Working with an Editor, Guest Post

.Working with an Editor

Working with an Editor is one of the needed parts of getting your story read to publish.

Today we welcome Adi Alsaid, the author of Somewhere Over the Sun. He has graciously written a guest post for us about his experience working with editors on his novel. For those of you who are afraid to work with an editor or who don’t know what possible benefit an editor can give you in the preparation of your book, read on. :) Don’t forget to visit his website and check out his novel.

While writing my debut novel, Somewhere Over the Sun, I’d send an updated manuscript to my two personal editors every other week and wait for them to tear me apart. I looked forward to their scrutiny, appreciating the straightforwardness of their comments to “cut” and the sentences they highlighted and labeled simply “awk.” They were sometimes brutal, if they needed to be, and we all understood it was for the good of the novel (though I’m sure they had a little more fun on that end than I did). I think if there’s one thing to be thankful for as a writer, it’s the ability to not be offended when an editor writes into your margin, “Eww. Get rid of this.” Of course, those edits are easier to bear when just a few lines later the same editor, someone whose literary opinion I greatly trust, is swooning and demanding of me: “Do not change this part. Ever!”

Working with an Editor

I had the incredible fortune of having two brilliant ladies work with me as editors throughout the writing of my debut novel (one stopped having the time to give me detailed notes about halfway through, although her occasional tweets assured me that she was still reading, still holding me accountable for quality, and that a glass of wine perfectly accompanied my novel). The one who stopped is an old friend, an incredibly talented writer with the education and the knowhow to not only move my commas around and put a leash on my fragments, but someone who had no problems scoffing at my mediocrity or lauding my greatness.

Editor number two was a very new acquaintance at the time, someone whom I trusted with my manuscript because she obviously shared my passion and love for language, had an English degree from a well-respected university, had real-world publishing experience and big-six editorial aspirations, was obviously extremely intelligent and hard-working, and to be perfectly frank, she was someone I simply wanted to be around often, someone whose opinion of my writing, for whatever reason, mattered to me.

I am eternally grateful and indebted to both of them, my dear personal editors, for their insights, dedication, time, genuine care for my work and a billion other ways they helped make my novel better.

I could have just powered through the first draft, then sent it off to them and wait for the notes before continuing on with re-writes. But receiving their notes throughout the writing process helped me improve parts of the novel that had yet to be written. Thanks to them, I was rewriting before my words even showed up on the computer screen, I was holding myself up to a higher standard before even sending them anything to correct. Kurt Vonnegut once made a distinction between two kinds of writers: “Swoopers write a story quickly…then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one.” I was a basher, and they were the safety net of a future that swoopers rely on. If I let something slip that was not good enough, I was confident that the next set of notes from them would include the comment, “tighten” and remind me to not be vague.

The beauty of working with an editor.

After three months, I had completed my first draft. I took a two-day break then I re-wrote for several hours every single day for a month straight, clicking back and forth between editors’ notes and the chapter-by-chapter run down of strengths and weaknesses. I went through every single comment, sometimes being a stubborn artist and ignoring a minor suggestion or three, but more often than not, I placed my trust in their judgment, and there is no doubt in my mind that my novel is better off for it.
Proof of that is the last round of editing my novel received. When asked if a copy edit was not enough and a more thorough revision of the manuscript was required, the freelance editor hired by the self-publishing company I used replied: “…I wanted to keep reading and I was laughing and wrapped up in the storyline instead of noticing any glaring editorial needs.”
I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished in Somewhere Over the Sun and I think that is a testament not necessarily just to my novel, but also to the painstaking, passionate and knowledgeable contributions of my editors, without whom my book would, quite simply, not be as good.

Author Bio

Adi Alsaid graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in Marketing, but spent the majority of his time there reading and writing fiction. Somewhere Over the Sun is his debut novel and was written in Monterey, CA. He was born and raised in Mexico City to Israeli parents whose love and support made this book possible. Adi is usually unsure of how long he will remain at any given address, but chances are he is living somewhere in the northwestern hemisphere. He hopes this book brings his readers even a sentence’s worth of happiness.

About the Novel

The story follows Alan, a spirited young writer with a wandering imagination who has discovered that the stories he writes are suddenly coming to life. At the suggestion of his loving father, Alan embarks on a quixotic journey to visit friends and use his newfound gift to write them all happier lives.

Author website: www.somewhereoverthesun.com
Twitter: twitter.com/adialsaid
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Adi-Alsaid-author-of-Somewhere-Over-the-Sun/117746478273611

Working with an editor should be on the top of your to-do list

How to Approach an Editor

When your book is ready for an editor, you’ve reached the next stage in your book’s development. If you’ve never done this before, it can be exciting. Daunting. Intimidating, even. How do you go about it?

Here are my recommendations based on how I like to be approached.

Don’t be afraid to make contact. Most editors will have a way to contact them on their websites. Mine is here: Contact me. Fill it out and tell me about your project. Be honest about what kind of editing you feel you need. If you’re not sure, look through the editor’s site… most likely, they’ll have a page that describes the type of editing they do (mine is here). Sometimes they’ll even list their pricing here, like I do. Sometimes they won’t.

Usually, the editor will get back to within a reasonable amount of time (I try to respond to emails within a day or two at most). This can begin a dialogue about your project, your budget, and the time frame your project will take.

