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!”
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.
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.
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
John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.