I received line edits from my editor yesterday. Hopefully these will be the final changes to my next book. Opening the edited manuscript is always a bit … *sharp intake of breath* Corrections? CORRECTIONS? You mean my work’s not perfect? How could you … but … oh. Yeah. OK.
Once I start reading through them, I swallow my pride and remember that I’m not perfect – how could I ever forget it? It’s something my wife and children remind me of on a daily basis. Anyway, those red marks and notes in the margin make sense. In fact, yes, they make a LOT of sense and what a great idea, that’ll work really well. That will make the story better. I should change that, it will make it flow.
And where would we be if we didn’t have someone to help us be better? In fact, I consider myself very lucky to have such a good editor. It’s fantastic to have someone experienced and knowledgeable who can step back and see everything from a different perspective; someone who can help to polish the manuscript. It isn’t about me, it’s about the final printed book and the reader, and how much they get out of reading it. If you are going to spend your money on my book, I have to make it the best it can be.
Recently there’s been much talk about self-publishing and print-on-demand. The proliferation of ereaders has made it easy for writers to publish their own manuscripts. I’m not going to blather about my opinions on this, but I can’t help wondering who edits their work? When I finish writing a novel, I’ve re-written and re-read it several times before I feel it’s in any state to be read by someone else. First reader is my wife – who might suggest a change or two. Second reader is always my agent – a tough but fair critic who says it like it is and usually reccommends a few changes. Then my editor suggests a few changes, then come the line edits with changes, then copyediting with changes then …. you see my point? It’s a collaborative effort. I don’t just push it to one side and say ‘done’. The manuscript is polished and polished and polished so that what the reader eventually sees is as good as it can be. So how does that work with the self -published novels? And how does the reader decide if it’s going to be worth their money? When the novel comes from a well-established publisher, they can be confident that the book has been through this editorial process.
So that’s what editors are for. They help us to make our books better. Those red marks are not something to be afraid of. They’re little demons that I have to embrace and, when I accept them, all I have to do is click the ‘accept change’ button to make them go away. And then the manuscript is that tiny bit better.
Still … I do love it when I see a swathe of pages with no edits at all. Ahhhh.
Oh, yeah, and I checked this post SO many times for spelling mistakes, just in case Gen reads it. There are probably a few superfluous words and places where I should delete to keep up the pace but, hey, no one other than me can put red marks on this blog.