How to seek out an EDITOR!
Who knew that those of us who can tell great stories, share family recipes, or how to garden, or even write a sci – fi could publish ourselves. What an accomplishment!
We can all pat ourselves on the back can’t we? We wrote a book! Not many can say they did that. Now the next page in our story of how to self pub begins. You’ve spend countless hours writing, re-writing, brainstorming… you know what I mean. Now it is time, time to share our baby that we labored over out in the big world. But wait, we have more to do, we need a good editor, and editor who gets you and your story. So that hunt begins with many interviews but in the back of our minds we are saying “I don’t need an editor to make comments, cut my book apart, and worse, tell me my sentence structure of punctuation needs repair…Ok, toss in a typo here and there and what will this cost?” But we do need that criticism and repair to make us better as writers. It is an investment in ourselves and business.
I spent years writing my first novel and countless hours engrossed with my story. I spent time with my characters, dressing them, naming them, decorating their homes and who they loved and so on. I was happy there with them but are they going to be accepted by the real world, not my world? Then I finished it, all 560 pages and turned it into a trilogy since I could not let them go. I had to give birth to generations of the DuBois clan and glad I did.
When I went editor shopping I was determined to find a woman number one. I write about romance and, women issues adding an injection of paranormal. (spiritual) So no way would a man understand a woman’s heart and how we think. Just like a male writer, he would most likely prefer a man to edit if book was male related. (So I think!) I also searched for an editor I could meet with face to face. No emails or calls. I wanted her to understand me, my character, my voice.
After a few phone interviews I was fortunate enough to be referred to a woman locally who was in journalism for over 20 years freelancing as an editor. After a cordial phone call, we met for coffee. She was so the opposite of me. There she sat quiet and reserved, no make-up, no frills, (Hope she doesn’t read this!) And here I am, bubbly, makeup, emotional and animated. Opposites do attract. She softy asked for 5 pages of the manuscript. I agreed and after our coffee I dashed home to send them off. I think my exuberant energy exhausted her.
The following morning there it was in my In box. I was so excited to see what an editor does. I hit the key and opened the attachment to find all these red lines running over my sentences and comments to the far right. I was horrified that she did this and what did she do! After a frantic call she told me she uses Word track changes and how to use it. After a phone tutorial with her I got it. I was blown away when I read it back. She turned those 5 pages of my manuscript into a novel, a book!! I was in tears and read it at least 8 times out loud.
Dawn now edits all my work (except this blog) She is amazing. When I write I am fast and see it like a movie as many writers do. Dawn can find that missing pro -noun or verb or just that word I could see but not figure out what it was. I had one scene where I lapsed on research mentioning lavender growing in NC in late summer. She sent me an entire link on lavender pertaining to growing seasons in North Carolina. Boy I felt stupid! So the characters stomped on dried lavender stalks. Besides it’s more pungent dry. 🙂
Here is an example of before and after I wrote this 3 years ago. This is my first attempt at writing.
Jonathan walked onto the veranda toward Olivia reaching for her hand and pulled it up to his lips. With a kiss, he placed her hand back on her thigh. “It was pleasure to have met you, Miss Olivia. I will place these lovely flowers here on my desk to remind me of your smile each time I notice their fine, sweet fragrance.” Olivia batted her eyes as she was stunned.
“Well, that is a fine idea, Mr… umm, Mr. Taylor was it?.” Olivia said noticing Annabelle in the doorway. She turned back to look upon the river, feeling flushed.
AFTER this is how I write now.
Slowly, Jonathan walked back on the veranda toward Olivia, who turned her head. He reached for her hand and pulled it up to his lips. With a soft kiss, he placed her hand back on her thigh. “It was pure pleasure to have met you, Miss Olivia. I will place these lovely flowers here on my desk to remind me of your contagious smile each time I notice their fine, sweet fragrance.” He studied her lips as he spoke. Olivia batted her eyes as she was quite taken aback.
“Well, that is a fine idea, Mr… umm, Mr. Taylor was it?.” Olivia found herself returning his gaze, but noticed Annabelle in the doorway. She turned back to look upon the river, feeling flushed. “Good day Mr. Taylor, good day now.”
See what I mean? I was so green and new. By the way we cut the book down to 404 pages. Yes, I had alot of repetitive paragraphs and jibber jabber that needed to go.
I have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge for my editor. This was the first book and even Dawn admits on my latest manuscript I write with flow and ease now. I am descriptive and animated. I inject more emotion and movement. Afterall, this was my first book! Who knew! I also took a writing class and learned to let go of the punctuation, spelling and all those worries. A writer is to write and editor is to edit. My instructor gave me permission to WRITE! After that class a trilogy was born.
If you are not a literary major, get yourself a good editor. A second or third set of eyes will only excel and help you to be a better writer. My editor has been a friend, critic and taught me to be a better writer.
Hey, it’s all in baby steps isn’t it? When we first learned to walk did we run a marathon? When we spoke our first words did we read a book? Ah… no. We learned. Writing is a learning process and we are constantly evolving.
Would love to hear about your editing experiences.
Best, Diana Baxter, Dianabaxternovels.com
Next time: Cover design