Manuscript Editing Part II

If anyone can hang out an “Editor” shingle, how can you be sure you’ve found an editor who will do you good?
Writing Tip for Today: As we discussed yesterday, there are editors who mainly correct “nits,” the spelling, grammar or usage folks. Many first-time writers need organizational, structural or other “big picture” editing. Sadly, if you get no more than a line edit yet your story needs major help, you have a nicely polished mess. You’ll get rejections and may not understand why. When looking for an editor to help you maximize your chances of publication, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t rush. You may think you work is ready for agent shopping when it really needs a lot more work. Inexpensive ways to test this include: *enlisting several unbiased readers (not your mom or spouse) to read the entire manuscript. Print it out and put it in a binder (for agents you NEVER bind the pages) Give your readers a pad of sticky notes to flag places that work and those which are confusing, slow or lack conflict. *Go to a writing conference and take advantage of the manuscript critique service. You’ll pay far less than if you hire an editor, and you’ll get feedback on how your story stacks up. *Some writers also use their critique group, however you should get feedback on the whole manuscript as well as the installments you read in group.
  • When you think you’re ready, start close to home. Find out the names of local editors where possible. Be upfront about asking if the editor gives structural or story help. Then ask for recommendations and get as many testimonials as possible. Internet-based help is fine if it passes the smell test, but if it were me, I’d at least want to chat on the phone.
  • Be ready to revise. If you are serious about publication, you’ll understand that an editor can only suggest. Be wary of editors who simply rewrite your story. If you disagree with any suggestion, remember that it’s your project. Go find examples in print of the suggestion. See how well it works in a book. Then decide. Oh, and if it’s a radical change, give yourself a few days to decide. You want to be proud of your work. Good luck!

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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