I’d gone through Killer Career countless times checking for mistakes in punctuation, spelling, repetitive words, phrases and sentence structure. I’d been confident enough to submit it to a few publishers and agents. None of the feedback I’d gotten mentioned errors in punctuation, spelling or sentence structure.
One agent did mention my novel was too dialogue driven and could use more description. Where and how should I insert it? Were there other problems I didn’t know about?
My novel had to be as perfect as possible to buck the climate against self-pubs. How could I achieve that? What did other publishers do? Good ones hired editors. That’s what I’d do. An editor could objectively scan my manuscript, find weak areas and suggest possible fixes.
Where would I find one? It didn’t take long for the obvious answer to pop into my head. I’m a contributor to a blog spot crawling with wonderful editors, namely The Blood-Red Pencil. Of all the fine editors here, the one I knew best was Helen Ginger. From the start, after I’d joined the blog book tour e-group and begun blogging daily at http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/, she’d diligently followed my posts. She went out of her way to help other bloggers. Her own blog posts were right on the mark. Not only did she have a great reputation as an editor, she was also a nice person, the kind I’d like to work with.
Would she want to take me on? Did she have the time? The only way to find out was to ask. I did. Fortunately, Helen said she was confident of my writing ability and would like to be my editor. To make sure we were both satisfied with her methods, she agreed to a trial edit of ten manuscript pages. After I saw what she could do, I wanted more. We agreed on a price and the edits began.
That’s when I learned it was a good thing I’d hired her. Helen nicely suggested I might want to move the prologue and fit it in elsewhere. She found spots lacking in description and offered ways to add it, often doing so without telling me exactly what to insert. That way I could learn how to do it myself, instead of robotically following instructions. My blog book tour post of August 21 at Helen Ginger’s blog spot, http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/2009/08/adding-description-to-your-novel.html covers some of what I learned on this topic.
Helen also noticed that I’d inserted one space in some spots and two in others after periods. She discovered redundancies, inconsistencies in characters’ thoughts and emotions, unnecessary tag lines, and much more.
I agreed with most of Helen’s suggestions and found ways to incorporate them into the book. A few I disagreed about and explained why. She didn’t insist I change them.
Helen was generous with her time. It took three edits to get Killer Career into shape. When we’d finally finished, I knew I’d done my best. I also knew I couldn’t have done it alone. I was grateful I’d hired a good editor.
In the future, whether or not I self-publish, I’ll still hire one. What about you? Have you ever hired an editor? Will you?
Day Four's Topic Will Be Choosing A Printing House & Getting Familiar With It.