Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Art of Self-editing, Part 5

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

The Final Frontier—The Professional Edit
Over the past few weeks, we’ve done a lot of work revising and rewriting our manuscript. We’re ready to submit to our dream agent, or the agent who requested a full manuscript at the conference we attended last month. Our finger hovers over the send button. 

It’s like sending our first child to their first day of school. We’re launching into a whole new world.

But wait…there’s more.

One of the reasons we hesitate is we’re just not sure. We want to take one more read through. We do. Nothing jumps out at us, but what we’re still not sure. 

This is the time to seek a professional edit. 

If we’re going to self-publish, we definitely need to have a professional editor examine our work.

I believe it’s worth it to get a professional edit even if we seeking traditional publishing.  It will help us make our manuscript the best it can be.

In either case, we want to invest in preparing our work to be the best we possibly can.

Finding an Editor
So where do we find these editors? How do we find most things these days? Start with a Google search for professional editors. The search will produce a list of editorial organizations. If you want a Christian editor, search for Christian professional editors. Another resource is annual writers’ market guides. Besides agents and publishers, many will list individuals who offer editing services. At writers’ conferences, we may make connections with freelance editors. Don’t forget word of mouth within your writing network.

Develop a list of potential editors and start narrowing it down. You are looking to hire someone to do a job for you. Treat it that way.

Do they edit what you write? Some editors focus on special areas such as academic, legal, or medical. Some are more comfortable with fiction than non-fiction.

Ask about their experience. How long have they been editing? How many books have they worked on? How many have ultimately been published? Remember, the freelance editor is one of many who make contributions to a book being published. If not many have been published; it’s probably not because of the editing job they did.

Can they provide references?

Be Clear
Be clear on what kind of editing they do and what kind of editing you’re looking for. A service I provide is a developmental or content edit. You may be looking for a line edit or proofreading. Do your research and be clear.

How do they work? I like to work in 10,000 word blocks of the manuscript. This helps me periodically confer with the author to make sure I’m meeting her needs. I believe in checking in after each section is completed. Other editors may have a different approach. You need to determine if it’s an approach you can work with. 

When I’m negotiating with a potential client, I propose an audition edit of the first 1,000 words. This does two things. It shows the author my style and helps them decide if it’s workable for them. The process also helps me determine how much work I think it’s going to take and give them a rate to consider. 

Thank you for sharing the past five weeks on self-editing. My prayer is you found these posts helpful and encouraging.

What has your experience been with finding and working with professional editors?


Don't Miss the Other Posts in this Series

Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest.

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.

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