Friday, July 31, 2015

SELF-EDITING? Do Not Try This at Home!

Author Tip
A successful writing career requires a skilled support system, beginning with a strong editor. Indie authors face high standards, because they must prove themselves twice: to readers and to the industry at large. Good form and polish go hand in hand with engaging and well-developed content. A book edited to perfection will not only reach a greater number of readers, but it will also have a better chance of being taken seriously by the literary world. More important, it adds validity and quality to the entire industry of self-publishing.

Your sister, best friend, and members of your writing group are not editors. Chances are that they don’t have an online subscription to The Chicago Manual of Style, and they haven’t heard of the OWL at Purdue or the AP Stylebook. And I’ll bet they’ve never had an anxiety attack over a comma. They love your work because it’s yours; they are happy to tell you what works in your book, but they don’t want to tell you what doesn’t.

Every writer needs an editor. 

Hire an editor. Every writer needs an editor. Writers are much too close to their work to be able to see where it might benefit from a bit of judicious pruning or tweaking or excision.

Why you need an editor? Your book deserves a fresh set of eyes, honesty, and helpful suggestions. No one likes to rewrite, but with the help of a good editor, it is not as onerous as it sounds.

Hiring an editor is the best investment you can make for your work and its success. Flattery is nice, but insight and attention to detail will boost your potential for sales and help build a burgeoning following.

Reasons to Hire a Great Editor

Why you need a Great Editor...
I cannot overstate the importance of hiring an experienced editor to polish your work before you submit it, whether to an agent, a client, or a publish-on-demand company. Editors are trained to be able to spot problems on every level: grammar, typos, word use, syntax, style, consistency.

A beautiful cover is essential—it’s the flirtation, the come-hither—but the beauty of what’s inside (as with people) is what makes readers fall in love.

Self-Editing—Ten Suggestions
  1. Read everything you can find about self-editing, but don’t believe everything you read!
  2. Go for it, but only to polish the manuscript before you pay a professional editor.
  3. Don’t trust spell check, auto grammar check, or the thesaurus.
  4. Know your characters inside out. Make them multifaceted, memorable, and believable.
  5. Don’t let adjectives and adverbs do the heavy lifting for weak nouns and verbs.
  6. Cut suddenly, very, thought to himself (who else would he be thinking to?), shrugged her shoulders (what else is shruggable?).
  7. Dialogue must be sharper, cleaner, and smarter than real-life speech. Delete um, well, you know—all those noisemakers we fill our conversations with.
  8. Go from A to D. Today’s readers are savvy enough to infer steps B and C. In other words, we know that to open a door, someone has to get up, walk across the room, go to the door, and turn the knob. Spare us.
  9. Show yourself that you have what it takes to be an author: keep your mind open to new ideas.
  10. Hire an editor.

One More Reason to Hire an Editor

I’m organized, at least in the digital realm (I wouldn’t let you see my desk, but my desktop is out of Architectural Digest). I will whip your manuscript into runway condition before I let you take a step down that red carpet toward publication. Looks do matter. Turns out, neatness counts.

About the Editor

Victoria Wright (Bookmark Services)
Editor Victoria Wright
At Bookmark Services, I provide a wide array of editing services to writers of every level of skill and experience, writing in virtually every area of focus: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, business, and academic. My projects have included novels, memoirs, biographies, doctoral dissertations, textbooks, grant proposals, manuscript proposals, and marketing and promotional materials for entrepreneurs, artists, health-care professionals, et al.

I live with my son and too many cats in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, where I have been a full-time editor and occasional writer for over twenty years. My clients have been published in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Israel. Several of my short humorous essays were published in the Women’s Times, I had an essay included in Midlife Clarity: Epiphanies from Grown-Up Girls, from Beyond Words Publishing, and my award-winning flash fiction was featured on Women on Writing. 

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