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Thursday, March 22, 2012

What It's Like To Be An Editor-what all editors really think

People often ask me what it takes to be an editor or what it’s like to be one. I usually don't complain about my work in detail because I love what I do. And the last thing I want to do is appear angry and bitter about my work. I'm usually just stabby about bad writing. With that said, I think it’s time that I say what all the editors want to say. They hold their tongues because they don't want to sound like a judgmental know-it-all or turn off potential clients. That's completely understandable. After all, it’s a job, their livelihood. But that's not going to stop me. I am very fortunate to have a well-paying dayjob. So I will rant. I have to. For my sanity..

1. There are prerequisites. It takes more than reading a few books or having perfect command of "the"(<---trying to add impact here) English Grammar. Editing in creative writing involves knowledge of the trend of the literary market. Then there’s the required reading. Lots of reading. We need to have a broad view, so we can’t afford to read  only our favorite genre for pleasure. Years of education and/or hard-work go into producing a good editor. As writers know, a good, professional editor that one can connect with is a rare find. But do writers know what editors actually do or what it's like to be one?
Having this title means investing time, sweat, and money. There are times that I spend an hour on editing just one page. I pull my hair out to come up with alternatives and examples to show my clients. And at $3 a page? It’s not that motivating. But I do it because I love my job. There are no powertrips here. We constantly deal with criticism and backlashes. We’re expected to do the impossible at times. And to do it for free. While we do our best to turn your work into something publishable, we can’t be your mentor or life coach. We simply don’t have the time or can’t afford to. Our time is money. Me? I will cut you off after the 20th followup email of the week. 
2. No, I don’t have to love your book to edit it. This is my personal experience, but I’m sure other editors share similar experiences. During an edit, I edit and turn in 30 pages at a time instead of waiting to finish the whole book. It's to save them from feeling bombarded. Whenever I turn in my edit, I get the same reaction almost every time. They say, “You don’t have to edit my book if you hate it so much.”

Um...what? 
Here’s my answer to all of them. I am a professional editor. My personal preferences do not dictate how I do my job. And if I thought it was perfect and loved it to death, what is there for me to edit? Writer, please. This is personal to you, but it’s not personal to me. Let us all be professional about it. It is a business. Unless you plan to give your books away for free, then it’s a hobby. Otherwise, grow thicker skin and let me do my job. I promise that I will do my best to improve your book, not change it.
3. But my book is special. Yes, everyone feels that their books are special, unique, and should be published. So do I. I think my book should be the next number 1 on NY Bestseller list. But I’ve learned to distinguish fantasy from reality. Some writers haven’t. They go into a fit when they receive their first negative feedback, even after hiring an editor. I’d assume that people hire editors because they acknowledge their shortcomings and lack of the ability to self-edit. Why would you pay good money to hire an editor who won't fix anything? And if you don't agree with the suggestions, you don't have to keep them. It's your book. You have the last say on how it will be written. The end.
So grow thicker skin. I’ve said it millions of times before. Honestly, the process is a simple one. Learn as much as possible and write it the best you can. Then send your books off to alpha/beta readers to get feedback, revise like crazy, and hire an editor for the final polish. Don't go into a tirade because an editor pointed out your love of run-on sentences or comma splices. Expect contructive criticism. Expect your MS to come back with markups. Expect an editor to show you how things can be changed. If you’re expecting fabulous praises and kisses and hugs, you shouldn’t hire an editor. 
I refuse to lie or stroke anyone’s ego to save feelings. Not even for money. Well...maybe for a million dollar check. Never mind. Anyway, this is how I roll. This is my life as an editor. My usually day is spent buried in manuscripts and hundreds of client emails. Not as fancy as you thought, right? Still, it's so wonderful when I make that special connection with a writer. From the moment we begin brainstorming and exchanging ideas to reading their final revision after my input was applied, it's an exciting journey. I believe that every book can be revised, rewritten, and edited to near perfection. When that stage is reached, both my client and I feel the satisfaction that no one but other editors and writers can comprehend. And that's what motivates me to go on editing.

