First, let me thank my gracious hosts, The Kindling Press, for inviting me over for a wee guest spot on their blog! I’m delighted, to be sure. I am Jenna, an editor, avid book reader and sometime goofball. I thought I’d give a little advice to as to why you might want to consider finding an editor of your very own.
Reason 1) Because your reader doesn’t live in your head.
This is one of the most important lessons I can bring to bear – while you’re happily typing away, spinning a yarn of utmost fascination, you must be able to bring your readers along with you. This means that you must learn to describe your characters, scenes, gadgets and plotlines well enough that your reader will be able to assimilate and imagine the tale along with you. You may know what you’re talking about because it’s crystal-clear in your mind; your reader doesn’t share your insight! I find that authors sometimes unintentionally carry on without setting up a scene or plot twist well, leaving the reader with a big fat question mark and possibly turning them off completely. Authors have their world fully formed in their noggins, so they presume the telling that they’re giving is sufficient. Sometimes, in fact, it’s just not. A good editor will ask for
clarification, offer suggestions for solidifying things, and even cut out overly flowery prose to get to the meat of the matter.
Reason 2) Consistency is key.
When reading a book, it’s very important to me that the little things (like your character’s names, for instance) are absolutely consistent, each and every time. When I first began editing, it was for love of a story I found on iBooks. It was gripping, truly, but the amount of inconsistency, even down to random modifications to the spelling of the main character’s name throughout, drove me bugnuts. I wrote to the author, literally begging to clean up the manuscript to let the story shine as it was meant to – and they took me up on it. Spell check is all well and good, but another eye on your work to ensure consistency of pacing, tone, and minor typographical errors is priceless. That, and the best spelling and grammar checking software usually does not catch the “you’re/ your” “their/they’re/there” or even “its/it’s” variances. I’m certainly not perfect, but the difference is usually evident to me and can be corrected before it’s published.
Reason 3) It’s your baby, indulge it with a quick polish!
Authors, as a whole, are extremely protective of their wordsmithing abilities, and rightfully so. You’re baring somewhat of your soul to the world, a peek into your own psyche, which can be really terrifying. With that in mind, don’t you owe it to yourself to offer the world the best version of that piece of your soul? If you’re afraid to show it to one other person (an editor, perhaps?), how in the world are you going to release it into the wild? The fear of criticism runs deep, but the challenges and modifications any editor will bring to the table are not a personal attack. Ever. They are to help your work shine like it was meant to. Editors can also help to offer insights if you get “stuck” somewhere, if they’re familiar enough with your stories. I see myself as a partner in crime, as it were, not as the big bad wolf with a huge red pen, ready to slash your story to bits. It behooves me to help you make your book as strong as it can be, and if that means questioning things to death or cutting out something you may feel strongly about, I will do it. I want you to succeed; your success can only bolster my own, in the long run.
Reason 4) If you’re very nice to them, they might make you cookies!
And that, dear readers, is it from your friendly neighborhood editrix for today. I again want to thank my gracious hosts, The Kindling Press, for inviting me to guest, and hope to do so again in the future! If you have any pressing questions you’ve always wanted to ask an editor, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.