And there it sits: you’ve printed it out, 400 or so pages of “finished” manuscript. It’s a beautiful thing isn’t it?
You’ve poured your heart and soul into writing this latter day Dickens classic; stayed up late, consumed generous quantities of coffee and wine in equal measures; torn at your hair with increasing frustration; ignored the pain between your shoulder blades as the muse takes you into a state of near euphoria; left it to brew and rewritten; cried and laughed hysterically as you put a line through huge swathes of the epic that didn’t work.
You’re all finished now.
Everything possible has been done and that’s all that can be said. You sit on floor, staring at that mound of paper and you wonder what to do next…
Publish and be damned, you think, and out it goes, off to Smashwords and Lulu, bursting onto Kindle and iBook, flooding into every self-publishing outlet you can find. You get details up on your website, you twitter its arrival to the world. You take the plunge and sign up to Facebook.
At last, you are a writer!
Well, hey now, Dostoevsky, slow down a minute there…haven’t you forgotten something? Haven’t you missed out an important step?
Rule 1 of Write Club: You don’t talk about…no…no that’s not it.
Rule 1 of Write Club is that you are not the best judge of your final draft. First of all you’ve been over the damn manuscript a zillion times and that just isn’t a good recipe for judging it – your mind will fill in blanks that are obvious to an outsider because you have lived and breathed these characters, you’ll miss all the typos because your brain skips over the text (you’ve read it before, you see, you know how it ends!).
Rule 2 of Write Club: If you’re serious about your work, you’ll need an editor. You’ll need to find one you trust, one who believes in you and one who will help you polish your epic novel to damn near perfection. Why? Why? I refer my learned friend to the “serious” word. Okay, if you just write for fun and are not too bothered, then publish and be damned. If you take it SERIOUSLY, then you’re novel ain’t finished yet…there’s work to do…it needs to be done…take a deep, shaky breath and get on with it.
Rule 3 of Write Club: Like writers, there are a zillion editors out there, most are rubbish, some are pretty good, the select few are brilliant. Obviously your mission dear writer, if you choose to accept it, is to avoid the rubbish editors – you know the ones who will speed read in a day and tell you it’s fine but miss the big typo in the first paragraph (or the fact that your main character changes sex halfway through) and then charge you a sixty quid reading fee. Let’s face it, you’re not going to be able to afford the best of the best, so your job is to find someone who is good and who likes your work enough to put the effort in, and, of course, who won’t charge you too much.
Ideally you want someone who is going to edit for content and copy. Content editing is about how your book flows, whether it makes sense, are there any continuity errors and so on. Copy editing is about the accuracy of your written work – the grammar, the choice of words etc. Find someone who can do this well and who is willing to take you on is your final mission. If they’re good, they’ll take your novel and cut away all the rough edges. What should be left, if you’ve both done your jobs well, is something worth reading.
So now, as always, it’s your turn. Have you a good experience of an editor you want to share? Do you offer an editing service? Let The Feckless Goblin know in the comments section below.