Writing is a ‘manic’ profession filled with the highest of highs (hopefully), and the lowest of lows. It’s very much like being a tightrope walker in the circus without a net.
When you are a debut author wishing for that ‘first’ time when an agent or a publisher sees your query letter and something sparks in their brain saying: “I have to look at this!” you end up going through sheer turmoil. I spent a great deal of time working in the publishing industry back East and the most difficult thing for me (which is still the most difficult), was telling authors we were simply not interested. The ‘form rejection letter’ is a killer, but it should NEVER be a killer for an author who knows they can write.
Writing takes a unique individual. And there were so many writers who sent a query letter that spotlighted a novel with a fantastic concept, great characters, and a way of delivering a plot that was unlike anyone else. But … they happened to have mistakes in the copy of the query letter. Therefore, the response was always a quick ‘no’. When I began to meet and greet various writers, I found that many had thrown their manuscript into a desk drawer because an agent or publisher had sent that ‘pre-made’ letter.
When it comes to writing, there is absolutely no way to achieve perfection. I guarantee you that you can pick up any book from a bestselling author of all time and come across a mistake somewhere. Whether it comes in the form of spelling, past and present tense intermingling – whatever it may be – mistakes are there. Why? Because there is absolutely no way to achieve perfection. However, without an editor – without that completely different eye reading your manuscript, the mistakes will be multiple mistakes. With some new novels, all the manuscript needs is a bit of polish here and there to make them stand out from the rest. With others…there needs to be an editor on your side who cares as much about your project as you do, but can speak the truth – telling you exactly what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed.
I want debut authors to keep going. I don’t want a writer who believes in their material to give up and ‘move on’ to something else because of form letter rejections. When I take the ‘writer’s cap’ off and put the ‘editor’s cap’ on, it is a whole different experience. The editor you choose needs to know what and how you feel about your characters. The editor needs to know what you’re trying to get across to the reader, and the core of your creation. An editor cannot simply take the manuscript, take your money, and then just edit and return the book. An editor and a writer must have an even closer relationship than the writer and agent, or writer and publisher, because the editor is being given a gift. They are seeing and living a story that the rest of the world doesn’t even know about yet, and they have to be on the same ‘page’ as the creator in order to make that story shine.
The main point of editing is to make sure that the author receives the end result that they’re looking for. You want a book to linger in the minds of your audience, and that comes from a solid author/editor relationship. And it should NOT cost thousands of dollars. Debut authors do not usually carry a Donald Trump-‘like’ pocketbook. They need advice, a friend, editing help, etc. – and they should be able to receive the best job humanly possible without taking a second mortgage on their house.
Whether you are a known or debut author, an editor is the first step after that novel is written. This is a career path where you need a solid backbone and the ability to take ‘no’ for an answer. Beauty, after all, is in the ‘eye of the beholder.’ You can’t judge what an audience is going to love, and that’s why bestselling authors are so diverse. There are groups of fans who love horror, others who will only read YA, while still others need crime and punishment to make them happy.
Life is diverse, readers are diverse and, thankfully, authors are diverse. But when it comes to choosing someone to edit your material, authors should always remember that they want a relationship with that editor. An author loves their characters and believes in what they’re trying to say. They do not want it altered – they want it published!
Until Next Time, Everybody,
(List compiled by Emma Michaels. If you would like your company/service to be included feel free to e-mail her via the contact information listed on the Contact Us page. Thank you.)
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