Who does a professional editor hire to edit her book?
For the next 18 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.
Day 11 writing prompt:
Describe your editing process. Who edited your book? What was your relationship with your editor like? What could each of you have done to improve it? What might you do differently in the future?
This one is by far the easiest – and the most challenging – of all the questions to answer. As a professional editor, my ego almost got in the way when it came to having my own book edited. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it needed editing (actually, it needed less editing than proofreading); it was more a matter of who would be good enough to work on my book?
I didn’t know all that many people in the Phoenix area at the time, so I asked around and was referred to Vickie Mullins of Mullins Creative. Their business has morphed more into graphic design, branding, marketing, and book consulting these days – but at the time, editing and proofing were a core component of what they did. And they did a kickass job!
The funny thing is, even if you read the introduction my book with its full disclaimer to that some of the questions might make you squirm, it’s not until you actually read the some of the questions that you understand exactly why or how squirmy things might get. However, Vickie and I had a great conversation about the fact that the book could be a great title for Christian women’s groups, as it would give them an outlet to talk about all the stuff “proper ladies” never discuss. Would have been the furthest thing from my target audience, but I still think she might be right about that.
I read one comment from an Author Blog Challenge participant about fearing that an editor would mangle and twist her words so much so that her writing might become unrecognizable as her own. Here’s the thing I (a) always reassure my clients, (b) expect from any editor I hire to do contract work for me, and (c) expect from any editor I hire: an editor’s most essential job is to make the author’s words sound like them, only better. As editors, our goal – first and foremost – is to preserve the author’s voice. I know there are a LOT of editors out there who don’t do that. They bring their own spin, lens, and opinions into their editing – and it’s problematic, to be sure. I would say perhaps a third of my business comes from authors who’ve been disappointed by the first editor they hired.
My best suggestion is to get some references first. Then have a conversation to understand exactly what you can expect from your editor. Be clear about how much rewriting you are comfortable with. Do you want them to use the revision marks function in MS Word? While it might seem like a difficult conversation to have up front, it’s the best way to be sure you will get exactly what you want and expect from your editor.
Be aware that good editing is going to cost you some money, but it will be one of the best investments you can make in your book business.
I wrote an e-book about this that I send to prospective clients. You’re welcome to download your own copy of The First-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU to learn more about my perspective on what I believe is the second most important component to any published book – after completing the manuscript itself.
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!