In a conversation I had with another writer, she said something very interesting that made me think of this topic, “Words are hard.”
Yes, words can be downright difficult to think of, to fix, to put a sentence together with. Think of the flint in which someone rubs two sticks together in order to create fire. Writing is like that, sometimes you get smoke, and sometimes you get the flame when the words come together just right.
However, the writing in any publication isn’t exactly where it ends. Your work could be raw, akin to a jagged gemstone once cracked open. All writing requires polishing in the preparation stages prior to publication in order for it to shine.
Spelling and Grammar: To make sure all errors are caught and are minimal to none.
Structure and Flow: To make sure the transitions are there when needed, to make sure your story makes sense for the pleasure of the reader.
Character Development: I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, but I like to make suggestions to fill in the blanks when I see room for more character growth perhaps lost in translation in the process.
Editors build relationships with their clients, they become nearly as invested into the story as the author themselves. Not only does immersion help the editor make better decisions to later pitch to the author, but any good editor will ease the mind of the creator so their primary focus can be on the story itself. It truly is a beautiful and collaborative effort.
What DO Editors do?
Provide constructive feedback. You’re going to get more than, “Yes! Oh, I like that!” There’s going to be meat on that plate of feedback. We know what you want.
Take the time and effort to be the second pair of eyes a writer truly needs. An editor is not here to waste their time or yours.
What DON’T Editors do?
Take control of the book.
Hate on the book.
Most editors will do what they can to make an idea an author has work. But remember to be realistic regarding expectations, not all ideas can be salvaged.
But a Writer Can Edit Their Own Work
Contrary to the idea that the writer can also edit—I mean, okay, technically, you can. It’s not impossible. It’s also not advisable. A writer is so closely involved in their own work that they’re bound to miss some things here or there. A second pair of eyes should and will not only catch what slips through the initial cracks but will add onto that (if needed). You’re going to want their attention to detail.
And yes, a writer could go through a word processor, but you’re missing the human factor. A processor can’t have a meaningful discussion about your characters, or that one particular scene that you’re both so fond of. There will be no enjoyment, no intelligent conversation outside of what a processor is programmed to do.
And it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re going the Indie route versus the Traditional route. The meaning and the outcome is still the same. While the routes are significantly different, a second pair of eyes is always wise.
What if I Think my Work is Perfect?
No one’s is. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.
What if I Don’t Like What the Editor Has to Say?
Communication is key. If there is something you don’t like about a recommendation they have, talk to them about it. Maybe there’s another alternative.
What Should I Expect?
A complete read through of the story.
Lots of marks in the first round. Do not be intimidated by the amount you’ll get back. I swear, it happens to everyone. These are more the recommendations that come with developmental editing, but I really go in and hunt for the spelling and grammatical errors here. (Although, I like to give praise on top of constructive criticism.)
Sometimes we don’t realize how often we used the word “had” or “began”. Content editing nixes the repetition, because readers will eventually get bored with reading overused words. The thesaurus is my best friend here. So in your first draft, we’ll get that taken care of. I promise, your style of writing will remain intact. Your sense of self as a writer will not be affected here.
Remember when I said progression of plot, characters, structure and flow? This is where line editing plays a big role. All of that is looked at and catered to here. I wasn’t lying in previous posts where I said your book is going to be primped and pampered prior to publication.
Is it a process? Yes. But it will be worth it. Both you and your characters will be happier in the long run.
First Round: Complete read through and recommendations.
Second Round: Spelling, grammar, and repetition.
Third Round: Character development, plot progression, structure, flow, etc.
Fourth Round: Final polish. You should be ready to go and excited!!!
So, what does an editor bring to the table?
Attention to detail.
A unforgettable bond.
So, kind of like Build a Bear, Build a Bond with your editor!