Jumping off of last week’s blog post where I looked at what an editor should do with an author's manuscript, today's post is what a writer should know about the editing process, especially if it’s their first time hiring an editor. So here are five things you should be aware of when working with an editor:
1) The manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect
Really. Definitely read it over and do some self-editing before you send it off to the editor, but you don’t need to find every single typo or every single continuity error – that’s my job. You are so close to your story and you’ve written and rewritten and read and reread it a billion times already. It's only natural that you’ll gloss over things in the expectation that you wrote it in the exact way you wanted to…even if it maybe didn’t come out like that. That’s ok though, because these things happen. Editors do not expect perfection, and we would be very bored if there was nothing to do. (But don’t worry, I assure you, there’s always something for us to find.)
2) Be prepared to kill your darlings
Yep, it’s that oft-repeated advice that's repeated for a reason. An editor might very well cut one of those passages that made you pump your fist in the air when you wrote it because DAMN, it was goooood. But if that beautiful prose isn’t doing the work it needs to in your story – it’s not working thematically, it’s telling rather than showing, it’s not helping to advance the plot – it’s gotta go. You don’t need to chuck it into oblivion – just file it away because who knows, maybe you’ll be able to rework it or repurpose it for a different project one day. Trust the editor to turn an objective eye on it and make sound judgments.
3) Fight for it
That said, if you really, really believe that something that was cut should remain or you disagree with a change that the editor has made, make your case for it. The editor and the author’s goals are the same: they want to make the story the best it can be when it goes to print. A good editor has an open mind and should be willing to hear you out – but in return, you should be willing to hear them too and weigh the options to determine what’s best for the story.
4) Start developing a thick skin
Think of the editing process as good preparation for future reviews and more visible critiques. There is probably going to be something in the edits that hits a sore spot for you and makes you feel vulnerable. (I try to say these uncomfortable things that need to be said gently but firmly.) They might hurt for a bit while you’re doing edits, but it’s better to have it smart when you’re just one-on-one with an editor and can correct it before it goes out into the world.
5) Enjoy the process
Yes, it’s going to be hard to cut things that you love or add in more to a manuscript you thought was done or to hear criticism on the piece that you pour your heart into. But editing is a learning process and it’s a great time for self-reflection to figure out your strengths and weaknesses while you push your limits with your editor’s help. You’re going to stretch as a writer, have more tools in your writer’s toolbox to use for future projects, and build on your abilities to self-edit. And in the end, you’ll have a manuscript ready to be published! Keep your eye on the prize as you work towards getting your book in the best shape possible to meet that publishing goal.
Wanna give this whole editing thing a try? Contact me today for a sample edit!