IWSG – The Curse of Editing

It’s Wednesday again, that means it is time for IWSG. The last month has been hard on me. Of all the things we do as writers, I think the one thing I hate most is editing. Many will say marketing, but for me, I’d rather do marketing.

For the last month I’ve been doing editing, and it has been quite challenging. My disability doesn’t make it easy on me, often having to take long breaks that can last for a day, not feeling good most of the time. But I am thankful for the attention to detail my editor has given to my work and I want to talk about her today.

 

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After collecting the donations from Pubslush, I set out to find an editor. I’ve worked with an editor in the past, but unfortunately, her new pricing scheme was too much for me. I wasn’t necessary looking for the cheapest, but rather someone that could fit within my budget.

I started with twitter asking for any suggestions. I figure other writers might have someone they can use, and were trustworthy. One of the biggest fears is giving someone you don’t know money to do a service, hoping they don’t cross you. You want to believe people are good, but there are people who prey on that.

My asking for help on twitter didn’t prove fruitful. I think I got a couple of offers. One girl offered to help me, but lacked a website. For me, a website is very important. An online business, you need to have a web presence. Lacking that, it tells me that you’re not worth my time. Might sound cold, but this is an investment.

So I started to check out a few websites. To my surprise, most of them were awful. They looked like the absolute bare minimum had been done. This was a big red flag for me. If you are asking for $300 – $500 to edit my book, then your website needs to reflect that.

I did find a few good sites and emailed some of them, but I got lackluster responses from some, and no responses from others. Given that I had a small amount of money, I couldn’t afford to take a chance on someone unless I felt absolutely sure I found the right person.

Then I found this site. Coffee and Characters.

Immediately, the site screamed professional, yet personal. I’ll be honest, I felt like I was meeting in a coffee shop, which is interesting, because I don’t drink coffee. Then again, you don’t have to drink coffee in a coffee shop.

I immediately found what I needed. Who I was dealing with, what they did, a list of people they helped… it had everything. The only thing it lacked was prices.

So I emailed the site. I was in contact with Danielle. Right away, I sensed through her words that she was professional, yet spirited. Hard to explain, but I feel like sometimes you can gauge a person a bit if you understand the words they used. I felt she had a positive personality.

We discussed prices. Now I kept a record of all the prices that I found from various sites, and I will tell you that she wasn’t the cheapest, nor was she the most expensive. She determined her price for me by reviewing my work. Based on that, she told me how much it would cost.

So, I felt I found the right person for me. Using paypal, I sent her half up front. I won’t tell you how much she charged me, as I don’t want to set a precedent. I can confirm for you though, it was a good amount. Though, I was still nervous to send to her. While she appeared to be a good person, I didn’t really know her.

I’m glad to say that my fears were for nothing. She did deliver my manuscript with a comprehensive edit. However, if I had one complaint… which is hard for me to do as I am very happy for what she had done. My one complaint is the estimated time.

When I submitted to her, she estimated three weeks. I gave it to her on June 2nd and I got it back August 4th. Pretty much a month. Now I’m OK that it took longer to get it done, that doesn’t bother me. It was the lack of communication from her for that extension. I understand it was an estimate, but that is a little touch that would have been helpful.

However, I could have emailed her myself. I did. I was polite and kept it simple. Asked her if she had any questions. She told me she was still working on it, and she was fine.

I know she will read this, and as thankful as I am for everything, I still feel a bit guilty to say anything negative.

So the edit itself. Having someone edit for you is a tricky thing. I’ve met many beginning writers who get offended if you say anything is wrong with their work. As a writer myself, I do feel that impulse myself.

What I like about Danielle most, is that she immediately understood that her suggestions were just that, suggestions. While writers may get offended at suggestions, others who edit for you, get offended if you don’t take their suggestion. Not Danielle. As she put it, every writer has their style, and if I don’t agree with her suggestion, I can ignore it.

She did a Line Edit for me. A Line Edit, as compared to a Copy Edit, is to look at the spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the gibberish, and let me know how to improve it or what I need to fix on my own. That is basically what a Copy Edit is. A Line Edit includes that, but it goes over the story itself. She reads the story and if she sees any technical issues with the story, she lets me know.

