You are your own worst enemy when it comes to editing. There’s a psychological term for this that escapes me right now, but it boils down to mind games. Your brain will look at errors and automatically correct them or fill in the blanks.
Can You Read This? by Chris McCarthy (Study@ecenglish.com)
I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
Whether you are self-publishing or signing with a publisher, you want the best editor you can get. Constructive criticism is hard to take these days. It’s not intended to beat you down. An editor is the invisible person behind you who honestly has your best interest at heart. An editor can shape your manuscript from the ordinary to the best product possible. Yes, it can be frustrating and take a while, month and years.
But, there are options there, too. If you don’t like your editor for some reason, ask for another. You can always go out on your own, but remember good editing is expensive. Yes, your first-grade teacher or next door neighbor, friend, or spouse can always look at it, but is that in your own best interest?
How to I start?
Typically, you pitch an idea or send a query letter before you write an entire manuscript that may or may not be accepted. Don’t pitch to a company that doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Don’t pitch a romance to a company that specializes in mystery or a children’s book to a company that specializes in adult literature. Do your homework. Check websites or get access to the Writer’s Market.
Do I send everything?
Never write or submit more than an idea or several chapters It’s unrealistic to expect one or more people to drop a current project and read your 50,000 words overnight.
What about a contract?
Never work without a contract. Contracts vary from company to company. Again, unless you are Stephen King, Lady Gaga, or a Real Housewife, don’t expect millions in signing bonuses. Traditional publishing houses are not going to extend any offer until you have proven yourself profitable. Small publishing houses don’t make those kinds of offers.
How long before I publish my book?
Just because you have finished writing, or assume you have a final product, that is not true. You are now in the hands of several editors and the editing process. And unless you are Ernest Hemingway, you need those editors. (See my blog about the publishing process and what does an editor do.)
You want the best for your “baby.” There are short cuts, but that doesn’t guarantee your baby will be healthy and thrive.
If you have written a manuscript wherein you created original characters, plot development, and theme, that manuscript belongs to you and should be cited in a book by the copyright symbol. Should you require more protection, you can register that copyright.
However, in most circles, copyright is respected. Even an editor cannot significantly change the nature of your manuscript without written permission. An editor DOESN’T rewrite material. If you are thinking of turning your first draft into a publishing company, let me stop you in your tracks. You should turn in your BEST draft, knowing that there is still work to be done.
Poetry gets very tricky. Every word, every punctuation mark is crucial and fragile. To present anything but your best is to turn it over to a subjective microscope whereby your true meaning may or may not be expressed. If you are writing poetry without knowledge of rhyme or rhythm, Dr. Seuss is a great way to get started. Poetry for children should follow the rules; adults can function with more abstract language.
An editor should honor your style and try to maintain your syntax, but sometimes there are alternative ways to accomplish the same goal. Keep your eyes wide open.