I’m in editing mode.
This means numerous rounds of slashing and cutting from my manuscript and deleting offenders (never realized I had (oops) such a fondness for the use of had and was until now). I’m in fine company. A good friend of mine, and a good author, too, recently found and discarded 156 exclamation marks from his manuscript. The cleaning doesn’t end with me. Once I’m done, it’s off to the professional editor.
Hours upon hours in the editing cave makes me tired, hungry, and often irritable. The weekend cool down we were promised arrived, and it dropped from 100 degrees to about 99. My editing cave faces south, where it always feels like 115. Twelve or more hours spent sweating and poring over a manuscript for every offense I can find makes me feel like a school nurse ferreting for nits, and dragging them out kicking and screaming. It’s a long process.
My relaxation after hard days like this is usually a book. Unfortunately, I can’t switch my inner editor off, which tends to spoil my reading. Editing has turned me into a critical audience. A bad plot with good writing is one thing – irritating – but not a death sentence for the author…meaning, I’ll give said author another go. However, I can’t say the same for authors churning out a good plot with bad writing.
An aspiring author recently asked me what he/she could do if unable to afford a professional editor. Well, quite frankly, it depends on how serious you are about your writing. If you’re serious, find the money and pay for a good editor, and don’t go cheap. Find a good one, preferably a recommendation. An abundance of author forums can help with that. Jodie Renner, who doles out tons of free editing advice, is one editor I’ve recommended to more than one new author.
A few other ideas: join a critique group to get the work as tight as possible prior to editing, or try a kickstarter campaign, though without some kind of “fame” kickstarter might be a tough sell. If you have skills of your own, you could use the old barter system. Free cover design for a free edit. If not, then trusted beta readers can help, as long as you’re not using friends who will tell you only what you want to hear. If you choose to self-edit, get a good book on how to do it properly. And read your work until you can’t stand it.
If you’re not sick of your own manuscript by the time you’re done editing….then maybe you haven’t read through it enough times. Whether you publish yourself or publish traditionally, don’t skip over the importance of a good editor. If you bypass it, you’re not the only one who has to pay.