Editors and editing your book

In a recent article I talked about being a DIY author or using a book coach to help you get your book written and published. In this article I want to ask you how confident you are in your editing skills?

No matter how good a writer you are there are several things that you must not skimp on, one is your cover and the second is your editing.

Getting to first draft can be a challenge, but it is wonderful feeling knowing that you have just penned 40,000 words or more. You must leave your masterpiece for at least a week and more if you can, this is for reflection. The mind is a wonderful thing and in that reflection time, all kinds of connections and adjustments are being made. Getting to final draft is where the magic happens. Editing covers many things, not only are you bringing your work to life, you are also doing the more mundane tasks like looking carefully at grammar and punctuation. This is usually where we get word, punctuation and grammar blindness.

The key to this process is to keep leaving it and looking at it in different ways with new eyes.

Let me tell you a very salient story

I ‘wrote’ and published a book in a weekend as part of a challenge. It was not a creative process, more of a slog, but fairly easy – or so I thought. I repurposed lots of content that I had and because of the time race, my mind, when reading and re-reading it  in a short space of time, saw perfection. This happens to everyone when reading their own work, the mind very kindly fills in the blanks and skips over words that don’t make sense.

The book once published for the challenge needed to be unpublished and edited. Quite simply life got in the way. I went away for a respite trip and when I came back the person I was caring for died. With other things to think about, everything I was working on was sidelined.

As a workshop I was running drew closer, I suddenly realised that I had a) forgotten to have the book edited b) it was still live and for sale on Amazon and c) I didn’t have any edited copies to give away. Even worse, in the meantime I received a poor review on Amazon from a reader who was also an editor. I was mortified. After preaching to my clients, I had now committed the cardinal sin, I hadn’t used an editor and I was paying the price. (Can you feel me cringing?)

I decided to call the editor and get to know her and ask, if, as she had read the book, would she edit it for me. It was almost synchronicity – nothing ever happens without a reason and I figured I was meant to meet her. She is currently editing / proofing said book, with instructions to do whatever it needs. (Can you feel me breathing again?)

Excuses aside, I took my eye off the ball. However I can share a very powerful lesson with you – the feeling of total mortification and horror of a poor review and feeling like a complete [insert expletive] for letting the basics slip. By the way, poor reviews are something else you will have to put up with when you are a published author. People leave the rudest and most bizarre reviews and comments. I come from the school of if you can’t say something nice or constructive keep your mouth shut or your fingers off the reviews.

A lovely fiction writer I know talks about how she has grown a rhino skin when it comes to reviews. She knows that, not only has her publisher paid a lot to produce the right cover, but the editor has also torn her work apart. Her advice like mine is pay to get your work  edited and proofed. Do this when you think it is polished.

40,000 words will probably cost around £200 to £300 and it truly is an investment in your brand.

Me, well I will re launch said book safe in the knowledge that it has been well critiqued.

What lessons have you learned the hard way?

12 Replies to “Editors and editing your book”

  1. A lovely fiction writer I know talks about how she has grown a rhino skin when it comes to reviews. She knows that, not only has her publisher paid a lot to produce the right cover, but the editor has also torn her work apart. Her advice like mine is pay to get your work edited and proofed.— Good advice!

    Damyanti, Cohost AZ 2014
    Twitter: @damyantig

  2. This is so very important, Jacqui. I’m seeing too many unedited books especially of the e-book variety.
    Recently, I wrote to an author to give him a heads-up on some glaring errors in his book. He told me that he considered them rather insignificant and not worth making that edit! What does one say? 🙂

  3. That’s very useful information…editing is so very important. We have looked at our work for too long and are too close to be objective about it. I found even having someone read through my thesis back in the day helped! 🙂

  4. The blindness to the flaws in our own work is also true of many of us in looking at ourselves as well. We could all do with an editor for our attitudes and behaviour from time to time. Which, funnily enough, is where improving our Emotional Intelligence (the subject of my own a-z blog for today) comes in. Sorry about the shameless plug I couldn’t resist!

  5. Hadn’t even thought of that, but absolutely spot on. I think that’s a reason I haven’t got as far as publishing yet – my script is already going crazy about reviews !

    1. I can tell you horrible reviews are well… horrible, but they are only one persons perspective and often says more about them than you. And anyway once an editor has been through it, you know it has been polished. Take a deep breathe and jump in.

  6. I so agree with what you said regarding not trying to edit your own work. Our brains are sense-making machines and will generally see only what’s expected, rather than what’s actually there–unless the work is unfamiliar (e.g. someone else’s words).

  7. Great post! And thank you for sharing your personal experience from the trenches. It’s easy to say we need to make editing a priority, but too easy do we forget how awful we would feel if we published an inferior product. Thanks! rsmccoy.blogspot.com

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