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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Get An Editor by @vizprod (Andy Christofferson)


Here's another great guest post by an indie author Andy Christofferson (@vizprod). Check out his blog and his book The Peace Corpse. He explains the importance of having an editor in this post, which I firmly believe as an editor and writer. Enjoy~
I wrote a book. I thought my book was pretty good. Like so many naive writers, I assumed that it was 'done' just because it didn't have any major typos or grammatical errors. I even had my parents and sister go through it just to be sure. A lot of people have gone out of their way to tell me that they’ve enjoyed it, and I’m still proud of that. But there was a few complaints about the pacing and some of the description. The thing is: those are the kinds of things a good editor would catch.
What most self-published people don't seem to realize is that editing isn't just about fixing typos. It encompasses pacing, characterization, voice, description, and all major and minor issues that can turn a merely good story into a GREAT one.
Yes, I've sold a few books. That is nice, but maybe I could've had a breakout hit if I'd just made that one-time, initial investment of hiring an editor. Well, that, and actually having a decent cover. But that’s beside the point.
For my next book, a high fantasy novella, I was determined to do things right. So I wrote and revised and had my family go through and look for typos, and then I looked for an editor. I found someone on Twitter who was offering a free two-page edit/critique, and I liked the job he did so much I asked him to edit the entire manuscript. He even gave me a discount.
When I got my manuscript back, there were red marks on every single page. Wordiness, excessive use of adverbs, inconsistent point of view, too much exposition, melodrama, lack of description, overly detailed backstories, and so on. He said he enjoyed the story itself and even complimented me on my writing (in terms of grammar and sentence structure, at least), but I know I would be doing a gross injustice to readers if I put my story up for sale without fixing the aforementioned items.
I am a professional technical writer and freelance editor—of scientific publications. I’m pretty confident in my ability to write grammatically correct sentences with few typos. That does not mean, however, that I can write perfect fiction without help. It isn’t easy to be objective with my own writing, especially when I’m too emotionally attached. After all, if I didn’t think every single sentence was perfect exactly the way I wrote it, I wouldn’t have written it that way.
This is why writers need editors. It’s critical that the work go through the scrutiny of someone who is not emotionally vested and who can provide an honest, objective feedback. Having an editor is an indispensable part of creating a book because writers are often extremely subjective in their opinion, even if they don’t want to admit it.
With the rise of self-publishing, many Indie writers seem to think that editing is merely fixing typos. That is the job of proofreaders, not editors. I think this trend is really a shame. There is a significant number of Indie books out there that would’ve been exceptionally good if the author had just bothered with the one-time investment of hiring an editor. In the end, that could’ve made all the difference.