SUFFICE TO SAY I was moved when my client Gerald Freeman sent this post on finding the right editor. Writing and editing have always been transformative experiences for me. The honor of critiquing and copy editing his forthcoming memoir reaffirms my belief that we can all help each other in more ways than one when it comes to this crazy journey called life.
Finding the Editor
As you feel your way along the writing process there are a number of experiences which are signs of you becoming more adept at your craft and evolving as a professional. The first major change I saw in my writing came after quite a few years of editing the same books over and over again. Looking back at what I used to write is both shocking and exciting. Shocking that I was ever so bad, and exciting that I have made such progress. Another major milestone for me was finding my editor.
I was very confident of myself, once I realized how much my writing had improved over the years, and I finally felt I was able to publish something that met enough professional requirements to be considered worthy enough for the market. I am also a teacher of English, and so my confidence in my punctuation and editing was such that I felt I could take on the whole project myself. I even made the cover from an old photo, which I thought turned out quite well and told the story of the whole book. I was driven to this decision mainly through financial restrictions, which is the case for many.
I have just spent one of the best years of my life on the self-publishing learning curve, and I have had an enormous amount of help on the way from bloggers, editors, writers and readers. I have also met a small minority of people who are intolerant of newbies, but I even took something away from those experiences. I made a few faux pas on the way, namely not addressing people by their correct names, posting too many links on Google+ (which I still don’t completely understand), and I guess spamming a bit on FB.
But, I have always had the honest intention of being a professional and friendly colleague, and the mistakes were part of the journey. It is very easy to get swept up in the you have to advertise and tell as many people as possible about your book marketing whirlwind going on before you.
One year later, I found myself with the next book, I Don’t Believe God Wrote The Bible, ready for publishing, and although I have had some great reviews for my first book Kill Daddy, I knew the punctuation was not perfect. I also wanted to get a professional cover made this time, especially as I was turned down by BookBub because they said my cover was from a template they had already seen. Therefore, I set about looking for an editor and someone who could help me polish my book without it costing a fortune.
The first few editors I met were wonderfully helpful, and gave me the first few pages of editing for free in order to show me what they would do. One of them frightened me so much, I didn’t think there would be any more of my story left after he’d finished with it, so I politely declined his offer of removing all the fluff. Funnily enough, I did offer to pay him something because I learnt so much from what he did in just those first few pages. The main thing he showed me was to use more contractions to make the story flow more naturally for the reader. Just by going through the whole book and doing that improved it tenfold.
I was on the point of doing the project myself again. I’d read and reread the book fifty times over a period of ten years and after adding in all the contractions, I felt quietly confident. However, as fate would have it I came across an editor in America, who appeared friendly and professional, and so I gave it one last try to see if we clicked. It was amazing for me, especially as I genuinely believe that the right people meet each other, if they are open to it. Finding Jeri was like finding a friend I already had, but didn’t yet know, that’s the best way I can describe it.
Moreover, Jeri had a genuine interest in memoirs and travel writing, which resonated strongly in the way she interacted with me. From the get-go, I felt confident she would guide me through the process, knowing I was a little naïve and contribute constructively to my project. Why did I click with her? Why did I not feel confident or inspired by the other editors I had met? There is a holistic element to the projects we undertake and I truly believe that it’s not about finding an editor, but about finding the editor.
When the right people come together on a project it adds another dimension to the work. Finding the editor for my story has given it the polish and the depth I do not believe I would have achieved, had I gone with someone I did not feel a hundred percent about. As I mentioned before, it was like finding the missing team member.
I am now waiting for the final proof and I am excited to be finally publishing the book, knowing that I have made my story the best it can be, which in turn will provide readers with the most enjoyable reading experience possible.
What types of experiences have you had working with editors, teachers, or mentors who have helped you achieve your goals?
I have spent my life following my heart and living the life I dream of. It has taken me to all kinds of far and distant places both physically and mentally. I want to relay my experiences to others, identify with other people and share experiences and emotions. Most of all I want my readers to enjoy the time spent reading my stories. My concept is to write about life and identify with people all over the planet. I also express myself through art, principally sculpture. Check out my website or visit my author blog. SEE GREAT FOTOS OF AFRICA FROM MY BOOK KILL DADDY on Flickr.
Permission must be granted by Gerald Freeman to use the images in this post.