Hello Fellow Writers,
The most hurtful thing that anyone has said to me about my book is 'No thanks,' when I offered them a printed manuscript to read. I was taken aback because they'd often expressed a desire to read it on completion. I'd done the second draft. It was complete.
'Has it been edited yet?' they asked.
'Yes.' I insisted. I'd edited as I wrote.
'By an editor?' they probed.
'I don't need an editor.' I said.
Other friends had better faith in my skills, they took the copy and assured me they'd give me feedback within a couple of weeks. I couldn't wait to hear things like 'Ground breaking.' and 'Excellent read from start to finish.' but I had to. Two weeks became 'by next weekend,' then 'by the end of the month.' Eventually, feedback was received.
I suppose the most frustrating comments were...
'I haven't had a chance to read it yet.' and 'What I've read is great. I just haven't got much time.'
The most heartbreaking included...
'I keep losing track of where they are.' or 'I don't get it mate.'
While it seemed others were out to destroy me, saying...
'You need to look at how to punctuate speech.' and 'I assume this hasn't been edited.'
I was wounded.
The mistake I made - was believing that the need for an editor was a result of being not very good. I hadn't really considered how the best selling novels are all produced with an editor on team.
The lesson I learned - I needed an editor. I didn't need to hear about how great the best bits of the story were, or how bad the worst bit's were, I needed to know what was wrong with my book and how to fix it.
All creative arenas have editors under one name or another. Imagine if cars were completely developed by designers, without engineers to tell them what works and what doesn't, or if our clothes were manufactured directly from the original catwalk design - We'll look great, walking halfway down the street and back, but most of it wouldn't fit in the washing machine.
I realised I'd rather hear the bad news from an editor, than read it in a review. There was more bad news than I'd expected, but I learned quickly to appreciate the benefit.
But editors are expensive!
Editors charge for the value of their contribution, but even £50 is expensive to someone who can't afford it. If you can find an editor who'll work for a skill trade, or even free, then you are lucky, but make sure they have experience of your genre.
If you pay for an editor, make sure that you have your business head on. Add it to your financial forecast and keep receipts.
Isn't there anything I can do myself?
There are a few things to do before handing your work to an editor, or as part of your self editing process. The most constructive thing you can do is read your novel, from start to finish, over the timeframe you'd expect of a reader. READ IT OUT LOUD. Your mouth won't make the same assumptions you're brain does. It doesn't auto correct your spelling. The really clever bit, is that by stimulating your ears at the same time, you engage logic processors that remain inactive when reading in your head.
DON'T MUMBLE! READ IT OUT LOUD!
You'll be unpleasantly surprised.
The other things you can do are use your word processor's search function to scour for common errors. You'll probably know these common mistakes, but we still make them. Sometimes auto correct get's it wrong. Let's go with that:
You're (You are)
Your (Belonging to you)
Their (Belonging to them)
They're (They are)
There (In a different location)
Were (Doing so in the past)
Where (Referring to a location)
We're (We are)
And who could forget...
Have (To own)
Of (NOT the same as To own)
Our (Owned by us)
Are (Qualifying positivity)
WARNING: Never use the replace ALL function, it'll mess things right up. I made that mistake, you don't need to make it too.
I hope you found this helpful.
Thank you for reading and keep writing.