Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Editing

Once was the time when I could churn out ten pages of writing a day. Doing so piled up nearly a dozen full length books and even more short stories, though I personally don't care for short stories. In my drive to tell stories, some of them simply ended after like five pages. For the life of me, I have no idea on how to make them longer - so, they will stay short, and someday I'll publish a book of short stories. Who knows, maybe I'll do that next. Hmmm now that's an idea.

But I digress - I seem to do that a lot lately.

Anyway - about editing. Since my writing has been mostly taken over by editing, it has become something of a habit. Even when I read a story on my kindle, I frequently see things that should have been treated differently somehow. A lot of the time, putting away my editor in order to enjoy a good book, is really quite hard. That doesn't keep me from recognizing a good story when I see one, and I've seen many.

Recently, a friend of mine posted in an FB group I belong to. She was concerned about mediocre reviews she'd received on her book. I offered to take a look, and since it was my offer, I wasn't about to charge her. I know - I'm never going to make a living by editing if I keep doing it for free, but really, I'd much rather see a good story made better than earn a buck. I'm a long way from earning a living this way anyway.

I was especially dismayed when I learned that my friend had already paid for an editor. I understand that many editors charge different prices for different levels of editing. I found a good page that describes it all here. I charge $1 a page, which puts my price range among the lowest on that page. However all I have is my passion for a well written story that doesn't raise any questions as I read along. So I guess I do most everything mentioned on that page short of the rewrites mentioned there. I have done a few ghost writes though.

What troubled me was that it seemed like her editor did little more than look for the cool little red and green squiggly lines. And while I leaned heavily on those when I first started writing (I learned a lot doing that), an editor really does need to give a manuscript a careful read-through in order to find those pesky little typos that aren't misspelled. I did find a couple of those that would have been easily caught if read. I wasn't looking for typos so much yet. I wanted all those questions answered first. In my book, first comes the story, then comes the mechanics.

I want the story to remain yours, so any questions that arise as I read along, I ask. My asking tells you that you missed something, just as any changes I make say the same thing. My goal is to help you develop your story to a point where it is a clear movie inside your reader's head. Only then can a reader truly enjoy the story. Questions and jarring inconsistencies diminish a good story.

Freelance editors abound of recent years, or maybe they were always around and I just wasn't around enough to run across them. And checking their credentials isn't all that easy, which is why I do ask for a comment on my website. I don't ask for a good review, it is important to me that I get an honest review. For any editor you want to hire, you need to make the effort to look into their credits. I don't have any education to support my editing. All I have is a passion for good writing, and what I've learned on the internet from other writers who are more knowledgeable than I am. When I go through a manuscript, all I have to offer is my opinion, and the hope that it helps. I find it frustrating that other editors seem to think only of the dollar.

This isn't the only time I've read through a book that had already been edited. The first time, I told the guy he needed to ask for his money back. I have no idea if he ever did, but he sure was embarrassed by the major mistakes I found. Whole plot holes and typos - that was years ago now and I don't remember what all I found in that book, but I do remember that it was pretty bad. I didn't know how to use the track changes feature back then, all I remember was that I would send him an email every time I ran across something, giving him page number and telling him what I found. I was sending him an email or two every day. It was still rather astonishing to me that he'd actually paid an editor for what I was reading. I've come across this a few times since. I find it rather sad really. Sometimes, I feel like I'm alone in my passion for good writing - good writing wherever I find it - not just my own.

Well, it's time to get back to my passion and my obsession. Happy writing, people. Remember to do your homework when hiring that editor. Now, I think I'm going to head over to my personal blog and write a post there. Check it out. Every day is an adventure around here. Well, almost every day is. :D

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2 comments:

Kayla Shown-Dean said...

Great post, Anna! Unfortunately, too many authors either aren't aware or underestimate the power of quality editing.

William Kendall said...

I do some freelance editing. I've seen examples of books that were supposedly edited, but still mistakes were easily found.