This is an interesting post. I have all sorts of questions that I like to ask new authors, and since Lisa Bouchard, author of The Shattered Door brought up editing in her original email to me, I thought I’d ask her about that. Personally, I think a good editor is priceless. And I think a few more new authors should consider it an investment!
The Importance of Editing
Whosoever is his own counsel has a fool for his client – proverb
Whosoever edits his own writing has a fool for an author – Lisa Bouchard
Of course I don’t mean that you should just take your first draft and publish – that could be a horrible mistake! A professional writer will edit her own work, but once she’s done all she can, she passes it off to someone else. A fresh set of eyes makes a huge difference because the things that are absolutely clear in your mind may be confusing on the page. (For example, it took me three read-throughs to see that I changed from third to second person in this paragraph.)
I cannot stress how important having someone else read your work is to an author. And not just your mom, or your husband, or your friends. Ideally, you should pay a professional editor to read and comment on your work. Editors can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, but I’m happy to say that in this case paying more may not get you a better edit. The most important thing is ‘fit’.
What makes a good fit between editor and writer? Look for an editor who appreciates your style and message. Familiarity with your genre is helpful as well. The best thing I did was ask potential editors to do a sample edit for me. I like a one chapter edit – presuming you don’t write ten thousand word chapters. I could tell if we were going to work well together, and the editor could determine if this was a project they wanted to be involved in.
The editing process is great once you’re done, but in the middle of the process, it kind of sucks. You work so hard and put so much effort into your drafts (and yes, you should go through a few drafts before you hire an editor) and you think you’re this close >> << to it being perfect, and here comes a stranger, that you are paying good money to, telling you that you’re wrong. Here’s what the editing process felt like to me: My editors took my novel, ran it through a blender, pieced it back together and by the time we were done, I had the novel I thought I had written all along.
Do you have to do everything your editor tells you? No. But don’t dismiss ideas just because you don’t like them or because they would be difficult to fix – editors don’t suggest changes lightly so use caution before disregarding their advice.
And what about beta readers as editors? Beta readers are great for finding problems with story logic, characterization and pacing, but it’s not their job to focus on the more technical aspects of your writing.
For The Shattered Door I used beta readers, a content editor and a copy editor. I consider every dollar I spent on editors as an investment in my writing career. It doesn’t matter how great my story is, if it annoys readers with errors, they may never finish it, and they certainly won’t buy my next book.
I know editors can be out of reach, financially speaking, for some people, but they’re worth the extra part-time job you may have to find, or temporary sacrifices you make to save. Trust me. Editors are a book’s best friend.