Tag Archives: hire an editor

Says the Editor: Verb? Adjective?

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Is it a verb? Is it an adjective? No! This is a picture!

Seriously, though…

I had an interesting experience I wanted to pass along, because it’s about worldview, and it’s about word choice, and it’s about how every person brings something different to a piece and to the use of language, itself.

You see, I have a short story. I’ll be telling you more about this short story in the near future, but for now, let me say that I wrote a short story and I’m working with an editor on it. Yes, even editors use editors! (That’s because we understand the value of a second set of eyes, and we understand that it’s money well spent, and we understand how a fresh perspective (dare I say worldview can help us produce the best book — or in this case, short story — possible.)

And I used this phrase: At last, we quiet.

Or something like that. 😉

And my editor wanted me to change it to At last, we quieted.

So I took a look. Because I brought her on board to help me, right? And… I realized that the piece is in present tense, which is kind of rare for me but there it is, and approving her change means… a tense change right in the middle of the piece.

I pointed that out to her. She looked it over, thought about it, agreed, but said something about the phrase still bothered her.

I took another look, both at her request and because, frankly, I was intrigued.

And it hit me. She didn’t like that I was using quiet as a verb. So I changed it to an adjective by adding a verb in there and we were both happy.

It was a few hours later that it hit me what a brilliant change that wound up being. It’s one of those small, subtle changes that no one will ever be aware of (although now that I’m pointing it out to you, you might), but it’s a verb that echoes back to the genesis of the story, the action that sets the character on the path that leads us to the point where she finally quiets.

But hopefully — and this is what really good writing does — that one small word change, that one insertion, will give the reader a more complete reading experience, will heighten the emotion even if they don’t know the hows or whys they got there. That the reader will come away with a bit of extra satisfaction that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

This is why we use editors, friends. I sent her the best story possible. She helped me make it better.

More to come about it, so stay tuned.

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E for Editing, of course! #atozchallenge

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I can’t go on about this one enough, so I’ll try to keep this post short (especially since yesterday’s got long).

Yes, you need an editor.

No, a beta reader doesn’t do an editor’s job.

A really good editor, like me, does more than catch grammar. A really good editor knows when to push you, and where. I know how to teach you the difference in the kinds of description, and what is needed where. I try to mirror your voice, so I’m not imposing myself on you. And I try to spark your own creativity to solve a problem, like in wording, rather than make you see it my way. Maybe my way is wrong, and your way is wrong, but I give you the push you need so that your new way is right.

All that. And more.

Don’t make a decision about an editor based on dollars. There is always someone cheaper. There are also so-called editors who don’t have much of a background in editing fiction. Maybe they were good at revising history papers and decided that meant they could take your money and call themselves an editor. I’ve seen editors who take to Facebook to crowdsource every last point of grammar. Sorry, but if you’re an editor, you should know grammar. I’ve met authors who realized there’s more money in editing than in royalties, so they switched gears. Their qualifications? Well, their book hit a best-seller list or two…

So, yes. There is always someone cheaper.

But is there always someone better? That’s what you need sample edits for. Does the editor respect your vision? Does s/he know basic grammar? Can s/he explain why s/he is making that suggestion? Do they offer suggestions or merely make changes to your text — in words you may not use?

Vet your potential editor. And never pay for a sample.

But always, for every book, hire an editor. Preferably the same one, but sometimes, you need to change it up. I get that.

Start here on your quest. Let’s talk because I’d love to unlock the magic in your manuscript. I’d love to help you put out the best book possible.

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#SaystheEditor Bogged Down

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…and there it was again. A post in a writer’s group on Facebook. “I got a bad review! Oh, no! What do I do!”

I don’t understand why it’s so hard for us to understand how to respond: you do nothing.

However, this turned out to be the exception. A few others in the group did a bit of digging into the reviews this book had generated. “You need an editor,” a bunch of people responded. “Every single review that’s been posted mentions the bad proofreading.”

So… I chimed in. “I’d be glad to proof your book for you. I actually do a fair number of proofing books that have been published but have gotten dinged for bad reviews.” The author asked for my rates. I gave them and told her that if they were too high for her, I’d work with her to reach something she could afford. Implicit in that was the idea that I ain’t working for Oreos. I extended the offer to anyone in the group in need of what I can do for them.

And then… the thread bogged down. The people who told her to do nothing, including editing her book. The people who loudly told her to unpublish the book and have it edited. A few told her to take advantage of the people offering their services (at that point, it was me and someone who offered to let a friend do it. No clue what the credentials were, which means there probably weren’t any).

My favorite was the author who said the reviews had been left by editors who were trying to drum up business.

Wow. Just… wow.

I doubt that author’s going to reach out to me, to be honest. Look at all that advice, and look at all those opinions. How does a person know who to trust?

By the time I gave up on it, people (again, of dubious qualification) were offering to proof this poor book for free. A debate was raging over the spelling of the title. But it’s a fantasy book, and in fantasy, you can take liberties with certain spellings.

But once again, it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder about so many things, I get bogged down, myself.

* What’s it take to raise above the noise and prove how very good I am at what I do and help more of these people?

* Is it worth hiring a staff of really good subcontractors to reach out to these authors and offer a Post-Publication Oh, No service? If so, what would be a fair charge?

* How the heck do I even find a staff of really good subcontractors? Most of the people I talk to have their own client lists, their own full calendars. The folk who are struggling often (but not always) reveal themselves in various ways to not be up to my standard with their knowledge base. Sorry, but if you’re sourcing on Facebook for help, you’re not West of Mars material.

And more.

I get both sides of the equation. I do. Good editing isn’t cheap. Finding a good editor isn’t easy, especially when you have been surrounded by the wrong people — the ones who bog you down in false flattery. That makes it hard to hear a good editor’s truth. It makes you feel like maybe you threw an awful lot of money away. That maybe you’re not as good as you thought you were.

I get it. I do.

But I also get the idea that if you want to make a serious go of a career as a writer, you can’t get bogged down in this false flattery. You can’t get bogged down by the bad reviews. You need to assemble the best team you can to help you be the best writer of the best book. Nothing else should be your goal. Ever.

So that when you are in that “Oh, no! Bad review!” panic, the advice to do nothing is the right advice. Because let’s face it: you can fix a poorly edited book. You can’t fix the online reviews that talk about how poorly edited your book is. (well, if you unpublish and then republish under a new title, you can, but even that has serious pitfalls.)

It’s your career. Get it right before you hit that PUBLISH button.

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