Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Being Professionally Edited

Scott D. Parker

One of the key steps for any author is to have one’s work read by a non-friend or a non-family member. You know, to get the unbiased take on your work.

A fellow author friend of mine highly recommended the editor she uses. My friend said, “Oh, you’ll love her. She’s really good.” On that kind of praise, I called up the editor and we worked out a deal. I dropped off the manuscript for my first novella that I’ll be publishing next year a little over three weeks ago and I met with her yesterday. Now, I’ve known writers who, at the time of letting their manuscripts out into the world or, as in this case, out to a non-relative/friend, balk or have a little worry. Did I have that worry? Not at all. You see, any manuscript can be fixed and made better. I joked leading up to yesterday that I was hoping to land somewhere on the scale of “This is the thing I’ve ever read” down to “Please, just put down the pen and walk away.”

As expected, I was somewhere in that range. We met yesterday at a nice little cafe here in Houston, the Heights to be exact. It was raining but not cold. We met, chit-chatted about things, and general getting-to-know-you stuff. Then we got down to it. I had delivered my novella in hard copy, double-sided. It was 65 pages or so. I got back the very same manuscript, marked up, and a good set of notes, also typewritten. Both were in a nice green folder. In addition, she delivered a list of instances when the various characters appeared and on which page. There was also a word list of various multiple uses of a word (towards and toward, for example; things I missed on my pass) and other things, like time-period accuracies (the yarn takes place in 1940). I got this word list both in alphabetical order as well as page order.

Before I cracked the folder, the editor told me that it was among the cleanest writing she had seen in a long time. Have to admit I enjoyed hearing that. There was a moment there, sitting in that booth, where my pride swelled a little. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? Then I opened the folder and saw the plethora of editorial marks. Whoa. If this was a clean manuscript, what must a unclean one look like.

But that’s her job, right? To edit. To make better. Believe me, I’ve scanned the edits and my manuscript, my book will be so much better for it. I also noticed a lot of check marks. I asked about those. Turns out, those were things she liked, whether it was turns of phrases, pacing, description, or whatever. Happily, there were a lot of check marks.

I got home last night and showed my wife the edits. In all, I had written the draft and then edited it myself (pass 1), my mom and dad edited it and bled all over it (pass 2), and my wife read it (pass 3) and made comments that didn’t appear in either of the first two passes. A fellow author friend of mine had also read it and given a thumbs up on it. Then I got my professional editing pass, number 4. My wife asked me, “So, now that you have that, after you make the changes, what’s next?”

What’s next? Well, I still need to develop a cover. I have a concept for this series. I am going to meet with a friend of mine who is a graphic artist. I will tell him what I’m envisioning and then send him off to work it up for me. Then the formatting of the ebook itself (I’m reading Zen of eBook Formatting by Guido Henkel--great book). Once those steps are done, I’ll have my new company’s website up and running. Then, come January 2015, once all the pieces are in place, the final step will be publication.

And the book will be out there in the world.

Exciting times.

Meanwhile, my own NaNovellaWriMo work is progressing nicely. My original goal was to finish my novella by 30 November. I'll make that, but I might beat that goal. There's an outside change I'll be done by Thanksgiving. 

How are y'all's NaNoWriMo projects coming along?

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Sounds like you are off to a good start. In my humble opinion, smart writers welcome the chance to make their manuscript better. I have a hard time understanding writers who think their work can't ever be improved.