Don’t Lose Your Voice #atozchallenge- Author: Susan Helene Gottfried
I see authors worry about this fairly often. They complain about it, too, when it actually does happen — and it DOES happen.
The dreaded bad freelance editor who edits out the author’s own unique voice.
Now, we can spend a long time struggling with the concept of “What is voice?” — it’s a nefarious thing, hard to pin down and explain. In the short version, it’s the voice your narrator takes up in the manuscript. It’s the unique signature you as a writer develop, although an author’s voice can change from book to book, depending on that particular book’s need.
In short, it’s the signature of the book. And it should be unique to the book and to the author.
That’s why authors get upset when a freelance editor removes it and makes their book sound like it’s not something produced by them. Voice is personal. It’s also important.
So do I really need to tell you that an editor who changes your own personal voice isn’t doing you any favors? An author should walk away from a first read of a set of edits both exhilarated and maybe intimidated by the job still ahead. They are often frustrated with themselves, for having missed so many small errors. (How did I type SHE there? Manuel is clearly a HE!)
But they should never, ever feel like an essential component of their book has been altered beyond recognition.
This is why getting a sample edit is a good idea. No, it won’t reveal everything, but it’ll give you an idea of what the editor is looking for. And yes, you ARE free to say, “Thanks, but I don’t think we’ll be a good fit.” (Hell, I’d rather hear that than, “I’m going with someone cheaper.”)
You need to know before you spend money if the editor is going to alter your voice.
Get recommendations from friends and peers. Ask for samples. Walk away if they won’t offer you one.
Save your voice. It’s what makes you uniquely you.
And personally? I like you just the way you are. Changing your voice isn’t my aim. Hell, I’ll take the extra time to make my suggestions sound just like you! Because, remember, I can’t help you make the best book possible if I’m imposing my will over yours.
It’s YOUR book. YOU’RE the boss. Freelance editors can only help, offer suggestions, teach points of grammar, and plead our cases. But it’s YOUR book.
It’s YOUR voice.
Fight for it.