Thursday, August 7, 2014

Professional Editing: The Edge Your Manuscript Needs

The differences between editing from a professional and getting a little help from a friend who was an English major in college are profound. Writers who have invested hours, days, months, and even years in their manuscript are typically looking for a payoff for their work. It is very difficult to find that payoff – whether the goal is book sales, an artistic splash, or simply getting a great story down on paper – without professional editing.

Of course, most of us are aware that professional editing is the key to publishing success. But why is this so?

Transform the Writer

The biggest difference is that professional editing transforms both the manuscript and the writer. A writer benefits from seeing how a professional tackles the same challenges he’s been grappling with. A writer who absorbs a professional editor’s changes will in turn become a stronger writer going forward, impacting his future work for years to come.


Industry Experience

A professional editor knows what types of manuscripts are selling and what publishers are looking for. This can make all the difference when trying to maximize distribution and exposure upon publication.


Make Every Word Count

A professional editor makes sure every single word counts. This is critical for emphasizing well-developed characters and rising conflict, allowing them to leap off the page the way they should.


Objective Analysis

Sadly, in the publishing business, the advice of friends and family members does not count. If it did, we’d all be great writers and our moms would be the best critics on the planet. The only recommendations that matter for writers with high aspirations come from third-party editors, and there’s no avoiding the fact that the best ones are full-time professionals with years of experience.

In the end, the difference between editing from a professional and from an amateur is night and day in terms of conciseness, focus, and experience. If you’re like most writers who’ve poured countless hours into your manuscript, the only solution is a professional one.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How Real Writers Deal with Failure

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison

It is common knowledge that the writing life is hard, but it takes a dedicated writer to know why. Good writing is not about coming up with ideas or waiting for inspiration. It’s about failure. Cold, hard failure – the kind that comes from having your work rejected a thousand times or realizing the greatest idea you had for a story is actually terrible. The act of writing is like any other public display of your personal views. It leaves you totally exposed to personal rejection. If this sounds hard it’s because it is, especially when that rejection is attached to the manuscript you’ve worked so hard on.

Ultimately, the successful writers come to learn that failure is really a precursor of success. If you or your writing are on the brink of success – or just a step or two away from the finish line – it might be time to rethink your concept of failure. For most writers, failure occurs in two ways, over and over again. Failure happens from bad writing and from getting rejected. Both types of failure are a natural consequence of trying to become a successful writer, and both can take the starch right out of your collar.

But the fact is that both types of failure are milestones on the path to success. Thinking this way forces writers to develop a perverted concept of failure, thinking about it as something that must happen before achieving success. Many of the great stories of our times followed some really crappy writing, during which the author ironed out the story and worked to translate great ideas to the written page. Many of these great stories also followed countless rejection letters, receiving them one at a time and eating at the writer’s soul before success finally arrived.

The fact is that the great writers are not the most talented or the smartest. They have the mental and emotional make-up for the writing life, which involves building up a resistance to failure. If you’re struggling to find the audience your work deserves, it may be time to reconsider the way you think about failure as a writer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

There are several reasons that professional editing is far superior to editing from an amateur or friend in most cases. Many of the reasons for this are fairly obvious.  Of course, professional editing is far more thorough and rigorous than editing from an amateur. Professional editing follows both traditional rules of grammar and standards of style based on a style guide such as the Chicago or AP manuals. This is critical for building text that is seamless and direct, which allows the characters, tone, voice, and narrative arc to truly jump off the page. Professional editing pays close attention to factors such as narrative consistency and effective sentence structure that are difficult for an amateur to pick up on. This difficulty is not because an amateur editor isn’t smart or talented; it’s because it takes years of editing experience and familiarity with the publishing industry to be proficient at this.

Most writers are familiar with many of these points. What often gets overlooked about professional editing is that it should transform both the manuscript and the writer. Any writer who has their work edited professionally will naturally improve. This happens as the writer sees how a professional tackles the same challenges and obstacles that they’ve been struggling with for days, months, or years. Good writers absorb the edits that a professional has made and incorporate them into their subsequent work. This happens naturally, mostly because good writers become slaves to elements of style over time. They’re naturally pulled to the elements of the language that work for them; things like direct sentences, coherent paragraphs, and realistic dialogue. The act of seeing their writing transformed in this way usually changes the way writers think about the challenges they’re facing on the blank page. This leads to more confidence and more time to spend on the nuts and bolts of creating great characters, developing a unique voice, and building rising conflict.

Professional editing is not for every writer and not for every project. But every writer who takes the craft seriously should have their work edited professionally at some point. The writers we work with have typically reached that point. They’ve been working long enough on a project or on writing in general that they know it’s time to have their work edited by a professional. This is a major step in the development of a writer, and it necessarily changes the way writers think about writing; usually for the rest of their lives.