Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Editor Experience -- Words from the Edited

Blowing your own trumpet sometimes has to be done – but how nice it is when other people sing your praises instead. This is a fascinating blog post from a Fiction Feedback customer, David Rashleigh, whose work we recently edited.

The Value of a Good Editor

I have to admit it: I was dreading it. The return of my latest work from the editor was not something I was looking forward to. At best, it heralded weeks of re-work; at worst the possibility of a complete re-write just so that the whole thing makes sense.

A good editor does not come cheap. Not unreasonably, they expect to be paid for the time and effort that they put into your work. For that reason, as much as anything, indie authors often don’t bother. Boy, does it show sometimes. I try to do my bit for other indies; if their book piques my interest I’ll happily download a copy (especially if they’re giving it away) but there are times when the lack of an editor has ruined what would otherwise be an excellent book.

Chief among the sins are spelling, grammar and punctuation. There’s only one letter difference between “affluent” and “effluent” yet the meanings are somewhat different. Aberrant apostrophes abound. Some can’t tell the difference between “there”, “their” and “they’re”, but an editor can remove silly errors such as these, making your work look professional.

But there’s more to it than that. A male author, like myself, should employ a female editor if the book is intended for general readership. What a man thinks is sexy, or exciting, might just be a complete turn-off for the ladies and getting that alternative viewpoint is absolutely essential. Any editor is reading your story for the first time and can point out flaws in the plot that you haven’t spotted, because you already know how the story turns out and can make the mental leaps required to reach the conclusion.

My own experience has been instructive. I hadn’t realised, but I tend to lapse into the day job style of writing. My novel ends up sounding like a report. I’m also fond of repeating certain phrases. There were inconsistencies in the plot, and I learned about a whole new tense. Pluperfect, anybody?

Now is my opportunity to plug my editor. Dea Parkin of Fiction Feedback has done sterling work on Mindblower: Assassin. There is no doubt that the book is vastly improved as a result of her efforts. What’s more, she made many of the changes to the manuscript herself; using the review facility in MS Word allows her to make the corrections whilst pointing them out. By doing it this way, I’m already more than half way through the basic rework, with the plot issues to tackle next.

In summary, if you want to be a published author, get yourself a good editor. If you can’t afford a professional, at least find a fellow indie and offer to edit each other’s work.

In a few weeks, you’ll be able to judge for yourself the quality of my work, and Dea’s. I would like to think that you’ll be impressed.

Thanks, Dea.