On writing from an editor

The editor is the sturdy bridge between the author and publishing an astonishing work of brilliance.
The editor is the sturdy bridge between the author and publishing an astonishing work of brilliance.

Dear Author,

First of all, congratulations on writing your book! You have accomplished what many people have only dreamed about. Only you know how much you poured your heart into your work—sweating over finding the right word, writing and re-writing, and stressing whether or not your book was worth it. Yes, your book is worth it! You had a story or message, and you wrote it, or you are still writing it—that’s why your book is important—because you are. I am excited for you as you prepare to publish.

You have poured yourself into your book, and it has almost become a part of you. Why do you need an editor when you have already self-edited and revised countless times? While editors are passionate about shaping an author’s diligent work into an amazing book, an editor isn’t emotionally attached and can be objective. An editor hasn’t stayed up all night writing when fresh ideas came.

Your editor may offer suggestions which improve readability, flow, or pacing. Some editors assist in improving chapter transitions, recommend moving paragraphs, or create headings or chapter titles, and let’s not forget an editor will carefully examine every line seeking any typos, spelling, grammar, or punctuation issues. Finding an editor you can trust and form a partnership with is like finding a gold nugget.

You might be wondering when your manuscript is ready for an editor. Only you can truly know when that is. Have beta-readers or critique partners previewed it? Is there something more you want to say? Have you run a spell check on your word processor? Your book doesn’t have to be perfect when you submit it to your editor. But just in case you are someone who would clean house before hiring a housekeeper because you want everything to look great, here are a few tips for you:

  • Search for and replace unnecessary words or phrases. Typical rascals include:
    • That (Will the sentence make sense without it?) – While we are on the subject of “that” – people should be referred to as who (the boy who…)
    • Off of – delete “of”
    • Very ________ – can you find a stronger adjective?
    • In order to – delete “in order”
    • Really – can you substitute it with truly or genuinely? Can you delete it?

 

  • Ensure all your character names and places are spelled correctly—especially if they aren’t mentioned
  • Is your spacing consistent after sentences? Many publishers now prefer a single space between sentences. To search and correct spacing in Microsoft Word: in the search box in the Navigation area, tap the space bar twice. If there are several, click the Home tab on the ribbon, click Replace to open a new box, type in one space in the “Replace with” box. Click ok. With one quick click, you have just replaced all the double spacing.
  • How are your dialogue tags? Are there several instances of “said”? If so, can you use action to describe instead?
  • Are you noticing words used repeatedly? Can you find synonyms?
  • Can you replace words like good, bad, big, small, make, thing, or get with a stronger word?
  • Check for confusing word usage issues (If you are unsure, check the dictionary):
    • Were, where, we’re
    • There, their, they’re
    • Affect, effect
    • Than, then
    • To, too, two

Finally, the most important thing you can do before submitting to your editor is to know what you expect in your partnership. A skilled editor can determine what level of editing you need—but how do you wish to handle recommendations? Do you prefer your editor makes changes or emails you first? What about moving paragraphs or adding text? Are comments helpful for you? Is there something specific you wish to focus on? Do you expect your editor to correct typos, grammar, and punctuation issues? Think through these matters ahead of time. Communication, respect for one another, and trust are the foundations of terrific author-editor relationships.

There is no shortage of excellent writing articles on the internet. However, you will not find encouragement and the personal touch from online articles—but you will find them from your editor. I would love to be your editor and come alongside you. But if you find I am not quite the person you were looking for, I invite you to consider one of the professional editors who are members of the Authors Community. Each one of these editors will offer you that personal touch and encouragement. We all desire for you to succeed.

 

Sincerely,

Your Encouraging Editor,

Pam Lagomarsino