Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good Advice From An Editor

As we continue to polish our sample chapters for prospective agents, I thought it might be a good idea to take some advice from a busy editor herself. Below are some great pointers from Paula M. Prior of Homunculus Editing Services

Before submitting to an editor, it's always a good idea to self-edit, redraft, and read your finished text out loud. If you make the manuscript the best you can at this stage, it will undoubtedly save you money.

Bear in mind, editing is not just about catching errors. Obviously, that is a function of copy-editing, and of course even after editing you will need a proofreader to catch any lingering errors that may have slipped in during your corrections.

Many of the comments you receive will relate to point of view, narrative voice, pace, characterisation, word choice, cliches, pleonasms, tautologies, immediacy, focus, continuity of style, plot etc. These are probably the most important contributions an editor will make. Whilst editors should do their best to help you eliminate errors in your writing, their role is not at all the same as an advanced spell-checker.

So, to recap, make sure you've spelled your characters' names right (and done so consistently throughout); check your use of capitalisation and make sure it's consistent. If you are uncertain, flag it up alongside the text, or email your queries to your editor.

With all levels of editing, you should be prepared to do some rewriting. Sometimes it will be the odd line or paragraph, but more often than not it's entire scenes. Some books (even those that are in pretty good shape) may even require complete redrafting. The choice is always the writer's, but please keep in mind that an editor is not likely (except in very rare circumstances) to just give you a pat on the back and advise you to hurry and release your book.

The process, as we recommend it, should be:

1) First draft;
2) Wait a few weeks;
3) Read first draft; make notes; make revisions;
4) Wait a few weeks;
5) Read aloud (preferably to someone else); get feedback; make notes;
6) Make revisions
7) Read aloud (or at least read it again, checking for errors);
8) Send it to your editor;
9) Read the editor's comments; accept/reject corrections; make revisions;
10) Submit any redrafted passages (or the whole redrafted book) if you feel you still need editorial input (note: there is an additional cost for this service); or read your revised book.
11) Send to your beta readers; consider any advice and implement changes;
12) Read it again!
13) Send it to your proofreader.
14) Read it again!!!
15) Format and preview. Check proofs.
16) Publish.

You are encouraged to stay in contact with your editor throughout the editing of your work. S/he should happy to answer queries before, during, and after the edit. You should not be making any changes to the text whilst the editor is editing your manuscript. Re-submissions at this stage can lead to confusion. Make a note of whatever you want to change and implement/discuss it with him/her once s/he has finished with your manuscript.

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