Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let an Editor be "The Samurai"

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg discusses the importance of editing. It's tough to edit yourself. And it's tough to have others edit your work. The truth hurts sometimes, but your book may have taken you 5, 10 or even 30 years to write. Why, like so many authors, do you want to skip the editing process or think you can do it all yourself? You can’t. Your mother, your sister’s aunt’s brother’s wife, who is a high school English teacher isn’t necessarily the professional book editor you need either.

In the words of Susan Driscoll, former CEO of iUniverse, “If you spoon with them or share DNA, do not ask them to edit your book.” Editing is a complex process involving much more than just making sure everything is spelled correctly and the commas are in the right place. If you believe that your mother would be totally frank and “brutally honest” with you about your book, you are not alone (and you are wrong - unless your mother is a book editor), and you could be jeopardizing your work. Editors will tell you if you need snappier chapter titles or should expand a point or develop a character.

Of 100 would-be authors I polled last year, 75% of them said that a relative would be a fantastic editor and that they would be honest about their book. In retrospect, 90% of them changed their tune after publishing about having their now ex-family member edit their cherished book.

...And that cousin who is an artist and volunteered to do your illustrations … don’t do that either! (What if you don’t like the pictures?)

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

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