If you want to see what I can do as an editor, get a free, 3-page sample edit from me. I’ll let my work speak for itself, not my ability kiss asses. Visit my editor website for more information on my editing service. Thanks for reading~ 


Disclaimer: Because of my job, I'm constantly attacked by the Grammar Nazis. This is my personal blog, which I choose to share with the public, not a text book. I regularly start my sentences with conjunctions, end with prepositions, and even use contractions. I even use sentence fragments for impact. Like this. Someone mentioned my tense issues and unnecessary article use. So I had to reiterate the fact that this is a casual post. Conversational and easy to read. And like tweets and emails, I don't think it's required to be perfect. So...that's it. Just needed to say it to save those people time from pointing out the obvious. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Twitter Writetip & EditTip Collection #9

Here's the 9th collection of my Twitter writing and editing tips. As always, I had to make them short due to the space limit. If you have any question, just leave it in the comment section or tweet me. And if you're interested in my editing service, please visit my editor website. Thanks for visiting~

If your book has an ordinary/simple plot, don't stretch it into a series just for the sake of it. Not every book has a rich, epic plot.
A rule of thumb. Don't use 25 words to say something that can be said with 5. Learn to be succinct. Delete. #stabbylove #writetip
Disguise them with commas and dashes all you want. They're still run-on sentences. You're not fooling me. -_- #stabbylove
Comma splices are the most common problem for writers. When in doubt, just break up the sentence. Don't stick commas everywhere! #writetip
Creative writing is much more than spelling/grammar. Hence, an English teacher doesn't mean an editor. Look up substantive editing. #EditTip
I can always tell a newbie writer from the amount of purple prose they use. I don't care how sunlight shone through the window! #stabbylove
Can you imagine if LOTR was written with a bunch of flowery, purple prose? Save for literary fiction where it may fit. #writetip #EditTip
Writers afraid of getting beta readers in fear of story being stolen. Um...nothing is original. It's all been written. It's how you execute.
Back to #amediting. I'm constantly amazed at a writer's inability to use Search/Find function to check some words for over usage. #writetip
Visualize what your characters are doing before you write. Clearly. Don't just write random words that come to mind. #stabbylove
I want to know what the protagonist looks like within first few pages. No info. dumping, just the physical characteristics. Is it just me?
Age appropriate theme & language may seem elusive regarding YA and YA crossover. But remember that children are your audience. #stabbylove
So far, my morning bathroom read was full of "I'm sad," he said sadly, in a sad voice. Lemme guess. He's sad? Ptooie. I need a shower.
Honestly, writers, READ YOUR MS OUT LOUD. It's important to check the fluidity of your words! Well-written words SOUND good, too. #writetip
Assign dialogue tags and action tags to the right speaker/do-er. Those by a different character needs to be in another line. #writetip
Don't rely on comparisons, metaphors, or cliches. You're a writer. Write clear, vivid descriptions in your own words. #stabbylove #writetip
Distinguish between FARTHER & FURTHER. Farther has "far" it it, so it's physical distance. The other is the metaphorical distance. #writetip
1)Writers. Don't ever use superlative in absolutes like "dead." You're either alive or dead. Never most dead or deadest. #writetip #stabbylove
2)Yeah. Especially when you can't use "most" and "iest" together. It's either or. They just won't learn... #stabbylove
1)Once I read a MS that went on and on about the room with unnecessary descriptions. Thought I was reading Architectural Digest. #stabbylove
2)Why should I care if an old, faded curtain in 3 shades of reds hung 5 inches, neatly over a 3x3 wood-framed window? Move on! #stabbylove
Don't let your prejudices or stereotyping bleed into your books unless your character is a bigot. Ignorance and bad grammar make bad books.