Friday, 1 June 2012

Editing Isn't As Painful As You Think.

It wasn't too bad. The thumping heart and damp hands were an over-reaction. My manuscript had returned from the editor, and whilst there were quite a few red marks they were not as numerous as feared. It was my first time submitting my work to a professional editor, and I urge all writers to do the same.

With my first book I was confident that I would be able to self-edit as well as any professional editor could edit. I was wrong. The first edition of my book suffered from poor layout and was peppered with typos. These have since been rectified. I was not going to make the same mistake again.

I am pretty thorough with my self-edits but it takes a fresh pair of eyes to really polish a piece of writing. That is what my editor did. I do love a comma, and semi-colons are a passion, so my sentences can wander a little (though not as much as a Spanish author who in one book had a final sentence that was a page and a half long). My editor added a few full-stops and capital letters. There was only one instance where I chose not to accept my editor's recommended change to the sentence length.

One big fear that I have been able to put to rest with the return of my manuscript is that editors do not change the 'voice.' A good editor will let the integrity of your work remain. When my editor changed words, or word order, the meaning and voice of the sentence was not changed, it simply flowed better. Of course, you can ignore the changes, but there is little point investing in an editor only to ignore their advice. That said, do not click on 'Accept All Changes' without checking them first.

There are two good reasons for making your way carefully through your editor's changes. Firstly, you learn from them. You learn not to split your infinitives - or in my case carry on splitting them but with more awareness - to correct repeatedly misspelled words, and pick up grammatical tips. Secondly, your editor is human too; they can make the odd mistake. I write in English English, a couple of the changes suggested by my editor changed the spelling to American English; I did not accept them. It is a partnership between writer and editor - embrace it.

When all is said and done I am very pleased with my choice of editor, her work, and my completed manuscript. Editor's aren't cheap, but a good one is worth the money and a shiny, polished manuscript has more chance of being picked up. Be brave, get an editor, it is not as painful as you think!

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