This post is about editing your own work or getting someone else to edit it for you, or editing someone else’s work.
In other words, it’s about editing. Duh!!
Above all else, unless you are a super-duper editor in your own right, don’t even try to do your own editing, at least not for your final edit. That should be done by a professional editor. Believe me, it is so easy to overlook your own mistakes, or simply not know which word or punctuation mark to put in a sentence. I’ve encountered many so-called “authors” who made frequent mistakes in their works, yet offered them as more-or-less finished products. Big mistake!
Nothing looks so unprofessional, or will earn you negative reviews so fast if you self-publish, than having a lot of errors in your work. If you’re really serious about having it published, get someone to clean it up, please!! But do edit it yourself as much as possible before turning it over to a professional. The best way to do that is to read your work out loud to yourself – or to anyone stupid enough to get roped into that role. It is a fact that you catch a lot more mistakes and awkward phrasing that way.
For you professional editors out there, I do hope you insist on seeing random samples of a writer’s manuscript before agreeing to take on the job. Why? you ask with a glassy-eyed look. For starters, some works obviously need more editing than others. If you’re charging by the hour, that’s not much of a problem. But if you’re giving the writer an estimate of total time involved or total charge for the project, be sure you know what you’re getting into first. If practically every sentence needs to be rewritten, obviously that will cost much more than a manuscript that is already reasonably polished.
Any more dumb questions? Actually, there’s another reason for checking out a manuscript before taking on the job of editing it, and I explain that below in my usual “Dear Maggie” letter.
Some pissant hired me to edit his novel, but once I got into it, I realized how old-fashioned, immature, and male-centered it was, casting the protagonist as a super male that women everywhere fawned over, and his mate as a weak, wimpy, dependent girl, afraid of her own shadow. Frankly just reading it makes me feel like throwing up, but I entered into a contract with him to edit it.
I’m so disgusted with it that I can hardly force myself to do any work on it.
What do you suggest I do?
Ms. Peerless Editor
Dear Ms. Peerless Editor,
Ha! I know what you could do! Turn the novel’s protagonist into a woman: butch is “in” these days, you know. Then cast her “mate” as a curvaceous and lively young vixen. I’ll bet you could have a ball with that and fulfill your contract at the same time. It might even teach that turd who hired you a lesson!
Next time, though, insist on seeing selections from the manuscript before agreeing to the job. That may save you from further heartache down the road. Not all fixes will be as easy as this one.