This week is WITW’s first guest post!
I’m very pleased to welcome Keri De Deo to WITW to talk about a really important part of writing to be published. If you choose to publish through the traditional route, no matter the size of the publisher, you will have to work with an editor (it’s also recommended to work with an editor if you self-publish so keep reading self-publishers!). If it’s your first time, this can be incredibly daunting, especially when you get the feedback. My own personal experience of this has been painful, so I found Keri’s following tips really interesting and helpful. I hope you will too.
Over to you Keri…
You’ve spent countless hours, even years, on your manuscript only to get what seem like discouraging comments from an editor about your “baby.” It can be frustrating, but remember every baby needs a diaper change, right? So, no matter how many times you’ve reviewed your own work, there is always room for improvement. A good editor will find those places, and although it can be frustrating, it’s important to listen to your editor. Here are some tips to help you get through it:
1. Trust the process
You trusted the writing process as you wrote your manuscript. Now, trust the editing process. Editors often read the manuscript several times, looking for not only grammatical errors, but plot holes and character development as well. With their experience, they know what works and what doesn’t. They’ll look for ways to improve the writing to reach the audience. Remember, their name is on the writing, too, so they want it to be perfect. Keep in mind that the editor will review the manuscript more than once in the publishing process. Once you’ve made changes and a galley proof is produced, the editor will want another look. Sometimes things get dropped and the formatting changes in galley proofs. Editors know what to look for to make sure everything is right. Don’t be alarmed if there are even more changes, and the publisher expects another galley proof. Just trust the process and go with it.
2. Trust your editor
Your editor wants the manuscript to be excellent, and a good editor won’t change your style of writing or voice. If you find the editor rewriting entire sections and you feel that your voice is being overrun, then by all means, talk to the editor. If you don’t like the changes and you don’t trust the editor, get a new editor. Many publishing companies assign an editor to your work, and you may not have direct contact with the editor. If you have serious concerns, talk to the publisher. Just remember that the editor knows your audience and has experience with what works and what doesn’t work.I once had a manuscript that was written in a way that just didn’t work. I recommended changes, but the author disagreed. The author took back the work and decided to self-publish that book. That was the author’s choice, and I did not have a problem with it. I still work with that author from time to time, so there are no hard feelings. At the same time, I regret that the author didn’t want to make those changes. I truly believed the piece would be better for it.
3. Question, but don’t argue
A good editor will ask you questions about your choices. If you can justify them, then the editor will provide feedback for how to make your wishes clearer in the manuscript. If you see changes you don’t agree with, ask the editor for the reason. Listen carefully and consider the options. You might find that you’ll agree with the changes. If you find yourself angry about the changes, give it a day or two before talking to the editor. Give yourself time to calm down and to look at the changes from a new perspective. You might even consider asking for another opinion. As an editor, I welcome questions. I am careful about what changes I recommend. My goal is to make the writing clearer and more engaging. I’m not there to make the author feel bad, and I won’t make changes just to make changes.
Editors care about your work. Their name appears in the book, so they want the best for your manuscript. They’re not giving you changes just for the sake of changes. So, keep these steps in mind and move forward with confidence.
About the author
Keri De Deo, owner of Witty Owl Consulting, lives in northern Arizona and works as a writer, editor, researcher, and instructional designer. She is author of the young adult novel Nothing but a Song, released in December 2017. She loves technology and finding innovative tools for a happy, healthy life. Keri spends her free time with her husband kayaking, hiking, and walking her two beautiful dogs, Maiya and Lilla. To learn more about Keri, visit her website keridedeo.com.