I thought I’d leave some thoughts on editing. I’ve done a lot of editing over the years, but only recently started working for independent authors as anything more than a CP. I also write my own books. Let me say two things:
I’m not Hemingway. Neither are you.
We all have giant blind spots when it comes to our own work. Editors need editors, just like doctors need doctors. I will literally leave words out of sentences and not notice it because I’m reading a story I’ve already learned by heart. The cure for this little editing issue is reading it aloud. Try this with every and all writing you do. Then get an editor after you fix those mistakes. There will be more. Here’s my mantra:
“Grammar issues are like cockroaches. If you see one, there are a hundred more hidden inside.”
Plot holes, backward arguments, repetitive chapters or bad dialogue will get the red-pen treatment from an editor. Listen to that editor.
Don’t tell me it’s authentic; it’s your style; it’s the only way…because it’s not. A few cute, voice-y quirks are style. If you continue those into your narrator too much, or have too many independent clauses or prepositional phrases, your MS is crying for editing.
And like it or not the editor is going to turn your first chapter red, even though you had it ready to submit to an agent. You’re gut response that the editor’s wrong. Mine was. I can’t imagine you’re that different than I am. But, here’s the thing: I don’t argue with the editor. I accept the criticism, fix the grammar, even moving paragraphs around, and cutting what needs to come out.
I’ve asked an editor to stop making a specific changes twice.
- Olivia’s narration voice needed contractions in narration as a first person point of view MG/YA novel.
- The second revolved around a plot change initiated by the editor. I wanted my character driven journey of personal transformation to remain love triangle free. I simply felt that a love triangle that made brothers compete for an unobtainable woman, when one of the brother’s was homosexual, would create more strife than the personal journey could absorb without adding even more length to my 130K draft. Yeah. I know it’s long. IT NEEDS EDITED.
These choices were a risk on my part. I let them stew for a week before making the decision to ask for the editors to stop working on these particular changes because the editor has a lot of experience. Then I initiated the other changes and let it stew for months before calling them good.
I’m an independent author. I take responsibility for my book. It’s my book, and there’s no publisher catching my mistakes. I let the manuscript go out into the world in the condition it’s in, just like this post. If I tell the editor to stop working on any specific part of a book, I take responsibility for reviews or dings for that part.
As a viable critique partner of many, and as someone who has been torn into by CPs and editors, let me say: don’t be precious with your writing, always be grateful for someone’s time. Ruminate on the changes made for an extended period. I’ve had
- Authors argue style sheets with me. Authors, make sure you know what a style sheet is before attempting this.
- Editors overhaul my work and make me cry. The changes helped so much.
- Editors make extremely good choices I couldn’t make myself.
- Editors make a piece say things that I wasn’t saying. (Ruminate and discuss, don’t argue in the first week after you’ve received feedback.)
- Editors give good advice that I had to think about a month before implementing because I was too hurt or in love with my work to see their point on first blush. It would take me a year to get the kind of distance they have for never having written the manuscript in the first place.
No matter the situation I follow two very important rules:
1) Thank the editor or CP. They put time and effort into my work. Thank you from the murky bottom of my heart.
2) Never argue. I can think what I want, accept your changes or not, but I will never argue with my editor. They know best. I might not agree, and I might not accept all edits, but I will never. Ever. Argue with my editor.
Want more proof? (Don’t groan at the banter. Instead drop a penny in the hat if, you please.)
OK. So let’s say that you really don’t agree with the editing from start to finish. Even after you sleep on it, and ruminate, and grow some flowers on the grave of your once-beautiful-manuscript. What do you do? I’ll leave this to some professionals. Take a look at these links.
Remember, you had a sample edit from this editor before you hired them. You paid for this editing job, get the most you possibly can out of it. And for the sake of your readers and future sanity, please, take some time to see if your editor might be right.