Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Writing Boom and the value of a good editor

When I made my appointment with the editor for my next book, she told me there has been a writing boom. Every author or would-be author has been taking advantage of the enforced downtime to be creative. Getting onto her schedule has required more planning than in the past. I'm delighted for her (she's an excellent editor). For me, that means working to a deadline more than I have in the past. Normally, I'm ahead of my deadlines anyway - a good position to be in. Now I actually have to figure out how long it will take me to write the next book and "book it" months in advance.

I have been with my editor through "sweet" sixteen books. I've tried other editors randomly, one at the beginning (we were NOT a good fit) and another one somewhere in the middle. The thing about editors is having a relationship where you trust their judgment and their industry knowledge. I have an excellent critique group that frequently catches my miscues and has helped me refine my craft, but we are a diverse group. We write different genres, so some of the comments I get don't "cross genres." As with any form of criticism, I often furrow my brow and grumble under my breath until I realize the value of what they're trying to tell me, but sometimes they're just flat out wrong. How much of that is arrogance on my part? That right there - that's where I value my editor the most. I've been writing long enough to know when a critique is spot on (whether I like it or not) and when to disregard the comment. Then there are times when I second-guess myself, and having an editor in my genre who knows "the rules" I'm supposed to abide by is invaluable. For those comments that make me grumbly and I disagree with, it's nice to have validation. 

Editors provide different services, and the other thing about finding "the right" editor is one who complements your skills. No one person is infallible. I have been known to make mistakes, as one of my former coworkers so kindly pointed out on one of my previous blog posts. Editors fall into that category, as well. As a proofreader at the day job, I often ran across instances where five different people overlooked the same mistake. It happens. For that reason, I proof my books several different ways - on screen, on paper, with a narrator. And when I'm done, I read it again. Almost every pass, another mistake will pop up. It happens. I like to believe the multiple passes with the varied ways to force myself to either see or hear the words instead of skimming (because I know what it's suppose to say) help to eliminate the majority of them. Proofreading is a strength of mine. I lean on my editor for different skills - developmental editing and industry knowledge. As a matter of course, she will point out the mechanical errors as well, as she runs across them, but I don't rely on her to catch that stuff. She becomes "the second set of eyes." 

With all that being said, I can say without any hesitation that my books are better for having a professional editor. Thanks, Kelly. And happy sweet sixteen.

1 comment:

  1. Doing your own editing passes is important, but professional eyes on the manuscript is critical. Proofreading isn't editing. When my editor of I-don't-know-how-many books was no longer taking clients, and I had to find a new one, getting that "fit" was a task, and there's a period of adjustment for the different way she works. One thing I've learned is no matter how "good" the editor is, the manuscript still needs at least one more pass before I let it out the door.