This month’s input from a Florida writer relates an overwhelming situation for the author and includes multiple questions. We’ll consider two of her questions this month. Please tell us how you would reply to her.
Situation/Questions: A writing group I participated in online had given me a harsh critique, implanting in my mind the thought that my book wasn’t worthy of publication. Heartbroken, I left the group. (1) Should I pay the price of retaining an editor? (2) Would an editor do any good?
(1) Should I pay the price of retaining an editor?
Answer: A competent editor who “clicks” with a writer is always worth the price—assuming that price isn’t exorbitant, aka, outside the parameters of industry standard pricing. To consider putting an unedited book—especially a first book—out in the marketplace is to contemplate literary suicide.
(2) Would an editor do any good?
Answer: Let’s explore her experience to answer this question.
A significant portion of this writer’s story took place in her home state in the South. She knew her locale well, and the setting came across as rich, realistic, and believable—particularly after it was more fully developed in the final version. She displayed a strong sense of character and depicted each one as a unique individual.
However, the story lacked realism in some areas. She hadn’t done her research, and the lack of it created a number of glaring gaps in credibility that would have turned off many readers. At first she didn’t feel research was necessary, but I did. Then another writer told her how important accuracy was, even in fiction, so that a story would ring true. (I think she related better to a fellow writer than to her editor in this case.)
Appropriate and consistent colloquialisms offered another challenge. Even though these are discouraged by some “experts,” their use in this story was germane to one of the main characters. Therefore, it had to be done seamlessly and well. We spent considerable time assuring that this worked, and she received positive feedback from readers of her published book about how effective it was in her story and how it enhanced her family patriarch character.
Finally, she reported with great enthusiasm that one reader declared online that her book rivaled Gone with the Wind.
Did the editor do any good?
Have you had a similar experience with a critique group?
How would you overcome the kind of negative feedback this writer received from the group?
Do you believe an editor is worth the cost? Why?
Linda Lane heads a group of editors who believe that helping writers to write well will raise the quality bar in independently published books. Please visit her at www.denvereditor.com.