Prematurely Hiring Editors
Yes, I’ve blogged about this topic a few times but it’s worth repeating. Some writers seek editorial input prematurely. Unless you hope to work with an editor over time, one willing to help you craft and revise and an expensive venture, you likely fall into the ‘I have just so much extra money to invest in my passion.’ If that’s you, hold the urge to hire an editor.
In the last three years, my clients have fallen into two groups: Those ready for the next level of input and those who weren’t. Editors aren’t cheap. Writers should look for a developmental editor only when they have worked the manuscript to the absolute best of their ability without overworking some parts and under working others. They should have had the manuscript vetted via critique by a peer group and even read by a few trusted beta readers with good eyes tracking the narrative through line.
Recently, I attended an event that featured White Oleander’s Janet Finch and essayist & author Pico Iyer discussing the writing process.
A few comments I scribbled as Mr Iyer interviewed Ms Fitch about her upcoming November 2017 release of The Revolution of Marina M , a novel that took this best selling author ten years to write.
- Ms. Fitch’s best advice she’s received and always passes along to her students (she loves to workshop/teach): Get the ‘I’ out of your novels.
Mr Iyer’s credits also read like a Who’s Who. Here’s his answer re: ‘killing your darlings’:
- Imagine a gorgeous woman in an orange bikini at a dinner party. She’s gorgeous but a distraction. That’s why you edit those out of your work.
In these last few years, four clients have published books after working with me. Here’s what they had in common:
- They knew they had developed it enough to be in the vicinity of their intention that inspired the story.
- They also sensed something wasn’t right.
These writers had all previously published, two of them multi-published over many years. Ego did not factor in. While they had received many thumbs up from their writing circles, they all sensed their stories (fiction and non fiction) needed something that was still missing. In some cases, they had spent enough time pitching via query letters to agents and had received enough rejections to reconsider portions or the whole of their works.
When you hire an editor to travel with you for at least 6 months, your story is near traveling shape. Or should be. For writers in draft mode who may be receiving accolades for the work-in-progress, I offer a Read & Critique service that is less of an investment than the fees for developmental editing. Should I think your story is closer to pitching than you thought it was, a quality problem, I will help craft and edit your query letter, also included in the fee. If this interests you, click here.
Watch your egos, writers. We are so hungry and eager to share our projects with the reading world, sometimes our glasses fog up. Authors like Janet Fitch devote years of their lives to getting the story right. With White Oleander she told the audience about that editor in a major house who told her that while the narrative arc was readable, her sentence structure was uninspiring to read. After Janet healed her bruised ego, she made sure that editor didn’t deliver that critique again.
Writing books worth reading requires mastery level talent. Don’t be in a hurry. Get it right, writers. Even if you are only using the book to promote your business, it represents you and your business on the page so make sure it’s a marketing tool you proudly display.