Week 12, Step 12: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Editors and Readers”

Now that you’re revising, it’s time to have a good talk about the people that will be helping you complete this writing journey. There are three different groups of people that I want to talk about today. They are professional editors, editors, and readers. I will tell you what I’ve learned through my writing process about each group and suggestions as to who you should approach. So, let’s get started!

Professional Editors: 

The Good: These are people who edit books either part-time or full-time for as a career. They are obviously very skilled and will cover your manuscript with red ink and suggestions as to how to make your story better. Some of the best professional editors won’t even accept your whole book at once. They will read part of it to see if it’s even worth their time to edit it. They are also a trusted voice and can help get you in to different publishing agencies or publishing houses.

The Bad: While professional editors are amazing at what they do, they do not know you personally. They don’t know your voice and what you’re trying to accomplish through your story. Let me give you an example. A friend of mine had a wonderful story that they were working on. It was really, really good. Of course, there were always little things to correct, but my friend was doing a great job. They got a professional editor interested in their story and sent it in for review. In no time at all the editor’s notes came back. There were a lot of notes, and he had a lot of good things to say to my friend. However, the editor corrected the book based on how he, the editor, would write the book, not as the way my friend would write the book. My friend started to revise the story, but they’ve had trouble writing ever since because the editor had taken away my friend’s voice. Don’t let that happen.

The Ugly: Professional editors can be really, really expensive.

Suggestions: I don’t think you have to get a professional editor (I’ll finish explaining why later on). But if you do decide to get a professional editor, make sure you find one that specializes in your genre. Also, make sure you don’t take all of their comments and suggestions hook, line, and sinker. Always keep your voice!

Editors:

The Good: Editors are the people that we’ve been talking about the whole time. They’re your tutors, writing friends, parents, movie and book critics, English majors or teachers, and others that are in your life. These people know you and know what you want to accomplish through your story. They can provide advice and criticism while not rewriting your story in a negative way or changing your goals.

The Bad: The bad thing is that these people do know you. You’re probably thinking, “Now wait a second… You just said that it’s a good thing that these people know me!” And I did. But… Sometimes your editors who know you might not be ready or willing to be brutally honest and tell you what you’re doing wrong and what needs to change. Make sure you tell everyone who reads your story, “Tear it up. I don’t care. I need to know what I’m doing wrong. Please, be brutally honest. I can take it.” And when they are brutally honest, accept it and don’t get defensive.

The Ugly: Be careful that you don’t have too many editors at once. You’ll have too many conflicting voices. Pick a few people at a time to read your story, then edit it according to their suggestions before you pass it on to others.

Suggestions: I never got a professional editor, only the normal editors. And they were great! I didn’t have to compromise my voice. I could have a personal relationship with them all and get help for other ideas just when I needed it. They were almost as good, if not better, than a professional editor. These are the people I go to all the time, no matter what.

Readers:

The Good: Readers are awesome. Readers are people that read your story, cheer you on, and tell you their thoughts about your book. I had a lot of readers over the course of my seven years of writing “A Cry From Egypt.” I got many kids, boys and girls, from the ages of eight to eighteen to read my book and tell me if they liked it. Many parents read it, too, to make sure it was something that their whole family would benefit from and enjoy. Generally speaking, all of the feedback I got was good. Some people gave me suggestions for changes, but it was nothing big. My readers really inspired me to keep writing. It was just so much fun to actually discuss my book with people who had actually read it and loved it! It also really helps with word-of-mouth recommendations. If they liked the book, then they’re bound to tell other people about it. And when they tell other people about, more people are going to buy your book!

The Bad: Don’t get too many readers, just like you don’t need too many editors. Readers can become a little obnoxious (thankfully, I never really had obnoxious readers… :-) ) because they can keep demanding to read more of your story or start crossing into the editor role. Don’t let that happen!

The Ugly: There really isn’t ugly about readers! They’re just amazing! :-)

Suggestions: Get people in your targeted age range (my targeted age range is 7-18 year olds) to read your book as it gets closer to being done. Not only will it fuel you with inspiration and excitement, but you’ll get feedback about whether or not your story is worth being published.

Copy Editing:

I only had one “professional editor” right at the end of the publishing process. This professional editor was really a “copy editor,” meaning that they didn’t check the story for content so much as they checked for typos, grammatical errors, overused words and sentences, and lack of flow in the story. Feel free to get as many copy editors as you want! I’m still catching minor things in my book before it goes to the “official” printing that need to be changed, and we had so many people read it! Ah well. Live and learn. :-)
So… There are my suggestions! I also want to let you know that, with me or with any other author or editor, you don’t have to take all of our suggestions as law. There isn’t a set method that will work for every single person. As always, it requires a lot of prayer and seeking the Lord for His wisdom, not the wisdom of others. God puts people into our lives to sharpen us as iron sharpening iron. There will be people who God will bring into your lives to make your story better and to refine it and to refine you. But seek Him to know what His will is for you and for your story. Seek Him first above everyone and anyone else.

Happy Writing! Check back next week for the 13th installment which will address what will keep you from becoming a published author.

Suggested Homework: 
1. Find your editors and your readers. Give them a date that your story will be ready for them to read so that they can keep you accountable. Tell them to be blatantly honest with you, and get ready for an exciting new step in your journey!

2. Try saying the phase “edited it” 5 times fast. I bet you can’t do it. :-)