I’m a habitual editor. I admit this. Like… probably AA style….
“Hello. My name is Shanan, and I’m an editor.”
I pick every nit off ever word. I examine it up close and determine if it’s going to sprout a louse or a lion. My editing microscope reaches far and deep. I’m ridiculously critical of the structure of every sentence in every paragraph upon each page.
And guess what?
No matter how much I edit, it’s not enough.
I’m going to state this… and somewhere out there, someone is going to go “NUH UH!” and they’re going to gnash their teeth and stomp their feet and plug their ears and jump up and down. But whatever… it’s their book…
My point is…
You. Can. Not. EVER. Adequately. Edit. Your. Own. Work.
Period(s). End of story. Fine. Done.
Now, that’s not to say self-editing should be tossed out with the bath water. Oooooh no. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, edit your goddamed work to the very best of your ability!
Just don’t expect to publish it until you have someone else finish what you started.
Why do I make such a bold claim?
Simple: You are too close to your work to fully edit. Even if you set it down for a month, a year, or more… You’ve written EXACTLY what you meant to say. Only, sometimes, when others read what you write… they don’t really get what you were trying to convey. Maybe it was too wordy. Maybe you used the wrong word. Maybe there are gaps that your all-knowing brain fills in while you’re reading, and no one else would ever be privy to that information.
Of course you get it. You wrote it!
That doesn’t mean everyone gets it.
So… hire an editor. Enlist beta readers. Have friends, family, colleagues and associates read it. Hell, give a copy to the guy on the corner… just ask that he show up a week from Tuesday willing to give you advice on how it could improve.
And if you’re self-publishing, save up the money, and hire a professional editor. If you don’t know where to find one, go search the Editorial Freelance Association page. Post an ad.
Or better yet, just email me.
I’m an editor.
I’d love to edit for you.
My point is… the person on the other end of the red pen is looking for more than split infinitives and passive voice… she’s going to tell you where the gaping chasms exist. She’s going to help you identify them so you can either fill them in or at least build a bridge. When you’re through with the editing process, you have a stronger, tighter, more saleable work. Your readers won’t get jarred out of your book because you misspelled a word and never caught it. Your retailers won’t look at the back jacket and pick out that one grammar error you missed. And most importantly, your fans won’t go, “Eh, it was a decent story, but man… the inconsistencies….”
So yes, get an editor. Pick her brain. Suck out every last grimy detail you can from your editor. Listen to her advice.
Then go rewrite… and keep going… until both you and your editor say, “This is it!”
Then publish that bad boy, and “Go have a glass of wine and take it like a writer.” – Meg