Another hard thing about receiving edits from a professional, is seeing how bad you are. You’ve likely been told by a lot of people you are a great writer, until you meet an editor and you are faced with how good you actually are on your own. I seem to be addicted to semicolons. I’m recovering.

It can get to you though. You begin to wonder if you should be a writer. Having such obvious mistake that you overlooked. For a moment, I wondered if I was doing the wrong thing, but I remember that as writers, we are horrible at editing our own work. That’s why we hire people. All of us make mistakes.

To be fair, most of what I sent to Danielle was a first draft. That was a mistake to do, but one out of desperation for trying to fit my release on a time table. I wonder, had I done it correctly, if there would have been as many errors for her to correct? Probably, I suck at grammar. I’m better than most of the world, but compared to an editor, I’m in the 6th grade.

Her editing was easy to understand. She generally just crosses out words or punctuation and tells me directly what to do. Other times, she will tell me a rule to help me understand why it needs to change, or give me suggestions of words.

She is reading the story, and understanding the story pretty well. At first, when started to correct an element of the story itself, I felt like she didn’t understand, that her comprehension was poor. But that was protecting my ego, Self-Serving Bias. I realized, that if she was pointing out a problem or asking questions, readers themselves would be asking those questions.

Because of her, I’ve ended up redoing sections of my book, redoing paragraphs, re-painting scenes, and in the end, making the book better.

For instance, one character is of Spanish decent. A character noted that her name sounded like she was from Spain. Danielle pointed out to me that Spain was not a country. Technically, she is correct, Spain is not a country in 1348. However, doing additional research, I learned that at the end of the 12th Century, the area was known as the Five Kingdoms of Spain. But, outsides would refer to people from that area as being Hispania, or Hispanian. It wasn’t until the 15/16th Century that an outside would refer to them as Spanish.

Her pointing that out, allowed me to make my story more historically accurate. A few times she does that, and I still fight with her suggestions, like I was directly dealing with her, but often I will reach a compromise and try to explain it a bit better for the story. However, there are times I don’t change it, and I know that she would be perfectly okay with that.

I do get questions though. Sometimes I question her choice for something. So I email her. This is an important quality to an editor. I am able to email her with my questions. I will say that it can take her a week to get back to me. That’s not entirely a bad thing. I figure she is working on other manuscripts. I hardly expect her to drop everything she’s doing just to handle my issue, but I feel that she does take it seriously and gets back to me when she can.

We are writers and authors. Our work is our child, our pets, our hearts… it is difficult for us to think any less of them. But if we want to be successful and let others enjoy them as we do, we must take the risk and let someone pull out a red inked pen and tear our story apart. It’s only then can we rebuild our story and it be better than before.

I highly recommend Coffee and Characters. When I get done editing my story, I will put a review on her site. I will tell you now, I give her 4.75 stars. However, I can’t give fractions, so I round up to 5 stars. If you need an editor, start with this service. I know that for future books, I will be using this service.

As far as my book goes…

I’m working on it. It’s tough to do. I often want to throw it out the window, but I then remember that my computer is heavy and that is where I play Minecraft and go on Twitter. I can’t wait to be done.

I had hoped to be done by the end of last month with the first of 5 books. As you may know, I am taking the whole story and breaking it into five parts. I could only afford for her to edit 2 of the 5 books.

This will be the free book, which serves as the introduction, and the core book. I will release the free book first, and a few weeks after that, the core book. The other books will be released in the months to follow, though I will likely not have her edit them, as I won’t have the money to do it. Unless of course all of you buy my book… not that I’m trying to shill or anything.

For your viewing pleasure, I am showing a low quality black and white image of my cover design. I found a great artist, and you can check out their site here. Please show them some love. Thank you David and Lillie.

Cover Text wm DLT5 low BL

I have started my new Worldbuilding series, and so far they have been well received. People enjoyed the level of detail on the articles on Metals and Copper. Not only do they give you important information for you to think about, but also its importance throughout the ages.

For the month of September, I will be doing an article on Concrete and Silver. Trying to get the Metals of Antiquity done, while exploring other things. Thinking about doing Socks in October.

I hope this article helps everyone ready to take the next step and get their story looked at. I can’t promise that you will be successful with an editor, but I can promise you that you won’t be successful if you don’t have one.

Check out Coffee and Characters.

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