PUBLISHING DIARY: Conversations with an editor! As I was spending time today going through the various issues found by my editor in the first seven chapters of Beyond 2: Conversion, when I thought that others might wonder what this process is like or what a good model for it would be.
On the surface, having anyone review something you’ve written and critique it is a fairly scary thing! Most of us get our papers marked with lots of red ink while we are in school, and so the possibility of signing up for that voluntarily can be an experience ranking right up there with a root canal! So, how do you do this so you don’t repeat the horrible experiences from school?
First, read through the work yourself and make a best attempt to take care of the mistakes, yourself. You won’t be as embarrassed if you know that you are not offering your editor or editors something that is basically “first draft.” Second, put your ego on the shelf. This is the “safe space” to get taps on the shoulder about your choice of “discrete” when it should have been “discreet.” Having someone mock you in a review on Amazon or Smashwords is not the place to have that experience. This is a gift. Finally, you don’t have to accept everything they say. Sometimes, even when the characters could use proper English, it would be wrong for them to do so. Usually, everything is negotiable, but editors enjoy hearing things like “great catch!” and “wow, that’s so much better now, thanks!”
But what’s the process? How do you actually carry it off? Do they just dump a bloodied copy in front of you and walk away in disgust? No. Let’s talk about a framework that functions very well for me…
- Talk Directly – I’ve had very successful sessions with my editors in person or on the phone. Usually, the in person meeting can be longer, but a hour or two is really the most anyone can carve off for you. Be respectful of other people’s time and schedule.
- Small Bites – Again, keep the sessions short. The more time people spend on a project without a break, the crankier and shorter with one another they get. Don’t do that – like I said, one or two hours at most.
- Landmarks – Find a good way to find things. “Go to the 133rd paragraph of chapter 3, sentence 16” just doesn’t work. Here’s a tip – four or five words in a sentence is probably good enough for you to “Find” using MS Word or some other tool’s find command. This is a critical time saver.
- Praise and Contend – When they spot something that you really should have spotted, that’s a “Great Catch!” If they suggest that something is at your discretion, consider it. If you’re not sure, make a mark and look at it later (in private, alone). If they aren’t sure, take a moment and Google it! “Define discrete” for example can clear up any dispute on that word. Easily done. Also, editors should get a nod in the book – just saying.
“But I need more! I need to really see it for myself!” You might say this, but … no. We can’t do that. However, I have constructed this handy little dialogue with my editor as an example to help.
“Okay, the next one is in Chapter 3 in the paragraph that starts with She felt her way down the passage.”
“Okay, I found it. What am I looking for?”
“Find the sentence that starts, Her head was filled with fire.”
“Okay, got it!”
“You said that she felt as if she didn’t know what to turn to in order to ask for help. Did you really mean who to turn to and ask? What is usually for things.”
“Aww!! Right! Okay, that one slipped past me – awesome catch! Sounds great. I fixed it. Thank you. Next one?”
“Sure! Now, the next one is in the paragraph that starts The tattered leaves fell…”
And so it goes! Fix by fix, change by change! This is our routine. It’s great, it provides feedback; it fixes things! So, there is a little piece of what happens when I’m talking to my editors. If you can find good editors or find someone who is willing to try, think about what I’ve put in this blog! Hopefully, it will help!
See you in the future,