So, you’ve just finished your novel. You’ve completed the last sentence of the last paragraph of the final chapter. But how about the edit? Not ready to face that yet?
For the moment, you are ecstatic! Perhaps you print it out and, holding this exciting epic in your hands, you’re certain everyone is going to love it as you do! The time it takes for this initial euphoria to wear off is different for each of us. For me, having reached this point in a third novel, it doesn’t take very long. I know I have climbed only halfway up the mountain. And the grade gets steeper as one continues. Somehow that spark of enthusiasm we feel at the completion of each chapter, or the thrill when a character utters exactly the right words, is absent when it comes to the editing process. Yes, I’m talking about the boring, sometimes painful hours we must spend in editing. Far too many e-books are published today with little or no editing. I find this demeaning to the growing community of indie authors. It tarnishes the image of all when we don’t take the time to edit our work. I feel very strongly about this but, for now, enough grousing.
I believe it’s imperative for me as a self-published author to make sure my precious words are as polished and professional as I can make them, that my story is credible, that it makes the reader want to turn the page. This takes time and an incredible amount of patience. And, of course, I can’t do it alone. I need the assistance of someone else’s thoughts and trained eye. Although I can correct typos and misspelled words, like any other aspiring author I need someone steeped in the knowledge of the English language, someone who spots errors in plot sequence, poor sentence structure (one of my failings),
and the occasional use of the wrong word. I am happy that my editor jots ‘ww’ in the margin and leaves it up to me to search for a more appropriate way to express myself. She writes notes adjacent to questionable paragraphs. Notes such as ‘I don’t get this’ or ‘where’s the emotion?’ or ‘would he really say this?’. At this moment we are both in the final stages of our second go-thru (as I think of it) and are both understandably tired of the whole thing. Ahead of us awaits a final read, from beginning to end, and depending on the outcome of that I will, hopefully, be ready to make arrangements to upload Turn on No-Bridge Road to Createspace for both a paperback and a Kindle version.
As an author, I’ve learned that I have to find the best way to put all these pieces together, to know when it’s time to tie it up and say The End or, perhaps, oh, dear, do we need another edit? What works for me may not work for another author, and vice versa. I’ve found that sharing a chapter or a novel’s synopsis with a few beta readers is helpful. This idea came from Joanna Penn, whose website (firstname.lastname@example.org) is one I look at frequently. My beta readers have rewarded me with some very constructive responses by pointing out a confusing sequence or an unnecessarily wordy paragraph. I’ve chosen these readers, by the way, from a list of people who have responded to my previous novels in positive ways, along with a few friends who are also writers. I am grateful for their keen eyes and articulate feedback.
But above all, and after the beta readers, we all need someone to edit our work. As for the choice of that someone, I can only say for sure that it should not be a family member who reads a novel once a year while on vacation at the beach, or the tennis buddy who claims to have read every word Danielle Steel has ever written. I think I have enough experience
at this stage in my writing career to suggest that If you’re an indie publisher as I am, you probably can’t afford to hire a professional editor, the kind a publishing house would assign as part of your contract. It’s true enough that while Createspace, Outskirts Press, and many others offer editing services, they too can be expensive and, quite likely, not very personal in their approach. It could be helpful to post a query on the Createspace community page. I have frequently had informative responses on other issues from that source. Also, you might check around your community and local school system; it’s just possible the right person is waiting to edit your book for a reasonable price. And don’t give up until you find him or her because your novel, like mine, needs someone besides the author to help make it the best it can be.
I would wish for you my own great good fortune—that is to know an English teacher and former editor of non-fictional journals who loves to edit! I also find that a couple of cats are invaluable when it comes to reminding one of the time of day and that there are other things in life besides writing—such as eating and sleeping.
A final note. This morning I received in an email a sketch of what the cover for Turn on No-Bridge Road will be. I am very excited about this, especially so as it is Michael, my artist son, who is creating this. More about this later.