Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Choosing Your Editor - The After Process
Choosing Your Editor
I have recently started adding to my pieces about the after process, which I mostly wrote around this time last year. I did a whole piece dedicated to the process of editing (found here) as well as one about beta readers. While it'll be easy enough for you to find those pieces as they're linked in my blog, I thought I would post some thoughts about what you want to look for when choosing your editor. I'm basing these suggestions on my own experience and the fact that I am an Indie author so have a lot of control over who I use as my editor.
My editor is a dear friend of mine and we kinda fell into the arrangement that she would become my full time editor. I release, usually, one book a year in the summer and so we work the rest of the year to get the next release ready. She is a gold mine of an editor and while I do have a proofreader as well, my books wouldn't be anywhere near as good as they are if it weren't for Kim. So, having said that, here's some advice for those of you who have not yet been lucky enough to find a great editor who works with you.
#1 - THEY HAVE TO BE CONSTRUCTIVE
For me, it's not just a case of sending Kim my book and telling her to correct any bad grammar or spelling (of which there is plenty I can tell you!), that's not the job of an editor. Her job is to read the book critically, tell me of any major plot points that don't work, or if they do work they need something added to them. She also needs to tell me when I'm making my characters act out of character, and other things like that. While any editor in the indie world (or in traditionally published books as well sometimes) can tell you that you HAVE to remove this chunk or what not, the choice to do so is yours. So, when you've got an editor working with you, they need to know what you're trying to do with the story, what the end vision looks like. You need to be able to work with them to achieve that, and while it may be that your manuscript doesn't yet make it all the way to where you want it to be, there needs to be a lot of constructive advice or criticism. It's no good saying "this part is crap" without explaining what needs to be changed to make it better.
#2 - THEY HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE YOU'RE USING
If you've primarily written your book in English, then there is no point giving it to an editor who won't be able to identify the grammar rules and spelling issues that will no doubt crop up. You wouldn't expect just anyone to be able to correct Spanish grammar and you can't expect the same from anyone in regards to English either. Your editor needs to know the rules of the language you're using, not only so they can recognise when you're breaking any grammar rules, but so that they can tell if it's intentional or not. And while you should always go through your work before you send it to your editor of choice to make sure that they're working with a "clean" copy - one that once corrected will be the final sequence of events - there will always be mistakes that you have missed. Which is why it is NEVER a good idea to ONLY use your own editing skills, no matter how awesome they are!
#3 - THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO WORK TO DEADLINES
I've been unfortunate enough to work with editors in the past who claimed to be able to meet my deadlines and then didn't. Worse still, as deadlines approached, they failed to inform me that they were going to be unable to meet them. I spent two years telling people that a book was coming out, to only miss every deadline and release date given. I don't have that problem now, thankfully, but the experience taught me the importance of a reliable editor. You need to know that when you say to someone "I need it by [date]" they're going to deliver, and that if they can't, they'll tell you in enough time for you to make the appropriate arrangements.
And finally, #4 - YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WORK TOGETHER
Technically Kim and I have never been in a room together, but I know that when she sends me edits, if I have an issue, I can call her and we can talk it through. I also know that if she doesn't get the message I'm trying to send through my work, she can call me for clarification. If you can't work with someone and listen to what they have to say, then it's possibly not the best idea to give them the manuscript that you've slaved over for months. It will end in heartbreak and you'll be no further forward in getting your book published. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
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