While organizing in my office this weekend, I unearthed the manuscript I had been editing. My first thought was to just put it in the bin with the others for that overall story. I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that. I picked it up to move it to the bin and couldn’t so set it back down – in the way of course. After doing this a couple of times I realized – I need to put this back in my purse and take it with me.
Editing is a part of writing. A good editor is worth their weight in gold. There is nothing more irritating when you are reading a book than to edit it as you go. If the manuscript hasn’t been edited thoroughly almost anything can slip through from a grammatical issue to a typographical issue to even a story inconsistency.
The biggest complaint about self-published books is that they are poorly edited. Part of the problem is that writers often cannot afford a professional editor and/or think they are good enough to not need one. The thing is no matter how good you are – you need an editor even if you are your own editor.
It is better to have other eyes on the manuscript because after the third or fourth round of edits you stop seeing what is on the page and start seeing what you think is supposed to be there. A good editor should catch those things. A good editor will tell you where your story lags or is inconsistent or doesn’t make sense.
Editing is a tough job because authors (this one included) don’t like to hear criticisms of their baby. Believe me their manuscripts have the authors blood, sweat, and tears in them. The hardest thing as an author is to take a step back and say – what doesn’t work, what does, and why are you keeping something someone else says should go.
As an author and editor, it is usually pretty easy for me to say add or delete (though deleting is hard for me) even when it is my own work. However, I have people who will kick me in the bum if I don’t follow my instinct.
For my current manuscript, I wanted to try out a different beginning so I rewrote it based on people’s criticism. I like the second opening to the story but it didn’t pop and sort of slowed the action. When I presented it to two of my readers, one liked it and one didn’t. The one who liked it said it read more like a movie script than a book. As I’m writing a book, I am sticking with the original opening.
Having reworked it doesn’t mean I’m tossing out the opening. If I ever get to a point where the book is popular enough to be a tv series or movie, I would do the other opening I wrote – maybe. I listened to my critics and considered an alternative but ultimately made my own decision about how to rework (or not) the section of writing.
Editor fees can run anywhere from $25 – $100 per hour. Some editors won’t even look at your work for under a certain dollar amount. Most editors want payment up front. This sounds very demanding but I can tell you from personal experience it is hard to do work and then have the author not pay you – especially when it gets into bigger figures.
An editor is an advisor who will offer suggestions on how to make a manuscript better. The author has to decide if they trust the editor’s experience and advice as well as whether the changes suggested are good for the manuscript. It is your choice as the author – make it a wise one.