Some editors only work on one project at a time, while others (like me) work on multiple projects at once. While this can slow me down at times, it also keeps my prices lower, since my budget costs are spread across several clients instead of just one. It’s up to you to choose an editor who works the way you want them to work.

Once an agreement is reached with your editor, your manuscript needs to be sent in the type of file you’ve both agreed upon. I like to work with Microsoft Word files. I find that most people have a version of that program and most platforms for publication or submission accept them in some form. If you use one of those cloud open source word processing programs, they can transfer to Word, but be aware that sometimes not all of the formatting will transfer and you may have some things lost in translation between you and your editor or you may end up with lots of artifacts in the file that have to be removed. Every program is different.

Some editors will go through the entire file before they return it, others prefer to work in chunks. I’m pretty flexible and will do it either way you choose.

Remember that you’ll probably fly through your edits faster than the editor… you’re mostly accepting changes while they’re carefully considering what needs to be changed and why. If you have a question or comment, make them. You don’t have to accept everything blindly and you shouldn’t. If you don’t understand why an editor suggests a certain change, ask. If you don’t agree, challenge them. If they can back it up with the Chicago Manual of Style, they probably have a point. If they’re changing it just because they would write it differently and it changes your voice, you don’t have to accept it. There’s a difference between following accepted publishing guidelines and changing the author’s voice. That being said, there’s a difference between blindly accepting the author’s voice and disregarding accepted publishing and story telling guidelines. It’s a two way street.

The relationship between an author and an editor is intricate. One is changing the creative work of the other. At the same time, those changes should be for the better. These changes should tighten the work, bring out the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses. They should make the author look their best. The editor should be invisible. We’re the set dresser, the makeup artist, the costumer, all rolled into one as we prepare the author for their debut. The author is the star.

So choose your editor wisely. Not every pairing is perfect. Your editor has to be content to stay in the background. Sure, we appreciate a mention on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ (along with a link to our website and undying gratitude LOL). It may help bring more clients our way and help us pay next month’s bills. We appreciate a nice blurb to put on our sites from another satisfied customer. All in all, however, we remain behind the scenes. You’re the one in front of the audience. Your book represents you. More than anything, the editor you choose should care that your book reflects well on you.

Editors Are Vital — Guest Post

Today’s post is by another client of mine, Shane Scollins. Shane is the author of Legacy Rising, The Game, and several other thrilling reads. If you haven’t read any of his books yet, you should pick one up.

By Shane Scollins

Writing a book is a solitary undertaking. As writers, we live inside our heads, listening to voices, and becoming random and often insane characters. We put a lot of time and effort into creating worlds and plots and all the things that make a great story. But without a good editorial eye, the story won’t be worth the broken keys on our laptops.

Editors are a vital cog in the gears of the novel creation machine. They are a key link between creating a story, and getting a polished book to the public. We want to believe we are good enough to get by without an editor. After all, today’s software programs are good enough to catch most basic mistakes. However, the reality is that no matter how good we think we are, and no matter how good we really are, there is no substitute for the second or third pair of eyes of another human. We need help from someone who can be both clinical and creative to help hammer our story into form. That’s exactly what an editor does.

A great editor can be the difference maker, because let’s face it, we can’t always be objective when it comes to our own work. We are simply too close to it. It’s not a matter of being a good (or bad) writer, it’s a matter of being an author. We all make mistakes and we all need the help of a professional editor. I’m a firm believer that producing a book is a team effort and the editor is an essential part of that.

I’ve heard a lot of writers express great dread over editing process. I have to say that I’ve never really been one of them. For the most part, I’ve had positive experiences with editors. Of course, I’m not one of those writers married to every word I write. There have been very few times when an editor suggested something that I disagreed with. I can usually see their point, and if not, I usually defer to them anyway because I’ve learned the wisdom of detaching my emotion from the process.

As writers, we want to protect everything we write. We want to believe that every word is vital to the story. But that’s not always the case. Readers are not always going to notice everything we do, they often gravitate to parts of the story we never intended them to become invested in. That’s what makes an editor so important. There are going to be parts of our stories that we may not be as fanatical about, but that readers will notice. The editorial process will ferret out all those nuances that only readers will discern.

If you are one of those writers that balls up with anxiety over the editing process, try not to worry. You’ll get through it. No matter if you’re working with the same editor, or a new editor, the key word is working. Writing is a job, and not every part of a job is going to be easy. Sometimes you’re going to have to default to another part of your team and give up some control for the sake of a good story. If you treat the editing process as just another aspect of your job, it won’t be nearly as stressful. Editors are not out to make your life miserable, they’re trying to make your story the best it can be. It’s never personal.

Remember, it’s the story that matters to you, and If you want the story to matter to the readers, work with a professional editor. Your readers will thank you.

Shane Scollins is a freelance writer and Amazon best selling author. Originally from New Jersey, he now resides in Upstate New York with his wife, Heather. He has a degree in computer science and has worked as an automotive service manager, a website developer, and a computer network engineer. In his spare time he enjoys playing ice hockey, riding his mountain bike, and strumming on his guitar. Primarily a SciFi and paranormal novelist, Shane enjoys taking readers on surprising and unexpected journeys that twist reality. He is currently working on his next book.

You can find out more about Shane at his website, http://www.shanescollins.com/