Well traveled with an eye for detail?
Perhaps the most important aspect of the publishing process, after the writing, is editing. The Day 14 prompt for the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge invites us to talk editing. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.
Day 14 writing prompt:
Describe your editing process. Who edited/will edit your book? What was your relationship with your editor like? What could each of you have done to improve the process? What might you do differently in the future?
Having begun my business as an editor and honed my skills for years, I find the writing process – particularly for fiction – much more difficult. It’s easy for me to determine where to cut, condense, and reduce the number of words. Another story completely when it comes to enhancing, adding description, painting word pictures that require more – not fewer – words.
That said, I’m extraordinarily particular when it comes to who will give editorial input to my novel. I’m no idiot – so I know it will require at least a once-over from another professional. Who that is – will be – I have no idea, yet.
Here’s a little list excerpted from my special report, “The Fist-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU.”
The Least You Should Expect from a Skilled Professional Editor
- Listens, hears, and understands the author’s concerns, vision, and intent.
- Makes suggestions in a way the author can hear and appreciate without being made to feel wrong, criticized, or patronized.
- Identifies and understands the needs of the reader.
- Has a very strong sense of structure and excellent organizational skills.
- Has excellent writing, grammar, and copy editing skills.
- Has an ear for language (e.g., diction and idiom).
- Can quickly familiarize himself/herself with virtually any subject.
- Makes technical passages and complex concepts accessible to the average reader.
- Keeps the text focused on speaking directly to the reader.
- Calls attention to unclear writing and/or faulty logic.
- Checks for consistency throughout the work, in voice, tone, message, and more.
- Knows when it’s necessary for the author to rewrite and/or add text.
- Will unabashedly write new text when appropriate.
- Can emulate the author’s usage, style, and tone when rewriting.
- Catches “isms” and prejudices without a compulsion to be politically correct.
- Treats the author’s writing with detachment and objectivity, never inserting or superimposing his/her personal beliefs/positions into the author’s work.
- Knows how and when to use humor, analogies, examples, and literary devices to maintain and increase reader interest.
- Can create appropriate chapters, subsections, bullet lists, sidebars, and graphics to improve flow and readability.
- Is readily available for author questions and consultations.
- Can determine and explain the appropriate depth of editing.
- Develops a strong author/editor relationship.
- Challenges the author to give his or her best.
- Is compulsive, but not overly.
- Is flexible, but not overly.
- Can spot legal problems with trademarks, citations, etc.
- Reads, reads, reads, and reads — any and all types of material.
- Will offer a sample of his/her work to the client at no fee.
- Expects to be paid a fee commensurate with his/her skills.
Yep – that’s the least you should expect. Any less than that, and you’re not getting your money’s worth. Is it any wonder I’m a little particular about who will edit my work? I am looking for someone with a super-skilled eye for detail. And since Stan does travel all the way around the world, a person who’s been to a few of the countries I’ve never visited wouldn’t hurt.
The way I work with a client is have them submit either the first chapter – OR the chapter that is most representative of their work. (Writers have a tendency to do a lot of work on the first or early chapters, so that part reads very well – but they seldom give quite as much attention to the latter part of the manuscript.) Then I evaluate the writing and degree of editing necessary. Not every writer needs intense developmental editing, as some manuscripts come in quite clean. Others need to be reworked from the ground up. Then I give them a sample edit of four or five pages.
Once we agree to move forward, they send the complete manuscript in a Word document. I work with revision marks – and use the comment feature if the client prefers that. Otherwise, I make my comments within the text in an alternate font and bold/highlight them. Once I’ve finished the manuscript, I send it back. The client looks it over, makes changes based on my suggestions, and returns it to me for a final reading – unless we make other arrangements. This is how I expect the process to work with my novel, as well.
Visit WriteMarketDesign.com to download a copy of the complete special report.
Please be sure to come back and read my next post, where I’’ll be talking about my book cover design process…
And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.
Here’s to skilled wordsmiths everywhere!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.