Friday, October 21, 2016

Everyone Needs An Editor

A popular post from December 2009

By Julie Wright

I got a great question from one of my up and coming author friends the other day about professional editing. She made this comment to me:
I'm assuming you don't send your own work off to an editor since you are one.

In my fantasy world, this might be true, but in reality, I'd dash out my eyes before trusting them, and only them, to catch all my flaws. You know that old saying? Something about not seeing the forest because of all those trees? Writing is a lot like that. We get too close to our projects and lose all form of objectivity. Or sometimes, even when we know something's wrong with our manuscripts, we don't see how to fix it exactly.

I have several professional authors/editors (These editors all work for Precision Editing Group) who I trade manuscripts with. I trust these people completely. I trust them to be brutal, but brutal in a way that helps. I've known editors who slash manuscripts to pieces simply because it makes them feel smarter, or empowered, or whatever, but a good editor will not slash for their own benefit, but the benefit of the manuscript. You know who you can trust for honest-even-when-it-hurts critiques. Don't trust your manuscript to anything less. And no matter how published, or smart, or HUGE an author is--everyone needs an editor.

And just for kicks, here is how my writing, editing, submitting process works:
• Write the book
• Edit the book myself
• Go over it one more time (just in case)
• Then send it to three others
• Write something new while waiting for the results
• Get results
• Cry a little over the fact that I’m not all that brilliant
• Eat chocolate and get over myself
• Do final edit
• Submit
• Get edits back from my publisher
• Cry over the fact that I’m not all that brilliant
• Eat chocolate and get over myself
• Do final final edit
• Get galleys
• Curse myself for not being more thorough in final edit
• Do final final, I-mean-it-this-time edit
• Get author copies of my book and still think of ways I could have been better, while also thinking how cool I am for getting a new book published.
• Eat chocolate and get over myself.
• Finish writing new book

If you're being honest with yourself, you know you can always do better. This is not to say you should never let a manuscript go. We all have to finally shout, "Enough!" and move on to a new project. Sometimes more fiddling is just more fiddling.

Eventually your book has to stand on it's own, but dragging it through a few other sets of eyes, makes it stand a little taller.


Kimberly Job said...

Call me crazy, but the editing process is my favorite part!

Annette Lyon said...

Absolutely, Julie! I couldn't agree more. No matter how great a writer you are, you can't see your own holes.

And I agree with Kimberly--to a point, anyway. I enjoy editing and making something better. (It's when you reach the galley stage that you want to torch the thing because you've been over it SO many times that you can no longer believe it's any good.)

Stephanie Humphreys said...

It's good to know chocolate is an essential part of the equation.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

love this!!! I might have to add eating chocolate to my routine also.

Carolyn V. said...

Oh I love your list!!! It is excellent. Plus now I know I'm not alone in the chocolate eating. =) Thanks

Heather B. Moore said...

I was just talking about this with someone yesterday! Everyone does need an editor, and it becomes quite obvious when one isn't used (even for those bestselling authors).

Chocolate is always good :)

Bethany Wiggins said...

What a beautiful, honest post! I'm laughing and crying all at once because I've been there, done that... up to the published part, at least. Thank you for the honest truth.

Timekeeper said...

Julie, after jumping through the hoops you mentioned I thought I had dumped everything into a book. Then the publisher wanted a follow up book. I worked on a new book two years and felt I have to stay away from it a few months. I've been reading blogs because I'm burned out. But I know I am not alone. Thanks for the honesty. Please visit my blog. Best, John

jcarsten said...

For years I was a supervisor/editor at a state agency that generates lots of letters in response to reports we receive. Due to a reorganization I now find myself as primary author of these letters and only an occasional part time editor. I am reminded and amazed how a second set of eyes can catch what I did not see the first time. Editing makes a better product plain and simple. I actually love to get input now, where in the past I used to cringe. I am so thankful people take the time to give me detailed feedback.