Friday, April 30, 2010

Bleeding red ink.

Being a writer means editing is a part of life. It boggles my mind when I hear newbie writers who haven't even been published, or who have only published one or two small articles or short-stories, whine about the editing process. Since I'm currently working on edits for two of my publishers, I thought it a prime time to address the issue of working on edits.

Let me write you a reality check: I have over twenty published titles to my credit thus far, most of them full-length novels. I am the FIRST person to welcome editorial input, even when my editors usually tell my my copy is fairly clean to start with. (That is the result of twenty-five years of work on my career, and lots of experience writing non-fiction on tight deadlines.)

No, it's usually not possible for a writer to catch ALL typos and mistakes in their manuscript. I am the first to admit I need more than one set of eyes going over my work. You will never catch me standing on a hill and screaming that no one should touch a word of my stuff, because that would mean I'm delusional. (If that ever happens, catch me and make sure I take my meds.)

But when someone gives you feedback, don't get all huffy and outraged. Even if some of the feedback can later be discounted, LOOK at it. The sign of a PROFESSIONAL writer is they approach edits...well, professionally. No, not all comments can or should be used. But if you have several people telling you something needs fixing, FIX IT!

I've had editors who were fantastic, and some not so much. And everywhere in between. No matter what, I put myself into professional writer mode when approaching edits. You have to.

No writer is perfect, and I am the Queen of Imperfection. Any writer who looks down their nose at critiques/edits without actually considering what's been said is doomed to fail in their career.

Yes, sometimes I've had editors tell me things that I stood my ground on, and I was proven right later. But there are plenty of times I've taken their advice, or used their advice as a starting point to make revisions. Use edits as a learning experience, not an adversarial encounter. I learn something from every edit.

For a newbie writer to start out slamming an editor without giving serious weight to their comments (I've heard this gripe too many times to count) is to be a writer not serious about their career. You don't get to be a diva until you put the time, effort, sweat, and sales figures into it. If you can draw in the readers and make your publisher money, only then can you even think about the diva card. (And even then, I STRONGLY recommend not going there. It's just plain tacky.)

Remember my earlier post: You are NOT a special snowflake, sunshine. Now shut up, go take your meds, and read your editor's comments instead of thinking you're the universe's gift to readers. Those of us who label ourselves professional writers won't show you a bit of sympathy.

Writing the book is the EASY part. Once you turn that puppy in, that's when the hard work--including editing--starts.

Happy Writing!