Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

An Editor Is A Writer’s Best Friend

I just completed the three month process of working with an editor on my book. Phew! 🙂

edit

Many people, even some friends and family, have asked why it is such a long process to publish a book. I mean, you wrote it. So, can’t you just upload it to Amazon and push “publish?” Why all the fretting?

When I decided to self-publish, I knew that there were some things that I wouldn’t skimp on. Editing was one of them.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time staying deep inside a story I’m reading when misspelled words and poor grammar and punctuation are constantly tripping me up. I have an even harder time staying in the story when points of view are hopping all over the place or I have to flip back and forth to figure out who is saying and doing what.

I wanted to make sure that these things did not plague my book. In a world where thousands of books are published every week, and we are honored to have someone choose ours to spend some time with, I should do everything in my power to make sure it is the best it can be. This goes far beyond just a good story.

GRAMMAR

As a reader, we have to believe what is happening. Now, I am not saying that we have to believe a fictional story is real, or that we have to believe that a story with fantasy creatures could happen in real life. What I mean is that while we are reading that story, and are deep inside that fictional world, we have to believe we are there. We have to believe the storyline is plausible in this world. We have to suspend reality and ignore the world for a bit.

Clunky and choppy writing could lose your reader on page one. But even when you think you have them hooked, many little things could still lose them.

When you are deep into a good book, an incomplete sentence or errant punctuation or even a formatting blip can completely knock you back into the real world. Annoying? Yes. And if this happens often enough, you could decide to put the book down for good. I would hate to lose a reader due to the structural integrity of my book.

grammar grandma

Worse still, would be to lose a reader because of even bigger issues – unresolved plot lines, characters behaving out of character, implausible actions given the world I built. These are other things that editors help address.

I emailed a few independent editors that I had come across in my self-publishing research. Two of them, I learned of through the WANACON writers’ conference, and another I knew of because I followed her blog.  I was very nervous about reaching out to an editor who was a complete stranger to me. I had visions of an evil grade school English teacher slashing through essays with a gleeful cackle. Though I knew that all published books go through this process, I dreaded getting back the remarks and suggestions.

When I received my first email from Candace of Change It Up Editing, I knew she and I would work well together. She sounded like she would be thorough but gentle to the newbie writer ego. 🙂 She also had a solid background in editing, and I could tell from how she answered my questions that she would not try to write me out of my book.

edi3

 

That is a huge fear for authors – losing your voice, editing yourself right out of your story.

As a beginner in the whole editing game, it took a lot of courage to send my manuscript out. I waited anxiously for a month for the first pass edits to come back. When they did, it took me an entire day to open the email. I was terrified that she would send it back to me with a single question – What were you thinking?! I was afraid that there would be so little worth saving that my dream of publishing would die right there.

Thankfully, she was a lot kinder than that. 🙂

We worked back and forth for the next few months and I now have a book. I also have a much greater understanding of all those niggly little grammar rules we haven’t thought much about since high school. I know where my weaknesses are and that I tend to write a lot of comma splices. I am hoping that the next book has fewer of those!

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If you are self-publishing, please, please, please, get yourself some help! You will have to wear a lot of different hats on this publishing journey and it is okay to admit that you are not an expert in everything. I like to think of working with an editor as a formal education in writing – one that I never had, and one that will continue as I work with Candace on future books. 🙂

For more information about editing, editors, where to find them and what they do, you can check out the following links:

Change It Up Editing
Institute of Professional Editors
Editorial Freelancers Association
Grammarly

 

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for your lovely words, Cheryl. Working with you has been a delightful experience, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to prove I wasn’t “an evil grade school English teacher slashing through essays with a gleeful cackle”! (That’s a good reason for authors who are shopping for editors to ask for a sample edit if the editor doesn’t automatically offer one.) Because every editor is as unique as every writer, an important thing to to look for as you build your team is an editor who “gets” you and your writing—someone with the vision and skills to help you make your book the best it can be. I can’t wait to see your book published, and I’m already looking forward to working together on your next one!

    • Candace, thank you for all your help and kind words!

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