Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Editor or Not?

Okay, so now you've sent the manuscript to your critique partners and gotten lots of feedback. You worked super hard to make sure you did the changes that needed made. It probably feels like you worked your hind end off.

Well, you did.

Now, you probably want to send it to a publisher. Here's the quandary: an editor or self?

My humble opinion, which is just that, is that you should go with an editor.

That being said, I have nothing against self-publishing. If SP works for you, then you should go that route. For me, going to an editor was the best thing (short of becoming a reviewer) that I could do.

Here's a secret: editors want to publish your work. Really, they do. They want to find that next big story, that story that touches their heart, or that one story they feel is special. They want to publish your work. The more work they send to be published, the more money they make. But that's not the only reason they do it. They want to help you succeed.

But you may be saying, editors only chop up your work. Depends on how you look at it. Some people write and edit their own work and feel its fine as is. Each writer does have a specific voice and too many "cooks" can change that voice, but there are occasions when you can be too close to your work. No, I don't mean your face is stuck to the computer screen or covered in ink from your hen scratching. I mean, you can know your work so well that you fill in words and meanings where they might not be clear. You know what's going to happen so you don't see the holes or wordiness.

That's where the editor comes in. Editors want you to shine, but they also know when to cut the wheat from the chaff. Some writers write very basically. Get the facts out and do it quick. Some writers write every little instance in the characters lives. Don't leave out a thing.

I can tell you, I've been guilty of both. I can also tell you that both can be detrimental to your story. If you leave out too many details, the reader can find the story disjointed and hard to follow. Editors will point that out. If you put in too much, the reader can get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the story. Editors will help you cut that down.

For me, my editor Cindy was a Godsend. She showed me where to cut little details that weren't needed and pointed out where the Point of View wasn't as strong. Let me tell you, it helped.

Another thing that she helped me with, is she pointed out where the reader might feel cheated by the story. If you recall, I wrote in a previous post that occasionally writers put characters in a "too stupid to live" situation. Editors will help you see that and correct it.

Now that I've preached today, tomorrow I'll touch on that painful thing called rejection: "it's an interesting story, but not what we want". It hurts but rejections and calls for resubmissions can be helpful in the long run.



Marianne Arkins said...

I've heard both sides of this story from people who have done both types of publishing. Mostly they site the increased royalties on self-pubbed work.

While I realize there are some gems out there that are self-published, most are poorly edited and have negligible plots and characterizations. And, thusly, self-publishing has a bad name

I'm a firm believer that you can't proficiently edit yourself. I also like the idea of letting someone else help me market (like one of my publishers, Samhain, who does a fabulous job with marketing). I figure their part of my cover price pays for that, right?

I'm sure there are self-pubbed authors out there who can give you the whys and wherefores. I don't write it off for some folks. But for me? I'll go with a publisher.

Wendi Zwaduk and Megan Slayer said...

I agree 100%. I think my best work came about because I had others look at it.

I know when I finish a manuscript, i think it's the best thing i've ever written and it might be good, but it's never the great thing it could be until someone else points out the things i missed.