You are here because you are a writer with a completed manuscript that is either a second, third or fourth draft. Having reached this stage, you realize after reading and rereading each chapter, you will require the services of an editor. You should be proud of yourself for reaching this milestone, it took dedication and guts to get here.
The Halfway Point
Writing is a very personal achievement, therefore you need someone to whom you can entrust your creation, to tweak, tighten and polish your work. When any writer makes the effort to seek out a qualified professional, the hunt can be very frustrating, daunting and time-consuming. The search can be made so much easier when you understand that you are not merely looking for an individual with a certain skill set, you are seeking a creative partner who will help you realize the vision you have of your book.
The Role of an Editor
Every creative relationship is complex, this is why it is particularly important to select the right person whose attitude toward the craft of writing dovetails with yours. If not, the result will be disappointing for both parties involved, with precious time and labor wasted. So exactly how do you decide who is right for your book?
Often, the best editor for any writer to work with is the one who understands the sweat and effort involved in making characters believable so that they truly live and breathe in the mind of the reader. As a writer myself, I understand the excitement, fears and insecurities that are a unique and natural component of the writer’s life. I am also aware of the determination and courage it takes to get you from the first page to the last. There is nothing quite like the exhilaration you feel when that final line is written and you are ready to give your words to the world. A good editor wants to take that journey with you and they will care enough about your work to stay the course and to be honest about every single sentence, paragraph and page while encouraging you to fearlessly grow as a writer.
A Business Partnership
The writer/editor connection is where commerce and art mingle. When it is done correctly, both parties pass through the experience satisfied, with a wonderful book to show for the effort. When I edit, I am not merely doing a business transaction with a customer, I am building a relationship based on mutual respect and belief in the writer’s talent. The possibility that I will be asked to walk with the writer through the editing process many more times, with other stories written and ready for polishing, is my goal.
As an editor, I always work from a place of optimism. During my first reading of a manuscript I am searching for the buried treasure, the strength and purpose of the story as it unfolds. It is my belief that it is counterproductive to initially view a manuscript through a fault-finding lens. While there will be many aspects of the book that demand attention and correction, the list of flaws to criticize always lengthy, it is more important to maintain the integrity of the core story. The writer’s creative fingerprint is absolutely everything to the successful creation of a good book which is why revision is a delicate process that always takes serious effort from both parties. There is no substitute for a writer’s personal style, it is the magic elixir that sets one book apart from another. While grammar, prose and sentence structure all matter, a technically perfect book that isn’t inspired, isn’t art and it isn’t good enough for the reader, the writer or the editor.
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
“A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay
“If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.”
― John Steinbeck