Believe it! I’ve done it again! I’m late and it’s Thursday Blogday.
Last week I wrote about the publishing process. Or should I say, the foggy, giddy time in the pre-publishing phase of your project. You know what I’m talking about. That story is nailed! Those characters are so real you could invite them round for Sunday lunch. Every publisher in the whole world will want to get their hands on this best seller!
Hmmm … you know it. My main recommendation was to take your time. Allow for time and space. Today I thought I might chat about the next moment in time.
The editing process. Please. Take the plunge. Get a professional edit.
It will cost you money. Yes. But, it’s money well spent. A professional edit will check the structure of your story, correct the grammatical errors, provide spell check and much more. What’s more an editor will give great advice on the actual story.
That story has been read at least a hundred times. You know those characters inside out, back to front. All those deleted scenes. I bet you know what your character is thinking even before they think it themselves.
And that’s the thing. Sometimes, we can be so familiar with the story, we can’t see the forest for the trees. A stranger, however… a suitably qualified stranger, doesn’t know the background. Not only will an editor assess your manuscript with fresh eyes, a professional will find the gaps and give valuable, impartial feedback.
For example, my editor at Brolga Publishing was amazing. But I didn’t know that at the start now did I? I was petrified. Nearly turned myself inside out just thinking about it. What if she hates the story? Will she even get me? The story might totally suck. I may have to change the whole thing. Am I prepared to do that in order to get published?
All these questions … all these fears.
How do we conquer these fears? Research.
You don’t want to hand this baby over to just anyone. Research. That’s why they invented google wasn’t it?
Personally, I checked in with the writers guild in NSW and Queensland. Why Queensland? I’m maroon to the core baby. And I’m working with the mexicans … go figure. (NOTE: Aussie’s understand this paragraph. For the rest of the world, this is not a racist statement just some good old fashioned, state based ribbing) Back to the topic …
Writers guilds have a list of professional editors who are members of the guild. There are links to each editors website. Websites not only give you a sense of the editor, there’s an opportunity to call and have a chat. This is a two way process remember. You have a choice.
Another way is to ask around your own networks. Check in with your local writers group, English teachers at the local high school or university lecturers.
Read blogs from other authors.
Trust your gut.
Take the time to think about it. Make a decision and email or call or text the editor. Begin a dialogue. Send the manuscript, perhaps the first five chapters. If you’re comfortable you’re both on the same page, then you can make the commitment.
A professional editor will be interested in making your manuscript the very best it can be. Opening your mindset to comments for change is an important part of the process. These people know what sells in the market place. Honest feedback is essential to improve the story and highlight the positive. It’s a two way, respectful street.
Great editors will break down the weak areas of your story chapter by chapter. And back up their prognosis with reasonable comments. They won’t write the story for you. That’s your job. However, comments will suggest options for change.
For example, my editor at Brolga made a comment about a scene in my book, Serpent Song. In truth I was a little uncomfortable with the scene myself however, sex sells and I thought it portrayed my leading man in a certain light. I was keen to hear what she had to say – and I admit at first when I read it, I disagreed. Do you want to know what she said?
‘Toni, I find that first scene with Nicholas really quite disturbing.’
My initial thoughts were ‘Good, I want you to be disturbed. Mission accomplished!’ High fives all round. She followed up with ‘I feel the scene does not really add to the story nor does it enhance his character.’
Deflate! This is the first time my readers meet Nicholas and I don’t want them to be turned off by him before we even get started. Back to the drawing board. What did I really want from him in that part of the story and what would my readers gain from that particular scene? I rewrote it. And I’m happier with it. Much happier.
Serpent Song is a stronger story for the change. And my Nicholas … well you’ll just have to read it to find out won’t you!