Saturday, June 7, 2014

Guest Post: Represent With Good Editing by Nance Bulow Morgan

Represent with Good Editing

Editing—that tedious task that grinds on and on until it seems that it takes longer to edit than to write.  Over and over again through the same manuscript, until you are in danger of hating your own words.  Are you a struggling indie author who lacks the funds for such luxuries as a professional editor?  Me too.  So, let me share something that I learned the hard way.  Edit— edit until your eyes bleed and your fingers are numb.

My first book was well accepted.  Those who read it gave it good remarks and a passing grade.  All but one and that review was  scathing.  Why?  Because it was poorly edited  and the reviewer was sick and tired of indies not following through with editing.  I think I broke the camel’s back. She suggested I should have paid for a professional editor.  Believe me I wanted to, but as I said that is a luxury for me.  There were other factors in my life at the time too that caused me to rush the process, but those factors are now eliminated and we live and carry on.  In retrospect I should have waited for life to level off. I just wasn’t sure I’d ever see it in print if I waited, so I pushed it through.

 I found it interesting that most reviews spoke to the story saying it was a page turner with solid plot and good character development, but this woman ripped it apart.  Some reviewers  are kind and don’t want to say negative things about a book, unless it is pure garbage.  So I feel safe to say my story was good, but the editing left something to be desired.  Not pure garbage, but it didn’t smell quite right. I was surprised at first; I was feeling good about the book until that review, but she was right.  I had some spelling errors, and misplaced commas (what I affectionately call my identifying pen stroke), and a misused word.  In the overall picture of 296 pages that might not seem like much, but it bears on my reputation with editors, agents, and publishers. 

When I write I have a hard time extracting myself from the “fan” equation.  Do I write more for me or for them?   I write for the fans, including myself,  but I edit for the editors, agents, and publishers.  As an indie author the road is rough enough; I will take the road more slowly and carefully from now on.  I may never get the attention of a publishing insider, I am not sure I want to, but the payoff is that my fans get a better product, and I can feel  better about my reputation.

My second book is getting good reviews and it has been mentioned that it has solid editing.  I am proud of that because I worked hard at it.  Spelling may be the most important element in the editing process, but DO NOT rely on spell check. I have auto correct turned off now, so I am forced to look at each and every word without the boon of underlined words, or the bane of wrong spelling that is not underlined because spell check didn’t understand what I was trying to say.  After I go through once I turn spell check back on.  Then I go through again to be sure we understand each other .  After that I  go through and check the grammar.

Since I haven’t actually said it you should know—  I HATE editing.  I find grammar to be a bunch of arbitrary rules, but in the written form a misplaced comma can cause a reader to stumble, so I have made it a priority to learn more about it, of course I still have to write so I am learning on the fly.  I am far from a grammatical genius.  My degree is in Design, not English, so I have acquired The Norton Field Guide to Writing, and Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. They have helped me through some rough spots.  I rely heavily on my thesaurus,  and  I have posted notes over my monitor about transitive verbs.  After that I’m on my own and rely upon my ear to tell me if the prose is flowing or rough.

These are just a few of the things I have done in an attempt to better my craft. I hope that I have encouraged those of you travelling along the indie publishing road without an editor to stop and really look at what you have written.  You will be better off for it in the long run.

Thanks for your consideration,

Nance Bulow Morgan



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