s something so tempting about getting every word you’ve written carefully pored over and lovingly polished.
The danger is that you will be getting the fine detail right, while the structure or characters need serious alterations. If you suspect you will be changing anything major, don’t get a fine edit done.
3. Word count costs.
Editors charge by 1,000 words. Reading and editing take time, and the longer a book is, the longer the time needed.
Before you send your book out to get edited – any form of editing – cut as much as you can, and it will save you a considerable sum. A good editor will be giving you advice that reflects on your style, and can be related to other work, so don’t be tempted to send in the first three epic novels in your series. The first one will probably give the editor enough to work on.
4. Make sure you’ve got the right editor.
Shop around. There are an awful lot of editors out there, so try and get a recommendation or check for reviews. Some specialise in particular genres.
There is no point sending your sci-fi fantasy novel out to an editor who never reads them. Equally if you want your non-fiction scientific book looked at, make sure the editor you choose has the relevant background.
5. Advice you don’t like, don’t burn the report.
This last point is most pertinent for structural or critical reviews. If you ask an expert to look at your writing and they point out things they feel you’re not doing well – it’s not a pleasant moment.
The temptation is to think they’ve totally missed your point. They’re idiots. What have you spent all that money on anyway? There is no way you will keep your hero alive past chapter seven, that would be compromising your creative integrity!
Take a breath, shout at something inanimate, and see what parts of the report could be saying something useful. An editor is really just a very very enthusiastic reader, and they want your writing to do well. You don’t have to swallow all their suggestions whole, but do take time to consider what they’re saying.
Do you have any questions on the editing process or finding an editor? Please do leave a comment below and I'd be happy to answer any questions.
Cressida Downing – The Book Analyst – www.thebookanalyst.co.uk
I’ve had over 20 years of experience in publishing and bookselling and have been a freelancer for 14 years for a variety of professional clients (including literary agents, publishers, Reader’s Digest, and literary scouts), and aspiring authors. I'm a regular blogger for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and run workshops with them, with the Writers’ Advice Centre (on writing for children), and at writing festivals.
Structural critiques and submission advice start at £150 for three chapters. Line editing also available at £8.50 per 1,000 words.
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Dan Patterson