With November over and so many writers patting themselves on the back for having completed the challenge of Write Nonfiction in November (or National Novel Writing Month), I’m sorry to say it’s not time to rest on your laurels. No…it’s time to get editing or get a good editor…or both.
There’s value in good editing. Good editing brings your manuscript up to professional standards–the standards of traditional publishing houses. And that’s what you want whether you plan on self-publishing or approaching an agent or acquisitions editor.
Can you edit your own manuscript? Yes–initially. Every writer should take a crack or two at their own manuscript. After that, they should pass it on to a professional editor. That editor will then find all the grammatical mistakes, weaknesses in your sentences, redundancies in your content, missing pieces of information, unanswered questions, etc., that you no longer can “see” or don’t notice because you are too close to your work.
I know this first hand having just gone through the editing process with my forthcoming book, How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time. I’m a professional nonfiction book editor myself, but I was actually relieved and grateful to turn the manuscript over to someone else. I actually had a developmental editor, who checked my manuscript for redundancies in content, missing pieces of information, unanswered questions, etc., and then a line editor, who strengthened my sentences and checked my grammar and punctuation. (Every writer really needs both. Sometimes you also need a content editor who checks the actual content factually, but the line editor will do some of this as well–as mine did.)
I was amazed at the questions I was asked by my developmental editor and how much better my manuscript was after I had answered those questions by adding more content to my book. And although I feel my writing tends to be quite strong, the line editor improved it even more. I admit, I questioned a few of her changes, but overall, we all made a good team and the book is better for it.
Hiring an editor yourself can be expensive, it’s true, but you won’t be sorry. You need one to submit a few chapters of your nonfiction book in your book proposal–and your query letter and book proposal should be edited professionally as well prior to submission to agents and acquisitions editors. Of course, if you plan to self-publish, your whole manuscript needs a good polishing before you send it to print or it will be obvious to readers that it is a self-published book.
This month give yourself the gift of a good editor (after you’ve done a round or two of editing yourself). If you’d like to speak to me about editing, in December, mention HoHo2012 to receive 10% off your first 10 hours of editing–my gift to you.
Michael A. Robson says
Stephen King wrote a book about 10 years ago called “On Writing” (I reviewed it on my site)… He breaks down the simplicity of editing. I definitely recommend that book to anyone taking up the craft. Editing is so so so much fun. Especially when you get to see even the most muddled garbage turn into wonderful easy-to-read prose. 🙂
Nina Amir says
You are so right, Michael. I love seeing a muddled work turn into something really valuable.