Dear IAC, I’ve finished my first draft and would like to have my novel edited. And I don’t want to miss your summer sale. Should I send you my manuscript now or wait till I’ve revised it as well as I can myself?
Confused at the Computer
Dear Confused, It’s always better to refine your script as much as possible before forwarding it to an editor. Then, they can offer a fresh eye on your plot and characters if you’re writing fiction, or the organization of your information if you’re writing non-fiction.
Here’s an excerpt from Joanna Penn’s blog, The Creative Penn, in which she interviews editor Matt Garland, that explains this further.
“If you want to be a successful independent author, I believe that editing is one of the top things you can do to set yourself apart from the pack.
There’s only so far you can go with self-editing, and critique groups sometimes don’t quite hit the mark. In today’s interview, I talk with Matt Gartland from WinningEdits about his tips for editing.
What should you do before engaging an editor?
- A certain amount of editing should be done by the author before it is handed over to an editor. A good editor still can’t save a bad book, or bad writing. But a book after editing should have more ‘weight’ to it in terms of the characters for fiction, or the content for non-fiction. A professional approach to maturing the concepts as well as the language of the text is part of the editing process. But we sometimes lose perspective when we try to continue editing on our own. We fall into patterns that sometimes it takes someone else to see.
- First drafts vs. what you give to an editor. Matt quotes Neil Gaiman – first drafts don’t matter but it is a continuous struggle to think this. We naturally want to self-edit as we write that first draft material. But take what’s in your head and as a non-sequential, creative process, just get it on the page. Worry about refining later. The first draft is just about getting something down so you can work it in the subsequent drafts. I talk about struggling with my own first drafts in terms of getting the stuff from my head onto the page. But no one is going to see this draft so we should stop worrying so much.
- It is important to only engage an editor when the book can’t go any further in your own hands. You need to mature your ideas on your own. Then pay someone to take it further. This will mean you get the best service and the editor can do the best job.
- Try using beta readers, lovers of your genre who will read and critique the book which will help improve it before using an editor. Matt recommends friends and family but I think it must be people who enjoy your genre first. They read for free and often, finding authors in your genre to swap books with will help. They give feedback from a reader perspective e.g. plot points, characters, what they liked, what they skipped. Then you can revise from there.”
Check out The Creative Penn – Joanna inspires us all to reach for success as Indie Authors. And be sure to create a market for your work as you pen your masterpiece. Download our Free BOOK MARKETING CHECKLIST and other useful info, available when you join our Indie Author Council FaceBook community.
Roger Harris, editor and consultant