Sherry Ricardo posted the following blog at International Heat. I thought it was a brilliant topic, which offered some excellent advice. Recently I’ve spoken to two authors who have been desperately unhappy with edits they had received. Were the editors at fault? The authors? Or were both right, but neither could see the other’s point of view? I can’t answer that.
But Sherry took it from an editor’s point of view and tried. She offers some amazing insights.
Sherry Ricardo’s Blog:
If you’re like me…
When you’ve finished a really good story, you whiz through the streets of cyberspace, searching frantically for the author’s website or blog, and that—sometimes elusive—“Contact” link so you can share your joy with said author about their fabulous story.
When you’ve finished a story that sucked, you stare at your ereading device in stupefaction, cursing at the waste of your time. If it’s an old fave who’s going downhill, you make a mental note to give them one or two more chances before you cross them off your buy list. If it’s a new-to-you author, you make a mental note to avoid said author’s work at all costs. If parts of the story were shockingly incongruous, you might ask, “How on earth did this get past an editor?” If you see a trend in that all the stories that sucked have been from a particular publisher, you make a mental note to be careful about buying stories published by that house.
Edits can be tough. When you receive edits, don’t burn the effigy you’ve created of your evil editor because of the sea of red they desecrated your baby with. Take a step back. Then another one. And another. That’s it, you’re out of the room. Go do something else.
When you return to the computer, follow these steps:
1) Open the document and go immediately to the drop down box with viewing options.
2) Select “Final” (i.e. you don’t what to see the markup).
3) Read the story from beginning to end as if you had purchased it NOT written it. If something jumps out at you as wrong, make a note using the “Comment” option.
By this stage, two things would have happened. Either, the story sounds better than it did when you submitted it and you release a sigh of relief. Or, you had to insert tons of comments—you can burn the effigy now.
After the smoke clears, return to the document and:
4) Accept the edits you agree with.
5) Revise the sections where your editor’s changes clash with your vision.
6) Send new version to your editor.
Re: step 5—The story will be crystal clear in your head because it’s your story. Unfortunately, sometimes that vision just doesn’t make it all the way to the paper…uh…screen. I know it’s nearly impossible to be objective about your manuscript but if your editor doesn’t get a scene, some readers won’t either. So, tweak those sections.
For the editor-author relationship to run like a well-oiled machine, you can’t hold on for dear life to every word in your beloved manuscript. You have to be willing to make as many changes as needed so your story shines. Yes, aside from grammar and punctuation, etc. editing can be subjective. But, there are readers out there just like your editor.
Reading is a serious business and the experienced reader has no patience for crap. Sometimes you’ll see reviewers make the concession that a story was okay but it had “editing issues.” The fact of the matter is, readers rarely focus on the editor. It’s all about the author.