Lessons from a writer: When are you ready for an editor?
I’ve been asked this question a lot, and there isn’t a single answer to it. The best answer is that your book is ready for an editor when you can’t improve on it anymore. In reality, that’s not a helpful answer because most writers can go back and revise and revise again. It’s difficult to put the manuscript down and call it finished. It’s never finished.
First, let me answer a question you might not be thinking: What does an editor look for in a manuscript? I’ve been asked this question a lot, too, so you might have thought of it. But, I’ll sum it up and go in more depth in a future blog post. An editor is accepting a project. Not a job. Not work. Not a paycheck. A good editor puts more than skill and talent in their work. Pride, passion, and respect are involved in this. It’s known that if you don’t like your job, you won’t be as good at it as the employee who loves his/her job. This is the same for an editor. For example, if I am not interested in the story, I will turn down the manuscript. It’s not because I think it’s awful; it’s because I want to love the story as much or almost as much as my partner, the author. If not, I know I won’t edit the manuscript to the best of my ability, and that’s unfair to the manuscript and the author. I’ve also turned down manuscripts riddled with so many errors, I know the author didn’t go through and revise the first draft. Your first thought might be “Isn’t that your job?” My job is to improve your manuscript. Not bandage it. Unless an editor reads a manuscript several times, he/she won’t ever properly edit it if it comes to them completely raw. Giving an editor more work only dilutes their reading experience, so while they’re rewriting your entire manuscript to switch tenses (which I’ve done), they’re missing a few things that would not have been missed if they were actually able to read it. Now, most editors will end up reading a manuscript more than once just so they can offer what they have to the manuscript in full, but you’re putting a lot of unnecessary work on your editor. Again, I’ll go into more detail in the future, but that’s generally what an editor might look for. Some editors will take on a mess of a manuscript without issue. I might not. I have before, but that won’t always be the case. I want to give you quality, and I expect to be the one who sees what you can’t. I don’t want to fix what you could have fixed on your own. That’s a waste of my time and a waste of your money. Okay, that wasn’t as short of a summary as I thought it would be. Whoops. 🙂
When you are ready for an editor, here’s a post I wrote about finding an editor that’s best for you. Naturally, I’d love to be your editor. So, here’s a link to my editing services page if you want to take a look while you’re here.
Anyway, we have a group panel today, and a few writers shared their thoughts on the matter.
How do you know your book is ready for an editor?
Since I am still not serious about publication, I am not sure I know the answer to this question. Though, I would suggest that you edit as much as you can yourself before sending it. Make it as perfect as you can so the editor can concentrate on things more important than typos and punctuation errors. I would also make sure the entire project is finished so the editor can see the whole picture and get a good sense of what you are trying to do with it. I wouldn’t run off sending paragraphs or even chapters to be edited unless you yourself don’t know what direction you are headed with your writing. -Robert Alvarez
How do I know my book is ready for editing? Well, my plan is to 1) Complete the first draft. This first draft will have been edited several times by me. 2) Submit it to at least two alpha readers. To me, alpha readers are people who know me personally and I can trust them for good, honest input. 3) Revise and edit based on alpha reader input. 4) Submit second draft to at least two beta readers. To me, beta readers are other writer friends I have made and I critique/edit their stuff and they agree to critique/edit my stuff. 5) Revise and edit based on beta reader input . 6) Submit final draft to the editor. -Steve Guglich
I have already handed my book over to Cayce for editing and gotten it back. I believed it was time to do so when after multiple revisions and edits of my own, I knew it still needed improvement but had no idea on now. I could not think of anything else that needed to be changed, so I needed another set of eyes to help me with that. Having somebody help me figure out what still needs changing and getting the book edited, which I knew I would need anyway, was basically killing two birds with one stone. -Eric Smolinski
Do you want to take part in a future interview of your own or in a group panel like this one? Click here.
Want to know more about this week’s panel?
Robert is a former homicide investigator. He enjoys long walks to the refrigerator and loves Texas Pecan Coffee. He is an amateur writer and shares his writing on Wattpad.
I am a writer of fantasy and science fiction. I’m working on my first fantasy series, The Veil Saga. My goal is to have it ready for print by the fall of 2017. To find out more about me and The Veil Saga, you can check out my website.
I am currently working on my first novel, a fantasy adventure called Accrue’s End: Pursuit. I also have a short story titled Sight Unseen that will be published in Collective Ramblings Vol 2. I’m still learning a lot about the writing process but am getting a lot of help from amazing people on Facebook.
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